Music Picks: Cobra Lilies, Gaslight Anthem, Shelby Lynne, Die Antwoord | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Music Picks: Cobra Lilies, Gaslight Anthem, Shelby Lynne, Die Antwoord 

Also, The Dead Weather, New Pornographers, the Swell Season and others

Thursday, Jul 15 2010


What happened to MGMT? One minute the Brooklyn band is all synth swells, dance-floor thump and falsetto vocals about the electrifying effects of eels, and the next it's composing album-length love letters to Ray Davies. While 2007's Oracular Spectacular neatly defined the experimental-rock-meets-electronic-pop identity crisis that good music was going through at the time, the band's recent follow-up, Congratulations, finds the band going its own way. Main songwriters Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser ditched Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann for Spaceman 3's Sonic Boom, a man who knows how to go for the jugular when it comes to excellent psych-rock. The end result is an unironic dip into Anglophilia, with aural tributes to Pink Floyd and the Kinks, and song titles that reference Brian Eno and Dan Treacy (he of Television Personalities). It's a good look for MGMT, and songs like the buoyant "It's Working" and the stripped-down titular track undoubtedly display the band at its best yet. What happened to MGMT? They got good, dammit. Congratulations. (Chris Martins)

The Autry Museum of Western Heritage ought to provide suitably rootsy ambience for this special performance by John Doe's and Exene Cervenka, the former husband-and-wife team behind punkabilly potentates X. The pair will cover some of their more country-leaning material, drawn from Doe and Cervenka's solo albums plus the odd cover tune — and an acoustified X tune or three, no doubt. Openers the Living Sisters are the jazzy-pop-folk power trio of L.A. singer/songwriters Inara George (the Bird and the Bee, see Sunday), Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and the sublime Eleni Mandell, whose individual gifts as composers, players and singers dovetail as if by divine intercession on their just-out debut album, Love to Live (Vanguard). Hipsters: Note early start time of 7 p.m. (John Payne)

click to flip through (3) Never mind the vuvuzelas: Die Antwoord
  • Never mind the vuvuzelas: Die Antwoord

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Ladies and gentlemen, it's a big year for Bugs. 2010 marks the 21st consecutive year that the wisecracking rabbit has dabbled in the live symphonic arts, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic is more than happy to help Mr. Bunny celebrate that milestone. Our own orchestra will play all those Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn hits (and twisted Wagner and Tchaikovsky) while classic Looney Tunes characters and skits play on the big screen. For music fans, it's a chance to reconnect with the Warner Bros. of their early youth (as opposed to the one that puts out records by Flaming Lips and Built to Spill). For everyone else — namely, the young'ins — it's an opportunity to see Tweety, Sylvester and Pepé Le Pew in a larger-than-life context that doesn't involve ice skates. Expect oldies like "What's Opera, Doc?" and "Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl," plus appearances from the Hanna-Barbera stable — we're told the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo are on the guest list. Let's just hope Harvey Birdman isn't in charge of the fireworks. Also Saturday. (Chris Martins)

Also playing Friday: MAHJONGG at Bootleg Theater; LORDS OF ACID, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT at Club Nokia; ERIC BURDON & THE NEW ANIMALS at Coach House; SECRET HISTORY, SWEATER GIRLS, WATERLASO at the Echo; MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, GILBY CLARKE, INBERST at Galaxy Concert Theatre; PEPE AGUILAR at Gibson Amphitheatre; TYRONE WELLS, ANDREW BELLE at the Hotel Café; ETRAN FINATAWA at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena [see Music feature]; HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RESIDUAL ECHOES at Spaceland; SO COW, SIGNALS, RARE GROOVES at the Smell; SLIGHTLY STOOPID, CYPRESS HILL at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.



Cobra Lilies started in 2007 as a simple folk-duo side project by the Monolators' Eli Chartkoff and his wife, Mary Chartkoff, but they've since blown up into a sprawling 12-piece collective with members of the Cat Hair Ensemble, Smells Like Flan, Ema & the Ghosts, Divisadero and Shiloe, who play banjo, trumpet, saxophone, ukulele, violin, bass, guitar, harp and accordion. The only percussion is provided by — and, no, we're not kidding — Dutch-clog dancers and an amplified tap dancer. If nothing else, Cobra Lilies are a goofily entertaining spectacle onstage, mixing traditional vaudeville with Weird Folk experimentation. But the local musicians reveal that they're more than just a novelty act on their new EP, In the Key of Bicycle Bell. Songs like "She Grows Wings at Night" and the endearingly hopeful "There's Always Love" combine the Monolators' garage-pop lyrical whimsy with circus-y arrangements, while group sing-along vocals give "Tiny Dot in the Deep Blue Sea" a jaunty, sweetly old-timey vibe. (Falling James)

Shelby Lynne never quite attained the mainstream stardom that I Am Shelby Lynne, her 1999 breakthrough, seemed to set her up for. And given the general excellence of the music the Palm Springs–based country singer has made over the past decade, it's definitely a shame that more people didn't hear records like 2003's Identity Crisis. But you also have to wonder if Lynne's stuff has maybe benefited a bit from her persistent bridesmaid status; her albums all share an appealingly astringent quality that might not have survived the lifestyle rewards of big-time success. Earlier this year Lynne released the stripped-down Tears, Lies and Alibis, her first disc on her own indie label following stints with a series of majors; it's a smaller-stakes affair than the few that preceded it, and no worse for it. Tonight she'll be accompanied by guitarist Val McCallum. (Mikael Wood)

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