Material: There are plenty of bands like Angeles in Los Angeles, and indeed in the States. Hell, all over the place! This is one of those bands that were part of a thriving scene at one point— they played up and down the Sunset Strip with many of the bands that went on to sell hundreds of thousands of records. They watched it all go down. They were there. But for a variety of reasons, it just didn’t happen for them. Angeles were unable to take that next step. Maybe it’s that band name, which we all have to concede is just not cool, especially in this town. Maybe it’s the fact that members have come and gone over the years, including a whole range of female singers. Or maybe they just didn’t have the songs to grab radio’s attention. That would be as much down to dumb luck as anything else, because they do have some great tunes. The music is a wonderful, powerful blend of classic, bluesy rock & roll and power-metal. There are nods to Iron Maiden’s bombastic “guns and glory” approach, while elsewhere it’s all Hollywood sleazy riffs and bubblegum choruses. There’s much to love.
Musicianship: Demon Dale Lytle is clearly running this show; he’s the guitar hero with the exuberant amount of facial hair, pulling out every rock star pose he can muster. He’s a gifted player, though—and his enthusiasm for this band is infectious. When he plays the acoustic during one song’s introduction, his transition to the electric is seamless. In his mind, he’s probably playing The Forum in front of thousands. Meanwhile, Casella is charged with fronting this band, and she has the larynx to do it. The rhythm section is a powerhouse, and it all results in a pummeling hard rock set.
Performance: These guys just love what they do. They’re lifers—lesser characters would have quit decades ago, but the people in Angeles are doing this because it’s in their blood. Who can deny them—all these years after forming, they still get to play at The Whisky (on this occasion opening for ‘70s hard rockers Angel) and other similarly prestigious venues in the area, they’re having a ball and the music is great fun.
Summary: We started this piece by saying that there are bands like Angeles all over the place, and there are. But the truth is, the music world needs bands like Angeles to be all over the place. Fads will come and go, but the warriors that just won’t quit—they’re the people that will outlast everything else.
Players: Demon Dale Lytle, guitar; Gwendolyn Casella, vocals; Danny Basulto, drums; Mark Ludmer, bass