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Rock Picks 

For the week of December 28 - January 4

Wednesday, Dec 27 2006
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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28

Playing Thursday:

UPGROUND
at Pershing Square, 7 p.m.; MYNX, JENNA RIOT, STACEY Q at Mr. T’s Bowl; ROCKY DAWUNI, NAJITE, BRIAN JORDAN, IJEOMA NJAKA, DJ DREZ at Zanzibar.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29

The Oohlas
at the Echo

A band with the twee-est name, made up of one Polly Pocket and two rumpled dudes (one being Greg Eklund, ex-Everclear), are something of an unlikely outfit to enthrall tiny tastemaker Sarah “Ultragrrl” Lewitinn. Formerly Spin mag’s in-house little sister, Lewitinn is better known for boosting the profile of latter-day hair bands like My Chemical Romance instead of bubble-blowing indie popsters. Still, the L.A.-based ’Las were one of the first groups to sidle onboard Lewitinn’s Island/Def Jam subsidiary Stolen Transmission via musically dense but sugary tunes that are more often found on the south side of 1998. The Oohlas’ debut album, Best Stop Pop, was released in September and succeeds as a sunnier version of what their unofficial farm team, the Like, have been trying to accomplish. (Kate Carraway)


Chicago Afrobeat Project, Rhythm Roots All-Stars at Temple Bar

Describing most world music is like trying to explain the difference between indigo and violet to a blind man. Not so the Chicago Afrobeat Project, who were born out of loft parties in downtown Chicago in 2002. Their unique array of multiple bassists, saxophonists, drummers and assorted dancers (subject to availability) traces roots down to Nigerian Afrobeat firebrand Fela Kuti, Afro-French funk cyclone Max B. and the Nubian joy supreme of Ali Hassan Kuban with relentlessly quantum and upbeat rhythms woven into a vast quilt of jazz-funk-folk history. They mesh tonight with Rhythm Roots All-Stars, a kindred 10-tet whose Sunday jams at Temple Bar have featured Davey Chegwidden, Pancho Tomaselli, Double G, Woody Aplanalp, Aloe Blacc and others since 1999. Prepare yourself for a musical shout second only to Conrad Bain’s in intensity and passion. (David Cotner)


{mosimage}Blackalicious, Fatlip & Tre, Pigeon John at El Rey Theatre

Here’s an indie-rap triple bill with more to offer hip-hop heads than the illusion of underground integrity. A gregarious two-man team featuring the Gift of Gab on words and Chief Xcel on beats, Oakland’s Blackalicious have been cranking out warm, funky jams about women and work for years now; last year’s The Craft (their debut for Anti- after a brief but fruitful major-label stint) demonstrated that sonic smoothness needn’t strike fear in the hearts of humanists. Fatlip & Tre, both formerly of Left Coast pioneers the Pharcyde, typify undie’s quirk; in “Joe’s Turkey,” from last year’s solo release The Loneliest Punk, Fatlip pokes fun at hip-hop’s obsession with wealth by admitting that he needs cash to put an end to a pork-and-beans diet. L.A.’s Pigeon John samples the Pixies and raps about his bad luck with the ladies. (Mikael Wood)


The Knitters at Safari Sam’s

With a rowdy, rustic set list that goes from “Rock Island Line” to “Wild Thing,” the Knitters trade in a cracked yet affectionate brand of Americana. The band, of course, bring together some of underground Los Angeles’ most cherished players, and with their time-tested skill and whimsical, folksy party-time sound, it’s a sure-fire ball. All that tuneful camaraderie aside, there’s no small amount of tangled and shadowy emotional background common to the band — John Doe and Exene’s sputtered-out marriage and subsequent divorce, Dave Alvin’s quitting as lead guitarist for X — a deck of adversity that’s not only been long since rectified, the group are strengthened by the ongoing bond of after-hours friendship that brought these three together in the first place. Anticipate equal parts unmitigated cornball shtick and expressive musicality. Also Sat. (Jonny Whiteside)


Also playing Friday:

BLONDIE at the Canyon; BUCKCHERRY, EIGHTEEN VISIONS at the Key Club; WHITE at Mr. T’s Bowl; S’COOL GIRLS, THEE MAKE OUT PARTY at El Cid; MIKE STINSON at Cinema Bar.


