The New Release from 60 Watt Kid Is Positively Incandescent


This Little Light

Thanks to a little NorCal love, the new release from 60 Watt Kid is positively incandescent

So, who is the 60 Watt Kid?

Until now, thatNs a question that—at least for a certain local apartment complex—had never been answered. When guitarists/singers/synth programmers Kevin Litrow and Derek Thomas graduated from high school, they lived on pennies and oxygen. While “dirt poor,” says Thomas, they stole lightbulbs from the laundry room, and so the new property-management firm published a newsletter—with a picture of a lightbulb and a grasping hand—under a headline asking, “WHONS THE 60 WATT KID?”

Well—here they are! And their new album, We Come From the Bright Side (on Absolutely Kosher), is out, too, and it crackles with just as much electricity as youNd hope. After a year working and writing in Oakland, Litrow and Thomas have returned to the Southland and added drummer Dylan Wood. But somehow that doesnNt answer the question.

WeNve named names, sure. But who is the 60 Watt Kid really? A hardline analog man-machine like the guys in Kraftwerk or Can? A suburban robot like the men in Devo? A backwoods post-psychedelicist like the masked men in Animal Collective? A cosmic gospel shouter like SpiritualizedNs Jason Pierce?

“Ah, weNre just like everybody else!” says Thomas. But like a certain property manager must have once thought—there must be more to the story!

OC locals will remember Litrow playing solo as 60 Watt Kid back around 2004, after the dissolution of his duo Dance Disaster Movement. Even if you didnNt notice him, the FBI sure did. He once took a trip up to the oil refineries in Carson to film an appropriately desolate movie he could project as he played, and he ended up on the side of Interstate 405 surrounded by 10 cars full of cops who though theyNd caught a terrorist. HeNd soon move to Oakland with Thomas; the Bay Area turned out to be a bit more friendly.

“Everyone was moving to another level there,” Litrow says. “A higher level—maybe not like hippie free-love, but the intelligence . . . It was definitely 60 Watt University! We learned a lot from being up there—there, experimental is just . . . normal, you know?”

“It blew our minds,” says Thomas, laughing. “ThereNd be 150 people at a party dressed in, like, rags, and the love was just flowing so hard. WeNd look at each other—‘I feel like INm in a fucking dream!N Kevin was like, ‘Open up your mind! LetNs flow—letNs tune our guitars to nothing!N And INm such a theoretical guy. But somehow, we broke through and fell into something.”

ThatNs when they teamed up as the new 60 Watt Kid. And thatNs where Bright Side came from, literally—because of the tracks recorded in Oakland producer-extraordinaire Greg AshleyNs renowned studio (though some work was done at AlhambraNs equally storied Infrasonic)—and spiritually—because of the sense of ecstasy and freedom and complete release. ItNs a happily maximalist romp through pop experiment in the tradition of Eno and the United States of America and Harmonia and even Os Mutantes, whose fearlessness and voracious taste find reverent complement in 60 Watt KidNs ability to make anything work.

Recent field reports document a new 60 Watt “against-type rockabilly” song; Bright Side includes even moments of gospel and soul. As with work by Jason Pierce and Iggy, centerpiece “Take the Pain Out of Your Chest” discovers sorrow and joy in a gentle organ and a barely there beat that collapses as Litrow sings lyrics originally written about the recent death of his mother; at its climax, the song blurs to white as Litrow shouts through sleeting synthesizer blips uneasily similar to the sounds a life-support apparatus might make: “I know what youNre going through!” he shouts. “Because I got it, too! INll take the pain—away!”

“ItNs life—thatNs what itNs all about,” says Litrow of Bright Side. “We work our jobs, we struggle, we cry—thereNs so much shit we deal with. And so we get loose! We express ourselves; we lose it in the moment—we release the worry and the tension and just get into it.”

Look, weNre only going to ask this one more time: Who is the 60 Watt Kid? If thereNs an answer on Bright Side, itNs this: Everything you suspected and then some, with pop and rock N roll and psych and noise amplified and pixelized through temperamental home-brew equipment. Wild and nervous and loud and joyful and quiet and despondent and ready to try anything if the feeling is right. Responsible for one of the most exciting local albums in recent memory. And the 60 Watt Kid will do whatever it takes to keep the lights on.

60 Watt Kid at Fingerprints, 4612 E. Second St., Long Beach; Fri., 7 p.m. Free with RSVP.

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