TRACK REVIEW: Trapdoor Social – Never Stop Listening

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Trapdoor Social

 

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Never Stop Listening

 

 

9.1/10

 

 

Never Stop Listening is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e34gIYOEH8

GENRES:

Indie-Rock; Blues

ORIGIN:

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

RELEASE DATE:

8th February, 2017

________

AS I type this…

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Los Angeles’ Trapdoor Social are preparing themselves for a gig ay Milwaukee’s Cactus Club. They have reached Wisconsin after an exhaustive tour of the U.S. In the past seven days alone, they have through Dallas, Omaha (Nebraska) and Chicago; they will complete their tour at Minneapolis’ Nomad World Club on 29th. I wanted to talk about touring and that side of things later but will open looking at wistfulness, L.A. bands/acts in 2017; a bit about environmentalism and conscious artists; finishing by talking about how acts can mutate and change – then a sniff at the honey pot that is song inspiration and originality. I will touch on this point in a feature but have been feeling rather reminiscent and introspective at the moment. Recently driving past some of my childhood haunts; I passed my old school to see if anything had really changed – some seventeen years after I left. It was very much as left – bar a few modern touches and flats across the road – but, essentially, was the same school I last saw in 1999. Following that, just down the road, I looked at my old primary school – somewhere I had not been in since I was about eight. Again, the cabins, classrooms and buildings all seem preserved and as they were in the nineties – albeit is replete with a lick of paint and, again, some contemporary modifications. It was pleasing seeing those memories flash by, almost like a dream bubble or film scene unfolding in the road before me. As I (slowly) drove past the school gates, it was like my childhood projected onto the pavement: those innocent days and carefree jaunts; the music I remember at the time (some 1990s classics and cheesy one-offs) that made me smile – the people and teachers that defined my formative days. Aside from the fact the tableaux was bare and unpopulated (it was a Saturday; few people around) it was powerful going past somewhere that has remained relatively unfettered and un-gentrified. In terms of music relevance, the L.A. band I am looking at are keen on conservation, preservation and keeping things as they should be. I will touch more on their environmental ethos and passion: for now, a touch on the bands/acts that are intriguing L.A. critics this year.

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In the same way you cannot assume all the great British music stems from London: there are other areas of the U.S., aside from Los Angeles, producing stunning musicians. I have seen so many great artists arriving from Nashville – often seen as the centre of American music – and areas like Portland (Oregon) and Chicago. In terms of British music, Glasgow is, perhaps, the hub of the new music explosion. In terms of the quality, variety and opportunities: the Scottish city is starting to steal dominance from London. It is a smart choice away from the obvious cosmopolitan bias of the mainstream media. That said, Los Angeles is not to be overlooked and defined. The city is consistent and constantly surprising. I have been checking out the list of bands to watch from Buzzbands: http://buzzbands.la/2016/12/30/bands-watch-2017-20-artists-new-year/. I know I have used these guys before as divining rods to seek out L.A. treasures: one more time I’ll come back and employ some of their tips. One of the first things to say is how many great L.A. mainstream acts are around right now. Away from the Pop-driven bore we find in the charts; strong acts like Cherry Glazerr are doing sterling work. The girls are signed to Secretly Canadian and released their debut album, Apocalipstick, a short time ago – it was received with warmth and impassioned reviews. Thundercat is the other new act that has been interesting me. Not only can the man unite Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald into a single song. He is somebody many stations over here are raving about. There is a smack of 1970s’ Soul and Funk; a bit of contemporary Hip-Hop in there. It is clear the city continues to provide ripe and fascinating talent. I am keeping my eyes on those two disparate acts – bound for huge success and longevity. Away from the already-established acts, there is a mass of new L.A. bands/acts making impressions already. From youngsters like Billie Eilish (I think she is just fifteen) – the recipient of millions of Spotify streams and big attention – she is a wonderful young artist that has a bright future.

