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Bands to Watch 2013: Buzz Bands LA eyeballs 20 Los Angeles artists who will be next year’s news


As great as this year was on the Los Angeles music scene, 2012 was only foreplay compared to what awaits in 2013. This year’s “Bands to Watch” could go on and on and on, like one of those “whoa-oh” choruses that populated our 2012 playlists. No fewer than 22 L.A. bands are signed and ready to release their debut albums next year.

Those are: The Neighbourhood, Haim, Superhumanoids, Youngblood Hawke, Kitten, Robert DeLong, Nightmare & the Cat, Jenny O, Hot As Sun, FIDLAR, Capital Cities, Blondfire, Yellow Red Sparks, Rhye, IO Echo, Beware of Darkness, Hands, Pacific Air, Cillie Barnes, Cayucas, Deap Vally and the Colourist. (OK, whom did I forget?)

Others have their buzz built, albums done or in the works and seem deserving and ready for a deal, including Kan Wakan (f/k/a Oren Lyons), NO, Meg Myers, PAPA, Night Terrors of 1927 and Run River North (f/k/a Monsters Calling Home). A few more – Feeding People, Pangea and Tijuana Panthers come to mind – figure to release new albums that aren’t technically their debuts but might as well be. Others newbies such as the Record Company, Wildcat! Wildcat!, Incan Abraham, Miner, Harlan, the Lonely Wild, the New Limb, Steelwells, Max and the Moon, A House for Lions, Francisco the Man and Warships are ready to graduate from damned-good-local-band status.

And still others are barely a blip on the radar. But I’m betting you will hear from James Supercave, Laura Laura, the Ceremonies, Sir Sly, Western Lows, Beat Club and Tapioca & the Flea by this time next year, if you haven’t already.

After the jump, my Hot List (as last year, this list focuses on bands who have not released a full-length album):



The Neighbourhood – Debuted as mystery men on BBC Radio last winter, the Newbury Park quintet of Jesse Rutherford [pictured], Zachary Abels, Mikey Margot, Jeremy Freeman and Bryan Sammis went from zero to a seven-figure record deal with Columbia Records in a few short months. They meld hip-hop and indie R&B; their EP “I’m Sorry …” was 5-for-5 on memorable songs; and their live show has come miles. “Sweater Weather” was Buzz Bands LA’s song of the year:

Haim – The irrepressible sibling revelry of sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, not to mention the relentless rhythms they create in cahoots with drummer Dash Hutton, made them another band with big buzz on both sides of the Atlantic, mostly on the basis of their three-song “Forever” EP.

Nightmare & the Cat – The five-piece anchored by brothers Samuel and Django Stewart (sons of the Eurhythmics’ Dave) has been squirreled away recording new music for Capitol Records. Will it sound anything like their 2011 EP (that’s “The Missing Year,” below)? Stay tuned.

Jenny O – “Automechanic,” produced by Jonathan Wilson, comes out Feb. 5 and about this time next year we will be writing about it in our Best-of-2013 lists, guaranteed. Back in September I scribbled that the album is “equal parts heart of gold and mind of steel.” Nothing’s changed. She recently debuted her new live band, and that promises to be good too.

Kitten – Teenage terror Chloe Chaidez and gang became a full-on synth-rock band on 2012’s “Cut It Out” EP, and the next roar (or purr) you hear from the quintet will be via Elektra Records.

Superhumanoids – Once upon a time, Superhumanoids promised to release an album called “Exhibitionists.” We’re guessing that now that they’re under the auspices of red-hot Innovative Leisure Records, this will happen. Superhumanoids’ arty, romantic dream-pop may not be as commercially viable as the horde of other indie-pop bands foresting the landscape, but it’s a helluva lot more interesting.

Robert DeLong – A one-man whirligig of synthesizers, sequencers and percussion, DeLong makes modern melting-pot music – electro, pop, dubstep. He could be a singer-songwriter if he toned it down; he could headline a rave he turned it up. Everything he does moves, and his album “Just Movement” will be out Jan. 22 via Glassnote.

Yellow Red Sparks – Idaho native Joshua Hanson writes exceedingly tender, beautiful songs and has a voice that’s perfect for them. His is a purist’s folk music, not an affectation, and the band’s debut album will be out in January on ORG Music.

Youngblood Hawke – The quintet has slowly worked on music to follow up its hook-filled 2011 EP and struck gold with “You Come Running,” an impossibly catching hit that stamped Sam Martin, Simon Katz, Tasso Smith, Alice Katz and Nik Hughes as future FM radio stars for Universal Republic.

