Rock Picks: Tangerine Dream, Spindrift, Robyn Hitchcock | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Rock Picks: Tangerine Dream, Spindrift, Robyn Hitchcock 

Also, Electric Six, Heartless Bastards, Scissors for Lefty and more

Tuesday, Nov 4 2008

Linda Ronstadt & Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano at Royce Hall

When Linda Ronstadt expanded her musical range in the ’80s to include jazz standards and mariachi styles, many of her old fans, as well as her former peers in the ’70s country-rock aristocracy, must have thought she was out of her mind. The truth is, by reinventing herself in a variety of musical disguises (big band, Cajun folk, Broadway show tunes, rancheras, new wave, jazz), she’s remained more relevant (and exciting) than most singers of her generation. At tonight’s “Romantic Evening in Old Mexico,” she’s paired with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano (as well as El Paso dance troupe Ballet Folklorico Paso del Norte!) to highlight songs from her Spanish-language albums Canciones de Mi Padre and Más Canciones. Whether she’s quivering with passion on a dreamy acoustic-guitar ballad like “Por un Amor” or letting her melodies sail over a bed of merry mariachi horns and trumpets on the festive romp “Los Laureles,” Ronstadt can be counted on to belt it with that famously powerful voice, which is even stronger today than in her so-called heyday. She remains both a literal force of nature and a national treasure. (Falling James)

Madonna at Dodger Stadium

click to flip through (6) Flying Lotus: Tuned to an alien frequency
  • Flying Lotus: Tuned to an alien frequency

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Did she cheat on her hubby with A-Rod? Is she a crazy control freak with an exercise addiction and anti-aging obsession? Does she insist no even one look at her behind the scenes of her current Sticky and Sweet tour? Gossip galore has come out since the launch of Madonna’s latest stage spectacle, but, for those lucky enough to attend her live show, it’s all irrelevant. Madge is hands down one of the most multifaceted and magnanimous (onstage anyway) performers in the world, and her slick and vigorous music and dance-filled extravaganzas are always nothing short of breathtaking. Even at 50, girlfriend doesn’t know how to phone it in. Expect a few cuts off this year’s groove-glazed electro-feast Hard Candy, and, of course, thematic costume changes adapted to her hump-pop faves and riffed-up grinds (“Borderline” and “Ray of Light” go rawk courtesy of Mz. M’s ax). And speaking of axes and grinding, giant monitors projecting everything from Big Brother–like visuals to anti-McCain imagery are sure to add to the extrasensory experience and confirm that, personally and politically, the lady’s far from done expressing herself. (Lina Lecaro)



Flying Lotus, Kode9 at the Echoplex

At first listen, Steven Ellison’s homage to his hometown seems slightly off. The man best known as Flying Lotus has delivered a new album titled Los Angeles (Warp) that’s just too sticky; it’s closer to the dense humidity of East Coast summers or the slushy murk of their endless winters. But this long-playing fantasia of fluorescent glyphs and crackling vinyl is actually a gem of Western polyglot psychedelia. Melted by the Southland sun and flurried by the Santa Anas, Ellison’s manifold samples melt together into a gurgling drench of tactile sounds: malformed voices, alien frequencies, laser whinnies, acid-rinsed synths, stammering fretwork and elastic bass. His engines of rhythm — held together by chewing gum and Scotch tape — hiccup in warped orbits. Years back, Fly-Lo may have been called trip-hop, but his woozy luxuriance and microbial design put him eons away from any coffee table. A kindred spirit, England’s Kode9 offers the pressurized, doom-fogged mirror image to Flying Lotus’ immersive grooves. In the oily writhing, radioactive wobble and haunting sparseness of Kode9’s lumbering dubstep, a different concrete jungle gets its score. (Bernardo Rondeau)

Electric Six at the Key Club

Ask anyone from Echo Park to Williamsburg, they’ll tell you irony is a dead scene — which is why Electric Six is only partially insincere. Bouncing between Tom Jones–y suaveness to a preening falsetto, singer Dick Valentine works himself into a perpetual lather as he croons about sundry oddball shit. The Detroit sextet’s latest tunes are mostly some form of love song, like the Sir Walter Raleigh–esque gallantry of “Transatlantic Flight” or, in the case of “Graphic Designer,” a fixation with the girl who spends her days in a cubicle playing with PhotoShop. Valentine is the kind of self-aware ham who would grow tiresome if his band weren’t such smart interpreters of Top 40 tropes. Their new disc, Flashy, is a power-pop-laden set as indebted to ’80s new-wave synths as it is crunchy punk guitars, spritzed with robo-vocals, spaghetti Western horns, and sax solos that would make Kenny G a hater. And if he really likes the crowd, ol’ Dick might drop to the floor and give you 20 pushups. (Andrew Lentz)

Tangerine Dream at Royce Hall

It was in a bit I’d read by fine old John Peel in the late, great Melody Maker back in the early ’70s [tamps pipe, settles back in easy chair], where I first got cued into the ripping glories of Tangerine Dream. The Berlin-based electronic trio — then comprising founder Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann and Chris Franke, but also boasting heavyweight graduates such as the legendary Klaus Schulze — had come out with this bubbling, coiling, steamily serpentine stew called Phaedra, on the then-progressive/art-rock-oriented Virgin Records. Well, Peel “rated” the Tangs and put them in rotation on his radio show, and Phaedra went on to become a semi-massive smash ’round the globe; even the pinheads at Rolling Stone approved. The group had already been quite prolific, having issued several albums, such as the excellent Atem and Alpha Centauri, long-form works dominated by Froese’s abiding interest in dramatically dark electronic tone-clusterings à la Ligeti and Xenakis. They went on to score several films, including Firestarter, and evolved in various ways that strayed far from their earlier, more overtly experimental shades but have consistently retained a superhigh level of sheer sonic spectacularity. This is their 40th anniversary concert, highly recommended for the undoubtedly first-class video and light shows that will accompany the music but largely for the chance to pay tribute to these hugely influential innovators in the art of electronic music. (John Payne)

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