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Rock Picks: Rutlemania, Kinky, Angels & Airwaves 

And other March 14-20 concerts

Wednesday, Mar 12 2008
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THURSDAY, MARCH 13Brother Ali at the Troubadour

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click to flip through (6) Blink and you’ll miss them: Angels & Airwaves
  • Blink and you’ll miss them: Angels & Airwaves
 

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Blink and you’ll miss them: Angels & Airwaves

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The Rutles always had a surlier image than their rivals the Rolling Stones.

Victor Tavares

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Jason Collett, doing pull-ups with a come-hither expression

The truth is here and — not coincidently — so is Brother Ali. The albino Minneapolis rapper might be white, but he's no foolish Vanilla Ice dilettante. The devout Muslim doesn't just sound black, he combines the full force of his thoughtful and rebellious rhymes with the understanding of 400 years of oppression and slavery, powered by every outsider's secret weapon: truth. Truth is relative, but Ali's 2007 CD, The Undisputed Truth (Rhymesayers), examines the vanishing concept from all angles, from the personal to the political, to come up with a new, clearer understanding. "You don't need to hear my race in the song ... Your ears might help you to see," he suggests on "Daylight." He delves into reggae rhythms on "Freedom Ain't Free" but never strays far from the cold, hard realities of the slinky-funky "Uncle Sam Goddamn" ("Welcome to the United Snakes") and the somberly grooving "Letter From the Government" ("I ain't dying for no president, sending kids to die when we didn't even elect the bitch"). Liner-note testimonials from Rakim, Saul Williams and Umar Bin Hassan underscore Brother Ali's impact. (Falling James)

George Tabb benefit at Safari Sam's

Remember when you watched the World Trade Center towers fall and wondered about all that dust everyone was inhaling as they fled? Remember how you forgot all about it because who did you know who was actually there? Well, now you know someone. George Tabb — venerable punk activist and Maximum Rock 'n' Roll columnist — has World Trade Center Syndrome, a malady from which countless thousands of firefighters and citizens suffer, and the number's dropping all the time, if you catch my meaning. Tabb, age 46, has PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease — translation: kidney calluses that create a kind of agony at which even Satan winces) as a result of him living near Ground Zero, and, to help defray the costs of his medical expenses, all ticket revenues tonight go toward that end. Mike Watt & the Missingmen open up, along with Money Mark, the Latin funk of OO Soul, the garage-psych stylings of Woolly Bandits, former Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally and others. (David Cotner)

Also playing Thursday:

CLUTCH, MURDER BY DEATH, MAYLENE & THE SONS OF DISASTER at Henry Fonda Theater; SAY ANYTHING, MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA, BIFFY CLYRO at Avalon; STAN RIDGWAY at the Canyon; ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE, DANAVA at the Echoplex; NELLIE McKAY at Largo; OLLIN at Seven Grand.

FRIDAY, MARCH 14

The Crystelles, Bavab Bavab at Echo Curio

The striking Gitane Demone might be best known for her stint in Christian Death in the ’80s as well as collaborations with the late Rozz Williams in the ’90s, but her new band with Zara Kand, the Crystelles, doesn’t sound like goth punk as much as it evokes a jangly, garage-blues reduction of the Gun Club or perhaps Mr. Airplane Man. Demone wails appropriately demonically on “Song for a Politician” over a dirty, rootsy guitar. The effect is spooky without invoking bats and belfries; the chill comes from the way her dispossessed singing tangles with the mournful guitar. “A Dream That Is Ever Near” is a lo-fi cabaret chanson — assuming that the cabaret is located in hell. Bavab Bavab are a local duo who concoct strange soundscapes mingled with artful poetry. That might sound pretentious, but the music from their 2006 CD, Fire Petals in the Sky, is exotically engrossing with childlike piano melodies mingling with weird sound effects and hazy vocals. 1519 Sunset Blvd. The Crystelles also at the Echo, Sat. (Falling James)

Also playing Friday:

PARTICLE, ROBBY KRIEGER BAND at El Rey Theatre; UGLY DUCKLING, PIGEON JOHN at Blue Cafe; DERRICK CARTER at the Dragonfly; BAD RELIGION, FLIPPER at House of Blues; FISHBONE at the Key Club; NELLIE McKAY at Largo; SMASH FASHION, PEACHFUZZ at the Scene; ARIEL PINK at the Smell; VOCO, LISTING SHIP at Tangier.

