By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
9081 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Region: West Hollywood
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St., No. 301
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Region: Chinatown/ Elysian Park
6725 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Region: Out of Town
Eleanor Friedberger's recent solo album, Last Summer (which, indeed, came out last summer), is all over the map lyrically, as the former leader of Fiery Furnaces finds herself stuck in South Pasadena but wishing she were in Topanga ("Inn of the Seventh Ray"), wandering through a dreamtime Brooklyn ("Scenes From Bensonhurst") and funky corners of New York ("Roosevelt Island"), before achieving a kind of candied-pop nirvana ("Heaven"). Musically, the breezy, jangling arrangements of "My Mistakes" and "Early Earthquake" belie the sly intelligence and emotional heft hidden within Friedberger's romantic pop valentines. —Falling James
We can be thankful we had Etta James for so long and we can say thanks we still have Gizzelle, the rhythm-n-blooz girl who's less a torch singer than a flamethrower. Her new album, Rhythm & Soul (on criminally undersung L.A. indie Wild), is an inferno in 16 parts; as lucky track 13 warns: "Scorched! Burned! Hot! MAD!" She's got voice and presence lifted from rowdier times — juke joints, buckets of blood, ribbon mics, stand-up bass — across this collection of semistandards ("I'd Rather Go Blind" ... miss you, Etta) and cult classics (a spot-on Big Mama Thornton's "Pretty Good Love," a just-as-heartbreaking version of Baby Washington's "Leave Me Alone"), and surprises, too, like Elvis' "Crawfish" song from his movie King Creole, resurrected with vigor and menace absent from the original. As old-school as R&B can get. —Chris Ziegler
As perhaps the best and most well-known saxophonist consistently active on both coasts, Ben Wendel has parlayed his association with the Grammy-nominated band Kneebody into a prolific, multifaceted career. He's written film scores for John Krasinski (who can do much more than mug for the camera in The Office), conducted a re-creation of Charlie Parker's legendary album Bird With Strings at Lincoln Center and made his own solo projects, including his latest offering, Frame. Wendel's second album is characteristically immaculate. With virtuoso performances throughout, and underscored by a pensive and brave emotionality, it points to a man in transition to new territory. With Kneebody mates Adam Benjamin (keys), Nate Wood (drums), Thelonious Monk Piano Competition winner Tigran Hamasyan, Larry Koonse (guitar) and Dave Robaire (bass). Also Sat. —Gary Fukushima
THE SOFT MOON, LIGHT ASYLUM at Natural History Museum; TWIN SISTER, AVA LUNA, TALKDEMONIC at the Echo; OPEN HANDS at the Baked Potato; ETHAN GOLD at the Satellite; RUFUS & MARTHA WAINWRIGHT at Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace.
THE HOTEL CAFÉ
The aptly named Storm Large is so much larger than life, she can barely fit within the tight confines of this li'l music pick. The Portland, Ore., diva caused a stir when she was a contestant on Rock Star: Supernova, and for much of the past year she filled in as Pink Martini's lead singer while China Forbes recovered from vocal-cord surgery. But Large is better known for her lounge-style mash-ups of classic-rock schlock and writing comically racy original ditties, such as the anthem where she cheerfully brags that her vagina is "Eight Miles Wide." On top of all that, she has a new autobiography, Crazy Enough, which is also the title of an album and stage show. Meanwhile, the madly talented NYC songwriter Alice Smith has been living in Santa Monica recently, working on the very-long-awaited follow-up to her brilliant 2006 debut, For Lovers, Dreamers & Me. Smith's forceful piano pop is layered with inventive arrangements, incisive lyrics and those soul-piercing vocals. —Falling James
Getting his start as a teenage DJ in the midst of Chicago's late-1980s house scene, Felix da Housecat didn't hit his stride until 2001, when he released Kittenz and the Glitz. With a perfect blend of synthpop melodies and house-style beats, he and his friends created the template for the prevailing nightclub sound of the past decade. While subsequent releases didn't reach the acclaim of that album, Felix da Housecat kept his aesthetic intact, focusing on strong, frequently witty songs with a four-on-the-floor pulse. In the DJ booth, though, he focuses more on straightforward techno and house tracks, light on vocals, heavy on the dance beat. Not only will he keep you on the floor but you'll also get a bit of insight into the inspiration behind his own jams. —Liz Ohanesian
Jeremy Jay, Sea Lions, Dead Angle, Some Days
A very fine batch of our head-scratchingly varied SoCal "pop" stars, far and wide though they might roam: Through the years, Jeremy Jay has created many albums and EPs on which he's slowly refined the subtle art of heartbreaking rock-lite done with both a wink and an apparently sincere desire to get people's toes a-tapping. His recent Dreamy Diary is alt-pop goodness that reveals hummable rock ditties and silky ballads. (His poetically cryptic lyrics don't give him an edge, exactly, because Jeremy Jay sings with such unaffected zeal.) Also Oxnard's surf-garage-soaked Sea Lions, real caffeinated pop-rock from L.A.'s Dead Angle, and "punk dub pop" from local lads Some Days. —John Payne
VHS OR BETA at the Roxy; STEVE WATTS, NAIVE MELODIES at Troubadour; AUGUST BURNS RED at House of Blues; MOE, KELLER WILLIAMS at Club Nokia; CUREATION at Los Globos; CRAZY SQUEEZE at Redwood Bar & Grill.
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