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X - Los Angeles (Cover Artwork)

X

X: Los AngelesLos Angeles (1980)
Slash

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:


Contributed by: joegjoeg
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The early L.A. punk scene had a rich and diverse array of bands that included the Germs, the Bags, the Weirdos, the Screamers, and the Go-Go's. One of the most talented and accessible from that group was X. They drew from `50s and `60s rock while like their fellow West coast bands, crafted a sound t.
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The early L.A. punk scene had a rich and diverse array of bands that included the Germs, the Bags, the Weirdos, the Screamers, and the Go-Go's. One of the most talented and accessible from that group was X. They drew from `50s and `60s rock while like their fellow West coast bands, crafted a sound that was theirs and theirs alone. In 1980, they released their debut Los Angeles, a sprawling, moody punk rockÔ??n'roll barrage that resonated as loud and clear back then as it does today.

"Los Angeles" upon closer look seems like a clash of contrasting elements but ultimately ones the band makes work for them. From the opening riffs in "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene," the record charges through at a frenzied pace courtesy of veteran guitarist Billy Zoom's amped up, rockabilly flair. But it also maintains direction and control via the tight drumming of the aptly named D.J. Bonebreak. The record is rooted in punk's explosive energy with tracks like "Your Phone's Off the Hook, But You're Not" and the snarling stomp of "Nausea." But with the addition of keyboards from producer Ray Manzarek (ex-Doors), it also paints a warm, visceral landscape that borders on an outright spiritual sensibility. The dreamy textures within "The World's a Mess, It's in My Kiss" are an example of this. Make no mistake though, the core of the record is still melodic rockÔ??n'roll in a blender set on high as their hyperactive cover of the Doors' "Soul Kitchen" should attest to.

What is immediately noticeable about X is the dual vocalists, Exene Cervenka and bassist John Doe. Their differing styles make them an unlikely pair. Exene has a wail to go along with a voice as sweet as it haunting while John's more soulful tenor is sturdy and grounded. But with each taking turns at lead vocals, they effectively add a compelling dimension to the songs via their pinpoint harmonizing and distinct vocal interplay. Case in point is the beautiful ballad "The Unheard Music," which is seemingly a reflection on their then flourishing underground punk counterculture. The highlight of the record may be their back-and-forth call in the classic title track "Los Angeles," which is about a girl leaving the city after succumbing to xenophobia.

Lyrically, X's songs had a dark and gritty quality to them, a byproduct of an honest and unfiltered look on sex, love, and life in Los Angeles. Their poetic style naturally has an abstract, stream of consciousness trait to it such as in "Nausea," but also a tangible and graphic one as in the horrific account of a rape in "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene." In the blistering "Sugarlight," when John sings "Sugarlight we're addicts / Why do you think we came / He's pasting gold leaches on my arm / We sharpen up our teeth / White sugar he speaks French / Memorizing torsos he's open throated," it feels like you could be in some dingy room in Skid Row shooting up with him, until a closer look at the song reveals it is actually about gay men living in the city.

On successive records throughout the `80s, X would further expand on the blueprint set here. It's debatable as to whether or not they ever topped this effort. Nevertheless, the collective inputs of accomplished musicians and talented songwriters helped to add another unique face to punk's beginnings. From Billy Zoom's rockabilly footprints and DJ's powerful drumming, to the incomparable Exene / John Doe dynamic and a dash of the Doors spirit, X firmly stood up to and stood out amongst their contemporaries. Los Angeles would be proof of that.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Clash - London CallingThe Clash - The ClashMinor Threat - Complete DiscographyDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeBad Brains - Bad BrainsAdolescents - AdolescentsThe Germs - M.I.A.: The Complete AnthologyAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Operation Ivy - Operation Ivy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
C-Men (July 1, 2008)

love this CD!!!

Ike_Ness (July 27, 2006)

Man this was a great album. Didn't leave my cd player for months.

lushj (July 27, 2006)

Absolutely incredible album. It stands up over time no problem. Plus the great thing about X is you can start from "Los Angeles" and work your way pretty quickly to "Under The Big Black Sun" and "Wild Gift" and then eventually to "More Fun".... and whomever says the Australian X is better... well... they're really good but there's no comparison.

Anonymous (July 26, 2006)

This review was pretty good, but here's how I'd make it better:

1. Do you have to be over 18 to legally buy this album?

2. Where's my slice?

3. Fuck the kids.

feeeding5000 (July 26, 2006)

Oh, and the band Nausea is better than the song Nausea...though Blatz does a pretty good cover of it.

feeeding5000 (July 26, 2006)

Wow. Surprised this was not reviewed yet. I'm glad that someone other than me reviewed this, because I would have totally fucked it up. Pretty good album, but not perfect. It sounds even older than it is; more akin to Jefferson Airplane on speed. Hooray for "gap-filling" reviews!

