Los Angeles is commonly associated with the arts industries, especially film and music. It’s here where epic rock bands like Van Halen were discovered and music styles were afforded life. In the 1960s, youth fell in love with surf rock while hippies grooved to psychedelic rock. Through the 1970s and 80s, Tinseltown was dominated by glam metal, country rock and those cool blends of rock, jazz, funk and Latin music Grammy-winning guitarist Carlos Santana brought to the table. By the 1990s, hardcore and indie rock squeezed into frame as featured acts with sequential roles. Today, local bands continue to keep alive LA’s rich musical history with a refreshing push towards indie rock and other popular musical genres. Here is a select list of LA’s top rock bands, including a band that is bringing indie rock street credibility to LA and another which is creating a new 21st century approach to rock music.
Originally hailing from Massachusetts, The Gallery, combines hook-laden rock songs with a mix of mainstream appeal and hints of indie greatness. The foursome now resides in Hollywood and is made up of Brendan Cooney (lead vocals / guitar), Ryan Cooney (drums), Dave Mozdzanowski (bass / vocals) and Ben Lozano (lead guitar). A recent release of their first full-length record, Restless, boasts anthemic and towering hits which are nothing short of extraordinary. The Gallery’s songs are instantly relatable, exploring themes of love, and days gone by. Catchy hooks like “Fast Friends”, “White Noise Town”, “Ballroom of Broken Hearts” and “Catalyst” reveal a band with road-worn lyricism and a consistently sharp brand of musicianship. Influenced by bands such as Tom Petty, Oasis, The Fray and others, the band continues to create their unique blend of music with songs that tug at the heart. From Brendan Cooney’s relatable lyrics and impassioned harmonious voice to Ben Lozano’s catchy biting guitar strumming, Dave Mozdzanowski’s melodious bass riffs and Ryan Cooney’s rhythmic drumming, their brand of guitar-driven, southern-infused pop rock is immediately impactful to every listener. With a touring schedule that is constantly expanding, the quartet has played some of the most infamous venues around the country gaining popularity and fans in every city they tour. In addition, you’ll find The Gallery playing some of L.A.’s top concert venues including The Troubadour, Hotel Cafe, The House Of Blues, among other iconic settings.
With it’s unique folky sound, Lord Huron, is without a doubt on the right path. Based in Los Angeles, this American indie folk band, which was formed in 2010 as a solo project by frontman Ben Schneider, has received worldwide acclaim for the release of Lonesome Dreams(2012) as well as other EP’s. Consisting of Ben Schneider (guitars & vocals), Mark Berry (drums & vocals), Miguel Briseno (bass & percussion), Tom Renaud (guitar & vocals) and Karl Kerfoot (guitar & vocals), the band’s first single “Time To Run” is just one of the many examples from the band’s catalog of songs of a spectacular sound resonating with fans worldwide. Lord Huron figured out early on how to successfully blend their appealing mix of soft indie folk with more rhythmic sounds. Couple that with Schneider’s sepia-toned western look which is applied to the bands dress and album covers, and you have the right combination for success. Since the bands formation, the group has been everywhere as well. From a full live performance on KEXP to performing at the Hollywood Bowl and on KCRW, Lord Huron is certainly a top choice for one of the best local rock bands in L.A.
Indie rock/pop band Cayucas (pronounced “ky-yook-us”) started off as a solo project from musician Zach Yudin and has since turned into a full band including brother Ben Yudin on bass and Casey Wojtalewicz on drums. With roots in Santa Monica, the band recently released its debut album, Bigfoot, a mixture of sunny and uplifting pop sounds which pays tribute to all one would expect of a band from sunny Southern California. With its heavily influenced indie rock sound, the band’s music has been described in many ways. The music is a perfect blend of rooted indie rock along with a combination of uplifting and cheerful pop which is uniquely Cayucas. One listen to the new album and you’ll realize why Cayucas, with Yudin’s influence, is uniquely different from other indie acts.
American indie pop band, HAIM, consists of 3 sisters, who have taken the rock world by storm lately. Most frequently compared to Fleetwood Mac, HAIM’s sound has been described as music that is a mixture of Stevie Nicks, En Vogue and John Waite. The three sisters, from the San Fernando Valley, grew up listening to 1970′s classic rock and incorporate pop and contemporary R&B into their music. Their latest album, “Days Gone By” features fan favorites including “The Wire”, “Falling” and “If I Could Change Your Mind” which will make you feel their unique sound. 2013 has been a breakout year for the trio with Rolling Stone claiming them as “the year’s coolest new band”.
When NPR features a new band, you know it’s good. Wildcat! Wildcat! is Jesse Taylor (vocals & bass), Michael Wilson (vocals & keys) and Jesse Carmichael (vocals & drums). Officially formed in 2012, the trio recently released their self-titled EP with critical praise for their indie sound and charming melodic music. The band has been given early support from top outlets including BBC Radio 1, NPR, Time and more. In addition, the band has toured extensively throughout the country with stops at SXSW and a sold out west coast headling run and major U.S. support slots with Alt-J and Portugal.The.Man.
Since forming in 2010, this tempestuous four-member dynamo of a band has utilized the strength of its velocity to keep LA’s live rock scene on its feet. Led by uncompromising vocalist Lauren Little, Queen Caveat’s torrid performances have blazed the stage at some of the region’s leading nightspots, including The Viper Room and Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip. Influenced by the English rock bands Led Zeppelin and The Who, the group also features mind-blowing guitarist Ben Epand, magnanimous bassist Will Weissman and Jesse Magnuson, a merciless percussionist. The band’s single, “Resilient Me,” from its 2012 album, “Slap on the Wrist,” has become an on-demand fan favorite. Queen Caveat represents a continual infusion of rock music at its highest level of pure drama.
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.