 SATURDAY, MARCH 15

Rutlemania at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre

The Rutles were much more than just a wickedly dead-on Beatles parody when they starred in the 1978 mockumentary All You Need Is Cash, which set the template for ensuing rock satires such as This Is Spinal Tap. Monty Python’s Eric Idle deftly exaggerated Paul McCartney’s wide-eyed tics and fussy mannerisms in his rubber-faced portrayal of Dirk McQuickly, but it was the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s Neil Innes who took the joke to another level with his sublime, lovingly crafted soundtrack. Tunes like “Goose Step Mama” and “Blue Suede Schubert” cleverly mimicked the early Beatles, but “Let’s Be Natural” and the surprisingly poignant “Joe Public” were so artfully written, they ranked with the best of John Lennon — no joke. Like Lennon and McCartney, Innes and Idol had a strained relationship for many years, but they’ve buried the hatchet to come together with the other Rutles for a series of film screenings and related activities to mark the film’s 30th anniversary. Tribute act the Fab Four will do a set of Rutles favorites, although it’s a serious shame that Innes apparently won’t be performing beyond a Q&A with the cast (do look for him to return to L.A. later this year). Also Sun., 5 p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m. For details, go to www.ModsAndRockers.com. (Falling James)

Angels & Airwaves at the Wiltern

Back so soon? Angels and Airwaves — fronted by ex–Blink-182 mouth Tom DeLonge — just played Hollywood’s Henry Fonda Theater in January, and November’s I-Empire was their second album in the space of 18 months. So full marks for work ethic, but what of the music? Well, DeLonge’s idea of maturing involves rewinding to early U2 (militaristic snare tattoos, Edge-y trails of guitar, stadium-craving choruses) and classic Cure (A&A’s “Everything’s Magic” plunders both the bass line and hand claps from “Close to Me”), all muscled up with some emo-approved, vaguely angry optimism and occasional nods to the dance floor. DeLonge tries a little too hard to establish his post-Blink self — some odd vocal inflections/affectations and painfully sincere lyrics — but is beginning to pull it off. Sturdy songcraft, escapist arrangements, guitars burly enough for the boys and sufficient sensitivity for the girls — plus touring eight days a week — mean Angels & Airwaves are sticking around. (Paul Rogers)

Also playing Saturday:

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All wet: The Felice Brothers re-enact the Mamas & the Papas’ Deliver album cover.

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West London calling: Carbon/Silicon’s Mick Jones & Tony James

Michelle Cottam

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Carla Bozulich blows into her imaginary harmonica.

OLLIN at Alex’s Bar; THE MIGHTY ECHOES, RICHARD JULIAN & MITCHELL FROOM, SARA HAZE at Genghis Cohen; BAD RELIGION, FLIPPER at House of Blues; VOLTO at the Knitting Factory; THE CRYSTELLES at Mr. T’s Bowl; FIREBUG, SIERA SWAN at Spaceland.

SUNDAY, MARCH 16

Boredoms at Henry Fonda Theater

In the ’90s, Japan’s Boredoms garnered a most improbable major-label contract (thanks, Reprise) and even a Lollapalooza slot for their agro-spazz splatter. But a few years back, the group’s founder, Yamantaka Eye, stripped Boredoms down to three drummers, a far remove from the band’s two-of-everything lineup that sprawled onstage like a savage Parliament/Funkadelic, everyone in a simultaneous and prolonged freak-out. That said, Eye did go all out again recently with an outdoor show in New York featuring an astounding 77 kits played by an eclectic cast of avant-rock luminaries. Boredoms are now more focused and though not quite as toxic, they’re just as viscerally intense in their newfound cosmic pursuits. There’s the hiss, clang and crash of cymbals over a crazy quilt of rumbling rhythms. Eye, equal parts maestro and shaman, screeches and scats while transmitting lunar frequencies from a patch-loaded circuit board and orchestrating the sporadic symphony. You may even feel compelled to improvise some ecstatic movements to accompany these primal rites. See also the Boredoms music feature in this issue. (Bernardo Rondeau) 

Playing Sunday:  MATCHBOX TWENTY, ALANIS MORISSETTE, MUTE MATH at Staples Center; BAD RELIGION, FLIPPER at House of Blues.

