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Rock Picks 

For the week of Feb. 15 - 22

Wednesday, Feb 14 2007
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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15

{mosimage}Blowfly at Alex’s Bar

To simply call foul-mouthed genius-showman Blowfly “the original dirty rapper,” as he is so frequently touted, is a grave disservice. Blowfly is much, much more: He’s a superhero, the high-flying emperor of his own self-defined “weird world,” a poster child for the illimitable beauties of the First Amendment and a scourge to straight-laced squares everywhere. An underworld arbiter of all things off-color, he’s been muddying the waters for the better part of four decades and, as his latest release, Punk Rock Party, makes quite motherfuckin’ clear, he just gets better. Blowfly’s rapid-fire, high-caliber exercises in outrage are not only some of the most hilarious song send-ups you’ll ever hear, they’re also a testament to the man’s near-supernatural energies. Expect eye-popping wardrobe, incendiary on-the-spot improv, and a skull-denting tour through his untamed catalog of insane orations and filth-infected song stylings. (Jonny Whiteside)
 

Also playing Thursday:

MOODY BLUES
at Pasadena Civic Auditorium; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE at the Bordello; JOSH HADEN, MINOR CANON, CHAPIN SISTERS at the Echo; LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES at House of Blues; SMITHEREENS, EJECT at the Key Club; GIL BERNAL QUARTET at Lighthouse Cafe; IMA ROBOT at the Roxy; CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN, CRACKER at Safari Sam’s ; MIKE STINSON, CAT HAIR ENSEMBLE at Silverlake Lounge.


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16

{mosimage}Powder at El Rey Theatre

Local power-punk combo Powder seem to be recognized most for the antics of their striking lead singer, Ninette Terhart — and why not? The front woman is a virtual cartoon come to life, a glamazon who looks like a superheroine in her sexy and shiny costumes as she engages in theatrical hijinks and death-defying acrobatics including “hanging from the ceiling by improbable parts of her anatomy.” And yet for all her flashy stunts, the band has a ton of musical potential. Despite cliché-ridden lyrics, “Bite My Tongue” and “Monger” are endearing guilty-pleasure pop confections, while guitarist Phil X lights up harder-rocking tunes like “Adore Me” and “Tarnished” with sinister riffology. “Sonic Machine” beeps and blips with traces of electronics while Terhart’s melodies insinuate themselves inside Phil X and drummer Dogboy’s pulverizing crunch. It might be tempting to summarize Powder as some sort of wild mutation of Cirque du Soleil and Missing Persons, but their songs have lasting impact, even apart from Terhart’s apparently fearless willingness to contort her body into dangerous positions and attract attention any way she can. (Falling James)


Yo Majesty, Chow Nasty at the Echo

“Daaaamn!” That’s all we can say when we listen to the rap riot that is Yo Majesty, three freaky Florida femmes with rhymes spicier than Salt -N-Pepa and bombastic beats that’d make J.J. Fad proud (eat your humps out, Fergie). This old-school girl trio may be naughty — check out the choppy synth bobs and bossy braggadocio of “Kryptonite Pussy” and “Hustle Mode” — but the fierce delivery makes it come off fresh, never forced. Also on this bodacious bill (celebrating Echo Park Records’ birthday): Chow Nasty, three wild S.F. dudes who chug punk and piss funk, and DJs the Arabian Prince (from N.W.A) and Martiniano Lopez-Crozet (Los Super Elegantes) spinning what’s sure to be a wonderfully weird mix of arty rawk and booty jams. (Lina Lecaro)


Also playing Friday:

CRADLE OF FILTH
at Henry Fonda Theater; PETE YORN, AQUALUNG at the Wiltern; KRIS KRISTOFFERSON at Ventura Theatre; JOEY ALTRUDA, COATI MUNDI at the Bordello; SYD STRAW at the Echo, 7:30 p.m.; VERY BE CAREFUL at Good Hurt; AM at the Hotel Café; AIMEE MANN at Largo; RICK LAWNDALE at the Riverbottom; IMAAD WASIF at the Smell; ATOMIC SHERPAS, PUTTANESCA at Taix; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE at Tangier.



SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17

{mosimage}Neko Case at Henry Fonda Theater

If you want to swoon and close your eyes and escape, Neko Case can take you into the ether with a soaring, powerfully gorgeous voice. But she’ll also bring you down to Earth with songs like the icy murder-victim elegy “Deep Red Bells,” which is featured on the countryish singer’s wonderful new DVD, Live From Austin TX (New West). Recorded on Austin City Limits in 2003, the DVD is a moodier blue counterpoint to her more electric and sparkling 2004 live CD, The Tigers Have Spoken, recorded with the Sadies. Case’s most recent studio album, last year’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti-), which is steeped in Biblical and fable-like imagery, covers both of her stylistic extremes, from the spectral ballad “Hold On, Hold On” to the full-bodied title track, with the added element of stirring string arrangements on songs like “Dirty Knife.” An array of unexpected guest stars provides further tonal variety, including the Band’s Garth Hudson, Visqueen’s Rachel Flotard and members of Giant Sand, along with shimmering embellishments from the Sadies, charismatically fiery chanteuse Kelly Hogan and mirage-inducing longtime guitarist Jon Rauhouse. It’s utterly enchanting. (Falling James)


The Vermin, The Love Me Nots at Safari Sam’s

Long before the Killers took over Sammy Davis Jr.’s old town, before there were regular places for locals to play in Sin City, the Vermin were pretty much the entire punk scene in Las Vegas. Backed by relentless drummer Turbo Proctor and manically goofy bassist Rob Ruckus, tattoo artist/singer Dirk Vermin spits out rampaging, non-hardcore punk rock with the intensity of British thugs like G.B.H. and the skull-&-crossbones imagery of the early Misfits. The Vermin’s new 30-track career summary, A Fist Full of Hell (Wood Shampoo), ranges from the slam-bang catchiness of “Girl Says No” and the scab-throated “Just Another Nightmare” (which comes off like a politically incorrect version of D.O.A.) to their souped-up take on Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” The Love Me Nots come stalking out of the desert in their groovy-cruel white go-go boots and mod ’60s dresses, looking and sounding a bit like a Phoenix version of the Gore Gore Girls on their Jim Diamond–produced debut album, In Black & White (Atomic a Go Go). Singer Nicole Laurin rides Christina Nunez’s coolly lurking bass line and Michael Johnny Walker’s tangled guitar on Cynics/Pandoras–style originals like “Break My Heart,” then pumps out hazy sheets of her ballpark organ on the captivatingly spooky lament “Cry.” (Falling James)


Kristin Hersh at Amoeba Music

The majestic violins on the opening track on Kristin Hersh’s new album, Learn to Sing Like a Star, were put there to make you sigh and, yes, even cry. Virtually every song features these quavering drones that push the tortured melodies into spine-tingling territory. As if her introspective musings on hearts “left on a frozen sidewalk” and other images too disturbing to print weren’t enough, Hersh’s new record is stunning. There are enough intimate and arcane moments (“You’re a sight/You look like someone dressed as you”) to keep you rocking yourself in the fetal position all year. Pick hit “Vertigo” should get the Oscar for Best Picture. The show starts at 2 p.m. (Libby Molyneaux)


Camera Obscura, Portastatic at El Rey Theatre

The meek will inherit the Earth someday, but in Scotland soft-spoken and gentle bands like Belle & Sebastian have already taken over. Belle & Sebastain protégés Camera Obscura put a thoughtfully feminine twist to such delicate pop with their own shyly intelligent love songs. Their 2006 Merge CD, Let’s Get Out of This Country, rocks politely — and just a wee bit harder than earlier albums like 2001’s Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi and 2004’s Underachievers, Please Try Harder. Literate, self-deprecating songs with such Morrissey-like titles as “I Need All the Friends I Can Get” and “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” are borne aloft on breezy trade winds, augmented by subtle traces of keyboards, acoustic guitar and accordions. Tracyanne Campbell coos with a breathy intimacy on the unfurling ardor of “Dory Previn” and the dreamy waltz “The False Contender” as her band adorn her soft confessions with somber, sober arrangements that are often quite lovely. Camera Obscura’s Merge label mates Portastatic, led by Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, open the show. (Falling James)


Also playing Saturday:

DILATED PEOPLES, VISIONARIES
at Pomona Fairplex; JOEY ALTRUDA & HIS ORGAN GRINDERS at the Bordello; AIMEE MANN at Largo; MARC FORD at Malibu Inn; THE FLAKES, ROCK & ROLL ADVENTURE KIDS, JINXES at Mr. T’s Bowl; ALOE BLACC, CONNIE PRICE & THE KEYSTONES at Temple Bar; GLORIA TREVI at Vault 350.



SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Silverchair at El Rey Theatre

If your only recollection of Silverchair is as an adolescent Aussie Nirvana-like band winning a demo contest and enjoying the success of a mid-’90s megahit with “Tomorrow,” hearing them today would be like discovering that the cute-but-dumb prom queen became a rocket scientist. Following their multiplatinum debut album, Frogstomp, Silverchair’s profile withered (in the U.S., at least) despite their subsequent releases becoming more accomplished and less grungy, chronicling instant fame and front man Daniel Johns’ (probably related) health issues. It was 2002’s Diorama that signaled Silverchair’s arrival as a serious rock band, with a collection of majestic, epic-yet-intimate Johns compositions that’s everything classic rock could’ve been if only pomp hadn’t become its circumstance. The first single, “Straight Lines,” from Silverchair’s imminent fifth full-length, Young Modern, suggests a more streamlined affair, though no less melodic, and their hardy North American cult following swiftly snapped up every ticket for this brief tour. Also Tues. (Paul Rogers)


Lion Fever at the Echo

the Echo’s weekly Sunday-night confab Part Time Punks has been quite the hotbed of activity in recent weeks, hosting a Smiths tribute and record releases from various rising local combos. Tonight, it’s Lion Fever’s turn as the former Portland band celebrate the release of their new CD, Who Hears, Who Tells, and transform the Echo into their own private chamber of dark dreaminess. With her shadowy vocal stylings, Jennifer Pearl often gets compared to Nico, but she has a richer, warmer voice as pianist Casey Geisen drapes funereal shrouds around her on atmospheric ballads like “Salton Sea.” Pearl’s phrasing sometimes channels the languorously soulful wallowing and mystical spirit channeling of Patti Smith when drummer Joel Black and bassist Abraham Jay Torres kick up a ghostly racket that evokes the Bad Seeds or the more psychedelically doomy moments of the Gun Club. Pearl intones “Widow’s Walk” with an inescapable foreboding while skeletal post-punk guitars climb along spider webs of melody, and she bewitches like a possessed wraith on the boneyard ramble “Take It to the Sea.” (Falling James)


Also playing Sunday:

STEEL PULSE
at Ventura Theatre; MORRIS DAY & THE TIME at Grove of Anaheim; PLAS JOHNSON, COCKTAILS WITH JOEY at the Bordello; KNIGHTS OF THE NEW CRUSADE, SHRUGGS, BE NEATS, SOUTH BAY SURFERS at Mr. T’s Bowl; THE LAST, CHAIRS OF PERCEPTION, EKUK at Safari Sam’s ; CHENCHA BERRINCHES, STARPOOL at the Westchester; GLEN GLENN, RAY CAMPI at Elks Lodge No. 2025.



MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19

Playing Monday:

SIMON DAWES, GLACIER HIKING
at the Echo; PAUL STANLEY, DICKEY BETTS at House of Blues; WADDY WACHTEL at the Joint; BINGES, ANDY DICK at King King; GABBY GLASER, TIA SPROCKET at the Roxy; DIVISION DAY, BEDROOM WALLS at Spaceland; SHARP EASE at Viper Room; RALPH STANLEY, HOWE GELB at El Rey Theatre.


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20

{mosimage}Johnette Napolitano at the Hotel Café

Contacted at her Joshua Tree compound, Johnette Napolitano gamely agreed to write her own Pick of the Week (though I am keeping the 40 bucks — thanks, Johnette! Drinks on me!). “I have Gabriel (Maria Fatal) and Bernadette (my longtime friend, who was on my label back in the day and is working with Rufus W. on an opera for NYC), and I’m very much hoping for John Trudell, whom I recorded out at the cabin this year. I’m just trying to keep shit together, like the pre-Mercury retrograde (ATM card eaten, computer down, etc.). The set’s changin’ up a bit from the last one, but I play music to make people happy and always try to please. ’S my hometown, for chrissake! I’m bringin’ it!” (Libby Molyneaux)


Jesu at Spaceland

Justin Broadrick has a lot on his mind, and it’s not pleasant stuff; thus he makes music so dankly damp that no demon could withstand the stench for more than five minutes at a stretch. Jesu is among workaholic Broadrick’s latest melodoomatic missions following stints with grindcore granddads Napalm Death, industrial icons Godflesh and ambient electronic beasts Techno Animal. The first Jesu album was, by Broadrick’s admission, a macerating mass of dark despair, a “black hole of depression” whose discordant guitar face-meltings were a marathon of meandering metallic madness; on his new Conqueror, via the shrewdly selective Hydrahead Industries label, he’s joined by Swans drummer Ted Parsons and ex–Cable Regime bassist Diarmuid Dalton for something lighter, relatively speaking, employing multihued ambient texture and shorter blasts of hook-laden giganto-riff that seem to glimpse new hope for the utterly damned. (John Payne)


Also playing Tuesday:

SILVERCHAIR
at El Rey Theatre; JAMES TAYLOR at Wilshire Theatre; SWAMP ARC WELDERS, MOTHMAN INFANTICIDE, THE CARDOVAS at Mr. T’s Bowl.



