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Music Picks: Smokeout Festival, Mike Miller Group, Zola Jesus, Saul Williams 

Also, New Multitudes, Cool Moms, Alpha & Omega, Cloud Nothings and others

Thursday, Mar 1 2012
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fri 3/2

Cloud Nothings, Mr. Dream

ECHO

click to flip through (2) PHOTO BY SCOTT IRVINE - Jolie Holland: See Sunday.
  • PHOTO BY SCOTT IRVINE
  • Jolie Holland: See Sunday.
 
 

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When Dylan Baldi got his start in a Cleveland basement three years ago, Cloud Nothings was just one man's experiment in sunshine-y garage rock. He wowed listeners with a pop sensibility and ear for hooks that lurked just beneath the surface of so much lo-fi fuzz. And when all eyes were trained on his third album, expecting him to deliver his most spit-shined, studio-polished, full-band set of sugar-spackled nuggets to date, Baldi blew minds by dropping January's Attack on Memory. The Steve Albini–produced LP is a vicious piece of work combining the hopeless black of Nirvana's In Utero with the unrequited yearning of the Get Up Kids' Something to Write Home About. Hooks are few and far between, but Cloud Nothings' complete 180 is the most satisfying thing to happen to rock & roll this decade. Expect to be crushed, thoroughly. —Chris Martins

Zola Jesus, EMA

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

The Natural History Museum's First Fridays series places artists in such an appealing setting — which is to say, amid the lifelike dioramas of the North American Mammal Hall — that even the most genteel guitar-strummer can take on something of an untamed quality. So you can imagine how invigorated these two ladies should appear tonight, each playing tunes from celebrated 2011 albums at least in part about the porous border between instinct and civilization. (Too bad the museum folks couldn't snag PJ Harvey, whose Let England Shake explores similar ground.) L.A.-based Zola Jesus headlines, nearing the end of a U.S. tour in support of Conatus; EMA's up first with the smeared psych-blues that led Spin to name Past Life Martyred Saints last year's third-best record. —Mikael Wood

Bruce Hornsby

PEPPERDINE CENTER FOR THE ARTS

When your debut goes multiplatinum, the question becomes: What to do with the rest of your life? The Way It Is garnered Bruce Hornsby the Best New Artist Grammy in 1987, and since then he has enjoyed creative endeavors ranging from playing with the Grateful Dead to recording bluegrass with Ricky Skaggs and jazz with legends like Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette. His songwriting now has depth to match his irony, something like a wilder Randy Newman. Still, it's about the piano, and Hornsby has even gotten better at that, inflecting his signature Americana style with Ives, Schoenberg and plenty of Keith Jarrett–inspired, two-handed independence, all on display for this solo concert. Fame and fortune couldn't prevent this artist from doing what he's always wanted to do in his career. —Gary Fukushima

Mike Miller Group

VITELLO'S

Guitarist Mike Miller is one of L.A.'s under-the-radar gems — a player with great taste and ability widely acknowledged by other guitarists yet not as well known to the public at large. A stint in the '90s with the second edition of Chick Corea's Elektric Band is likely Miller's most notable gig, along with the superb, Frank Zappa–related Band From Utopia. Tonight Miller brings together three of Zappa's former bandmates in Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugelhorn), Albert Wing (sax) and Chad Wackerman (drums) with bassist Jerry Watts to explore new compositions, along with a few cherries from Miller's solo albums from the last 15 years. The combination is almost certain to produce some of the most interesting live music in L.A. this year. —Tom Meek

Also playing:

JOSH NELSON TRIO at Joe's Restaurant.

 

sat 3/3

Smokeout Festival

NOS EVENTS CENTER (San Bernardino)

OG ganja-toking rappers Cypress Hill return to host their annual celebration of all things music and Mary Jane. And per usual, they've brought along a blazer-friendly bill. As it should be, the hip-hop world is well represented: Proud stoner pals Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y are set to perform, as are breakout blunt-rolling badasses Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q and local spitter Nipsey Hussle. That's not to say many a joint won't be rolled to riotous riffs — Korn and Sublime With Rome are also in the house. And in 2012, what would a festival be without a bevy of acts providing scuzzed-out electro mayhem? As such, EDM favorites the likes of Wolfgang Gartner, Rusko, MSTRKRFT and others will chop records amidst the sure-to-be-billowing towers of smoke. —Dan Hyman

White Fence

TROUBADOUR

In theory, White Fence are simple: Make killer song, record killer album(s), obtain killer musicians to supercharge already killer songs with unprecedented levels of concentrated killerosity, then repeat through increasingly refined iterations until such an ultimate level of mind-bursting creative expression is attained that every guitar on planet Earth joins together in one spontaneous, triumphant open chord and propels humanity into an age of harmony and enlightenment. So far, White Fence are just past step three. Live, bandleader Tim Presley (formerly of Darker My Love) transforms home-taped bedroom songs into ferocious and fascinating punk-y/art-y rock like the Adverts, the Homosexuals and the Voidoids — bands that burned holes through the back wall of the bar without even opening their eyes all the way. If it doesn't change your life, it'll definitely change the fuck out of your Saturday night. —Chris Ziegler

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