Avid Dancer, where the sounds of the '60s and '70s — shimmering and tremeloed guitars, vocal hooks and AM radio-ready
motifs — get a gentle kick in the behind, an update for these times - Buzzbands
"If you thought Banta‘s “Dark Charms” was a Fleetwood Mac B-side at first listen, you wouldn’t be alone. The Echo Park-based indie pop sextet’s songs embody so much of the same smooth pop folk-rock swing we’ve got a hunch that their self-titled EP (slated for a June release) is only the tip of the iceberg. Comprised of Sharaya Mikael (vocals/guitar), Kristin Hardin (vocals), Jon Marcu (drums), Scott Clear (lead guitar), Steve Oh Grohne (bass) and Alathea Reece (keys), Banta is a fairly new band but songs such as “Three Feet From Gold” and “Someday” filter their classic rock influences exceptionally well. There’s both charm and a fierceness in their songs that will have you grooving long after listening".
With enchanting dream goth/ shoegaze tracks, Brass Box takes listeners on a journey through life, death and the darkness that swells beneath the surface. The band is comprised of Ammo Bankoff and Neil Popkin. The duo originally met several years prior at an underground new wave/ goth party in Los Angeles. The bands in which Bankoff played (Tête, Black Flamingo) occasionally shared bills with Popkin's bands (War Tapes, Rituals). Due to their musical connection both musicians naturally collaborated. Popkin then brought in guitarist Matt Bennett (War Tapes) and drummer Pablo Amador (Rituals), to round out the heavy sounds of Brass Box. Since joining forces the quartet has assembled lush compositions of melody and noise while recording in their Downtown Los Angeles home studio. Some describe the sound as a mix between My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, but you can decide for yourself.
(excerpt from FADER.com)
Allene Norton—a 25-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist who makes dark-edged synthpop under the moniker Cellars—just released a brand new album titled Phases, which features production from Ariel Pink and oodles of nostalgia for the weirdo-glam of an era she was born just shy of: the '80s.
"Cellars is a project inspired by my love for '80s music, synthesizers, and bedroom pop, conceived in my bedroom in Austin, TX and later relocated to Los Angeles," Norton explained. Phases, she added, is "An emotional catharsis for me: it's a danceable yet melancholic combination of layered vintage synths and nostalgic sounds with a genuine voice, wrapped within catchy, and modern pop arrangements."
Music and magic go hand-in-hand. They both surround us. They're both intangible. They both can be life-changing. DRÆMINGS, the musical incarnation of singer and multi-instrumentalist Kimi Recor, conjures up an indescribable, intoxicating, and infectious post punk-kissed alternative on her 13-track Sumerian Records debut, The Eternal Lonesome. Produced by Eric Palmquist [The Bad Suns, Trash Talk, Night Riots] and featuring performances by A Perfect Circle's Jeff Friedl [drums] and Matt McJunkins [bass], it explores what the songstress describes as a, "Period of heartbreak" through lush instrumentation and a siren vocal swell.
Long before that broken heart, Kimi spent her childhood in the idyllic woods outside of Munich. She discovered music via an Ace of Base cassette tape, which she played until it warped. Relocating to a Colorado suburb, the budding artist dealt with the culture shock by retreating into the sounds of The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and My Bloody Valentine.
Stealing away to San Francisco at 17-years-old, she taught herself guitar, keys, bass, and drums and began playing in projects around the local scene. After a dark spell in New York mired in addiction, she returned west, kicked the habit, and immersed herself in creating. A final move saw her trade San Francisco for Los Angeles.
Over the course of one weekend after what she refers to as "biggest breakup I've gone through," she wrote and recorded DRÆMINGS' five-song demo entirely on her own.
"It was the first time I'd ever done anything without a band from writing and recording to performing," she recalls. "That's how DRÆMINGS began."
Sumerian Records stumbled upon the demo's Soundcloud page and offered her a deal. Signing to the label, she dove right into making The Eternal Lonesome. Now, its first single "Area 51" shuffles between eighties-style synths and a heavy backbeat into her entrancing howl.
