Los Angeles Police Department’s Week in Pop
It happened. Ryan Pollie’s longtime passion project Los Angeles Department has finally been released via ANTI, featuring the grand release of the long awaited self-titled of expansive & elaborate arrangements. Produced by Jonathan Rado & mixed by Rob Schnap; this is everything that you knew Pollie could achieve all along. Heard & seen recently working with Los Angeles’ rising star Cool Calm Chrys in their act known as 93 Bulls; make no mistake that this is just the beginning of LAPD’s (the musical act, now) long reign.
The cosmic flight begins with the aptly titled soaring vehicle of “The Plane”, cruising into the internationally acclaimed single “Grown”, the pensive pause of “Sooner or Later”, to the embracing holistic folk tales of truths & fallacies with “If I Lied”, riding forward on a metal steed of cosmic pop on the fascinating “Hard”. The second act starts of with “The Plan 2” that continues an unrestricted flight that stretches wings out toward the great wide open expanses, to the hazy & lazy “Drugs”, “The Birds” that brings sentimental balladry, to the heartbreaking tales of loss & memories on “Ashlyn”, that brings you to the anthem closer “Spent” that keeps that LAPD balladry going strong that finds Pollie balancing the gravity weight of exhaustion with what is possibly the artist’s greatest creative streak yet.
At long last, Ryan Pollie has released the long-awaited & lauded Los Angeles Police Department self-titled debut available now from ANTI & presents the following exclusive Week in Pop guest selections to keep the celebrations rolling:
A lot of the time the way that I get into new music is becoming obsessed with a single artist at a time and eating up their entire catalog. Sometimes though, I’ll fall in love with a new genre of music. This has happened to me with Stoner Doom & Sludge, Cold & Dark Wave, and Early 80’s Hardcore. Right now it’s Country music of the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve always enjoyed The Grateful Dead’s unthinkable double release in 1970, as well as Neil’s Harvest & Gold Rush, Bob’s Nashville Skyline, The Who By Numbers, Bruce’s Nebraska, and CSNY. I never realized how much these albums and artists I already loved have in common with 60s & 70s country/americana. Seems like 71/72 are the pocket years. I’m still digging and I’m sure there’s a lot that I haven’t yet found. I’m definitely looking for more recommendations—and know this is a specialty for you Sjimon. So let me know where to go next!
Los Angeles Police Department’s Ryan Pollie standing tall in the crowd; photographed by Philip Cosores.
Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger (1975)
This I think is the holy grail so far of my exploration into 70’s Country music. While I enjoy a lot of Willie’s catalog that I’ve heard so far—this album has made me cry a bunch. The story is so perfect—about a guy who gets cheated on and kills both his partner as well as her new boyfriend. Then he spends most of the record being miserably sad about it, even towing around her old pony everywhere he goes. His revenge doesn’t make her happier and he longs just to be held again—to not be alone. Country music is so vulnerable—it’s not just beer drinking and tough cowboys. It’s loss and loneliness—and Willie writes these songs the best. The real kicker is that the record is country’s best concept album, so you have melodic and lyrical themes that keep coming back. There’s one theme that is reinstated and re-purposed from the scene where our anti-hero commits his gruesome murder to when he finds love again for the first time.
Key Track: “Can I Sleep In Your Arms?”
John Prine’s John Prine (1971)
About half of this album is really really funny, and then about half of it is utterly depressing. Either way, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable record. This was one of the first ones I really dug into and fell for. The sound of the record and John’s voice are incredible and the songwriting is classic. I’ve tried to get Mr. Prine to finally admit that “Illegal Smile” is about marijuana over twitter—but alas he never responded. It’s cool to imagine country boys like Kris Kristofferson and John Prine getting a little hippie and a little anti-war. John sings songs on this album about people he knows thinking that by having an American Flag sticker on their car that they are redeemed from all sins, songs about war veterans throwing their family’s money into a heroin addiction. It’s pretty heavy commentary—but comes with a biting satirical wit and humor that really makes John Prine stand out.
Key Track: “Donald and Lydia”
Ryan Pollie of LAPD; photographed by Philip Cosores.
Kris Kristofferson’s Border Lord (1972)
Kris Kristofferson is the Brian Wilson of Country Music. There, I said it. It feels good. Kris does things that I’ve never heard anyone else do in the genre. Something like in “Little Girl Lost” where it plays like a blues number, then picks up into high gear for a two part harmony country romp. And then! Everything drops out, a waltz time signature is introduced along with angelic flurries of mandolins, acoustic guitars, and bells. Although the song centers around blues riffs and good old rock and roll, now we’re in a desperately sweet plea to the Devil to treat his ex-love gently. Along with closer “Kiss the World Goodbye”, a song about facing mortality—this is the emotional centerpiece of the record. From what I’ve read, people regarded this album when it came out as more of the same from Kris. However, I think this is his seminal work. The production is warmer and punchier than his earlier albums, and the songwriting is by far my favorite.
Key Track: “Border Lord”
Tom T. Hall’s For The People in the Last Hard Town (1973)
Known for containing the polarizing single “I Love”, this record has some incredible tunes. Like John Prine, Tom T. Hall’s humor is on point and weaved so masterfully into his lyrics and tone. Songs like “Subdivision Blues” and “Pay No Attention to Alice” are downright hilarious, while you may find yourself tearing up to heart-breakers “Back When We Were Young” and “I Know Who I’ll Be Seeing in New Zealand”. Hall is sure to always be having fun with his music and that really translates. It’s a breeze of a listen, a car ride in the pickup with the windows down. This is really driven home in “Joe, Don’t Let Your Music Kill You”, where Tom tells a friend how songwriting should be fun and something that fills you—not something that gets in your head, depresses you, or drives you crazy.
Key Track: “Back When We Were Young”
Lee Hazlewood’s Trouble Is A Lonesome Town (1963)
This album is crazy—unlike anything I’ve heard. Lee weaves this story, another concept album, about this imaginary town called Trouble. Literally depicting everyone from the quiet undertaker, overall-scratching thieving crooks, to the prettiest girl in town…this album is a country fever dream. It’s Lee’s signature miles wide plate reverb vocals—but the instrumentation is usually stripped to a pair of acoustic guitars with some upright bass or other sparse accompaniment. It’s a pretty early record for this playlist, but the musical escapism contained in this record make it absolutely essential.
Key Track: “We All Make the Flowers Grow”
Jimmy Buffett’s Down To Earth (1970)
Jimmy is super under rated I think in his entire catalog, but his earliest Nashville records are lesser known by his fans—even disowned by Jimbo himself. With only one song about the seas (“The Captain and the Kid”), most of the record covers a 23 year old Jimmy pissed off about religion and politics. The production is incredible—an incredible warmth in the acoustic guitars and a super tight drum and bass sound.
Key Track: “A Mile High in Denver”
Townes Van Zandt’s self-titled (1969)
This album is so darn pretty. His first two records are awesome, but my favorite version of Townes is him and his guitar which really is what this record is. The way I actually fell in love with his music was through Fat Possum’s incredible re-release of Live at the Old Quarter—which has such a mythology and story to it. This album is super stripped down, even re-recording numbers from his first albums because he wasn’t happy with the thicker production styles. Good call Townes, good call.
Key Track: “Colorado Girl”
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