Rock Picks: The Dirtbombs, Robyn, Dizzee Rascal 

And other May 15-22 shows

Wednesday, May 14 2008

Page 3 of 4

The Kooks at the Wiltern

Of all the laddish Brit guitar-pop imports of late, the Kooks are perhaps the most jauntily charming. Neither as smarty-pants savvy and rhythmically angular as Arctic Monkeys nor as wistfully wobbly as the lo-fi Jamie T, these drainpipe-jean boys swagger, snigger, rock, roll and drink deep from nostalgia’s bottomless cup. Last month’s hook-heavy sophomore full-length, Konk, refreshes Ziggy Stardust’s ragged, prancing riffs and just-for-you fireside strumming with a first-band-ever, irreverent post-punk zeal. Bruised with the loss and longing of their once-elegant seaside hometown of Brighton, the Kooks find comfort in a uniquely English pub sing-along camaraderie and the happy-go-lucky stomp of glitter-spattered glam. Super-prolific (two albums in 18 months and claiming to have written “80 or 90” songs for Konk), they headline the Wiltern tonight entirely on merit. (Paul Rogers)

Also playing Monday:

click to flip through (5) The Dirtbombs missed their show in Cleveland after getting lost backstage.
  • The Dirtbombs missed their show in Cleveland after getting lost backstage.

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MEZZANINE OWLS, ELI “PAPERBOY” REED & THE TRUE LOVES at Spaceland; LE SWITCH at the Echo; CUT COPY at the Echoplex; LOUISE GOFFIN at the Hotel Café; THE ADICTS, THE DICKIES at House of Blues; HAZELDEN at the Key Club; BANG SUGAR BANG, PORTERVILLE, SILVER NEEDLE at Silverlake Lounge; DESTROYER, DEVON WILLIAMS at the Troubadour.



 M83 at the Echoplex

You’ll find the most intense identification with adolescent girls outside of a Viacom boardroom or the pages of a young-adult paperback in France’s M83. Brimming with teenage Sturm und Drang and suburbia-fermented yearning, Anthony Gonzales went insufferably overwrought on 2005’s Before the Dawn Heals Us. Trying to find the intersection of Twin Peaks and Dark Side of the Moon, he wound up at the prom. After sprouting out of nowhere or, more specifically, squeaking through the glut of Parisian filter house to drop 2003’s Loveless-on-a-Commodore fantasia, Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, Gonzalez inches back from the brink on this year’s Saturdays = Youth. He’s still after Wembley-filling anthems, sure. But at least he was smart to call on producer Ewan Pearson. The Berlin-based Englishman consistently delivers techno’s most absorbing remixes, swoon-worthy epics of surging ecstasies. Here he marshals Gonzales’ pursuit of the “big sound” into shivering, distortion-blurred sunrises and cotton-candy tangles of vaporous melody. The twosome should totally go steady. (Bernardo Rondeau)

Also playing Tuesday:

THE PRESETS at El Rey Theatre; ELI “PAPERBOY” REED & THE TRUE LOVES at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; CLINIC, SHEARWATER at the Troubadour.


WEDNESDAY, MAY 21The Kills at El Rey Theatre

The Kills’ Alison “VV” Mosshart and Jamie “Hotel” Hince come crawling out of a thick cloud of their own cigarette smoke armed with just a drum machine and the jaggedly cool tunes of their third full-length album, Midnight Boom. The new songs have a heavily rhythmic drive and an occasional hip-hop delivery that’s inspired by schoolyard hand claps and chanting, then pumped up with the pair’s surreally poetic cut-&-paste calls and responses. Just when you want to slap them around for being so terminally mannered, they smack you upside your expectations with the sinuously persuasive way they trade off wiry barbs on such tracks as “Last Day of Magic,” “Sour Cherry” and “Cheap and Cheerful.” Mr. Hotel has received more attention in recent months for his relationship with model Kate Moss, so it’s refreshing to finally have the focus back on the Kills’ music. Hince throws down sly lines about mismatched, tragic loners amid the fuzzy guitar punches of “U.R.A. Fever,” while Mosshart rises above romantic disappointment on the ethereally pretty “Black Balloon.” She decries “What New York Used to Be,” transforming an anti-gentrification rant into something subtler and more cryptically catchy. (Falling James)

The Dresden Dolls at the Wiltern

The Boston duo the Dresden Dolls can always be counted on for some dramatic thrills and chills, along with their carnivalesque attire and performance-art surprises. Drummer Brian Viglione and singer-pianist Amanda Palmer’s closely calibrated dynamic swells and flourishes should sound suitably impressive inside the grand old Wiltern, a high-ceilinged Art Deco theater whose echoing acoustics often turn louder and bigger rock bands into an indistinct mush (not that the Dolls are some quietly solemn act like the Swell Season — when Palmer’s not trotting out such dainty early tunes as “Coin-Operated Boy,” she hammers her poor piano with a stormy fury). They’re promoting their third full-length studio CD, No, Virginia, a collection of b-sides and outtakes that’s a companion to their second album, 2006’s Yes, Virginia. Unlike most such odds-&-sods assortments, No, Virginia works as a fully satisfying album, encompassing the formal pop elegance of “The Mouse and the Model,” the emotionally ravaged austerity of “Gardner” and the frantically creepy “Lonesome Organist Rapes Page Turner,” along with a fanciful accordion-pumped ramble through the Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink.” (Falling James)

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