THURSDAY, AUGUST 10
Although Salif Keita has long been a stylistic chameleon, oscillating between rocked-up globo-fusion and griot-zone revelations, one thing has remained constant the voice. One moment he hits you with righteous blast-furnace power, the next he leaves you emotionally restored or misting up like a humidifier. His last two discs, 2002s Moffou and the just-released MBemba, mine Malis rich folkloric strata and hit roots-pop pay dirt. The latest album and first recorded at his new Bamako studio proves on the turbocharged trad funk of Yambo and Cuban groovekissed Tu Vas Me Manquer that you dont have to plug in to populate the dance floor. Salif also encourages pre- and post-boogie contemplation or seduction on slow burners like Dery. Opening for one of her musical heroes is local mundalista mama Ashley Maher, whose compellingly crafted songs deserve extra-regional recognition. Starts at 7:30 p.m.; free. (Tom Cheyney)
Motorcycle Boy at Spaceland
Why Not Fuck a Motorcycle Boy today? It was a slogan stickered all over Hollywood back in the 80s, and gaggles of big-haired girlies surely took the request to heart. Back then, Motorcycle Boy shows (at era hot spots like Scream and Rajis) were the shit if you were a rock scenester, you were there. Period. But it wasnt all posing and prancing. The guys had a catchy yet rebellious charm to their music that made them stand out, as heard on their Triple X classic, Popsickle, produced by none other than the New York Dolls Sylvain Sylvain. Dunno why theyve decided to regroup now (its been five years since they last rocked out together), but we hear some slammin new music is involved. One things for sure, a set from François, Eden and the boys is always a ride. Also with the Binges, Pretty Vicious and the Small Goods. (Lina Lecaro)
FRIDAY, AUGUST 11 Ziggy Marley, Stephen Marley, Bunny Wailer at the Hollywood Bowl
The late Bob Marley made such a tremendous international impact that his passing carried the same tragic resonance as Elvis death, but where the Kings departure galvanized rock & roll, the loss of Marley, who represented a profound spiritual leadership, seemed to petrify reggae, signaling a backslide from Lovers Rock into dancehall thats returned reggae to its boastful, sound-system-turf-skirmish start. The annual Roots Rock Reggae Marley tribute is an antithesis to that jive, and with blood-will-tell Marley scions Ziggy and Stephen and the presence of prolific reggae originator Bunny Wailer, the focus here will be on Marleys mainstays: the battle against injustice as well as the mystical revelations, from Zion and Ethiopia, that make Rastafarianism such a compelling theology. Its a forceful combination that inspires equally powerful music. (Jonny Whiteside)
Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon, Mates of State at the Greek Theater
Its been a good year for Seattles Death Cab for Cutie: Plans, the major-label debut the band released last August, has transported them out of the indie realm theyd been threatening to outgrow for years and into the world of mainstream alternative rock (or at least whats left of it). Plans doesnt necessarily sound like that kind of transitional record its basically a cleaner, brighter version of their homey guitar jangle which is probably why theyve managed to stave off the inevitable backlash from insular record-store clerks who knew them back when. Last years Gimme Fiction earned Austin-based Spoon Death Cabs old place at the head of the indie class; one more album of top-shelf post-punk soul, and they could find themselves rubbing elbows with Nickelback too. Lovey-dovey organ-drums duo Mates of State open. Also Mon. (Mikael Wood)
World Stage Jazz Festival 43rd St. & Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park
Expect some torrid jamming at this day of fired-up jazz dedicated to bassist Al McKibbon and legendary saxophonist Dexter Gordon. John Heards Contra Ensemble (with Trevor Ware, Edwin Livingston, James Leary and Roberto Miranda) do their massive all-bass Afro-Blue. The Saxophone Section (George Harper, Azar Lawrence, Herman Riley and Rickey Woodard, with pianist Art Hillary in the rhythm section) plays Dexter classics, solo after burning solo and check out that ensemble playing. Bop-wise, theres Mingus veteran Charles McPhersons quartet (with bassist Jeff Littleton). And as McKibbon was down with Chano & Diz, there are the Afro-Latin jazz ensembles of timbalero Bobby Matos (with nice sax from Frank Fontaine) and conguero Taumbu, who has Horace Tapscott saxophonist Michael Session and trombonist Phil Ranelin up front. And its all under the tarp at 43rd St. & Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park; Sun., Aug. 13, noon-7 p.m.; free. (323) 293-2451. (Brick Wahl) MONDAY, AUGUST 14
