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Music Picks 

For the week of June 15 - 22

Wednesday, Jun 14 2006
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{mosimage}Rock & Soul

If I had a bilocator, a trilocator or perhaps a secret sleep machine, I would attend all of these shows this week. And my musical stomach would be full of warm stew. Tonight’s Most Metal Moment: The melodic love-seekers of Priestess play Spaceland (Thurs., June 15; also June 17 at Alex’s Bar in the LBC). Priestess are a metallistical rock band for kids who grok thick dual guitars and thudding meathead drums, but who value pop hooks and a whisper of the feminine (see also: Wolfmother, Citay, Zeppelin et al.). Witness their bio: “. . . Priestess achieves pure sonic bliss through genuine heaviosity and uncomprimized [sic] melodic hookery.” Dude, that is so rad. L.A. rockerz The Vacation and The Binges open . . . Hall & Oates play Royce Hall, Wed., June 21 . . . June 22, Van Hunt graces HoB with his whimsical Prince/OutKast/Mayfield/(Kravitz?)–inspired rock & soul mixery-fuckery. Now that’s a soup that eats like a meal! (Kate Sullivan)


THURSDAY, JUNE 15

Sound Team at the Troubadour

When Matt Oliver eagerly handed me my first Sound Team flier at an Austin bar years ago, I used it as a coaster. I didn’t foresee how the hustle of Matt and his bandmates would end up mattering for music, but the persistent craft of their Wurlitzer/Minimoog/Kraftwerkian abstractions has ended up bolstering a catchy, refreshing indie-pop approach. Such diligence might be why Elefant and the Walkmen took Sound Team on tour — and why Capitol is now releasing their first full-length, Movie Monster, produced and mixed by the powers behind Spoon, My Bloody Valentine and Depeche Mode. NPR has even declared 2006 “the summer of Sound Team.” The heat is on. (Courtney Fitzgerald)


FRIDAY, JUNE 16



MSTRKRFT at Little Radio

MSTRKRFT is a funky Toronto-based disco-house duo featuring Jesse Keeler, bassist of Death From Above 1979, the funky Toronto-based groove-metal duo that set indie blogs on fire last year with the excellent You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine. In an addition to sounding like a low-rent Daft Punk on the handful of remixes they’ve done for Wolfmother, Metric and others, MSTRKRFT do a good job on their forthcoming debut, The Looks, of expanding the dance-rock blueprint drawn up by New York’s the DFA — which is more than a little ironic, since Keeler’s Death From Above reportedly tacked the 1979 onto their name due to legal pressure from the DFA. Tonight MSTRKRFT headline “Work Out to Make Out,” a beach-themed party also featuring DJ sets from Franki Chan and Adam 12 of She Wants Revenge. 1218 Long Beach Ave., downtown L.A. www.littleradio.com. (Mikael Wood)


{mosimage}Tom Verlaine at the Roxy

To use a possibly uncool analogy, ex-Television guy Tom Verlaine is like the Joe Zawinul of electric guitar. Relying with subtlety on new digital effects and a keen ear for the vast possibilities within particular sets of modal variations, he’s a wonderfully idiosyncratic player who meanders his way memorably into spiky then soaring melodic lines; you seem to hear the process in his playing. It was this stumbling into splendor that made Television sound very, very different, and you can catch Verlaine’s updating of the approach on his two worthy new discs on Thrill Jockey, the all-instrumental Around and the band-accompanied, lyrics-enhanced Songs and Other Things. Verlaine, because of his association with Patti Smith and the downtown NYC punk scene of the late ’70s, will always be seen as some kind of punk godfather type, but in truth he’s been a not-so-private jazzer all along. Of course, the Minutemen were a jazz band, too . . . (John Payne)



Juana Molina, José González, Psapp at El Rey Theater

Argentina’s former comedian and television personality Juana Molina had an epiphany at some point, and when she awakened, she was the singer-composer of a series of strange and beautiful records. The dreamlike reality she presents continues on a new release, Son (Domino), which is, if possible, stranger, deeper and more quirkily touching than all the others combined. Again, she’ll coo in a small voice, in Spanish, and filigree acoustic guitar, and insist on lacing her ruminations on death and life and us and the Earth with these very head-tilting squirmy electronic effects, like mosquitoes, or rose thorns in her conscience. She takes her tiiiiime, and you find yourself drifting off — the ideal state, she says, for tuning in. Also: spare sonics, clear tenor and guitar from well-regarded songwriter José González, from Sweden (yes, Sweden); and warm-pop electronique lullabies from English duo Psapp. (John Payne)