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Another couple of L.A. acts worth your time are Moon Honey and Gothic Tropic. The former is a band built around singer Jessica Ramsey and guitar whizz Andrew Martin. Last year, they were working on an album – mooted for release very soon. Often compared with Kate Bush, with a bayou twist, they are an act that looks set to make their mark on 2017. Gothic Tropic is an Indie-Rock act but not your average fare. Their full-length debut is in the works and they are set to help share Los Angeles music this year – having undergone transitional and dynamic shifts over the years. It is obvious Los Angeles will keep the pressure on the music world. Although Nashville and New York are big competitors: there is something you get with Los Angeles you do not get anywhere else in the U.S. It is no shock Trapdoor Social are big currency right now. They have toured across America and one of those bands people want to see. Every new act wants to tour and get their music to the people. Having heard about the festivities and excitement of our ‘6 Music Festival (held in Glasgow this year), I have heard audio clips of live performances and fan vox pops. They are extolling the virtues of artists like Thundercat, Depeche Mode and Sleaford Mods. There is nothing quite like the interaction and theatre you get with a live gig. It takes the music from the boxed-in studio and compression of hardware: expanding and releasing it to the adoring throngs. One of the great things about festivals is the broadness of the bill. You can see established legends and those brand-new tips on the same bill. Because of that, there is a huge desire (among new acts) to get out there and work away. In terms of profit and revenue; gigs are really the only way many acts can generate any capital at all. Of course, there is that desire to perform but every artist needs finance to keep their careers going. Trapdoor Social are not one of those bands trudging from town-to-town because they feel obliged.

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They have a real desire for the various towns and cities of America: getting out among the people and bringing their music to new ears. I wanted to raise this point for two reasons: showing how important the live circuit is and the rewards of touring. In this country, not so troubled in the U.S., there is a fear live venues will close forever. Most new bands perform at pubs and we all know the statistics: so many pubs closing by the week provides fewer opportunities for new artists. Away from that, clubs and venues are undergoing changes and have a risky future. One of the only reasons we have so many legendary artists filling vinyl stores and minds is because they had the chance to perform around the country. Were there no live scene then you would not have half the artists you enjoy – those that fill record collections and inspire new generations. If music is to continue and grow, we need to keep those venues open. Maybe it is a change in demand – people staying in and not willing to pay high prices – or the way things are going – modern flats and gentrification threatening our music scene. If there was a surfeit of live venues in L.A., one wonders how far Trapdoor Social would have come. They are a band who rely on the open-door policy of the city’s venues. Sure, they have had to win a place at the table but are in a part of America with some of the best and most influential venues in the world. Until President Trump closes them all – thinking they are all run by terrorists or are anti-U.S. – we must celebrate the live circuit and how vital it is. As their mini-tour has proven; the L.A. band has managed to go from state-to-state and see thousands of new people. Not only does that give new towns/cities a taste of what they are about: the intrepid fivesome will get more demands and dates through this year. Of course, the chicken did actually come before the egg: great music and a solid bond led to those tour dates lining up.

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That said, once they showed how magnetic they are in the live setting; it was only natural more dates are added. You cannot underestimate just how crucial and important touring is to ensure survival. In a digital age – where music has lost soul and almost disposable – there is something indefatigable and unmoving about the physical live setting. It cannot be replaced by digital means and is one of the few corners of music that has that face-to-face nature. Our endeavouring band (Merritt Graves // vocals, keys; Skylar Funk // vocals, guitar; Louie Gonzalez // guitar; Patrick Griffen // bass and Ben Ebert // drums) have hit the touring scene and seem willing to take as many dates as they can. Not only have they covered a large chunk of the South and southern states; they have that hometown reputation. I will touch on this more in the conclusion but am interested whether those musical rivals, New York and Nashville, are part of their agenda. Certainly, I could well see Trapdoor Social filling sites around those cities. New York is a city (and state) that matches L.A. for scope, diversity and chances. Nashville is that hotbed for new music and somewhere so many new artists desire playing in. I can understand the pull and am curious whether our L.A. crew has ambitions to gig there anytime soon. There is a knock-on effect from touring. Not only does it tighten and solidify an act: it manages to drive creativity and spur acts on to writing new music. It is that essential part of the musical; conveyor belt you cannot disintermediate. As stated, I will come back to this but wanted to highlight how crucial touring in; why we should protect our venues and encourage all new artists to perform live as much as possible.

