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Rock Picks: Fol Chen, Moonrats, Brightblack Morning Light, Bachelorette 

Also, the Curious Mystery, Graham Parker, Miss Derringer, Marduk and others

Wednesday, May 27 2009
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Page 2 of 4

 

The Refugees at the Getty Center
Back in 2007, singer-songwriters Wendy Waldman, Deborah Holland and Cindy Bullens decided to form the supergroup the Refugees, realizing that their combined talents made them the musical equivalent to the Justice League. On their new CD, Unbound (Wabuho), they play all of the instruments, trading off on lead vocals and twining their voices together in magnificent folk-pop harmonies. They collaborated on some new tunes, as well as reworking several of their better-known solo songs, such as Bullens’ “Jellico Highway,” Holland’s “(There’s a) Spy in the House of Love,” and Waldman’s “Save the Best for Last,” which is given an austere makeover and, not surprisingly, closes the album. All of it is carefully rendered and lovingly crafted, and makes for a restful idyll amid the madness of city living. The only drawback is that, as with so many performers of their generation, the Refugees’ musical influences appear to stop stubbornly at the year 1975. Although their music is righteously rooted in tradition, it would have more impact and relevance if the trio had at least a passing familiarity with the diversity and changes in folk and Americana styles over the past three decades. (Falling James)

 

Langhorne Slim, Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers at Spaceland
“If I ever make a sound that seems nervous or unfound, take it as a child skippin’ town,” Samantha Crain sings on the title track of her new CD, Songs in the Night (Ramseur). Indeed, there is a childlike delight and wonder to the 22-year-old Oklahoman’s breezy folk-pop songs, which are given added jangle and sparkle by her indie-rocking backup band, the Midnight Shivers. Crain’s melodies have a Feist-y buoyancy, even as she confides on “Bananafish Revolution” such evocatively strange lyrics as “The trees were my audience applauding ... That piano, it’s the angels/Calling me home.” There’s a similarly charming folkie intimacy on the acoustic-guitar ballad “Scissor Tales,” where she admits to her lover, “I’ve been standing out in the rain/So you’ll come dry me off again.” The Shivers open tonight for the Brooklyn folk-pop crooner Langhorne Slim, whose rootsy rambles sometimes venture into pleasingly soulful territory. (Falling James)

click to flip through (3) Miss Derringer
  • Miss Derringer
   
 

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Also playing Saturday:

BLACK DICE, RICHARD BISHOP, WOLF EYES, EARTHLESS at Gilbert’s; BISHOP LAMONT at the House of Blues; DAVE SEAMAN at Avalon; KARYN ALLYSON at the Catalina Bar & Grill; JULIAN LAGE GROUP at McCabe’s; GREG LASWELL, BUDDY, BRIAN WRIGHT AND THE WACO TRAGEDIES, AUSTIN HARTLEY LEONARD at the Hotel Cafe.

 

SUNDAY, MAY 31

The Curious Mystery, Audacity, Devon Williams, Moonrats at the Smell
A lot of Smell quadruple bills are populated with at least one toss-away act, a 45-minute exercise in trying-too-hard obviousness or enthusiastic misguidedness that tends to deflate the whole bill. This Sunday show, however, ain’t one of them. Moonrats is a project of Aska Matsumiya, whose work as vocalist to Aaron Rose’s instrumentation in the Sads is singular in its beauty, and whose new AsDSSka project with analog synthian David Scott Stone is exquisite. Moonrats writes sturdy guitar-drum-maraca songs with choruses and hooks. The Curious Mystery are from Seattle, and make guitar rock with meandering structures, a fearless willingness to wander into extended instrumental passages, and at least two guitarists who like to explore the fretboard. They like to jam, basically, but not in a navel-gazing way; more like in a Television/Tom Verlaine/Richard Lloyd kind of way (though they sound little like said NYC art rockers). Audacity is a seriously underrated treble-punk band from Long Beach that likes noise, the chorus-as-tantrum, and the collision of the two. Devon Williams is a songwriter with a little bit of Anglophilia in his pop sensibility, likes a good “ooh ooh” chorus and a touch of feedback and echo in his guitar sound. The songs on last year’s Carefree reveal an Angeleno artist gaining confidence and earning respect. (Randall Roberts)

 

Also playing Sunday:

PROPAGANDHI, BRIDGE AND TUNNEL at the Echoplex; CALE PARKS, MEREDITH MEYER at Pehrspace; ROSEWOOD THIEVES, HE’S MY BROTHER SHE’S MY SISTER, HENRY WOLFE at the Bootleg Theater.

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