Amy worked in the record business at Enigma, Elektra, Virgin and Sub Pop before she got sucked into the technology vortex. She co-founded the Backwards Beekeepers, a chemical-free urban beekeeping collective in Los Angeles. She runs digital marketing for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Hollywood Bowl.
Record labels tend to release best-of collections and superstar schlock (now approaching: new Aerosmith, Ne-Yo, Kid Rock, and a Backstreet Boys Christmas album) around the end of the year, and I’m having a hard time finding new music to recommend. Every once in awhile, though, an indie artist is brave enough to put their music up against the 4th quarter sludge heap. Lord Huron’s new record Lonesome Dreams came out about a month ago and it’s all I want to listen to.
Lord Huron started as just Ben Schneider, a Michigan-born Navy brat with fond memories of his father playing guitar around a campfire at (you guessed it) Lake Huron. Ben’s since moved to LA and morphed Lord Huron into a 5-piece melodic hootenanny machine. The songs are lush and accomplished and feel perfect for this time of year. “Time to Run” is my favorite song, and the band is giving us a free download for a week. Start your holiday playlists here.
Scene from “Where the Wild Things Are” from the Aldeburgh Festival, directed by Netia Jones
Video artist Netia Jones holds a 21st century-style Wild Rumpus in the LA Phil’s production of Oliver Knussen’s opera version of Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are. With Sendak’s blessing, Jones devised a multimedia marvel where live opera singers are projected into Sendak’s world, creating an environment where monsters react to the onstage performers and vice versa.
The opera, written by Knussen in conjunction with Sendak, features honorary Wild Thing Gustavo Dudamel leading the LA Philharmonic in the loud, blustery and…well, wild affair.
Sound it Out # 37: Jenny O. - “Automechanic” (MP3)
I posted Jenny O.’s first single almost a year ago. At that time, Jenny was just getting started - she had moved from NY to LA and had a five-song EP called “Home” that she released herself. Since then, all five songs on “Home” have been featured on TV series, car commercials and video games...some of them in all three. Jenny has toured the country a few times, played a residency in LA, turned some heads at SXSW, and made a new record. She's on a roll.
The new album is called Automechanic and though Jenny has been courted by record labels large and small, she opted to put it out on her own imprint, Holy Trinity, on February 5th. There’s a purity and a fire to Jenny O. that I find irresistible. Her almost child-like voice is an evocative counterpoint to the confidence and complexity of her music.
Here’s a free download of the title track from Automechanic. Thanks Jenny!
Sound it Out # 36: Earlimart - “97 Heart Attack” (MP3)
Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray make records as Earlimart and also help other artists make theirs. Aaron owns The Ship Recording Studio in LA, which evolved from a group of friends who liked to drink beer and play music to a place where artists from around the globe come to make records.
The studio employs the latest recording technology, but Aaron also likes to toy with old-school techniques.
Sound it Out # 35: Divine Fits - “Would That Not Be Nice”
Divine Fits is a great band that plays melodic indie rock. I saw their seventh-ever live show last week and they played with a reckless joy that one rarely sees these days. They have two singers who also swap out guitar and bass duties; I loved watching them switch instruments in a silly and complicated maneuver that that resembled a wrestler’s tag-out move. They played their hearts out and seemed to enjoy every sweaty minute. There was a sense in the audience that we were sharing something special.
This is a new band, but these dudes are probably not new to you. Divine Fits is Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade & Handsome Furs) and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks). They’ve made a fun and cohesive record (coming out Tuesday) titled A Thing Called Divine Fits.
“Would That Not Be Nice" is sung by Britt and features a beefy bassline and synthy keyboards by Alex Fischel. Grab the free song below and don’t forget to buy the record on Tuesday.
Sound it Out # 34: Diamond Rings- "I’m Just Me” (MP3)
When I was a naive and confused tween, I yearned to lose my virginity to Boy George. I later learned that a few of my male friends shared this same fantasy. Now a new generation of youth gets to feel this way about Diamond Rings.
John O is Diamond Rings. It would be easy to dismiss him as a post-80’s mix of Vanilla Ice and Max Headroom if he weren't so adorable and talented. I saw him play a small showcase last week and he completely owned the room by throwing himself into his performance. He danced on tables and vamped like he was playing in a vast stadium instead of a tiny room holding fewer than 100 people. John's persona is a crazy mix of macho and effeminate and the show could have been ridiculous if it hadn't been delivered with such complete confidence and charm.
If there’s any justice in this world, this new Diamond Rings song will be a massive hit. “I’m Just Me” is a perfect summery club anthem with a great message about being yourself. Download it below.
I can’t think of anyone who makes more consistently beautiful, melancholy music than Beth Orton. Her songs are full of nuanced wisdom and the sound of her voice alone can make your heart delightfully heavy.
Orton's new album is her first in six years and is out on October 2nd. It’s called Sugaring Season and the songs are as lush and lovely as you would hope. Go ahead and download “Magpie” -- it’s a gift from Orton and the folks at Anti- Records.
Lizz Winstead is raising money to make a PSA about reproductive rights. She's a writer, comedian, asskicker and one of the creators of The Daily show. I believe her that she will get this thing made and then get it seen.
By helping me create this campaign we will be reminding America just how much erosion we are seeing in the area of reproductiove rights and we all know that humor poking at the underbelly of dipshittery makes a HUGE impact.
Sound it Out # 32: Black Moth Super Rainbow - "Windshield Smasher”
There’s a guy in Pittsburgh who calls himself Tobacco. He's been making music as Black Moth Super Rainbow since 2003. His sound has transitioned from disjointed psychedelia to more guitar-heavy dance music, though all of it has a trippy element to it. It shouldn’t surprise you that people enjoy doing drugs and going to see Black Moth Super Rainbow play.
Black Moth Super Rainbow just finished a very successful (and entertaining to read) Kickstarter campaign, raising over $125,000 to release the new album Cobra Juicy. Premiums included a haunted house tour, a roller skating party and hand-painted, glow-in-the-dark masks with a USB stick jammed into the mouth like a tooth. Eric Wareheim starred in one pitch video for the campaign.
“Windshield Smasher” is the new song from Cobra Juicy. It's sort of like a malevolent stadium anthem that gets progressively weirder. Listen and download below.
Sound it Out # 31: Redd Kross - "Stay Away From Downtown"
The brothers Steve and Jeff MacDonald are the core of Redd Kross, who played their first show opening for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party in 1978 (Steve was 11; Jeff was 15). The band quickly became a big part of the LA punk rock scene - their pop sensibilities and long hair made them stand out from the crowd. Their energy and charm made them beloved in nearly any setting.
As Redd Kross matured, they became more and more fascinated with pop culture; they wrote songs inspired by the likes of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, breakfast cereal, and Linda Blair. They had a few major label deals, opening spots for giant rock tours and some radio and MTV play, but somehow never acheived the success of their peers.
34 years after opening for Black Flag, Redd Kross is back with Researching the Blues, their first album in 15 years (out today!). The record is 32 minutes of melody-laden pop/rock, and “Stay Away from Downtown” is a worthy introduction to the band and the new record. Download it below.