Music Picks: Kaskade, Dirty Projectors, Ondatrópica 

Thursday, Jul 26 2012

fri 7/27



click to flip through (2) PHOTO BY DAVID LYNCH - Chrysta Bell: See Thursday.
  • Chrysta Bell: See Thursday.

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Billed as the first occasion on which a solo electronic act has headlined Staples Center, the L.A. date of Kaskade's Freaks of Nature tour offers SoCal dance fans the valuable opportunity to lose their shit between $14 beers. For the Orange County-based DJ himself, though, the show serves as a chance to live down the last time he played — or tried to play — in town: the night exactly one year ago when his appearance outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre triggered a so-called riot Kaskade later referred to as "a regrettable event" that wasn't "what EDM is about." On the musical front, expect sentimental vocals laid over booming Euro-trance beats, and expect them to arrive in crescendo after crescendo (after crescendo). —Mikael Wood

King Tuff


In the increasingly crowded glam-garage scene that has given us Girls, Smith Westerns and Hunx and His Punx, everybody's figured out what you're supposed to look like (kind of trashy) and how your guitars are supposed to sound (nice and crispy); there's no advantage anymore in pitch-perfect style. So the only way to make a mark now is through songs — good ones. Vermont-born, L.A.-based King Tuff (aka Kyle Thomas of Witch and Feathers) fills his self-titled Sub Pop debut with plenty of those, including the juvie-triumphant "Bad Thing" and "Stupid Superstar," which recalls Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque more precisely than anything we've heard in years. He hits the Echo on the next-to-last date of a North American tour with power-poppy labelmates Jaill. —Mikael Wood

Also playing:

BONOBO at El Rey Theatre; LONESTAR at Club Nokia; YING YANG TWINS at Key Club; PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT at the Satellite; UPSILON ACRUX, VAN EXEL at the Smell; MEWITHOUTYOU, KEVIN DEVINE at Troubadour.

sat 7/28

Dirty Projectors, Wye Oak


What few critics there were of Dirty Projectors' 2009 magnum opus, Bitte Orca, took issue with the LP's idiosyncrasies. As thrilling as those songs were, they clearly weren't written for anyone other than main brain David Longstreth. But on new album Swing Lo Magellan, that same savant-like genius lifts up his voice to sing, without any irony, "There is an answer, I haven't found it, but I will keep dancing till I do." Fitting that the track is called "Dance for You," because this new set plies more traditional songcraft in a brutally successful stab at accessibility. The herky-jerky editing of the past has given way to fluidity, the flurries of Afro-inspired guitar plucking replaced by emotive electric squall, the Reichian choir vocals ditched for soothing harmonies and soaring leads. Finally, art-pop that actually makes good on the second part of that handle. —Chris Martins

Computer Jay


Computer Jay was the guy stage left in Master Blazter with DâM-FunK, J-1 and an entire Mercury space capsule's worth of old-school technology stacked around him, as well as onetime keyboardist for the Pharcyde and one of the earliest 8-bit beatmakers in L.A. But you can't talk about the man without talking about the machine — you know, the Computer. Built by hand just like Anakin did C-3PO, Jay's partner is a talking, rapping, futuretronic disco machine with an Atari 2600 for a brain and an MPC for a heart, installed next to him onstage to deliver inhumanly precise beats and rhymes. HAL 9000 plus Deltron 3030? It'd take the entire processing power of the American space program to solve that equation. Hip-hop at the sci-fi limit, with a series of new EPs coming this summer. —Chris Ziegler

Nick Waterhouse


Everything old is new again, and Nick Waterhouse is counting on that on his debut full-length, Time's All Gone. Half-a-century old soul blasts forth from this horn-rim-bespectacled, dapper-suited, Buddy Holly-looking throwback and his cast of stellar musicians. Waterhouse doesn't fit as smoothly into the retro-revival movement as, say, Mayer Hawthorne, but that's because he is giving it his own stylish R&B twist. A honking brass section bleats over shimmying female back-up vocals and a banging piano with a noticeable vinyl crackle and hiss so desperately missing from compressed music. For Waterhouse, it's less about taking you back and more about bringing classic songwriting and a full-bodied performance aesthetic to the present. —Lily Moayeri

The Ettes


The bands with which The Ettes have toured (The Black Keys, The Dead Weather) and their long relationship with producer Liam Watson (best known for engineering/mixing The White Stripes) imply their analog revival-pop silhouette without sketching in details. For while the Nashville trio gets plenty garage-y, with a penchant for pouring fuzz onto just about everything but Lindsay "Coco" Hames' wonderfully tremulous vocals, last year's Wicked Will offers more. Album opener "Teeth" is a slow-smoldering ballad built of sparse yet cinematic guitars and funereal kick drum; closer "The Worst There Is" is a Saturday morning spaghetti Western with beehive-d vocals. In between, The Ettes get fresh with the serrated, finger-in-your-face "Excuse" and the loud bit/quiet bit bluntness of "You Never Say." Certainly of a type, just not quite ready to be typecast. —Paul Rogers

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