Music Picks: Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, VoicesVoices, Peter Gabriel, Jakob Dylan | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Music Picks: Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, VoicesVoices, Peter Gabriel, Jakob Dylan 

Also, Ane Brun, the Melodians, Kate Miller-Heidke, Ian Whitcomb and others

Thursday, May 6 2010


First, the bad news: Scratch My Back, the recently released covers album Peter Gabriel is currently touring in support of, is an epic snooze, with the English art-rock great crooning portentously over dreary-ass orchestral arrangements that manage to make Bon Iver's "Flume" sound indistinguishable from Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today." So consider this your warning that the first half of tonight's show — for which Gabriel will be backed by an orchestra minus drums and guitars — could be rough going. (Pray at least for his undeniably moving rendition of Lou Reed's "The Power of the Heart.") Fortunately, Gabriel is supplementing the dodgy interpretive stuff with a second set of newly configured selections from his own incomparable songbook, including "Digging in the Dirt," "Solsbury Hill," "In Your Eyes" and more, according to reports from the road. No word on whether or not he'll give "Sledgehammer" the symphonic treatment — but, dude, how sweet would that be? (Mikael Wood)

The Tallest Man on Earth isn't really the tallest. He just looks tall. But while you're down there gazing up in semirapt attention, you should know that his second album, The Wild Hunt, was released only a few weeks ago by Indiana-Texas label Dead Oceans. So, do you opt to go into his live show all prepared by listening to Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson's brand-new, nasally clear, jauntily nostalgic songs? Or do you elect to be surprised by the warmth and substance radiating from his six-string, fascist-killing musical revolver? Worry about this stuff and you'll be like Goldilocks trying to find the perfect porridge while everybody else is getting laid. Also on the bill is Gamble House — to be confused with neither Procter & Gamble nor Beach House — and their special blend of dreamlike, gentle folkish guitar and murmuring percussion. They make the perfect intellectual palate cleanser after Dr. David A. Caron's 6:30 discussion, "Toxic Algal Blooms Along the Southern Californian Coast: Causes, Challenges and Solutions." So damn the inertia! Full slouch ahead! (David Cotner)

click to flip through (3) Johnny Drama, is that you? Nah, it's just the Tallest Man on Earth.
  • Johnny Drama, is that you? Nah, it's just the Tallest Man on Earth.

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L.A. duo Jenean Farris and Nico Turner call themselves VOICEsVOICEs, among other things. They've got this Prefuse73-produced album called Origins out on the redoubtable Manimal Vinyl, as well as a self-released EP, Outside Sounds, recorded in an art gallery. VV make a richly resonant haze of dark-dream post-rock scapes flowing with a big, thawing ambience of devilish drones and evocatively shaded guitar shriek — a penetrating simplicity that nags at the mind, and the heart. Hawnay Troof is Oakland's Vice Cooler, a maniacally hooky 'n' dancey electro-punk deconstructionist of trad hip-hop beats & structures, strewing left-field breaks and neck-snapping synth razor burn. For some quite fearless fucking with the ossified remains of classic MC style, check out his Island of Ayledisc on Retard Disco, where he's joined by Randy Randall of No Age, Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart and Evangelista's Carla Bozulich. Plus two-piece synthy-gothy-punky propositions from Protect Me. (John Payne)

Also playing Friday: MASTODON at Fox Theater Pomona; PATO BANTON at The Roxy; DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS at Avalon; HURRICANE BELLS at The Echo; THE JANKS, VEIL ERA at Spaceland; LA SALSA FESTIVAL 2010 at Gibson Amphitheater; BRING THE ROCK BENEFIT (JOSH HOMME, BEN STILLER, ETC.) at Largo; LAZAE at El Cid; RUN DEVIL RUN, IRONHEEL at Viper Room; MONO at El Rey; LORDS OF JACK, TRIPLE COBRA at Molly Malone's; THE ABSOLUTE at The Mint; GREIL MARCUS (signing) at Skylight Books.



With his deep-voiced delivery, rough-hewn honesty and laid-back swagger, rapper Freddie Gibbs offers the perfect amalgam of his Midwest roots and latter-day L.A. residence. As Gibbs' recent single declares, he was raised in "The Ghetto" ("the ghetto, the ghetto-ghetto," in case there was any question) of Gary, Indiana, where corrupt law enforcement, neglected schools and a horrendous murder rate left few options for the young and impoverished. The rap career came as an afterthought, initiated while Gibbs was supplying drugs to the regulars at an area recording studio. A hasty deal with Interscope led to his relocation to the West Coast, into the former stomping grounds of one of his most audible influences, 2Pac. Unfortunately the cash-strapped label dropped Gibbs before he'd released a single record, and he's since had to claw his way to notoriety through mixtape releases and word of mouth. It's been a hard road, but Gibbs is clearly on his way — witness the climb in person. (Chris Martins)

This Norwegian folkie opens for Peter Gabriel Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl — she's also serving as a member of his current touring band — but something about that venue's vast dimensions seems ill-suited to Ane Brun's intimately cerebral sound. She's a pretty thinker in the mold of Martha Wainwright and Joni Mitchell, whose unique vocal phrasing crops up all over Changing of the Seasons, Brun's excellent 2008 disc. That one also features string arrangements by Nico Muhly, familiar to indie fans from his work with Grizzly Bear, Bonnie Prince Billy and Antony and the Johnsons. Brun just issued digital versions of four albums that hadn't been previously released in the United States, so she should have plenty of material to choose from during this cozy headlining date. With Ólöf Arnalds, an Icelandic singer-songwriter who's played for years with Múm. (Mikael Wood)

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