Nine to Know: L.A.’s Latest Crop of Bars

Fall has arrived in Los Angeles, and with it, a healthy crop of fresh new bars. The trend this season tilts towards small cocktail lounges, with an emphasis on intimacy. Unless it’s a must DJ gig, big clubs with cover charges are increasingly falling out of favor in L.A. With that in mind, here’s a round up of nine notable new bars in the City of Angels.

Oldfield’s Oldfield’s officially debuted last week in the former Saints & Sinners space on Venice Boulevard, and Culver City locals who have dropped by since can barely believe it’s the same bar. 1933 group owner/designer Bobby Green completely overhauled the room and turned the former dark dive into a 1920s-inspired cocktail haunt. Unlike many similar destinations in L.A., Oldfield’s is bright, thanks to white tile floors and light wooden tables. Name bartenders from establishments such as La Descarga dole out some very tasty drinks here, and locals are already feeling it.

Seventy7 Another Culver City find winning over Angelenos is the speakeasy-esque Seventy7. The bar is located down an alley behind a parking garage, which counts for something in this area, not known for its bars. Weekends can be crowded here, so best to hit this drinking den on a weeknight where you’ll find couples on first dates sipping libations like the already popular Velvet Underground. Extra points for the swank leather booths, but deductions for the cocktail waitresses’ “flapper” outfits.

The Churchill Although this is technically a restaurant, The Churchill (pictured top) is run by the winners behind consistently busy West Hollywood lounge The Hudson, so you can bet on a good late night scene here. The handsome hang has already brought to life the sleepy corner of Orlando & Third Street, beneath the Orlando Hotel, with its bustling patio and a stellar drink menu. So what to order here? Try the bourbon-based Cedar Room, which is served with house-cured bacon. Also, 20 beers doesn’t hurt.

Los Globos The Echo Park youth, with their asymmetrical haircuts and funny glasses, can finally do more than just drive past Los Globos on Sunset Blvd on their way downtown. Since summer, the former bar that catered to a largely Hispanic crowd now lures in spillover rockers from mainstays such as The Echo (Los Globos is owned by the same team behind The Echo/Echoplex) and the occasional name DJ. This is the new home to long-running popular ( and formerly roving) parties like A Club Called Rhonda. Hipsters need to dance, too, after all.

Revolver The legendary WeHo gay bar Revolver is back in the same location with the same name after years of existing under different names and themes. The new owners have brought back the old-school feel, but with modern interior touches. One of the original DJs from the initial incarnation of Revolver is back in the mix, and he’s brought with him some classic video mash ups (Think Huey Lewis 80s clips mashed up with Britney Spears videos). There’s really nothing like it at any bar in WeHo or L.A.—straight or gay.

The Writer’s Room New York’s Nur Khan is a partner in this new Hollywood lounge in Hollywood that takes a page from L.A drinking history. The Writer’s Room is where literary names like Raymond Chandler once tossed back gimlets when it was owned by neighboring Musso & Frank’s decades ago. Now, the bar, with a copper-crusted Parisian-style elevator cage for VIPs, caters to a new generation of writers (So they write for TV shows, but still) and the models who claim they like them.

Salvage Downtown is growing, but Salvage may be the most underrated of the new crop of neighborhood bars. The simple hang features design elements taken from the basement of the historical building it occupies, the Roosevelt Lofts, and accordingly, the dimly lit lounge has a sense of soul lacking in other area haunts. Bonus points for the smoking patio facing 7th Street, which feels hidden yet urban at the same time.

Neat Glendale is not exactly known for upscale cocktails, but respected libation expert Aidan Demarest, formerly of the Spare Room, has opened his own bar, Neat, near Los Feliz/Silver Lake. It’s perfect for natives tired of driving for miles in search of the perfect drink. And every cocktail will come with glasses of neat spirit and Kold-Draft ice.

Confidential Beverly Hills has ridiculously overpriced shopping destinations, power lunch spots, and five-star hotels. But until now, it’s been lacking a decent place to get a drink and have a dance after midnight. A new team is aiming to change all that, and Confidential is their calling card. Think all white walls in a sleek basement space. It’s Miami meets Las Vegas with a West L.A. twist for the bottle service fiends, and an opening party last week showed promise at this sub-level lounge.

Agyness Deyn Moves to L.A., Talks 2012 Film Debut

New York has lost one of its most treasured model citizens to Los Angeles. Agyness Deyn’s Twitter bio may still list New York as her adopted hometown, but the Manchester-bred beauty has officially moved to L.A. On Monday night, the supermodel mixed it up at an All Saints charity event for Not For Sale at the Music Box in Hollywood, where she and friend Chris Bletzer played music before a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert.

