5 Rad Albums From L.A. Artists You Might Have Missed Last Month

We're highlighting some of the best albums that have been released by L.A.-based artists over the past month as a part of a regular feature to highlight our local music scene. Last month saw releases by graduates of the Odd Future collective and a high-profile garage-rocker's analog synth side project.

Damaged Bug - Cold Hot Plumbs

Though it’s primarily a side gig to fronting prolific garage-rock heroes Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer’s Damaged Bug project comes into its own with second album, Cold Hot Plumbs. It’s a chance for Dwyer to change gears completely, relying on whirring analog synths and what sounds like decaying machinery to craft little noise-pop nuggets that explode unpredictably. But the same anxious glam sensibility Dwyer brings to Thee Oh Sees flares up here as well, livening up the synthedelia of tunes like “The Mirror” that call to mind early electronic music purveyors like the Silver Apples. Dwyer, who pretty recently ditched the Bay Area for L.A. as so many creatives have, seems to find fuel in consistent activity—after all, Thee Oh Sees released their latest album, Mutilator Defeated at Last, a week before this one, and probably wrote and recorded a new song by the time you finished reading this sentence. Watch the "Thunderbirds"-style video for "Jet in Jungle" below:

Michael Vidal - Dream Center

Michael Vidal, former lead singer of beloved L.A. tropical-punks-turned-darkwave-revivalists Abe Vigoda, takes another left turn on his first solo release, which was just issued on LP this month by Couple Skate. In place of his former band’s nervous energy is a laid-back, pensive vibe that permeates these sprawling guitar tracks, heavy with delay and dreamy reverb in the style of bands like Cocteau Twins and the Durutti Column. But Vidal is also a modern-day goth romantic, and his songs have the emotional pull of a Cure or a Smashing Pumpkins, especially on the EP’s gorgeous opening track, “Dreams (Come Back to Me).”

The Internet - Ego Death

Though it’s true, they’ve played Coachella at this point, the same fame that has been bestowed upon Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator, has eluded fellow Odd Future graduates The Internet. Perhaps that’s because you really can’t put this band into a box. Fronted by singer Syd the Kid and musician Matt Martians, the band turns the notion of a soul band on its head, as songs swirl with psychedelic possibility and bounce on crafty electro beats. Syd’s open queerness in her lyricism is a breath of fresh air in soul and hip hop as she dons various personas, from brushing off gold diggers (“Get Away”) to playing the part of the cocksure player (“Special Affair”). With choice guest appearances from a few heavy hitters like Janelle Monae and Vic Mensa, Ego Death is a mellow but engaging listen. See the galactic video for "Girl" below:

Nightjacket - Eternal Phase

Similarly to like-minded artists Beach House and Lower Dens, Nightjacket has taken a template set by dream pop bands like Mazzy Star and Slowdive and updated it with more modern production and touches of electronica. While plenty of bands tread in this territory, Nightjacket has a secret weapon: singer Holland Belle, whose husky, operatically trained vocals cast a haunting spell over the hazy slow-burners like “Sun in Spring” and lend an ethereal lilt to poppier tunes such as “The Right Way to Fall.” It’s an impressive first EP that speaks highly of things to come. Listen below via Bandcamp:

Pure Ground - Standard of Living

Along with acts like Youth Code and High Functioning Flesh, the latter of whom I mentioned in the last entry, L.A. is in the midst of an industrial music renaissance. Inspired more specifically by the subgenre EBM (“electronic body music”), which features minimalist production and danceable electro-punk beats and was typified by bands like DAF and Cabaret Voltaire in the ’80s, Pure Ground’s analog synthesizers and crisp beats are matched by harshly sung vocals and bleak lyrics about the end of days, making Standard of Living the perfect soundtrack for an apocalyptic dance party. Listen below via Bandcamp:

Related:
May's Best
April's Best