Music Picks


BILLY PRESTON, 1946–2006

Thank you, Billy Preston: for making music of freedom and joy, for letting your freak flag fly, and for making something so good into something even better. What a proud life, and what a beautiful gift.


Recommended gigs of oddity, humor and/or joy this week . . . Someone named Pop Levi, a pop-keyboard-funky-freak-psych fun-maker, who recently moved here from Liverpool to (assumably) get some solid-gold easy action, or at least a golden tan. (He comes from a Liverpool psychedelic collective known as Super Numeri and also played keyboards for Ladytron.) (Tonight, 6/8, at Spaceland with 8 Bit; Sat., 6/10, at Hear Gallery; more June shows to come) . . . The Eagles of Death Metal, perhaps the world’s greatest non-joke joke band since Spinal Tap, play the Fonda next Thursday, 6/15

. . . The supercute girl-boy bubblepop duo Fairmona play El Cid Friday, 6/9 . . . And all y’all power-pop fans probably already know about the Tommy Keene show this week (6/9 at Spaceland with Ari Shine). No guarantees on any joy at that one, actually. Just thought you should know. :) (Kate Sullivan)


Front Line Assembly, DJ Acucrack, Stromkern at the Key Club

Dance till you overthrow the government with Front Line Assembly, the ’90s Vancouver beatbox & synth unit that keeps going away but never leaves. With Teutonic melodies and spasmodic rhythms supporting the misanthropic growl of ex–Skinny Puppy grouch Bill Leeb, FLA today sound sorta classic, like Elvis. News: The upcoming Artificial Soldier unites Leeb with previous duo mates Rhys Fulber (Fear Factory) and Chris Peterson, plus new guy Jeremy Inkel — that’s a lotta patch cords. Apt bill mates are DJ Acucrack, a noisier, bassier and speedier twist on the tech-hop formula — scratch your forearms, everybody! And you gotta love Ned Kirby (Stromkern), a Wisconsin kid who loved industrial Krautness so deeply that he wrote songs im Deutsch and got signed to a German label. Robots are people, too. (Greg Burk)



2 blackalicious 2 B 4-gottenThe Roots, Talib Kweli, Blackalicious at House of Blues

On the phone a couple of weeks ago from a hotel room somewhere in Virginia, de facto Roots front man Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson told me that fans of the Philly-based hip-hop band shouldn’t take the Roots’ new home at Def Jam as proof that they’re preparing for a blinged-out breakthrough. ?uest said Def Jam prez Jay-Z (whom the Roots famously backed on MTV’s Unplugged a few years back) informed the group that he expects the same kind of artistry from them on the forthcoming Game Theory (due late this summer) as the Roots have been churning out since the early ’90s. A live band before all else, they’ll likely preview some of that new material tonight, probably with help from conscious-rap openers Talib Kweli and Blackalicious. (Mikael Wood)

SATURDAY, JUNE 10Pigeon John at the Terrace Restaurant

Surprise! Pigeon John uses hip-hop to charm and disarm with a classic style and miles of savoir-faire, infusing his black-everyman lyricism with a particular potency and power. His forthcoming Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party is loaded with confessional couplets that connect through brutal honesty: “I used to have a white girl/Now I got a white wife/Kinda gettin’ used to hearing, ‘Brother, that ain’t right.’?” Paired with poppy upbeats and whimsical melodies, P.J.’s lighthearted look at harsh realities is akin to fellow L.A. rap iconoclasts the Pharcyde at their freshest. With sly samples like the Pixies’ alterna-classic “Hey” driving the nice-guy anthem “Money Back Guarantee,” even indie bedheads can wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care. Now doesn’t that feel nice? 443 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 796-3030. (Scott T. Sterling)


H.I.M., Fireball Ministry at House of Blues

When you wanna rock for the long haul, you better get into L.A.’s Fireball Ministry. Slamming to Deicide just makes for B.O.; the Jaegermeister will have you passed out before prime time; but a case of beer and a stack of Fireball records — throw in some Aerosmith and AC/DC — will get you through the 2 a.m. creature feature. The Reverend James A. Rota and the gang know how to do it hard and steady, with riffs you can nod your noggin to and melodies that make your 13th trip to the W.C. that much more enjoyable. Too unpretentious to headline much, one imagines; for that you’ve got His Infernal Majesty Ville Valo, a Finnish Casper the Friendly Satan New Romantic Bon Jovi for our times. And what abs! (Greg Burk)

KXLU Fundrazor at the Echo and Sea Level Records

The annual dough-drive show of Loyola University’s venerable radio station always offers a smattering of the best local rock acts (many of which had their first exposure on its airwaves). For 10 bucks, you can catch 20 bands. Let us recommend the freaky femmes of Mika Miko, who spew shrieky yet infectious rubber-rock beats and like to use a microphone that looks like telephone. Girls will be girls, y’know — speaking of which, Lavendar Diamond sparkle as much as their name thanks to singer Becky Stark’s twang-tinged vox. Other must-sees include Darker My Love, the Ooh-Las, Army Navy, Hello Fever and Books on Tape; Wires on Fire promise a special collaborative set with none other than Circle Jerk Keith Morris. (Lina Lecaro)

DJ Quik at House of Blues

If you haven’t picked up DJ Quik’s Greatest Hits: Live at the House of Blues, you can capture that funky Roger Troutman energy for real as Quik performs his classics: “Born and Raised in Compton,” “Pitch in on a Party” and “Tonite.” The Compton producing legend continues to be the most innovative personality in rap music: Who else can put out a hit record (Trauma) and at the same time create the opening theme music to CBS’s NFL Today? Quik continues to reinvent himself. “I got some surprises,” he hints, “it should be a real entertaining show.” With special guest Mitchy Slick, whose Urban Survival Syndrome drops in August. (Ben Quiñones)

THURSDAY, JUNE 15Sound Team at the Troubadour

When Matt Oliver eagerly handed me my first Sound Team flier at an Austin bar years ago, I used it as a coaster. I didn’t foresee how the hustle of Matt and his bandmates would end up mattering for music, but the persistent craft of their Wurlitzer/Minimoog/Kraftwerkian abstractions has ended up bolstering a catchy, refreshing indie-pop approach. Such diligence might be why Elefant and the Walkmen took Sound Team on tour — and why Capitol is now releasing their first full-length, Movie Monster, produced and mixed by the powers behind Spoon, My Bloody Valentine and Depeche Mode. NPR has even declared 2006 “the summer of Sound Team.” The heat is on. (Courtney Fitzgerald)


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