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PHOTO CREDIT: James Britt

Naturally, you have to have some sort of draw and character to get venues demanding your services. There are many obvious assets in the Trapdoor Social camp – the incredible dynamic and incredible music – but it is the environmental side that really intrigues me. One would think a band in L.A. would not get their hands dirty and help with charity. That is not an attack but more an (incorrect) assumption we have about places like Los Angeles. Away from the idyllic beaches and perennial clemency; there are plenty of real and tangible areas that subvert expectations we have – that everything is Paradise and beach-dwelling. Trapdoor Social, for their new video, captured a protest at Dakota Access Pipeline protests. It shows the struggle of the water protestors in the Oceti Sakowin camp and the very emotional struggle they face. Trapdoor Social’s Skylar Funk (best name ever, by the way!) explained how the guys got involved with the cause. She helped organise a donation drive to North Dakota (from L.A.) to support the water protestors in the Oceti Sakowin camp. He, with the band, spent a week working in construction and the kitchens: chopping wood and shovelling snow there. Not only was it an illuminating and revealing stay: the folks there implored the L.A. dwellers take the message back home with them. It is important ensuring struggles and inequalities are not confined to their origins. If we all take time to raise awareness, it engages the communities further afield and, hopefully, creates a unification. That was the desire from the Dakota camp. They wanted people like Funk to learn and take away the images she saw and spreads the word in L.A. Usually, when I am reviewing acts, there is not much beyond the music that really resonated. In a busy and hectic world, there is little time to engage in extra-circular activities. It can be exhaustive trying to balance recording and touring demands: few have the energy to participate in anything other than that. With that said, I still feel few artists actually use their voice to work with charities and causes. Recent review subjects like Joshua Luke Smith (from Bristol) are keen to raise awareness for mental health charities and noble causes around the U.K. Trapdoor Social could not just see what they witnessed and not make people in the city aware.

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How often do you come across a new act you like and then keep on digging – only to find there is much more to be found? The band has that multi-layer effect that keeps on revealing something wonderful. They are, especially Funk, willing to spend time helping communities like the Oceti Sakowin camp and help verbalise their plight. Many outside Dakota would not be aware somewhere like that exists. It is a huge world so it can be hard discovering places and camps like that. In the U.K., we do not really have the same sort of landscape and contrasts in the U.S. Being a much larger country, across fifty states, you have Alaskan-cold and natives to the tropical communities of Hawaii; the slums and decaying streets of Detroit to the affected clans in Dakota. It is a vast and compartmentalised landscape that requires that logical focus: get people from all states talking about the injustices and problems that may go unnoticed and unaddressed. I love to see artists taking opportunity helping others. It is not cynical or a chance for promotion: they are humans and want to help their fellow man. We often forget about others and the sort of struggles they face. It is nice seeing a mindful band from a big city spending time in a less-fortunate and less-populous area of America. We cannot assume those from big cities are detached from the real world. Sure, there is a certain privilege in various parts of California. For instance, how many people from Malibu or Beverly Park would take time out of their day and spend a week in North Dakota? Would those in the Hill Section of Manhattan Beach or a family from Upper Laurel Canyon roll up their sleeves and get involved? I doubt it but, then again, L.A. is a mixed environment where there are different people and economic plains sitting alongside one another. Trapdoor Social are proud of their conscientiousness and efforts and so they should be. I will return to this point but wanted to underline the good work Trapdoor Social are doing away from music.

