Music Picks

THURSDAY, October 26

Matt Pond PA, Micah P. Hinson at Spaceland

The Brooklyn-based indie-pop ensemble Matt Pond PA is led by a former Philadelphian named Matt Pond, a guy whose talent for sweet-and-sour acoustic balladry far exceeds his ability to name bands with anything approaching a creative flourish. The group has had some success outside (what’s left of) the college-radio ghetto: Last year, its cover of Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” made it onto one of The OC mixtapes, which these days probably delivers more exposure than airplay on commercial radio. But Pond’s music is exceedingly gentle stuff, better suited to a world of library boys than hollaback girls. Opener Micah P. Hinson, from Texas, plays pretty but depressive folk-blues laments for people who wish Bright Eyes would get a little trippy sometimes. (Mikael Wood)

FRIDAY, October 27KMFDM, Combichrist, Abby Travis at Henry Fonda Theatre

KMFDM may be the loudest damn band on the planet. When Sascha Konietzko cranks up his army of leather-tech baldies, hang on to your molecules, it’s gonna hurt. Vox dominatrix Lucia Cifarelli stands strong among the flashes and detonations, but if you actually want to audiblize her melodic sting, consult the several crushing albs she’s cut with the band since joining several years back — WWIII Tour 2003, for prime example. Despite KMFDM’s many enlistment alterations over 22 years and no new product, this Euro force maintains a timeless status reinforced by the recent redeployment of classic slabs. While Andy LaPlegua’s theatrical Combichrist provides appropriate heavy-thud support, welcome contrast splashes down via hometown queen and past KMFDM collaborator Abby Travis — absurdly wild visuals, a panorama of cabaret stylings and honest-t’-gawd singing, as excellently demonstrated on her current Glitter Mouth. (Greg Burk) 

Diamanda Galás at Royce Hall

The volcanic singer-pianist Diamanda Galás calls her new concert of “homicidal love songs” Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, so be on your guard, for she’ll not likely be holding back. Galás — great avenger for the dispossessed via works such as Plague Mass and Masque of the Red Death (for AIDS sufferers), Schrei 27 (for torture victims) and Defixiones (for the dead of the Armenian holocaust) — is the dark queen and king of extended vocal technique, possessor of multi-octave pipes awesome and frightening in their intensity and range; her voice and equally formidable piano chops are thrilling in their brazen invention and sneering disregard for restrictions of musical genre. Tonight’s program includes selections from her upcoming Chansons Noire set and previously recorded works, including Ralph Stanley’s “O Death,” which Galás says is a love song, too — for the Black-Hooded One . . . (John Payne)

Bob Schneider at the Roxy

Although Bob Schneider proved he’s no songwriting slouch on Lonelyland and I’m Good Now, only a few furious tunes like “C’mon Baby” channeled the unhinged intelligence of his live rock & roll show. The Californian rectifies the situation, capturing the antic first-take fury of a locked-in band that’s played hundreds of gigs over the past few years. Bob and the boys pull the funky cornbread hot out of the oven on the bitingly satirical “Everything I Have Means Nothing to Me Now,” get in a goofy “la-la-la” chorus amid the hot-rod thunder of “Superpowers,” and flatten their ears and go for broke on the manic “Boombox.” But “Flower Parts,” Bob’s plea to not “forget a soft touch and an open heart,” shows a tender side to the babe-magnet rocker that transcends worldly self-absorption. (Tom Cheyney)

SATURDAY, October 28

Stuart A. Staples at the Troubadour

As singer and co-songwriter for English ensemble Tindersticks, Stuart A. Staples has proffered over a decade’s worth of musty, nicotine-flecked swooners for velvet-lined, red-wined consumption. But his American solo debut, Leaving Songs (Beggars Banquet), is a true drifter’s album: less shimmering candle glow and more buzzing beer light. Perhaps inspired by Claire Denis’ recent globe-hopping masterpiece, L’Intrus, which he scored with a haunting refrain of some echo-warped whatsit, Staples goes wandering. After a lengthy, gin-smeared kiss-off to his “old” friends and hauling a light load — a crackling snare, dark bass strands, crisp acoustic chords and some organ purr — Staples traverses winding paths, long dusty roads and, eventually, the open sea. Tonight Staples sets off on an actual cross-country trek (his first-ever solo U.S. tour), bringing his inimitable voice, a slightly-sour concentrate aged in oak and rarely poured on the West Coast, to serenade the lonesome highway strip. (Bernardo Rondeau)

Rodrigo y Gabriela at Temple Bar

She chops the blurry power chords and staccato accents as if she’s at the cutting board in the kitchen. He sprinkles on the onions and intricate lead-guitar filigrees, and salts everything with dazzling counterpoints of melody. Then they beat on their guitars, rolling up approaching thunder with exacting rhythmic precision. Given their classical techniques, Rodrigo y Gabriela have been lumped in with some sort of new flamenco scene, but the charismatic Mexican duo are much more influenced by the ornate grandeur of heavy metal. A version of “Orion,” from their new self-titled CD (unobtrusively produced by John Leckie), transmutes the icy menace of the Metallica instrumental with the expressive purity of acoustic guitars, and their jazzy take on “Stairway to Heaven” is similarly well-crafted, although it skates a little too smoothly into easy listening. The most potent magic lingers in Rodrigo y Gabriela’s passionately detailed originals, such as the courtly “Tamacun” and the roller-coaster-inspired dynamics of “Diablo Rojo” — not to mention the album’s accompanying DVD, in which the pair reveal their tricks, including how to not kill an alligator. (Falling James)


