Rock Picks: Amy Millan, Dirty Projectors, Chip Taylor, LA 101 

Also, Pixies, Justice, the Happy Hollows and others

Wednesday, Oct 28 2009


Hot Chip DJ Set at Avalon
Were this virtually any other band, we’d be tempted to call tonight’s show “just a DJ set,” but the London electronic–dance pop quintet’s rambunctious, infectious sensibilities and influences are so varied and fun that anyone looking for a sweaty Hallow’s Eve on a packed dance floor would be well advised to hit this party, part of the weekly Control club at Avalon. Hot Chip has released three proper full-lengths. Maybe you’ve heard their song “Over and Over” in an ad for something or other on TV, this catchy song about the joy of repetition that hits “like a monkey with a miniature cymbal,” sung by co-vocalist Alexis Taylor, who sounds a lot like Paul McCartney. As a DJ unit, the five have dropped a Pete Tong Essential Mix on BBC1 to die for, and singer Joe Goddard is one half of the long-running Greco Roman DJ team with the founder of K7! Records. That pair’s first mix dropped in 2006, and is one of my favorite of the decade, a bouncy joyride that starts with Archie Bell & the Drells’ “Tighten Up,” the beat of which moves gradually from hard analog to plasticine synthetic, and from there rolls through Sade, Lady Sovereign (hey, it was 2006 ...), freakazoid Chicago house, electro and down-and-dirty Southern bounce (the Ying Yang Twins’ X-rated “Wait” should maybe get somebody arrested — it’s a disturbing song — but the Greco Romans temper it by mashing in Natascha Thomas’ “Why [Does Your Love Hurt So Much]”). The whole mix is a surprise, and funny, and, like the band that bore it, a template for a no-moves-barred-dance-floor Halloween weekend. No word on how many Hot Chips are spinning, but that don’t matter. We’ll be there with skulls on. (Randall Roberts)


click to flip through (2) Basement Jaxx plays Hard Haunted Mansion on Halloween night
  • Basement Jaxx plays Hard Haunted Mansion on Halloween night

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Amy Millan at Spaceland
“Ghosts weren’t meant for bleeding,” Amy Millan announces delicately on “Bruised Ghosts,” from her second solo album, Masters of the Burial, a title that seemingly refers to her ability to eloquently distill romantic heartbreak into song before moving on. She doesn’t want to, but she realizes that she has to leave a troublemaker boyfriend before he self-destructs, in the rueful “Bound.” The Canadian singer, who also fronts Stars and is part of the extended Toronto musical collective Broken Social Scene, crafts such breakup songs with a world-weary wisdom rather than shortsighted anger. Joined on the new CD by guests like Leslie Feist and Stars’ Evan Cranley, Millan delivers her languidly lovely pop melodies with intelligence and clever, low-key embellishments such as trumpet, banjo and strings. When she combines these elements on happier love songs like “Low Sail” and her version of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” the results are even more delightful. (Falling James)


Chip Taylor at McCabe’s
The author of “Wild Thing” has had a wilder life — in fact, a whole series of wilder lives — than most pop-rock songwriters. During his first incarnation, as a New York tunesmith in the 1960s, he was more than a one-hit wonder, penning memorable songs for Janis Joplin (“Try”), the Hollies (“I Can’t Let Go”), Evie Sands (“Any Way That You Want Me”), Merrilee Rush (“Angel of the Morning,” which was later remade by Juice Newton, and covered by the Pretenders on their recent tour), as well as the Troggs, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Kinison, Prince, Hank Williams Jr. and X (“Wild Thing”). As a producer with Al Gorgoni, he worked with Sands and a prefame James Taylor (no relation, although Chip is Angelina Jolie’s uncle and Jon Voight’s brother). In the early ’70s, Taylor recast himself as a country singer and was a forerunner to the outlaw-country scene, but by the end of the decade he’d become a professional gambler, specializing in handicapping horses and counting cards, before getting banned from East Coast casinos. He stayed out of the music business for most of the ’80s, but got the creative spark back in the early ’90s. Since then, he’s been ridiculously prolific, releasing a flood of solo albums and collaborations with another protégée, the Texas singer-fiddler Carrie Rodriguez, who turned Taylor’s sidewinding blues-rocker “’50s French Movie” into an utterly captivating tale of role-playing seduction. Last year, Taylor released New Song of Freedom, an ambitious album of contemplative, history-spanning antiwar ballads. (Falling James)


Also playing Friday:

MUMIY TROLL at the Key Club; DEAD MAN’S BONES at the Echo; DENGUE FEVER at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, Broad Stage; KRAAK & SMAAK at the Roxy; BOUNCING SOULS, BAYSIDE, BROADWAY CALLS at El Rey Theatre; FLORENCE & THE MACHINE, IO ECHO at the Troubadour; PHISH at Empire Polo Field (Coachella); JON BRION at Largo at the Coronet; BUILT TO SPILL, DISCO ROOM at the Echoplex; TIGER ARMY, 45 GRAVE, BRIGITTE HANDLEY & THE SHADOWS at the Grove of Anaheim; HARD HAUNTED MANSION at Shrine Auditorium; THE GROWLERS, POCAHAUNTED at the Bootleg Theater; BONHAM, JETSTREAM at the Canyon.

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