Cillie Barnes – Yes, Vanessa Long, who’s doing business as Cillie Barnes, was in last year’s list too (as several of these artists were), but things happen slowly sometimes. The founding member of Family of the Year (and cover girl for PAPA’s first EP) has found a home for her arty pop on Universal Republic. Expecting more news soon.

Also name-checking: Hot As Sun, whose debut “Night Time Sound Desire” is coming out on Last Gang Records. … FIDLAR, whose carefully calculated punk-rock campaign climaxes with a Jan. 22 album release on Mom + Pop. … Capital Cities, whose electro party anthems have found a home on Capitol Records. … Electro-pop duo Blondfire and power trio Beware of Darkness, both of whom have rleases in the works for Warner. … Dreamy R&B duo Rhye, an Innovative Leisure Records find who’ve been picked up by Polydor. … IO Echo, whose Eastern-influenced shoegaze is coming out on IAMSOUND Records. … Electro-poppers Pacific Air and indie-rockers the Colourist, both on Universal Republic. … Distaff duo Deap Vally, making lots of noise in the U.K. right now. … And Cayucas and Hands, each of whom have albums in the works for respected indie labels.



Kan Wakan – The orchestral R&B septet arrived with a bang when they released the single “Forever Found,” with singer Kristianne Bautista positing herself as a misty-eyed narrator  in the band’s broadly cinematic compositions. The band hit a bump in the road when they had to change from their original name, Oren Lyons, but 2013 looks to be smooth sailing. They are one of two Bands to Watch doing a residency at the Echo in February.

NO – The hard-working Echo Park quintet fronted by Bradley Hanan Carter released a free EP of their dark, propulsive rock noir in late 2011, then took it on the road throughout ’12. The latest single for White Iris shows there’s more where that came from.

Meg Myers – The piquant observations and dreamy meditations on her free “Daughter in the Choir” EP turned a lot of heads (if her profile photos hadn’t already) and stamped Myers as a worthy successor to a long line of songstresses whose empowerment songs became part of the ’90s fabric. She’s got moxie.

PAPA – The quartet led by Evan Weiss and Daniel Presant emerged in late 2011 with their soulful “A Good Woman Is Hard to Find” EP, and their new single flat-out rocks, and comes at a time the indie scene could use a band that flat-out rocks. Expect to hear more at their Bootleg Bar residency next month.

Night Terrors of 1927 – The brainchild of Jarrod Gorbel (the Honorary Title) and Blake Sennett (Rilo Kiley/the Elected), Night Terrors snuck a single onto the Internet before anybody knew who these curiously named dream-poppers were. It turns out the single was just a small taste – their recent Echo set was deep in memorable, anthemic songs (most more propulsive than the single), played without a lot of electronic smoke-and-mirrors.

Also name-checking: Wildcat! Wildcat!, Incan Abraham, Miner, Harlan, the Lonely Wild, the New Limb, Steelwells, Max and the Moon, A House for Lions, Francisco the Man and Warships.



James Supercave – The Eastside quintet (formerly known as Masxs) of Joaquin Pastor, Patrick Logothetti, Andrés Villalobos, Jaysun Rickards and Lia Braswell are doing a hard-to-pigeonhole strain of psych-pop and indie-rock, and while I’m not sure this teaser is representative of what I’ve seen in four live shows, it’s a start. Pastor has a killer voice. Can’t wait for more.

Laura Laura – The new venture from drummer-around-town and ex-Rhone Occupation frontman Jacob Dillan Summers, Laura Laura trades in the timeless pop of the ’60s and ’70s with just enough retro veneer that it could be a hot commodity into today’s indie world. The demo below is now titled “Not Far to Go” and I can’t stop playing it. Stay tuned.

The Ceremonies – Brothers Matthew, Mark and Michael Cook have been recording with producer Danny Garibay and just teased with their first single. They take a heck of a photo too.

Sir Sly  – Another band playing the mystery-identity game, they’ve leaked two songs onto an Internet with a seemingly insatiable appetite for dream-pop. About 75,000 spins later, they have buzz (and a February residency at the Echo).

Tapioca & the Flea – Disco and chillwave collide here in a deliriously fun way. Would love to hear something from this Eastside quartet besides remixes and mixtapes, but it won’t be long now.

Also name-checking: Western Lows, Beat Club, Criminal Hygiene, Raheem Cohen, Nacosta, Kita Klane, Birds of a Black Feather and Lady Lazarus.

{ 25 comments… add one }

  • Javier December 28, 2012, 3:32 pm

    Just wondering, what are your thoughts about Chicano Batnan?

