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Dear Rocking Reader: Your orders this week are simple, yet crucial: Go see The Cuts. This band does the Lord’s work, the nearly impossible: That is, they make power pop that’s ACTUALLY DANGEROUS. Fun, swaggering, historical, stylish, funny, cool yet unpretentious . . . (And they’re from Oakland?!) I have written a handy clip-’n’-save note for you, in case you must cancel plans with your doctor/mom/florist:
Please excuse ________ from attending _______ this week, as s/he has been ordered to attend the rock concert.
Thank you for your understanding in this matter,
L.A. Weekly Music Editor
P.S.: If you need to reach ______, s/he will be at (circle one) Spaceland, 2/4; the Knitting Factory, 2/5.
Bubblegum diva/true-crime historian Kim Cooper reads from her sleeper hit of a book, the story of the making of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. (Part of the 33 1/3 series of tiny-books-about-albums, Cooper’s has outsold all the rest — take that, Bruce Springsteen!) 2/8, at Book Soup, 7 p.m.
Something calling itself Foreigner but looking fairly domesticated plays the Canyon in Agoura Hills, 2/4. (Thought you’d want to know.)
Thursday - Feb. 2
Willie Nelson at the Canyon
Despite the fact that the wear and tear of every sped-up after-hours guitar pull and all those bloodshot tequila sunrises are stamped on his face like a series of lashes from some infernal cat, country-music shaman Willie Nelson is damn near indestructible. This master of offbeat scratchy phrasing is also a writer capable of crafting lyrics so perfectly assembled, they pull the listener into an inescapable vortex. His unparalleled reign continues with all the ragged glories and cosmic-scale philosophy that made him a household name (and an IRS target) perfectly intact. Still impossible to anticipate (as with last year’s reggae album), Nelson’s run of freaky-deaky stylization, whether pure hillbilly, Tin Pan Alley or jazzy reflection, is an irresistible proposition. (Jonny Whiteside)
Jenny Lewis, The Watson Twins at the Vista Theater
Rilo Kiley front woman Jenny Lewis makes an enchanting solo debut with this month’s Rabbit Fur Coat, probably the best country-rock album ever named after an item of clothing on which PETA members might try to splash red paint. Recorded with a MySpace dream team including M. Ward, local hipster-folk duo the Watson Twins, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Rabbit presents a slightly twangier version of Lewis’ bewitching indie-babe persona; comparisons to Dusty Springfield’s pop-soul classic Dusty in Memphis are likely premature but feel awfully right in tunes like “Rise Up With Fists!,” where the Watsons harmonize sensually behind Lewis as she contemplates the impossibility of change. Tonight’s intimate show is part of a record-release mini-tour that also hits San Francisco and New York. 4473 Sunset Dr., Los Feliz. (323) 660-6639 or www.ticketweb.com. (Mikael Wood)
Los Abandoned return with the second edition of their Winter Formal, a dressy, prom-y affair that will even feature a coronation ceremony (so be sure to break out those tuxes and gowns) and plenty of the band’s distinctive music. The duo’s allure lies in an explosive combination of high bombast and low-moan vulnerability, and they’ve consistently demonstrated an arresting sense of musical dynamism, one that’s fraught with tension but very little corresponding relief, making for a twitchy, strangely addictive quality. Led by the daring, uke-strumming Lady P and guitarist Don Verde, Los Abandoned surf a churning tide of choppy punk, pop and new-wave influences with a warm Latin undertow, and the ensuing bilingual rip tide is almost unbearably appealing. (Jonny Whiteside)
Dead Meadow, Silversun Pickups at the Troubadour
Washington, D.C.’s Dead Meadow rise from the stoner-rock sludge on their new Feathers (Matador), their fourth studio album and first with new guitarist Cory Shane. What with the sudden spate of bands paying tribute to the bluesy psychedelia of late-’60s/early-’70s mudmeisters like the Groundhogs, Sabbath, Blue Cheer, etc., Dead Meadow take it forward, way forward, with heavy doses of drony electric/acoustic folk balladry and Hawkwindy cosmic overdrive, all sold with great, addictive melody (a neat new trick) and just generally awesome musicianship. L.A.’s own (but not for long) stalwart Silversun Pickups are still laboring over their debut full-length, but you want to check out their EP Pikul (Dangerbird Records), which, like their live shows, evinces a kinda smoldering yet breezy vibe built on your Silver Lake–standard guitar-fuzz/drum-whack/ bass-thump/keyboard icing and some quite abstract lyrical imagery. Singer Brian Aubert’s rough howl and ax noise plus an especially hard-jabbing rhythm section switch off with pensive cello passages and — that wacky new thing — really graceful, memorable melodies. (John Payne)
Bang Sugar Bang, Midway, The Randies, Silver Needle at the Key Club
Kiss or Kill— that weekly L.A. multiband bash rammed with perky pop-punk and good-natured gossip — was initially a reaction to Sunset Strip’s cynical, artless booking policies. Now, on the first Friday of every month, KoK returns to the scene of the crime, kicking off with a gaggle of scene stalwarts. Ludicrously likable Saturday-morning-cartoon-made-real Midway are defined by Theresa Espineli’s baby-Blondie vocals and deliberately winceworthy, far-beyond-cheesy Casio keyboard subplots. Silver Needle bring earnest, sometimes furious rock drawn from a veritable iPod of influences. Bang Sugar Bang’s now-road-honed coed punk poems are delivered with fist in the air and tongue in cheek, while the Randies’ new lineup adds welcome whump to their deceptively tortured Go-Go’s–isms. Every night’s prom night at Kiss or Kill — don your glad rags and get lucky. (Paul Rogers)