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Rock Picks: Julieta Venegas, White Stripes, Spectrum 

For the week of September 13 – 20

Wednesday, Sep 12 2007
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{mosimage}THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13

Wolf Parade at El Rey Theatre

Wolf Parade, Montreal’s other white meat, premieres songs from a forthcoming Sub Pop album, their first since 2005’s Apologies to the Queen Mary. They’re miles away from their days opening for fellow citizens Arcade Fire. What took them so long? Devotion — in art, as in anything else — is not a commodity produced on demand or regurgitated by assembly line, despite Internet-fueled lust for the Now and the Wow leaving an impression of never-ending creativity for only pennies a month. Their signature song, “I’ll Believe in Anything,” with its lyric “Give me your eyes/I need sunshine,” is emblematic of their trail-blazing passion plays, a communal-rock sensibility that makes floors of concert halls ripple with the impact of stamped feet and a missing sense traveling like a laser from guitar straight to the goose-bumps they ably and repeatedly summon. (David Cotner)


The Transmissions, Death to Anders, One Trick Pony at Spaceland

You know how once in a while a band starts to play and the song is so enticingly trippy, you just stand there transfixed, forgetting that you have a $5 beer in your hand? That’s what the Transmissions’ “I’ll Run It” can do to you. Delicate, floating guitar notes weaved into a heavy groove make for music you’ll want to spend some quality alone time with. Yeah, it’s all been done before, but lead singer Christian Biel has a urgency and sadness to his voice that will make you want to rub his tortured brow with a cool cloth. Also on the bill: like-minded air-gazers Death to Anders, who kick it with a shot of country, and One Trick Pony, who named themselves after a cliché. The Transmissions also at the Echo, Mon. (Libby Molyneaux)


Also playing Thursday:

RODRIGO Y GABRIELA
at Grove of Anaheim; BUILT TO SPILL, CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN at Henry Fonda Theater; MONDO GENERATOR at Alex’s Bar; SARABETH TUCEK, AM at Hotel Café; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; THE BRUNETTES, FERRABY LIONHEART, MEZZANINE OWLS at the Troubadour (see Music feature).


FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14


Dick Dale at Malibu Inn

In the world of surf music, there’s nothing more iconic than the sight of Dick Dale rambling up and down his guitar’s frets with the aggro precision of a short-board surfer carving up waves. Unlike so many beach-boy wannabes, Dale is an actual surfer who knows how to transmit the power and majesty of the ocean, especially on such classic tracks as “Miserlou” (whose eternal allure was revealed yet again on a recent remix by the Black Eyed Peas). Back in the ’50s, when he debuted at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, Dale literally invented the surf-music genre (and heavy metal too), juicing up his reverb-soaked forays with previously unthinkable amounts of volume and distortion, relentlessly urging legendary guitar maker Leo Fender to push the limits of amp technology. He’s in fine form on his new live CD recorded in Texas, ripping up instrumentals like “Dust Devil” with typically savage grace. Although some may be put off by Dale’s onstage showboating — hamming it up on trumpet or beating on his guitar with drumsticks — it’s fun to see him stretch out, and he generously shares the spotlight with his talented 15-year-old guitarist son, Jimmy Dale. Also at the Mint, Sun. (Falling James)


Calvin Harris at the Echo

When P. Diddy bragged in the title of a 2002 disc that he invented the remix, you had to groan. But when Calvin Harris makes a similar claim in the title of his debut, I Created Disco, he manages to charm. The reason has nothing to do with the originality of Harris’ music relative to Diddy’s: On Disco, this 23-year-old Scottish home-studio whiz cooks up clattering dance-rock tracks that bear more than a passing resemblance to recent stuff by Daft Punk, Beck and the Rapture. (The album’s opener, “Merrymaking at My Place,” is so similar to LCD Soundsystem’s “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” that it must be an homage to LCD’s homage to Daft Punk.) Rather, it’s due to the appealing DIY scrappiness of Harris’ stuff; his boast is more like that of a little kid who doesn’t realize he’s just invented the wheel for the seven-billionth time. See Music feature. (Mikael Wood)

