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2011 Sounded Good: The Best LA Bands Of The Past Year

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It’s no secret that LA is a hotbed of awesome emerging talent outside of Tinsiltown. Here are the stand out noisemakers whose sound defined our city in 2011.

Jason Diaz /The Tin Drums: Best Angel City Voice

Jason Diaz is an LA-based singer/songwriter/guitarist who has built a name for himself as “The King of Indie-Soul/Blues-Pop,” and as the owner of an otherworldly voice that is best described as a religious experience. After two self-titled EPs, he released his first full-length album, Stomp Out the Sun, in 2010 and spent 2011 reaping the rewards, with a West Coast tour in early winter, a spring stint as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” and a new project called The Tin Drums. He has opened for such names as Nikka Costa, Rocco DeLuca, and Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, and has had his music featured in indie film and popular television.

Foster the People: Best Altruistic Artist 

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Photo Credit: Karl Walter/Getty Images

Founded in 2009 by Mark Foster, Foster the People is LA’s genre-spanning melodic dance-infused pop and rock group turned the 2010 viral success of their single “Pumped Up Kicks” into commercial success in 2011. With the release of Torches in January, major music-festival domination at Coachella and Lollapalooza and a ridiculously successful SNL appearance in October, the band’s success has skyrocketed. All this, and Foster the People still finds time for good deeds with their Foster the Future US Fall Tour, which helped the band donate upwards of $12,000 of its own money to enable the altruistic adventuring Do Good Bus to join them on the 23-city tour.

Elizaveta: Best Original Sound

The self-described Flower Alchemist, Elizaveta has had quite the banner year in 2011. The pioneer of ‘popera’ conquered Lollapalooza, and LA LIVE, released her major label debut, topped the iTunes charts as a featured artist within a week of that release and even put out a pretty amazing video, “Dreamer.” Elevating music to new heights, Elizaveta continues her role as a brilliant musical innovator and the only artist in LA or elsewhere who can honestly claim to be doing new things in music that no one else is.

Saint Motel:  Best Indie Event Stars

With a sound as blistering as a parking lot on the hottest day of summer and a tireless devotion to the gods of rock and roll, Saint Motel is a melodic powerhouse of a band, with an intriguing blend of mischief and sincerity. This year the band hosted their annual Zombie Prom, held an End of the World party at the Roxy, played SXSW, LACMA and the Make Music Pasadena Festival’s main stage. They also performed for the first time on national television (Guitar Center Sessions), premiered their breakout Puzzle Pieces on mtvU and released their first vinyl in November.

Christina Perri:  Best Cinderella Story

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Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In July 2010, an invitation to perform on the Fox television show “So You Think You Can Dance” transformed the life of the struggling singer-songwriter and musician named Christina Perri. Singing a defiant break-up anthem called “Jar of Hearts,” her engaging performance launched the 24-year-old onto the national music scene. “Jar of Hearts” went on to sell a million downloads and land Perri, who was then supporting herself as a café manager in Beverly Hills, a deal with Atlantic Records. 2011 saw the May release of her album ‘Lovestrong,’ a triumphant Lollapalooza play and even a featured track on the Twilight: Breaking Dawn soundtrack.

Eastern Conference Champions (ECC): Best Changed Coast

ECC, originally from Philadelphia, now resides in Los Angeles and first gained notoriety when they were featured on the Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack last year. In 2011, ECC released their much-anticipated Speak-Ahhh and toured with beloved breakout stars The Neon Trees in the US and the Get Up Kids in Europe. They also put out some epic videos from the fan-assisted Pixies cover “Where Is My Mind” to the James Weir directed single-take “Bull In The Wild.”

Kristen Lowman is a freelance writer and publisher of the webzine Music + Moxie. She goes to 4+ shows per week and lives on the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.


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