"I wrote it about being in love with somebody who's also a musician," Kimi explains. "When you love someone who's a traveling artist, you always know that person is a going to leave. It's only semi-permanent. The two of you are never going to be in the same place at the same time for long. It's vagabond love. You let people go, and you're okay with it. I've always been with artists and had to accept they're going to love their art more than they love me, because I love my art more than anyone."
The title encapsulates an overarching theme for the entire body of work. "It's a summation of this part of my life," she goes on. "We all feel that way. Loneliness is the human condition. It's why we're on dating apps and always trying to meet people. It's what motivates us and drives us to move forward to succeed. That eternal feeling will always be inside us. I don't think it's a negative thing. Loneliness is such a beautiful inspiring thing. I want to share that."
Fall under DRÆMINGS' wonderfully dark spell.
Sometimes all you need is a simple guitar line and a moody melody. Other times you need dissonant three part harmonies over tantric rhythms and heavy lead guitar fuzz. And once in a while you just need a shot of whiskey and some pickle juice.
Well these happen to be a few of Emerson Star's favorite things.
Based in Los Angeles, Emerson Star began as a three piece acoustic group consisting of two brothers (Shannon and Taylor Inouye) and one childhood friend (Sean Thomas). Having grown up singing together in various school choirs, it was only natural for the trio to start writing together, with a focus on harmony heavy indie tunes with a pop sensibility.
Craving more of a rhythm element, Emerson Star added childhood friend Garret Lang into the mix. A staple bassist in the Los Angeles and New York jazz scene, Garret agreed to participate in the lowly form of art known as Rock N Roll.
It was during a magically intuitive late night jam with Garret's friend from Oakland that Emerson Star found their drummer. If you were on a soul searching peyote quest in the Sierra Nevada, you would want Colin Fahrner as your spirit animal. Firshir.
The band's selftitled 7" was released through Bellwether Record Company. Their debut full length album "Let It Burn", received praise from the likes of Indie Shuffle, Alternative Nation, and Hiibye. The band's upcoming release, the Great Escaper EP, will be available for streaming and purchase in September 2016 (we're stoked).
The boys are playing shows all over Los Angeles. You might catch them at the Bootleg Theater, The Satellite, El Cid, or Los Globos, just to name a few.
And for those of you outside of Los Angeles, hang tight, Emerson Star will be there soon.
GospelbeacH is a band. Members are Brent Rademaker, Tom Sanford, Neal Casal, Kip Boardman w/ a cast of friends based in Los Angeles.
Gregg Garvey is a singer and songwriter from Minnesota. Influenced by artists such as David Sylvian and '60s-era Scott Walker, Gregg's work Infuses darkly romantic folk-rock with psychedelia, baroque-pop, and Americana.
Gregg cut his performance teeth with Minneapolis garage rock band The Brutes. After the group disbanded in 2012 Gregg looked for new direction, and took the leap west to Los Angeles. Landing in Echo Park, where indie label Lolipop Records is headquartered, he was invited to have a tape released on the label. Entitled This World Is Mind, the work is an eclectic mix of dreamy meditative pop and vintage rock soul. Gregg is currently performing with his band throughout Southern California to support the release.
Iconique's heavy disco rhythms entwine with silky synth highlights to encapsulate the shimmering grit of the Los Angeles music scene. Self-produced and written, their material lures listeners to the dance floor with a synthesis of sounds ranging from Chic to David Bowie. Formed in 2015, the trio consists of brothers Eric Promani (drums / synths) and Greg Promani (guitar), and frontman Leo Paparella (vocals / synths).
i record all the time. old stuff, new stuff, covers, and everything else. i record with friends but mostly by myself. recording music is my thing.
On his second album A Light That Never Dies which will be released in North America on June 2, 2015 via Forty Below Records (MRI/RED), KaiL Baxley has returned with a hard hitting, lush and beautifully haunting collection of songs. Co-produced with Producer/Engineer Eric Corne whose recording credits include Lucinda Williams, Glen Campbell, Kim Deal and John Mayall, the album was recorded over the last year in three different cities
(Los Angeles, CA; Brooklyn, NY; and Charleston, SC).
