Rock Picks 

For the week of June 28 - July 5, 2007

Wednesday, Jun 27 2007


Secretary Bird at the Echo

Secretary Bird is the alter ego of singer-guitarist Mike Semple, who’s played with Friends of Dean Martinez, Campfire Girls and Giant Sand. He and FODM’s Bill Elm collaborated on the soundtrack to Fast Food Nation, but the Tucson native (who has been living in L.A. for a while now) reveals the full extent of his powers on Secretary Bird’s new self-titled CD (In De Goot Recordings). “Somewhere Girls” moves from a Jesus & Mary Chain darkness into a warm Neil Young & Crazy Horse haze, while “Imaginary You” recalls the art-folkie explorations of the Clean’s David Kilgour. You can hear the Arizona desert in such slowly unwinding, sprawling songs as “Seaward” and “Morning Horses,” which erupt like a summer squall with feedback and spacy guitar distortion. Semple’s slack-jawed vocals sometimes lapse into that colorlessly bland style popularized by Thurston Moore, but his majestic guitars are the real focus on Secretary Bird, which includes guest-star contributions from Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery and Marjorie Fair’s Evan Slamka. (Falling James)

click to enlarge From the painted desert: Secretary Bird (Photo by Dan Monick)
  • From the painted desert: Secretary Bird (Photo by Dan Monick)

The Mooney Suzuki at Spaceland

Can you still call yourself a garage-rock band when your songs are heard in Coors commercials? (Not to mention such hit movies as School of Rock and, duh, Suzuki ads.) After tons of good fortune, label-wise, the Mooney Suzuki hit a bad patch last year, which delayed the release of Have Mercy, the follow-up to 2004’s Alive and Amplified. The new stuff will please fans of gritty, fuzzy and wild rock. Lead singer Sammy James Jr. sounds appropriately pissy, like a “Mystery Dance”–era Elvis Costello in need of a good nose-blowing. Pick hit “99 Percent” has just replaced the Pipettes’ “Pull Shapes” as the air-tambourine shimmy-shaker of the summer. (Libby Molyneaux)

Also playing Thursday:

DEFTONES, DIR EN GREY at Gibson Amphitheatre; WIDESPREAD PANIC at Orpheum Theatre; NEW CARS at the Canyon; BIZ MARKIE at Key Club; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; GIL BERNAL at Lighthouse Cafe, 5 p.m.; MONSTERS ARE WAITING, MELLOWDRONE, GLISS, DAVID LOVERING at the Roxy; FORTUNE’S FLESH, GEISHA GIRLS at the Scene; THE LOCUST, MAE SHI at the Troubadour. FRIDAY, JUNE 29

Feist at the Wiltern

Even though the Canadian singer Leslie Feist gave her critically lauded 2004 solo album the semidark title Let It Die, its mostly mainstream songs were fairly lightweight and not nearly as clever and edgy as you would expect from someone who’s recorded with Peaches and is part of the creative collective Broken Social Scene. The music was pleasant and tuneful but hardly remarkable. Her new CD, The Reminder, is much better. It’s not that Feist is rocking out more or filling her lyrics with heavy political messages, but the introspective ballads and sweet pop chansons have more personality and emotional depth this time around. Her rueful vocals and some spare keyboard touches and birdlike sound effects turn “The Park” into a poignant interlude, while “My Moon My Man” is an artfully jaunty piano pop song that gives way to a lush, inviting chorus. Her performance of “I Feel It All” on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live was utterly charming as she strummed her guitar while riding on a bus, the airy strains of melodica lingering in the memory long after the program went off the air. (Falling James)

Andre Williams at Safari Sam’s

When R&B sensation Andre Williams first reared his magnificently ugly mug back in the late 1950s, his calling cards were a knockout stage show and some of the roughest wide-open numbers the idiom ever had visited upon it. The drawling raps of “Bacon Fat,” “Greasy Chicken” and the ’poon-fixated classic “Jailbait” represented the blues underworld at its finest: venal, lower than dirt, and put over with a wholesome decadence that lent anything Williams did an irresistible appeal. Despite his ’60s success as a songwriter (“Shake a Tail Feather”), Dame Fortune nearly crushed him, but for the past decade Williams’ second coming has been arresting, churning out latter-day stunners (“Agile, Mobile & Hostile,” “Pussy Stank”) that handily extend a rhythm & blues tradition he almost single-handedly codified. Not for the meek. (Jonny Whiteside)

Bimbo Toolshed at Mr. T’s Bowl

In this alternative universe in which Paris Hilton is the closest thing we have to Angela Davis, and dorky poseurs like Avril Lavigne and geeky dilettantes like Juliette Lewis are considered credible punk rockers, it’s nice to be reminded that there are genuine wild women out there, even if they’ve been neatly excised from popular culture and the airwaves — indie or otherwise. Bimbo Toolshed first came crawling out of the San Francisco underground in the mid-’90s, led by the irrepressibly boozy Swoopo Bravo, who still makes Amy Winehouse and the Detroit Cobras’ Rachel Nagy seem like Hilary Duff in comparison. Of course, the newly reunited Bimbos trade in a raucous, noisily impolite form of bike-messenger-celebrating gutter punk instead of retro R&B, powered by the jagged riffs of guitarist Shelley Cardiff. When Ms. Bravo howls, “I’m a chick with a lot of class/Everybody wants a piece of my ass,” she’s not making some ironic riot-grrl statement, especially when she concludes, “Don’t kick me out of bed because I puke in my sleep.” She’s not kidding — she’s just giving you fair warning. (Falling James)

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