  • Karla Rice December 28, 2012, 4:12 pm

    Didn’t see Torches on this list. They seemed like an obvious choice.

    • kevin December 28, 2012, 4:25 pm

      Torches released their nice full-length in 2012. This list is for bands who haven’t released an album yet.

  • Wesley December 28, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Gothic Tropic is releasing their full length in 2013 !

    • kevin December 28, 2012, 4:45 pm

      There’s one I forgot. Thanks.

  • Dave December 28, 2012, 7:47 pm

    SISU have an EP and full length coming out in 2013

  • Don December 28, 2012, 8:14 pm

    Dead Sara. Dead Sara. Dead Sara.

    • kevin December 28, 2012, 8:34 pm

      Don — They had an album out in 2012 and a very good one. This list is for folks who have yet to release an album.

      • kevin December 28, 2012, 8:37 pm

        And here’s two more bands I should have at least name-checked — Harriet and Y LUV.

  • Anon December 28, 2012, 10:50 pm

    Also, Torches is done.

  • seraphina December 29, 2012, 12:08 am

    Another we should have name checked – Pageants.

  • shawna December 29, 2012, 12:29 am

    May McDonough & Company technically have not released a full length debut album yet. (All though May had a solo album in 2010). Their new shit is psychedelic.

  • Robb December 29, 2012, 6:08 am

    I am so stoked about Yellow Red Sparks garnering more attention. Beautiful music (I kept hearing them in my head as I watched “Silver Linings Playbook”). Pangea- EXITED for them- I thought their EP- Killer Dreams was a sea change for them (I hope they don’t get overly produced). The Lovely Bad Things are releasing their FIRST full length Album in February and I was surprised to not see them on the list especially since they have played so many shows with Pangea and Feeding People AND will be playing with Papa and James Supercave at the Bootleg. Speaking of Feeding People- super things for them in the future and of course, Papa. I will love finding out about the artists on this list that I don’t much about. Long live Buzzbands!

  • Jupiter In Velvet December 29, 2012, 11:06 am

    Many good bands mentioned but Jupiter In Velvet was missed! However, we realize that the late release date of our Debut CD this year has kept up on a lower profile. But please check out Jupiter In Velvet! Look out 2013…

  • Mundy December 30, 2012, 10:46 am

    The Los Angeles music scene is currently very strong. I expect the Growlers to make some serious noise in 2013. Who is going to have the biggest year?

  • Chris December 30, 2012, 12:46 pm

    It’s funny a lot of word around town about Torches faking profiles and getting fake fans with the band hitting rocky times because of their bassist leaving. The funny thing is I had heard Karla Rice was a the lead singer’s alter internet account if thats true it’s really funny that i just put that together and that he commented about his own band.

  • Rod December 30, 2012, 1:12 pm

    Salt Petal’s full length, (Sea Monster) is coming out February 2013!

  • V-Ness December 31, 2012, 1:59 am

    Damn, Kevin. I’m so glad we agree on so many of these bands. I think Yellow Alex And The Feelings should be up there too. Other than that; spot on.

  • Daniel Siqua January 2, 2013, 3:31 pm

    Chris and Anon,

    As a friend of Torches I don’t necessarily feel the need to defend them, because their work speaks for itself, but their band is FAR from over and I find it funny that you decided to spread rumors on a public forum. At the end of the day, it’s the feeling and energy behind the music. Sure, it is sad to hear their bass player left, but they’re moving forward. Why try to bring them down?

    Less drama, more music.

  • Chris January 3, 2013, 12:27 am

    I can only speak for my comment, and the source I heard it from is a reliable one. I am not bringing the band down just speaking the facts. I’m glad the band is not done..but personally I was at the satellite for new years and Torches were really bad, lots of technical difficulties and bad harmonies. The truth speaks for itself. I stick to my first point of creating a fake profile to comment about your own band to be pathetic, sorry.

  • mike ahuja January 3, 2013, 2:51 pm

    the yellow red sparks album is gonna be good from what i have heard during their live shows

  • Philip January 3, 2013, 5:11 pm

    A solid list. But I believe Zak Waters will blow the majority out of the water. (pun intended)

  • morgan January 4, 2013, 8:12 pm

    so excited that the neighbourhood is getting the attention they deserve! i’m loving everything they have been releasing- especially their music videos. check out the video for Let It Go if you haven’t seen it (http://smarturl.it/letitgovideo)

  • Riley January 8, 2013, 6:13 pm


  • ty January 25, 2013, 6:39 pm

    Kan Wakan rules!

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