"We used a lot of really old gear on this one to capture that warm analog sound and preserve its truth," says KaiL about the album. "I'm proud of what Eric and I got out of the studio and I'm eager to get out on the road and share it with people."
Hailing from the small backwater town of Willison-Elko – a town so small that most people in South Carolina don't even know where it is, much less the rest of the world. It's only claim to fame is soul legend James Brown, with whom Baxley shared an unlikely friendship as a child. Perhaps this was one of the leading influences in Baxley's soul-drenched music… or perhaps it was the similar circumstances in which they were raised that fuels such deep emotion in an individual.
Abandoned by both his mother and father as a small child Baxley was raised by his grandfather Woody until age 12. When he passed away, KaiL bounced from one living situation to another, rarely living in one place for more than a year at a time. It was in this constant migration that he found escape in a pair of old RCA headphones.
"It wasn't all bad really," he recalls. "I got to know quite a bit of music from all different genres during that time period. I'd stay with my uncle for a while and pick up some Van Morrison; my auntie gave me the Stones;friends parents turned me on to gospel. Then I discovered hiphop and it was all over. I was hooked."
This is the very apparent source of inspiration in KaiL Baxley's genre-bending music that also blends blues, indie rock, soul, gospel, and syncopated hiphop-style beats into a most exquisite and easily drinkable cocktail of sound – a sound that he has dubbed "Soul Swagger".
KaiL's debut effort, Heatstroke/The Wind and the War, was presented as a double EP which displayed the yin and yang of his musical range. A surprise nominee for NPR's Album Of The Year, it received critical acclaim, including a debut at SXSW, where Baxley was tapped as, "One ofNPR's top new artists" by All Songs Considered.
"His voice falls somewhere between Joe Cocker and Bill Withers
with a husky authority. The guy is a whiz-bang folkie-turned-soul-rocker
and has a voice which can make you dance or which melts butter,
depending upon the tune."
- Frank Gutch Jr. / Segarini
Lauren Ruth Ward
Baltimore bred, Los Angeles based singer/songwriter, Lauren Ruth Ward, is back in the studio recording new material as a follow-up to her recent self-titled EP.
While integrating herself into the LA community as a Barber/Colorist, Lauren is also tirelessly performing at venues such as: The Bootleg Theatre, The Echo, The Lyric, Dirty Laundry, Viper Room, The Mint, Echo Park Rising, Hotel Café and partnering with organizations like SoFar Sounds LA, World Arts, and Play Like a Girl.
Recently enlisting producer/engineer, Grey Goon (Champagne Fever, US Royalty) for her full length LP, Lauren has also partnered with former Paperhaus guitarist, Eduardo Rivera, resulting in songs that draw from early 60s blues/psychedelia to todays pop while still maintaining her distinctly unique vocal style.
Maxim Ludwig is a man of big appetites. In life and in art, he doesn't have much use for the word 'no', and he doesn't think you should either. Ludwig sees nothing wrong with drinking too much, eating too much, staying out too late or running a harmonica thru a talk box, vibrato pedal, and Leslie speaker. Yes, Maxim Ludwig is his real name.
Ludwig started out in L.A. playing roots rock in the late 2000's. He released his debut album as Maxim Ludwig and the Santa Fe Seven, in 2009 and the LA Times called him a, "brash maverick who sees rules to be broken and not followed". After becoming disillusioned with the music industry, he worked as a foreman in a Downtown L.A. packaging plant for close to two years. Then in 2014, he returned to embark as a solo performer on a three-month European and North American tour, opening for Robert Francis, for whom he also plays guitar and keyboards.
And now, for the first time, Ludwig is working under his own name exclusively and doing exactly what he wants to do, musically and otherwise. Ludwig says, "I was your typical angry young man and the songs reflected that." He admits that he listened to a lot of bad advice early in his career and strayed from his instincts. But on his new material, beginning with the forthcoming EP, "Is that A Real Song Or Did You Make It Up Yourself?" Ludwig is done compromising. "I didn't have a manager or a band or anyone giving me their two cents about these songs," says Ludwig "It was just me and my best friend [producer and engineer Sean O'Brien (Harriet)] trying to get to a place where it was something we wanted to listen to."
