Free the Robots, Dr. John. Alex Cuba and Merle Haggard | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Free the Robots, Dr. John. Alex Cuba and Merle Haggard 

Also, Bestial Mouths, The Dreaming, Echo Lush and Elevaters

Thursday, Jun 10 2010
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FRIDAY/JUNE/11

THE GLITCH MOB, FREE THE ROBOTS, DERU AT THE MUSIC BOX
The Blue Man Group of blap music? The Fatboy Slims of lazer-bass? The next generation of Dim Mak deejays fitted with better jackets? It's far too easy to poke fun at the Glitch Mob, a three-man synth-and-thump powerhouse that rose to moderate fame alongside the rest of Los Angeles' red-hot beat scene. Why? Well, while artists like Nosaj Thing and Flying Lotus infuse their instrumental odysseys with a great deal of grit and experimentation (and second-gen producers like Baths and Shlohmo bring melody and found sounds into the mix), these electro-mafiosos come across as unabashedly high-sheen and physically slick — as if they not only shop at, but also conceive their beats within the Zara men's department. But is that really a bad thing? The thing is, Ooah, Boreta and edIT know how to throw one helluva show, and their debut LP, Drink the Sea, is strong enough to amp even the snobbiest electronic aficionado for a night out under the strobes. (Chris Martins

DR. JOHN & THE LOWER 911 AT THE CANYON
With yet another unnatural disaster welling in the Gulf of Mexico and virtually knocking on New Orleans' door, that city's avenging angel gets ready once again to combat the forces of greed and technology, armed only with the ageless power of voodoo, the blues, and his own sly wit and wisdom. Unlike most tributes to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which tended to be somber and maudlin, Dr. John's 2008 CD, City That Care Forgot, was a fiery, funky dance party that celebrated the Crescent City's musical heritage and indomitable spirit just as much as it ruthlessly eviscerated the government "caretakers" who let the city d(r)own. Of course, the prescient Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. has been sensing danger ever since his 1959 instrumental "Storm Warning." He's been through a lot of strange changes over the years, from his work as a Hollywood session musician and his garishly theatrical, over-the-top Night Tripper persona in the late 1960s to his mainstream funk-pop success with the hit single "Right Place Wrong Time" in 1973 and his multifarious collaborations with the late Doc Pomus, the Neville Brothers, Rickie Lee Jones, the Meters, the Rolling Stones, Carly Simon and, a few weeks ago on late-night TV, the Roots. Dr. John's upcoming album, Tribal (due in early August), revels in several of his trademark styles, including the swampy strut of "Feel Good Music," the bittersweet soul blues of "Lissen at Our Prayer" and the freewheeling jazz of "Music Came." He'll likely preview a few of the new tunes when he sits down for a chat at the Grammy Museum on Monday. (Falling James)

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMES DEMARIA PRODUCTIONS - He wears sunglasses at night (trippin'): Dr. John
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMES DEMARIA PRODUCTIONS
  • He wears sunglasses at night (trippin'): Dr. John

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MERLE HAGGARD AT THE QUEEN MARY
"One Step Beyond" is a phrase that pretty much sums up Merle Haggard's entire career and offbeat modus operandi. The ornery iconoclast burst onto the country charts in the mid-'60s with a defiantly graphic, modern style that openly defied Nashville's strings-and-vocal chorus format — soon it blossomed into a jazz-informed type of honky-tonk expression that frequently probed social, cultural and political issues with a Libertarian blunt-force that remains Hag's alone. In that department, he's rarely slacked off: Within weeks of Hurricane Katrina's heinous landfall, he released the stinging parable "Rebuild America First" and, just last month, the opening track of his latest album contained the ominous lyric "I've seen it all completely fall apart/and I've seen our greatest leaders/break their peoples heart." Timely, no? Now, we all know what Hag's been smoking but, somehow or other, in his case at least, it seems to instill a prophetic quality that, taken with his natural poetics and gimlet misfit perspective, ranks him as an artist to be ignored at one's peril. [Ink-N-Iron Festival] (Jonny Whiteside)

Also Playing Friday: HENRY ROLLINS at Largo; OJAI FESTIVAL (see music feature); DELOREAN at the Echo; GOOD OLD WAR, YUKON BLONDE, AUDRA MAE at the Troubadour; FORMER GHOSTS, BLESSURE GRAVE, DEATHDAY PARTY, BESTIAL MOUTHS at the Smell; CRANKY GEORGE at the Bootleg; AMEL LARRIEUX at Catalina Jazz Club; BASIA at Club Nokia; CRASH TEST DUMMIES at Coach House; WANG CHUNG, OLIO, SAINT JOHN AND THE REVELATIONS at Galaxy Concert Theatre; NAKED EYES at Hollywood Park; WONDER GIRLS at House of Blues Sunset Strip; EXODUS, HEATHEN at Key Club; JGB FEAT. MELVIN SEALS & STU ALLEN at The Mint; THE SPAZMATICS, BRASILIDADE, THE TOLEDO SHOW, THE SANTA MONICA JAZZ ENSEMBLE at Waterfront; OMAR AND THE STRING POPPERS at Weber's Place; THE DREAMING, ECHO LUSH, PSYCHO PLAGUE at Whisky A Go-Go.

SATURDAY/JUNE/12

TORTOISE AT THE TROUBADOUR
Back in ye olde mid-1990s, these Chicago postrock pioneers seemed like the most visionary band in all of Indieland: No vocals! Two bass players! A 20-minute album opener! A decade and a half later, Tortoise's music feels somewhat less groundbreaking; compared with in-your-face new acts like Sleigh Bells, they even seem a bit old-fashioned. Still, as demonstrated on last year's tellingly titled Beacons of Ancestorship, the band's steadfast devotion to groove continues to yield rewards: "Northern Something" and "Monument Six One Thousand," to cite two down-and-dirty examples, are among the funkiest space-prog jams they've laid down yet, while the punk-jazz fuzz bomb "Yinxianghechengqi" makes you wonder what might've happened had Pat Metheny ever sat in with Bad Brains. Onstage Tortoise tend to emphasize their jammy side; expect a number of lengthy trips tonight. (Mikael Wood)

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