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Rock Picks: Al Kooper, Year Long Disaster, Steven Severin, the Phenomenal Handclap Band 

Also, Kimya Dawson, the Cigarette Bums, Willi Williams and others

Thursday, Jan 7 2010
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Friday/January/8

Atlas Sound, Tune-Yards at Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum’s new season of First Fridays opens this week with a nifty double bill pairing an indie-rock A-lister’s solo project with a buzzed-about one-woman band. Atlas Sound is Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox, who’s no less interested in corrupting melody with noise on his own than he is with his celebrated Atlanta outfit; Cox’s second official Atlas Sound disc, last year’s typically woozy Logos, sounds like Neil Young taking a Slowdive into some old-school Stereolab. Its best cut features Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear of Animal Collective) crooning wistfully over a bouncy ’60s-pop beat; curious to see how (or if) he’ll deliver it tonight. Merrill Garbus shares Cox’s fondness for fuzz, loads of which she uses to adorn the lo-fi digital-folk jams on Bird-Brains, her debut as Tune-Yards. Yet it’s Garbus’ voice that sets her apart from any number of fellow laptop jocks; it requires no treatment to shine. (Mikael Wood)

Nerfbau, Actuary, Sunken Landscapes, others at Tribal Café
Some of the area’s most experimental noise mongers meet tonight to cross-pollinate and damage eardrums the most arty way they know how: with sprawling cables, effects pedals, jerry-rigged guitars, junk-shop gear, sample boxes and throat-scratching vocals funneled through broken microphones. Actuary brings a dark black hole of un-danceable, mathematical plateaus that rise and swing between elation and bottomed-out, thundering reverb, while Sunken Landscapes dig a deep dirge that explodes out into intense, reflective seas of corroded and ricocheting, metallic collisions. Prepare for an escalating scourge of speaker-strewn, grinded-out grunge with melting, blaring, ear-damaging, glorious, pulsating, cross-plagiarizing, mostly musical, hot coals of elation from Nerfbau, Oakland’s children of demented, frantic frequency. Nerfbau’s warped, Wolf Eyes–like intensity fills the room with apocalyptic horror and awe. Melody seekers stay away — atonal, computer-manufractured ferocity rules tonight downtown. (Wendy Gilmartin)

click to flip through (2) Merrill Garbus, aka Tune-Yards, offers her - digital folk jams at the Natural History Museum.
  • Merrill Garbus, aka Tune-Yards, offers her digital folk jams at the Natural History Museum.
 
 

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Also playing Friday:

FEAR, THE DICKIES, D.I. at House of Blues; ART FEIN’S ELVIS PRESLEY BIRTHDAY SHOW FEAT. FRED WILLARD, JIMMY ANGELS, THE BLASTERS, MICHELLE SHOCKED, OTHERS at the Echoplex; THE HAPPY HOLLOWS, SOFT HANDS, GANGI, USELESS KEYS at the Viper Room; KENNY EDWARDS, ERNEST TROOST at McCabe’s; GUITAR CENTER DRUM OFF FINALS FEAT. STEPHEN PERKINS, TOMMY LEE, BEZERK, JASON BONHAM, OTHERS at the Wiltern; DEATH SENTENCE: PANDA, PILES, KIT, DUNE at the Smell; GOLDEN ANIMALS, ALLAH LAS, KINCH, JEFFERTITI’S NILE at Spaceland; ANDY CLOCKWISE, AUSTIN HARTLEY LEONARD, BROTHER SAL, OTHERS at the Hotel Cafe; THE MONTHLIES, DARLINGS OF THE DAY, JASON HEATH & THE GREEDY SOULS, OTHERS at California Plaza; SONIC YOUTH, SIC ALPS at Fox Theater Pomona.

 

Saturday/January/9

Sonic Youth at the Wiltern
Seasoned old Sonic Youth have broken free from the yoke of their long-running Geffen label contract (under which, to be fair, they made a lot of their best music) and signed with Matador, which has released the band’s new disc, The Eternal. And it sounds like the move has given ’em a swift kick in the kiester; the album is all noisy energy, urgency, sonic risk, like a very conscious return to SY’s beginnings in the New York no-wave scene. Taking a new joy in pitting tone against tone in twin-guitar-howl bombs, the band — with the departure of multi-instrumentalist Jim O’Rourke, now back to their “classic” lineup of guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, bassist-singer Kim Gordon and drummer Steve Shelley — relentlessly mines a rich vein where fine-art experiments in microtonality combine with heavily rocking lyrical themes involving various beat poets, abstract painters and ’60s fashion models. A highlight, as well, is Gordon’s sort-of tribute to Britney Spears on “Malibu Gas Station”: “A tough cross to bear/Oops, no underwear.” (John Payne)

60 Watt Kid, Glasser at Spaceland
Armed with a hefty load of vintage electronic gear and a thirst for adventure, 60 Watt Kid’s Kevin Litrow and Derek Thomas pulled up roots in San Francisco and moved south to L.A., where they picked up an 18-year-old drummer named Dylan Wood. They came equipped, too, with a new album, We Come From the Bright Side (Absolutely Kosher), which showcases a beautifully uncategorizable but, sure, let’s call it “solar system–attuned pop” aesthetic. The album — mixed with nuance by Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Entrance Band, Vetiver and Lavender Diamond) — is a bloody gold mine of pleasantly strange pop songs precisely assembled, all this warmly off-kilter odd-tuned-guitars/arcane-sound-effluvia/multiple-cyclical-percussion wall. The album’s got a vague concept running through it, possibly something to do with escape and all its broader ramifications, which you’ll want to mine for meaning over and over again. (John Payne)

Al Kooper at McCabe’s
To paraphrase an old Dr. John lyric, keyboardist Al Kooper has been at the right place at the right time so many times, he’s become one of rock’s most notorious Zelig-like figures. The Brooklyn native wasn’t even a trained keyboardist when he found himself noodling on an organ during a break at a Bob Dylan recording session in 1965. Next thing he knew, he was improvising the famous part that infuses “Like a Rolling Stone” with so much gospel radiance. Speaking of the Rolling Stones, Kooper has also recorded with them (on their Let It Bleed album), as well as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, the Who and B.B. King. As a 14-year-old guitarist, he was a member of the Royal Teens (who sang the campy-sexy novelty song “Short Shorts”) and later co-wrote the Gary Lewis & the Playboys hit “This Diamond Ring.” Kooper was a founding member of the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears and has collaborated with Mike Bloomfield, Stephen Stills and a young Shuggie Otis. On top of that, he also produced Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first three albums and has released his own fine, underrated blues-funk-rock solo albums, including the excellent 2005 CD Black Coffee and, most recently, 2008’s White Chocolate. We’re running out of space to list everything in the man’s résumé, but it should be clear by now that the Koop knows a little bit about this thing called rock & roll. Also Sun. (Falling James)

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