Scruffy (July 26, 2006)

"Oh yeah, as for this band, I like the Australian X better, but these guys have their brilliance as well..."

Wow. Just, wow.

TheYoungInfluential (July 25, 2006)

A classic!!!!

totalstranga (July 25, 2006)

I got this on a 2 for 1 with Wild Gift about 10 years ago. X was the better of the two though IMO. This along with Fire Of Love by The Gun Club were both classic L.A. punk/new wave albums.

rinjonjori (July 25, 2006)

The rest of their releases were good to bad, but nothing tops Los Angeles.

BrandonSideleau (July 25, 2006)

This album is an all time classic. And as for Flag's 'My War'...it is easily one of the bravest and most groundbreaking records of the past 25 years.

greenerton (July 25, 2006)

Decent, but ":Under the Big Black Sun" owns the shit out of this. Love the song "Los Angeles" though, probably one of the best songs they've written.

kingofsuck (July 25, 2006)

how am i supposed to download this shit with a band name like "x"

If they were really groundbreaking, they would have had the foresight to have a name that would be easy to search for on a database down the road.

nocigar (July 25, 2006)

how am i supposed to download this shit with a band name like "x"

uhm, is it really that hard? All you do is type in the album name.

Anonymous (July 25, 2006)

how am i supposed to download this shit with a band name like "x"

nocigar (July 25, 2006)

wow, the only good album reviewed.

gladimnotemo (July 25, 2006)

I love this band. This album is great, as is "Under the Big Black Sun." A

SlackMFr (July 25, 2006)

I just listened to this album yesterday. X is one of the greatest bands and are full of true originality. THIS IS PUNK!

joeg (July 25, 2006)

i actually wanted to give this a 9.75 but my teachers always told me to round up so..

why this is a 10. only 9 songs but many are considered classics and not 1 filler or throwaway track ....inspired and will continue to inspire generations of bands to come....timeless/cross-genre appeal and sound that will never be reproduced....high replayability factor....nope this isn't another "old so it deserves a great score" record.

Anonymous (July 25, 2006)

great album, and he cro mags classic albs are still great today, black flag began to suck when greg ginn and rollins thought they should be a jam-jazz band or whatever, dez cadena ruled
@ topic: Great Album, though I even like the first Legal WEapon releases a lil bit better

riversmonkey (July 25, 2006)

What a vital album, it still sounds great today. You must own this !!!!

theOneTrueBill (July 25, 2006)

"Old doesn't equal good, and if you want proof, pick up the Catholic Discipline reissue bootleg"

Yeah, Catholic Discipline is pretty bad. I watched their section of the Decline once because I don't like fast forwarding through movies the first time watching, but have never come back for a second view.

Another perfect example - the Cro-Mags.

rubyx (July 25, 2006)

I LOVE this album, and X is my favorite band, but I'm still not giving it a perfect score. Some songs are just plain boring and long ("The Unheard Music," "The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss"). And I just don't like the organ! I love the alternate version of "Adult Books" that comes on the reissue though.

SlowStupidHungry (July 25, 2006)

Oh yeah, as for this band, I like the Australian X better, but these guys have their brilliance as well...

SlowStupidHungry (July 25, 2006)

"My War" is definitely flawed... It's a very important record, but I see it as experimental sludge metal taking its babysteps at points.

Lots of old LA punk is flawed, though. Old doesn't equal good, and if you want proof, pick up the Catholic Discipline reissue bootleg.

kingofsuck (July 25, 2006)

Honestly, if I was reviewing say, the first couple of Black Flag records, I wouldn't give My War a perfect score. It's a classic album, but it's pretty flawed in the second half.

Doubly agreed.

sickboi (July 25, 2006)

Honestly, if I was reviewing say, the first couple of Black Flag records, I wouldn't give My War a perfect score. It's a classic album, but it's pretty flawed in the second half.

Probably one of the most debated statements in punkrock. I actually agree.

aubin (July 25, 2006)

"is it a rule at punknews.org to give all "classic" albums perfect scores?"

No, but considering that after 25 years, this one still holds up, it certainly deserves them. Honestly, if I was reviewing say, the first couple of Black Flag records, I wouldn't give My War a perfect score. It's a classic album, but it's pretty flawed in the second half.

Anonymous (July 25, 2006)

is it a rule at punknews.org to give all "classic" albums perfect scores?

Only the ones worth remembering.

kingofsuck (July 25, 2006)

is it a rule at punknews.org to give all "classic" albums perfect scores?

No, since Milo Goes to College only has 4 1/2 stars. Which is bullshit, in my opinion, since I consider it to be the perfect punk album. Maybe I'll write a review for it...

Anyway, I'm not going to give this album a perfect score. Take that, X!

fallingupwards84 (July 25, 2006)

is it a rule at punknews.org to give all "classic" albums perfect scores?

Anonymous (July 25, 2006)

the phrase is "call and response" not "back and forth call."

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