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Rock Picks: R.E.M., Von Bondies, Ladytron 

And other May 22-29 shows

Wednesday, May 21 2008
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THURSDAY, MAY 22

Scott Smallin

Auckland is burning: Die! Die! Die!

Mindless Self Indulgence, thoughtful hairstyles

Andrzej Tyszko

The Marcin Wasilewski Trio: Jazz of the near future

 
Dizzee Rascal, El-P, Busdriver at El Rey Theatre

Talking about English MCs as grime artists is dumb to begin with, but in the case of British rap star Dizzee Rascal, it’s straight-up idiotic. The stuttering U.K. garage beats are still there on the slamming new Maths + English (released a year ago overseas), but somehow the drums are more cracking, while the synth hooks range from Atari cute to dystopian eerie. Hell, the only thing outing him as a European is the drum & bass beat of “Da Feelin’” and, of course, that council-estate slang mixed with a Caribbean lilt. As always, his verses paint vivid pictures even when they aren’t crystallizing ghetto truths. The advice given to aspiring musicians on “Hard Back (Industry)” alone justifies this disc’s purchase — oh, and the female chorus you hear on “Wanna Be” is none other than homegirl Lily Allen. Co-headliner and Def Jux boss El-P will hurl his patented lyrical curveballs atop future-bleak production. With L.A.’s own verbal shredder Busdriver. (Andrew Lentz)

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Cluster at Farmlab

A rare local appearance by legendary German Kosmische Musik duo Cluster. Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius started their electronic improv group in 1970 as part of Berlin’s underground collective the Zodiak Free Arts Lab, which included original Cluster partner Conrad Schnitzler and other members of future Krautrock icons, such as Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and Guru Guru. Moebius and Roedelius dedicated themselves to a charmingly eccentric brand of ambient instrumental music emphasizing minimal and hypnotically pastoral sound fields generated on a variety of electronic keyboards and whatever else they found lying around the studio. Later on, the pair employed exclusively canned sounds to entrancing and humorously ironic effect — and not a laptop in sight. Over the course of several albums up through the ’90s, many of them in collaboration with Kraftwerk/Neu’s Michael Rother and infamous producer-engineer Conny Plank, they defined a unique and highly influential course in the musical parallel universe eventually referred to as Krautrock, perhaps especially for their trio collaborations as Harmonia with Rother and their work in the mid-’70s with Brian Eno as Cluster & Eno. With Lucky Dragons, Mi Ami, a bunch of DJs and a fashion show. 1745 N. Spring St., Unit 4, dwntwn. (323) 226-1158 (John Payne)

Also playing Thursday:

LOS MYSTERIOSOS at Alex’s Bar; FRENCH KICKS at the Echo; RADAR BROS. at the Knitting Factory; BAD DUDES at the Smell; LES BLANKS, THE MONOLATORS at Spaceland; HALL & OATES at the Troubadour.

 

FRIDAY, MAY 23

 
Die! Die! Die! at Safari Sam’s

Crunching the genes of Wire, Gang of Four and their New Zealand precedents like Bailter Space into a snarling hybrid, the groovy punk of Die! Die! Die! is worthy of its Russ Meyer–like name. The sickeningly tight power trio’s latest effort, Promises, is a bracing throwback to the future, even as its steam-rolling new single “Sideways Here We Come” echoes the Smiths album title Strangeways Here We Come. Like every band in our postmodern era of borrowing and rarely repaying, Die! Die! Die! reminds you of someone else. But its thrashed live show is something else, and so is its talent for mashing the old and new into a muscular third way. Steve Albini knew that, which is why he helmed their self-titled 2005 debut. I found out when I tried to get “Sideways Here We Come” out of my head, which never happened. Watch out, I’m contagious. (Scott Thill)


The Von Bondies at Safari Sam’s

Meanwhile, a little later tonight at Sam’s, following a set by Die! Die! Die! (see previous pick), the bill climaxes with Detroit-area combo the Von Bondies. Unlike so many performers in the current Motor City scene, the Von Bondies don’t sound especially rootsy, bluesy or garage-y on their latest EP, We Are Kamikazes. Tracks like “Pale Bride” and “21st Birthday” have a formal, almost British power-pop sound that couldn’t be any further from the noisy chaos of the Bondies’ early inspiration Guitar Wolf. “Wake Me Up” saunters merrily down the street with a chipper piano melody before the guitars pick things up in the chorus. Singer Jason Stollsteimer might be best known by some for getting punched out a few years ago by the White Stripes’ Jack White (who’d previously produced the Von Bondies’ 2001 debut album, the ironically titled Lack of Communication), but he’s a fine, tuneful songwriter. Expect to hear some songs tonight from their upcoming full-length album, Love, Hate and Then There’s You. (Falling James)

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