Out the Ear Out Of Time
I have music conversations wherever I go.
Sometimes the only way to find something in common with someone is through music tastes. Of all the music conversations I have had, of many different genres, never in my life was I stumped on a music question, this, which happened a few weeks ago.
A friend of mine who was not from around these parts asked me what good band would I recommend that has come out of Los Angeles in the last 10 years? I was silent, pondering through my brain bands from Los Angeles that had come out recently. I couldn't answer my friend's question and said in a surprising and disappointed tone, "I don't know."
I could tell him of bands from New York, the bands from the UK, bands from Portland, OR, and even the whole scene stirring up in Nashville and the whole Southern states where bands like Kings of Leon, the Black Lips, Deerhunter and Be Your Own Pet were making a mark on the indie and music scene. But I could not think of a band that represented or made an impact in this indie decade that came from L.A.
Isn't L.A. the city that starts trends that other cities around the world want to emulate?
Los Angeles started the surfing scene in the early ‘60s with the Beach Boys; put sunset strip on the map in the late 1960s with cool clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go featuring iconic bands like The Doors. The late ‘70s and 80s brought the great punk music with bands like Black Flag and X. The sunset strip became famous again with venues like the viper room and the rainbow room making the whole "Hair band" scene global with Van Halen and Motley Crue.
The 80s and 1990s brought out hard rock scenes with still active bands like Korn, Slayer, Metallica, Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage against the Machine, and to a lesser extent Linkin Park. Beck, Elliot Smith and Weezer brought out the alternative scene in the 90s, and also the "gangsta" rap scene became global but originated in L.A.
L.A. has made an impact on every single decade so what happened to this one?
You might be asking yourself "I know a lot of bands, what about Silversun Pickups? The Mars Volta?"
I am aware of those bands, I could add Cold War Kids, Phantom Planet, Hellogoodbye to that list, but they really have not created music that has been followed and they have not made an impact that has made our city be in the ranks of New York and Glasgow.
Silverlake is where people tell me to go to find the scene deemed "The New Seattle" of the 90s. It's an illustrious, eclectic place but it was cool for like three years. It even got an article in Spin magazine, describing venues to go to and record stores that no longer exist.
Perhaps for a moment between 2005 and 2007, Silverlake was going to be "The New Seattle" but it lost its glimmer and now it's just a hipster hangout with overpriced boutiques and too cool looking snobs.
There have been two L.A. bands that have made an impact on the decade. Weezer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Although these guys hit their peak in the 90s, their albums sure made a mark on the aught decade with Pepper's "Stadium Arcadium" and "By The Way." Weezer ‘s "Make Believe" made every one of their singles a hit and their self-titled "Red Album" also has been a massive hit.
We cannot forget genius Beck with his insightfully profound albums "Guero," "The Information," and "Modern Guilt."
But again, these are artists that come from the 1990s not from today. There are good L.A. bands out there, Cold War Kids, No Age, The Mars Volta, The Bird and the Bee, and Silversun Pickups but they are sub-par compared to Beck and Weezer.
It's kind of disappointing that the decade is ending and this city has really nothing to show for it, music wise. Perhaps in the next ten years, we can regain our trendsetting trophy and have a new L.A. sound.
Watch L.A. band videos at outtheear.blogspot.com and discuss this striking conundrum.