California Sounds: New L.A. music and mixes from the Side Eyes, Carlos Niño, Tara Jane O'Neil and Wand

California Sounds: New L.A. music and mixes from the Side Eyes, Carlos Niño, Tara Jane O'Neil and Wand
Carlo Nino, whose forthcoming album is called "Going Home." (Brian Tamborello)

The Side Eyes, "So Sick" (In the Red). Earlier in the summer, this L.A. band celebrated its roots with a gig titled "Punk is Dad." They shared the bill with iconic L.A. punk band Redd Kross, whose co-founder, Jeff McDonald, is Side Eyes singer Astrid McDonald's dad. Her mom? Guitarist Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go's.

Lineage noted, Side Eyes' debut album for the lauded northeast L.A. label In the Red is harder, faster and louder than her parents' bands — at least when they want it to be.


Featuring three- and four-chord songs that seldom extend past the two-minute mark, the dozen jams on "So Sick" are as direct as they are urgent.

"Cat Call" decries public gawkers; "Guy/Chick" addresses Astrid's desire for "a man who can dress like a chick"; "I Don't Want to Go to School" is self-explanatory. Punk may be dad, but in Astrid's hands, punk is daughter, too.

Carlos Niño & Friends, "Organic Self" (Leaving Records). The Los Angeles artist, producer, DJ, arranger and connector has played a quiet but crucial role in the evolution of free-form beat music in Los Angeles. A longtime Dublab operative, founder of Build an Ark and collaborator with composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Niño hosted the influential KPFK-FM radio show "Spaceways," which celebrated musical mysticism, Afrofuturism and free jazz.

The first track to surface from "Going Home," his forthcoming fifth album under the Carlos Niño & Friends banner, is a wildly propellent track — New Age on steroids? — that opens with the sound of crickets and a tense strings-and-snare pattern.

The song blossoms with bass midway through, as if sunlight has warmed the manic rhythm enough to sprout bottom-end roots. As the piece evolves, chimes and bells swoop in like a breeze.

"Going Home," which comes out Oct. 20, features friends including Atwood-Ferguson, the Los Angeles-based Ghanian xylophone master SK Kakraba, New Age composer Iosas and hotshot percussionist Deantoni Parks (Flying Lotus, the Mars Volta, Omar Rodríguez-López). Niño & Friends will tour Europe in the fall.

Tara Jane O'Neil, "Fact Mix #618" (Fact). For this new mix in the British magazine's ongoing series, the L.A.-based O'Neil entangles visionary female voices including Judee Sill, Solange, Alice Coltrane, Joni Mitchell and others, who combine to create an hour-long series of epiphanies.

O'Neil, who moved to Los Angeles a half-decade ago after years spent in Louisville, recently issued a quietly breathtaking album on the avant-folk label Gnomonsong, and the music she chose for the mix is a precise distillation of her aesthetic.

Among the most striking is "Theme 002" by the Chicago jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch, which couples relentless percussion with her sparse horn runs. O'Neil segues that into Solange's "Weary," from her "A Seat at the Table," and follows that with a late-period Joni Mitchell piece, "Shine," from her 2007 album of the same name.

Wand, "Plum" (Drag City). The longest song on the wild psych-punk band Wand's first album in two years opens with a series of minimal, rhythmic tones before locking into a decidedly urgent melody and groove.

Filled with tangled guitar lines that suggest New York art-punk band Television, precisely placed piano chords that serve as a kind of rudder and an improvised break that suggests some of the more twisted Grateful Dead instrumental diversions, "Blue Cloud" vibes like a prog-rock jam minus any pretense.

Elsewhere on the album, which comes out Sept. 22, the five-piece creates gentle beauty during "Charles De Gaulle," a work that, like many Wand songs, shifts gears two-thirds of the way through, this one with the introduction of tribal tom-toms and bells. "White Cat" finds its drive inside a noisy synth arrangement, one that competes with electric guitar for supremacy.

For tips, records, snapshots and stories on Los Angeles music culture, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter and Instagram: @liledit. Email: