Author: Justin Gallegos

Theophilus London
Warner Bros.
Street: 11.04.14
Theophilus London = Childish Gambino / Frank Ocean + Kid Cudi

“If this party ain’t got hoes, my intro’s my outro,” says Kanye West during his guest verse on London’s new LP, which West executive produced. West’s line makes me think: if this album has no flow, then the intro is my outro. It doesn’t get more pretentious than naming your album Vibes, when production credits go to West, so Vibes should be amazing, right? Well, it’s not amazing, and what’s ever more pretentious is that London rips off a John Maus song on Vibes and gives minor credits to Maus. “The Law” is an incredible track by Maus, and London simply re-named his song “Neu Law.” “Water Me” also feels like a slight rip-off of a song (with the same title) by emerging artist, FKA twigs. Aside from these stumbles, Vibes has some catchy original cuts that give an interesting look into London’s insane, jetsetter lifestyle. –Justin Gallegos

Hanni El Khatib
Innovative Leisure
Street: 01.20
Hanni El Khatib = Dan Auerbach / Black Lips
There’s really not much that separates this album from a good album by The Black Keys. The riffs, melodies and solos all sound really similar to me. The spacey, western vibes of Attack and Release are perfected on “Worship Song (No.2),” and “Moonlight” is exactly the kind of blues-rock that the Keys sent mainstream with the release of Brothers. Comparisons aside, this is a re-ally good album, and it’s just a touch more polished than Khatib’s last release, Head in the Dirt. Not only does the production on Moonlight sound clearer and fuller, but there’s a level of au-thenticity present that somewhat lacked before. Khatib doesn’t sound like he’s trying to create an image for himself on this record. Moonlight shows me that he’s actually become the rocker he was destined to be, and the disco outro of “Two Brothers” has me intrigued as to what’s next from Khatib. –Justin Gallegos 
Paul Cary & The Small Scarys
Street: 04.29
Paul Cary & The Small Scarys = Tom Waits + Howlin’ Wolf / The Gories

Paul Cary’s music reminds you that no matter how bad you have it, someone’s probably worse off elsewhere. His debut album, Ghost of a Man, showcased Cary’s haunted soul by way of gritty, lo-fi blues. There was a swagger to each murky step, especially on the title track—making it sound like something you’d hope to find on an old, dusty 45 from Mississippi Records. On Coyote, Cary has added some gusto through his backing band. It’s still mean, lo-fi and bluesy, but it’s lost the immediacy of his debut, which felt like Cary was singing directly to you, alone, from a shack in the woods. Coyote sounds more like a studio album, and feels less personal, but it’s still a checkpoint for fans of garage rock and blues. You can hear it at –Justin Gallegos


Tomorrows Tulips
Burger Records
Street: 10.07
Tomorrows Tulips = The Velvet Underground / Nirvana

When plays like a window into the lifestyle of Tomorrows Tulips, which is probably very similar to the bands they’re inspired by. TT’s principal members, Alex Knost and Ford Archbold, are professional surfers and songwriters, which means that they live life through waves, beautiful bohemian women and guitars. Every track on When is memorable, but there’s definitely a few standouts. “I Lay In My Bed” has the burned-out feel of a record spinning endless vibes on the beach while a sunset leaks light directly on top of it. “Glued To You” is the fruition of “G-rated grunge,” which is a term TT coined to describe their sound, and “Down Turned Self Pity” is an outsider music classic. One must be extremely true to their self to make music that sounds this good. Simply put, this record is tapped in. –Justin Gallegos

Morgan Delt
Trouble In Mind
Street: 01.28
Morgan Delt = Simon and Garfunkel + The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band + White Fence
Though this album might call to mind Morgan Delt’s contemporaries like Ty Segall and Tim Presley—perhaps even their collaborative effort, Hair—there is something much more methodical taking place on this record. Delt makes acid rock reminiscent of the ’60s without garage, punk or western influences. Instead, he channels a darker, mystic element with classical pop vocals of the ’60s, like a warped version of John Lennon singing from an opium den in the Middle East. Acid rock like this isn’t splashing its colors, but rather, it’s letting them drip slowly and seep into your eardrums, becoming more of a journey than a backyard romp. “Obstacle Eyes” is a prime example of Delt’s ability to maintain rhythm while taking listeners on a trip and proof that there are still musicians heavily influenced by the past, who are smart enough to reinvent the music. –Justin Gallegos
Jamaican Queens
Street: 03.05
Jamaican Queens = Animal Collective / Vampire Weekend + Ape School

