Music Picks: Fiona Apple, Austra, and the Hives 

Thursday, Sep 13 2012

Summer Darling


The end of summer is just a week away, but one final blast of the season arrives tonight in the form of Summer Darling. It might be hard to believe, but the local alt-rock quartet is already celebrating its 10th anniversary in showbiz. Yet Summer Darling's collision of angular guitars and yearning vocals still feels bracingly inventive, more like the work of an up-and-coming group with limitless potential rather than a veteran band looking back nostalgically. Lead singer Ben Heywood howls cleverly strange lyrics like "We eat our young to keep you guessing," while his bassist-wife, Heather Bray Heywood, calms the stormy seas with her soothing backing vocals. The tangled interplay of Dan Rossiter's and Ben Heywood's post-grunge guitars is frequently dazzling. —Falling James

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DANIEL PITOUT - Hunx & His Punx
  • Hunx & His Punx

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Fiona Apple, Blake Mills


Before Blake Mills joins Fiona Apple's backup band for the headlining set tonight, he'll open with a set of tunes from his recent album, Break Mirrors. The Venice singer has produced albums by Jesca Hoop and Sara Watkins, and his subtle, nonflashy guitar style has cropped up in music by everyone from Kid Rock and Lucinda Williams to Band of Horses and Dawes. Mills sheds ghostly entrails with his magic guitar on folk-country tunes like "It'll All Work Out," while crooning in an easygoing, conversational voice. Apple returns with a vengeance from a six-year sabbatical from the spotlight with her romantically tempestuous new album, The Idler Wheel..., revealing bittersweet lyrical wit and inventive arrangements, which range from the junkyard soul clatter of "Anything We Want" to the surreally psychedelic pop of "Every Single Night" to the breathy vocal fusillades of the mesmerizing tongue-twister "Hot Knife." If there was one drawback at Apple's otherwise triumphant show at the Palladium in July, it's that she did relatively few songs from the new CD. —Falling James



When local punkers FIDLAR said, "Life's a risk" — that's the L-A-R part, and the F-I-D stands for "Fuck it, dogg," dontcha know — they weren't kidding, and if you ever got sucked into a circle pit at one of their shows, you'll know exactly what they meant. But FIDLAR know that life's a laugh riot, too. Animated as much by the spirit of The Dickies as The Dead Boys, or as much F.Y.P as Fear, this fast-rising foursome proudly stands in the California punk tradition of both not giving a fuck and encouraging the vigorous not-giving-of-fucks in others, too. "I drink cheap beer — so what? Fuck you!" is the lyric of what's probably gonna be their big hit, or at least their big contribution to the world of parents wondering why their kids can't listen to something nice for once. —Chris Ziegler

Los Amigos Invisibles


With their first career Latin Grammy in 2009 for the wickedly partylicious Commercial (Nacional), New York–based Los Amigos Invisibles found themselves getting some way overdue props. It's hard to say no to the heady dance hash these Venezuelan masters blast out with witty style and frighteningly tight precision. The Amigos sound is a fusion of Latin rhythms with sweaty funk, slinky disco, quirky lounge and pumping Afro-rock, a retro-to-the-future electro-sleaze that makes them a sensational stage combo, too: The band's live mash-ups come hilariously replete with supremely tongue-in-cheek interpolations of internationally famous pop tunes. Make sure to check their 2011 follow-up to Commercial — called, yep, Not So Commercial. —John Payne

sat 9/15

Hunx & His Punx, Shannon & the Clams


For some reason, garage rock never really goes out of style. Every generation has its own twist on the eternal combination of fuzzed-out guitars and bratty/insolent vocals, and Hunx & His Punx are as twisted as they come. Mr. Hunx, né Seth Bogart, first came to attention as the goofball dancing and camping it up onstage with the lo-fi Bay Area electro band Gravy Train. Dressed in little more than a jock strap, Hunx is hardly a shy wallflower now that he fronts his own group. His latest album is called Hairdresser Blues (a nod to the real-life hair salon he operates with The Bobbyteens' Tina Lucchesi), and the songs range from the exuberantly punky "Private Room" to the relatively restrained throbbing Velvet Underground pop of "When You're Gone." His frequent partner in crime, Shannon Shaw, fronts the similarly groovy combo Shannon & the Clams and coos charmingly trashy girl-group anthems like "Sleep Talk." —Falling James

Dum Dum Girls


It doesn't matter for one second whether Dum Dum Girls band commander Dee Dee repurposed the band's name from an Iggy Pop song or that just-shy-of-perfect Vaselines album. She does 'em both proud. Last year's Only in Dreams was the record Phil Spector thought he was gonna get when he produced The Ramones — and yes, that was the session where he pulled out a gun — with Mary Weiss tuff-girl vocals over wall-of-bliss punk-pop songs so deep and sweet that they'll dissolve you on contact. Dee Dee is so fluent in pop she might as well have been raised in the wild by a pack of Blondie B-sides, and every song offers ample opportunity for you to pull the car off the freeway and sing your heart out. A band that learned every right lesson from a thousand listens to "Oh Oh I Love Her So." —Chris Ziegler

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