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2012 Sounded Good: The Best Breakout Music Acts In Los Angeles

josh vietti header
(credit: Josh Vietti)

In addition to being one of the world's more fundamental contributors to the teeming film industry, L.A. serves as a benchmark for artistic singers, songwriters, musicians and producers who aspire to break into the professionally combative realm of the recorded music business. Throughout the 20th century, Tinseltown has been a breeding ground for such impressionable bands as The Byrds, The Doors, the Beach Boys, Van Halen, Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Los Angeles is also responsible for launching the seminal G-funk careers of N.W.A., Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, among others. Twelve years into the new millennium, an exhilarating breed of performing artists has moved to the front of the class, further cementing the city's preponderance as a mothership for fresh development of pop, hip-hop, rap, jazz, R&B, classic music and an ambrosial fusion of those styles that have continued to influence today's society. These distinguished minds accomplished more than living up to the public's expectations boasting community activism, relentless dedication to their craft and admirable determination alongside some of the best music the city has seen.

Best Coast
(credit: Best Coast)

Best Coast
www.bestcoast.usEver since its formation in 2009, this surf pop band has aspired with cyclonic fervor to live up to its name. After producing a number of seven-inch singles, including "Make You Mine" and "Something in the Way" on small labels, its well-received homage to the mellifluous pet sounds of the 1960s has thrust this popular group from L.A. into the global spotlight. Its 2010 debut studio album, "Crazy for You," became one of the greatest endeavors for the New York-based independent record company Mexican Summer and London's Wichita Recordings. By 2011, the band — led by impassioned vocalist and guitarist Bethany Cosentino and über-talented musician Bobb Bruno — caught Hollywood's roving eye. The music video for its highly-anticipated single, "Our Deal," was directed by Golden Globe Award-winning actress Drew Barrymore. The band's second studio album, "The Only Place," was recorded at Capitol Records in 2012, an industrious year that also squeezed in a principal performance at Orion Music + More, a summer festival created by heavy metal band Metallica. Best Coast is set to open for Green Day when the multi-Grammy Award-winning punk rock band embarks on its 2013 nationwide tour. Influenced by such top-charting recording artists as Connie Francis and Stevie Nicks, Best Coast is fast breaking the waves toward musical legacy.

Black Hippy
(credit: Black Hippy)

Black Hippy
www.topdawgmusic.comThis hip-hop tour de force started off on a strategic beat in 2009 by forming a supergroup, a team of exceptional performers that came to the production table with individual lists of noteworthy accomplishments. Generally compared to the phenomenally successful gangsta rap group N.W.A., this South Central L.A.-based foursome consists of singer/songwriter Ab-Soul, actor/producer Jay Rock, songwriter Kendrick Lamar and hip-hop recording artist ScHoolBoy Q. In 2012, the group's independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment negotiated a joint venture deal with Universal Music Group's Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment, a record label founded by music mogul Dr. Dre. This now places Black Hippy in conscientious association with some of the highest-selling rap artists in the world and of the decade, including rapper-turned-actor Eminem and rapper-turned-investor 50 Cent. In addition to recording several albums and a music video in 2012, Black Hippy blazed the stage at Rock of Bells, an annual festival that highlights high-profile alternative artists. With an approving nod from singer-songwriter, actor and humanitarian Snoop Dogg, and under the watchful eye of music giant Dr. Dre, look for Black Hippy to continue to bring needed attention to inner-city lifestyles through ingenious, raw expression. Expect this group of abundantly talented performers to carve its name indelibly into the most commercially lucrative subgenre of hip-hop music.

Nick Waterhouse Debi Del Grande
(credit: Debi Del Grande)

Nick Waterhouse
www.nickwaterhouse.comDuring a leap year that has spoken of beliefs ranging from spiritual transformation to the apocalyptic, the 12th year of the 21st Century proved to be an earnest one for this soulful singer, songwriter and guitarist, whose potent debut album, "Time's All Gone," released by Innovative Leisure Records, exploded into the R&B genre like a mushroom cloud of persuasive revelation. Nick Waterhouse's smooth and vintage-style sophistication has an invigorating knack of stuffing listeners easily into a time capsule for a transitory odyssey back to a whirling era when vinyl records ruled the groove. Although this vocalist and producer launched his musical career in 2002, it was not until eight years later when his sweet-sounding reverence to an age that preceded compact discs stuck like a phonograph's needle. It came in the well-received form of "Some Place," a self-distributed single that was recorded, mixed, mastered and pressed the old-fashioned way. Even the labels were individually handset. Now considered a collector's item, the 45 rpm reportedly sells for $300. There remains no doubt of Waterhouse's profound devotion to classic music trends of old. His allegiance is comparable to those days when recording artists played key roles in making certain their materials were crafted impeccably to a gritty finish and their live performances resulted in screaming fans and notoriety. After juggling a dizzying set of live engagements across the country, the clean-cut crooner embarked in 2012 on a whirlwind tour of Europe that included the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. Waterhouse's star power remains intoxicating, as his continued rise to greatness is pretty much inescapable.

