Rock Picks: The Police, Sage Francis, Radio Birdman and more | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Rock Picks: The Police, Sage Francis, Radio Birdman and more 

For the week of June 14 - 21

Tuesday, Jun 12 2007
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{mosimage}THURSDAY, JUNE 14

Ann Magnuson at the Hammer Museum

Ann Magnuson was such a charming presence at her recent Amoeba Music performance, gamely flouncing about in a billowing and unruly lavender ballroom gown as she merrily acted out roles from songs on her new CD, Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. With production and arrangements by Kristian Hoffman, drumming by the redoubtable Joe Berardi, and stellar visitations from Abby Travis, Listing Ship’s Heather Lockie, D.J. Bonebrake, Rufus Wainwright and the Chapin Sisters, Pretty Songs is a frequently engaging affair with such breezily clever pop songs as the Mrs. Robinson lament “Old Enuf 2 B Yer Mom” and the sugary idyll “Is This Heaven?” (in which a newly reborn Magnuson finds herself “unafraid of death and ready to challenge the patriarchal state”). Despite the frequently campy silliness, tracks like “I Met an Astronaut” are indeed pretty songs, and memorable enough that they transcend mere novelty status. At times, one wishes the careful retro-pop arrangements borrowed more of Sparks’ savage wickedness and hard rhythmic bounce instead of just the Mael brothers’ whimsy — or even had some of the rock power of her old band Bongwater — but overall Magnuson is a delightful provocateur. 10899 Wilshire Blvd. (310) 443-7000. (Falling James)


First Annual Sunset Strip Musical Festival at the Whisky

This stellar hullabaloo is, in the very best sense, pure Sunset Strip, and as a tribute to the late, great James Brown — a performer to whom everyone in the business did not merely pay lip service to, but genuinely gave a damn about — it’s bound to feature some vibrant, lusty performances. The bill boasts J.B.’s own tighter-than-tight band, fronted by get-around soul man Ali Ollie Woodsen (who did 12 years as lead vocalist for the Temptations and has sung with perhaps the most demanding duet partner of all time, Miss Aretha Franklin), and the funk is going to be be laid on lustrous and heavy. With a small army of big-name performers, from Mellow Man Ace to Cypress Hill’s B-Real and Sen Dog, the ubiquitous Dave Navarro and Lord only knows who all else, expect more double-bumpin’ raw soul than anyone will be able to control. (Jonny Whiteside)


Also playing Thursday:

O.A.R., BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH
at the Wiltern; CHIP KINMAN & PCH at Blue Cafe; LEON RUSSELL, BOB MALONE at the Canyon; LITTLE GIRLS, FISH TANK ENSEMBLE at Fais Do-Do; JAKE SHIMABUKURO at Key Club; JILL SOBULE at Largo; NINJA ACADEMY at Mr. T's Bowl; MONOLATORS at Silverlake Lounge; CALVIN JOHNSON, JULIE DOIRON, JEREMY JAY at the Smell; SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM at the Troubadour; DEVIN SARNO & JESSICA CATRON, CELER at Echo Curio.



{mosimage}FRIDAY, JUNE 15

Sage Francis, Buck 65, Alias
at the Henry Fonda Theater

On Human the Death Dance — the just-released follow-up to his 2005 Epitaph debut, A Healthy Distrust — Rhode Island–based rapper Sage Francis warns listeners against calling him emo. But with its stormy, guitar-stoked soundscapes and Francis’ lyrical fixation on depression and doom, emo is pretty much exactly what Death Dance is. (At one point, he even name-checks My Chemical Romance — come on, man!) Tonight, hope against hope for a guest appearance by alt-folk chanteuse Jolie Holland, who duets with Francis on the new album’s haunting “Got Up This Morning.” One of Canada’s most creative hip-hop artists (does that sound as impressive as it should?), Buck 65 has made records that sound like the Beastie Boys, records that sound like Enya and records that sound like John Fahey. It’s anyone’s guess which kind you’ll hear tonight. Oakland-based Alias, part of the avant-rap Anticon crew, feels Buck on the Enya thing. (Mikael Wood)