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Before I come to the music itself, I’ll round this section off by looking at how Trapdoor Social have changed. They used to be a duo but have expanded to a five-piece. Often, when a band increases or reduces its numbers, it signifies uncertainty and tensions. I have seen bands switch members – because of tensions and hostilities – only to survive a short time after that. Similarly, stripping a couple out of the fold can signify entropy and natural obsolescence. With Trapdoor Social, it was always going to be difficult containing all that excitement, musicality and ambition to two members. Now they are a full-on band with five eager members, they have the chance to perform anything in their head. With that, you have a very close-knit group that seems unlikely to crack anytime soon. With a duo, unless you have managers and labels supporting you, the sheer effort required to maintain productivity can be quite daunting. This year is a big one for the guys following their reconfiguration and calibration. Their eponymous debut is an urgent and raucous collection that acts as a call to arms. You read about the band’s good work and ethos and it is only natural there is that urgency in their songs. They are well aware of what is happening around them and the need for people to do something about it. Having grown in numbers; it is a new year for them the next phase for Trapdoor Social. Patrick Griffen and Louie Gonzalez have come into thicken-up the band’s string section. Their Blues riffs and elastic bass have brought new dimensions and nuances to the band’s work.  The first single, Sunshine, had national radio success and has been played in Las Vegas – able to transition from the West Coast to the East of the U.S. The band’s Skylar Funk and Merritt Graves met at an Environmental program at Pomona College and bonded over their concerns for the planet’s future. Whilst that might sound a bit heavy and serious, it fostered the band’s origins. They use music as a way of documenting plights and problems affecting the planet. In turn, they found three like-minded souls determined to electioneer through sound.

Maybe it is not as political as that but (the band) definitely want to connect with the listener on a serious basis. Ever since 2012’s E.P., Death of a Friend, that environmental concern has been in the back of their minds. Following their Dakota retreat, that has augmented and multiplied. With every passing year, Trapdoor Social, the band increase their commitment and passion. By 2014, when Science of Love (E.P.) was released, the then-duo funnelled their music into an environmental initiative in the community. The boys partnered with give local organisations and helped raise $35,000 from their unreleased E.P. That raised money for solar roofing, which they donated to Homeboy Industries. By 2015, the guys were scoring top-tens in Colorado Springs and playing in other major markets. The guys for love from Las Vegas and performed in Colorado – where they performed a benefit and raised $7,000 for a local school’s marching band. In summer 2016, the band played the first-annual Sunstock Solar Festival: a 100% solar-powered festival which raised over $10,000 for a children’s charity, Kids Cancer Connection. The band tour in a solar-powered trailer – lucky they live in a sunny part of the U.S. where that bad boy is topped-up every day of the year. It is a rather wonderful image unfolding: the solar-propelled act barrelling across the U.S. united by their environmental connection and shared bond. You might picture a group long of beard and short on epic tunes. We get the images, when looking at environmentalists and acts that have that passion, they will be guys in hemp clothing, chaining themselves to construction sites. That might be a stereotype because Trapdoor Social are a modern band who brings Blues-Rock/Indie awesomeness in songs that look at broad subjects and everyday life. They do mention the depletion of our natural resources and environmental degradation but do not preach and force it down our throats. It is amazing how the band have built from that duo and employed new members. Now, they are at their peak and as popular as any other time. That core ethic and environmental affiliation is the one constant: away from it, the music has grown strong and more variegated than their debut E.P.

Yes, I will bring you a bit about the band’s new material soon but wanted to sign-off the first-half festivities congratulations them on their development, success and future. I will predict their coming months – like a clairvoyant on acid – in the conclusion phases but wanted to focus on the band’s rise and prominence. It is hard surviving for so many years (they are in their sixth now) especially in an era where there are so many new acts. I have seen great artists fade and promising newcomers struggle. Los Angeles is a tough city to perform in. There are those great venues and communities but, as explained, polemics depending on where you visit. The wealthier areas tend not to produce so many great acts but downtown L.A. is rife with wonderful musicians. California as a state is one of the busiest and richest economies for music and one that is stealing focus from Nashville and New York. I keep mentioning that triumvirate of cities but for good reason: they are right at the forefront of America’s musical output. Bands that undergo changes and change their membership are often as bit shaky and take time to transition. With Trapdoor Social, you have that solidity and kinetic connection right away. They are stronger and more assured than they have ever been. Now they have that full line-up, I would expect them to keep pressing and expand their horizons. They have already colonised a small part of the U.S. Their music easily connects with people and compels long investigation. I have been intrigued looking back at their catalogue and that sonic development. You can hear shifts through time and the strengths they have now – not instantly apparent during their debut. That first E.P. was a hugely impressive work and one that hit critics and recruited fans. Becoming more confident with passing years, the band are hitting their stride and look set to create many more great work – their eponymous album the first real taste of the group on full-attack mode.

