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Rock Picks: Beirut, The Cure, Jonathan Richman 

And other May 29-June 5 shows

Wednesday, May 28 2008
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THURSDAY, MAY 29

New Zealand’s Brunettes wonder if these cute li’l dogs can herd sheep.

Tom Rush has no regrets.

Daragh McDonagh

Hatebreed are especially fond of rainbows and little kittens.


Ladytron at the Henry Fonda Theater

Despite being one of the world’s leading electropop stylists since they started in 1999, Ladytron don’t have the typical cold and robotic sound you might expect. That’s partly because the coed Liverpool quartet go to the trouble of using vintage analog equipment, which gives the music a warmer, dreamier feel on their upcoming fourth full-length CD, Velocifero (Nettwerk). Singer-keyboardist Mira Aroyo claims that Dr. John was among her influences on the new album, and while it’s not readily apparent how the salty old Night Tripper figures into Ladytron’s modern, dance-heavy grooves, it is clear that she and co–lead singer Helen Marnie have a gift for haunting pop-music structures. Underneath swarming, buzzing synthesizers, “Burning Up” has an ethereal, romantically aching loneliness that’s more poignant and affecting than most electropop. The ambiguous apologies of “Ghosts” ride along on a Daniel Hunt’s guitars and programmer Reuben Wu’s shimmering rhythms, while “Season of Illusions” intrigues with such enigmatically poetic imagery as a “night of fading stars and a legacy of clouds.” Aroyo deepens the mystery by singing in her native Bulgarian amid the swirling chimes of “Kletva.” Also Fri., May 30. (Falling James)

click to flip through (4) New Zealand’s Brunettes wonder if these cute li’l dogs can herd sheep.
  • New Zealand’s Brunettes wonder if these cute li’l dogs can herd sheep.
     
 

 

Neva Dinova at Spaceland

The name Neva Dinova sounds like an exotic Eastern European chanteuse, but it’s actually a quintet of guys from Omaha who are named after singer-guitarist Jake Bellows’ grandmother. Their occasionally freaky music is very much rooted in Americana on You May Already Be Dreaming, their third full-length CD and first on hometown label Saddle Creek. The deceptively named Bellows croons in a tunefully downbeat way on such pokily morbid country-rock ballads as “Will the Ladies Send You Flowers,” “Funeral Home,” and the lovely “She’s a Ghost,” which floats away with a faintly glowing limestone shimmer. “It’s so hard to love your body from the ground,” he declares on “Love From Below.” “I’m walking through traffic like I’m a prophet.” But Bellows (who has also recorded with Conor Oberst) and bassist Heath Koontz are at their best when they remember they have amps and plug into them to power through Crazy Horse rambles like “Someone’s Trippin’” and “Clouds” and the driving, straight-up power pop of “What You Want” and “It’s Hard to Love You,” as well as weirder stuff like the whimsically muffled underwater section of “Squirrels” and the Flaming Lips/Roger Waters haze of “Apocalypse.” (Falling James)


R.E.M., Modest Mouse, The National at the Hollywood Bowl

While it’s certainly goosed the band’s record sales (or at least its mainstream media coverage), all the R.E.M.-is-back hype surrounding the new Accelerate has in a way done the veteran alt-rock band something of a disservice. If we’re to truly believe that their aimless electro-pop days are behind them, these dudes had better kick out some serious jams at the Bowl; none of the self-satisfied coasting captured on R.E.M.’s recent two-disc live set will be tolerated tonight. Selecting Modest Mouse as an opening act suggests that Peter, Mike and Michael (as they identify themselves in Accelerate’s liners) think themselves up to the challenge: M.M. front man Isaac Brock is a live wire waiting to crackle. I don’t get what the big deal is about the National — depressive indie-rock mumblers from Brooklyn — but people on the Internet can’t seem to get enough of ’em. (Mikael Wood)

 

Also playing Thursday

OK GO, ZION I, NICO VEGA at Ackerman Grand Ballroom, UCLA, 7 p.m.; THE CURE at Santa Barbara Bowl; THRICE at Avalon; SONNY LANDRETH, JEFFERSON STEELFEX & HIS NEPTUNE SOCIETY at Safari Sam’s; CULVER CITY DUB COLLECTIVE, CAVA at Temple Bar; SUPERDRAG, KAY HANLEY at the Troubadour.

 

FRIDAY, MAY 30


Beirut, The Brunettes, Devon Williams at the Wiltern

In the “global mash-up” aspect of things, you could do a lot worse than donning your babushka and immersing yourself in the arcane world summoned forth by young Albuquerque/New York fella Zach Condon, a.k.a. Beirut. His records, like 2007’s The Flying Club Cup, are all over the place stylistically since he’s at that point in life when he’s bursting with ideas and the will to communicate them in myriad new ways. Condon’s stuff occupies this crackly, dusty old place of handed-down tales of Gypsies and bohemians, warbled earnestly over strummed ukuleles and lumbering brass ensembles. It’s quite an original sound, heard to especially good advantage on the recent Elephant Gun EP. Don’t miss Beirut’s Ba Da Bing label mate Devon Williams, whose other job is playing guitar in Lavender Diamond. His Carefree album is a gloriously ornate batch of smart-pop tunes, not just unusually well written but also wonderfully arranged. Come to think of it, you ought not miss New Zealand’s hugely charismatic pop playfuls the Brunettes, either. Also Sat. (John Payne)

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