Music Picks: Los Lobos, Lord Huron, Calculator, Exmortus | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Music Picks: Los Lobos, Lord Huron, Calculator, Exmortus 

Also, Yes, Styx, the Naked and Famous and others

Thursday, Jul 28 2011

fri 7/29

The Pontiac Brothers


click to enlarge Rasputina: See Friday.
  • Rasputina: See Friday.

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When guitarist Ward Dotson left the Gun Club after the release of the album Miami in 1982, he moved in a completely different direction. Although his next project was called the Phillip Blues, they weren't really a blues band and had little in common with the Gun Club's hellhound-on-my-trail rootsiness, sounding more like Neil Young fronting the early Who, with Dotson's vocals ranging from vulnerably yearning to cynically world-weary. His ensuing group, the Pontiac Brothers, was less obscure but just as stubbornly removed from alt-rock hipness in the '80s. Former Middle Class drummer Matt Simon climbed out from behind his kit and played Mick Jagger to Dotson's Keith Richards, and the Orange County band cooked up tough, smart Stones-style rockers like "Almost Human" and "Whole Damn World" on such early albums as Fiesta en la Biblioteca and Doll Hut, an homage to their favorite Anaheim bar. After reuniting at the Frontier Records anniversary show last year, the Pontiacs tonight play another rare, out-of-the-blue gig in the L.B.C. —Falling James

Tha Boogie



Cooked up in Rancho Cucamonga (though now NoHo-based), Tha Boogie is that rarest of beat-based beasts: accomplished studio lizards who put on a vivacious live show. These three Raphael Saadiq protégés scroll through influences — Andre 3000, Arctic Monkeys, No Doubt, Missy Elliot — that appear diverse yet share common themes of melody and mischief. Built not just for the dance floor, but equally the lounge or late-night headphones, Tha Boogie are both new wave and old school: Female member Korus' tremulous R&B croon converses with the gospel-tinted timbre and Outkast-y rhyming of her male cohorts. Truly audio/visual, Tha Boogie's cartoonish, theatrical concerts add layers of humanity and connection to their music that no studio could ever capture. —Paul Rogers

Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys



It's never a bad idea to check in on Los Lobos, the long-running L.A. outfit that last year released their strongest album in more than a decade, Tin Can Trust. Written and recorded in a no-frills Lincoln Heights studio, the record exudes the lived-in vibe you'd expect from guys who've been playing together for more than 30 years. But it's also streaked with the kind of sonic experimentation Los Lobos pursued during their mid-'90s partnership with producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. (How long has it been since you've dug out the Latin Playboys records they made together? Probably too long.) At the Greek the band will be joined by Texas-based Los Lonely Boys, another Chicano rock act with a less developed taste for adventure. —Mikael Wood




The cello might be most often associated with orchestras and stuffy chamber-music ensembles, but in Melora Creager's hands, the bassy stringed instrument becomes a magic divining rod that ignites all manner of deliriously inventive flights of fancy. Recent Rasputina albums like Sister Kinderhook and Oh Perilous World are crammed with tangled riffs and knotty cello interplay, while Creager's demented lyrics place historical figures like Mary Todd Lincoln and Clara Barrus in fantastic shaggy-dog fables that, for all of their rampant surrealism, ultimately make some resonant statements about modern warfare and U.S. imperialism. Creager is the one constant member in the ever-evolving Rasputina collective; even as the group's arrangements shift from dense to minimal, she maintains a sense of playful subversion with her colorful, atemporal costumes and whimsically dark melodies. —Falling James

Those Darlins



Jessi Darlin has a problem on Those Darlins' second album, Screws Get Loose. "I just want to be your brother/You just want to be my boyfriend," she sings. "I just want to run and play in the dirt with you/You just want to stick it in." Her plea for brotherly affection, wrapped up in a winsome arrangement of indie-rock clutter and buoyant harmonies, is a catchy love song — even if it's not really a love song. The new album is punchier and more power pop than the coed Tennessee band's early lo-fi roots rambles, but the sense of homespun intimacy remains. There's still a gather-around-the-campfire camaraderie that makes Those Darlins so quintessentially ... darling. —Falling James

Also playing:

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN at Hollywood Bowl; BLAKE SHELTON at Pacific Amphitheatre; THE SPITS, BLEACHED at Blue Star; JON BRION at Largo; BOMBINO MOCTAR at MacArthur Park; SHOGHAKEN ENSEMBLE at California Plaza; THE FEATURES at Satellite.


sat 7/30


Lord Huron



Michigan-bred, Los Angeles-based songwriter Lord Huron (né Ben Schneider) concocts a dreamy melange of Calypso harmonies, Afro-Cuban beats and weathered indie-folk rhythms, evoking the feel of a place that's at once familiar and indeterminate. Having released just two EPs, 2010's Mighty and Into the Sun, there's little else known about Lord Huron, save for the band that accompanies his live shows. But that definite shroud of mystery only complements the ethereal, otherworldly feel of songs like "The Stranger" and "When Will I See You Again." It's a sound that feels like an endless sundown, and it couldn't be better suited for the Getty Center's summer evening haze. —Andrea Domanick

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