MONDAY, MARCH 17

Jason Collett at the Troubadour

Like nine out of every 10 Canadian citizens, Jason Collett is a member of Toronto’s Broken Social Scene. But over the past few years he’s spent more time concentrating on his solo career than on the band; perhaps he took a lesson from his fellow Scenester Feist, who’s demonstrated that even members of communist collectives need their time to shine. Collett’s latest is called Here’s to Being Here, and if that makes you think of the title of an old Wilco album, it won’t be the only thing that conjures memories of Jeff Tweedy and his crew: Produced by veteran Canadian singer-songwriter Howie Beck, Here is full of handsome folk-rock numbers with enough room for both texture and tune. People from BSS and the Stills guest on the album, but at the Troubadour Collett will be joined by a four-piece band on guitar, piano, bass and drums. (Mikael Wood)

Neon Neon at the Viper Room

Hey! You got your Welsh psychedelia in my avant hip-hop! Well, you got your Cardiff-based electronica in my SoCal rhythm and/or noise! Boom Bip (né Bryan Hollon) and singer Gruff Rhys (from Super Furry Animals) collaborate and celebrate the release of Stainless Style (Lex Records), a concept album based on the rise and fall of John DeLorean. The record is smooth and impassioned, and its lilting beats cushion simple synth lines couched in ’80s electropop, but of course this particular lily is gilded in sex appeal and clean lines that have more to do with the architect’s drawing board than cocaine. “Gruff and I focused on making real pop songs — like Rick Springfield or Cyndi Lauper — that you can sing along to in your car,” Bip revealed recently to the NME, and that’s a far cough from the peanut-butter and K-Y jelly sandwiches that modern pop seems hellbent on serving these days. Also at Amoeba Music earlier this evening at 6 p.m. (David Cotner)

Also playing Monday:

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY at the Wiltern; THE CHAPIN SISTERS, SUMMER DARLING at the Echo; LESLIE & THE BADGERS at the Hotel Café; LAS KRUDAS at Silverlake Lounge.

TUESDAY, MARCH 18

The Felice Brothers, Justin Townes Earle at the Echo

The Felice Brothers are three brothers and a buddy from upstate New York who’ve probably never heard any music they love more than the stuff Bob Dylan recorded (in upstate New York) with the Band. On their nifty self-titled album, out now on Bright Eyes front man Conor Oberst’s Team Love label, they sing about whiskey in their whiskey and pistols in their pants, which should give you an indication of their interest in modern times. (Modern Times they probably dig.) Justin Townes Earle is the son of Steve Earle, but on his new The Good Life he sounds less concerned with punking up his roots than his dad does these days; in fact, the best tunes have lap steel, strings and harmony vocals that import a bit of old-timey Nashville elegance. He had to rebel by playing it straight. (Mikael Wood)

Kinky at the Mayan

Monterrey quintet Kinky are a sleek and supple band with heavy doses of electronica injected into their rock & roll. Sometimes they come off as the Mexican equivalent to Duran Duran with bilingual lyrics sprinkled into their heavy dance-floor action. They do a neat subversion of Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio,” contrasting shiny synths with a merry old-school accordion on the re-released, augmented version of their 2006 CD, Reina. The album features guest vocals from Men at Work’s Colin Hay on the slinky funk of “Monday Killer” and airy chirping from Ely Guerra on the hit “¿A Dónde Van los Muertos?” Singer Gil Cerezo launches himself into outer space amid the beeps and blips of “Sister Twisted,” which rides along Cesar Pliego’s rubbery bass line. Carlos Chairez’s snippets of guitar slide in and out of the trance-y murk of “How Do They Do That?” in a mesmerizing fashion, and he chops up his riffs with funky precision on the Devoesque “Again and So On.” Bring your dancing shoes. With Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark. (Falling James)

Also playing Tuesday:

RACHAEL YAMAGATA at the Hotel Café, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.; BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW at the Knitting Factory; DAN BERN at Hayworth Theater, 8 p.m.

 WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19

Carbon/Silicon at El Rey Theatre

The late Joe Strummer, with his down-to-earth approachability, played the good cop in the Clash to Mick Jones’ more rock-star-ish bad cop (typified by the bitchy way he dissed roadie Ray Gange in the semi-fictional film Rude Boy), but don’t forget that Jones not only sang the band’s more melodic hits, he was an underrated lyricist. He’s paired with Generation X’s Tony James on The Last Post in an exciting new project, Carbon/Silicon, that rocks harder than Big Audio Dynamite and is — sacrilegious as it might be to say — more musically satisfying and closer to the eclectic spirit of the later Clash than Strummer’s Mescaleros. “The Magic Suitcase” is an airy power-pop tune that blends the Velvet Underground with David Bowie and Mick Ronson, while “National Anthem” is a spacy disco-pop statement of purpose and “Caesars Palace” mesmerizes with a shiny chorus hook. Jones champions his environmentally conscious “ideals versus economic pain” on the breezy “Acton Zulus” but is most compelling on the insanely catchy “What the Fuck,” with a staccato guitar riff that’s lifted from the Who’s “Can’t Explain” (or “Clash City Rockers,” for that matter), revealing the endless possibilities lurking in a few simple, distorted Kinks power chords. (Falling James)