SATURDAY, JUNE 17


{mosimage}Leon Russell at the Malibu Inn

The self-described “master of space and time,” Leon Russell has been at the nexus of so much head-spinning musical history during the past half-century. He was the one guy who rocked out at 1971’s otherwise somber Concert for Bangladesh, and he was among the first to draw a comparison between punk rock and A Clockwork Orange when he introduced American television audiences to an early live clip of the Clash in the late ’70s. He’s backed everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker and Herb Alpert to the Rolling Stones, the Byrds and Bob Dylan, and he gave a start to Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano and Jim Mankey back when they were still unknown studio rats. Russell’s own music, fueled by his salty roadhouse piano and soulfully raspy vocals, encompasses the countrified ruminations of his cowboy alter ego, Hank Wilson, and the inspirational gospel rush of his recent CD, A Mighty Flood, as well as the melancholy ballads and circusy, bluesy pop of the classic album Carney. It’s all spacy . . . and timeless. Also at the Whisky, Mon. (Falling James)


{mosimage}Baaba Maal at the Hollywood Bowl

Once a year, the Great Pajama’d One gives us something to ogle at that’s not blond and tan. The Playboy Jazz Festival assembles some of the globe’s most valuable musicians, and this year the Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal is sandwiched between salsa kings the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra’s tribute to vibraphonist Milt Jackson. The first artist to be signed to Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures label, Maal brought his distinct West African heritage and combined it with his love of pop, funk, soul and reggae. Add to that his mixture of tongues (his native Pulaar language and English), and you truly have an international treasure worthy of the National Geographic–assembled book that is part of the Palm Voices collection (www.palmworldvoices.com/baabamaal.aspx) recently issued. Maal also appears tonight at the Knitting Factory, 9 p.m. (Daniel Siwek)


SUNDAY, JUNE 18


{mosimage}Elvis Costello & the Imposters with Allen Toussaint at the Hollywood Bowl

Another album, another musical experiment. In recent years, Elvis Costello has restlessly explored jazz, classical, soundtracks, collaborations, concepts and various shades of rock & roll. His latest, The River in Reverse, fits into the latter three categories. For his tribute to the Big Easy, Costello wisely partnered up with Allen Toussaint, one of New Orleans’ elite pianist/producer/songwriters. This surprisingly simpatico pair created an unusually relaxed and warm-sounding Costello album. Not that Elvis’ traditional acidic touches are absent. An undercurrent of post-Katrina anger and anguish courses through Costello’s songs (such as the title track), Toussaint’s vintage tunes (like “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further?”) and their new collaborations (“Broken Promise Land”). Their New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival appearance was one of the festival’s highlights, and so it should be at today’s Playboy Jazz Festival. (Michael Berick)


Stiff Little Fingers at House of Blues

When the brilliant Belfast punk rock band Stiff Little Fingers’ Inflammable Material debut first landed, it had an explosive effect. Combining militant realism, gallows humor and a hyper-crunchy, manic sound, the album still stands today as one of the most perfectly realized examples of late-’70s punk ever crafted. While the group eventually followed the sadly typical post-punk degeneration into turgid personal rock (call it the Hersham Boys syndrome) and subsequent unseemly jettisoning of founding personnel, the sheer perfection of Inflammable Material pretty much earned the resulting franchise a permanent pass. Although they’ve operated for many years with only one original member — lead snarler Jake Burns — the good news is that Ali McMordie, SLF’s first bassist, rejoined earlier this year, and his presence should go quite a way long toward getting their fractious, shell-shocked sound back where it belongs. (Jonny Whiteside)


