April 23, 2011 | Carlos Villarreal | KPCC
Carlos Villarreal/ KPCC
In a tiny Silverlake gallery, a ragtag group of artists and DJs come together twice a month to showcase a new breed of experimental, beat-driven hip-hop that has begun to flourish in Los Angeles.
Held inside Santa Monica Boulevard’s Ronin Gallery, Sound Wavs features a hybrid of hip-hop that relies more on a complex arrangement of fast pace beats mixed with quickly changing rhythms, with the emphasis on instrument tracks over lyrics.
At its last incarnation earlier this month, a standing-room-only crowd gathered in the gallery’s showroom as a young DJ, bathed in the blue light of a video projection, was hard at work.
“I think right now, what’s going on with this type of music, is that there is no real genre to label it as,’” said Anthony Jusi, a resident DJ for the event who goes by the name “Teams.” “My music in a nutshell is hip-hop influenced, with some weird stuff thrown in.”
Damon Minaey, one of the gallery’s curators, said the event took hold at the Ronin more by gravitational pull than by planning. “These guys just started to loiter here all day and we decided to connect the dots,” said Minaey. “It all just made sense.”
Minaey hopes that event will grow in popularity and be an outlet for people interested in this music, and indeed, the event has been gathering force.
“I think that the sounds are big, loud and boisterous, sort of like all these hipsters,” said David Lesnik, who came to see a friend perform.“I think it speaks volumes about this tight little circle.”
“This is a good private venue, where you can come see people making beats and non-traditional music,” said Minaey. “People can come dance, rap, listen to music. I think also people are not intimidated by it. You get to see really cool stuff. And who knows where this can go? People may talk about who they got to see perform here someday.”
Sound Wavs will be held Saturday, April 23, at the Ronin Gallery, 4210 Santa Monica Blvd. Silverlake, CA.
Originally published on Southern California Public Radio
Spirit Vine @ The Echo
Los Angeles, CA
Published originally on LA Record
It wasn’t that hard to convince a friend to accompany me Monday night and catch the second round of Spirit Vine’s residency at the Echo. After he answered my call with his usual warm welcome of, “What. What do you want?” I asked if he wanted to grab a drink and see a very Jonestown-ish, droney, down and out rock band. He replied, “Sounds promising…Plus, you owe me a drink.”
We arrived after the stupendous and always entertaining Dante vs. Zombies had finished their set. If you have never seen them before, picture a scene out of American Bandstand, where a mass of teens are shimmying around to the modern version of the Seeds. Infectious melodies, catchy hooks and the occasional matching uniform makes for a serious dance party. As Spirit Vine started to set up, I made good on my friend’s condition, rewarding him with the finest alcohol four dollars could buy, a PBR. As more souls found their way to the stage after sprint excursions in chain smoking and enjoying the best of four bucks, LA’s new answer to garage rock took the to the stage. As the band started to let loose, a video projection close to what you would get in an Alejandro Jodorowsky film began to paint the band an eerie blue. Watching the scenery on stage, I felt as if was transported back to the heyday of San Fran’s Civic Auditorium as lead crooner, Jacquelinne Cingolani’s deep and lusty voice bellowed through new material. Her pipes and swagger can make any boy weak in the knees.
The band’s sound is influenced by the heavy weights of psych and classic rock, but similar to rock revivalists, like the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Black Angels, Spirit Vine adds a bit of their own flare to the standard formula. Bassist Scott Bassman’s deep and rolling baseline began to make the glass in my hand vibrate a bit. As the band played on, Bassman’s belly rumbling bass lines were met by the sharp snap of drummer Jalise Woodward’s snare. As the old, grainy, 8mm footage swirled back and forth over Cingolani’s flowing hair, it made for the perfect backdrop for their performance. A few note sparse notes rang on the guitars, backed by echo and reverb, leading into choruses that will loop in your head.
Closing the night’s festivities was the psych-surf rock sounds of Rumspringa. The name is derived from the Amish rite of passage, where Amish teens are allowed to “sow their wild oats.” If they’re anything like the Catholic school kids I knew, they will become quite close with a character by the name of Jack Daniels.—Getting back to the band, lead vocalist and guitarist Joey Stevens is the sort of musician you would give your first born to be able to play like. He has the growl of a young Iggy with the riff expertise of a Jimi. Watching him finger pick on “Criminal Love,” it was as if he ran on auto pilot, as his little magic fingers squeezed out a riff that even had the sound guys taking notice. This would have been a great night to take your dad out, to finally prove to him that you listen to stuff that he would consider music. You can’t listen to Black Flag forever, or wait, strike that from the record, yes you can.