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Rock Picks: Former Ghosts, Steely Dan, the Dirtbombs, Six Organs of Admittance 

Also, Sunset Junction Street Fair, Chris Isaak, Woods and others

Wednesday, Aug 19 2009
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FRIDAY, AUGUST 21

THE SONICS AT THE ECHOPLEX
Long before Mudhoney and Nirvana first plugged in their fuzz boxes, the Sonics built the foundation for guitar-based PacNorWest rock & roll. While other American bands were meekly imitating the Beatles in the mid-1960s, the Sonics were turning up their amps and churning out a harder and louder version of garage rock with such classic originals as “Strychnine” and “Psycho.” Everyone from the Cramps and Bruce Springsteen to the Fall, the Things, Eddie Vedder and the Nomads has covered their songs, and Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin were among their many celebrity fans. Just about every modern garage-rock band has ripped them off (the Hives’ entire career, for example, appears to be based on shamelessly lifting the Sonics’ riffs and style). After breaking up in the late 1960s, they’ve stubbornly stayed out of the spotlight, particularly singer Jerry Roslie, who was once so reclusive, he made J.D. Salinger seem as ubiquitous as Paris Hilton. No one thought the Sonics would ever reunite, but they received a belated career boost when their version of “Have Love, Will Travel” was used in a recent Land Rover commercial, of all things. Now founding members Rob Lind, Larry Parypa and, yes, even Roslie are back, and they’re reportedly as loud as ever. Don’t dare miss ’em. Also at Sunset Junction, Sun. (Falling James)

 

click to flip through (4) The Sonics: Just about every modern garage-rock band has ripped them off
  • The Sonics: Just about every modern garage-rock band has ripped them off
     
 

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LOS CAMPESINOS, RAMONA FALLS, GIRLS AT EL REY THEATRE
The Los Campesinos! indie-pop seven-piece — their native Wales must seem empty when the group’s on tour — hews out a catchy and cerebral middle ground between the easy earnestness of the Get Up Kids, the angsty instrumentalism of Cursive, and the cockeyed spoken word of Art Brut. The Cardiff crew displays a trademark Welsh cheekiness (outwardly evident in song titles with names like “The International Tweexcore Underground”) that’s undercut by chopsy playing and tight arrangements that still leave room for the occasional ethereal haze. (This will be the last tour for female vocalist Aleks Campesinos!) Ramona Falls too falls into the greater chamber-pop genus, even though it’s technically the solo project of Menomena’s Brent Knopf. His just-released debut LP, Intuit, includes contributions from 35 Portland musicians (members of 31knots, the Helio Sequence and Loch Lomond, among others) and finds the songwriter exploring more many-passaged tunes as ominous as they are showy in structure. San Francisco’s Girls (all boys, of course, like the Girls from Seattle or Calgary’s Women) make quiet music for the hippies at heart. (Chris Martins)

 

STEELY DAN AT GIBSON AMPHITHEATRE
Steely Dan fans are advised to buy tickets carefully for these four Gibson gigs: On what they’re calling their Rent Party ’09 tour, the hipster-beloved jazz-rock geniuses are dedicating some shows to playing one of their studio albums in its entirety. Here in L.A., they’ll do Aja on August 21, Gaucho on August 22 and The Royal Scam on August 24; August 25 is “Takin’ It to the Seats Internet Request Night,” which is exactly what it sounds like. For the last two concerts, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker and their insanely accomplished 13-piece band will be joined by guitarist Larry Carlton, whom the Dan tapped for some killer session work back in the good old days. (That’s Carlton on “Kid Charlemagne” and, by extension, Kanye West’s Dan-sampling “Champion.”) Provided Fagen successfully staves off the cold that caused the group to cancel a show in New York last month — and maybe even if he doesn’t — a good time is all but guaranteed. (Mikael Wood)

 

Also playing Friday:

TIJUANA PANTHERS, PALEFACE, SILVER DARLING, EMA & THE GHOSTS at Pehrspace; BENJI HUGHES, B.R.A.M. at Spaceland; JAIL WEDDINGS, BLUE JUNGLE, HORSE THIEVES, ENOCHIAN KEYS at American Legion Post 206; THE ZEROS, THE HANGMEN at Alex’s Bar; SUGARWALL, JASON BOLAND & THE STRAGGLERS, GOODBYE TO PRETTY, MERCHANTS OF MOONSHINE at the Mint; RUIDO DE FONDO, SUCKER FOR PUMPS, GARDENIA at the Roxy.

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 22

SUNSET JUNCTION STREET FAIR IN SILVER LAKE
Every year, as the Sunset Junction festival gets bigger and bigger, it moves progressively further away from its roots as an all-inclusive neighborhood party. While it’s unlikely that the fair will ever recapture the magic and spirit of its peak in the 1980s and early 1990s, when admission was cheap and the promoters primarily booked the most subversive local bands from the underground-music scene, the tradeoff is that the Junction has hosted in recent years such national acts as Sonic Youth and the New York Dolls. Saturday’s potential highlights include reggae masters Sly & Robbie, whose lilting grooves should be perfect for a hot August evening; trembling-voiced bard Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band; pop charmers the Submarines; the Parisian R&B duo Les Nubians; Cambodian-American psychedelic-pop adventurers Dengue Fever; and the Blondie-style retro pop of Miss Derringer. Sunday’s bill features two contrasting, trans-generational bands from the Pacific Northwest, Built to Spill and the Sonics (see Friday pick); rabid punks Mika Miko; Atlanta hip-hop vets Arrested Development; Nortec Collective’s Bostich + Fussible; soul singers Cody Chesnutt & Martin Luther; the jazzy improvisations of Build an Ark; cumbia madmen Very Be Careful; and slinky dance-rockers Love Grenades. 3700-4300 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (Falling James)

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