Ludwig's songs sound simultaneously brand new and hauntingly familiar. He takes his inspiration wherever it hits, drawing compulsively from Stax soul, outlaw country, krautrock, and Afrobeat—material he melts down and re-purposes like a mad sculptor. What keeps the sound grounded are the songs themselves. A student of the Brill Building school, Ludwig is a master of the classic pop song. He's a sucker for a great chorus and an undeniable hook. But where he takes the most pleasure is in the contradiction: writing songs that Elvis Costello could have penned but playing them like Sly Stone.
Ludwig lives his life teetering between brilliance and humiliation, ecstasy and despair. He's never shy with his body, always generous with his company. Hedonistic and passionate. His songs and live shows are a reckoning with the hunger that drives him to acts of recklessness, stupidity and sometimes even greatness. Indeed, Ludwig seeks greatness everywhere he can, pushing each chord progression and every drunken night to its fullest and purest realization.
Miya has been singing songs to her wall for a couple years now. She's ready to branch out to other people's walls and maybe even some humans. Her music draws from her classical singing background, the Buddhist chants of her youth, and good old, American folk songs. It's a dark, folksy, sometimes pop-y meditation on human and mother nature.
An imaginative electric orchestration of reverberating synth pop,” is how listeners best describe Los Angeles based musician, NK-Riot. Conjured and critiqued throughout the winter of 2013, NK-Riot has evolved to what can only be referred to as dark and revolutionary cyber-grind music.
By combining dance-punk, and chip-tune noise such as, computer glitches, dial tones, and sub-Phatty rhythms, NK-Riot produces a unique analog experience.
NK-Riot's recent acclaims flourish among LA's underground, as well as the U.K. The Self titled Ep, "NKRIOT”, Released in Fall of 2014, has made it's rounds on both grassroots compilation radio, and internet podcast, such as, 88.9 KXLU, 88.7 KSPC, and KSCR Podcast. In Early 2015 "LP DISCO 83" a single from the Self Titled Ep, released a music video with guest appearance cameo by Jeremy Ruzumna, Keyboard Player oKevin:m:m:f Fitz and The Tantrums, and also featuring the historic 6th Street bridge in Boyle Heights, LA.
The titled Ep, "Radio Walk”, featuring hit single "Hey It Ya”, has been in rotation on 94.7 Saint FM, along with the full length debut album, "Origins of Evolution." The LP demonstrates the beginning of a new musical direction; one that stems from the roots of funk, experimental rock, break-beat, fusion, trance, and dance.
Nk-Riot uses technology to share his vision with the public. Summer of 2015, NKRIOT developed his “Holo Display.” A hand-held, portable plastic device that users simply place on their mobile phones to see any holographic video in 3D. He released this device to the public to accompany his latest music video for the song “We are the Future.” To honor his love for the film “Back to the Future,” he worked alongside director Ben Trandem to take viewers on a journey through time. In the video, Nk-Riot drives around in a flashy Delorean, making for an amazing handheld adventure when viewed with the Holo-Display.
Nk-Riot has also put together his own music equipment setup called The Riot Lab. Made up of effects processors, synthesizers, and who knows what else, it is custom built, chrome-plated, and one of a kind. NK uses this unique machine to create electrifying, funky dance beats that can accompany electric guitar solos and vocals, making them sound arena-ready.
In addition to the raw eccentricities of this live solo-project, is the anonymity, in hopes to preserve the quality and focus of the music.
Nk-Riot’s first full length album is due in February of 2016 on limited-edition vinyl.
RYAN FULLER (Of Fort King)
It's been a busy year for newcomer Sam Morrow. Over the course of 15 months, he will have released his first two full length albums, a live in-the-studio EP with accompanying videos, be named an NPR "World Cafe Next" artist and play more than 100 shows, including an East Coast tour with blues legend John Mayall, kicking off The Bandit Town Festival and a successful SXSW as an official 2015 artist.
In 2014, Forty Below Records released Morrow's first record Ephemeral, about which influential Americana magazine No Depression declared, "Sam Morrow has crafted a sterling debut LP that offers ready comparisons to the inspiring melancholia of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, Steve Earle's Train a Coming and Jason Isbell's more recent Southeastern."
