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5 Under-The-Radar Albums You Might Have Missed From Los Angeles Artists In May
This month saw releases by a Wavves side project, young psych-rockers and an up-and-coming primal pop voice.High Functioning Flesh - Definite Structures
This EBM (electronic body music) duo doesn’t stray far from the genre—industrial dance beats that boast analog warmth, melodic synth lines jutting against vocals that sound sanded raw—but they don’t have to. Definite Structures gets everything right, from the layers of faded synthesizers backing the bubbling foreground of “Hunger Cries,” to the duo’s barked, creepy lyrics about trembling in your sleep (“Afterbirth”), which offer a dim counterpoint to their catchy synth-pop background. Fans of early Ministry or groups like Nitzer Ebb and Cabaret Voltaire might have a favorite new band on their hands. Catch them at divey local venues like the Complex or Non Plus Ultra for the full effect. And check out their rad early-MTV style video for "Hunger Cries" below:
Talk in Tongues - Alone With a Friend
The term psych-pop gets thrown around a lot these days when describing L.A. bands, when what we really mean is electro-pop. Not so with Talk in Tongues, whose Alone With a Friend does psychedelia proud with its searing guitar solos and ’60s-inspired melodies. Falling somewhere between shoegazers like Ride and modern acts like Tame Impala, the fourpiece strike the perfect balance between crafting memorable tunes and letting themselves get lost in the jams on songs like “While Everyone Was Waiting.” Make contact with the "Still Don't Seem to Care" video below:
Froth - Bleak
One of the best bands in L.A. right now, Froth have a way of making the familiar sound new again, taking the dreamy noise-rock pioneered by such bands as My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3 and The Jesus & Mary Chain and scuffing it up and stripping it down for maximum impact. Whether they’re dishing out razorwire-wrapped earworms like “Postcard Radio” or delivering grandiose noise ballads “Nothing Baby, ” Froth’s effusive rock ‘n’ roll on Bleak is anything but. Check out the video for "Postcard Radio" for some nice shots of Downtown and Echo Park:
Spirit Club - Spirit Club
Nathan Williams of Wavves has taken a break from his better-known band for a couple of side projects with his brother, Joel—first was his electro/hip-hop-inspired project Sweet Valley, and now the Williams brothers unveil Spirit Club. Along with Jeans Wilder’s Andrew Caddick, the trio make sweetly warped ’50s ballads with Beach Boys harmonies (“All the Time”), sad, stripped-down surf-rock (“Bless This Mess”) and dreamy, defiantly lo-fi instrumentals (“Ripped”). Without the weight of Wavves’ success, Nathan Williams and his collaborators sound freer to experiment and do whatever the hell they want. It’s a mixed bag, but Williams’ music is never short on catchy melodies, and Spirit Club has some of the most interesting music he’s made since Wavves’ early days. Watch the video for the melancholy "Duster" below:
Du Blonde - Welcome Back to Milk
For her second album, Beth Jeans Houghton unveils a new stage name and strips her music down to the bare essentials and comes up with an album of beautifully elemental pop-rock. Like a more pop-oriented PJ Harvey or Fiona Apple, the Newcastle-born sometimes-Californian is as apt to unleash her husky belt over rumbling rock ‘n’ roll (“Black Flag”) as she is to take it to a Bowie-inspired power-ballad (“Hunter”). An easy highlight comes when she pairs with another singer with a formidable voice—Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring, on the manic “Mind Is on My Mind,” which sees Houghton going from a rap to a raspy drawl while Herring speak-sings and growls with his usual gravitas. It’s a wildly varied listen, but Welcome Back to Milk delivers for those who like their independently minded pop without a ounce of inhibition. Take a trip to Joshua Tree Du Blonde in the "Black Flag" video: