So yesterday I ventured out of Hollywood for the first time. It was hard dragging myself away from the beautiful young things with whom I’d been sat next to the sun-drenched pool quaffing mineral water with extracted minerals. But I braved it in the name of Californian smog-psych.
(Hang on, don’t you want minerals in water? Aren’t they good for you? Hence the name. Hmmm, well, it tasted pretty ‘zingy’).
Speaking of these beautiful young things, by heck they’re a multi-talented bunch round these parts. I’ve lost count of the amount of bronzed young twigs I’ve come across whose vocal CV proclaims them actors-slash-writers-slash-directors-slash-singers-slash-presenters-slash-bus-boys/girls. At least six of which have laid claim to within three to four degrees of separation from Simon Cowell, and seemed almost surprised that I couldn’t better that, being British’n’all.
Darker My Love, Echo Park, LA
But yes, down the vast outstretch of sticky freeway tarmac into the depths of Echo Park I went. The hilly inner-city Mexican/imported hipster hybrid community full of chipped-paint villas and grubby apartment blocks. It’s kinda the Williamsburg, or Shoreditch of LA. Cheap rent, full of skinny-jeaned greasy creative layabouts. Dossers. Y’know the types.
Darker My Love’s shoot went down at guitarist Jared’s house (see picture below). It’s this shady detached complex at the top a big winding stone staircase and gardens overlooking Echo Park itself.
Despite being full of some grade-A nobscratches, Echo Park has an infinitely cooler hive of bands than east London.
Maybe it’s the jaw-droppingly cheap Mexican take-out. Maybe it’s the fact any fuckwit can scrimp together the cash for a spacious room on half a job. Maybe it’s the stiflingly strong weed you can buy from special clinics with these weird little prescribed license card thingies.
Or maybe the fact that it’s January 18 and we’re all sat out at 8pm encased in a blissfully warm breeze of sundown euphoria, chatting away the world’s problems with 1-dollar stubby beers. Who knows?
When I arrived the band had been bickering over who was gonna be the token naked guy in the austere, regal set-up our snapper had composed in Jared’s taxidermy filled wood-panel living room. Jared had already spent 20 minutes upstairs only to emerge downstairs buckling his belt after chickening out.
Guitarist Tim eventually manned up to the task at hand as you can see:
It turned out to be a bit of an LA punk-scene love-in, when DML’s Andy’s ex-Distillers band-mate Tony (now in Brody Dalle’s new band Spinerette) showed up to catch a gander of Pete’s legendary manhood (he’s in the foreground in the below photo, looking on mockingly).
As it turns out DML have a variety of rather tasty indie-mafia connections, not least from bassist Rob, who produced the last Soft Pack EP, and regularly plays on the records of the best singer-songwriter in the whole damn world right now, Cass McCombs.
Time for today’s Cali psych band tip, as tonight I shall be hosting an audience with Long Beach’s Crystal Antlers. Regular gigging pals with DML, and similarly all ex-punks ploughing murkier swathes of densely-layered smoggy psych.
Except CA trade in DML’s Creation Records geekery with furrowed brow, corkscrewed psychosis. They’re an intense, blood-curdling ride, and someone we’ve been hella-excited about since seeing them at CMJ in New York last November.
Here’s a download for Crystal Antlers’ song ‘A Thousand Eyes’.
Oh by the way, LA’s indie community has been plunged into a state of mini-hysteria today. Indie 103, the talismanic alternative radio station that hosts the flagship show ‘Jonesey’s Jukebox’ from local ex-pat and Sex Pistol Steve Jones, has announced it’s going internet only, with apocalyptic-sounding “We will not be forced to play Britney” messages punctuating every song since we switched on yesterday morning.
Apparently it’s due to demands to play more mainstream stuff from the guys who recently bought the station. This has basically rendered it obsolete to LA kids as everyone spends 97.5% of their lives in cars. RIP indie 101.3.