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Music Picks

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 yesterday’s lover’s 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 pop’s rarest jackalope: a chill down the spine that is cool but not cold. (David Cotner)



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 band’s predecessor will not be disappointed: Bad Dudes carry on with the same frantic sound Miller and Gerchik played in Chosuke, a sound that’s refreshingly hard to pin down but has roots in the keyboard-loaded styles of Dub Housing–era Pere Ubu, the Screamers, prog rock and the band’s 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)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18


DeVotchKa, Naïm Amor
at the Troubadour

Denver’s DeVotchKa dig into the unexplored sweet spot between the Arcade Fire’s bleary, string-streaked indie-folk and Gogol Bordello’s Eastern European gypsy-punk. On their new mostly-covers EP, Curse Your Little Heart, they put an ominous old-world spin on left-field chestnuts like Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid” and “The Last Beat of My Heart” by Siouxsie & the Banshees. (“Venus in Furs” is always ominous and old-world, but they manage to give that fresh excitement too.) DeVotchKa contributed music to the new Steve Carell dramedy, Little Miss Sunshine, which could mean they’ll have outgrown the Troub by the next time they hit town. See ’em now. Opener Naïm Amor, from Arizona, sang on a track from DeVotchKa’s 2004 album, How It Ends; on his own, the Paris-born singer-songwriter plays dusty jazz-folk. (Mikael Wood)


{mosimage}Fuck Yeah Fest at the Echo, Sea Level Records and Jensen Recreation Center

For this, the third-annual “F*?k Yeah Fest” — so named because apologies were necessary following the overenthusiastic canvassing of the greater part of eastern Los Angeles with posters with “FUCK” written on them — impresario Sean Carlson teams with the Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris to curate a veritable golden shower of hits for the natives crying out in the wilderness for culture. Partial lineup: the Bronx, Giant Drag, the Thermals, Dios Malos, Brother Reade, Rolling Blackouts, the Minor Canon, Upsilon Acrux, Gris Gris, Silversun Pickups, Dead Meadow, Icarus Line, 400 Blows and Erase Errata. Also: standup comedy, two massive art exhibitions, and food and booze aplenty. So heavy a collision of new ideas and sounds and smells, it’s like that scene in Somewhere in Time in which Christopher Reeve finds the 1979 penny — only this time, the world becomes an electrifying, pleasantly topsy-turvy place. Thru Sun. www.fuckyeahfest.com. (David Cotner)


HERMAN RILEY Lockjaw and Prez made him pick up the saxophone. That was in New Orleans, back when “Iko, Iko” was new. By ’63 he was in L.A., playing Marty’s every night, with players — Sonny Rollins, everybody — dropping by, sitting in. Steady work with Basie and the Juggernaut and Blue Mitchell. Twenty years with Jimmy Smith. A million sessions for Motown and Stax, and first call for a slew of singers — that’s where you refine those ballad skills. Live, he slips into “In a Sentimental Mood,” and everything around you dissolves. There’s his sound: rich, big, full of history — a little sad, maybe — blowing Crescent City air. He gets inside the very essence of that tune, those melancholy, ascending notes, till it fades, pads closing, in a long, drawn-out sigh. You swear it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard, that song, that sound, and you tell him so. He shrugs. “It’s a lifetime of experience,” he says, then calls out some Monk and is gone. Charlie O’s, 13725 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys; Fri., Aug. 18, 8 p.m.; no cover. (818) 994-3058. (Brick Wahl)


SATURDAY, AUGUST 19

The Sounds at the Wiltern

The Hives, Sahara Hotnights and the Sounds suggest that the ’90s simply never happened in their native Sweden. Though last year’s sophomore effort, Dying to Say This to You, isn’t quite the radio-slaying breakthrough many had hoped for, the Sounds continue to make a science out of sounding fun, their dance-floor-friendly rock a gorgeously fat-free, stylized formula of Blondie guitars, eighth-note bass, Members Only monophonic synth and Maja Ivarsson’s tough-but-cute come-ons. The Sounds truly turn it up onstage (giving the Strokes a real scare at Universal Amphitheater a couple of years back), the blonde-maned Ivarsson’s tomboy/dream-girl combo preserving a ganglike chemistry with her black-clad band mates. They’re right at the intersection of credibility and the mainstream — expect the Sounds to suck in legions of spendy haircuts and tight tees tonight. (Paul Rogers)



Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave at Little Radio

Unlike the bird that’s adapted to its urban surroundings by imitating sirens and car alarms, Kristin Hersh has always followed her own inner voice or, in this case, voices. Originally misdiagnosed with schizophrenia as a teen, the bipolar Hersh listens attentively, as evidenced by her lengthy discography — a compendium of set-teeth-on-edge solo work, the influential grit of Throwing Muses and the molar-rattling revvings of her present band, 50 Foot Wave. We’ll listen in as Los Angeles is privy to Hersh playing with both her bands, minus her stepsister Tanya Donelly. It must be noted that Hersh once covered “The Cuckoo,” a folk traditional that has two versions. The lyrics not chosen would have been more apt, though perhaps too revealing even for a songwriter known for searing emo-honesty: “The cuckoo she’s a pretty bird/she sings as she flies/she brings us glad tidings/and tells us no lies.” Tonight, expect no less. 1218 Long Beach Ave., dwntwn. www.virtuous.com. (Ellen Krout-Hasegawa)



The Clientele, Great Lakes, Bedroom Walls at the Knitting Factory

One of the few existing twee-pop bands worth taking seriously, the Clientele play dreamy, reverb-drenched ditties about terminal sadness that don’t provoke terminal sadness themselves, thanks to front man Alasdair Maclean’s effortless knack for heart-swelling melodies. Old-school fans of the Zombies know the trick, and know how well it still works. At the end of the Clientele’s current tour, they’ll head to Nashville to start work on a new album with Lambchop’s Mark Nevers producing; expect them to try out some of its material tonight. Brooklyn’s Great Lakes are jangly fuzz-rock guys (or maybe fuzzy jangle-rock guys) at their best on next month’s Diamond Times when they pile on the post–Steely Dan horns. Locals Bedroom Walls do pretty neo-shoegazer folk-pop that calls up fond memories of Luna and Ivy. (Mikael Wood)


SUNDAY, AUGUST 20

{mosimage}Gary Numan at House of Blues

While synth-pop godfather Gary Numan is but a chart footnote here (his sole U.S. hit being 1979’s “Cars”), he was a household name in his native Blighty back then and still casts an alienated, automaton shadow over acts like Nine Inch Nails and She Wants Revenge. Numan, first with Tubeway Army, began noodling around with early monophonic synthesizers while most of his peers were still flailing after Brit punk’s tail end, marrying the new technology’s atmospheric potential to a paranoid, mannequin-like persona. Though he “retired” from live performance in 1981 (apparently to concentrate on his mishap-marred aviation hobby), ol’ Gazza’s in fact proved to be an enduring touring draw despite musical stagnation of late. Everyone from Beck and Queens of the Stone Age to Afrika Bambaataa gives this guy props — it’s time you found out why. (Paul Rogers)



Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez at McCabe’s

Singer-songwriter Chip Taylor is nothing less than an American pop-music avatar. The cat is responsible for more than a few rock & roll classics — the Jimi Hendrix/Troggs–immortalized ”Wild Thing” and the Janis Joplin show-stopper “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” — and a clutch of notable country hits (Bobby Bare’s “Just a Little Bit Later on Down the Line,” Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning”). Taylor was one of the earliest and most successful writers to mix country with rhythm & blues — not with the real-gone primitivo of Elvis — but with a more nuanced approach that produced spectacularly consistent and resonant effects. His fine new double CD, Unglorious Hallelujah and Red Red Rose and Other Songs of Love, Pain, Destruction, continues to impress, just as this visit with his longtime collaborator Carrie Rodriguez certainly will. (Jonny Whiteside)


MONDAY, AUGUST 21

{mosimage}Deadsy at the Roxy

Four years ago, Deadsy’s sci-fi band-member personas and rock-star attitude were pure glam. On the other hand, a total lack of irony and fuzzy detuned guitars got them lumped with folks like Korn. Fast-forward to the present, the Los Angeles band have replaced the artifice of their debut, Commencement, with the stripped-down approach of Phantasmagore. The synth-driven death pop is still intact (and they’re still doing Family Values tours), but leader Elijah Blue’s writing has gotten confessional: Instead of referencing their quirky mythology, we get deeply personal songs like “Babes in Abyss,” a day of reckoning for shallow scenesters that features the album’s most killer hook. Meanwhile, the cover of “Paint It Black” has more sitar than the Stones’. If their following is small, it’s also rabid, so expect a packed house. (Andrew Lentz)



French Kicks, Matt & Kim, What Made Milwaukee Famous at the Troubadour

They first emerged a few years ago as ho-hum New York neo-garagers, but Brooklyn’s French Kicks have morphed into a nifty little soul-rock act with style and groove to spare. The tunes on Two Thousand, the band’s latest, aren’t quite as catchy as the ones on 2004’s The Trial of the Century, but its weary indie-dude ennui is still more palatable than that of many of the Kicks’ less imaginative peers. Fellow Brooklynites Matt & Kim play high-energy organ-and-drums pop that sounds like Mates of State if they were 11 years old. What Made Milwaukee Famous aren’t from Milwaukee but Austin, where they’ve cultivated a sizable audience of folks hungry for something a little more playful than Spoon. They just signed to Barsuk (the label that broke Death Cab), which could make WMMF famous. (Mikael Wood)


