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Music Picks: The Weeknd, That '70s Soul, Power of the Riff 

Thursday, Dec 13 2012
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fri 12/14

Lace Curtains

CENTER FOR THE ARTS, EAGLE ROCK

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Singer-guitarist Michael Coomers was just one part of Matador Records' formidable garage-pop band Harlem, but his new, L.A.-based project Lace Curtains is all him. Well, him and the spirits of Daniel Johnston and Jonathan Richman and Nikki Sudden — guys with voices you'd never mistake for anyone else's, and songs that nobody else would even have tried to write. That's what Coomers does on The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness, a new album of make-it-seem-easy power-pop songs about Hollywood Babylonian post-teenage dissipation, which is using a lot of syllables to say he's finding sad things and hilarious things in the same places. Could this be a Warren Zevon for the Burger Records set? Depends on whether he decides to keep living here, I guess. —Chris Ziegler

Anthony Wilson

BLUE WHALE

Outside of L.A., guitarist Anthony Wilson is best known for his work with Diana Krall, but locally he's known simply for being one of the most dynamic and inspired jazz musicians anywhere. Wilson has been busy, having recently played on a multitude of projects, from backing up vocal chanteuses Sara Gazarek and Kathleen Grace to leading an all-star trio with organist Larry Goldings and drummer Jim Keltner. Wilson's latest project is a band called The Curators, and it features a brilliant collection of musicians, including Goldings, Kaveh Rastegar and Ben Wendel of Kneebody, and The Belle Brigade's Barbara Gruska, who could have been an incredible jazz drummer if she hadn't chosen pop stardom. The music will be earthy and spiritual, like a bluegrass band sans mandolin and banjo. Also Sat. —Gary Fukushima

Thrill Jockey 20th-anniversary party with Wooden Shjips, Liturgy, Trans Am, Kid Millions

THE ECHOPLEX

Back in the '90s, arty Chicago alt/indie warhorse label Thrill Jockey basically drew the map for marginalized music's move into the mainstream, with a roster including Tortoise, Fiery Furnaces, Tunng and The Sea and Cake. Psych stylists Wooden Shjips explore the mythology and metaphor of the American frontier on their '60s-'70s fuzz-rocked West, produced by Phil Manley. Manley is also the founding member of trio Trans Am, which will lay out the goods from its post-funk, electro-fractured Thing. Brooklyn black-metal modifiers Liturgy bring an assaultive trance, whose formal cues derive from Steve Reich, Glenn Branca and Lightning Bolt; their feral grindcore comes refreshingly free of lyrical references to the horns of the goat or the bony finger of doom. John Colpitts was reborn as Kid Millions: composer, writer, drummer for Oneida and now also known as Man Forever, he explores drum performance as pure sound experience. —John Payne

sat 12/15

Ty Segall, Bleached, Night Beats

EL REY THEATRE

Laguna Beach's Ty Segall is a power chord–playing bro straight out of the garage with a tough new/old take on classic rock. A facile and fun tunesmith knocking around one very large warehouse of rock-idol moves and motifs, he delivers his Troggs/T. Rex/Beatles/bubblegum in a charismatic, carefree style that belies the obvious passion and brains behind it all. Seek out his new Twins for more magical musical mélanges. Also tonight, Gun Club meet Blondie in L.A.-born-and-bred post-post-punks Bleached, while Seattle's Night Beats drop hallucinatory sonic bombs on all things psych-grease rock & roll. —John Payne

Astronautalis, Busdriver, Jel

THE SATELLITE

"Our work is never done; we are Sisyphus," Astronautalis declares on the title track of his fourth album, This Is Our Science. Like that king of Ephyra, the Minneapolis rapper also known as Andy Bothwell keeps pushing a boulder up a mountain stacked with his own words, only to watch it all tumble down again. Elsewhere, on the bittersweet love song "Contrails," he wonders, "What kind of fool is so stupid to climb a mountain to do it/Then climb back down to the town without a picture to prove it?" Astronautalis prefers using words to take pictures, finding himself in awe of a woman who's both an escape artist ("leaving's your living, built in your bones") and crippled inside ("I know her cane is just a comedy"), and who leaves an endless trail of wreckage behind her ("Your contrail's coated in broken homes"). The imagery comes even faster and denser by way of local hip-hop prophet Busdriver, who overloads his songs with blurry, rapid-fire and insanely inventive wordplay, while Anticon founder Jel constructs his tracks on a mighty foundation of big and loud live drumming. —Falling James

