Off The Record :: Parson Red Heads (Los Angeles)

Off The Record is a recurring feature, here on the Drunkard, that marries two of my greatest interests; music and travel. Having a locals perspective when visiting a new locale is the difference between experiencing it through the lens of a tourist and of that of a native.

Off The Record gathers some of my favorite artists, asks them to reflect on their city of residence, and choose a handful of places they could not live without, be them bookstores, bars, restaurants or vistas.

This installment of Off The Record again finds us in the expansive, eclectic, city of Los Angeles -- our fourth foray in L.A. since OTR's inception. Today the Parson Red Heads' Evan Way dons his tour guide hat guiding us from the Westside to the Eastside...even managing to throw in a little valley (a brave move with Summer here). The band just released their latest studio effort, the Owl & Timber EP.

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01. Chinatown (aka Chinatownland) :: Since the very first time I visited this area of the city, I’ve never been the same. It really calms me down. The nice smells, the peace and quiet (somehow traffic sounds don’t carry around there), and the paper lanterns overheard — can’t beat it, in my book. I go there whenever I can. It feels like a whole different world, to me. All the people are nice and friendly — they’ll just randomly strike up conversation with you! I’ve spent a few nights there, just walking around, exploring. Across the street from the main shopping area there is a street called Chung King Rd. Its got a bunch of art galleries, with apartments above them. I just walk up and down that street in awe. Its so beautiful! Go here in the early evening, and just spend some time looking around. Go into some shops, grab a bite to eat, and then wander around after the shops have closed down, and just take it all in. I’m promise, it’s a great experience! I’ll go with you, if you want company.

02. Red Rockets Glare Studio :: This is the recording studio owned and run by our friend (and sometimes musical collaborator) Raymond Richards. Its just got a great homey atmosphere (partly because it is located behind his home!), and is filled with the best gear you can lay your hands on. Anything from tape machines to full on plate-reverb tanks. Every time I go over there it seems he’s got some new toy that I am jealous of. On top of that, he is the easiest guy to work with, and has put out some of the best records in the LA scene over the past few years. Just pick up copies of records by The Broken West, Frankel, The Weather Underground, or The Idaho Falls — the proof is in the pudding! Great sounding albums, recorded at the best little studio around. I jump at any chance to get over there and play music in that place. It really feeds the soul.

03. Vegetable Delight :: Okay, so this restaurant is in Granada Hills (trust me, it sounds further away than it really is … although it is pretty far away). But it is worth ANY drive. There is a reason that it is #3 on my list. It is all vegetarian/vegan Chinese food, and I swear that it is better than any NON vegetarian/vegan Chinese food. And this is coming from me — a meat-eater! The Orange Chicken is awe-inspiring and heart-stopping (in a good way).

04. Downbeat Café :: This is my favorite coffee place on the East Side, by far. Super good coffee, GREAT peanut butter cookies, and the nicest folks working there. The Parson Red Heads always stop there on our way out of town, whenever we go on the road for shows. It is our tradition — stop at the over-priced gas station on the corner of Alvarado and Sunset, and while I fill up the ol’ guzzler, the rest of the band takes Downbeat by storm. And I get rewarded handsomely for my willingness to stay and fill up the van, with a nice Americano, a peanut butter cookie, and a hug (if I’m lucky).

05. Beachwood Canyon :: I love Beachwood Canyon for a few reasons. Its really really beautiful. Brette and I like to walk around the neighborhoods up there and just look around with a serious case of house-lust. Such beautiful homes, in such a peaceful place! All the trees really take me back to living in Oregon, which is nice. Its nice to be reminded about trees every once in a while, you know? I also love going up and hiking around near the big Hollywood sign. The massive view of LA in all its sprawled out glory is a sight to behold. And lastly, but not leastly, there is a great little diner (appropriately named Beachwood Café, I believe) tucked up there. Its got a great down-home vibe to it — all grandma’s house style. Really nice place to relax and grab a lunch before (or after) a hike.

More Off The Record L.A. Picks and Parson Red Head mp3s after the jump...

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