In the age of “anyone’s an artist,” genre-mashing groups continue to spring forth. While more notable acts like Purity Ring and Sleigh Bells benefit from finer production, Jamaican Queens fall short in this area. Similar to Sleigh Bells, their sound grabs my attention, but fails to hold it for long. “Caitlin” is an exception. Its harmonies and lighthearted pop make it their best work on the album. Ryan Spencer’s strained pitch and background vocals are appealing—but overall the album feels too digital and contrived for me. Through its album art and lyrics, Wormfood proves to be more focused on shock value than its musical value. – Justin Gallegos

Street: 04.23
Junip = Seabear x Jim James/The Black Keys
Behind the ghostly voice of Jose Gonzales lie the subtle psychedelics that define Junip’s new album. Gonzales’ voice never soars, but is more of a “killing them softly” approach, with light reverb. The white noise and guitar effects keep you focused on the vocals. The tribal element to the sound comes in full effect on “Walking Lightly.” The hand drums and wind flutes give the song the feeling of a Native American hymnal of gratitude. The organ is also used to great effect on this track, and the African beat structure of “Baton” makes for another memorable song. Junip’s form of electronic-filtered psychedelic folk rock is one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard this year.

Drinks – Hermits On Holiday

Drinks – Hermits On Holiday

Hermits On Holiday

Heavenly Recordings
Street: 07.06
Drinks = Interacción + Anika + Serge Gainsbourg

Every year, one album comes along that’s so eclectic and unique that it genuinely excites me about the possibilities of music. Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (of White Fence) have combined their talents for folk and psychedelic rock to create something in between and entirely new. There’s some noise experimentation reminiscent of The Velvet Underground, a little bit of punk and a lot of offbeat styling that reminds me of French folk music. Hermits On Holiday may be an eccentric listen, but several parts of the album come with catchy beats that one can head-bob or dance to—“Focus On The Street” and “Time Between” are perfect for either action. It’s easy to picture Hermits as the soundtrack for a neo-noir Bonnie and Clyde movie directed by Jim Jarmusch. Le Bon and Presley are just that cool together. –Justin Gallegos




Castle Face
Street: 11.06
W-X = Quasimoto + Soft Machine + Trance Farmers

W-X is a new solo project from the prolific Tim Presley, who’s best known for his work as White Fence. The latter project might paint Presley as experimental, but nothing he’s previously released is this unorthodox. Rather than guitar solos and fuzz, W-X delivers intelligent psych music via synthesizers and percussion-driven soundscapes. In a poem accompanying W-X, John Dwyer (Castle Face Records) refers to the album as “a headphone record at its primal best.” The mostly instrumental compositions feel like moodpieces, ranging from paranoia (“Running From The Dogs”) to enlightenment (Sacri-Face”) and require attentive listening for maximum pleasure. Presley also show’s his knack for rap-leaning beats and grooves with “The Lurk.” Although W-X focuses on instrumentals, it also features some White Fence–esque tracks to round things out. Closing track, “Hermit Stomp,” stands as one of Presley’s catchier songs and provides a friendly conclusion to his most challenging album. –Justin Gallegos

Bonfire Beach
Cleopatra Records
Street: 10.14.14
Bonfire Beach = Black Rebel Motorcycle Club + Haunted Hearts

What do you suppose a gal named Dexy Valentine would be like? Would she be a bleach-blonde babe on an all black motorcycle? Or, would she be a dark-haired, black lipstick-wearing vixen in a rusty El Camino? Valentine is the frontwoman of Bonfire Beach, and she’s carrying vibes of a tough L.A. all throughout her new project. Her main band is Magic Wands, but BB seems to be the outlet for her rebellious side. I can’t tell you what she looks like, but her music is cool, and must be inspired by the mystery and intrigue of nighttime. “Dreams In The Shadows” tells about the darker side of Hollywood with a rumbling bass guitar and reverb laden lead guitar that screams beware to outsiders. Each song is a little dreamy thanks to Valentine’s faint vocals and synthesizers, but the threat of a nightmare is around every corner. –Justin Gallegos