Maria Muldaur at Boulevard Music

If you only know Maria Muldaur for her hit 1974 ode to desert hanky-panky, “Midnight at the Oasis,” you don’t really know Maria Muldaur. She began as a Greenwich Village folkie, but most of her career has been as a blues singer. Her latest album is Naughty, Bawdy & Blue, a tribute to blues singers from the ’20s to the ’40s, including Sippie Wallace and Bessie Smith. As a vocalist, Muldaur’s style is clear and purposeful with occasion dips into gruffness, while her onstage banter is rather demure. However, there’s nothing demure about her when she reaches into the raunch on lines like Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “If you don’t want my peaches, don’t shake my tree.” And yes, she’ll probably do “Oasis” before everybody sends their camel to bed. (Libby Molyneaux)


Also playing Friday:

THE BINGES
at Port of Los Angeles, 7 p.m.; CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA at El Rey Theatre; BUILT TO SPILL at Henry Fonda Theater; CANNIBAL CORPSE at House of Blues; FRANK MOORE & HIS CHEROTIC ALL-STARS at Il Corral; POWDER at Key Club; JOE HENRY at Largo; NAUGHTY BY NATURE at the Roxy; THE BLESSINGS, BACKBITER at Safari Sam’s.


{mosimage}SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

Year Long Disaster, The Binges at Spaceland

Singer-guitarist Daniel Davies is the son of the Kinks’ Dave Davies, but his band Year Long Disaster doesn’t trade in jaunty music-hall melodies or songs about dead clowns. Instead, the former Hollywood High School student is heavily influenced by ’70s Southern rock and blues-infused hard rock on Year Long Disaster’s new self-titled CD (Volcom). The sizzling guitar work on songs like “Leda Atomica” may have roots in Dave Davies’ proto-metal accidents with the early Kinks, but the assured soloing has a feel that’s closer to Wolf Mother and Black Sabbath. “The Fool and You” blends tangled riffs with woozy Southern-rock-style slide guitar, while “Sapphire” builds thunderous momentum with Brad Hargreaves’ rolling toms and Richard Mullins’ thumping bass as Davies prophesies like a wizened soothsayer that “the ground will swell.” It’s literally rocking stuff, although not yet as lyrically clever as, say, Turbonegro, the band they’ll be touring with this fall. Tonight they open for similarly heavy-rocking locals the Binges, whose singer, Dylan Squatcho, howls scabrously over the nonstop pummeling of Tokyo-raised sisters Mayuko Okai (guitar) and Tsuzumi Okai (bass). (Falling James)


Fred Frith, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins at REDCAT

In tribute to a veritable giant of a world that the masses know next to nothing about, we have a rare-ish gathering by three icons of the free-improvisation scene. That giant is Fred Frith, the composer/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist who first staked his claim in the pioneering English avant-rock band Henry Cow and went on scaling the grand heights by founding Massacre (with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher) and Skeleton Crew (with Tom Cora and Zeena Parkins), as well as collaborating with the variedly progressive likes of John Zorn, the Residents, Brian Eno, the Rova Sax Quartet, Ensemble Modern and the Arditti Quartet, among many others. Frith will be seen and heard trading solo and duo sets and performing in a trio with ex-DNA drummer/electronic composer Ikue Mori and composer/electric harpist Zeena Parkins; versions of selections from Mori and Parkins’ lovely 2004 collaboration, Phantom Orchard, are a highlight of the event. On Sunday, there’ll be a screening of the award-winning Step Across the Border, a beautifully shot and darkly humorous documentary on Frith and his music. W. Second & Hope sts., dwntwn. (213) 237-2800. (John Payne)


{mosimage}Julieta Venegas at the Greek Theatre

If there’s a problem with the Antidoto Tour, which rounds up bands from the Latin alternative-rock and pop universes, it’s that it lets gringo fans off the hook too easily. While it’s convenient to see so many great performers on one stage, the only thing linking these disparate groups is that they’re all nominally considered Latin. Gringo audiences seem to shy away from anything labeled “Latin” or “rock en español,” which is a serious shame, since the real attraction here is the music. Julieta Venegas may have gone in a more mainstream direction in recent years, but her accordion-squeezed reveries are still enchanting and betray more artiness than most Latin-pop divas (and check out Venegas keyboardist Ceci Bastida, who’s — finally — debuting her beguiling original tunes every Tuesday this month at the Knitting Factory). Venezuela’s Los Amigos Invisibles pump out a sunny blend of laid-back dance-pop, Mexico’s Jumbo rock harder with Beatlesque hooks, Chile’s Lucybell have a Britpop sheen, Mexico’s Allison use a trad pop-punk attack, while Echo Park’s Volumen Cero purvey an inventive, jangly indie-rock mood. (Falling James)