The Weeknd

Orpheum Theatre

Ethiopian-Canadian R&B crooner The Weeknd (né Abel Tesfaye) set the Internet ablaze in 2011 when his mixtape House of Balloons was tweeted into mass consciousness by fellow Canadian rap star Drake and quickly became a critical favorite. Since then, his eclectic, sonic brew — characterized by unbridled tales of sex, drugs and infidelity — has scored endorsements from such top music authorities as Rolling Stone. It's even garnered comparisons to late pop music icon Michael Jackson. Tonight's show celebrates the singer's latest release, Trilogy, the only R&B record currently in the iTunes Top 10. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

sun 12/16

People Under the Stairs

EL REY THEATRE

For more than a decade, local hip-hop duo People Under the Stairs have been charting the ups and downs of underground life in their L.A. hometown. Whereas the Doobie Brothers once sang about "Takin' It to the Streets," Thes One and Double K prefer "Talkin' Back to the Streets," from their 2011 album, Highlighter, which turns the boulevards of this city into a sentient presence. Riding a coolly funky keyboard groove and a sample by Rakim, they come back home, rhapsodizing over "familiar smells" and "palm tree silhouettes" and marveling about the "6 million stories, not a single one repeats." On "Electric Tookie," they come to "reboot the mainframe computer/coming on to servers like Hooters take my order/Recorders rejoice for my voice and call Reuters." People Under the Stairs are the supreme chroniclers of the real L.A. in such older tracks as "L.A. Song," "80 Blocks From Silverlake" and "Los Angeles Daze," but their musical geography also encompasses such languid northern idylls as "San Francisco Knights." —Falling James

That '70s Soul

THE MAYAN

Musician-composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson has a voracious appreciation of just about every known type of music, and since he's helming tonight's ultra-fab package show, "That '70s Soul," it's certain to be intensely felt, gorgeously rendered stuff. A star-studded homage to the critical likes of Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and Sly Stone, he's got a set list from paradise. With such collaborators as traps titan Ndugu Chancler, dazzling multi-instrumentalist Derf Reklaw, tenor sax paragon Kamasi Washington and special contributions from Brazilian sensation Seu Jorge, Afro-Pop empress Zap Mama and U.K. soul sister Alice Russell, this soul-stirring shebang will doubtless spread plenty of musical joy. —Jonny Whiteside

mon 12/17

The Moonbeams

HEMINGWAY'S LOUNGE

The Moonbeams' upcoming single might be titled "Life's a Circus," but the song is more mournful and foreboding than cheery or escapist. Lead singer Beck Black howls her bloody imprecations with a solemn, sullen intensity as drummer Adam Alt and guitarist Nick Maybury rattle together a post-punk racket that evokes the dark allure of The Doors mixed with Siouxsie & the Banshees. When she's not rolling around on the stage like Iggy Pop's little sister, Black conjures even more unholy dread from her keyboards, pumping out compulsively heavy bass lines with her left hand while delicately stirring up airier figures with her right. New Moonbeams songs like "Mindfuck" and "Marilyn Monroe" range from propulsive, electronic-based New Wave to hard glam-rock glitter. Former elimiDATE survivor Black may look like an adorable pixie in her glamorous, flapper-style frocks, but once she opens her mouth, she surprises with an inexpressibly sad and ageless low voice that comes out of nowhere like a forgotten ghost. —Falling James

tue 12/18

Bobby Womack

GRAMMY MUSEUM

Bobby Womack's storied career as vocalist, songwriter and session musician has spanned more than 40 years. Rooted in the gospel music tradition, the Cleveland native made a fateful move to California at 16 after being taken under the wing of soul-music pioneer Sam Cooke, in whose band he later played guitar. Womack's 1970s foray into solo artistry yielded a bounty of well-known hits, including "If You Think You're Lonely Now" and "Across 110th Street." In June, a fearless Womack released his 26th studio album, The Bravest Man in the Universe. His triumph over cocaine abuse, colon cancer and personal tragedy will be among the many discussion topics explored in the Q&A session before tonight's show. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

wed 12/19

The Watkins Family Christmas Gathering

LARGO AT THE CORONET

You never know who'll show up at Sean and Sara Watkins' regular appearances at Largo. Past guests have included singer-mandolinist Chris Thile, their former partner in the beloved alt-bluegrass band Nickel Creek, as well as such unexpected luminaries as Fiona Apple, Jackson Browne, Nikka Costa and even that rarest and most reclusive of all Monkees, Michael Nesmith. It's likely that a horde of similarly stellar names will join the siblings at tonight's holiday show, but don't let your celebrity stargazing get in the way of appreciating the Watkins' own music. Sara Watkins is an especially eloquent fiddler and charming singer with an inviting new country-pop album, Sun Midnight Sun, while her older brother Sean is a deft guitarist whose humble manner belies the astonishingly intricately patterns he wrings from his ax. And both sing like a dream. —Falling James

