Rock Picks 

For the week of May 24-31

Wednesday, May 23 2007


The Health Club at Mr. T’s Bowl

At the very end of the recent DVD compilation 40 Bands/80 Minutes, after 80 minutes of arty-noisy combos and following 20 minutes of bonus footage of similarly atonal cacophony, something resembling a melodic song finally emerges from the post-punk wreckage like a flower rising from the ashes of a brushfire. That song is by the Health Club, the last (and arguably best) band on the whole megillah. The L.A. trio also have post-punk influences in the way Katya’s bass lines and Gerard’s guitar patterns intersect with an angular, Joy Division majesty, but the songs on the Health Club’s Rarities & Outtakes CD stand out with bright hooks that contrast their gray, minimalist settings. “Summer Rolls” and “Calm Down” chug along with drummer Gabriel’s sludgy tempos, a wall of fuzz and Gerard’s deadpan Jesus & the Mary Chain–style vocal delivery. Gerard laments the disappearance of beautiful inspiration on “The Muse From Venus,” and he finds himself caught up in the intricate architecture of his girlfriend’s fishnet stockings, reveling in their whispery, tactile sensation on “Fragile.” The Health Club are bursting with potential, and tonight you won’t have to wade through 39 other bands to hear them. (Falling James)

click to flip through (5) Uncle Monk: Tommy is a bluegrasser. (Photo by Dave Green)
  • Uncle Monk: Tommy is a bluegrasser. (Photo by Dave Green)

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Also playing Thursday:

UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF GIANTS, YOUNG LOVE at El Rey Theatre; ERYKAH BADU at Grove of Anaheim; FUXEDOS, BANG SUGAR BANG at Alex’s Bar; PECULIAR PRETZELMEN, MELO-M at the Bordello; MACY GRAY at the Key Club; THE CLIENTELE at Knitting Factory; GO BETTY GO, GLASSELL PARK 3 at the Scene; DIVISION DAY, MAE SHI at Spaceland.


Faun Fables, Secret Chiefs 3 at the Troubadour

Faun Fables’ The Transit Rider album on Drag City is a profoundly haunting and creepily alluring excursion into an arcane “dream within a dream,” as is the band itself, whose general effect is like that of stumbling upon a black-hooded ritual being observed in the back of a long-forgotten upstairs closet, behind your grannie’s gowns. Nils Frykdahl of Oakland’s Sleepytime Gorilla Museum partners with an extraordinary singer named Dawn McCarthy to proffer mostly acoustical tunes that seem rooted in English plainsong and such folk-art offspring as the Incredible String Band; McCarthy’s vast, old, dusty storehouse of self-invented dark dramas is a simply mesmerizing place to be, and the verite-enhanced production adds to the moody mystery. Indeed, once you’ve experienced these unsettling stories, you’ll find it exceedingly difficult to brush them from your memory . . . Also Secret Chiefs 3, San Francisco’s avant-rock cult of split personality formed by ex–Mr. Bungle/Faith No More guitarist Trey Spruance. (John Payne)

Fishbone at the Canyon

Feeling a bit peaked, knackered, jaded, bored and run down lately? Fishbone’s new CD, Still Stuck in Your Throat (Sound in Color) — the influential L.A. band’s first studio release in six years — is like a shot of instant adrenaline. The album’s crammed with throttling punk and rampaging hard rock diced up with soulful interludes and funky psychedelia. “Skank ’n Go Nuttz” is a jumping ska track riven with dizzying flurries of febrile guitar, hammering drums and crazed backup vocals punctuated with madcap horns. The CD’s centerpiece is Norwood Fisher’s nine-minute epic “We Just Lose Our Minds,” which moves from a swaying soul-ballad base into a heavier rock storminess — grooving hypnotically with a slowly building momentum, a distinct contrast with the rapid-fire punk of “Frey’d Fuckin’ Nerve Endingz” and “Premadawnutt.” Even lesser songs with disposable Zappa-tastic lyrics like “Jack Ass Brigade” and “Let Dem Ho’s Fight” are densely arranged with brilliantly layered P-Funky vocals. Despite its novelty title, “Party With Saddam” is simultaneously a sincere call for peace and an uplifting party-time anthem. As usual, leader Angelo Moore has assembled some of the city’s most dazzlingly dexterous players. Crazy. (Falling James)

Thee Midniters, Tierra, Malo, War at the Greek Theatre

A most boss convergence of Latin rock & soul spearheads, this one is. With the incomparable strut and smolder of Thee Midnighters, the mid-’60s-era E.L.A. powerhouse prized for classic killers like “Whittier Blvd.” and “Jump, Jive & Harmonize” and who, dig it, still swing from blowtop garage rock to unspeakably passionate ballads with chilling ease (thanks to the presence of ferociously able vocalist Little Willie G and guitar wild man Jimmy Espinoza, co-founders both) and ’70s-era sensations Tierra, led by the critical duo of Eastside pioneers Rudy & Stevie Salas, this is a certified thriller, made all the more so by the fact that the Salas brothers have only recently reunited after years of bitter feuding. Pity that the formerly magnificent War cannot bury their own hatchet; with only one founder — keyboardist Lonnie Jordan — present, it’s a virtual ghost band, trading in assembly-line replication. Also Sun. (Jonny Whiteside)

Ladytron at Avalon

Don’t get too excited if you’re a fan of Ladytron’s chilly-sexy synth-punk robot rock. The Liverpool-based quartet aren’t hitting town this weekend to play live in support of 2005’s Witching Hour. Instead, half of the band — Reuben Wu and Mira Aroyo — are here on a DJ tour. But that should only be a disappointment if you hate fun (or the ’80s): As semi-celebrity party-starters, Wu and Aroyo have a great sense of what it takes to move a room filled with eyelined hipsters more fond of looking aloof than raising the roof; with cuts from My Bloody Valentine, !!! and Fannypack (not to mention Ladytron’s cover of Tweet’s “Oops [Oh My]”), 2003’s Softcore Jukebox is one of the more entertaining mix-CDs-by-a-band yet. They rock the terrace at Avalon tonight at midnight, just a few hours after appearing at the Love Festival 2007 at the L.A. Coliseum. www.thelovefestival.com. (Mikael Wood)

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