¡Forward, Russia! at Spaceland

Inevitably compared to fellow Brits Bloc Party, but oh-so-much more stylistically interesting, ¡Forward, Russia! spring from the same Gang of Four, jerky-dance-punk springboard as so many Anglo exports of late, but add At the Drive-In’s structural perversions and front man Tom Woodhead’s John Lydon–joins–the Darkness (yet somehow Morrissey-ish) yelp. If ADD’s your thing, dose-up on ¡Forward, Russia!, where nothing stays the same for more than a few seconds (though nagging hooks still emerge). It’s all about syncopation between bustling drums, prickly bass and spaces-in-between guitar, with Woodhead’s impatient proclamations encouraged by his bandmates’ rabble-rousing shouts and countered with deliberately dated cheese-synth excursions. They’ve toured their way, DIY-stylie, into the U.K. charts, so expect ¡Forward Russia! to have even a Silver Lake crowd spastic-dancing. (Paul Rogers)

The Cramps at House of Blues

Since a particularly fateful night at fabled New York hellhole CBGB 30 years ago (November 1, 1976, to be exact), the Cramps have applied their bizarre psychedelic-rockabilly alchemy with often tremendous effect. While the only real constant in the group has been the partnership of delusion that bonds singer Lux Interior and guitar goddess Poison Ivy, the pair’s underworld vision — an intoxicating amalgam of juvenile-delinquent non-ethics, radioactive-poisoned movie monsters, messed-up hillbilly shit and hallucinogenic philosophy — has festered, like an inexorably expanding gangrenous wound, through the very fabric of hep Western pop culture. This latest incarnation, with Harry Drumdini back on the riser and former Famous Monsters/White Zombie thriller Sean Yseult on bass, should provide more than enough raw whammy to urge Ivy’s jolting guitar pyrotechnics and Lux’s self-destructive acrobatics to hazardous new altitudes. (Jonny Whiteside)

SUNDAY, October 29

Vice Squad at Safari Sam’s

Vice Squad don’t tour here all that often, so when a riot broke out just as they were about to go onstage at the British Invasion Festival in San Bernardino earlier this year, well . . . it figured. That’s punk rock for you. No expectations. Live for today. No future. No fun. Luckily, the Bristol-by-way-of-London group are already back on an extensive West Coast tour with a rampaging new album, Defiant (SOS Records), bursting with hardcore blasts like “Fast Forward” and the anti-greed rant “Ordinary, Decent . . .?” that rank with the doomsday scenarios of their early-’80s heyday, back when fiery singer Beki Bondage — one of the only women thriving in Britain’s notoriously macho hardcore scene — was England’s equivalent to the Avengers’ Penelope Houston (and an influential precursor to the riot grrls). Defiant ranges from the shout-along glam-rock of “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down” to the swirling metallic tilt of the timely “War of Attrition” and, most intriguingly, “The Story of My Life,” a morbidly unsentimental Christmas song in which Ms. Bond lets down her guard beneath Paul Rooney’s insistent guitar and Mike Giaquinto’s sinister, lurking bass line. An early show, 5-9 p.m. Also at the Allen Theater, Tues. (Falling James)

Pere Ubu at Royce Hall

Bored with recycled gore and Japanese ghost children? Give radiation a chance! Of the free-range mid-’70s weirdos who made up the first generation of “punk” bands, David Thomas’ Pere Ubu — with their feverish hybrid of avant-garde garage rock — has delivered the most constantly surprising soundtracks to modern atomic life. Recently they’ve turned their attention to actual film soundtracks, wowing Europe with a live “underscore” to the last 3D print of It Came from Outer Space. To kick off their North American tour and finish out UCLA Live’s “Far-Out Halloweekend,” they’ll perform their other trademark cinematic mutation — a live take on Roger Corman’s superb 1963 film X — The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, followed by a concert set of songs from their great new CD, Why I Hate Women. (Doug Harvey)

MONDAY, October 30

The Roots at Avalon

Please, enough of this notion that the Roots are the best live band in hip-hop. Given the outrageous chops Philly’s finest have honed over 10-plus years running the road like rap’s Grateful Dead, they can take on pretty much any act out there, genre be damned. Black Thought, Questlove and the crew are deep in the zone right now, evidenced by recent red-hot performances and the sonically adventurous new album, Game Theory, their first on the Jay-Z–helmed Def Jam label. The defiantly paranoid “Livin’ in a New World” strolls campus with an indie-rock vibe like Pavement gone boom-bap, while “Long Time” touches upon TV on the Radio territory, for starters. The Roots are turning L.A. Halloween shows into something of a tradition, and one well worth celebrating. Also Tues. (Scott T. Sterling)


TUESDAY, November 2

Mouse on Mars at the Echo

On their new Varcharz (Ipecac), Düsseldorf electronic duo Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner blast to bits the slightly more pop-oriented realms their previous Radical Connector veered into, a curious decision in light of that album’s victorious balancing of harsh/cold ultra-cerebral electronics and microtonality with extremely funky dance-type shit. That’s maybe not so strange, though, since the pair’s raison d’etre is pushing boundaries, even self-imposed ones. At any rate, Varcharz is demanding in the near brutality of its commitment to the more jagged and painful extremes of electronic timbre, though once again you’ll notice their attention to form and rare dry wit (for this kind of music) flows in abundance. Onstage, they’re known to blow their intellectualisms to dance-floor kingdom come. (John Payne)


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