Defiler

WHISKY A GO GO

These fresh-faced Bay Area boys brilliantly distill the frustrated fury of adolescence into four-minute extreme-metal muggings. Frontman Jake Pelzl may look like the archetypal annoying little brother, but he pours the entire history of injustice into his murderous bellow. His bandmates display a grown-up grasp of less-is-more dynamics and mutually supportive musicality. Defiler's self-described "lifecore" leans giddily toward hardcore, with intelligible do-something-about-it lyrics, progressive punky beats and guitars that are more weight than widdle. Sophomore album Nematocera is a deathcore defibrillator, and countless bedroom cover versions of the band's songs (mostly 2010 post-breakup meltdown "Cyromancer") are on YouTube, yet these guys aren't taking themselves too seriously — one recent show featured an audience-inclusive pillow fight. —Paul Rogers

Jeff Babko

THE BAKED POTATO

Keyboard whiz Jeff Babko can be seen most evenings frolicking near the front of Jimmy Kimmel Live!'s house band, but tonight he takes time out to debut his latest CD as a leader, Crux. The project showcases Babko's skills as player and composer in fusing jazz, rock and classical elements, with heavy contributions from trumpet-and-flugelhorn master Walt Fowler, who's played with Frank Zappa and James Taylor, and Kneebody saxophonist Ben Wendel. The track "Luna" likely will have Kneebody fans in full-on grin mode. Rudder bassist Tim Lefebvre and guitarist Timothy Young made substantial contributions to "Crux," and will be on hand for tonight's live debut along with drummer Louis Cole. —Tom Meek

thu 12/20

Bootsy Collins

Key Club

Known for his bass-playing virtuosity and blindingly sequined stage garb, Bootsy Collins is one of funk's foremost living legends. The Cincinnati native in 1968 established The Pacesetters, which functioned as the robust accompaniment to soul icon James Brown. Collins soon joined the innovative funk outfit Parliament/Funkadelic, co-writing notorious party anthem "Tear the Roof off the Sucker." He formed Bootsy's Rubber Band in 1976, later penning the oft-sampled "I'd Rather Be with You." His 2011 release, The Funk Capital of the World, features appearances by Bobby Womack, George Clinton and Samuel L. Jackson, among others. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Los Kinkos

CLUB PACIFIC at DEL MONTE SPEAKEASY

For more than a year now, L.A. institution Farmer Dave (Beachwood Sparks, sideman to the stars, solo soul believer, purveyor of famous special-recipe Hot Nuts) and his friends at Club Pacific have been bringing the old, the weird, and the beautiful to a resurrected basement speakeasy just minutes from the beach, connecting surf to psych to simple and welcome good times — or was that good vibes? — with all-star guests from L.A.'s most cosmic undergrounds. Tonight, he and his Club Pacific band go back to the olden days with an all-Kinks cover set, which is guaranteed to include every good song you want played with all the vigor and reverence you'd expect. A lovely way to spend possibly your last night on the planet. And if there is still a planet come Dec. 22, they should start planning an all-Love version of this next! —Chris Ziegler

Power of the Riff with Sunn O))), High on Fire, Corrosion of Conformity, Black Breath, et al.

HENRY FONDA THEATER

What is the mystical healing power of the Riff? Where is it taking us? What will we find when we get there? These questions are important, since the world is ending and all. Thus this event, curated by Southern Lord label bossman/Sunn O))) guitarist Greg Anderson and his bud Sam James Velde, clarifies matters somewhat by deliberately smashing together the ultra-heaviest of death/grind/doom/dungcore metal and other hardcore, punk and rock stylists. All day and all ages, with a record swap meet hosted by local and pop-up stores, the event includes DJ sets and a gourmet food-truck court. Full sets by High on Fire, Sunn O))), Corrosion of Conformity, Black Breath, Dead in the Dirt, Loincloth and Void Ov Voices. —John Payne

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