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Article: Listening to Los Angeles

Best Coast

Listening to Los Angeles

The sometimes-lovely Los Angeles has a reputation for being more of a hub for the film industry, but it's always been a vibrant music center that grows more exciting every year. The weird structure of the city – many towns tied together by endless freeways – allows a cultural variety that facilitates the production of some pretty great music. It would be a stressful task to try and define this L.A. style with just a short list, so don't think of the following as a who's who, but more of a quick tour of the city's soundscape. You're speeding by on the freeway at night, and every passing mile is a whole world of music. It would be easy to start with some big time stars off the top of my head, such as the Beach Boys and recent artists Incubus. But someone in L.A.'s music culture should try and claim is Jeff Buckley. He didn't get his notoriety until he moved to make a name for himself in New York, but L.A. is where he was born, raised and learned. Buckley died young and on the verge, in the fashion of young L.A. tragedies like James Dean, leaving us with his first and only album, Grace. It remains a classic of the '90s and his rendition of “Hallelujah” will likely continue showing up on soundtracks. When I think of the artists that exemplify today's Los Angeles brand, chief among them is Best Coast, whom Los Angeles Times described as the sound of being young in California. They take the Beach Boys' penchant for surf rock and harmony and blend it with a feel-good girl group indie pop sound. I know that's a lot of adjectives and genres, so think of it as music that always sounds like daylight. LA at night would be Flying Lotus. The experimental electronic artist's music is elegant, mysterious and hypnotic. It would be the perfect soundtrack for a walk at night, lost among sickly yellow street lamps and endless cars. Finally, there's No Age, the leading name in lo-fi indie. They're the keystone band of The Smell, a downtown venue that acts as home base of an honest-to-goodness music scene, full of noise and punk and all-ages shows. They're noisy, melodic, impulsive, beautiful in their brief bouts of chaos – all things that reflect on the south land. Related: The String Quartet Tribute to Jeff Buckley Available at iTunes and Amazon Vitamin String Quarter: Per Versions Available at iTunes and Amazon

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