Many cities boast about their scenes, and rightly so. Few if any, though, have such a range of sounds as Los Angeles. It's overwhelming, as evidenced by the volume of artists trekking eastbound along Interstate 10 toward Austin, Texas. For those headed to the annual
Kelela: Last year, the
Samo Sound Boy: This producer first popped as part of the so-called moombahton beat scene that drew on heavy bass and half-time tempos, but through his rise over the last few years, the artist born Sam Griesemer has sped his beats while dipping from acid house, cumbia, minimal techno and Chicago footwork. As co-founder, with JeromeLOL, of the wildly joyous Body High label, the crew is bringing hard, retro-ish dance vibes heavy on the Roland 808 drum machine and bounding with celebratory energy — raw, fast and loud. Expect sweat, bass and repetition.
Burgermania III party: The thriving Burger Records empire of Fullerton throws its third annual party in Austin, and it's a virtual tsunami of youth running wild. The label, which celebrates indie garage pop, punk, experimental and whatever else will fit on a cassette tape, will have four stages set up at the Hotel Vegas and feature, by my count, 52 different acts, including the Growlers, Audacity, the Pharaohs, Coathangers, La Luz and Together Pangea. If there's a next
YG/DJ Mustard/Ty Dolla Sign: Call it ratchet, call it post-crunk, call it party music, but regardless of the name, Compton rapper YG's sound is just about to blow. Long signed to Def Jam/Universal, the artist's debut album, featuring hard, minimal production from DJ Mustard, is called "My Krazy Life" and finally arrives March 18. The record's got some heavy cameos:
Cherry Glazerr: Loosely delivered indie pop that succeeds less on technique than hand-sewn joy a la the Moldy Peaches and K Records, this band is part of the Burger Records posse. The group's recently released first album, "Haxel Princess," features a dozen guitar songs sung by Clementine Creevy, the best of which, the title track, is both hummable and infectious.
Innovative Leisure showcase: The consistently surprising L.A. label Innovative Leisure presents its roster in Austin with a party featuring some of its newest and best signings, including Bass Drum of Death,
Vince Staples: This Long Beach rapper has been bubbling for the last few years, and was an early affiliate of Odd Future before Earl Sweatshirt traveled to Samoa to straighten himself out. Staples struck on his own, though, and has patiently been building his portfolio while shining his delivery. Last year's "Stolen Youth" mixtape was produced by Mac Miller, and Staples' eagerly anticipated follow-up, a sequel to his debut, called "Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2," will soon see release.
Vertical Scratchers: Recently signed to the lauded Merge Records (
Tom Brosseau: Part of the close-knit songwriting community centered on the club Largo in L.A., this singer-songwriter is lesser known than Nickel Creek or Jon Brion, but his approach to music is just as assured. After a stint on the respected Fat Cat Records, Brosseau released his new "Grass Punks" locally, and the result is uniformly beautiful: sparse, emotionally rich and melodically dynamic. Brosseau's a natural onstage, as anyone who's ever seen him perform with actor-singer John C. Reilly as part of his classic country music ensemble knows.
Zig Zags: Any act that's backed Iggy Pop is worth a listen, and even more so one that joined the godfather of punk for a cover of soul freak Betty Davis' "If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up." The three-piece Zig Zags don't futz around: Over a few 45s and a collection of singles, the band has thrived in that sweet spot between hard-core punk and raw heavy metal — like where