I was down to review Never Stop Listening but new track Winning as Truth has appeared in the last month. That is a song I might feature in time but shows the band are keen to put new material out. The song has that typically big chorus and creates curious scenes and possibilities. The idea of being trapped and cornered by wolves: when we are in danger, our priorities change and things are not always clear. Patience, as they say, is dangerous and the truth can be a complicated thing. The song has some mystery and obliqueness to it: never fully revealing its truths or hiding too much away. You can interpret what you want from the track and cast your own visions. Sometimes the force of the composition/vocal does encroach on clarity but that does not matter – most of the lyrics come out and you get swept in the sheer drive and vibrancy of the music.  Maybe that idea of success at all costs is a truth. Perhaps some people cannot see honesty and purity: they need to get ahead and make people suffer; money is that big driving force. Given the band’s attachment and passion for the environment and the planet; maybe they are talking about governments and those who place finance and their own aims above those of the people. It is a message we can all relate to and connect with in some ways. I feel the song is as strong as Never Stop Listening and has that same spirit and determination. The chorus is bright and racing whilst the composition never stays in one place – different sides and stages that keep things evolving and interesting. The performance is tight and focused: the band always keen to hook the listener and ensure there is plenty on offer. Following older track Precious Disguise – another stunning cut from them – they are proving themselves to be one of the most consistent bands around right now. All this material is coming together and it seems like they will carry on creating exceptional music for years to come.

Never Stop Listening has that video shot at a protest march. There is that environmental message and concern that implants certain suggestions and ideas before a note has been performed. When the song does start, you have this cinematic and soft thing. It is quite restrained at first as the guitars lightly play. You are led into the song and down a cruising highway. The wind is in the hair and there is little sound around. That contemplative, reflective setting is perfect for what unfolds. Our hero is waking up and thinking about things. Looking about the world, he sees the world as it is and what it could be. It is clear there is a need for preservation and conservation. The natural resources we take for granted are depleting and threatening the security of the planet. That is what I took from those opening stages. Because of that, the composition is kept respectful and calm in the early phases. That vocal has control and patience but anger lingers beneath the surface. It is a fraught song that talks about people being anaesthetised and lied to. Given who is President of the U.S. – and his thoughts on global warming – Never Stop Listening can be seen as a shot to Trump. I guess all of us have a due diligence when it comes to the planet. We all get a bit too comfortable and assume things are going to be okay. As the song goes on, the images start to race in the mind. Yes, the government are lying and feeding us propaganda, but we can all do more ourselves. It is our responsibility to help fight and ensure the world is kept safe. There is nowhere to run, as the song goes. It is important to never stop listening and hearing what communities say. Trapdoor Social spent time with people who care about water and have very little themselves. The land is being exhausted and rivers drying: environmental degradation threatens to wipe out habitats and put lives at risk. The song is an eye-opening revelation that will make others think and help motivate change.