MONDAY, JUNE 19


The Futureheads, French Kicks at the Henry Fonda Theater

Four pale lads from England’s north, the Futureheads go for minimalist instrumentation (loping drums, punctuating bass and often-syncopated post-punk guitars) and maximum vocals (two lead singers and the whole band chiming in). The result is a less-romantic Maximo Park: single-minded and angular organic pop that never stints on melody (and, like Maximo, favors actual speaking accents over mid-Atlantic affectations). The Futureheads run with Gang of Four’s restless machine-shop energy and XTC’s outsider’s optimism, jolly-up the Jam and even revisit the Talking Heads’ interlocking functionality. The music’s straight from a thinking man’s garage, the vocals almost choirlike, all delivered with welcome “fuck you” pride. Brooklyn’s French Kicks are an apt match, though more overtly sing-along — ’60s-style — than the headliners and increasingly buffing out their rehearsal-room rawness. (Paul Rogers)


CANCELLED Snow Patrol, The Duke Spirit, Augustana at the Wiltern

Snow Patrol have a new single as giddy as that “woo-hoo” song by Blur — perfect for an iPod-assisted gym session. Barring that, their latest long-player, Eyes Open, is more of the same soft-rock-that-actually-rocks perfected on Final Straw. Lead patrolman Gary Lightbody’s Hallmark instincts are as bathetic as ever (especially on “Chasing Cars,” the tune from the Grey’s Anatomy finale that — admit it — made you squirt tears). Still, the earnest Irishman will never top his lyric “Maybe I can do it if I put my back into it” (from the song “Ways & Means” from Final Straw) for pure inspiration. Buzz-band addicts will be all over the Duke Spirit, a London quintet who generated heat at Coachella, will be on Carson Daly on the 21st and, oh yeah, create mildly psychedelic blues-rock so arresting, you won’t even notice the cute blonde front woman. With Augustana. Also Tues. (Andrew Lentz)


TUESDAY, JUNE 20


{mosimage}T-Bone Burnett, Jakob Dylan at El Rey Theater

It’s not like T-Bone Burnett hasn’t been busy in the 14 years since his last solo album. He has been preoccupied with other people’s projects, producing albums for the likes of Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley and the Wallflowers and creating soundtracks (most famously, his Grammy-winning O Brother, Where Art Thou). Burnett, however, has stepped out from behind the curtain. May saw the release of material old (the two-disc retrospective Twenty Twenty) and new (The True False Identity). The new disc seamlessly continues his search for truth and (to borrow an earlier album title) Truth Decay. His lyrics remain clever and caustic while his arrangements expertly blur roots-rock lines. On his first tour in 20 years, Burnett has enlisted drummer Jim Keltner and guitarist Marc Ribot for his band, so any rustiness should have worn away by now. (Michael Berick)


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21


Keane, Kid Beyond at the Henry Fonda Theater

For those of us softies who feel no shame in enjoying breezy British indie pop, the time has come to gather unabashedly for Keane’s appearance promoting their latest release, Under the Iron Sea. With nary a guitar or bass in sight, the minimalist trio consists of Tim Rice-Oxley’s earnestly charged keyboards, Richard Hugh’s driven-but-restrained drumming, and the crisp melodic falsetto of cherubic-faced front man Tom Chaplin. Call them Coldplay-esque (they actually named themselves Coldplay first before dismissing the moniker as too dark and giving it to college crony Chris Martin — no joke), but these three adorable Brits churn out a solid sonic backdrop that will sneak up and occupy your stereo for months at a time. San Francisco–based human beatbox Kid Beyond warms up the crowd. (Alie Ward)


THURSDAY, JUNE 22


Vernon Reid & Masque at Catalina

No, your eyes are not deceiving you: Vernon Reid, master guitar shredder of Living Colour, is throwing down with his chops-a-plenty solo band, Masque, for a run at Ms. C’s lounge. His latest CD, Other True Self, finds the rawk-avatar ax-man in an instrumental mood, but it ain’t exactly jazz — even if he does cover Tony Williams’ “Wildlife” in funky-fine style. Ol’ Vern flies his own iconoclastic freak flag proudly, veering from the invocational dub of “Flatbush and Church Revisited” and Defcon Four dancehall of “Mind of My Mind” to the blip-hop mosaic of “Kizzy” and dark-alley metal-blues of “Game Is Rigged.” I can’t wait until Reid, his fretboard smoldering, toes one of his numerous effects pedals and the whole damn room starts shaking. Thru Sun., June 25. (Tom Cheyney)

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