California Sounds: New music from Ty Dolla Sign, Fiona Apple and the Marias

MR PORTER Celebrates: ‘Made in California’
Ty Dolla Sign
(Hagop Kalaidjian /

The Marias, “… Baby One More Time” (Superclean). This just-issued video and cover of Britney Spears’ first hit arrives via the Marias with a simple caption: “We love you, Britney.” Given the timing, the clip might be referencing Spears’ recent legal battles regarding her conservatorship (her father oversees her assets and much of her personal life) and if so, the rendition reads like a note passed under a door.

Where Britney’s original is propelled with synth-pop energy, the Marias’ version is more subdued, as is the raw, grainy video. The Marias were born via a chance meeting at the Kibbitz Room at Canter’s Deli, but there’s not a palm tree to be found in the clip. Rather, singer María Zardoya and band roam through verdant, damp countryside in a vintage Mercedes convertible.

Ty Dolla Sign featuring J. Cole, “Purple Emoji” (Atlantic). The first single from the forthcoming album by the artist born Tyrone Griffin mixes the vibe of 1970s soul with a wobbly, pitch-corrected contemporary sheen. That stands to reason: As the son of a horn player who worked with Teena Marie, the Brothers Johnson, Minnie Riperton and others, he was born into the music.


Since his ascent starting in the late 2000s, Ty Dollar Sign has become one of the most in-demand hook singers in rap and pop, adding pitch-perfect texture to tracks by Post Malone, Travis Scott, Mac Miller, Fifth Harmony and Meek Mill — to say nothing of his frequent collaborations with YG.

“Purple Emoji” features rapper J. Cole, but it’s Ty’s jam. It opens with the pops and hisses of a dusty album and a hissy, treble-heavy tone before deepening as the groove arrives. With a double-tapped snare rhythm and bottom-end rumble, the track carries the love-struck singer as he lyrically expresses the peaks and valleys of monogamy.

Though no release date is set for the album, during a recent conversation Ty said that it’s rich with collaborations — including a few with his late friend and high-school classmate, Nipsey Hussle.


Soundtrack, “Echo in the Canyon” (Clean Slate). Produced in conjunction with the new documentary on the Laurel Canyon music scene, this kinda-sorta tribute album gathers artists including Norah Jones, Regina Spektor and Cat Power to collaborate with producer-Wallflower Jakob Dylan on Canyon classics.

No, the above sentence wasn’t written in the early 2000s, even if many of the musicians contributing to this collection earned peak attention then. And if the renditions of L.A.-born songs by the Mamas and the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds and others also might have been recorded then too, it’s only because the compositions themselves are so solid.

The record’s opening track features Dylan and singer-songwriter Jade Castrinos, who bursts into the song’s chorus — originally delivered by “Mama” Cass Elliot — with a breathtaking vocal run that she reshapes across the three minutes. Castrinos, best known for her role in Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ breakout success, delivers a challenge to those who follow.

Dylan and singer-songwriter Fiona Apple bring some swing to Brian Wilson’s melancholy “In My Room,” trading lines and verses amid sublime vocal harmonies. Instrumentally, the song cherry-picks from Wilson’s tonal palette, adding precisely placed vibraphone dots and sparse electric guitar. And singer-songwriter Beck puts on his jangle cap to celebrate the Byrds’ take on “The Bells of Rhymney.”

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

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