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30

{mosimage}Mikey Dread at the Joint

Jamaican DJ/toaster/studio alchemist Mikey Dread may never enjoy the sort of worldwide deification that’s apparently reserved for the late Bob Marley, but Dread has done almost as much for reggae as that revered figurehead. It was Dread who, in 1977, managed to get the very first all-reggae radio program on Jamaican airwaves, correcting an almost unfathomable sin of broadcast omission, and within a few years, via his association with the Clash, he began bringing the uncut, dubwise, heavy-duty roots style (which Island Records never allowed Marley to release here) to all-white audiences. It was no easy sell (plenty of you assholes booed him when he opened for the Clash here in 1980), but the indefatigable Dread never faltered. Three decades later, his mixture of mystic revelation and rhythmic delight strikes at the soul as effectively as ever. (Jonny Whiteside)


Blondie
at the Key Club

Top tunes and chiseled cheekbones are a combo irresistible to the pop-partial public, and prime-time Blondie (and front gal Deborah Harry) had the best of both. The ludicrously gorgeous Harry and her skinny-suited band mates made New York new wave a global phenomenon with 1978’s multiplatinum Parallel Lines, where sharp songwriting, clever guitars, Mike Chapman’s of-the-moment production, and Harry’s alternately aloof and throaty delivery aligned like never before or since. The album’s angst-ridden hits — “Picture This,” “Hanging on the Telephone” (which was actually written by the long-forgotten Jack Lee), “Sunday Girl,” “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another” — rarely cracked the three-minute mark but painted more pictures and told more stories than an Amoeba-load of genre revivalists. Blondie were later lauded for embracing rap (“Rapture”) and reggae (“The Tide Is High”), but Parallel Lines remains the one-stop shop for their compact, bleak-but-sexy beauty. Also at the Canyon, Fri., Dec. 29. (Paul Rogers)


Also playing Saturday:

ADOLESCENTS, AGENT ORANGE, THE CROWD at Galaxy Theatre; DONAVON FRANKENREITER, WHITE BUFFALO, BRETT DENNEN at Grove of Anaheim; HEPCATS, AGGROLITES at House of Blues; 2MEX, KENT BURNSIDE & THE NEW GENERATION at the Knitting Factory; APE HAS KILLED APE at Mr. T’s Bowl; KNITTERS, ANNE McCUE at Safari Sam’s; THE GEARS, SQUIDDO at the Scene; MINOR CANON, MYSTIC CHORDS OF MEMORY, DNTEL at Spaceland; JAMES INTVELD at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill.



SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31

{mosimage}Erykah Badu, Bilal at House of Blues

A single ticket will set you back 125 bucks (no small sum after you blew December’s dough on stocking stuffers), but if anyone’s capable of providing a New Year’s Eve worth that kind of outlay, it’s Erykah Badu. Though she emerged in the mid-’90s as one of neo-soul’s most traditional talents, Badu has spent the decade since seeing how far she can stretch R&B to suit her space-cadet eccentricities; onstage alongside a cast of hip-hop heavyweights in last year’s Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, she seemed like a visitor from another planet. Badu’s currently at work on the way-overdue follow-up to 2003’s trippy Worldwide Underground, so ask nicely and you might get a preview tonight. Opener Bilal is battling Internet leaks and label politics in his attempt to get his sophomore album released. (Mikael Wood)


The Flaming Lips, Gnarls Barkley, Cat Power at USC’s Galen Center

The Flaming Lips’ latest masterwork, At War With the Mystics, is another in a long string of sonorously inspiring yet goofily heartbreaking works characterized by the surrealist prog-punk band’s ongoing lyrical and musical probings into the deepest recesses of the human heart. Singer-guitarist Wayne Coyne, multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd and bassist Michael Ivins cram the album with their most tunefully appealing and ambitiously arranged songs ever, and among the downloadable bonus-type stuff is their potentially sacrilegious interpretation of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for god’s sake. Meanwhile, get your Gnarls Barkley too, wherein mashmeister Danger Mouse (The Grey Album, Gorillaz) teams with ex–Goodie Mob singer Cee-Lo Green for incredibly refreshing blasts of new-soul power and glory. (Had enough “Crazy” yet? Didn’t think so.) And the one and really only Cat Power graces us with sighs and shouts from her recent Memphis soul–laced The Greatest. Please give shy Cat time to warm up; she’ll make it worth your while. On the USC campus, Jefferson Blvd. & Figueroa St. (213) 480-3232. (John Payne)


The Killers at Paramount Studios

Yeah, they went from Las Vegas’ answer to Duran Duran on the verge of making their Rio to earnest Americana-chasing banditos stranded somewhere out on Highway 9 in search of the last exit to Born to Run (with Earl J. Hickey on drums, no less). Still, Sam’s Town is no slouch, especially when soaring songs such as “When You Were Young” sound so sweet cranked up to 11 cruising down PCH like the last two seasons of The OC never happened. It’s only fitting that they headline this New Year’s Eve blowout on the “New York Street” lot of Paramount Studios, outfitted as “Times Square West,” complete with a midnight ball drop and the perpetually comely Carmen Electra serving as your hostess with the most. They don’t call it Hollywood for nothing. Cheers. 5555 Melrose Ave., Hlywd. (323) 571-4000, or www.gridlockla.com. (Scott T. Sterling)