Naturally, you are invested in the music itself and the strength of the composition. The messages are important but the band proves they are capable of whipping up something exciting and compelling. The song’s video. With the protestors at Standing Rock, highlights the people who are trying to keep the planet from being washed away. We all know about issues like water and how sparse it is in some areas. It is not good enough to stand aside and assume governments will fix the problems. As it shows in America, the current regime is unconcerned with others and seems intent on ignoring the environment completely. That is a reality the people are facing in America. Regardless, bands like Trapdoor Social are putting their soul into songs like this and ensuring people are informed and made aware. Never Stop Listening is not a preachy song or one that blames anyone for the problems around us. What it does is show there are issues and things we need to sort out; burdens that have been created but that is not to say things cannot be turned around. The key is to keep on listening to others and those who have to live with an undesirable existence. There are those less fortunate who are feeling the effects: we cannot turn a blind eye to them and assume the problem is not there. I feel that ignorance is something the L.A. band are very aware of and trying to change. They have actively engaged in the smaller communities – in places like Standing Rock – and volunteered their time with those who have less. It is rare to hear environmental concerns documented in a song. Ordinarily, you get messages of love and relationship: few bands go out of that comfort zone and address something quite uncomfortable. That chorus is deliberately bold and catchy so the message sticks and resonates. I know there are many who will go away and not take anything from the song – plenty will look around them and become fuller.

I understand the band is doing the promotional duties for their latest single, Winning as Truth. Right now, they are talking about problems in society and how their government is ignorant to what is happening in the world. That conscious blindness Trump and his cronies are projecting is causing anger and dismay. Trapdoor Social’s previous songs like Second Chance and Sunshine have been more traditional and relatable songs. It is the last few months when they have really stepped outside of everyday themes and tackled bigger subjects. Of course, they have always been aware and involved with the environment: here is when they talk about it directly and do not hold back. The composition for Never Stop Listening has that instant flair and movement; you feel energised by the chorus and will sing along with it in time. The whole song is one that has the potential to transcend across the oceans and really strike. I know it has done good business in the U.S. and U.K. I feel it can go further – which is one reason I wanted to look at it. Maybe I am a month or so out of the loop but this song, as opposed to Winning as Truth, is one I felt obliged to assess. Its video sees smiling faces at Standing Rock but beneath that façade is a concern and anxiety for the planet. How long will it take before the government has that realisation? They need a reality check and dose of humanity. It is the worst time for smaller communities to get their voices heard. With Obama, you felt as though they were acknowledged and had their say – even if it was to a lesser extent. Now, you wonder whether there is any awareness they are even being listened to. It is hard but, with songs like Never Stop Listening, the humane and caring people away from the government will take note and become more educated.

The band does not need me to tell them they are going to have a very prosperous and busy next few months. They have just completed their U.S. tour and that eponymous album is near. It is going to be an exciting time for a group that are at their most solid and full. From those days as a duo to the five-piece they are now – a new stage for one of Los Angeles’ most interesting groups. I will come back to the facets that make them so special. I feel Trapdoor Social have a lot more to do and will already be planning their next album/E.P. It has been a productive time in camp and that is showing. Let’s hope they allow a few weeks from touring to refuel and rest. It has been a hectic time so they will want some stability. I wonder whether the band will be coming to Europe and doing any international dates. Like I say with most reviews: it can be costly going abroad and unrealistic for most artists. I know there will be potential for the L.A. band over here. In the U.K., we can recognise those acts worth queuing for. Trapdoor Social are one such act and likely to fill spaces all around the nation. I would love them to consider a mini-tour of the U.K.: a few choice dates in London; Manchester and Glasgow and some stops at places like Brighton and Liverpool. There ecological-minded parts of the U.K. that would welcome them in. The Eden Project – a popular visitor attraction in Cornwall, England. Inside the two biomes are plants that are collected from many diverse climates and environments – would be somewhere I can see the band visiting. To be fair, we have lots of spots and organisations the quintet could get behind: charities that would benefit their unique mindset and passion. It is something the band might want to consider as many here are excited about their new music. Beyond that, there is the issue of the future and how they progress. In terms of band members, I think they are at capacity – cannot see any more members coming into the fold. I can see plenty more E.P.s and albums coming as they continue to look at the world around them and create urgent, inspiring music.

