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Rock Picks: Black Lips, Maria Taylor, Audacity, Irina Bjorklund 

Also, Gangi, Chris Cornell, Joe Lally, Useless Keys and others

Wednesday, Apr 29 2009
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FRIDAY, MAY 1

BLACK LIPS AT EL REY THEATRE

Black Lips come trudging out of a thick swamp of their own creation on their fifth album, 200 Million Thousand (Vice), once again tracking in the mud and blood of the 1960s to dress up their modern garage-punk psychodramas. Perhaps it’s no surprise that such jangling folk tunes as “Drugs” lead to acid-casualty revelations like the crackling (and cracked) country rock of “I Saw God” and the sarcastic, raw blues of “Big Black Baby Jesus of Today.” In the hidden bonus track, “Meltdown,” they invoke the Vietcong, over a Hendrix-y groove (they also fantasize about an orgy with Obama, Osama and the Dalai Lama for no apparent reason except that their names rhyme). Unlike their late-’60s blues-rock counterparts, who noodled endlessly to the point of feathery insubstantiality, the Lips paste even their most fried insights over a more concisely catchy hybrid of mid-’60s garage-punk and bubblegum fuzz. With primitive Stones/Velvets guitars, tons of reverb and howled Sam the Sham–style vocals, the overall impact is closer to Sky Saxon & the Seeds’ oxymoronically sinister flower-children phase ... just before he lost his mind. The point is, catch this Atlanta band now before they go completely insane and can’t leave their gardens for decades at a time. (Falling James)

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JOE LALLY AT THE SMELL

For a ham-fisted salute to labor, the political left and its musical fringe this international day of workers, check out Fugazi’s massively influential bassist and all-around man of the people, Joe Lally — the dude still only plays shows that cost five bucks or less. In the past, Lally’s solo work featured a revolving door of ex-Fugazi guys and various DC scenesters like Ian MacKaye, Amy Farina (The Evens), Guy Picciotto, etc. But now he’s taken it out of the box, plucking along in a fusion-jazz meets prog-punk fashion. The driving rhythms and the frenetic bottom are still there, as one might expect, but the energy plays out in a more nuanced way, like he’s re-engineering the primary role of the bass work in terms of melody and foundational mechanics. Lally’s spare backing band, made up of Ricardo Lagomasino on drums and a sinewy Elisa Abela on the guitar and sax, weaves in and out of his bass flow, forming a formidably tight trio. Also at the Echo, Sun. (Wendy Gilmartin)

 

USELESS KEYS

Everyone’s got useless keys. Nobody knows where they come from, but you don’t dare throw them away in case they turn out to be important. Much like the new L.A. band Useless Keys. They feature former members of the Front, Molecules and the Green & Yellow TV, but they don’t really sound like any of those bands. Hazy, weary vocals sing druggy lyrics like “Arizona state highway/don’t let it define you” and “More valium, please/It helps me fall asleep,” as post-punk guitars spiral toward the clouds. There’s a celestial, Pink Floyd spaciness to songs like “It’s All Made Up,” from the Keys’ upcoming debut album. Psychedelic flourishes and a shoegazer storminess creep between the beats, which are mostly midtempo or slower, leaving plenty of room for head-nodding and trying to decipher such lyrics as “My baby’s got a shotgun ... You never hide your hat the way I want you to.” (Falling James)

 

Also playing Friday:

IAN MCLAGEN & THE BUMP BAND at the Mint; WOLFMOTHER,RUBY SUNS at the Natural History Museum; UNWRITTEN LAW, DIRTY HEADS, SEX AND VIOLENCE, KILLEM GILLEM at the Roxy; LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III at McCabe’s; STARSAILOR at the Troubadour; DAN FRIEL, CHEN SANTA MARIA, ERIKA ANDERSON at Pehrspace; JON BRION at Largo at the Coronet; GROAMVILLE, THE HASH ASSASSINS, DRACULOVE at Relax Bar.

 

SATURDAY, MAY 2

AUDACITY AT THE SMELL

Fullerton punk band Audacity — not to be confused with either the electronic act or the barbershop quartet of the same name — has that thing, that magic, that sense of impending destruction, that fuck-all ’tude that separates a great punk band from a boring one. It’s hard to tell where they’re coming from, exactly, but it’s definitely not from the Epitaph, Revelation or Victory schools of punk. Rather, it’s the lo-fi, smart-as-hell version, the kind Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, No Age, Pissed Jeans and Fat Day make: bursts of songs that hit like a fist to the face. The band’s debut full-length, Power Drowning, is — how to put it? — fucking awesome, recalling the first-wave SoCal punk of the Descendents, Black Flag and Germs without resorting to mimicry. The band seems to have no fear. “Sister Menthol” is not only a genius name for a song but it is a 1:43 basement scream that’s as insanely tight and inventive as it is furious. On “The Feds,” they move from speed to grinding halt and back again, shifting tempos and melodies like a stupid prog-rock band — except Audacity isn’t a stupid prog band but the opposite. (Randall Roberts)

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