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21


Playing Wednesday:

JAMES TAYLOR
at Wilshire Theatre; VAN MORRISON at Gibson Amphitheatre; COLD WAR KIDS at El Rey Theatre; GOMEZ, BEN KWELLER at the Wiltern; FLOGGING MOLLY, STREET DOGS at Henry Fonda Theater; TWINKLE BROTHERS at the Echo; GHOSTFACE KILLAH at the Key Club; KNIVES, BANG SUGAR BANG, BOBOT ADRENALINE at Safari Sam’s ; DOS at Dipiazza’s Lounge.



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22


The Shakes at Safari Sam’s

For many years, the Shakes have warded off fame with an anonymous-sounding, generic band name and a morbidly sarcastic form of self-deprecation that usually keeps the hipsters at bay — even as relatively recent bands like the White Stripes have broken out with some of those same garage-rock influences. That’s why it’s so satisfying that the Shakes have finally fulfilled their pure-pop potential with the minor (and possibly — time will tell — major) masterpiece, The Rise and Fall of Modern Living (Teenacide), where Peter Gilabert’s ambitious song cycle about the streets of Silver Lake is fleshed out with lavish string and horn arrangements. It’s perfectly appropriate that the Shakes are part of tonight’s bill celebrating the music of the Kinks and Love — their snappy version of Britney Spears’ “Oops! . . . I Did It Again” a few years ago was cleverly dressed up in Kinks clothing, and the string parts on the new album often evoke Love’s Forever Changes. The Shakes’ own tunes encompass Big Star yearning and Monkees brightness, laced with the typically black humor of Gilabert (keeping one step ahead of invading yuppies on “Gentrification Blues”) and ex–Redd Kross drummer Janet Housden (singing the deceptively pretty, wickedly unsentimental child-hating ballad “Little Babies”). These are some great Shakes. (Falling James)


Cold War Kids at the Troubadour

Cold War Kids are one of the best post–White Stripes garage-blues acts around because they’re not afraid of using their imagination: On the Long Beach band’s debut, Robbers & Cowards, front man Nathan Willett narrates from the POV of all kinds of characters he’s not, including a pistol-packing thief and a recovering-alcoholic father. Where too many of his peers view tall-tale-telling as a compromise of indie-scene authenticity, Willett understands that playing lyrical make-believe is only natural when you’re doing music more often made by grizzled old men than by dewy young hipsters. (He also knows that singing about suppertime in solitary confinement is about 77 times more interesting than describing how fucked up you got at last night’s party.) Cold War Kids also at El Rey Theatre, Wed. (Mikael Wood)


Willie Nelson, John Trudell at Gibson Amphitheatre

Willie Nelson, God love him, is nuts. The man is pushing 80 years of age but nonetheless maintains a road schedule so heavy that it’d probably cause a lot of 20-somethings to turn purple and wilt. This visit is of particular note, a cancer-awareness fund-raiser that pairs the venerable country renegade-philosopher with John Trudell, the profound Native American enigma whose calling card these days is as a rock & roll poet, but whose 1970s-era notoriety came as one of the leaders of the American Indian Movement (up to and including AIM’s occupation of Alcatraz Island and a prime spot on J. Edgar Hoover’s personal shit list). When Nelson’s and Trudell’s drastically unorthodox minds meet, the results are likely to be flat-out spectacular. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Thursday:

FLOGGING MOLLY, STREET DOGS
at Henry Fonda Theater; MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD, BLACKALICIOUS at the Wiltern; MOONRATS at the Knitting Factory; SHARP EASE at Mr. T’s Bowl; PASTILLA at the Roxy; CARLOS GUITARLOS at Charlie O’s Lounge.

click to flip through (5) The divine comedy: Blowfly (Photo by Heidi Bluegirl)
  • The divine comedy: Blowfly (Photo by Heidi Bluegirl)
 

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