Music Picks: Ornette Coleman, Gary Numan, Natacha Atlas 

Also, Marnie Stern, Kristian Hoffman, Elton John & Leon Russell

Thursday, Oct 28 2010



Former Belle & Sebastian cellist Isobel Campbell and Screaming Trees leader Mark Lanegan have worked together on a series of memorable albums in the past four years, blending his foghorn vocals with her baroque pop arrangements to often-entrancing effect. The new CD Hawk is billed as a Campbell-Lanegan collaboration, but it's really more of a Campbell solo album in which she did all the producing and arranging and most of the songwriting, apart from two Townes Van Zandt covers. That's not to say Lanegan isn't a strong presence, crooning with a whiskey-burnished voice on spectrally funereal ballads like "We Die and See Beauty Reign." The doom-ridden duo are masters of dreamy mournfulness, but they pick up their heels and rock it up on "Get Behind Me." Other highlights: the orchestral pop epic "Come Undone" and the rootsy blues tangle of Van Zandt's "Snake Song," which unwinds and slithers with dusty banjos and acoustic guitars and is suffused with the incandescent glow sparked by the contrast between Campbell's airy melodicism and Lanegan's dark murmuring. (Falling James)

click to enlarge Cult secret weapon: Kristian Hoffman
  • Cult secret weapon: Kristian Hoffman

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Back in the heyday of the dance-punk movement — when reception of the Rapture was, well, rapturous and !!!'s every movement was greeted with an exclamatory gush — a promising local outfit with a clever name emerged: Moving Units. An eponymous 2002 EP debut displayed a reverence for Gang of Four's angularity and a healthy respect for ESG's deep understanding of groove, but the band got lost in the tide of similarly minded acts that would be forced to evolve or face the fizzle. You'd be forgiven for not knowing that Moving Units chose the former: Their sophomore album, Hexes for Exes, didn't land until 2007, but it was more synth-y and electronic than 2003's Dangerous Dreams. Due to a label switch, it made a small splash, but the fellas have been back in the studio. This is a prime opportunity not only to experience the new and (twice) improved Moving Units, but also to revisit a time when people actually danced at L.A. shows. (Chris Martins)


With a name like Claude VonStroke, you can't take yourself too seriously. And so the Bay Area DJ from Detroit has taken on the role of club land's court jester, churning out irreverently groovy tracks like "Deep Throat" and "Who's Afraid of Detroit" while also helming America's most dangerous electronic–dance music label, Dirtybird. Except the VonStroke business is sober business. In a dance-music game that has all but gone overseas to places like Berlin and Barcelona, VonStroke is one of the few Americans (alongside Dubfire, Deadmau5 and Kaskade) taken seriously on the global DJ stage. "I don't hate L.A.," he also told us about his botched stint here. "I just think I went about it the wrong way. I had some really hellish jobs working for Ari Gold types, but it was also extremely valuable to me. It is where I learned that marketing and crazy ideas matter a lot and that the music isn't enough sometimes." (Dennis Romero)

Also playing Friday: STONE TEMPLE PILOTS at Nokia Theatre; THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE'S ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS at the Echoplex; KATE NASH at the Music Box; BLUE JUNGLE at the Smell; SAINT MOTEL, NICO VEGA at the Roxy; HAUSCHKA at Hotel Café; TEEPEE RECORDS SHOWCASE at Spaceland; ZACHARIAS CONDUCTS BEETHOVEN, MOZART at Disney Concerrt Hall.




The Shrine is no stranger to massive events. It was home to the Academy Awards several times (1947-48, between 1987 and 2001), in 1984 it was the location of Michael Jackson's notorious hair fire and, sure, the old building has even hosted a few raves in its time. But the USC-adjacent auditorium has never partied like this. The two-night Hard Haunted Mansion gala has become a Southern California dance-music tradition. Although this is its third year at the location, beat-based music has gotten incalculably heavier in the past 12 months, as the deep bass of dubstep has enthralled even old-timers like Underworld, who headline on night two alongside an international cast, including German house destroyer Boys Noize, Scottish electro-popper Calvin Harris and L.A.'s own beat-scene king Flying Lotus (to name a few). Night one is no less inspired, featuring Italian dance crew Bloody Beetroots, U.K. dubstep fiend Rusko, French house experimentalist Mr. Oizo and many, many others. (Chris Martins)


When Matt Black and Jonathan Moore founded the Ninja Tune label in 1990, there was hardly such a thing as "down-tempo." It forged the genre and willed the kind of instrumental mind-trip hip-hop that seemed to come straight from the duo's imagination. Soon the likes of the Herbaliser, DJ Vadim and Up Bustle & Out were producing spaced-out break beats for the newly minted "side rooms" that housed club land's outcasts. Ninja Tune provided pulsing, post-dub echo chambers for the new psychedelia that correlated with the rise of Humboldt County superweed. More important, however, the label was a forum for Black and Moore's NASA-like instincts. Whether it was putting out a track from the Beastie Boys, pushing the boundaries of dubstep or revisiting drum & bass, Ninja Tune reflected — and still does — the 10-years-ahead vision of the pair. Twenty years on, the world has finally come around to its beginnings. Sure, Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West and Usher are a long way from DJ Food, but the b-boys in the Ninja Tune stable embraced zeros and ones first. And so, the label is celebrating two decades of blunted beats with the release of Ninja Tune XX, a keeper of a two-disc set. It's a real head trip, but we recommend getting out the black hoodie and stepping to the stable's top artists in person Saturday at the Echoplex. (Dennis Romero)

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