“I’ve been in New York for years, but I just needed a change,” said Deyn. The model said she’s moved to the East side of L.A., so don’t expect to see her walking around the streets of Santa Monica. You’re better off stalking her in Silver Lake (although we in no way endorse stalking). Deyn has been back in the news lately, particularly for narrating the intro to Rihanna’s smash video “We Found Love.”

But on Monday night, the blonde was more about rock burners than pop anthems. “I remember watching them years ago in England,” Deyn said of BRMC. “I always get off on seeing a girl drummer.” Next year, Dyen makes her film debut in an English remake of the 1996 Danish Pusher trilogy, which was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn of Drive fame. “She’s a troubled soul,” Dyen says of her character. “Drugs are involved.”

Music Executive Jordan Bratman Enters the LA Art World

You may know Jordan Bratman as a music executive, or you may know him as the ex Mr. Christina Aguilera. But lately, LA street art aficionados hooked on Banksy prints are getting to know the 34-year-old as a curator, collector, and booster of Venice’s booming urban art scene. “I come from the music business, but I got into this because I love it,” said Bratman at a recent, raucous opening for the artist Ron English. His gallery/store hybrid in Venice, Post No Bills, opened last June. “We’re trying to bring the real gallery experience into a fun, unpretentious environment.”

Bratman partnered with London/New York fixture Steve Lazarides to bring the same consumer art experience to California that’s been available in more established cultural capitals like New York and London for years. “We’re curating the right stuff for our generation, stuff you want to buy for your house,” said Bratman, adding he’s segueing out of the music biz and putting all his energy into Post No Bills. “So far it’s been a much more organic experience [working in the art world] than the music business.”

Of course, Venice has a long, rich history of art flies and world-renowned painters mingling in casual settings, but Bratman hopes he can foster that atmosphere further at his openings, even if the space for his pop-up may not be permanent. “We’re definitely staying in Venice,” he said, adding that he’d “like to expand.” Judging from the amount of work actually sold at the show, it seems the hunger for affordable street art (works were priced from $40 to $4000 at the Ron English opening) makes the expansion a very realistic possibility. “Once you catch the fever [for collecting] you can’t stop,” said Bratman before disappearing into the crowd.

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Culture Collide Music Fest Kicks Off In L.A.

Granted, we don’t have CMJ, but October is still shaping up as one of the best months for live music in Southern California. Last week, the Ooh La La festival satisfied lovers of French music, and next week will see Italian rappers, bands and DJs descend upon L.A. for “Hit Week.” But the largest event is undoubtedly Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide festival, which will feature a slew of international acts.

Over 40 acts from places as diverse as Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, Norway, Australia, and Israel are in town, as the four-day party kicks off tonight. The number of bands is especially impressive, given that all access passes are just $20. Here are three acts we recommend you don’t miss.

Denmark’s The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (pictured top) are probably the band that will surprise people the most. Their party-ready tunes take over the Echoplex on Friday night. (Some of you have likely heard The Asteroids’ “Golden Age,” because it appears in a Wieden + Kennedy-produced Heineken commercial that has been airing worldwide for quite some time now.)

On the same bill Friday is Portugal’s The Gift, who are huge in their native Lisbon and rarely play the States.

Another must is Saturday night, when Holland’s De Staat, recently nominated for a prestigious Edison award for their stellar album “Machinery, ” take over the Echoplex. Check out their video for “Sweatshop” below, followed by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s “The Golden Age” Heineken commercial.

Three New LA Hotels Are Open for Business

Fall has arrived and winter is imminent. You’re busy planning your escape, possibly to Los Angeles, so lucky for you there are several new hotels in L.A. just waiting to take your reservation. The most anticipated arrival is surely the renovated Hotel Bel-Air. The storied property, known for its high-profile guests, extravagant weddings, and perhaps America’s best bartender over the age of 60 (here’s hoping Gus will be back), is almost ready for its close-up after nearly two years of reconstruction.

The Bel-Air is set to re-open October 14th, and guests can expect several new touches, such as a 12,000 square-foot building featuring a new fitness studio, three unique “Loft Guestrooms” (one of which is pictured) with open floor plans and double-sided fireplaces. Of course, the Bel-Air does not come cheap: the new lofted rooms go for around $1500 a night. But there are few other hotels in the area as iconic as the Bel-Air, so there’s that.

