I have thanked veteran rockers in the past, I have acknowledged how blessed I was to have seen in concert rock stars such as the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney or Iggy Pop, they are icons and have changed the face of music. But what about young bands? Very young ones, I am even talking about teenagers. I had the chance to see burgeoning talents in action, and bands so good you cannot believe they are still in their teens. Technically, not all of them are still in their teens, although I was not able to verify the age of everyone on this list, but they are certainly not very much older, and they all have started playing and composing music when they were teenagers. Here is a list of Los Angeles young bands, I may have forgotten a few, but these 10 ones are extremely good. And did you notice all these fierce frontgirls? Amazing!
The Regrettes: Fronted by the bold and wise-beyond-her-age Lydia Night, the band plays bright hooks with a punk fury and an immediate urgency. Surrounded by Genessa Gariano on guitar, Sage Nicole on bass and Maxx Morando on drums, Lydia commands the stage with a rare ease, confidence and determination while telling us these very personal stories. The music shows an undeniable and exuberant love of the 60’s, even their name sounds retro, but the rhythms and lyrics are 100% 2017. These teenagers have already a deal with Warner Bros., they are touring abroad this fall, everybody is talking about them, and they could be the next riot grrrls.
The Tracks: they opened for the Regrettes this summer at the Levitt Pavilion, and they barely looked older. They gave an explosive performance driven by frontman Venancio Bermudez’s impetuous singing, and an ardor in the guitars which was reminiscent of English post-punk/rock bands. If I got a few Richie Valens flashbacks while watching them, their sound was more 80s than 60s, and these young sons of Latino immigrants were playing like the Smiths of the ghettos with Selena in mind.
Starcrawler: Raucous shows, fake blood, psychiatry ward robe, fury and debauchery, I have written about these kids too many times, but since they are teenagers they are also on this list! They are now conquering the world, touring Europe and playing Desert Daze with Iggy and Cal Jam 17 with the Foo Fighters next month. Their stage antics have no limit, they play in a constant assault mode, and their heavy and furious guitar riffs have shades of Black Sabbath and the Stooges. They are here to stay and I can’t wait to see them again twice in October.
Pinky Pinky are three teenager girls, with an interesting sweet bluesy sound led by Anastasia Sanchez’ s Janis-Joplin-meets-Corin-Tucker soulful howl, . With their retro thrift-shop look, they mix a large dose of garage surf-rock with psychedelic blues and a touch a doo-wop, but they can get very inventive. Their EP was produced and recorded by Hanni El Khatib and Jonny Bell (Crystal Antlers), but of course they are all about girl power once again.
Ray Goren is certainly a child prodigy, he has been playing the blues since he was a kid, he has been covering Jimi Hendrix for GuitarWorld, has already played with Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Robbie Krieger, Leon Russell, Deacon Jones, and even B.B. King! He is still a teenager but precisely plays like the King, with face contortions and giant bluesy guitar licks, he feels each second of his music and lives through each distortion coming from his guitar. With an unassuming attitude but a great assurance, he can get monster riffs from his pedals and shows you very fast that he knows his subject like a pro. As his music builds up at each grin of pain and effort that transpires on his face, you soon forget he is so young.
The Lemon Twigs are also rock prodigy, I saw them last year at Amoeba when the two brothers were still 17 and 19, and enjoyed their set filled with surprises and an unleashed playfulness. They jump like rabbit while playing music with a foot in the golden age of power pop and infectious choruses. Is it possible to hear The Beatles, Elton john, Queens and Bowie during a 5-song set while watching some true rock & roll leg kicking? The Lemon Twigs are lively, colorful, inventive and talented, and I am happy to see them next month at the Teragram.
The Side Eyes: Frontgirl Astrid McDonald has to be ‘the next generation of rock’ n’ roll freaks’ – she is the daughter of Jeff McDonald of Red Kross, Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go’s. With this pedigree she is of course already fronting a punk band with punch and attitude and some real riot grrrl intonations. The band quartet can produce some dark punk energy with doomed and violent head-banging, or they can get lighter, poppier and bouncier at times, but they always kick ass.
Yip Yops: I am gonna see these kids once again tomorrow at the Sunstock Solar festival, as they seem to be everywhere these days… I am not sure of their age, but they look very young, while playing a mix of 80s dance/dark new wave/punk with tons of synth and guitar, combined with a high-energy frontman. There have been comparisons with INXS’ Michael Hutchence and Jim Morrison, but their songs are often complex with unexpected developments, borrowing gothic tones and dance grooves from the past, but still bringing plenty of originality. People say they could be the next big thing.
Girlpool: Cleo Tucker (guitar, vocals) and Harmony Tividad (bass, vocals) are probably out of their teen years now, but they have been charming crowds of teenagers for years. Their music is unbelievably stripped down, but the main element of their songs is their delicately intertwined harmonies, sang with a sort of fierce girl-power attitude. Their songs can be slow, but there are punk at heart and install a sort of melancholia deep inside these top-of-the-lungs vocals. It’s minimalism with the biggest effect, lo-fi genre for empowerment, and the punk attitude is entirely in the lyrics.
Cherry Glazerr: I am not exactly sure of Clementine Creevy’s age (19?) but she is fronting a great garage pop-punk band with toughness and the right attitude. The band manages to keep a difficult balance between honeyed harmonies and an aggressive delivery, while the mood is rather dark, and the surf guitar is filled with reverb and dissonance. And they keep getting better, punkier, wilder, stronger and there are some real finds in their surprising and rewarding songs.
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