Scott Kara: A letter from LaLa land

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Amoeba Records is like being able to walk around inside Spotify if the online streaming website was like the Matrix or something. Photo / Creative Commons
Amoeba Records is like being able to walk around inside Spotify if the online streaming website was like the Matrix or something. Photo / Creative Commons

Los Angeles might think it's pretty hot with its beautiful sunny summer days, gorgeous "California gurls" and boys wandering round, and a music scene that's going off.

But this sprawling entertainment mecca is not as hot as it thinks it is. Don't get me wrong, after being there this week interviewing transplanted Kiwi band The Naked and Famous who are now based in the city, it's easy to see why, if you're an entertainer - be it a musician, an actor, or any sort of wannabe star - it's the place to be.

But the Hollywood Walk of Fame is as tacky as ever. (Although I'm sure I almost levitated as I just happened to look down as I walked over Jimi Hendrix's star, which is just a few stars away from Jerry Lee Lewis and Perry Como, just up from the corner of Cherokee Ave and Hollywood Blvd.)

And there are still many bands gigging around this town who probably should have called it quits long ago. And no, not just 80s hair metal bands still trotting out their sleazy hits on Sunset Strip. In LA you can see everyone from Wang Chung and Foreigner to Men Without Hats and Styx - if you really want to.

Oh, and soft focus saxophone great Kenny G plays in September too. Then again, in a city of many millions, there's always an audience, I guess.

And then there are the seedy touts drumming up business for celebrity house tours and, worst of all, the Chewbacca impersonator - the best Stars Wars creature of them all - who looked like a sad, fleabitten, malnourished monster standing outside the Hollywood Wax Museum.

But for a band like TNAF, who are looking to capitalise on their already solid international following, Los Angeles is a good spot. And TNAF are doing just fine in La La land, so more on them in TimeOut in the coming weeks, closer to the release of their second album, In Rolling Waves.

I have to admit, I first came to this rash conclusion about LA's influence and it being the place to be on the taxi ride into town from the airport. Driving past concert venue the Staples Centre, Beyonce took pride of place on the digital sign advertising upcoming shows (this is her second time round in Los Angeles on the Mrs Carter Tour that hits New Zealand in October).

Then the sign rolled over to a string of other big acts, including Nine Inch Nails, Justin Timberlake, Depeche Mode, Michael Buble, Bon Jovi - and One Direction started their four-night run last night.

New Zealand does pretty well these days with concerts, but nothing like the diversity and concentration of acts that this venue (and the likes of the Hollywood Bowl) gets.

Then there's a place like Amoeba Records - a sure sign that recorded music is not a dying art. Rather excitedly, I went there straight after checking into my hotel. I've been to some incredible record shops in my time - and Auckland's Real Groovy ranks among them - but this place is something special.

It's a vast building, with walls covered in music memorabilia and shelves of vinyl (and CDs) stocked with everything from Bobby Darin and Dick Dale in the "Oldies" section and Taylor Swift alongside Willie Nelson in the country bins, to underground metal - you know, bands like Mutilation Rites and Seven Sisters of Sleep - to a Pixies box set hanging on the wall that is so expensive that there's no price on it (not that I could see, anyway).

And out in the back room, where they were playing the theme to 70s British series The Onedin Line at a grand volume, is the jazz, classical, avant garde, blues, and, um, heavy metal T-shirts skulking in the furthest corner of the shop.

Amoeba is like being able to walk around inside Spotify if the online streaming website was like the Matrix or something. It's overwhelming. And it's a little sad, but I left empty-handed. This time at least. Because I'm going back before I leave to pick up a few gems I spied.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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