Ratking put me over the edge. I finally stopped believing in New York. It was the first music from there since maybe Blondie that sounded New York only in geography, not in attitude. Of course, when you hear Ka’s fatal, gunfire-choked gasps, you tend to pontificate that the end is near, or SOME end, is near.
But looking at the LA Record last night, and then getting a sonic whiff of some of these bands like the quirky pop/punk of The Garden and Tijuana Panthers to the vaudeville, Odelay-influenced pop of Smokey to the nu metal (yes, nu metal) of Atreyu, I got a feeling I had circa 2009 on the heels of New York’s Battles, TV on the Radio and Oxford Collapse, and of which I got a resurgence when St. Vincent cranked up the intensity a whole other level on the album Strange Mercy and the song “Surgeon”: it’s people uniting in desperate conditions, the only hope for survival being a trumpeting of a brand new anthemic wealth of music.
Countless LA myth’s are dispelled by five short minutes on the LA Record this week. One is that HEALTH and Abe Vigoda are among the city’s best bands. Some of these newcomers put those guys to shame. They’re hungrier.
Another is that electronica is the only relevant genre alive currently in the city (this excepting individuals named Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt). Call it a “revival,” or call it just a distraction, something Los Angeleans need to divert from the drought that’s taken over their lives and stultified their lifestyles, but people are plugging in and making fun rock and roll all over again, in droves, on a perhaps unprecedented level.
Another thing I see going on in LA is humility. There’s no hyperbole or humor in the writing; there needn’t be. The music itself is such a force to drive the focus solely thereto, and the emergent discourses, whether album reviews, concert reviews or just advertisements, are clear and easily spoken, with a palpable sense of the looming, not the lingering.
Compare this with LA Record’s m.o. a year ago. First of all, the focus was to less of an extent on the local. There was a Japanther live review and an Entrance Band record… both great, but diamonds in the rough, the local acts championed being more spotlight-grabbing, acoustic old folk, quirky but not timeless.
Now, what we have there, along with all these great bands making young, fun, vital music, is also an explosion of festivals. Cat Power was included in the recent Burger-a-Go-Go, and upcoming as well is the LA Psych Fest. And boy, has this been a year of dull, crappy festivals this year throughout the rest of the country (but the enterprise is overrated anyway, gimme that Garden/Tijuana Panthers double bill and then I’ll call it a night).
LA has always been an almost absurdly heterogeneous city with regards to the styles of music it puts out, which certainly makes sense, but one thing seems for certain, with the area’s nondescript lack of cultural specificity — if it’s good enough for the locals there, it’s probably going to be good enough for the rest of us too.