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Fifteen Essential Los Angeles Indie Bands

KW

Kan Wakan

Here are 15 indie bands you should know if you live in Los Angeles.

Kan Wakan: a sumptuous symphonic band with layers of instrumentation and a cinematic approach to music. Their album is a lush orchestral affair, with poignant strings and Kristianne Bautista’s amazing and soulful voice. A must have and the vision of a duo consisting of composer-producer-founder Gueorgui I. Linev (aka Crooked Waters) and guitarist and co-producer Peter Potyondy who have collaborated with several vocalists in the vein of Massive Attack, Air or Zero 7. Essential tracks: ‘Forever Found’

Corners: They are on all my lists this year because their style, confidence and attitude are right on. I liked their nervousness and dangerous sound mixing an almost goth vibe with a surf wave, blending propulsive guitars with a dark synth and cold vocals, and starting a riot each time. Essential track: ‘Pressure’

Obliterations: A furious and huge punk hardcore sound that instantaneously installs mayhem on a sunny California day. Sam James Velde’s yell is an empowering fury that annihilates everything around while their fusion of metal, hard-rock and hardcore assaults make them the incestuous offspring of Black Sabbath and Black Flag. Essential track: ‘Pay to Live’

Girlpool: a lo-fi girl duo with clever songs and harmonies galore over guitar and bass in the true riot grrl spirit. Dark and melodic, feminist and vulnerable, these two can express a lot with a minimalism style: Essential track: ‘Jane’.

Cherry Glazerr: Their loud songs sound like gentle pop retaining some subjacent fury with Clementine Creevy’s cute and delicate vocals driving her garage surf-rock with toughness. She can go from ethereal ooo-oos to grungy groans, and the whole thing balances between honeyed harmonies, aggressive delivery, or abrupt tempo changes. Essential track: ‘Haxel Princess’.

Sex Stains: New punk band of ex-riot grrl Allison Wolfe who shares the vocals with Mecca Vazie Andrews. Their music is a very buoyant dialogue between the two, going all punchy and bouncy, dissonant and sexy, in a very riotous tradition. A chaotic and total girl-power revolt. Essential track: ‘Don’t Hate Me Cuz I’m Beautiful

Bonfire Beach: A tough-as-a-leather-jacket sound which may make you think about something close to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, retaining a dark and hypnotic wall of fuzz, producing propulsive and very danceable melodies. Did I say they were totally badass? Essential track: ‘Spit U Out’

Washing Machines: Noise makers à la Sonic Youth via Nirvana, the Pixies and a plethora of post-punk-grunge influences. They can build a monster sound with super loud and pounding drumming and enough distortion to burry the tips of their melodies and the Kurt-Cobain-influenced groan. They are passionate, angry and violent and they are still kids living in the 90s, but giving away all their influences in the titles of their songs. Essential track: ‘Big Cyst’

Dead Dawn: A scary punk rock band fronted by the intense China Morbosa who acts like the offspring of Sid Vicious and Siousxsie and the Banshees. Dark and creepy, they play a sort of doom punk-metal with a vision of the apocalypse and some real rage shouted in the dark beyond the neon lights. Essential track: ‘No Easy Way Out of Hollywood’

Silver Hands: a Los Angeles-San Francisco electronic duo with a girl playing the softer side of Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss. The music is part glittery synth, part hypnotic dance number mixing beats with whimsical vocals. Their shows have a very visual effect, thanks to the Dorothy-Gale-meets-Jessica-Rabbit frontgirl who can blend with ease bold moves with operatic howls, swag with sweetness. Essential track: Skulls

Gateway Drugs: A band that had a fight with rock ’n’ roll royalty — Frances Bean Cobain’s fiancé — in order to keep their moniker. As a result they even came up with the song ‘Los Angeles Will Have Its Revenge on Frances Bean’! This is a truly upcoming band with a sound between Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Dandy Warhols, or even the Warlocks, and a loud psychedelia mixing rituals and mystery. Essential track: ‘Los Angeles Will Have Its Revenge on Frances Bean’

Girl Tears: True punk trio playing fast and furious bullet-like short songs. They have managed to capture the essence of punk rock with shouted vocals, fast-mosh-starting tunes, abrupt stop and start and giant sing-along hooks. Essential track: ‘Kill for Love’.

Froth: Punk-surf garage-rock band with a poppy retro sound, so sweet and psychedelic you want to dance with flowers in you hair and weed in your hand. They are part of the Burger-Lolipop Records crowd despite the fact that they are still kids, but they are the cool Californian beach kids. Essential track: ‘General Education’

De Lux: They sound like Talking Heads meets LCD Soundsystem and their maxy-funky-disco can turn into infectious dance numbers. There is no way you can resist to move to ‘Better at Making Time’. They have an expansive sound, and despite all the references to David Byrne they don’t sound like a rip off. Instead, they are a post-disco groovy band, effortlessly and unpretentiously looking for new space, new jams, new grooves and making people dance. Essential track: ‘Better at Making Time’.

Kera and the Lesbians: Don’t be fool by their retro look and laid back attitude, they are a punk band playing a sort of cabaret-gypsy-folk music, including trumpet and funny percussion, that Kera herself calls ‘bipolar folk’. It is indeed moody but passionate, gritty, foot-kicking, and a lot of fun, moving like a crazy-maniac dance with violent and bold outbursts. Essential track: ‘Green

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