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Rock Picks 

For the week of July 5 - 11

Tuesday, Jul 3 2007
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THURSDAY, JULY 5

Playing Thursday:

DAVID LINDLEY, JOHN CRUZ, BRANDI SHEARER
at Santa Monica Pier, 7:30 p.m.; VOLT PER OCTAVES, HANS FJELLESTAD, RED SQUARE, PLASTIQ at Il Corral; PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND at the Mint; PATRICK PARK at Spaceland; KINGSIZEMAYBE, 50 CENT HAIRCUT at Taix.


{mosimage}FRIDAY, JULY 6

The Mike Savage Benefit Show at Safari Sam’s

Hollywood was a musical wasteland by the end of the ’80s: The predominance of pay-to-pay clubs drove most of the underground bands to early extinction, women were only taken seriously at wet-T-shirt nights at Gazzarri’s, and the scene was run (into the ground) by a soft parade of illiterate hair-metal Aerosmith wannabes . . . until Pigmy Love Circus shouter Mike Savage grandly announced, “I’m the king of L.A./I killed Axl Rose today!” The decidedly unglamorous Pigmies brought danger back into local rock & roll, combining heavy-metal dexterity with Savage’s gruff vocals and sarcastic punk theatricality. Tonight’s benefit raises funds for Savage’s recent battle with throat cancer (you know, somebody really ought to make a film documenting the absurdities and inequities of the U.S. health care industry) with a lineup that’s fit for a king, including the countrified roots-rock of Speedbuggy, metallic knockout artisans Motochrist, punk-rockin’ psychobillies Los Creepers, unrepentantly boozy country-rockers Groovy Rednecks, authentic LAMF New Yawk punk-pop from the Kevin K Band, and an increasingly rare set by self-described “Sexxx Junkies” Piss Ant, among others. As for Axl, please use a silver bullet next time, Mr. Savage. (Falling James)


Also playing Friday:

ROCCO DELUCA & THE BURDEN
at Henry Fonda Theater; LEON MOBLEY & DA LION at the Derby; IRINA BJORKLUND, MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS at the Hotel Café; MONOLATORS, CAT HAIR ENSEMBLE at Mr. T’s Bowl.



{mosimage}SATURDAY, JULY 7

The Decemberists with the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl

The band voted most likely to dress in embroidered waistcoats while eating hot-cross buns and harpooning a whale, the Decemberists are naturally popular with the English-lit crowd, sending fans running to their dictionaries to look up “palanquin” and “falderal.” But it doesn’t take a master’s degree in comparative poetry to get swept up in their thoroughly gorgeous and playful songs. The surging melodies and seafaring and brokenhearted themes will lend themselves well to the big, bold sound at the Bowl. Accompanied by an orchestra as grand and compelling as the L.A. Phil, the Decemberists will put on a show that has the makings of an ornate blockbuster not to be missed. Dress like a dandy and bring a picnic of smoked mackerel and absinthe, and party like it’s 1899. With Band of Horses and Andrew Bird. (Libby Molyneaux)


The Rentals at Spaceland

Is it sanctity or sacrilege that Weezer’s original bassist, Matt Sharp, has a band that’s genuinely cool? Sharp’s L.A.-based group, the Rentals, are not lesser than his other band, and in many ways they’re remarkably similar: Like Weezer, the Rentals have operated in fits and starts (Sharp put the band together before leaving Rivers Cuomo’s awkward-rock neuroses rodeo, disassembled it shortly thereafter and re-formed it last year with solo and casual jam adventures in between). The bands share a fondness for textured guitar reveries, conscious dynamics and languid intelligence (the Rentals’ big hit, “Friend of P,” is very nearly a Weezer song); they both inspire rabidity in fans (my friend Jeff is planning a four-hour journey to see the Rentals on their current tour). The Rentals, though, are distinctly reflective of the adult nerd mood, like pothead graduate students who finally learned how to fuck. (Kate Carraway)


Hootenanny at Oak Canyon Ranch

While this annual O.C. grease-monkey meltdown seems to pride itself on relentlessly presenting the same acts (enough already with those fucking Social D stiffs), a couple of the most enticing propositions are going on pretty much at the get-go, and each is a female-fronted knockout. The ever-volatile Tex & the Horseheads are always a kick in the head, and don’t fail to get a load of Mad Marge, the High Desert psychobilly siren whose intuitive sense of overkill rates her higher on the thrill scale than many of the bill’s nominal big draws. The addition of Squirrel Nut Zippers and MIA zany Mojo Nixon brings some much-needed new wrinkles to the same-old contour, and one really can’t bitch about the uniform quality of such stalwarts as John Doe and the Blasters. Starts at noon. 4621 Santiago Canyon Road. (213) 480-3232. (Jonny Whiteside)


Also playing Saturday:

JACK BAMBIS, ARI SHINE
at the Echo; PASTILLA, HEALTH CLUB at Knitting Factory; HORNY TOAD at Rusty’s Surf Ranch; JOE BAIZA’S UNIVERSAL CONGRESS OF . . . at Taix; MEDUSA at the Troubadour; TIJUANOS at the Westchester.