More reasonably priced and equally interesting is the new Hotel Wilshire. Not to be confused with the nearby Wilshire Hotel, this just-opened 74-room boutique property is managed by the same team behind the Élan hotel near the Beverly Center. Similar to the Elan, The Hotel Wilshire aims to capture business and leisure travelers who want luxury on the cheap. Well, relatively cheap, anyway, compared to other hotels in the area like the SLS. Rooms start from $189 per night, and the best part of this property is the stellar roof deck, which can be enjoyed even if you’re not staying here.

Condé Nast employees and others who work in the area have been doing just that this month, as they sneak away to the 6th floor find to have lunch poolside at Chef Eric Greenspan’s The Roof on Wilshire, or plot secret post-work cocktail escapes as the sun sets over the deck.

Finally, for those looking for a midway point between a $1500 a night room and a $189 a night temporary home, there’s Mr. C. The anticipated property is up and running now after a summer launch, and travelers from New York especially seem to be enjoying the 137-room hotel.

And while the restaurant on site, simply called Mr. C, has so far failed to elicit the same kind of reviews and clientele as Cipriani in New York consistently does, the hotel seems to be faring a bit better. Best of all is the 12th floor outdoor event space, which boasts 360-degree panoramic city views and is accessed via a private exterior glass elevator. Read more on Mr. C here.

Montreal Musicians Head West for ‘Quebec in Hollywood’

September in Los Angeles is shaping up to be a lot like spring in Montreal, thanks to the Quebec government. For most of the month, Quebec In Hollywood has been taking Tinsletown by, er, blizzard. Those clued into this particular brand of Canadian awesomeness will be treated to films, events and concerts presented by our neighbors up north.

While a lot of the events are over (The fest began on September 9), the music portion of Quebec in Hollywood is just heating up, with several concerts scheduled for this week.

Last night, for example, singer, composer and filmmaker Elisapie Isaac (pictured) dazzled those who caught her intimate set. “There’s a really cool vibe here,” said Issac, who is also playing on Thursday at Piano Bar. “It’s so down to earth,” she added. So is the freckled Montreal resident, who also sings in Inuktitut and French, worried about Americans not understanding her words? Not necessarily. “We use words that are useful, but not exactly poetic,” she said of her native Inuit language (Isaac has played everywhere from Igloos to concert halls). “It’s a day-to-day, kind of language, but I try to put more dreamy elements into my music,” she added.

Tonight, a massive showcase of Montreal-bred talent will be on display at the El Rey theatre, where Patrick Watson, Malajube, the Barr Brothers, and the Besnard Lakes all perform in a gig co-promoted by local heavyweights Goldenvoice, the company behind Coachella. And while it’s no secret Montreal produces some of the best bands in the world, few people in Southern California seem aware of Quebec’s unlikely alliance with Hollywood. According to Quebec Government Representative Yanick Godbout, “around 10,000” Québécoise live and work in L.A., part of a greater estimated 100,000 Canadians who live, work and play in the greater L.A. area.

Proof of Quebec’s influence in SoCal can be seen later this month, when IRIS, the new show by Québec’s very own Cirque du Soleil, gets its world premiere at the Kodak Theater, in what is expected to have a successful run to rival similar shows in Las Vegas.

Moby Talks, Plays With Joy Division in L.A.

Over the weekend, Moby mixed it up with fans at L.A.’s Kopeikin Gallery during Culver City’s informal, though increasingly popular Art Walk. The exhibit featured exclusive photos similar to pics from Moby’s new book Destroyed (also the title of his latest album), which were taken at festivals around the world. But those on display were new works yet to be viewed by the public.

“At the risk of sounding self-serving, I’m really happy with the show,” said Moby, who just turned 46 on September 11. “The pictures have a similar theme, but selfishly, I’m much happier with the way these are printed and framed.” It’s a busy week in LA for the musician. On Wednesday and Friday, he will perform alongside former Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook at the Music Box in Hollywood, offering up his take on tracks from the seminal Joy Division work, Closer.

“I toured with New Order ten years ago,” Moby said. “On the last show of the tour, we did ‘New Dawn Fades’ together, and at the end of that, Peter Hook turned to me and said, ‘You know, we haven’t played this since Ian [Curtis] died.’” Moby, who in 1983 played in a Joy Division-inspired post-punk group called AWOL, still has trouble wrapping his trademark bald head around the idea of collaborating with one of his idols. “When I was 15, if you had come to me and said, ‘Someday you will sing a Joy Division song with Joy Division,’ I would have believed you more if you had said at some point we’ll all live on Jupiter.’