Chavez at Spaceland

The flag of Matador Records still flies, but it’s a little weather beaten, a little roughed up. The current roster is still packed with the ablest of rock generals, but few are experiencing the first frissons of indie triumph, the frissons that once solidified Matador’s rep as a pillar of cred. Established names from all corners of idiosyncrasy still work with the label, but it’s the return of guitar heavyweights Chavez that gives cause for renewed faith in the stalwart indie institution. The band, whose wounding and shiv-sharp guitar rock blazed in the early days of Matador, left it all behind a few years ago, and very recently came back to touring, releasing Better Days Will Haunt You, an album comprised of everything the band recorded. Long live Matador. (Kate Carraway)


Breakestra at Zanzibar

It’s sure to be nothin’ but a funky good time representing the home team when this ever-evolving soul-bop orchestra rings in the New Year, West Coast style (just blocks from the beach, bub). Originally sprung from the extended Stones Throw family, Breakestra have released their last couple of records courtesy of kissing-cousins label Ubiquity, including 2006’s Stand Up EP, which showcases Miles Tackett and his funk mob reworking tunes from the inner-city grooves of 2005’s Hit the Floor. The EP also highlights the roof-raising pipes of vocalist Choklate, who lights it up on “Take My Time” with an unbridled passion that would make Tina Turner proud. With this show happening on local turf, there’s no telling who might pop up to make a cameo appearance. I’m just saying! (Scott T. Sterling)


Particle, Delta Nove, DJ Quickie Mart at the Knitting Factory

The evolution of the jam band continues, and L.A.’s Particle are at the vanguard of the new paradigm. Their expansive brand of “space porn funk” sounds like it sprang from the fertile mind of a late-’90s college student between bong hits: “What if, like, the guys from Phish hooked up with Bernie Worrell and DJ Dan at a post-Bonnaroo rave? Now that would be awesome!” Particle can definitely improvise with the best of them, weaving jazzy psychedelic tapestries infused with disco beats that can go on for days (and at certain shows, they have). This three-room New Year’s Eve jam-a-thon also features Long Beach world-funkateers Delta Nove and New Orleans hip-hop champion DJ Quickie Mart, with each of the acts playing all night in their own space. Now who needs a miracle? (Scott T. Sterling)


Also playing Sunday:

THE SOUNDS at the Hollywood Roosevelt; BLONDIE, VIOLENT FEMMES, SOUL ASYLUM, EVERCLEAR, BUCKCHERRY, THE TUBES at the Orange County Fair & Expo Center; POP LEVI at the Echo; 8-BIT, MORMONS, BODIES OF WATER at Mr. T’s Bowl; MICKEY AVALON at the Roxy; VERY BE CAREFUL at Safari Sam’s; B-SIDE PLAYERS at Temple Bar; DJ QUIK at the Vault 350.


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3

Listing Ship, Spencer Savage, Space at Mr. T’s Bowl

Space — the duo of improvising violist Cat Lamb and venerable left-field Los Angeles institution Kraig Grady on microtonal pump organ — coalesces to one point as it unveils new songs tonight. And you thought your can opener was the result of Intelligent Design. It’s also Dinosaurs With Horns tape-looper Spencer Savage’s first solo electronics show in 20 years. Plus: Listing Ship possibly playing some of the 18 tracks they’ve recorded recently, folkish utterances as raw as the reality of a heart worn on one’s sleeve. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to the zeitgeist of Lectisternium, the Anti Club and the Alligator Lounge, soft-and-deep experimental psychedelia redolent of those days at the Source vegetarian restaurant on Sunset before all that Annie Hall money and Father Yod’s untimely death in a tragic hang-gliding accident. (David Cotner)



Also playing Wednesday:

ENTROPY, SECRET FAN CLUB at the Knitting Factory; HAWNAY TROOF, IMA FUCKING GYMNAST at the Smell.


THURSDAY, JANUARY 4

Playing Thursday:


BODIES OF WATER at Pershing Square; HARBORTOWN SAINTS, LOS MYSTERIOSOS, IRISH BROTHERS at Alex’s Bar; SABERTOOTH TIGER, NEW COLLAPSE at the Echo; UNWRITTEN LAW, AS FAST AS at House of Blues; GUILTY HEARTS, BLACK COMETS, THE MAD LOVERS at Safari Sam’s; DIE ROCKERS DIE at the Scene; THE COLOUR at Spaceland.

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