{mosimage}SUNDAY, JULY 8

Neil Hamburger at Spaceland

If Neil Hamburger wasn’t the Funniest Man in America, why would the record company keep letting him make so many albums? Can’t answer that question, can you? No, it’s beyond dispute, he is the funniest. End of debate. Don’t even mention Jack Kevorkian, Neil is waaaaay, waaaaaaaay more side-splittingly hilarious, and he’s a much bigger bummer. And he’s got a million of ’em — why, if one of his jokes falls flat or makes you groan or feel like gagging, or say the next 80 or 90 “gags” don’t exactly make you howl with uproarious laughter, just wait, because Neil will pounce with just a killer, killer line that will make you pee in your pants and nudge the guy next to you so he spills his drink (and when he hits you, that’ll be funny too). You’ll be glad you shelled out your money and chose to spend your time, on a Sunday night, no less, with America’s funny man, Neil Hamburger. Because thaaaaaaaat’s your life!!! (John Payne)


Dan Janisch at the Echo

“How many love songs really mean what they say?” Dan Janisch wonders on “Sweet & Simple,” from his new CD, Medicine Man (Green Door). “You make up some words and a melody, and you take ’em out to play,” which is just what the local singer-guitarist does over the course of his pleasingly wrought folk- and country-flavored solo album. “Sometimes I don’t feel right singing about love anymore/But when a heart gets broken . . . a song’s the only place that it can hide,” he continues. He gives broken hearts some lovely places to hide, such as the swirling, bluesy slide-guitar-driven title track and the circus-y love-letter lament “Sayonara Chinatown.” You might remember Janisch as one of the guitarists in the literally incendiary psychedelic glitter-rock troupe the Imperial Butt Wizards, but his solo work is miles away from such a spectacle. There’s a Bob Dylanish world weariness in a rustic ballad like “Pretty Little Baby,” while other melodies are constructed from a basic Johnny Cash foundation. This early show starts at 6 p.m. (Falling James)


Also playing Sunday:

HUGH CORNWELL
at Galaxy Theatre; BLUE HAWAIIANS at the Bordello; UPSILON ACRUX at the Echo; GEISHA GIRLS, THE DIFFS at Knitting Factory; GREAT NORTHERN at Little Radio, noon-6 p.m.



MONDAY, JULY 9

Hugh Cornwell at the Roxy

Although bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel and even keyboardist Dave Greenfield occasionally sang lead on various songs, the true voice of the Stranglers has always been founding singer-guitarist Hugh Cornwell. (Someone should tell the rest of the guys; a lesser incarnation of the band still performs under the Stranglers name, although Cornwell left the British group back in 1990.) Greenfield’s dazzling Ray Manzarek–esque solos attracted the obvious Doors comparisons, but it was Cornwell’s black-humored lyrics and restrained, underrated guitar figures that really defined their sound. Even after the Stranglers moved away from the harder-rocking, semi-punk settings of their classic first four albums into a more subdued soft-pop direction, they still came up with such memorable hits as “Golden Brown” and “Always the Sun” before Cornwell finally went solo. The Man in Black has been fairly prolific in recent years, from the breezy reveries of his most recent studio album, 2004’s Beyond Elysian Fields, to his wickedly entertaining autobiography, A Multitude of Sins. He’s still in fine melodic form singing his solo tunes and the old hits on his upcoming live CD, Dirty Dozen. Also at Galaxy Theatre, Sun. (Falling James)


Also playing Monday:

I SEE HAWKS IN L.A.
at the Bordello; ESKIMOHUNTER, MERE MORTALS at Spaceland; SIXTH CHAMBER at the Troubadour.



