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L.A. SOUND

Ten Years After--The Rise of a New Generation : * * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty :

November 08, 1987|RICHARD CROMELIN

Can this really be the Circle Jerks' sixth album? Have the Droogs actually been at it for 15 years?

As independent recording activity on the L.A. rock scene approaches its second decade, we're starting to get cross-breeding not just of styles, but of generations--a phenomenon evident in the city's latest crop of records.

When local bands starting releasing their own records back in the late-'70s dawn of the grass-roots scene, all the bands were new. Now, the old guard--the Jerks, Droogs, Fibonaccis--are assuming the role of veterans, and while they benefit from the well-established followings that come with that status, they also face the veterans' struggle to keep things fresh.

Bands like Blood on the Saddle, Divine Horsemen and Leaving Trains are a step younger and in the prime of life. On their new LPs, they exhibit a bracing sense of consolidating their strengths and coming into their own.

And a whole new generation is popping up--both entirely new entries like To Damascus and Waldo the Dog Faced Boy, and fresh formats for familiar faces (Opal).

The albums and EPs issued in the past couple of months reflect the diversity that results of this blend. If one sound seems to be making a move, it's the inventive neo-psychedelia of Opal, To Damascus and Waldo.

Here's a look at the latest L.A. sounds.

Pioneers Without Flair

DROOGS. "Kingdom Day." PVC. This foursome was a forerunner of the independent operations and '60s-rooted sound that defined much of the L.A. grass-roots scene. But for all their pioneering, their impact and progress have been minimal. The Droogs have been lapped a few times now by succeeding generations of power-poppers, and this album shows why. Though the group plays competently and benefits from producer Earle Mankey's strong sound, "Kingdom Day" is full of formula garage-rock/ folk-rock without flair or personality. * *

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