By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
With war and recession hanging over our heads, the time has never been riper for Weimar-echoing campmeisters Stereo Total. Hardly the forgettable bagatelle they are on disc, live these Francophile Berliners are like stumbling onto a storied soiree that heretofore existed only in your besotted reveries. Clad in business suit and tie, Françoise Cactus pounds her kit and sings mostly in razor-precise French and stilted English while partner Brezel Göring programs the sparklingest spritzes of synth-pop. No fashion accessory was a faux pas among the time-capsule-dwelling fans, and about 20 of 'em charged the stage for the encore: a beer-garden jingle with a chorus of "Wir Tanzen, Wir Tanzen." A beautiful, Continental and freakish thing it was. (Andrew Lentz)
AMOR at the Alterknit Lounge, November 23
Naïm Amor, this outfit's namesake, is a show unto himself. He wears a huge orange Gretsch guitar and hops madly around the stage, maniacally stepping on one or more of the half-dozen or so pedals arrayed in front of him. When he solos, he often stands on one leg and kicks an invisible object with the other. He applies a solid cylindrical metal object and a steel bottleneck to his strings or scrapes them with his pick, producing a hip-hop scratch, or he plays a toy drum machine into the guitar's pickups. The Paris-born Tucson resident also blows a melodica; the accordionesque tones add a boating-down-the-Seine atmosphere.
The sound of Amor is the spot in the universe where order meets chaos. Amor, the man, is a first-rate guitarist whose extensive knowledge of standard jazz chops contrasts with the Hendrixian whammy bar and feedback cacophony. He writes and sings gorgeous love songs as well as covering his countrymen's hits. Tonight he rendered a lovely "Paris by Night," made famous by actor/singer Yves Montand. But amid all the diminished chord balladry and declarations of amour in both French and English (with many lyrics by Naïm's partner, filmmaker Marianne Dissard), he introduces the dissonance inherent in affairs of the heart by making a beautiful racket. The bottom end is provided by Nathan Sabatino on cello. Both Amor and Sabatino play figures into a loop, then improvise on top of the loop, creating the aural appearance of a fuller band. While the loop replays, Naïm sips on a beer, cheers the audience, dances a bit and then wails on his ax. Few others in rock are making music as interestingly off-kilter and refreshingly uplifting as these musical subversives. (Michael Simmons)
Beyond Music's latest packed-house incarnation sees Leticia Castaneda on CD and field recordings and Don Lewis on analog synths accompanied by Michelle Sinigayan's visuals. Slide projector glides in blue along the shivering wave-crests of a sound raised gently but firmly, a faint thrum like the pulse of a sea-craft engine. Images of skyscrapers pitted with darkness appear and are then backed away from. An orchestra of squeaks and slow metal cutlery tunes up, as if behind each of those lit skyscraper windows are machines constantly humming. Metallic cloudscapes rise, and the downtown diamonds are twisted and altered in geometric progression. Slight feedback kisses run along the onscreen shadow of a moving body. It's a study of motion -- the whirling, cosmic images as the sound revolves and evolves, even down to the way some people cough and shift in their chairs.
Brown and Ortega light candles and incense as the stage itself becomes a vast collage of chimes and gourds hanging from wire springs. Live video reveals a slick black millipede in an aquarium turning beneath a leaf as the bottle-blown tones of hanging instruments are struck and resonate. The hiss of an escaping aerosol spray filters across the low tones and gentle scraping. It agitates the items hung from the wire, collapsing more jangled sound. Joe Potts stands over a box of sound-making devices, his back to the audience, the sound like the corners of an airplane hangar, and the turbine whine accompanies him all the way to an unyielding, unchanging end . . . (David Cotner)
HADDA BROOKS, 1916-2002
Hadda Brooks, one of the last links to Los Angeles' formidable R&B tradition, left us on Thursday, November 21. Claimed by a torn heart valve, attendant surgery, pneumonia and kidney failure, Brooksie had just marked her 86th birthday, the first in years that was not celebrated by a local nightclub appearance. Born in Boyle Heights on October 29, 1916, she grew up a classically trained pianist in a comfortable middle-class household, and showed surprisingly little interest in popular music until the calling was thrust upon her by a chance 1945 meeting with fledgling record man Jules Bihari.
The Bihari brothers' Modern Records launched Brooks' unlikely career as the Queen of the Boogie, and the comely Hadda was a sensation, swaying onstage in purple suede outfits to coax a barrage of woogie elegance a bit more refined than the regulation thump the public clamored for. At Jules Bihari's suggestion, she recast herself as one of rhythm & blues' smoldering-est torch singers, waxing a series of unforgettably atmospheric ballads; her signature tune "That's My Desire" provided direct inspiration for fan Frankie Laine's subsequent No. 1 hit version, and she enjoyed considerable national success with a singular presentation of high-tone demurral offset by her vocals' implied eroticism.