Rock Picks: Exodus, Altamont, Art Ensemble of Chicago and more | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Rock Picks: Exodus, Altamont, Art Ensemble of Chicago and more 

For the week of Jan. 18-24

Wednesday, Jan 16 2008


A taste of power: Elaine Brown (Click to enlarge)

Exodus: The severed-heads exhibition (Click to enlarge)

Victor Dawahare

The Hangmen: Big city, bigger guitars (Click to enlarge)

Elaine Brown, Lysa Flores at LargoSinger, songwriter, pianist, author and activist Elaine Brown is performing her first gig in Los Angeles since the 1970s. She joined the emerging Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1967 and eventually became its leader and one of the most prominent and charismatic women in the history of the black liberation struggle. A conservatory-trained musician, she merges classical-piano skills with a sonorous voice, marked by her volcanic vibrato and razor-sharp phrasing. Her first of two albums, Seize the Time, was released in 1969 with arrangements by jazz giant Horace Tapscott and songs by Brown that proudly and unapologetically enunciated the Panthers' cry for African-Americans "to get guns and be men." While the original Panthers disbanded, Hurricane Katrina reminds us almost 40 years later that an organized and muscular response to institutional capitalism and racism is as topical as ever. Seize the Time is now available on CD, and Elaine Brown is thankfully once again available in person. Chicana songstress and L.A. native Lysa Flores opens the show. (Michael Simmons)

Also playing Friday:

CHROMEO, PEANUT BUTTER WOLF at El Rey Theatre (see Music feature); JOHN DOE, CINDY WASSERMAN at the Getty Center, 7:30 p.m.; LOS CREEPERS at Anarchy Library; XU XU FANG, WINTER FLOWERS at the Bordello; MOE at House of Blues; KOTTONMOUTH KINGS, SOULJAZ at the Key Club; SOULIVE at the Knitting Factory; THE ADICTS, THE DIFFS at Malibu Inn; DAVE ALVIN, CHRIS GAFFNEY at McCabe's; SACCHARINE TRUST, AMADANS, SWORDS OF FATIMA at Mr. T's Bowl; KRS-ONE at the Roxy; THE BINGES, TURN ME ON DEAD MAN at Safari Sam's.


Art Ensemble of Chicago at REDCATDespite the absence of founding trumpeter Lester Bowie (who died in 1999) and bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut (who passed away in 2004), Art Ensemble of Chicago (Roscoe Mitchell on reeds and percussion, Famoudou Don Moye on drums) appear in L.A. for the first time since 1990. "Despite," as in "to spite"— or, more precisely, to spite death and continue their mission of life and creation into their fifth decade as a viable option for the detonation of the boredom factory. Joined by Harrison Bankhead on bass and Corey Wilkes on trumpet, they close out the CalArts Creative Music Festival with their presence tonight in a repertoire called "Ancient to the Future." Bridging the gap between Afrobeat, Sun Ra and the later period of fusion jazz, the Ensemble present a spectacle of painted faces that are neither primitive nor alien, and piles of interesting instruments like conch shells, liberty bells and gong vibrations. Also: the conjugal duo of pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman, and jazz singer Dwight Trible and Kamau Daaood's Sacred Urban Echoes with T.I.M.E. on Fri., Jan. 18. (David Cotner)

The Hangmen, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers at Safari Sam'sFor 20 years now, the Hangmen have been one of L.A.'s best bands, rocking nonstop through various lineup changes with a swaggering, punk-infused bravado that resolutely avoids the excesses of heavy-metal wankery. The quartet's new EP, In the City (Acetate Records) — produced by Social Distortion's Mike Ness — is another mighty collection of well-calibrated time bombs that burst with lonely Gun Club slide guitars under big, loud AC/DC-size chords. Bryan Small sneers with a raspy yowl about dirty cities and their dirty temptations on "The Devil" and "King of the Road," letting up briefly for a hazy spell on the rusty, windswept ballad "Dark Eyes," which sizzles with whistling trails of Neil Young-style feedback. Headliners Th' Legendary Shack Shakers are yet another band with a corn-prone, cartoony (if enjoyably lively) reduction of Southern roots-rock on their recent album, Swampblood (Yep Roc), but they're actually at their most interesting when they stretch their Americana clichés into something weirder on earlier songs like "Agony Wagon" and "Ichabod," whose merrily exotic violins sound like a Nashville version of Gogol Bordello. (Falling James)

Altamont, Rolling Blackouts at the SceneNot to be confused with the Lords of Altamont (who play this evening over at Safari Sam's), Altamont — featuring Dale Crover, drummer from Melvins — celebrate a lucky 13 years together. Their 2005 album, The Monkees' Uncle, was a binary black hole swallowing up pop and hard rock and spitting them out into other dimensions as noise and gentle terror. Rolling Blackouts, the hottest thing out of Lomita since Peanut Records, further compound the irony of their name because there is, in fact, no shortage of power in their live sets. Choruses and harmonies, truck-stop blues, fuzzed-out scuzz-riffs — they're all there, blazing and powerful, and in such vivid 3D that even a cyclops can see the worth of their wrath. New songs from an unnamed album crop up regularly alongside selections from their tastefully titled Black Is Beautiful LP (Record Collection) — so rock lively, live free or get owned hard. (David Cotner)

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