Scott Plagenhoef

  • Julia Holter / Photo by Ye Rin Mok

    Julia Holter: Avant-Pop Bard Is Up for (Nearly) Anything

    Who: A classically trained artist, Holter, 27, studied music at the University of Michigan and CalArts. She's emerged as a central figure within Los Angeles' avant-pop scene, having worked with Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. Sounds Like: In her short career, Holter has covered a lot of stylistic ground: 2011's Tragedy utilized everything from synths to cello to choruses to construct a dreamy, ambient album that artfully blended traditional music with samples and field recordings. She is now garnering attention for Ekstasis, released in March, a singular album of experimental pop that's drawing comparisons to Kate Bush, Robert Wyatt, and Joni Mitchell. Holter's experience with quirky instrumentation goes way back: "When I was a kid, I had a xylophone, and I thought that was the instrument I wanted to play," she says.

  • Spiritualized, 'Sweet Heart Sweet Light' (Double Six)

    "Spiritualized is used to treat the heart and soul," boasted the liner notes to the band's 1997 career peak Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. It's an overblown statement, of course, but not unexpected coming from frontman and former Spacemen 3 member Jason Pierce, who has spent his adult life romanticizing rock'n'roll as salvation — especially for those whose lives are lived in the red or on the margins. Over the years, he's suffered in his pursuit of such hoary rock abstractions as "soul," "honesty," and "purity," fully inhabiting his music in ways his peers haven't. Nick Cave often can feel like a fleshed-out fictional character; Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie seems to wear rock clichés like a costume.

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