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Pop music review: Glass Candy at Los Globos

January 1, 2012 |  7:18 pm

The Oregon act gives 2011 an existential send-off with its magnetic electronic music -- much to the enjoyment of the bedazzled groovers packing the new Sunset club.

This post has been updated. See below for details.

2011 will be remembered in Top 40 pop terms as a moment in which the electronic dance music sound of house and techno and its speedy tempos crossed over into the mainstream.

Club bangers that a few years ago were the sole property of the Electric Daisy Carnival rave crowd -- and before that renegade warehouse parties and before that gay discotheques -- found purchase in the top 10 with a pumped-up, simplified version made popular though Grammy-nominated artists such as Rihanna, Katy Perry, LMFAO and Chris Brown. And all around the L.A. area on New Year's Eve, many of the superstar producers and DJs involved in this crossover, among them Kaskade, Chromeo, Diplo and Duck Sauce, delivering beefy beats for tens of thousands of hungry revelers.

But like any vibrant genre, electronic dance music contains multitudes, and while the masses sweated in convention centers to the big, bumpin' rhythms, at the rustic Los Globos club on Sunset Boulevard, a smaller crowd of a few hundred bedazzled groovers celebrated the arrival of 2012 packed tightly into a weathered third-story dance floor moving to Portland, Ore., duo Glass Candy. The group's producer-composer-keyboard player, Johnny Jewel, is the brains behind the excellent independent label Italians Do It Better, and he received a burst of mainstream attention in 2011 when some of his magnetic electronic music was featured in the cold Ryan Gosling-featured L.A. noir film "Drive."

Jewel and his labelmates offer a range of analog synthesizer songs with sounds and drum patterns that feel time-traveled from 1983 -- with a detached, straight-jacketed instrumental vision that uses the vintage frequencies to conjure the moment when disco was colliding with new wave and synth pop.

The group played on a triple bill with labelmates Desire and the Chromatics at Los Globos, an until recently shuttered two-story Latin club near the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake. The old-school venue was recently taken over by the owners of El Cid down the street; with the change, Los Globos has started booking innovative dance producers and DJs ranging from experimental to cumbia and drawing parties from established labels such as Diplo's Mad Decent imprint.

The bookings draw a wonderfully diverse mix of gay and straight, Latino, black and white revelers interested in the sweaty, sexy kind of dancing impossible at a massive rave -- the kind of thing that's second nature in this corner of the music world.

"We're just partying, and everything's like normal, and here we are," observed Glass Candy singer Ida No during a moment of existential banter in the opening minutes of 2012, after she'd counted down to midnight and the French kissing had subsided. "California, we haven't dropped into the ocean," she concluded to the small but giddy scrum on the dance floor (not much of a consolation on a night when suspicious fires were aflame a few miles away in Hollywood).

If she seemed more nonplused than celebratory, that's the essence of Glass Candy and the Italians sound; theirs isn't the most joyous style for a night of letting loose; its syrupy beats have a narcotic effect, a world away from the heavy adrenaline banging from velvet-roped clubs on Hollywood Boulevard.

But then that's how it goes in the underground. While a vast American society bade farewell to the year with the lowest-common-denominator techno frenzy sitting at the top of the charts, LMFAO's juicy "Sexy and I Know It," there was Ida No singing, "Feeling Without Touching," an ode to detachment that captured the essence of their performance: "My crown is tipped up, my world is zipped up tight."


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-- Randall Roberts

Update: The original version of this post misidentified the club ownership that purchased Los Globos. It's the property of the owners of El Cid, not La Cita. 

Photo: Glass Candy performs during the FYF Festival in Los Angeles in 2009. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times