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The way they reflect the concerns and observations of many have led to huge success and a loyal fanbase. Their social media numbers continue to rise and they are one of L.A.’s ones to watch for the future. Before I close things, I want to return to that point about L.A. wonders of 2017; a sneak at artists that engage with communities and charities; discussion about how bands/acts adapt and change with a conclusion paragraph on the need for artists that stray from commercialism and provide something meaningful. L.A. Weekly, last December, provided a list of artists they were optimistic about this year – http://www.laweekly.com/music/10-la-artists-to-watch-in-2017-7794572. On the list, BOYO is someone that stands out. Robert Tilden exchanged his former band life for something solo. Keeping that bond with Danger Mouse – a fuzzy, blissed-out ethic – there is no stopping this man. The latest E.P., Machines, is rich with melodies and was compared, by L.A. Weekly, to Elliott Smith’s From a Basement on the Hill. Def is an artist synonymous with urgency and impulsiveness. The 2015 collection, Kings of Neon, was full of sweetness and proclivities; a sense of lust and beauty all collated on a diverse work – able to step between fast-flowing raps and something approaching R&B. An intriguing talent who is set to make more moves this year. I am interested in Linafornia. She is someone stepping into a male-dominated scene – Rap and Beat music around L.A. – and brings a real sense of invention and personality to Beat. 2016’s Young (Dome of Doom) was a sensational debut from the Leimert Park resident. Expect her to be a big success in the months to come. It is clear there is so much talent and potential all around the city. Many of the bands and artists tipped by the tastemakers have a great base but nothing peripheral. By that, I mean, stick to the music and do not compel deeper study.

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I’ll end this soon but am always drawn to Trapdoor Social’s desire to assist affected communities and raise awareness of important issues. Water shortages and environmental concerns are big in their mind. They are concerned about the depletion of natural resources and how blind some people are to what is happening. Being in a big city like Los Angeles can detach you slightly from the smaller, more cut-off parts of America. The time they spent in the Oceti Sakowin camp has given them a real insight into issues they are keen to abate. I guess there are so many areas and causes for concern around the world – it can be hard knowing what to concentrate on and controlling it all. It is clear the band has a real connection to Oceti Sakowin and the people there. There is no bandwagon-hopping or insincerity. They take this environmental protectionism to new heights. Their solar-powered tour bus is one way they are conserving energy; they have raised funds for charities and always looking to do their part. You are always going to stick with an artist if they go beyond music and do a little bit more. My favourite bands/acts have tremendous sounds but many do not engage much past the day job. With Trapdoor Social, you have a group that will not only inspire others (musicians) but implore the world at large to be more observant and proactive. That is not something you see every day and should be applauded. It does not distract from their music: it enhances their reputation and has seen many new followers come their way. There are few artists doing more and bringing something meaningful to music. Trapdoor Social’s eponymous album will be a chance to see a group who have changed and progressed a lot over the past few years. The now-five-piece clan have crafted a stunning song in Never Stop Listening: something that goes deep and raises some important questions. It is only the start of their next phase. I can see many more albums ahead and a chance for the international world to connect. It will be exciting whether they go more into environmental/worldly issues or focus on personal relationships on future albums – maybe a blend of the two.

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They have a great following in the U.S. and starting to make headway in the U.K. Whether they come here and perform is up to them but there is a home for them across Britain. I can imagine countries like Australia would welcome them in and many nations across Asia. They have that Alternative/Blues sound that travels around the globe and connects straight away. On their single, one hears that connection and understanding between the five members. They have not been lazily assembled and nervously playing. Time on the road has cemented their bond and will continue to feed into their work. I will be interested to see how Trapdoor Social grows as the years elapse. Their meaningful, inspiring songs have already captivated large chunks of America: let’s hope that continues throughout 2017. They will want to rest follow a busy tour – a chance to recharge and think about the future. Never Stop Listening is one of the worthiest and most engaging songs I have heard this year from a band I will follow quite closely. They are an exciting proposition highlighting all the terrific music coming out of L.A. right now. They are keen for as many people as possible to hear their music and spread the good word. Given the attention they have been afforded and the people they are reaching right now that is…

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PRETTY much taken as a guarantee.

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