Hear the California psych septet's instrumental sophomore album, with some listening advice from composer Aaron M. Olson.
Credit: Conor Collins
"Turn down the lights, fire up a doobie, and get into this record," is just one of seven instructions L.A. Takedown composer Aaron M. Olson gave Noisey on the best ways to experience his band's excellent sophomore album II, which is out May 12 via Ribbon Music and streaming below. Other suggestions included, "Get some headphones on and suspiciously stake out a bank. (Please don't actually commit any crimes)" or "Drive out on a desert road in the dead of night, roll down the windows, turn the heater on juuust enough, and blast this album." Olson added that you can also repeat the last option "but along a coastal highway instead." After hearing II's 12 transportive tracks of guitar solos and synths that imagine what would happen if John Carpenter started a California psych band, all of Olson's recommendations seem like the best ideas ever.
Where Olson's 2015 home-recorded debut as L.A. Takedown was an ambitious, single track suite that spanned over 41 minutes and floated between woozy synths and droning, krautrock-inspired grooves, II is brighter and more focused. That probably has something to do with the fact that II, which was recorded in Van Nuys with producer Shane Stoneback (Sleigh Bells, Vampire Weekend), is L.A. Takedown's first release as a full, seven-piece band. One listen to the previously-released single "Night Skiing," a sub-five minute psych-freakout anchored by a chugging bassline and shredding, fuzzed out lead guitar harmonies, and it's clear these musicians are locked into making Olson's madcap vision come to life.
The songs on II evoke the band's home state on more than just their titles: "L.A. Blue" boasts sunny and shimmering guitar chords, the epic synths on "The Valley" are perfectly suited for a road trip while "Bad Night at Black's Beach" feels like a rough acid trip on a summer night. While the majority of the album is instrumental, Olson and co. channel Giorgio Moroder on the vocoder-led closer "The Last Thing." The whole thing is lush and cinematic: music fitting for a band that takes its name from a 1989 Michael Mann crime thriller. Before you listen, consult Olson's seven step guide to taking in the new album, which he prefaces by helpfully suggesting, "for an optimum listening experience please turn volume up to a high but comfortable level." You can pre-order II here.
1). Turn down the lights, fire up a doobie, and get into this record.
2). Drive out on a desert road in the dead of night, roll down the windows, turn the heater on juuust enough, and blast this album.
3). Repeat option #2 but along a coastal highway instead.
4). Get some headphones on and suspiciously stake out a bank. (Please don't actually commit any crimes.)
5). Have a special somebody over, light some candles, pour a couple glasses of red, turn on this album and see where the evening goes.
6). Put this album on, mute your TV, and watch the Planet Earth series.
7). Put this album on and think of things to do while listening to this album.
Josh Terry is always firing up a doobie. Follow him on Twitter.