The lyrics to RHCP’s mega-hit "Under the Bridge" read like an ode to L.A.: "Sometimes I feel like my only friend is the city I live in, the city of angels. Lonely as I am, together we cry."
The entire CD, recorded with Rick Rubin in a Hollywood mansion, expresses tales of woe that could detail the experiences of so many bands that have clawed their way through the trenches of L.A. The images of the band’s members covered in silver paint frolicking to "Give it Away" in the desert, symbolic of many a band’s rampant partying ways, will forever be burned into collective consciousness.
The blatant sexual innuendoes of "Suck My Kiss," the stories of failed relationships in touching acoustic numbers like "Breaking the Girl," the elegy to original guitarist Hillel Slovak ("My Lovely Man") who inevitably lost his battle with drugs are all topics that plague many artists that flock to the city. — Yuri Shimoda
BECK Midnite Vultures
There isn’t an artist I associate more with the singer-songwriter community in Silverlake. Maybe it’s because I used to work next to the studio where many of his collaborations with the Dust Brothers were recorded. But, moreover, no artist really embraces the independent spirit and experimental vibe of the area as fully as Beck.
On this second collaboration with the Dust Brothers, Mr. Hansen succeeds at what he does best: incorporating elements of rock, hip-hop, folk, blues and even country into one package. —Yuri Shimoda
GUNS ‘N’ ROSES Appetite for Destruction
This record not only depicts the chaos of the Sunset Strip in the late ‘80s – embodied in the music of peers like Motley Crue – but goes beyond mere tales boasting of their exploits to provide true insight into lives full of excess in the dirty and dangerous sewers of L.A.
The literal description of the city in "Welcome to the Jungle" exposes the gruesome underbelly that lurks beneath the glittery surface of all that is Hollywood. "Rocket Queen," "Mr. Brownstone" and "Night Train" take us into the world of sex, drugs and alcohol while Axl Rose pleas for something more in "Paradise City." The CDs crown jewel, "Sweet Child O’Mine" shows a vulnerability to Rose that is accentuated by the wails from Slash’s guitar. This duality of Rose’s nature is in direct correlation to the many facets of our own City of Angels. —Yuri Shimoda
INCUBUS Morning View
With lyrics and grooves that feel more relaxing than sipping martinis under a warm summer’s breeze, Morning View comes from a band that spent their days surfing the waves around Los Angeles. The surfer boys transformed their mellow days on the coastline into an even mellower album with tracks like "Aqueous Transmission,"
Malibu, California is stamped on the album’s cover – showcasing a morning view of one of many peaceful spots near LA to watch the sunrise above the ocean. Only Brandon Boyd can make the sight of a garbage truck at "11 a.m." feel so sad, but yet so good. —Talia Hassan
"April 26, 1992, there was a riot in the streets, tell me where were you?" Every time I hear that song, I remember exactly where I was when the Rodney King trial verdict was announced and the streets of L.A. erupted in anarchy.
This self-titled album, released after the death of singer Bradley Nowell, ensuring that his legacy would live on through songs like "What I Got" and "Wrong Way" which are still played in heavy rotation on KROQ. The Mexican influence on L.A. culture as a whole is evident in "Santeria" and "Caress Me Down". While songs like "Summer Time" really just make you want to grab your skateboard, go outside and enjoy the sunshine. —Yuri Shimoda
SYSTEM OF A DOWN Toxicity
While Sublime was documenting the riots, SOAD was causing a riot of their own. To promote the release of Toxicity, the band organized a free concert in a parking lot in L.A. for their fans. When the concert was cancelled mass hysteria followed, resulting in $30,000 worth of damage.
Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of SOAD’s hometown fans. The unflailing passion expressed in each of Toxicity’s songs reminds us how passionate Angelinos are in everything we do. —Yuri Shimoda
THE DOORS L.A. Woman
L.A. venues like the Troubadour and Whisky would be nothing without bands like the Doors. Listen to this CD and you can visualize the blur of traffic lights, neon signs and colorful billboards that comprise the euphoric tumult of a night out in L.A. Let the Lizard King’s lyrical poetry in songs like "Lover Her Madly," "Riders on the Storm" and the album’s title track provide a blues-y backdrop to your next night on the town. —Yuri Shimoda
DR. DRE The Chronic
Dre pushed the ferocious gangsta rap genre set forth by his previous group, NWA, into the national limelight with this CD. "Nothin’ but a ‘G’ Thang" marks the emergence of the L.B.C. as a powerhouse paving the way for acts like Snoop Dogg, Warren G., Mack 10 to make it onto radio and MTV. Bringing the feuds between L.A.’s Bloods and Crips into living rooms on both coasts. —Yuri Shimoda
GUTTERMOUTH Musical Monkey
They’re rude, crude and generally in bad taste, but that’s part of Guttermouth’s charm. Musical Monkey, the band’s 1997 release, is its ode to Los Angeles. Its takes everything that’s stereotypically wrong with the city and shoves it in your face, with no hesitation.
The album takes on topics such as vegans ("Abort Mission"), rollerblading ("Do the Hustle"), and one guy’s experiment as a homosexual ("Big Pink Dress"). The band enjoys blatantly offending people and getting them all riled up, but if you can’t learn to laugh along with them, there’s something seriously wrong with you. —Kym Parsons
THE BEACH BOYS Pet Sounds
How could we not include the Beach Boys on a list of CDs that embody Los Angeles? The harmonies of this legendary band can evoke memories of days spent on sun-drenched beaches, regardless of how old you might be. Songs like "God Only Knows" and "Wouldn’t it be Nice" are the perfect soundtrack for a drive along the coast.