Artist is will­ing to ‘Roam’

Los Angeles Times - - POP MUSIC - RAN­DALL ROBERTS POP MU­SIC CRITIC ran­dall.roberts @latimes.com

Thun­der­cat

“The Be­yond / Where the Giants Roam” (Brain­feeder)

“Them Changes,” the sear­ing funk track from Los An­ge­les bassist Thun­der­cat, fea­tures a crawl­ing rhythm and a freaky bass line both dirty and dis­torted. At just more than three min­utes, the song is drenched with black-power energy and dense with soul­funk spirit.

Its cre­ator, born Stephen Bruner, is amid quite a run; his work can be heard on three es­sen­tial Los An­ge­les records of the past year: Fly­ing Lo­tus’ “You’re Dead,” Ken­drick La­mar’s “To Pimp a But­ter­fly” and Ka­masi Washington’s “The Epic.” That mo­men­tum, along with a will­ing­ness to me­an­der given the op­por­tu­nity, per­me­ates this new six-track EP.

On “Lone Wolf and Cub,” Thun­der­cat of­fers a mu­si­cal med­i­ta­tion on the tit­u­lar team while a loopy bass line cir­cles, guest Her­bie Han­cock im­pro­vises on key­boards and Fly­ing Lo­tus, Miguel At­wood-Fer­gu­son and Mono/Poly add tex­ture. “Song for the Dead,” which also fea­tures At­wood-Fer­gu­son and Mono/Poly, is kneedeep in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia mys­ti­cism, f loat­ing, dream­like, tripped out.

De Lux

“Gen­er­a­tion” (In­no­va­tive Leisure)

Los An­ge­les duo De Lux opens its sec­ond al­bum with a line sure to res­onate with the city’s com­muters. As a midtempo beat, choice synth line and tex­tured guitar-strums craft a light, in­ter­locked dance groove on “LA Thresh­old,” vo­cal­ist-multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Sean Guerin sings sweetly, “To drive in L.A. is the worst of my day/ And to drive in L.A. is the best in the rain.”

Filled with synth-pop gems that could score your next new wave rom-com, “Gen­er­a­tion” vibes like Talk­ing Heads, mostly be­cause Guerin sounds a lot like David Byrne. But lyri­cally, the record is of the mo­ment: He and band­mate Isaac Franco of­fer lively, joy­ous lyric and melody lines about video games, Face­book-born de­sire and “the Bud­dhists at Hol­ly­wood & High­land — not that I would hang out there.”

At times they’re too clever by half. “Oh Man the Fu­ture” is a laun­dry list of pre­dic­tions that brings to mind cheesy ’80s pop hit “AEIOU Some­times Y,” and “Simba Simba Simba” is pretty close to a nov­elty song. Still, when Guerin refers with baff led won­der to “girls in the world stay­ing wealthy by tak­ing self­ies” dur­ing “LA Thresh­old,” it’s hard not to sing along.

Dream Syn­di­cate

“The Days of Wine & Roses”

(Om­ni­vore Record­ings)

Recorded in Los An­ge­les in Septem­ber 1982 and re­leased a month later, the Dream Syn­di­cate’s un­der­ground rock al­bum doesn’t fit neatly into the city’s mu­si­cal nar­ra­tive. Not punk but born at the same time, not as ly­ser­gic as the so-called pais­ley un­der­ground scene, the orig­i­nal quar­tet — Steve Wynn, Karl Pre­coda, Dennis Duck and Ken­dra Smith — had a heavy Vel­vet Un­der­ground vibe but har­nessed dif­fer­ent tonal­i­ties and brands of dis­tor­tion.

Orig­i­nally re­leased on Ruby/Slash Records and pro­duced by Flesh Eaters founder Chris Des­jardins, “The Days of Wine & Roses” as res­ur­rected by Gram­my­win­ning archival la­bel Om­ni­vore adds to the orig­i­nal nine songs with six pre­vi­ously unis­sued tracks. The best of the orig­i­nals, “Hal­loween,” is as tran­scen­dent three decades later, a rolling guitar rock ex­plo­ration that clangs and bangs. The best of the out­takes, “Still Hold­ing on to You,” was later re­leased on “The Medicine Show,” but this re­hearsal ver­sion was birthed ear­lier, be­fore bassist Ken­dra Smith left the band.

Om­ni­vore Records

“THE DAYS OF WINE & ROSES” by Dream Syn­di­cate is rere­leased with pre­vi­ously unis­sued tracks.

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