{mosimage}TUESDAY, JULY 10

Incubus, Simon Dawes at the Greek Theatre

Though they came of age as one of the bigger bands in the lame-brain nü-metal boom, Calabasas-formed Incubus have over the last few years morphed into one of the more sophisticated acts on modern-rock radio: Like 2004’s A Crow Left of the Murder before it, last year’s Light Grenades showcased a group who’ve toughened up their sound at the same time that they’ve mellowed it; it’s not easy to think of another bunch equally adept at echoing At the Drive-In, as they do in Grenades’ title track, and Jack Johnson, as they do in “Drive,” Incubus’ big surfer-dude ballad. Despite the lit-professor handle, local openers Simon Dawes aren’t a person but a band; they make a youthful indie-rock guitar noise that should appeal to fans of the Walkmen and Phantom Planet. Also Wed. (Mikael Wood)


Klaxons at El Rey Theatre

Ravers make the best out of the worst weather conditions. After a mud-splattered performance at last month’s Glastonbury and heat-stroking appearance at this year’s Coachella, the U.K. dance trio the Klaxons roll through town once more to perpetuate their debut, Myths of the Near Future. If you got word of them last summer on Indie 103.1’s import-only show Passport Approved, you already know they burned up the U.K. charts with the singles “Gravity’s Rainbow” and “Atlantis to Interzone,” while “Golden Skans” — the lushest harmonizing the dance floor has heard since the Jackson 5 — has steadily filtered into indie airwaves this side of the pond. And if you’re one of the few who owns the Klaxons’ 2006 EP, Xan Valleys, their cover of Kicks Like a Mule’s “The Bouncer” (“Your name’s not down/You’re not getting in,” the cheeky line goes) is a hoot for anyone who’s ever been velvet roped. (Siran Babayan)


Also playing Tuesday:

BRETT DENNEN
at Henry Fonda Theater; WATKINS FAMILY at Largo.



{mosimage}WEDNESDAY, JULY 11

Chris Cornell, Juliette & the Licks at the Wiltern

He’s handsome, he’s rich and he lives part of the year in France, but you almost have to feel a little sorry for Chris Cornell: Seemingly days after he quit Audioslave earlier this year, his ex-bandmates made amends with Zack de la Rocha and re-formed Rage Against the Machine, whose rapturously received performance at Coachella inspired more enthusiasm than did Audioslave’s three albums put together. Nonetheless, Cornell has his fans (as he should): At Avalon in May, he was in fine voice performing material from the Soundgarden and Audioslave songbooks, as well as material from his new solo disc, Carry On. Tonight, request his excellent James Bond theme, “You Know My Name,” and his left-field soul-rock take on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Juliette Lewis’ surprisingly decent glam-punk band the Licks don’t burn quite as brightly as RATM, but they sure do try. (Mikael Wood)


Also playing Wednesday:

INCUBUS, SIMON DAWES
at Greek Theatre; NEWMASTERSOUNDS at Fais Do-Do; DIE DIE DIE, VALLEY ARENA, MEHO PLAZA, NINJA ACADEMY at Silverlake Lounge.



THURSDAY, JULY 12

{mosimage}Nellie McKay at Largo

You probably shouldn’t pick a fight with Nellie McKay if you happen to work for any organization with the patriarchal name Columbia. The insanely talented NYC singer-pianist and fiercely committed animal-rights activist has been leading ongoing protests against Columbia University’s quaintly barbaric practice of experimenting on sentient primates for several years now, and she won back the rights to release an unadulterated version of her excellent second album, Pretty Little Head, from her former masters at Columbia/Sony Records after a tearful and unexpectedly exhilarating rant about corporate meddling at her notorious set at the Troubadour in 2005. Now the prolific little troublemaker is back to preview tunes from her upcoming CD, Obligatory Villagers, which ranges from a playfully jazzy subversion of sexist expectations (“Mother of Pearl”) and rapid-fire, free-associating pop (“Gin Rummy”) to brassy reggae (“Identity Theft”) and a festively uplifting and cleverly arranged Sly & the Family Stone–style ramble (“Testify”). The last time she was in town, McKay responded to several conflicting song requests by playing them all in a marvelously improvised medley, seamlessly weaving the lyrics into a brand new whole. She’s simply amazing. (Falling James)


Also playing Thursday:

THEE GENTLEMEN CALLERS
at Alex’s Bar; STARFUCKERS at the Cat Club; DAEDELUS at the Echo; NINJA ACADEMY at Mr. T’s Bowl; BETH HART at the Roxy; HORNY TOAD at Rusty’s Surf Ranch; DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR, REBEL REBEL, 8-BIT at Safari Sam’s; THE FRONT, MONOLATORS at the Scene; PATRICK PARK at Spaceland.
click to flip through (6) Savage Love
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