Rock Picks: DJ Spinna, Bodega Girls, Andre Nickatina, Elevated Suspects | Music Reviews | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Rock Picks: DJ Spinna, Bodega Girls, Andre Nickatina, Elevated Suspects 

Also, Hilary Hahn, People Under the Stairs, KROQ Almost Acoustic Xmas and others

Thursday, Dec 9 2010



Remember when the DJ was the star? OK, so our memories of those days consist mostly of staring up at our impossibly glamorous mother sashaying out the door, trailing a cloud of Joy perfume, but that just means we have an all-the-more-nostalgic hankering for them. If anybody can resurrect the kind of dance parties you thought died with disco, though, it's the triple-threat lineup of Daz, J.Rocc and Spinna. Among them, they've worked with everybody, from J Dilla and DJ Jazzy Jeff to Madlib and Mary J. Blige. Throwing theme parties is Spinna's soul — Wonderful, his Stevie Wonder tribute, has packed clubs from Paris to Japan — and turning them out is J.Rocc, one of the original turntablists and longtime DJ for Madlib's live shows. Swirl both together with L.A. veteran Daz for tonight's Flavors '90s Party, and you've got the kind of flashing lights that'll make you glad your memories are of Tupac, not Travolta. (Rebecca Haithcoat)

click to flip through (3) PHOTO BY SHERYL NIELDS - Aimee Mann
  • Aimee Mann

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This is how the girls do dance-pop and, wow, it's getting darker and freakier: Tearist's Yasmine on banshee cries and hiccupping pleas (backed by William on multisynth) bubbles, slashes 'n' bruises on your edgy, pleasingly melodramatic take on the form, all shady gothy and even a bit threatening — Pet Shop Boys, Cure, watch your butts. Brooklyn's Amanda Warner is MNDR, whose debut EP is chocka-fulla amazingly big-ass electro meltdown noises like the decaying echoes of a happy-pop earth dying; it's also defiantly aggro-sexy. Boston kids Bodega Girls invert the whole thing again with a wickedly bouncy morass of bodacious voice and actual electric guitars. They call what they do Afro-beat/electro/soul, but it's really their own peculiarly visualized alternate nebula, where sex and mind, body and soul, salacious sound and sultry beatbeatbeat just keep on keepin' on. (John Payne)


The holiday season seems to bring out the blandest and most maudlin instincts in otherwise sane musicians, but Aimee Mann's annual revue serves up the usual Christmas sentimentality and cheer with a counterbalancing dollop of wit, intelligence and even sarcasm. The former Til Tuesday chanteuse obviously has a weak spot in her heart for this time of year, but her new Xmas album, One More Drifter in the Snow, is more wistful than sugary, with unusual songs like "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and the affecting "What Ever Happened to Christmas" juxtaposed with such traditional tunes as "White Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland." Of course, it doesn't hurt that she'll get by with a little help from her stellar friends at this fifth edition of her holiday soiree, including her husband, Michael Penn, and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, as well as Gibbard's significant other, singer-actor Zooey Deschanel, showing what she can do outside the confines of She & Him. Making sure that the prevailing mood will be anything but reverential are comedian pals like Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, Rich Sommer and potential surprise guests. Also Sat.-Sun (Falling James)


Rapper Andre Nickatina (formerly Dre Dog) is one of San Francisco's best-kept secrets. With 18 years and 13 albums tucked into his waistline, he represents the greatest elements of Bay Area hip-hop combined: a mellow, pimped-out mien; a penchant for no-frills block-partying; earned street wisdom; and a love for lo-fi beats coupled with a kinda kooky delivery (think a thuggish, coked-up version of Del the Funky Homosapien). In fact, his first album as Nickatina was called Cocaine Raps (1997), and it has since become a collector's item ($200 on eBay) due to its tweaked G-funk and his unorthodox delivery. His 2003 LP, Conversation With a Devil: Cocaine Raps, Vol. 3, recently made Rhapsody's short list of the best "coke rap" records of all time alongside entries from T.I., Clipse, Jay-Z and Raekwon. His latest is called Khan! The Me Generation and it's another Nickatina classic, packed with melancholy yet stylish rhymes about the pros and cons of being an unsung ghetto genius. (Chris Martins)


As gentrification and high rents continue to chase away musicians and artists, Silver Lake is a far cry from its heyday in the early 1990s, when the neighborhood's creative scene was genuinely thriving. However, it takes a while for rigor mortis and ossification to fully set in, which is why the place still has a reputation as an indie-rock haven, and tonight some of the local bands that best embody the old communal ethos take their act on the road to exotic Pomona. Headliners White Arrows combine new-wave perkiness and Silver Lake smarminess in a way that's perhaps less winningly idealistic than forefathers like Possum Dixon, but their clever tunes still have some bounce and sparkle. Superhumanoids' garage-electronica collisions have a dreamy allure that does indeed communicate a sense of Urgency, which is also the name of their new EP on Hit City USA. The intriguing space-rock trio Gliss, who not only switch off on their instruments but also switch their time between Silver Lake and Copenhagen, haven't played much this year as they work on a new album, but they're digging into a fuzzier and more shadowy sound that evokes both Jesus & the Mary Chain and various shoegazer outfits. Other highlights, both here and at the nearby Aladdin Jr., include the cottony music-box exhalations of Kárin Tatoyan's Twilight Sleep and the chiming coed alt-pop of Light FM. (Falling James)

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