Music Picks: Bloc Party, Metric, KROQ Acoustic Xmas 

Thursday, Dec 6 2012

fri 12/7

Bloc Party, Dum Dum Girls


click to enlarge PHOTO BY VALERIE DOMINGUEZ - The Shag Rats: See Saturday.
  • The Shag Rats: See Saturday.

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"Gonna show you how we get down in my hood," Bloc Party's Kele Okereke declares on "Octopus," a single from the group's latest album, Four. "Tripping and a-tripping, erase all tapes. ... This is the point where you look the other way." The album may be unimaginatively titled, but there's nothing plain about the way Russell Lissack's guitars ricochet off the wall of skittering synthesizers constructed by bassist-keyboardist Gordon Moakes. The British quartet draws upon the angular chords and herky-jerky rhythms of early post-punk bands, but Okereke frames it all with his passionately witty wordplay, and the rest of the group send his weirdest thoughts into a new version of outer space. Lissack's sirenlike guitar signals give way to surges of loud power chords on "Kettling," with Okereke casting out lonely pleas from his own private lighthouse. Bloc Party are interestingly paired tonight with those slinky, feline, black-clad Dum Dum Girls, whose sugary love songs are drenched in jangling lo-fi guitars and cloaked in a fuzzy, minimalist garage-rock disguise that contrasts distinctly with the headliners' massive, propulsive sound. —Falling James

Kinky Friedman


When the reckless, brilliant Lone Star State iconoclast Kinky Friedman first burst into public view in the mid-'70s as leader of the savage, satirical Texas Jewboys, country music nearly choked to death on its own vomit. Since that first lurid round, Friedman has distinguished himself as a musician and composer (his Holocaust-themed masterpiece of metaphor "Ride 'Em Jewboy" stands yet unrivaled), a prolific author and as a credible 2006 Texas gubernatorial candidate. Here, surfing along on the second swell of his solo BiPolar Tour, Friedman will croon sweet Americana like "Asshole From El Paso," doubtless roast a stampede's worth of sacred cultural and political cows, and perhaps even seriously discuss a possible second run for the Texas governor's seat. If ever there was a rugged all-American individualist, Friedman it is. —Jonny Whiteside

Black Mambas


The Black Mambas — along with The Neumans and The Hurricanes — are L.A. label Wild Records' newest signees. But instead of building into the label's Sun Records–style sound of '56, the Mambas stagger into 1976 with gutter-glam songs and dawn-of-punk velocity and attitude. Like the New York Dolls, you ask? Oh mais oui, as the Dolls' singer David Johansen must have once bellowed, but there's lots of Redd Kross and Real Kids roaring alongside, too. (The Mambas' "Teenage Letter" cover is just a few burst blood vessels away from the Count Bishops' bruising 1975 version.) L.A.'s 1980s glam punk legends The Joneses remain the once and future kings of this sound, but the Mambas are young and hungry. Well, actually, that probably should be "thirsty," at least judging by the way they smash out these shot-of-whiskey hits. —Chris Ziegler

Esa-Pekka Salonen's Lutoslawski Centenary


Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor laureate of the L.A. Phil, conceived and conducts this resonantly varied program, which is organized around contrasts and connections. Of primary interest will be the West Coast premiere of Salonen's own Nyx, inspired by that Greek goddess of the night. Scored for a large ensemble, it's an intuitively shaped work of complex emotion and sensual harmony, spilling tonal shadows and light that, like the ambiguous Nyx herself, are shrouded in mystery. Skillful and suitably youthful French pianist David Fray caresses Schumann's swoonily mood-swingish Piano Concerto, written for his great love, Clara; Canadian baritone Gerald Finley tosses and turns Lutoslawski's fascinating symphonic poem Les espaces du sommeil, a musical interpretation of disordered sleep set to surreal text by Robert Desnos, a protégé of André Breton. Tchaikovsky's tone poem Francesca da Rimini is a spectacularly orchestrated "tale of doomed love." —John Payne

sat 12/8



Though still best known for their mildly reimagined 1998 cover of New Order's "Blue Monday," these local electro-rawkers really found their stylistic voice with sophomore album Vapor Transmission two years later. Bowie-edged meetings of miles-deep, supersaturated nü-metal guitars, quantized beats and synths of Wagnerian ambition, songs like "Eva" and "Opticon" hit home through founding frontman Jay Gordon's detached yet perpetually traumatized timbre. Only Gordon remains in the recently reactivated outfit (which irks some former band members, to the point of his dubbing its comeback run the "Bad Blood Tour"), but the first recorded offering from this incarnation, "Grime of the Century," suggests that the Orgy brand continues to tunefully alt-metal artsy like it's 1999. —Paul Rogers

The Shag Rats, Frantic Rockers, Hexxers, The Neumans, et al.


Norton Records moguls Billy Miller and Miriam Linna have long (and impressively) devoted themselves to serving rock & roll's originators. As the source of many a rare and exotic 33 1/3 and 45 rpm disc, Norton has provided an invaluable service to lowlife rockers around the globe (and they don't just reissue — they also cut hot and fresh sessions on underworld royals like Andre Williams and Hasil Adkins). But when Hurricane Sandy soaked Brooklyn last month, she swamped Norton's warehouse, badly damaging a trove of precious vinyl. The silver lining: a series of benefit shows all over the nation. Los Angeles' first such affair features fabulously frantic East L.A. garage-R&B kids The Shag Rats, plus Frantic Rockers, The Rip Em Ups, Hexxers, The Neumans and more. These mixed-up musical malefactors are certain to grind out an appropriately demented earful. Act accordingly. —Jonny Whiteside

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