MUSIC PICKS: Ruben Guevara, Buika, Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

MUSIC PICKS: Ruben Guevara, Buika, Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers 

Also, Combichrist, Papercranes, Simone White and others

Thursday, Nov 4 2010



Some families sing together casually when they're at home or driving on a road trip, but Mavis Staples' musical heritage is just a little bit deeper and richer than that. With the Staple Singers — led by her late father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, and joined by her sisters Yvonne, Pervis and Cleotha — Staples was the lead voice on such memorable '70s R&B hits as the yearning "I'll Take You There" and the sublime admonition "Respect Yourself." But unlike so many of her peers from that era, Staples has reinvented herself in recent years as a still-evolving, creatively thriving solo artist. Although she has released excellent albums under her own name over the past four decades, Staples is enjoying a critically lauded resurgence that began with the 2004 release of Have a Little Faith. Her latest CD, You Are Not Alone (Anti- Records), is an inspiring collection of bluesy laments and gospel exhortations, including a remake of her father's classic spiritual ode "Don't Knock" (memorably covered a few years ago by the Detroit Cobras). Tonight, she appears with the aptly named British folkie Billy Bragg, whose earnest left-wing protest anthems attempt to marry the populism of Woody Guthrie with the idealism of the Clash's Joe Strummer, although the result tends to come off as smug and overly contrived, especially in comparison to Staples' down-home authenticity. (Falling James)

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The accomplishments of Tokyo composer Ryuichi Sakamoto are enough to fill a book. Forget the fact that he's one of the original members of the endlessly influential electro-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra: The man's past 42 years have been busy enough. As a writer, arranger and performer, Sakamoto has released countless albums, continuing to innovate year after year, combining classical piano with forward-thinking synth work, ambient electronic textures and, quite often, voice. Iggy Pop and Bootsy Collins appeared on his 1991 East-meets-West mélange, Neo Geo. Only a year before that, Brian Wilson and Robbie Robertson dropped by for the album Beauty. And in 1987, he and David Byrne won an Oscar for their score to The Last Emperor. In 1999 — despite releasing no fewer than nine albums, scores and live sets that year — he debuted his magnum opus, a multimedia opera called LIFE, featuring contributions from Salman Rushdie and the Dalai Lama. More recently he's been designing ringtones for Nokia and experimenting with Reichian New Music, free-form jazz and solo elegies for the ivories. (Chris Martins)

Also playing Friday: YOUNG HUNTING, SURFWITCH at Origami Vinyl; DR. DOG at the Wiltern; YELLE, HAWNAY TROOF at the Echoplex; TRANS AM at Spaceland; HELMET at Key Club; DJAVAN at Club Nokia; JOHNNY FLYNN at Hotel Cafe; SCREAM FESTIVAL: NOISEFOLD at REDCAT; MATTHEW DEAR at Vanguard; ALAN JACKSON at Nokia Theatre; COLD WAR KIDS at Glass House; RAVENS MORELAND at the Redwood.



Though Florence and the Machine caused scratched heads stateside when they performed on this year's MTV Video Music Awards, back in their native Blighty they're a full-on sensation whose debut album, Lungs, has been a chart fixture for 16 months. But maybe we should speak in the singular, because FATM is effectively astonishing London blues/rock crooner Florence Welch and a technically rotating (if in fact fairly consistent) cast of collaborating musicians. Epic and eccentric yet heartily human, Lungs is a stylistic candy shop (thanks, in part, to its trio of producers) made one by Welch's paranormal pipes — the acrobatic kin of Grace Slick, Siouxsie Sioux and Kate Bush. In concert, the rangy redhead and her minimalist band eat up acres of emotional ground and can be intimate, panoramic and sleekly celebratory — sometimes within the same song. Also Sun. and Mon. (Paul Rogers)


They sample Screamin' Jay Hawkins without shame, aren't afraid to thrash out the blues, and are led by a man who can shout like James Brown and growl like Chris Cornell (circa Soundgarden, of course). They are England's the Heavy, and they are aptly named. The band's 2009 album, The House That Dirt Built, has been a slow grower, but single "How You Like Me Now?" is nearing ubiquity thanks to some key TV placements, subsequent radio fervor and, of course, the song's undeniable stomp — a red-hot mix of horn blurts, thick bass, crashing drums and searing vocals. Oddly enough, the Heavy are signed to U.K. electronic label Ninja Tune, but that only speaks to their visceral impact and their commitment to exploring the farthest reaches of their sound. Be sure to arrive in time for Wallpaper, the Oakland-based electro-funk duo whose live show is a raucous, highly propulsive and often hilarious (in a good way) three-ring circus of groove. (Chris Martins)

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