The Legendary Stardust Cowboy at Mr. T’s Bowl

When it comes to pop music, artistic originality always seems in chronically short supply, but for avant-sick noise phenom the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, it’s an endlessly available resource. Since his unforgettable 1968 introduction with “Paralyzed,” the Cowboy’s unhinged whoop and screech, hit-&-run brand of bugle-limned cacophony has not only astonished, it has also reached deep into the pop mainstream, from his early appearances on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In to as recently as David Bowie’s 2002 cover of his “I Took a Trip (on a Gemini Space Ship).” The ornery Lubbock, Texas-born auteur just turned 60, but he’s no novelty-wringing relic; working with a longtime band of accompanists that includes Dead Kennedys bassist Klaus Flouride, the Lege continues to rocket through his own drastically idiosyncratic musical galaxy. While his frequently employed six-shooters fire blanks, his creative mind is loaded with live, armor-piercing ammunition. (Jonny Whiteside)


Mudhoney, Melvins, Flipper at the Troubadour

Nostalgia’s for suckers, it’s true, especially when it comes to hard-ass, balls-out punk rock. Is there anything sadder than a shriveled Iggy Pop proclaiming that he wants to be your dog? Yucko. In canine years, the Real Wild Child is about 420 years old. And yet, we still pay the money to sweat to the oldies. This time around we get Mudhoney, the Melvins, and Flipper on a triple bill, and, despite our inner protestations, well, holy fuck. Mudhoney’s slated to perform the entirety of Superfuzz Bigmuff, the 1990 clarion-call Sub Pop EP that helped propel the Seattle sound into the stratosphere and transformed the decade. The Melvins, joy of joys, will revisit their 1993 masterpiece, Houdini, a slow, crawling sludge-rock pile which, like the worst Mexican dirt weed, only gets more harsh and abrasive with age. Who knows what the hell Flipper’s gonna do, but if they manage to remember the four or so chords that compose their classic 1982 album, called, er, Album, well, we just may overdose. (Randall Roberts)


Scorpions at Gibson Amphitheatre

For better or wurst, the Scorpions still live in a world where “We Were Born to Fly” and “The Future Never Dies,” not to mention “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” all actual titles from their brand new — bless ’em — concept album, Humanity Hour 1. (Yes, they rhyme “we were born to fly” with “reach the sky.”) Okay, so they can’t write lyrics for shit, but English is not these Germans’ first language — rock is. That’s not a joke. Lead singer Klaus Meine has a throat that was born to reach the screeching highs and dramatic lows of heavy metal, and after 36 (!) years, he’s lost none of his esophogal power. And c’mon — ”The Zoo”? An urban nightmare with a chorus that rock-operatic! “Deerneernt deerneernt . . . deer neernt neernt neernt neernt neernt.” Repeat till throat bleeds. (Libby Molyneaux)


Also playing Saturday:

SCISSORS FOR LEFTY, GREAT NORTHERN
at Port of Los Angeles, 1 p.m.; FISHBONE at Rancho Simi Community Park, noon; SMASHING PUMPKINS, KID ROCK, CHRIS CORNELL, CYPRESS HILL at Home Depot Center, 2 p.m.; GUSTER at Avalon; DONNAS, DONITA SPARKS, DOLLYROTS at Alex’s Bar; JULIE CHRISTENSEN at Genghis Cohen; THE ROOTS, BIG DADDY KANE, MC LYTE at House of Blues; FRANK MOORE, BAVAB BAVAB at Il Corral; AZTECA at Key Club.


