Finding a space, and a sound
For the Sound Team, it was all about creative space — specifically, 1,500 square feet of studio in Austin, Texas, where the sextet fidgeted, experimented and finally arrived at the wide-ranging songs on its debut album, "Movie Monster," released last week on Capitol Records.
"Having the studio was the important thing, important in making decisions and arriving at what we like," co-founder Matt Oliver says.
Indeed, committing its songs to tape was no rush job for the band, which road-tested its material for a year before settling in. "So much importance is placed on debut albums these days," Oliver says. "We put it off and put it off."
What the Sound Team ended up with is an indie-sounding album that sounds as if it could have been made by any number of squads. ("Sure, it would have been cooler to be on an indie label, but I could not have taken my indie cred to the store and buy groceries," Oliver says.) "Movie Monster" is alternately pulsing and dark, catchy and punchy, synthetic and organic, as if fluttering around to consciously avoid being pigeonholed — or to offer itself as a mix tape for a generation only a click away from the next artist.
Oliver, who with bandmates Bill and Michael Baird, Sam Sanford, Gabe Pearlman and Jordan R. Johns visits the Troubadour tonight, says the array of sounds is more a result of the collaborative way the band works. "Everybody has their own palette of sounds they work with," he says. "They use them to color the songs."
Hip-hop you can belly-dance to
Worlds may not exactly collide on "Frequency," the new album by the world music/electronica duo Naked Rhythm, but they sure do get together, hip to hip, body to body. In fact, the prevailing urge upon hearing what tag-team producers Avi Sills and Alex Spurkel have hatched is to dance.
Take the song "Babylon," which features soulful vocals from Oakland rapper Brutha Los and Palestinian singer Woroud Antabil over Arabian instrumentation (not to mention atmospherics from duduk master Djivan Gasparian). It's hip-hop you can belly-dance to.
"It's deep and sweet, a great hip-hop song, and the belly-dance community is going crazy for it," Sills says. "But a lot of what we do is draw on the resources of ancient music whose roots go a lot deeper than we do. You start getting people jumping up and down, and they're 70 years old."
"Frequency," due July 18 on Glendale-based Caravan Records, features plenty of house, techno and lounge flavors, all sexed up by their Latin, Indian and Arabic stylings. Spurkel acknowledges the duo "pulled a lot of favor cards" to mine the talents of their myriad collaborators, but the challenge — "to fuse ancient and modern, East and West" — made the task less daunting.
"I had one interviewer tell me, 'It's a great compilation,' " Sills says, "and I guess in some ways it is. But Alex and I are both percussionists and both students of world music. Maybe on the next album instead of 10 styles, we'll home in on three of them."
Naked Rhythm performs Friday at the Derby. There will be belly-dancing.
Some country at Sunset Junction
The Sunday installment of this year's Sunset Junction Street Fair will have a distinct twang — with the likes of Dave Alvin, Hank Williams III and the Cramps anchoring a lineup that includes the Cousin Lovers, Mike Stinson and I See Hawks in L.A.
The street fair, which offers three stages of musical entertainment booked by Spaceland, is Aug. 26 and 27.
The Elected, Redd Kross, Eels and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club provide the nighttime music on the Bates Stage on Saturday, when promising up-and-comers the Little Ones, Lavender Diamond, Darker My Love and the Minor Canon also perform.
Touts: Is it proper to say we're curious about the Bird and the Bee? That's the name of the new collaboration between Beck/Gwen Stefani keyboardist Greg Kurstin and songstress Inara George. They will play their jazz-inflected compositions tonight and next Thursday at Tangier.... On its debut, "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen," Illinois quartet the Forecast doesn't project any of the contrived angst of many of its Victory Records label mates; the band visits the Knitting Factory on Monday.... The Hollywood & Highland center kicks off its live music Thursdays tonight with a performance by L.A.'s Whitestarr.... Mardo, joined by Driveblind and Golden State tonight at the Viper Room, will be playing material from its new album, "The New Gun." ... And spun a copy of "Love the Virgins," the forthcoming debut album by L.A. trio Gliss. Memo: Hit one of the final two Mondays of their residency this month at the Silverlake Lounge.
-- Kevin BronsonCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times