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Rock Picks 

For the week of April 5–12

Tuesday, Apr 3 2007
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THURSDAY, APRIL 5

Nurse With Wound at Amoeba Music

Tonight spells the first-ever Los Angeles performance by British experimental surrealists Nurse With Wound. And it’s free! Founding Nurse Steven Stapleton has for the past three decades stood staunchly at the forefront of arch-strangeness in music, but only recently has he performed live, including sold-out nights in San Francisco and London (tonight’s Nurses: John Contreras, Jim Haynes, Stapleton, Hazel Two Twiggs and Matt Waldron). Besides his collage-music presentation, he’s also one of the most distinctively and psychotropically original graphic designers working today, illustrating the covers of NWW records like Chance Meeting on an Operating Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella, Nylon Coverin’ Body Smotherin’ and Alas the Madonna Does Not Function. That the night spells a united appearance of Los Angeles’ fringe contingent is an understatement of metaphysical proportions. And he’s working on a hip-hop album next! Starts at 7 p.m. (David Cotner)

Les Sans Culottes, Donita Sparks at Spaceland

Quel fromage! Named for the “ill-clad and ill-equipped volunteers of the French Revolutionary army,” Les Sans Culottes (meaning “without underpants”) take on the ’60s French pop sound of Serge Gainsbourg and add arrangements à la the 5th Dimension to ridiculously groovy effect. They have names like Kit Kat Le Noir, Edith Pissoff, Theo Neugent, Johnny Dieppe, Françoise Hardly, Jean L’Effete and Max Gauche, and you can expect to have your Gainsbourg thoroughly Serged. Look for a new record in the reasonable future from L7’s Donita Sparks — and expect it to be damn great, based on the fetching new songs on her MySpace page. (Libby Molyneaux)


Also playing Thursday:

DE LA SOUL
at Galaxy Theatre; PEPPER, MAD CADDIES at Henry Fonda Theater; FANTAN MOJAH at Dragonfly; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; MAN MAN, SIMON DAWES at the Roxy; XU XU FANG at Silverlake Lounge.
 
FRIDAY, APRIL 6

{mosimage} John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae at Gibson Ampitheatre

One of contemporary R&B’s craftiest craftsmen, John Legend makes work that respectfully honors soul music’s past while confidently imagining its future. On 2004’s Get Lifted, the former church-choir director benefited greatly from his relationship with pal and benefactor Kanye West, but last year’s superior Once Again proved that Legend is the architect of his own sound, a canny mixture of funky sample science and live-band warmth. Onstage, dude works his chops but not so hard that you fall asleep while he solos. English opener Corinne Bailey Rae’s considerably less crafty than Legend: The gentle folk-soul tunes on her hit debut come with a slight bit of hip-hop detailing, but Bailey Rae’s more concerned with substance than style. Still, she’s no roots-music scold; her polite goody-two-shoes act is unexpectedly sensual. (Mikael Wood)


Bad Religion at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

“They’re still around?” That’s how many people respond when Bad Religion’s name is brought up. In the punk-rock encyclopedia, Bad Religion’s sound is categorized as somewhere between angry teddy bear and militant, sleep-deprived, poli-sci grad student — complete with aggro–Kingston Trio harmonizing behind the ferocious socio-authority-fighting-the-man-superio-cultural-warrior anthems. Greg Gaffin sacrificed his throat — not to mention major parts of his esophagus, larynx and trachea — for you, man! Since 1980, they’ve put out 13 albums, the message being fight authority and mosh with respect for your pit-mate. By now they’ve realized they’ll never be U2, but the truth is if Bad Religion gave it all up, we’d be mightily bummed. The band headlines a benefit for Heal the Bay; see Concerts for details. (Libby Molyneaux)


Richard Swift, David Vandervelde at Spaceland

Could David Vandervelde be the next Conor Oberst? Like Mr. Bright Eyes, Vandervelde is a precocious Midwestern boy who started recording his tunes while a teen. On his recently released debut The Moonstation House Band, the autodidact multi-instrumentalist merrily hopscotches from glam rock to psychedelica to Americana to chamber pop... oh, just say rock ’n’ roll since the ’60s. “Can’t See Your Face No More” works up some shambling, hooky magic, while “Wisdom From a Tree” intertwines T-Rex with George Harrison. But the 22-year-old has a Rolling Stones jones too; he often covers “Cocksucker Blues.” Tourmate and Secretly Canadian comrade Richard Swift also is a music history buff. Swift, whose vocals fall on the plaintive side of the Rufus Wainwright/Eric Carmen school of croon, crafts intricate yet catchy pop tunes inspired by Tin Pan Alley, the English music hall and Brian Wilson’s symphonic sandbox music. (Michael Berick)