THURSDAY, AUGUST 24

{mosimage}Josie Cotton, Geza X at the Knitting Factory

It would be a shame if Josie Cotton were remembered only for her 1981 hit version of “Johnny, Are You Queer,” the somewhat annoying power-pop tune that was also a staple at Go-Go’s shows in the late ’70s. Her own songs, scattered sporadically over the decades, betrayed a sly wit and defiant intelligence that ultimately forced her to sink deeper underground and maintain an emotional blockade against the machinations of the music industry. With the shape-shifting pop personas of Movie Disaster Music (Scruffy), her first full-length release since 1993’s Frightened by Nightingales, she’s back — and unlike any Josie Cotton you may think you already know. She wraps herself invitingly in the gauze of Paul Roessler’s glimmering keyboards on “Bridget in the Sun,” kicks up her rockabilly heels while “Lookin’ for Elvis,” slinks through the serpentine exoticism of “Nikita” and is quietly spellbinding amid the spectral chimes of the aptly titled “Beautiful but Deadly.” The similarly reclusive Geza X — best known for producing the Germs, Redd Kross and Meredith Brooks — opens with a rare set of his new-wave deviations, such as the aggressively eccentric “Isotope Soap.” (Falling James)



Mamadou Diabate at Skirball Cultural Center

Stodgy traditionalists believe that folk music should remain frozen in time like a museum piece. But for the songbook to get off life support, it must evolve organically, whether it’s Appalachian or West African. The best torchbearers respect the old ways, but also transform them to keep the legacy fresh and relevant. Griot cousins and master kora players Toumani and Mamadou Diabate have recontextualized the Manding harp-lute within globally informed modernist soundscapes while honoring the centuries-old musical stories of their people. Mamadou moved to the U.S. from Mali a decade ago and almost snagged a Grammy last year with Behmanka, a gorgeous solo recital of nuggets and newbies. His soon-to-be-released Heritage, a sometimes jaunty, other times meditative suite, continues to channel ancient-future wisdom with rippling riffs and shimmeringly subtle melodies. Free; starts at 8 p.m. (Tom Cheyney)



Don Caballero at Spaceland

Let’s face it, the term “math rock” is so, so utterly lame. On the other hand, in a pinch it suffices to describe veteran Pittsburgh brain-crunchers Don Caballero. Recorded live, their new album, World Class Listening Problem (Relapse), is their first in six years, and offers more of the same — tricky time signatures, longish constructions, genuine dynamic variation, a lot of dissonance, indie-ironic song titles like “Mmmmm Acting, I Love Me Some Good Acting” and “Palm Trees in the Fecking Bahamas” — all pummeled and prodded with the fierce precision of a metal or punk band, only . . . smarter. Free jazz and Beefheart figure in their mix, as do Crimson, the minimalists, and the entire history of headbanger symphonists attempting to transcend the limitations of the rock-band format. Electric chamber music? You do the math. (John Payne)



YO, YO, YO

Also playing this week . . .

*FRIDAY, 8/18: AGENT ORANGE, CHANNEL 3 at Safari Sam’s; JOE LYNN TURNER at Vine St. Lounge; ROBERTA FLACK at Summer Soul Jam, Compton Golf Course; PATRICK PARK, FERRABY LIONHEART at the Hotel Café

*SATURDAY, 8/19: CRACKER, CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN at Key Club; DAVID CASSIDY at the Canyon; MERE MORTALS, CLEAN PROPHETS, ROCKING HORSE PEOPLE, THE KAX at Spaceland; THE PLIMSOULS, THE SHAKES at Safari Sam’s; NICO VEGA at the Troubadour

*SUNDAY, 8/20: DRAKE BELL at the Roxy; L’IL FLIP at the Key Club; DENGUE FEVER at Safari Sam’s; SMITHS NIGHT at Part Time Punks at the Echo

*MONDAY, 8/21: KIND HEARTS & CORONETS, WINSTON GILES ORCHESTRA, THE MOON UPSTAIRS, HARPETH TRACE at the Echo; THE LITTLE ONES, SNOWBAND, VILLAGE GREEN at Spaceland; TOAD THE WET SPROCKET at the Mayan Theater

*TUESDAY, 8/22: EVERY MOVE A PICTURE, PERSEPHONE’S BEES at Spaceland

*WEDNESDAY, 8/23: ZOLAR X, THOR at the Knitting Factory; GOLDSPOT at the Troubadour; THE SHARP EASE, THE POPE, THE PUNKS at the Smell

*THURSDAY, 8/24: SKYE at Troubadour; OH NO OH MY, LET’S GO SAILING at the Echo


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