Music Picks: Roberta Flack, Summer Twins, John Cage Centenary Festival 

Also, Spindrift, Lenny Kravitz, Dorian Wood, Howlin Rain and others

Thursday, Feb 9 2012

fri 2/10

Roberta Flack


click to enlarge Syl Johnson: See Saturday.
  • Syl Johnson: See Saturday.

Location Info

The title of this R&B veteran's new studio disc tells you what you need to know: On Let It Be Roberta: Flack Sings the Beatles, that's precisely what she does, albeit in an appealingly schizophrenic style that honors the Fab Four's bone-deep eclecticism better than most Beatles tributes do. "In My Life"? Here it's a slinky acoustic-soul jam. "Oh! Darling"? Late-night electric blues. "I Should Have Known Better"? Futuristic electro-funk à la "The Boy Is Mine" by Brandy & Monica. (Heard that one recently? So good.) Whatever the settings, Flack sings beautifully throughout, tapping into the music's youthfulness rather than emphasizing its grit; it's the opposite approach from the one Bettye LaVette took on her recent British-rock record, and it works. Also Sat. —Mikael Wood



These are good years for L.A.'s Spindrift — it's been 10 good years, actually, with the 10th anniversary of the band tonight — but these cosmic cowboys (and girl) have really been on the ride of their life lately. They released the formidable and imaginative Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1 last year and premiered a short film for each of its tracks on IFC. The guest-directed videos vibe off weirdo movies like Deadlock, El Topo and Creature With the Atom Brain, and Spindrift match each perfectly with (mostly) instrumental songs recalling as much Morricone and Hazlewood as wildman outsiders like Skip Spence, Fred Cole and Dr. John. Wander into their live show and you'll suddenly be the star of your own lost classic, albeit one with mistranslated subtitles and a shock ending. —Chris Ziegler

Also playing:

PAUL MCCARTNEY MUSICARES BENEFIT at L.A. Convention Center; DR. DOG at the Orpheum; HUGH MASEKELA at Royce Hall; BRANDON FIELDS at the Baked Potato; ATTACK ATTACK! at Glass House.


sat 2/11

Syl Johnson & Breakestra


It may have taken some time — several decades, in fact — for Syl Johnson to get the respect and musical credit he deserves. In typically sluggish fashion, the slow-moving folks behind the Grammys are only now getting around to acknowledging the Chicago soul singer for the rich treasure trove of music he left behind in the 1970s, nominating him twice for his recent definitive box set, Complete Mythology. Such passionate slabs of soul as the 1967 classic "Different Strokes" have been sampled by Public Enemy, Geto Boys, Wu-Tang Clan and Michael Jackson. In recent interviews, Johnson has insisted that he actually deserves a third Grammy nomination this year after Kanye West and Jay-Z plundered "Different Strokes" anew for their track "The Joy." Johnson hasn't played much in L.A. since his '70s heyday, and tonight he'll perform socially conscious anthems like "Concrete Reservation" and "Is It Because I'm Black," backed by the ace local funk collective Breakestra. —Falling James



The utterances of these splatter-lovin' San Jose death-metal vets are easy to describe yet deceptively challenging to deliver with their degree of embitterment. In short, venomous noise emanates from every instrument, multiple times per beat, all the time, while founding vocalist/guitarist Matt Harvey apparently retches through a blender. Recently reunited after a five-year hiatus, Exhumed are as spitefully well-drilled as ever. Theirs is a petty, kick-'em-while-they're-down sound: irritated beats tirelessly battering at a door that never opens, guitars sizzling and Harvey's poisoned yap between bassist Leon del Muerte's borderline comical grunts. A thoroughly nasty business made all the more malevolent by being so consciously, deliberately cruel. —Paul Rogers

Los Amigos Invisibles, La Vida Boheme


It's a Venezuelan invasion. Two of the Caribbean nation's biggest acts were nominated for Grammys in the Latin Pop, Rock or Urban Album category this year, and they're giving L.A. a preview before Sunday's awards show. La Vida Boheme are the young'uns. The dancy punkers like to show audiences a good time by splattering their faces and clothes with paint, then jumping around and smashing the drums. Los Amigos Invisibles are older, mellower and a bit more funky. They've revisited and extended their Latin Grammy–winning 2009 album, Commercial, in this year's hit Not So Commercial, and the fans be jammin'. —Erica Phillips

Summer Twins


Pop-pop-indie-guitar-pop (yes, that much pop) sister duo Summer Twins have just released their self-titled LP, which starts with beautiful, Phil Spector–like production (courtesy John Dust and the Germs' Don Bolles) and blooms into a happily daring and carefully detailed set of songs. Chelsea and Justine can deliver slo-mo psychedelia ("Pickin' Daisies") like Opal or Mazzy Star. Or go punky-poppy ("I Don't Care") like Tiger Trap. Or just collapse into obliterating adorability like "I Will [heart shape] You," which is probably the exact kind of thing the New York Dolls heard in their head when they thought about girl groups. (Nice Santo and Johnny nod in there, too.) They have a song called "I Could Never Break Your Heart," too, but you know what? That can't possibly be true. —Chris Ziegler

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