By Taylor Fife | August 4th, 2010
Having lived in the Bay Area for a few years now I’ve heard my share of hate on L.A. Angelinos shrug off any criticisms with arrogant nonchalance and notify steaming San Franciscans that the supposed north-south rivalry is little more than sunshine envy. I intentionally stay out of these squabbles and note that many of my favorite artists are based in the Southland. But I may have recently crossed some kind of Norcal threshold, because after listening to ‘Release Me’ by all-girl rock group The Like, my immediate critique is that the whole package is way too L.A.
Typically one hears gripes about Los Angeles being “fake.” I’ve had trouble with that assertion, though. I don’t think all things L.A. are generally insincere or inauthentic; they’re just a little more sparkly, plastic, and manicured. American Apparel is a great all-image-no-substance example of what L.A. is all about. American Apparel and those who wear it have no qualms with being all image—clothing is made to be looked at, after all. And Ke$ha, Los Angeles’s newest pop creation, is the same. Nobody’s trying to sell you on the depth of her work (except, rather remarkably, maybe the New York Times), but isn’t the music damn sexy and a boatload of fun?
So what’s wrong with The Like being too L.A.? Well, on the surface, nothing; it’s really pretty hard to frown at a super-cute all-girl quartet with an adorable and hip mod look. Throw in a sunny 60’s garage pop sound full of handclaps and lyrics on boy problems and you’ve got a sure-fire hit. Trust fund hipster Mark Ronson and Sharon Jones helped create the new sound on ‘Release Me,’ a considerable departure from the overproduced sugary alternative pop from their first album. The Like has made other changes since their last album as well. They dropped one member and added two, but the core group still consists of daughters of well-connected Los Angeles music industry insiders. Drummer Tennessee Thomas is the daughter of Pete Thomas, longtime Elvis Costello drummer, and Elizabeth Berg is the daughter of producer and record executive Tony Berg. Since their debut the band has also switched labels, moving from Geffen, where Berg worked, to super cool Downtown.
Whether any of this is problematic or should keep you from enjoying the admittedly catchy pop rock the girls are making is wide open for debate. The manufactured, ready-for-consumption look and sound of the group isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this band seems less up front about the process than one would expect from the next week’s top 40 flash in the pan. The most infuriating maxim to outsiders trying to break into L.A.’s entertainment industry is that everything depends on who you know. This clearly isn’t a problem for The Like, who quite obviously owe all their success to their personal connections.
If you’re from Southern California, nothing I’ve said in this post will sound like criticism. After all, according you folks, I’m just jealous, and you know what, you’re probably right. If you’re from anywhere else, don’t let me dissuade you too much from at least giving this band a shot. If you’d like to see them live, The Like will be playing in San Francisco on September 28th at The Rickshaw with local group The Myonics.