The Noisettes, Maccabees, Pity Party at Troubadour

Headlining a night of high, high, almost nauseatingly high energy, London’s Noisettes have a disc out called What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf?, where they sound much of the time like a new-wave Led Zeppelin, with the odd flights of vocal yodel-yelp (the Lene Lovich part) provided by singer-bassist Shingai Shoniwa. The trio’s adrenalized wall of punky-funky noise owes a heavy debt to sleazy ’70s blues-rock lemon-squeezing, sure, but, curiously, their craftily arranged songs pop right into your face with a trad English-music-hall sing-along-ability. They’re so unusual . . . On their debut album, Colour It In, Brighton-based Maccabees rip out uproariously their teen-beat tales of bashful love gone barmy with a furious trouncing of guitars and an all-pent-up jumpy rhythm section, and an especially quivery-quavery singer named Orlando Weeks whose aggressive high spirit threatens to crumble in heartbreak any moment now. Pleasurably doomy electronicized guitar-drums duo Pity Party opens le show. The Noisettes also at Amoeba Music, 6:30 p.m. (John Payne)


Ian Hunter at the Canyon

“Open up the floodgates and out it comes, like a river full of gravity,” Ian Hunter sings with a lazy Bob Dylan drawl, vowing to keep his big mouth shut on “Words,” the opening track on Shrunken Heads (Yep Roc), his first studio album since 2001. Luckily, the former Mott the Hoople leader never follows his own advice over the course of the CD. He grouses good-naturedly about his gullibility and credit-card debt (“Brainwashed”), the state of the modern world (the achingly world-weary 7-minute ballad “Shrunken Heads”), the state of modern America (“Soul of America,” a less-successful rocker that aims for Dylan but ends up in Mellencamp country), life after Katrina (the slide-guitar-oozing blues-rocker “How’s Your House?”) and the unexpected consequences of survival (“I Am What I Hated When I Was Young”). While Shrunken Heads doesn’t always rock with the glittery stomp of Mott the Hoople or his early solo work with the late, great guitarist Mick Ronson, it’s still wonderful to hear Hunter’s soulful rasp, especially on the shadowy groove “Stretch,” which slinks along magnificently on an evil “Lucifer Sam”–style riff. Roll away the clones; here’s the real thing. Also at the Key Club, Sun. (Falling James)


The Dillards at McCabe’s

Bluegrass string-busters the Dillards may be best known as The Andy Griffith Show’s grim-visaged, musically angelic Darling Boys, but these Midwestern pickers were sincere maverick stylists. Led by brothers Rodney and Doug, they were also lucky as hell — their first night in town, they hit the Ashgrove bandstand, caught the ear of an Elektra A&R man and had a recording contract the next day. In short order, they were mixing it up with everyone from Andy & Barney to the Byrds and Gene Autry, actively fueling Los Angeles’ folk-rock breakout and magnetically attracting collaborations with top musicians, whether Bill Monroe or Byron Berline and Herb Pedersen. Always unconventional — they’d use drums and amplification, heresy in the trad-bluegrass world — the Dillards rate as one of the key forces in early-’60s California-country cool. (Jonny Whiteside)


Also playing Friday:

DEREK TRUCKS & SUSAN TEDESCHI
at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre; ROGER WATERS at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater; RES, SHINICHI & ALL THE WAY LIVE at the Mint; BONEBRAKE SYNCOPATORS at the Bordello; LONG BLONDES at the Echo; WAILERS at House of Blues; PETER CASE, RON FRANKLIN at Largo; NO ALTERNATIVE at the Scene; UPSILON ACRUX, BAD DUDES, SILVER DAGGERS at the Smell; KIND HEARTS & CORONETS at Spaceland; PUTTANESCA at Taix; MAMMALS, CHAPIN SISTERS at Tangier; NOISETTES at Amoeba Music, 6:30 p.m.



