6 L.A. Albums You May Have Missed In November
We're highlighting some of the best albums that have been released by Los Angeles-based artists over the past month as a part of a regular feature to highlight our local music scene. Last month saw releases by underground and popular hip-hop artists, plus a one-track, road-trip album.
Ty Dolla $ign - Free TC
One of the year’s brightest hip-hop debuts comes from L.A. rapper/singer Ty Dolla $ign, whose Free TC comes after several mixtapes, singles and high-profile guest spots, starting with YG’s “Toot It and Boot It” in 2010. His studio debut is a star-studded affair (with appearances from Kanye West, Diddy, Kendrick Lamar, Brandy and many others), but his ability to skillfully blend R&B with forward-thinking hip-hop production maintains the spotlight, pairing hedonistic lyrics with Nintendo synths on “Blasé” and offering a lush tribute to his hometown on “L.A.”
L.A. Takedown - L.A. Takedown
One continuous 40-minute track takes us down a road populated by krautrock beats, new-wave synths, winking guitar solos and a kind of nighttime decadence that suggests Miami Vice set in the world of Blade Runner. The '80s film noir vibes are intentional—L.A. Takedown (aka Aaron M. Olson) is named after a Michael Mann TV movie of the same name, which he later remade into Heat. Listening feels like driving along Route 66 through some retro-futuristic World of Tomorrow version of L.A.
Busdriver - Thumbs
Underground rapper/producer Busdriver has been making brilliant music for the past 15 years, and his latest mixtape is no exception. Intellectual rhymes delivered forcefully at rapid-fire over jungle beats and a swaying psych-soul backdrop on standout tracks like “Great Spooks of Enormous Strength.” Plenty of Thumbs’ songs will appeal to fans of the esoteric hip hop found on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label (he even teams with Brainfeeder rapper/producer Jeremiah Jae on the laid-back and faded “Shadows and Victories”). But tracks like “Much” go for the jugular with its double-time rapping and digi-reggae backbeat. Thumbs up.
Kneebody & Daedelus - Kneedelus
Jazz-funk group Kneebody team up with L.A. mad scientist producer Daedelus for a knockout collaboration. Kneedelus walks a tightrope as the band’s horns search above the beatwork fray of “Loops” and settle into Daedelus’ static-laden strut on “The Hole.” Check out “Drum Battle” for maximum mind-expanding electro-jazz-fusion.
TÜLIPS - Doom & Bloom
TÜLIPS’ self-described “riot gaze” sound brings back the spirit of the Riot Grrrl movement of the early ’90s and gives it a 2015 L.A. makeover. “Hot Spur’s” tuneful post-punk surge and “Perfect Love’s” lo-fi-smothered attitude give way to the hazily rendered “Dream Lover” and shoegazey “Hopefully Hopefully”—surprisingly, both styles work perfectly in tandem. Fans of groups like Sleater-Kinney, Lush and Ex Hex, here’s your favorite new band.
James Ferraro - Skid Row
Producer and experimental musician James Ferraro created a sound chronicle of New York’s seediness on his 2013 album NYC, HELL 3:00 am. Now, he does the same with his newly adopted home of L.A. “White Bronco chasing a dream” he breathes over an ersatz ’90s gangsta-rap beat—with news clips of coverage of the Rodney King beating mixed in—on “White Bronco.” Groggy vagabond recollections swim through watery guitars and trudging beats on the title track, while “Rhinestones” is as airy and caustic as the exhaust pumping out of Angelyne’s pink Corvette. It’s a dream-smeared portrait of a Los Angeles that doesn’t quite exist but feels indelible anyway.