Music Picks: Rusko, HARD Summer, SMOD | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Music Picks: Rusko, HARD Summer, SMOD 

Also, Beachwood Sparks, Jesca Hoop, Ravi Coltrane and others

Thursday, Aug 2 2012
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Redd Kross

THE ROXY

On their first new record in 15 years, Redd Kross bros Jeff and Steven McDonald bring their trademarked hash of hard-rocking trash to real, real heady heights. Researching the Blues spews choice tunesmith-ery on the title track and good ones like "Stay Away From Downtown," "Meet Frankenstein" and "Winter Blues," which all shows that you can play rock music any way you feel if you're writing great songs. Sounds E-Z, doesn't it? Well, it's not, so check out how RK prove their prowess all night in these Beatle-ish, Cheap Trick–esque songs that are delivered tight and tuff though not exactly mean. Even when Redd Kross play hard guys, they're doing it with a laugh, and, seriously, that makes it sound like they're just bashing out these tunes. But it's not true. —John Payne

click to enlarge PHOTO BY FOUAD ALLAOUI - SMOD: See Saturday.
  • PHOTO BY FOUAD ALLAOUI
  • SMOD: See Saturday.

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Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang

GREEK THEATRE

The blues are supposed to hurt. They're bloody and messy, unpredictable and feral like a cornered animal. Tonight's co-headliner, Jonny Lang, is an impressively deft and nimble guitarist, but his solos don't sting like the legendary Buddy Guy's. That's not Lang's fault, not really, as no one can deliver the blues with the same supreme menace and caustic intensity as Guy. If anyone has a tale worth telling, it's Guy, who backed Muddy Waters in the '60s and tried unsuccessfully to restrain his notoriously explosive style while toiling at Chess Records before finding success as a solo guitar hero. He has a new book, When I Left Home: My Story, but Guy tells his story just as eloquently and concisely every time he bends the strings and makes his guitar cry. —Falling James

Also playing:

SEAL, MACY GRAY at Nokia Theatre; BEAR IN HEAVEN at the Echoplex.

wed 8/8

Nicki Minaj

NOKIA THEATRE

Nicki Minaj has come so thoroughly to dominate pop culture over the last three years that it's hard to believe the singer-rapper's current headlining tour is her first. (Also curious — and revealing about today's imperiled music biz — is that she's playing the midsized Nokia as opposed to Staples Center.) What might benefit Minaj about that perceived delay is the time she's had to hone her act, not to mention the superstar temerity she exercised in June, when she bailed on Hot 97's Summer Jam after one of that New York radio giant's DJs criticized her hit "Starships." Expect to hear that tune tonight, along with cuts from Minaj's mixtapes and her two studio albums. And expect a pleasant evening above all: Last month The New York Times called the tour's first show "outrageously joyful." —Mikael Wood

Woods, Peaking Lights

ECHO

It's hard to do new folk without sounding beholden to past masters, but Brooklyn's Woods have done just that, making lo-fi jangle-pop infused with an inimitable weirdness that rarely, if ever, puts off. The band's core is held down by singer-guitarist Jeremy Earl and tape manipulator G. Lucas Crane. While the former is responsible for Woods' bucolic, candied melodies and his own warm vocal warblings, Crane adds vital unpredictability and the odd effects that give the songs so much character. The group's most recent album is 2011's Sun and Shade, whose title rightly illustrates the feel of the project. Up first is Peaking Lights, a husband-and-wife duo combining all manner of trippy styles — tropical pop, Jamaican dub, acid folk, bizarre beats — in order to create a cosmic, psychedelic slop that's worth basking in for a good while. —Chris Martins

Meek Mill, Rockie Fresh

HOUSE OF BLUES

Hip-hop imprints are the music business's version of the Brady Bunch. And sitting atop the blinged-out clan is the father figure — aka the kingpin rapper looking to pimp out his offspring for a supporting (and ideally one day starring) role in the rap game's version of a variety show. These days, flexing the Brady muscle bigger than most is Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group. Two MCs — Meek Mill, the Philadelphia MC behind the acclaimed Dreamchasers mixtape series, whose debut album, Dreams & Nightmares, drops in late August, and Rockie Fresh, a Chi-town spitter and MMG's latest signee — are hitting the road in brotherly fashion to show what this Rozay-sippin', happy-go-lucky clan has to offer. —Dan Hyman

Also playing:

WINO, CONNY OCHAS at the Satellite; MIKE ANDREWS at Bootleg Bar; PITBULL at Gibson Amphitheatre.

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