The Cults / Guards / Writer tour de force rolled into Los Angeles last week and saw the New York City-based bands perform several shows in the Southland in a matter of days. Headliners Cults hit the scenic Mondrian Skybar in Hollywood on Tuesday night, then the trio of bands played the Troubadour Wednesday, and forYoungModerns caught the same show on Thursday night at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts.

(Above: Cults - Photo by Will Sellers) Cults, whose excellent debut full-length is out now on Lily Allen-operated In the Name Of Records, played a relatively short, encore-less set yet was still strong due to the band's high quality songwriting. The band stormed through a set that, of course, consisted heavily of their self-titled album and also threw into their setlist "The Curse", a highlight from last year's debut EP. 

Even at the end of one portion of a lengthy tour (and only two hours north from several members of the band's hometown of San Diego -- where they said they would soon "nap for 14 hours straight" from exhaustion) the band still radiated energy, most notably during singer Madeline Follin's explosive croons at the end of Cults dream-paced reverie "You Know What I Mean", which the young Eagle Rock crowd completely ate up.

(Above: Cults - Photo by Will Sellers) Madeline's brother Richie Follin fronts fellow NYC rockers Guards. Guards set themselves up in a remarkably similar way which Cults did: by offering free downloads of their music on their BandCamp page

Their self-titled EP was originally made available a year ago and features seven solid tracks that sound like Guards and Cults were feeding off of each other creatively when they recorded their respective material. Whatever creative energy that radiated from one another during those times paid off very well as both bands have released nothing but stellar material. 

(Above: Guards EP) Guards also released a 7" of three cover songs (Metallica's Motorbreath", Vampire Weekend's "Taxi Cab", and M.I.A.'s "Born Free") which they completely transform into their own unique style. Most notably, their M.I.A. cover takes the chorus of the original song and makes it into a two-and-a-half minute super-charged punk rock rollercoaster. Both releases can be downloaded for free here: http://guards.bandcamp.com

(Above: Cover Songs 7") I didn't quite have my stopwatch handy, but Guards' set on Thursday night felt lengthier and more dynamic than headliner Cults' own set. Perhaps this was punctuated by the style of Guards' songs compared to those of Cults. Guards' songs often have a certain Midwestern folky twang which can sometimes breed into lengthy guitar jams (as opposed to Cults' strictly pop-friendly song lengths), making their set feel very robust. It nearly seemed like Cults' set was giving the kids what they wanted, but what the band really wanted was to check out Guards like they were a cool little secret.

(Above/Below: Guards - Photo by Will Sellers) It would not be the most shocking thing in the world if Guards remained a "secret" for not much longer. They have similar strong songs like those of Cults as well as a bit of a mysterious aura about them: two things that helped launch Cults as upstart indie sensations.

Thoughts. Will Sellers. Graphic. J Thomas Codling. Cheers, FYM