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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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FORMER GHOSTS, CASY & BRIAN AT THE SMELL
Three of the current music scene’s most rigorous sonic experimenters join forces in Former Ghosts to re-engineer the conventional structures of pop music. Mostly led by Freddy Ruppert (This Song Is a Mess But So Am I) with Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) and Nika Roza (Zola Jesus) on call, each takes on vocal duties, collectively leaning on Ruppert’s amped-up synth drone, which sometimes recalls Magnetic Fields’ “All the Umbrellas in London”–era buzz or Factory/4AD’s more minimal lineages, like In Camera and This Mortal Coil. It’s not all pop revision though; Former Ghosts’ January show at the Smell, one of their first ever gigs, delivered punching beats, impending doom and the all-or-nothing musical flip-outs one would expect from this supergroup of sorts. S.F.’s Casy & Brian layer tight drums, fuzzed-out Casio keyboards and cowbell on top of unbending, sweaty energy. Songs start out as simple jams, then turn into repetitive chants, erupting quickly into call-and-response crowd-stomping frenzies. (Wendy Gilmartin)

 

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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THE MATCHES AT THE TROUBADOUR
Same old story: Band releases a handful of wildly creative albums, each more schizophrenic than the last and increasingly harder to classify. Marketers are mystified, sales remain negligible, band grows jaded. A onetime labor of love ultimately reaps only debt and disappointment, crushing even the most buoyant of spirits. On July 9, after 12 years, three albums and an Epitaph Records deal, manic frontman Shawn Harris and Co. announced an indefinite hiatus. No more careening, indie-alt-pop-punk free-for-all. An end to sure-handed meanderings into R&B, cabaret, folk and even lavish Broadway-musical territory. Hasta la vista to intelligent, feverish, maddeningly catchy attacks on cynicism, apathy and the commonplace. As a parting gift, however, a fourth, digital-only collection cheekily titled the Matches album 4, unreleased; graphics? title? or not needed? is available on the band’s Web site. The Troubadour gig marks their penultimate show, with San Francisco’s Fillmore hosting the Matches’ final appearance the following evening. (Julie Seabaugh)

 

Also playing Saturday:

THE CULT, YEAR LONG DISASTER at Club Nokia; BENJI HUGHES, THE BELLE BRIGADE at Spaceland; KINGS OF LEON, THE WHIGS at the Forum; STEELY DAN at the Gibson Theatre; EAGLE & TALON at Echo Curio; HARVEY DANGER at Largo at the Coronet; TOAD THE WET SPROCKET, THE JANKS at Pershing Square.

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 23

Playing Sunday:

VANS WARPED TOUR at the Home Depot Center; THE SABBATH ASSEMBLY BAND WITH TIMOTHY WYLLIE at the Silent Movie Theater; HEROES OF WOODSTOCK WITH JEFFERSON STARSHIP, TEN YEARS AFTER, CANNED HEAT, COUNTRY JOE McDONALD at the Greek Theatre; PAUL COLLINS & JOHN WICKS at McCabe’s; CAPTAIN AHAB, FLESHTONE, PHARMAKON, TIK TIK, GUIDANCE COUNSELOR, BEAST COP at the Smell.

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 24

SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE AT THE ECHO
The prolific and boundless Ben Chasney, a.k.a. Six Organs of Admittance, is one very fine guitarist and musical down-melter. This multihued sage Chasney, who also heads up such future-directed “rock” combos as Comets on Fire, Current 93, Badgerlore, August Born and Plague League, has yet another new Six Organs disc out on Drag City, this one called Luminous Night. It reveals his darker, surreally misty dreams and wistful regrets, and does so via artfully produced and sublimely droney excursions flecked with acoustics, spikily soaring electrics and an increasing reliance on clanky percussives, plucked piano innards and stomp-box arcanery. As always, Chasney’s are deceptively lulling tales of mystery and imagination that explode with massive psychic force from time to time. Be prepared. (John Payne)

 

Also playing Monday:

STEELY DAN at the Gibson Amphitheatre; MARIEE SIOUX, GRAHAM FOREST, PAIGE STARK, DEAREST at Echo Curio; PALEFACE, JAMES SNYDER, JOE FIRSTMAN, ELIZAVETA at the Hotel Cafe; LOCAL NATIVES, THE PARSON RED HEADS, THE CHEAT, FLYING TOURBILLON ORCHESTRA at Spaceland.

 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 25

TOM JONES AT THE GREEK THEATRE
Always the consummate ladies’ man, Sir Tom Jones — knighted in March of this year — is 69 years old and still gets piles of panties thrown at his feet. He’s a multifaceted performer whom very few leading men can match, what with his mellow, manly timbre that only breaks during those over-the-top moments of emotional climax. And then there are those sleepy eyes, curly locks, cheek bones and hips. No dumpy indie boy can compare. Hence Jones has culled an age-spanning female audience over the years with his tender-yet-tough crowd pleasers, like “Delilah,” “Treat Her Right,” “She’s a Lady,” and his unforgettable cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” which, even more strangely, he recorded with the Art of Noise. But tonight’s show will have a tinge of sadness attached to it. Just last month Jones revealed he’s planning to move back to the U.K. after 35 years in Los Angeles. The green, green grass of the British Isles looks even nicer with its universal socialized health care for the elderly, eh, Tom? We ladies will truly miss you. (Wendy Gilmartin)

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