Rock Picks: New York Dolls, Lizz Wright, Brother Ali 

And other March 6-13 shows

Tuesday, Mar 4 2008


Sarah Meadows

Y.A.C.H.T.’s Jona Bechtolt puts on his best face.

Balkan Beat Box picked up this great frame in exchange for just 20 ram horns.

Bill Phelps

Beautiful dreamer Lizz Wright

Twilight Sleep, Karin Tatoyan at the EchoKarin Tatoyan was born in a small town in Alabama and raised in Indiana before moving to Los Angeles, where she's been kicking around the unplugged coffeehouse scene for several years now. She recently metamorphosed into an electronics-based singer, backed in live performances by multi-instrumentalist the One Second Time Machine, a.k.a. Thomas Greene. Tatoyan colorfully describes her music as the "translation of my insides beaming via satellite," and she intones "Radio Cures," from her 2007 EP, The History of Stains, with an interstellar Bjork-style breathiness. "Fit In" unfolds with a Kate Bush sense of wonder, and the EP's title track swirls inside languid pop guitars. "Ver Cha Bess" sparkles via magic guitar harmonics while foreboding cello strokes seesaw under her plaintive pleas. Headliners Twilight Sleep have a similarly ethereal sound on their new EP, Race to the Bottom of the Sea. Tracy Marcellino coos with a dreamy haziness over partner Raj Lathigara's network of electronics and sound effects amid the sleek and wintry soundscape "Don't Fire Your Guns" before fading away into the spare echoes of the gentle "Broken Record." Space is still the place. (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:

click to flip through (6) SARAH MEADOWS - Y.A.C.H.T.’s Jona Bechtolt puts on his best face.
  • Sarah Meadows
  • Y.A.C.H.T.’s Jona Bechtolt puts on his best face.

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Why?, Y.A.C.H.T. at the Natural History Museum

As is noted in the program for the Natural History Museum's "Discovery in the Age of Mammals: Building Brains and Making Minds" exhibit, "One hallmark of mammals is the evolution of a highly developed brain capable of orchestrating amazingly complex behaviors." A funky demonstration of this phenomenon might be found in the performances of two amazingly complex, behaviorally, bands who'll play at the museum tonight, namely Bay Area hip-hop/indie-rock weirdos Why? and Y.A.C.H.T., which is Seattle multimedia workaholic Jona Bechtolt in electro power-jam mode. Each will give aural examples of "how this might to make decisions and to solve problems, the ability to communicate through verbal and nonverbal languages, the ability to form deep social networks, the ability to be consciously aware of the world arises from our highly developed brains." DJ sets in the African Mammal Hall by Ale and matthewdavid add to the intrigue. And don't miss Daniel Dennett's 6:30 p.m. discussion "From Animal to Person: How Cultural Evolution Furnishes Our Minds With Thinking Tools." (John Payne)

Balkan Beat Box at El Rey Theatre

"Come along, children, now we're going to have a little music like old times," a sampled voice declares amid the festively woozy horns, spacy sound effects and funky marching rhythms of "Hermetico," from Balkan Beat Box's 2007 CD, Nu Med (JDub). The 10-piece Brooklyn collective makes a little music like old times, stirring up swooning Eastern European klezmer and folk melodies, while making music for future times through hip-hop, reggae and techno grooves. This new Mediterranean melange sometimes evokes the febrile world-beat sounds of Manu Chao and Gogol Bordello, for whom Balkan Beat Box's Ori Kaplan used to play sax. At other times, their merry whirlwind of influences is stranger than mere exotica, from the flurry of horns whipping around the desert landscapes of "Balcasio" to the serpentine Middle Eastern saxes of "Gypsy Queens" to the soaring voices and magically unwinding guitars of "Joro Boro." The Beat Box are fronted by Kaplan and drummer-programmer Tamir Muskat, from the similarly eclectic Firewater, who, by the way, are scheduled to hit the Roxy in June. (Falling James)

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On paper, this reunion of the New York Dolls absolutely shouldn't work. Two-thirds of the classic early lineups — Billy Murcia, Jerry Nolan, Johnny Thunders and Arthur "Killer" Kane — are dead, leaving only rhythm guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and singer David Johansen to carry on with replacement musicians. Although Sylvain wrote the music for a handful of the band's early-'70s tunes (the sassy "Puss 'n' Boots" and the sublime glitter-pop collision "Trash") and Johansen was (and still is) a witty lyricist, it's hard to imagine the Dolls without rambunctious drummer Nolan and Thunders, whose plaintively wasted alley-cat yowling and crudely distinctive lead-guitar snarls gave the group some real junkie soul. And yet, miracle of miracles, the reincarnated Dolls' 2006 comeback CD, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, is a damn good rock & roll record, in part because bassist Sami Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks) and lead guitarist Steve Conte don't try to slavishly mimic their dead counterparts. Yaffa's "We're All in Love" has a coolly hypnotic descending melody, while "Gimme Luv & Turn on the Light" (with guest star Iggy Pop) is a rockin', sockin' harmonica workout. Despite all the amputations, the new Dolls have perfected a kind of "Maimed Happiness," as Johansen croons. (Falling James)

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