Rock Picks: Stevie Wonder, Lucinda Williams, The Frames 

For the week of Aug 31 – Sept. 6

Wednesday, Aug 29 2007

FRIDAY, AUGUST 31 Old Time Relijun at the Smell With a name lifted from a Captain Beefheart song, Old Time Relijun try perhaps a little too hard to be “weird,” but their new CD, Catharsis in Crisis (K Records), still has some wonderfully strange interludes. The album opens with sour and bluesy sitar-like guitar sounds before giving way to an ominously rumbling saxophone as Arrington de Dionyso wails and rants cryptically about the “uplifting breath of creation.” “The Tightest Cage” lurches with a jazz-punk squawk that evokes middle-era Saccharine Trust, while “The Circular Ruins” bashes and crashes with a sub-Beefheart groove. “Dig Down Deeper” falls into a dark vortex lit up with moaning No Wave sax and guitar harmonics for a shadowy mood that somewhat evokes Nick Cave and another Beefheart acolyte, Tom Waits. The Olympia, Washington, trio scratch up a lulling trance on the instrumental “Garden of Pomegranates,” where a hypnotic bass line sets up some coolly dangerous sax squalling. It’s one of the few places on the album where de Dionyso’s arty affections merge into something more melodically intriguing. (Falling James)

Sean Kingston at the Key Club Without a doubt, 17-year-old Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” gets my vote for song of the summer. An appealingly absurd account of the Jamaican-American singer’s enduring girl trouble set atop a liberal sample of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” the tune sounds every bit as fresh and as youthful as great warm-weather pop should; credit producer J.R. Rotem for the track’s bubbly groove, but give it up to Kingston for having the chutzpah to boast about being sent to jail for committing his first crime at the ripe old age of 9. Kingston’s self-titled debut has a few other highlights, including “Me Love,” which swipes a similarly large chunk of Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Mak’er,” and “Dry Your Eyes,” whose Fisher-Price keyboards evoke fond memories of squeaky-clean kiddie-R&B hits of yore. (ABC’s “Iesha,” anyone?) But the thing also sports a good deal of filler. Pray that Kingston tires quickly tonight. (Mikael Wood) Also playing Friday: HACIENDA BROTHERS at Blue Cafe; MAT KEARNEY at House of Blues; QUETZAL at Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park, 7:30 p.m.; NINJA ACADEMY, 8-BIT, THE MORMONS at Mr. T’s Bowl; FITTER, AZTLAN UNDERGROUND at the Scene; WILLOUGHBY, ELECTROCUTE, BRAM at El Cid. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Echoplex Kicking off a substantive West Coast tour, reasonably passionate multi-instrumentalist éminence grise Anton Newcombe rides again just days after his 40th birthday with new tracks from a forthcoming, almost finished, as-yet-untitled album recorded in Iceland. It’s the band’s first release since the We Are the Radio EP in 2005 and stretches back to the halcyon days of aural broadsides issued throughout the ’90s in a seemingly effortlessly stream on Bomp and the Committee to Keep Music Evil. Never mind the onstage infighting, never mind that their music is apparently a modern take on ’60s psychedelic rock as acid-washed as whiny ’90s denim — fractious, iconoclastic and perfectionist, Newcombe offers a singular vision of rock music as a curative experience wrapped inside a sterling mumble and marinated in jangling jingles. Or, as Jim Jones himself put it, “Let the night roar with us.” Also Sun. (David Cotner) Sid & Billy King at 1160 Lounge The hypersexual mutant war cry that heralded rockabilly’s mid-1950s breakout is so often attributed solely to Elvis Presley that it’s easy to forget just how many straight country acts, from Hank Williams Sr. to the Maddox Brothers & Rose, were already recording it; Dallas-based siblings Sid and Billy King, with their yen for raunchy R&B and crazed hillbilly boogie, were two more natural-born proponents. As the swing combo the Western Melody Makers, they’d been cutting records for Starday since ’54, and when the tide turned two years later, they slipped into the insurgent style with such well-lubricated ferocity that the big-time imprint Columbia inked ’em, resulting in a slew of icily gone discs — “Sag, Drag & Fall,” “Booger Red” — that still ably jolt the thrillometer. Sure, now they’re redneck 70-somethings, but the mad twosome are very likely to shake this shack right into the ground. Starts at 4 p.m. The Ramada Hollywood, 1160 N. Vermont Ave. (323) 315-1845. (Jonny Whiteside) Long Beach Blues Festival at Cal State Long Beach With so many mediocre musicians clotting the airwaves these days, critics are often delighted when a performer shows even the barest hint of potential and can croak out something resembling a unique melody. So what should we make of this latest edition of the Long Beach Blues Festival, which boasts a heavy-duty lineup of legends who’ve not only written dozens of certifiably classic tunes but can still deliver them with full-bodied power and a sense of soulful drama? Saturday’s bill features guitar hero Buddy Guy, who always dazzles with his stinging, sweet-&-sour solos; the funky, swampy, seedy gumbo of New Orleans shaman/showman Dr. John; the open-hearted eclecticism of blues archaeologist Taj Mahal & the Phantom Blues Band; and awesome Chicago belter Koko Taylor, who was discovered and championed by the great Willie Dixon. She’s best known for volcanic blasts like Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” but she also showed a sensitive approach on the R&B ballads on 1972’s Basic Soul. Sunday’s showdown includes Crescent City diva Irma Thomas (“Ruler of My Heart,” “Time Is on My Side”) and the irrepressible Little Richard, who can still thrill with those vocal trills. Starts at 10:30 a.m. Also Sun. (Falling James)

click to enlarge New crispy minstrels: Brian Jonestown Massacre (Photo by Piper Ferguson)
  • New crispy minstrels: Brian Jonestown Massacre (Photo by Piper Ferguson)

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