De La Soul at the Key Club

“Life is beautiful. It’s just the shit in it that’s fucked up.” There’s a lot of knowledge and poetry in that little bon mot, a line from the title track of De La Soul’s stellar 2004 record, The Grind Date. Not that it’s unusual for the Long Island trio to integrate low-key intelligence into their jazzed-up, bouncy music; De La Soul were making conscious hip-hop before there was “conscious hip-hop.” De La isn’t pushing a new album on this tour, though last fall saw the release of a well-received mixtape, The Impossible: Mission TV Series Pt. 1 (apparently, parts two and three are forthcoming), a collection of never-heard jams, jokes and raps. The group’s catalog is so unstoppable and enduring that these bonus goodies are nowhere near redundant, even closing in on their 20th year in the game. (Kate Carraway)


Also playing Friday:

THE ALKAHOLIKS, DFARI, DJ LIME GREEN, CHAPTER 11, BORN SUPREMACY
at Blue Cafe; THE THERMALS at the Echo; DARK STAR ORCHESTRA at El Rey Theatre (also Saturday at the Canyon); THE PNUMA TRIO at Fais Do-Do; TALIB KWELI at House of Blues; NIKKA COSTA at Largo (also Saturday); ADRIAN LEGG at McCabe’s; HOOKERS & BLOW at Paladino’s; VERUCA SALT at the Roxy; DEADSARA at Safari Sam’s; THE CARDOVAS, ANDREW SHERMAN VEHICLE at Taix; BILLY TALENT at the Troubadour; THE DREAMING at the Whisky; HELLOGOODBYE at the Wiltern; Urban Underground Invasion with Aceyalone, Moskeedoe & Smooth Assassins, Bash Bros., 5th Element, many others at Zen.


SATURDAY, APRIL 7

{mosimage}Mew at the Henry Fonda Theater

Mew’s guitar-driven stadium anthems pack a strong left hook delivered in a velvet glove. The Danish quartet’s ambitious arena rock maintains an unlikely gentleness, achieved by dreamy melodies and singer Jonas Bjerre’s soothing falsetto. Citing influences as diverse as Dinosaur Jr. and the Pet Shop Boys, Mew have become heroes in their homeland, receiving Danish Critics Awards including Band and Album of the Year in 2003. Americans are finally catching on with the release of the band’s latest stellar album, And the Glass Handed Kites, as well as their recent opening slots for Bloc Party and Kasabian. Now they’re touring on their own steam aboard a train that’s long overdue. The fact that they’re easy on the eyes is an added bonus. (Laura Ferreiro)


Dean & Britta at the Silent Movie Theatre

Ex-Luna man Dean Wareham and collaborator/wife Britta Phillips specialize in a far cooler, kinda updated version of Ashford & Simpson or maybe Sonny & Cher, where the real-life love story is implied in the allure of their musical interplay. In addition to the languidly elegant score for The Squid and the Whale, they’ve teamed for a couple of excellent albums produced by Tony Visconti — last year’s L’Avventura (Jetset) and the brand-new Back Numbers (Zoe/Rounder) — on which they trade succinctly sweet and sexy vocals on originals that evocatively mine a Velvets/Serge Gainsbourg/Georges Delarue vein, along with a cover of the Troggs’ “Our Love Will Still Be There” and a fitting take on Lee Hazlewood’s “You Turned My Head Around.” Two shows, 7 & 10 p.m. (Also Fri., April 6, at the Getty Museum, but that one’s sold out). (John Payne)


Also playing Saturday:

LES NUBIANS, JENNIFER JOHNS
at Fais Do-Do; SQUIDDO, THE CONTROLLERS, BILLY BONES, LOOSE TIES at Relax Bar; AUSGANG at Safari Sam’s; YEAR LONG DISASTER, THE BINGES at Spaceland; CHIP KINMAN & PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY at Taix; THE GOSSIP, YO MAJESTY at the Troubadour.


SUNDAY, APRIL 8

Arbouretum, David Karsten Daniels at Knitting Factory

Arbouretum’s Rites of Uncovering (Thrill Jockey) attempts to convey, in songwriter-guitarist-singer Dave Heumann’s words, “proto-religious feelings such as awe in the face of something greater.” Rites is a thing of rough-hewn, murky texture and mentality, courtesy vintage Silvertone and Ampeg Reverberocket amplifiers laced in novel ways with vibraphones, electric pianos and toy flute, while the band’s songs are slow and drudgily epic, with Neil Young–like meanderingly intuitive guitar solos — all of which might sound like a drag, but with a bit of patience you’ll hear them hit magnificently ambiguous peaks of discovery. David Karsten Daniels works a related field; the North Carolina–based songwriter’s Sharp Teeth (FatCat) is an ingeniously arranged exploration of post–Bible belt relijun-related worries and concerns, majestically rendered with slide guitars, Dixieland drums and brass, and sweeping strings. (John Payne)


Also playing Sunday:

ISIS, JESU, ZOZOBRA
at the Henry Fonda Theater; CASS McCOMBS at the Knitting Factory; Von Cotton, Austin Hanks, Travis Howard at Molly Malone’s; THE MOOG at Safari Sam’s.


