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The futuristic hum of Django Django and 'Hail Bop'

September 12, 2012|By Randall Roberts | Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
  • Django Django, from East London, will make its L.A. premiere in September.
Django Django, from East London, will make its L.A. premiere in September. (David Drake )

A steady hum permeates the self-titled debut album from Django Django, an East London four-piece that will arrive later this month for its first two shows in Los Angeles. That record, which is currently available digitally (CD and vinyl come Sept. 25), has been the soundtrack to my L.A.  for the last week: I've found comfort in the warm synth lines of "Wavetones" and idled at endless lights while "Skies Over Cairo" offered solace with steady human rhythms, analog electronic warbles and a vaguely Egyptian melody. And when the freeway opened up, the wonderful "Hail Bop" celebrated along with me.

I'm convinced that "Django Django" would have been my album of the summer had it been on my radar then, mostly because the group's knack for vocal harmonies suggests the Beach Boys by way of the Zombies and because they sound really good with the windows down.

Early '70s-sounding synthesizers rule much of the record, as evidenced by the surreal introduction, which mixes crickets and nature sounds with computer tweets and Pac Man gobble noises, as if listeners are entering a strange digital forest. These sounds coexist in a climate that supports hard strumming guitar parts suggesting the Yardbirds and early Rolling Stones and heavy-duty percussion that blends both human pounding and metronomic computer rhythms.

The band, whose members met as art students in Edinburgh, Scotland, has just been nominated for Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize, where it will compete alongside Lianne La Havas, Michael Kiwanuka, Alt-J and eight others for album of the year honors. And although the variety among the nominees makes it tough to predict a winner, "Django Django" certainly deserves the prize for conveying through singalong synth-rock the freewheeling thrills of catching a wavetone and sitting on top of the world.

Django Django will perform Sept. 24 at Bardot in Hollywood as part of its weekly School Night event (free with RSVP). The group also hits the Echo in Echo Park on Sept. 26.

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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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