{mosimage}SATURDAY, JUNE 16

Black Angel’s Death Song, Third Grade Teacher, Chupacobra at Mr. T’s Bowl

Here’s a bill that evokes the glory days of Al’s Bar, with three bands that are punk-informed and arty but also intelligent and tunefully rocking. Black Angel’s Death Song, who are doing a one-off reunion tonight, were part of the once-thriving early-’90s Silver Lake scene. With two dueling singer-guitarists — Jim Miller and occasional Weekly photographer Jack Gould — B.A.D.S. were too chameleonic to fit neatly into any single genre, but their best tunes ranged from morbidly anti-sentimental new wave (“Danceteria”) and sarcastic social protest (“Virginia Is for Lovers”) to rabble-rousing anti-cop anthems (“Your Local Police”), Velvety pop (“Supersonic”), jangly folk (“That Feeling”) and even self-conscious songs about songwriting (“Why Write Songs?”). Miller was one of the first locals to champion Third Grade Teacher, who are perhaps best known for the way that singer (and real-life teacher) Sabrina Stevenson belies her schoolgirl image when she howls grungy psychodramas like “Tongues” or downshifts into such gentle pop ballads as the beguiling “Roll of Film.” Chupacobra never performed at Al’s Bar, but this new L.A. trio (featuring the Wise brothers from Las Vegas punks the Pervz) bring the thunder with their heavy, nonstop Misfits-like attack on barnburners like “Machine Gun Eyes.” (Falling James)


3 Leg Torso at Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse

How much absinthe did 3 Leg Torso’s Béla Balogh, Courtney Von Drehle, Michael Papillo, Gary Irvine and Kyle MacLowery have to drink before deciding that contempo-chamber music with Eastern European and folk influences was the way to go with their sound? The Portland quintet began in 1996 as a violin, cello and accordion trio, and have since expanded into tango, klezmer, Latin and jazz territory. Accordingly, they wear snazzy vintage suits. With a name that conjures up a dizzying freakshow, 3 Leg Torso delivers snappy waltzes, spazzy cartoonish themes, creepy dirges and raucous ditties — sometimes all within the same song. And all without lyrics. And, really, when you think about it, hasn’t it all been said by now? 468 W. Sixth St., San Pedro. Also at Mr. T’s Bowl, Mon. (Libby Molyneaux)


Also playing Saturday:

UNWRITTEN LAW, MICKEY AVALON
at the Queen Mary, noon; THE FRATELLIS at Avalon; THE QUEERS at Alex’s Bar; DAN DEACON, JUAN McLEAN at the Echoplex; CATTLE DECAPITATION at House of Blues; BETH HART at Knitting Factory; SEAN HAYES at Largo; STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK at Malibu Inn; JOHN STEWART at McCabe’s; ROSEBUDS, SECRETARY BIRD at Spaceland; KINGSIZEMAYBE at Taix; LAVENDER DIAMOND, WINTER FLOWERS at the Troubadour; WHILD PEACH at Viper Room; BEN VAUGHN’S DESERT CLASSIC at Cinema Bar.



{mosimage}SUNDAY, JUNE 17

Keren Ann at the Troubadour

There’s probably no reason to pull on your heavy-gauge Doc Martens for potential stage-diving action tonight when Keren Ann returns to town, even if the ultramellow Parisian chanteuse rocks out — a little — on her new self-titled CD on Metro Blue. Although it’s an intriguing contrast to hear her soothing, whispery vocals backed by electric rock power, the conspiratorial menace of “It Ain’t No Crime” is diminished by its sloppy, sludgy rhythm, while the darkly enveloping spell of “It’s All a Lie” is somewhat marred by half-ass lead-guitar doodles. Spare acoustic ballads like “Where No Endings End” and the glimmering Velvet Underground pop of “Lay Your Head Down” are much more enchanting on this, her first all-English-language album, culminating in the fragile, celestial grandeur of the epic “Between the Flatland and the Caspian Sea.” Keren Ann’s 2006 side-project CD, Lady & Bird (Yellow Tangerine), also unfolds with similarly captivating breezy-pop chansons like “Walk Real Slow” and delicately rendered, irony-free versions of “Suicide Is Painless” (a.k.a. the MASH theme song) and Lou Reed’s “Stephanie Says.” (Falling James)


Also playing Sunday:

LOWRIDER BAND, RUDY & STEVE SALAS
at El Sereno Recreation Center, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; BLUE HAWAIIANS at the Bordello; BLOOD ON THE SADDLE at the Echo, 5 p.m.; OLIVER FUTURE at Hotel Café; IAN HUNTER, ARI SHINE at Key Club; QUEERS at Safari Sam’s; THAILAND, PINK MOCHI at Silverlake Lounge; TOTALLY RADD, JUICEBOXXX, ANAVAN at the Smell; ONE AM RADIO, DAEDELUS, DUBLAB SOUND SYSTEM at Tangier.