The Manhattan-based musician also weighed in on the most recent spat between Hook and New Order singer Bernard Sumner, both of whom he’s friendly with. “They are both lovely people, but I don’t know them well enough to play peacemaker. They’re Mancunians, and they’ve known each other since they were young,” he said.

Regardless, Moby will play with Hook Wednesday in Hollywood (doing a few songs from ‘Closer’), and Friday at the El Rey (doing songs from ‘Unknown Pleasures’). His exhibit at the Kopeikin officially opened September 10th, and runs through October 22nd. Hook plays tonight sans Moby, at the Gramercy Theater in New York.

Porsche Design Hosts High-End Party for FNO in LA

Last night in Los Angeles, the usual FNO frenzy ensued as stores big and small vied for consumers’ attention all over West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, using all manner of hype. But a dark undercurrent of doubt was heavy in the air at several events, as retailers struggled to convince cash-strapped potential buyers to do more than drink free wine and to actually purchase pricey designer duds. But things are different for the super rich, and so was the scene at Beverly Hills’ Porsche Design retail location just off of Rodeo Drive.

Porsche CEO Juergen Gessler (pictured) even flew in from Germany for the occasion, and he was bullish on his brand (the car company owns a small percentage of Porsche Design) despite still generally gloomy economic conditions for the retail sector in America.

“We’re doing well,” he said as guests drank wine and surveyed the selection of sunglasses, luggage, and jeans at the small store. Guests were invited to check out the orange Porsche Design “P’1820 Scarf,” which was limited to 200 pieces around the world.

The German company’s only L.A.-adjacent location (an Orange County outpost also exists) is somewhat insulated from the recession in that their Beverly Hills store caters to wealthy locals and European tourists who frequent the area. Putting retail outlets in the heart of the world’s top shopping destinations is a strategy that seems to be working out for the burgeoning brand, with high profit margins (some of their sunglasses go for around $400 and jeans sell in the $400 to $600 range). A new Soho location is set to open up on West Broadway this fall, proving to be just the latest example of PD’s ascendant spirit, with stores ringing in profits everywhere from Dubai to Shanghai. There are almost 30 Porsche Design Stores in China alone, one of the biggest markets for the luxury brand.

In North America, Porsche Design is still growing. “We have Miami, Boston, San Francisco and more but we are excited about other cities such as Chicago,” said Gessler. “We had 7 stores in 2004. Now we have over 100.”

So what’s the secret of the design group’s success?

“What’s happening in the market is that you have to show you personality by wearing something with status,” he said. According to the CEO, in a recession, status is everything. “We’re driven by the customer.”

Luckily for Gessler, it seems his typical customer has money to burn…or at least they want to convey as much in 2011.

Porsche Design hosts another FNO-related event at their Dusseldorf location tonight and then Saturday in New Delhi.

Los Angeles Bids Adieu to Summer With FYF Fest

Over the weekend, as a sort of unofficial farewell to summer, some 20,000 Angelenos caught indie acts like Death From Above 1979, Broken Social Scene, and the Cold War Kids in the shadow of downtown LA’s skyscrapers for the 2011 edition of the Fuck Yeah Festival. Organizers Sean Carlson and Phil Hoelting were determined not the make the same mistakes as last year, where long lines added to the general air of crabbiness. Comparatively, this year’s FYF was smooth affair.

Fans from all over LA (and many who made the drive down from as far away from San Francisco) enjoyed easy access to the fest site via LA’s notoriously spotty subway, and were treated to a stellar lineup of bands and comics like Marc Maron. Tickets were a measly $40, a welcome change from skyrocketing prices at bigger festivals (cough, Coachella, cough).

Nostalgia was also in the air, as ‘80s and ‘90s kings like Guided By Voices, The Dead Milkmen, and The Descendents played alongside younger, Pitchfork-approved acts like No Age, The Weakerthans, Girls, and Smith Westerns. Some of the best times at the festival, however, went down in the VIP area, where socializing amongst LA’s insular indie rock community reached a fever pitch. Backstage, against an urban backdrop of subways rolling into the Chinatown station, members of Broken Social Scene, Cults, and OFF were spotted drinking and hanging around Sailor Jerry’s airstream trailer, which stood out as a beacon of awesomeness amongst the slightly more drab trailers of other acts. Unlikely celebrities were everywhere, including working girl Bunny Love, from HBO’s Cathouse, who got her first tattoo inside the SJ airstream.

Now in its 8th year, the challenge for FYF will be to pull off the same trick next year, which won’t be easy. But with some good word of mouth, including a glowing review from the LA Times, organizers should expect a bigger crowd next year. The secret’s out.

image Bottom photo by Tod Seelie.