California Sounds: E Ruscha V video premiere, and new songs by Alice Bag, the Marías and Lord Huron
E Ruscha V, “Carried Away” (Beats in Space/RVNG Int’l). The first video from the artist born Eddie Ruscha’s forthcoming long-player would be best viewed in high res on a big flat screen — that is if you can’t find a drive-in movie screen. The video is flush with yellows and oranges, with the artist and musician moving along beaches and across rocks carrying a concave mirror as animated forms and lines swirl and melt. As he roams, the artist’s transfixing, relaxing instrumental electronic music offers a bed. The Times is premiering the video, directed by Dustin Lynn, below.
The track is taken from Ruscha’s first album under his own name after a series of records, digital tracks and cassettes as Secret Circuit, but he’s hardly a stranger to the city’s scene. Across his career, Ruscha, the son of visual artist Ed Ruscha, has worked with artists including Mia Doi Todd, Radar Bros., Medicine and Bebel Gilberto.
“Who Are You” is a relaxing and intricate work. Nine instrumentals that mix electronic and acoustic instruments, the music revels in texture and layers. Ruscha employs a kind of sonic pointillism to create swirling melodies and softened rhythms.
Those who like to hold their music in their hands would be advised to order directly from the label, as vinyl copies come with a stunning two-cassette set that gathers four volumes of Secret Circuit recordings. Called “The Cosmic Papers,” that work uses as source material Italian disco producer Daniele Baldelli’s weird remixes.
Alice Bag, “77” (Don Giovanni). The song’s title is inspired by the pay disparity between genders, but Los Angeles punkers could be forgiven for connecting Bag with the year 1977. She’s the co-founder of seminal L.A. punk band the Bags, whose gigs helped spawn a movement.
The new song and video stars two of these inheritors: former Bikini Kill and Le Tigre inciter Kathleen Hanna and Bratmobile and Sex Stains co-founder Allison Wolfe. As a trio of stereotypical secretaries, Bag and her background singers type and rage against a society that pays women 77% of what men make.
Like all great punk songs, it lives and dies on a handful of chords placed in a convincing order. “I make 77 cents on the dollar/It’s not fair and it makes me want to holler,” Bag sings. In the background, Hanna adds, “They work hard but I work harder.” The song is taken from Bag’s forthcoming album, “Blueprint,” which comes out on March 23.
The Marías, “Basta Ya” (Live at Krotona). For this live take on the group’s recent song “Basta Ya,” multi-instrumentalist Josh Conway, vocalist María and band added a horn player and set up at a former Krotona Institute of Theosophy in the Hollywood Hills. The Marías, who will perform at Coachella in April, issued its “Superclean Vol. 1” in the fall, and will follow that up with a second volume in the spring.
Is it super clean? Well, there’s no cussing, little distortion and barely any grit. But their work is hardly G-rated. Rather, as witnessed in their take on “Basta Ya,” the one-named María sings about a desire so urgent that her body’s suffering. As she does so, the musicians lay out a danceable groove that moves within a realm they’ve described as psychedelic soul music.
Lord Huron, “Wait by the River” (Whispering Pines/Republic). As a method of inspiration in writing his forthcoming record, “Vide Noir” (April 20), Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter Ben Schneider, who makes music as Lord Huron, took nighttime drives around the region. Advance release notes describe him imagining his project “as an epic odyssey through the city, across dimensions, and out into the cosmos.”
It’s tough to find L.A. in the first clip from that album, for “Wait by the River,” which features a barely animated image of lush greenery and a moonlit creek. Maybe it’s Topanga during a particularly wet winter? No matter. It’s a gorgeous song, one with the majesty of a 1950s doo-wop ballad. “I will wait by the river/By the light of the moon/By the edge of the city/I will wait for you,” Schneider sings as a piano echoes below.
As the song progresses, Schneider ponders his mortality while revealing some unnamed sin. “I won’t be forgiven for what I’ve done,” he cries out to the heavens in the next verse, cursing fate while retaining some hope: “If I can’t change the weather/Maybe I can change your mind.” Good luck.
10 a.m.: This article was updated to clarify that the Marías’ are a quintet and not a duo, and to correct the location of the video shoot.
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