MONDAY, JUNE 18

{mosimage}Looker at the Key Club

The New York City quartet Looker find themselves caught between two worlds, as you might expect from a band who titled their debut full-length CD Born Too Late. They have tons of potential, with coolly assured femme-pop harmonies that recall the Shangri-Las, delivered with energetic punk rock desperation. Singer-guitarists Boshra AlSaadi and Nicole Greco are at their best when their frequently sentimental songs come laced with a bit of wickedness and sarcasm, especially the thrilling rush of “Last Man” (“God is on my side”) and “Serenade Stare” (“May is the sweetest month when the flies come out”). Looker are less interesting when they give in to their mawkish instincts on “Radio”; their most passionate love songs might be their starkly evocative odes to Manhattan, such as “Disaster” and “Ballad of the 9th Precinct.” And a bouncy tune like “Hey Kids,” which at first feels like it’s straining too hard to achieve anthem-like status, finally gets there by riding on a Buzzcocks-style lead-guitar figure that’s cleverly simple and simply clever. (Falling James)


Playing Monday:

THE HORRORS
at El Rey Theatre; BURNING BRIDES, NEBULA, SASQUATCH at the Echo; LISTING SHIP, 3 LEG TORSO, OLLIN at Mr. T’s Bowl; HEALTH, JUICEBOXXX, DAN DEACON at Pehrspace; LOVETONES, QUARTER AFTER, PARSON REDHEADS at Safari Sam’s.


TUESDAY, JUNE 19

Sinead O’Connor at the Silent Movie Theatre

Ol’ stubble-head is back. June 22 is the release date for Sinead O’Connor’s new album, Theology. Let’s let her explain: “Theology has one side which is just acoustic guitar and voice for the hardcore fans, and the other side is a full-on stadium hip-hop feel, with loads of classical strings and loads of distortion on the guitars.” The songs previewed on MySpace (do we really have to explain how to go there?) were largely inspired by 9/11 and are staggeringly beautiful, quite spiritual, somewhat bleak yet profoundly hopeful about our future in this troubled world. Her voice — truly a one-of-kind instrument of power and emotion — sounds more commanding and nuanced than ever. This show’s an intimate acoustic outing with guitarist Bill Shanley. Bring hankies. (Libby Moyneaux)


Also playing Tuesday:

ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI, ARIEL PINK
at Henry Fonda Theater; SHEARWATER at the Echo; KILLOLA at the Viper Room.



WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20

{mosimage}Radio Birdman at El Rey Theatre

With a table-clearing smash of Who-like power chords, Radio Birdman grandly announced that they were back in the game from the very first track — the appropriately titled “We’ve Come So Far (To Be Here Today)” — on 2006’s Zeno Beach (Yep Roc), the legendary Australian band’s first album of new material in a quarter century. Historically the group has been led by guitarist/chief songwriter/Navy pilot/doctor/token Michigander Deniz Tek, but the other members made significant contributions to Zeno Beach alongside Tek’s trademark riff-twister “Locked Up” and the blurrily exotic drone “Die Like April,” including keyboardist Pip Hoyle’s enigmatic epic reverie “The Brotherhood of Al Wazah” and the icy chimes of singer Rob Younger’s “Subterfuge.” (Full disclosure: I played guitar when Younger did two solo shows on the West Coast back in 2003.) Once Birdman started in Sydney in 1974, they became the missing link between ’60s garage rock and the sullen chaos of the Stooges (Tek and Younger even collaborated with the Stooges’ Ron Asheton in the short-lived supergroup New Race in 1981), practically inventing punk rock with their distant Oztralian relations the Saints and the Ramones. They’ve come so far to be here — and tonight’s only their second L.A. gig in 33 years, following last summer’s riotous Wiltern debut. (Falling James)