The Neville Brothers, The Meters, Brass Monkey Brass Band at the Hollywood Bowl
Ah, New Orleans, the land of dreams, home of the Ramos Fizz and more irresistible groove-mongering than youll find just about anywhere else. With Crescent City sons the Neville Brothers and their groundbreaking funk affiliates the Meters both on hand, expect a nonstop spree of superlative R&B, ferocious, masterly funk and deep-reaching, soul-stirring majesty. These bands respective translations of New Orleans singular brew of influences created an entirely different musical language, one that both reaches back to Africa and forward over the edge of a beckoning musical horizon with tremendous, moving effect. Add in the Brass Monkey Brass Bands celebration of the strutting street music that helped to spark jazz, and youve got it all, baby. (Jonny Whiteside)
The 88, Gram Rabbit at the Troubadour
Los Angeles pop chieftains The 88 specialize in tight, brash romps and, as their current CD, Over and Over, demonstrates, theyve recognized the near-illimitable capacity a fast-spinning, rocked-up ditty can accommodate. The 88s knack for injecting emotion and nuance into the standard formula has been parlayed, with more and more of their songs turning up on television shows and radio playlists, into a near-full-blown mainstream embrace. Not quite so easily absorbed, yet equally as effective, is the free-thinking, unpredictable sound of rock renegades Gram Rabbit. Fronted by bunny-ear-topped bombshell Jessika Von Rabbit, the Rabbits combine desert-rapture psychedelia with quasi-cosmological philosophy, and, with their second release, Cultivation, the band make clear that theres quite a bit going inside their kandy-kolored warren. An encouragingly adventurous proposition. (Jonny Whiteside)
THURSDAY, AUGUST 17
Silversun Pickups at the Troubadour
On the final date of a nationwide tour celebrating the release of the Carnavas LP, the quartet of vocalist Brian Aubert (also guitars), drummer Christopher Guanlao, keyboardist Joe Lester and bassist Nikki Monninger return with a faintly grittier soundtrack to their meditations on things lost: love, anger, friendship and innocence. While these are well-worn landmarks in the landscape of pop, Silversun Pickups infuse them with a mixture of the tentative and the confident like an Olympic diver remembering yesterdays lovers quarrel before the semifinals, or Robin Hood wondering in battle if the arrow cries as it enters the skin. Between the new album and their 2005 EP, Pikul, the band transcend failure, servitude and prostitution and deliver pops rarest jackalope: a chill down the spine that is cool but not cold. (David Cotner)
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Bad Dudes at the Smell
Probably named after the best Nintendo game not called Contra, Bad Dudes are literally two-fifths (guitarists Brady Miller and Dan Gerchik) of the defunct Miracle Chosuke. Fans of the bands predecessor will not be disappointed: Bad Dudes carry on with the same frantic sound Miller and Gerchik played in Chosuke, a sound thats refreshingly hard to pin down but has roots in the keyboard-loaded styles of Dub Housingera Pere Ubu, the Screamers, prog rock and the bands possible penchant for playing regular LPs at 78 rpm. Make sure to pick up the Dudes recently released single on Project Infinity records, which features a cover of the Kinks King Kong arranged in a way Ray Davies never dreamed of. Also on the bill is the primal, idiosyncratic-sounding Veer Right Young Pastor, Hour of the Shipwreck, Flying and Knit Witch. (Ryan Leach)
Thought Youd Wanna Know
Other notable shows this week: FRI., 8/11: BEN HARPER, DAMIAN MARLEY at the Greek . . . SAT., 8/12: FANTASTIC DIAMOND at the Canyon; FIERCE PERM, CAR CLUTCH, WIRE WEREWOLVES at the Smell; FINAL FANTASY, CURTAINS at Little Pedros; HARVEY DANGER, LETS GO SAILING, OOHLAS at Spaceland; L.A. GUNS at Vine St. Lounge . . . SUN., 8/13: GARY JULES at the Troubadour; PRETTY VICIOUS at Little Radio (2 p.m.); THE PANDAS, THE SOFT EXPLOSIONS, PSYCHIC DRIVE, JUNE IN JULY at Spaceland; SECRET SOCIETY OF THE SONIC SIX, I AM LEGION at the Echo (late show); SKEETER TRUCK, KINGSIZEMAYBE at the Echo (early show) . . . MON., 8/14: BJORNTUROQUE at the Key Club; KIND HEARTS & CORONETS, MINUTES TIL MIDNIGHT, BROTHERS & SISTERS, MOLECULES at the Echo; THE LITTLE ONES, THE BIRD & THE BEE at Spaceland; THE PANDAS at Safari Sams . . . TUES., 8/15: COMETS ON FIRE, INDIAN JEWELRY at the Echo; ALICE COOPER at Grove of Anaheim . . . WED., 8/16: COBRA STARSHIP at the Key Club; DON BOLLES, DJ BRYCE MICHAELS, HARRY MERRY at Little Pedros . . . THURS., 8/17: AUGUSTANA at HoB; BAD DUDES at the Smell; GARRISON STARR at the Mint; LUCA at Silverlake Lounge; PAUL KELLY at Largo; NELS CLINE SINGERS at UCLA Hammer Museum.