MONDAY, APRIL 9

Rooney at the Roxy

Ahhh, Rooney: part reluctant boy band, part savvy California sound revivalists — and perhaps (alongside The Like and Phantom Planet) the epitome of L.A.’s privileged-kids-play-band microculture. Their endearingly eccentric ’03 debut album had critics — okay, me — tipping Rooney for cover-of–Rolling Stone status. The pregnant pause since (during which they’ve recorded three unreleased follow-ups) seems to have cost them plenty of ADHD adolescent fans. Yet when I caught ’em at Santa Monica’s outdoor Summer Strummer last September, they appeared utterly happy (what a concept!) to be delivering frontman Robert Carmine’s cultured Beach Boys–go-’80s songs about girls, their endless-summer optimism blissfully out-of-sync with the world’s gathering gloom. Rooney are a bunch of buddies who’ve already enjoyed eight years lost in their music: even if their sophomore effort never emerges, they’ve already won. (Paul Rogers)


Miss Mickey Champion at the Bordello

Salty, soulful blues singer Mickey Champion knows how to live it up, and tonight‘s birthday party for her seems likely to turn into the raving mother of all such celebrations. The Louisiana-born singer represents one of the final links to Los Angeles’ incalculably rich and influential R&B heritage, and the life she led in the midst of it — married to drummer-bandleader Roy Milton (who, with his Solid Senders, racked up almost 20 R&B hits in the early ’50s) and performing alongside the legendary geniuses who made this town’s rep as one of the crucial R&B territories — led her to a wild, mile-high style that delivers enough voltage to blow even the most jaded top clear off. With her breathtaking repertoire and interpretive prowess, the aptly named Champion still reigns supreme. (Jonny Whiteside)


Also playing Monday:

Anavan, Atole, TV Sheriff, The Lunar Project, Bon Voyage
at Pehrspace; SONIC BOOM at Safari Sam’s; THE KILLERS, HOWLING BELLS at Staples Center.



TUESDAY, APRIL 10


{mosimage}Muse at the Forum

Invoking Queen at their most grandiose and Radiohead set on “rawk!” (singer Matthew Bellamy sounds eerily like Thom Yorke), U.K. mega-rockers Muse make monolithic music designed to reach the farthest corners of an arena, so the Forum is an ideal setting for the band’s bombast. Their latest, Black Holes & Revelations, elevates the sound to even higher heights, featuring the most ambitious song to shake “modern” rock radio last year, the galloping “Knights of Cydonia.” Setting their tunes to lyrics about aliens and conspiracy theories, it’s a wonder this deceptively diminutive trio aren’t superstars in America. But with most stateside dates (including this one) solidly sold out, maybe they already are. (Scott T. Sterling)


Also playing Tuesday:

ELANA JAMES
at Coffee Gallery Backstage; THE NIGHTWATCHMAN at the Hotel Café; GEORGE THOROGOOD at House of Blues; WOVENHAND at Silverlake Lounge (also Wed.); LUCKY DRAGONS at the Smell; MINIBAR at the Troubadour.



WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11


{mosimage}Toots & the Maytals at House of Blues

Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, well and rightly known as one of those who spearheaded Jamaican music’s evolution from carefree party-time ska to the spiritualism and outspoken social commentary of reggae, is also in possession of one of the great voices ever to rise from the mean streets of Kingston — an exuberantly gruff, scratchy tone and mixture of both deep Jamaican and American soul-funk influences, with a remarkable ability to elevate a lyric. Bringing with him one of the finest (and most widely covered) set lists — classic numbers like “Pressure Drop,” “Funky Kingston,” “Monkey Man” and the extraordinary prison-life-inspired “54-46 Was My Number” — not to mention Olympic-scale, showstopping charisma, any Hibbert performance remains an irresistible proposition. (Jonny Whiteside)


Also playing Wednesday:

COWBOY JUNKIES
at El Rey Theatre; CHICAGO at Fred Kavli Theater; BITCH & THE EXCITING CONCLUSION at the Hotel Café; YING YANG TWINS at the Key Club; AMBER PACIFIC at the Troubadour; COMEBACK KID at the Whisky.


THURSDAY, APRIL 12

Playing Thursday:

VERY BE CAREFUL, YO MAJESTY
at the Echo; TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS at El Rey Theatre; SAY ANYTHING, SAVES THE DAY, THE ALMOST at House of Blues; TOMMY SHAW & JACK BLADES at the Key Club; instrumental night with Ninja Academy, Trio Formaggio, The Nick Rosen Trio, The Dave Culwell Trio at Mr. T’s Bowl; PASTILLA, FITTER at Safari Sam’s; Robyn Hitchcock & THE VENUS 3 at Spaceland; Brandi Shearer, Amy Farris, Elana James & The Continental Two at the Mint; FU MANCHU at the Troubadour; AUGUSTANA at the Wiltern.
click to flip through (4) Why did Corinne Bailey Rae cross the road? To get to the middle (Photo by Irene Rukerebuka)
  • Why did Corinne Bailey Rae cross the road? To get to the middle (Photo by Irene Rukerebuka)
     
 

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