The Police at Staples Center

After an entire solo career of making disco fluff with Algerian rai singers, forming unholy trinities with Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams, and composing Elizabethan-lite muzak with a lute, Sting is uncrossing himself from the lotus position he’s been stuck in for more than 20 years and finally reuniting (to save his cred? His conscience?) with former bandmates drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers. And don’t let Copeland’s ranting on his Web site about the group’s early tour flubs — technical difficulties, tripping onstage, Sting jumping like a “petulant pansy” — kill your pre-show excitement. The bad-ass bass line of “When the World Is Running Down,” the manic “Synchronicity II” and erotic “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” have all been included in the set list. But if we can send a message in a bottle, how about replacing that one song about the hooker with “Reggatta de Blanc”? Also at the Honda Center, Thurs., June 21, and Dodger Stadium, Sat., June 23. (Siran Babayan)


Also playing Wednesday:

NELLY FURTADO
at the Greek Theatre; TENDER BOX, GRAND MARQUEE at Boardner’s; MY BARBARIAN at the Bordello; PRS HLTN MTHRFCKRS, JUICEBOXXX at the Echo; GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, ELENI MANDELL, FERRABY LIONHEART, BUDDY at Hotel Café; MOONRATS at Safari Sam’s; NEW YEAR, DAVID BAZAN at Spaceland; MIGGS, JOHNETTE NAPOLITANO at Temple Bar; JESSE MALIN, CHUCK RAGAN at Troubadour.



THURSDAY, JUNE 21

Tortoise at El Rey Theatre

Chicago’s revered veteran “post-rock” combo Tortoise keep re-earning their cred claim with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of ways to thaw the hard ice between progressive electric jazz, Reichian minimalism and other contemporary-classical concepts by mashing it down in a heavy, thick pool of post-hip-hop, electronic dance and tiny bits of the old rock & roll. It’s All Around You (Thrill Jockey) in 2005 is their most recent recording, another intriguing set characterized by the band’s shrewd balance of improvisation and tasteful fusions of complexly structured (but hummable, even) melody, texture and rhythm. Like Tortoise’s authoritative live performances, the record displays but doesn’t exactly explain how these gifted multi-instrumentalists mutate their varied source materials (which recently include romantic French film scores and the shimmery suaveness of Braziliana) into something entirely unlike any of the above-referenced musical “styles” — but you’ll tap your toe and thank them for it. (John Payne)


{mosimage}Nikki Corvette & the Stingrays at the Echo

Summer’s here, and the time is right for some “Summertime Fun” with punk-pop princess Nikki Corvette. Tonight the Detroit native — whose fizzy late-’70s hits rivaled the Go-Go’s and Blondie for sheer exuberance and later inspired the Donnas and the Bobbyteens — makes an all-too-rare appearance in her former adopted hometown. Since returning to rock action in the past decade after a long hiatus, she’s released two volumes of her Wild Record Party series, where she romps through Pinups-like covers of her favorite songs by the Saints, Alice Cooper, the Damned, and her old pals the Ramones and the New York Dolls. Darling Nikki’s latest CD, Back to Detroit (Dollar Record Records), is her first album of all-new original material in 25 years, with lovelorn tunes like the hooky sugar fix “I’ve Got a Heartbreak,” the Chuck Berry–style title track, and the pent-up lust of “Lipstick Letters” and “Thinkin’ ’Bout You.” With backing by the Stingrays — gnarly guitarist Travis Ramin, drummer Johnny O’Halloran and fiery Short Fuses bassist-singer Georgia Peach — songs like “So Kiss Me” rock much harder than Corvette’s early singles. (Falling James)


Also playing Thursday:

THE POLICE
at the Honda Center; IAN WHITCOMB & THE MUSICAL MURRAYS at Huntington Library; NORAH JONES, M. WARD at the Greek Theatre; BANG SUGAR BANG, VIRGINIA CITY REVIVAL at Alex’s Bar; SECRETARY BIRD at Boardner’s; GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, ELENI MANDELL, FERRABY LIONHEART, BUDDY at Hotel Café; PRS HLTN MTHRFCKRS, EX OBLIVIONE at Il Corral.

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