Chanteuse dons a different type of ‘Glitter’
As if L.A. fixture Abby Travis didn’t come off as restless enough on her last album, 2002’s “Cutthroat Standards & Black Pop,” the chanteuse/actress/provocateur/sidewoman branches out even further on her new “Glitter Mouth.”
To her stylish pop and loungey cabaret stylings, Travis has added excursions into trip-hop (Dr. Dre studio man Lamont Hyde is among “Glitter Mouth’s” many collaborators), fashioning an album that is alternately brainy and sensual, and consistently engaging.
“I guess I have genre ADD,” she says, “but a lot of my records are like that. It’s good to present different sides of our personality or artistic vision.... The last record was very piano-driven and pretty intellectual in that way. But this is more bass-driven and sexy.”
No surprise Travis would matriculate in that direction, given her history. She started in the late ‘80s as bassist for the teen queens the Love Dolls and performed that duty for a host of top-drawer acts in the ensuing years. Her own work often lands on the back burner.
“There’s only so much you can do when you’re on tour with other bands,” she says. “The problem is not so much writing the material; the hard part is getting it recorded.”
To that end, “Glitter Mouth” took a village. Longtime Travis collaborators Kristian Hoffman and Dave Bongiovanni were on board, joined by an army of talent including Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins), Curt Kirkwood (Meat Puppets) and Donita Sparks (L7).
Travis will celebrate this week’s release of “Glitter Mouth” with a free show Sunday night at El Cid in Silver Lake, with DJs Clem Burke and Kevin Fitzgerald spinning.
Aspiring to join rock’s royalty
Singer Guinevere King knows about rock stars. She worked in client services at the Record Plant, catering to the needs of rock royalty when they visited the Hollywood studio. There, she met guitarist David Kelly, an aspiring engineer, and two years later, as half of the L.A. quartet the Distants, they have designs on taking a bigger stage themselves.
Their debut, “Broken Gold” (out Aug. 15 on indie Blue Cave Records), harbors similarly lofty ambitions, with King’s siren vocals riding the waves of Kelly’s sprawling guitar. Not surprisingly, the result sounds like a fusion of some of King’s favorite bands -- the Sundays, early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, My Bloody Valentine and Blondie.
“When David and I first started collaborating, we thought, ‘Let’s space it out and not try to write verse-chorus-verse,’ ” King says of the Distants’ evolution, which kicked into gear when the duo met bassist Steve Alderfer and drummer Jamie Douglass through friends.
Though Kelly, who produced the album, is the “musical mastermind” behind the Distants’ sound, King says much of the content was influenced by her experiences, including the death of her brother a couple of years ago.
“There are songs about loss and abandonment and those kind of issues, but some are on the happier tip,” she says. “A lot are just an expression of what it’s like in L.A.”
The Distants play Tuesday at the Silverlake Lounge.
* Touts: L.A. quartet Gran Ronde plays its first headlining show Tuesday at the Troubadour, and among the supporting acts are the very tuneful William Tell and the dynamic duo In Waves.... Brooklyn’s Say Hi to Your Mom, the electropop act fronted by L.A. native Eric Elbogen, returns for a show Friday at the Echo.... Speaking of Brooklyn bands, Dirty on Purpose hits Spaceland on Saturday behind its new album “Hallelujah Sirens,” a mesmerizing slice of shambolic shoegaze.... Placerville’s Bright Light Fever, whose upcoming album “The Evening Owl” was produced by Joby Ford of the Bronx, visit to play the Echo on Monday and Safari Sam’s on Tuesday.... Grant-Lee Phillips, touring behind his new album “nineteeneighties” (acoustic covers of songs by such artists as the Psychedelic Furs, R.E.M. and the Church) performs at Largo on Saturday.... And local legend and hip-hop wordsmith Busdriver has signed to Epitaph/Anti-.
-- Kevin Bronson
* Watch the video for Abby Travis’ “Now Was” by clicking on “media” at www.abbytravis.com.
* Stream the Distants’ “The Further the Earth Gets From the Sun” at www.myspace.com/thedistants.
* Download Gran Ronde’s “Say Say Say” at www.myspace.com/granronde.
* Watch the video for Dirty on Purpose’s “Light Pollution” at www.youtube.com/watchv1PbLEnoR7co