Davi Sings Sinatra
(credit: Robert Davi)

Robert Davi
www.davisingssinatra.comAfter slamming a rock-solid career in television and major motion pictures, this world-renowned artist with one of the more recognizable faces on the planet reinvigorated his classical music background to pay reverence to the man who helped catapult the actor to celestial levels of delicious box-office success. Thirty-four years after Robert Davi made his cinematic debut in the TV movie "Contract on Cherry Street," opposite the late Frank Sinatra, the seductive singer took his insatiable operatic voice into the studio at historic Capitol Records in Hollywood to record "Davi Sings Sinatra: On the Road to Romance," an uplifting, feel-good album backed by an honorable 30-piece orchestra that represented some of the more cherished musicians in the music industry, including percussionist Emil Richards, who recorded and toured with Sinatra. In less than one month after its fourth-quarter release in 2011, the hauntingly alluring CD, distributed internationally by Fontana/Universal Music, soared onto Billboard magazine's Top 10 chart, placing sixth in the traditional jazz category. After music fans began scorching nationwide radio request lines well into 2012, invitations for Davi to perform his passionate and sultry interpretations of such great hits as "I've Got the World on a String" and "Day In, Day Out" started pouring in. Music critics attribute Davi's deep-shoulder-massaging appeal to the performing artist's right-on delivery of the classics and a steadfast dedication to "The Great American Songbook," a construct that lists the best American songs of the 20th Century. At the start of 2012, hundreds of radio stations across the country were broadcasting Davi's music, while the sexy, debonair headliner sold out shows at such top-tier venues as The Venetian in Las Vegas.

Related: Robert Davi Reflects Back On Playing Bond Villain Franz Sanchez

Josh Vietti
(credit: Josh Vietti)

Josh Vietti
www.joshvietti.comWhile violins are normally referenced to classical, jazz or folk music styles, musician and composer Josh Vietti has utilized the bowed strings to create a hip, crowd-pleasing universe that synthesizes to perfection the trend-setting resonance of the baroque and classical eras with the memorable melodies of modern-day pop culture. Prior to fiddling his way onto such television broadcasts as CBS7 and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," this musical prodigy was taking his masterstrokes directly to the streets, where he worked for a while as a performer on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, an entertainment complex that allows emerging artists to showcase their talent to strolling visitors. Vietti's decision to transform the seaside city's center of business into his personal concert hall was a wise one. The virtuoso reportedly sold nearly 50,000 demo CDs from the trunk of his car. Vietti, who started strumming and plucking the violin at age 4, worked his dexterous fingers like none other to earn a prestigious scholarship at the age of 7 to study for 10 years with Los Angeles Philharmonic's Mischa Lefkowitz. Vietti's chest-thumping, foot-stomping and finger-snapping technique to incorporate country, gospel, pop, jazz and hip-hop into his brilliant routine has placed this whiz of music arrangement into a pulsating category all his own. Vietti's latest album, "Best of Both Worlds," was released in 2012 and is available on iTunes. Influenced by composers Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi, this accomplished violinist has opened for R&B recording artist Ne-Yo and multi-Grammy-winners and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Earth, Wind & Fire. Moreover, Vietti recently completed a nationwide 80-date college tour and is slated to perform for scores of additional institutions of higher learning when he hits the road again in 2013. Although violin strings may have a limited lifespan, this is not the projected situation for Vietti's meteoric trajectory. As long as this polished hip-hop and pop performer has an audience of any demographic, he will thrill, stimulate, inspire and leave the masses craving more.

Related: Jimmy Page On The Violin Bow: "Whatever Squeaks I Made Sort Of Intrigued Me"

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning freelance journalist who covers the glittering nightlife and bustling music scene in Los Angeles, among other topics of social interest. Some of her contributions to the entertainment industry have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Samples of her unique writing style can be found on

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