Born Ruffians at the Echo

Born Ruffians are the Little Engine That Could of Torontopian indie rock, the plucky tugboat of super-energized live shows. Their rousing youth anthems are cute and self-assured without the often-commensurate rub of too-sweet precociousness. The band have a solid following, but they have yet to seize the internationalism of Tokyo Police Club or the older contingency of the Canadian indie brain trust. Born Ruffians have a shot, though: Red, Yellow and Blue is out on Warp and they’re soon to enter the SXSW grind, which is usually good to the band’s breed of ad-hoc attitudinal nerve. It’s nice too that a band like this has a fucking point. There are thematic and musical concerns here other than jagging off on guitars and swishing around shiny hair. The gestalt of Born Ruffians is of tight, steady fun with no winking irony and, periodically, moments of weighty insight that is by necessity sugar free. (Kate Carraway)

Also playing Wednesday:

NADA SURF, SEA WOLF, LITTLE ONES at Henry Fonda Theater; CARL STONE at Amoeba Music; MIKE STINSON, DANNY B. HARVEY at Taix; SARA MELSON at Tangier; THE VINES at the Troubadour.

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 20

Evangelista at Safari Sam’s

For her latest project, Evangelista, singer Carla Bozulich has moved away from the haunted Americana of her old band the Geraldine Fibbers and the industrial clangor of Ethyl Meatplow. It’s all about moody atmosphere on her new album, Hello, Voyager (Constellation). She intones the opener, “Winds of St. Anne,” in a cracked and weary Marianne Faithfull voice over a simmering harmonium that evokes Nico’s windswept collaborations with Brian Eno. “Smooth Jazz” is anything but, riven with Tara Barnes’ doomy, lumbering bass and Bozulich’s cacophonous guitars. “Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space” expands and contracts with monumental Sonic Youth–like guitars, while the somber idylls “The Blue Room” and “Lucky Lucky Luck,” which is dotted with Barnes’ pulsing pinpoints of bass, are relatively melodic interludes amid the stormy chaos. “Most people walk right through me/leave their scent, but that’s all,” Bozulich confides amid the twined strokes of Jessica Moss’ violins and Nadia Moss’ slow-burning organ on the solemn incantation “Paper Kitten Claw.” She intones an impassioned plea for love on the title-track closer as a serenely funereal organ maintains its cool under an awesome “Horse Latitudes”–style racket of jumbled percussion and noisy guitars. (Falling James)

The Cliks at the Knitting Factory

Cross-dressing and gender-bending folks have always found a home in rock & roll — if nowhere else — from the days of Little Richard to Jayne County and David Bowie through to even the (ironically) sexist, closeted virtual drag queens of the ’80s hair-metal scene. The Cliks’ Lucas Silveira is a transman — born as a woman but identifying and dressing as a male. His recent transformation informs the Toronto band’s 2007 CD, Snakehouse (Tommy Boy), when he sings, “I’ve been seeing double/in a world of trouble.” His soulfully androgynous crooning is energetically backed by a new Cliks lineup, who give his mournful love songs a hard-rocking push. Silveira has considerable charisma, and the Cliks have a ton of potential that’s unfortunately undercut by generic lyrics with clichéd titles like “Eyes in the Back of My Head.” The band should be given credit for playing it straight instead of indulging in cheap irony on their version of Justin Timberlake’s sappy “Cry Me a River,” but it’s still a lame song that doesn’t rank with the Cliks’ more interesting original tracks, such as “Oh Yeah.” (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:

BLACK CROWES at the Wiltern; VAMPIRE WEEKEND, Y.A.C.H.T. at El Rey Theatre; JOE BUCK YOURSELF at Alex’s Bar; THE HEALTH CLUB at Crane’s; X-CLAN, AIRTO MORIERA & FLORA PURIM at Crash Mansion; RAVENS MORELAND at Mr. T’s Bowl; TRISTAN PRETTYMAN at the Roxy.

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