While Ephemeral introduced the world to Morrow's story and sound with a collection of haunting vignettes, his sophomore effort, There Is No Map, goes a couple steps further, exploring the joy ride before the hangover. Infused with an explorer's soul and world-weary eyes, the structure and heart of this album mimic Morrow's own growth as a person and artist. It's an undeniable celebration of life, in all its unvarnished glory
"soulful vocals, meaningful instrumentals and incredible lyricism." - Dom Vigil, The Prelude Press
"Without doubt, Morrow's freewheeling, experimental attitude, his self-assuredness mixed with self-awareness and his ability to bring people together in a creative environment makes him one of the exciting new fixtures in modern Americana." - Elmore Magazine
Winter is Samira Winter, Nolan Eley, Kyle Oppenheimer and Ana Karina DaCosta. The dream pop/shoegaze band started in Boston, MA with the initial collaboration between Samira Winter and Nolan Eley working on their first EP "Daydreaming," released last December. Now the full band is living in L.A., playing shows, working on new songs and always daydreaming.
The new LA line up consists of Samira Winter (Vocals/Guitar), Sam Glassberg (Lead Guitar), Joe Holcomb (Bass) and Jake Rokke (Drums) as well as Nolan Eley (producer).
Los Angeles native Saro’s music explores life’s darker side while still finding light within that space. It can be said that darkness breeds the best art. On his recently released debut EP In Loving Memory out now on his freshly minted Mateo Sound Label, songs like “Test” accompanied by a jarring visual, reach into themes of emotional convolution and resilience amidst painstaking grief. Other tracks like “Looking” and “Two Suns” showcase Saro’s distinct mastery in exploring the depths of human conscious via lyrically-charged works of forward-thinking noir pop. Stereogum hails Saro’s music calling it “deceptively penetrating pop craft.”
2017 has seen Saro begin to tease a sophomore EP. 1st EP single “Sky Doesn’t Blue” sets Saro's soaring, impassioned vocals to a down-tempo, trance-inducing beat, which Pigeons and Planes called "simultaneously sad and beautiful." 2nd single "Eyelids" focuses Saro's signature dark pop through a fresh new lens of noir disco grandeur, which NYLON found "electrifying." The soon-to-be-named sophomore EP is slated for a late 2017 release.
Saro’s live show is a powerful experience where he channels his deeply affecting electronic pop in a convergence with unique movement and physicality that touches on performance art. His visuals, which he co-directs, paint a beautiful yet dark picture that is an ethereal, strong, quiet presence on the brink of chaos.
Saro first debuted his live show early 2017 and has since played several LA dates, SXSW, and Brooklyn's Northside Festival (supporting Miguel)and will be part of this year’s Day For Night Festival in Houston in December.
Fall 2017 will see Saro continue to play club dates and festivals, which will fall alongside the rollout of his new EP.
SWIMM makes music with the concepts of weightlessness and fluidity as the common elements in their genre-blurred sound. Deciding against the status quo of practicing apathy, SWIMM pours every bit of themselves into their music. They recently moved from Florida to LA and have been throwing DIY shows that have built a reputation for ending in sweaty, mylar twirling dance parties.
I play guitar in Olin & The Moon. This is where i get my angst out. Over the years i have written hundreds of songs... the ones that i love, i give a voice, and i can't thank my brother and band and friends enough.
The sonic clouds above Wyatt Blair's song writting are wrapped in a bright orange wool blanket of shrinking guitar haze. He plucks and burns at his defensively crucial crossroads, then merrily shrugs goodbye to us while we approach each song's conclusion. A tasteful triumph to book end his anthems of love and mystery in unsung bleeding wrist scabs. His science is alarmingly innocent from track to track, each one allowing itself the ability to guiltlessly discern Mr. Blair's desires for affection. Desires that prove time and time again deserve unrattling.Wyatt Blair is a blessing and a curse. He's a man and a myth in the dramatically and hopelessly Shakespearian sense. A songwriter whose voice deserves to be famed. Whose twinkling veins are due for their close up. Who should be sung by farmers and car washes and gold fish. By anyone with lips and a chest cavity.