{mosimage}SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

Spectrum at the Echoplex

It’s totally fitting that Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) will play the Echoplex. Not just a tone-chemist enamored of ghost sounds — reverberations, overtones, delays, refractions — Kember has practically existed within an echo chamber of his own design since Spacemen 3’s disintegration. There’s been no better archivist of the Kember branch of the S3 micro-galaxy — key projects include the dark pop bliss of Spectrum and the communal weirdness of E.A.R. — than Kember himself: cataloging, reissuing and even selling his music directly (his entrancing lo-tech Web site is the hub). In fact, Kember has come to operate entirely within a genre of his own, with its definitive palette of cosmic tropes, superglue melodies and vintage tones. While former S3 co-pilot J. Spaceman went big and booming with Spiritualized, Kember went small and electronic: squiggly electricity, op-art dizzies and tingling stripes emitting from analog synthesizers. The first Spectrum album in a decade, On the Wings of Mercury, should be landing shortly. Until then, a raw feed from the composer’s circuit board is a feast. (Bernardo Rondeau)


Also playing Sunday:

CHEAP TRICK
at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, San Dimas, 4 p.m.; VOODOO ORGANIST at Alex’s Bar; DICK DALE at the Mint.



MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

Playing Monday:

PETER BJORN & JOHN
at the Wiltern; THE SOUNDS at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium; HAPPY HOLLOWS at the Echo; MAD MARGE & THE STONECUTTERS at Knitting Factory; DR. KNOW, AGRESSION at Safari Sam’s; GRAM RABBIT, ABBY TRAVIS at Spaceland; DONNAS, RANDIES, GIRL IN A COMA at Viper Room.



TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

Playing Tuesday:

SINEAD O’CONNOR
at Orpheum Theatre; ANIMAL COLLECTIVE at Henry Fonda Theater; TARA BUSCH at the Bordello; NORWOOD FISHER at Molly Malone’s; PEACHFUZZ, ARI SHINE at Safari Sam’s; GIRL IN A COMA at the Scene.



{mosimage}WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

The White Stripes at the Forum

The past few years, there’s been so much angst every time the White Stripes release a new album. It seems that the Detroit duo’s more neurotic fans are too easily riled whenever Jack White ventures in some slightly different direction, like putting keyboards on 2003’s Elephant or skuzzing things up on the title track of their latest CD, Icky Thump. Fact is, the Stripes’ pattern was clearly established as far back as their self-titled 1997 debut. Unabashed pop tunes like “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” were juxtaposed with dusty blues remakes like “St. James Infirmary Blues,” and by their second album, De Stijl, it wasn’t a surprise to see piano-based ballads such as “Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise” alongside squawking blues rants like “Hello Operator.” On the band’s Myspace page, Jack warns, “Word around the sewing circle is that many of your favorite White Stripe–type songs may not be your favorite (pronounced ‘favaright’) White Stripe–type songs for long.” In other words, don’t think twice; it’s alright. Whether dabbling in raw blues, pure pop or garage-rock freak-outs, Jack and Meg White and their two-toned spaceship know which way to go. (Falling James)


Also playing Wednesday:

NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, LAVENDER DIAMOND
at Henry Fonda Theater; SUGARHILL GANG at Blue Cafe; BUDDY, IAN BALL at the Bordello; PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, PIGEON JOHN at the Roxy; IVAN NEVILLE at Temple Bar.


{mosimage}THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

Dobet Gnahoré, Ashley Maher at Temple Bar

If sweetness and light is all you seek in your Pan-African musical dish, don’t bother sound-checking Dobet Gnahoré or her new CD, Na Afriki. But if you crave emotional breadth and unfettered soul, fierceness leavened with tenderness, angry sociopolitical rants balanced with gentle heartstring pulls, then sup from Gnahoré’s potent sonic stew. Brought up in an artists’ community in Ivory Coast, she not only packs a multilingual vocal wallop (seven African languages and counting) but can bust some serious warrior-princess moves. Still in her 20s, a new contender on the African diasporic scene, Gnahoré’s got game. Ashley Maher seems poised to break through to the wider world too. The L.A.-based, Afro-inspired singer-songwriter’s two early-’90s Virgin albums will be reissued on iTunes, while “Boul Bayekou,” a song cowritten with — and performed by — Youssou N’Dour, is tearing it up on YouTube and down in Dakar, Maher’s recording-and-dancing destination next month. (Tom Cheyney)



Also playing Thursday:

NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, LAVENDER DIAMOND
at Henry Fonda Theater; ARCADE FIRE, LCD SOUNDSYTEM at Hollywood Bowl; DAMIEN RICE at Greek Theatre; ERIC JOHNSON at the Canyon; JAGUARES at House of Blues; SUPERSUCKERS at Key Club; RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS, YEAR LONG DISASTER at the Roxy; BILL KIRCHEN at Safari Sam’s.



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