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Music Picks: Too $hort, Best Coast, Brad Mehldau Trio 

Also, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Simon Stokes, Sonnymoon, and others

Thursday, May 17 2012
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fri 5/18

Best Coast

WILTERN

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LAUREN DUKOFF - Dum Dum Girls: See Friday.
  • PHOTO BY LAUREN DUKOFF
  • Dum Dum Girls: See Friday.

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"We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair," Bethany Cosentino declares on the title track of Best Coast's just-released second album, The Only Place. "Why would you live anywhere else?" she asks endearingly, as sparkling rays of guitar jangle behind her. "We've got the ocean, got the babes, got the sun, we've got the waves." So many anthems about L.A., such as the Go-Go's' "This Town" and X's "Los Angeles," come off as sarcastic or bittersweet, but Best Coast's new ode — much like the local band's very name — is sincerely celebratory and irony-free. As ever, Cosentino charts the ups and downs of love and heartbreak while she and musical partner Bobb Bruno exchange shimmering garage-pop guitar chords, but the harmonies and production this time around have a grander sweep, reflecting the duo's rapid rise from tiny clubs to large theaters. —Falling James

Take Offense

COBALT CAFÉ

Venice thrash is alive and well — in Chula Vista. This young CV crew (with production and writing input from Terror drummer Nick Jett) channels Suicidal Tendencies like few of its generation, yet behind Take Offense's mimicry lurks a real command of the manipulation of riffs and grooves and feels to maximum muscle-bound effect. Take Offense isn't the fastest, hardest or most technical band on the circuit but instead delivers a competent bit of everything: frantic pit fuel, chugging breakdowns, menacing gang chants and A.H.'s convincingly belligerent bellow. The fivesome's new Under the Same Shadow EP, by far its best-produced work to date, takes tentative steps toward experimentation, too, sometimes to considerable effect (the unusually tuneful guitar solos), sometimes not so much (the over-delayed, aimless "singing" of "T.O. Zone"). —Paul Rogers

Dum Dum Girls

THE ECHOPLEX

Sometimes good girls don't wear white. Dum Dum Girls may look fierce, prowling catlike around the stage in funereal black lace, but, as the song goes, they're ultimately good-bad, not evil. They still draw from '60s garage rock on their second album, Only in Dreams, with the reverb-drenched, Jesus & Mary Chain–style guitars of the first album giving way to a broader and fuller sound. While there's a risk that they'll lose some of the tinny, lo-fi charm of their early songs, lead singer Dee Dee exudes more confidence and melodic force now. She also plunges into heavy topics like mortality and the confounding vagaries of the heart with more tunefully penetrating soul than most garage-rock singers. Despite its retro structure and arrangement, there's something exhilarating and strangely brand-new about the way Dee Dee's and Jules' churning guitars fuse together on lovelorn laments like "Teardrops on My Pillow." —Falling James

Also playing:

DNTEL, SHIGETO at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock; VENDETTA RED, SPONGE at Viper Room; KHAIRA ARBY AND HER BAND at Satellite; GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, COLD SPECKS at Troubadour.

sat 5/19

Too $hort

HOUSE OF BLUES

It's undoubtedly for the better that pimp culture has taken a backseat to personal independence in the rap vernacular, but that doesn't mean we can't reminisce with one of the iciest players to ever turn a ho out on record (we're using technical terminology here). At 46, Too $hort is a veteran, having been one of the first Bay Area rappers to rise to prominence after dropping his first cassette in 1985. It was titled Don't Stop Rappin', which turned out to be fitting since he's released 19 albums to date, including February's No Trespassing, an independent release that still managed to raise some big stars for the occasion: 50 Cent, Twist, Snoop Dogg and, of course, E-40. All of that speaks to $hort Dog's commitment to craft, which in this case involves lacing strip-club beats with timeless braggadocio. —Chris Martins

Lee Fields & the Expressions

THE ECHOPLEX

Lee Fields started as a pleader in the James Brown style — well, maybe "James Brown mold" would be a better description, as young Fields was pretty much poured into the silhouette of Mr. Please Please Please — in the late 1960s and then bent backward to make overcranked dancers like "Funky Screw" and "The Bull Is Coming" in the '70s. After decades with a respectable, if not yet remarkable, career, a rediscovered Fields (like Sharon Jones before him) roared into public consciousness as the '90s snapped into the '00s. Now with top-notch backing band the Expressions behind him, he delivers deep and supremely detailed soul à la Bill Withers, Syl Johnson or the similarly reactivated Darondo — it's less-is-more music and just-too-much-to-bear delivery from a lifelong pro who summons heart and hurt anew at every performance. —Chris Ziegler

Roger Waters

L.A. MEMORIAL COLISEUM

Roger Waters has never lacked ambition. In fact, it was an overwhelming abundance of tenacity, coupled with his former bandmates' reluctance to tickle his every creative fancy, that caused the now 68-year-old bassist, best known as the lyrical and songwriting brains behind Pink Floyd, to eventually part ways with his already superstar–level crew. For three decades post-Floyd, Waters has been on his own, free to indulge in his wildest musical whimsy. That he's recently resurrected a full-scale stage production of his 1981 semi-autobiographical rock opera–ish epic, The Wall, in all its outsize glory (he'll touch down at the massive L.A. Coliseum before taking it nationwide to baseball stadiums this summer) should surprise exactly no one. As he's proven time and again, what Waters wants, he shall receive. —Dan Hyman

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