Music Picks: Agnostic Front, the Latebirds, Def Leppard, Jay Rock
Bring Me the Horizon
Ah, to be 18 again — if only for metalcore. The genre, that hardcore-informed (and deformed) heavy-metal mutant, makes its hard-rock and punk parentage sound positively polite. Brits Bring Me the Horizon are on the commercial end of the genre's inherently extreme sonic spectrum, meaning there are actual discernible refrains and intelligible lyrics amidst the trapped-gnat guitars, fistfight beats and symphonic pretensions. But BMTH's message remains apparently untargeted adolescent wrath, gotten across by churning instrumentation and Oli Sykes' diaphragm-dwelling utterances, which are much more about tone than content. Nothing yells "generation gap" like this. —Paul Rogers
Diego Garcia used to front Elefant, one of the more forgettable products of the early-'00s Brooklyn-rock boom. (Somewhat less forgettable? Garcia's good looks, which once led New York magazine to name him Gotham's sexiest lead singer.) These days dude's out on his own, and the result is a significant upgrade: Laura, Garcia's recent solo debut for L.A.'s Nacional Records, trades the gloomy post-punk guitars for a lighter, string-strung sound indebted to the Latin music he heard growing up, thanks to his Argentine-immigrant parents. Garcia co-wrote one tune, the lovely "You Were Never There," with George Harrison's son, Dhani (of thenewno2 and Fistful of Mercy). Perhaps a guest appearance is in store tonight? —Mikael Wood
The Human League, The B-52's, The Fixx, Berlin
Like the 1980s, this nostalgic bill is a mixed bag. What little these bands have in common is that they all came of age in the late 1970s and early '80s and can be loosely lumped together as new wave (a neologism that has long lost its usefulness, as there's precious little that's truly "new" about this once-adventurous genre). Berlin is basically just singer Terri Nunn and a bunch of new guys attempting to re-create her old hits, but The Fixx features much of its original lineup and — to its credit — actually has some new material. The Human League is fronted by lead singer Philip Oakey and vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley (who were famously discovered by Oakey while they were dancing in a Sheffield nightclub). Unlike most of the one- and two-hit wonders tonight, The B-52's continue to thrive with sassy, sexy and engagingly silly new tunes from their recent album, Funplex. —Falling James
JESSE JACKSON, PAULA FRAZER at Bootleg Bar; HANDSOME FURS, TALKDEMONIC, SUUNS at the Echo; MICHAEL SESSION SEXTET at LACMA; THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK at Hotel Café; MICHAEL LANDAU TRIO at Baked Potato; HANDSOME FURS at Echoplex; MEAN JEANS, WHITE WIRES at Blue Star; MELLOW MADNESS WITH SUZANNE KRAFT at Hyperion Tavern; YOU AM I, TERRAPLANE SUN at the Echo.
L.A. STATE HISTORIC PARK
Despite last year's blocklong lines for fried finger food and a severe lack of water, FYF Fest lives on. Now partnering with Goldenvoice (the fine folks who bring you "hassle-free" Coachella), and relocating to new downtown digs, it's guaranteed smooth summer sailing this year, right? The verdict's still out, but expect a healthy meld of punk purists and indie enthusiasts descending on the L.A. State Historic Park to catch punk stalwarts the Descendents hitting L.A. proper for the first time since 1997 [see Music Page Two]. Noise rockers Death From Above 1979 play a rare stateside gig since re-forming earlier this year, and Matador is in attendance with both Guided By Voices (old) and Girls (new) set to perform. Other must-see acts: No Age, Cults and Broken Social Scene. —Dan Hyman
Brainticket, Nektar, Huw Lloyd Langton, Moksha
The late '60s/early '70s was a time when rock music fractured and flowered in manifold ways, veering away from American blues- and folk-based traditions to explore Euro-classical and avant-electronic realms. Not having to sound like a bar band from New Jersey freed up musicians to stretch the scope of this thing we call "rock," which tonight's lineup of veteran progressive-/space-rock heavies did in many-splendored ways. Brainticket did phantasmagorical hybrids of ethnic/classical/electronic musics. Nektar, a German outfit led by Englishman Roye Albrighton, fell more along arty-jazzy-pop-rock lines. The era also boasted grunge-space demons, like Hawkwind, represented here by ex-member Huw Lloyd Langton. Las Vegas–based prog outfit Moksha supply the funky plate of Dead/Phish. —John Payne
Nineteen-year-old Ventura trombonist John Egizi wants to take his instrument where few players have gone before. As part of Barbara Brighton's Young Artists series, a 15-year-old Egizi artfully slid his way through John Coltrane's "Song of Praise" at Catalina — and it was nothing short of astonishing. Since then Egizi has gone on to win awards as a soloist, tour with Antonio Hart and Bobby Watson, and play beside the likes of Christian McBride, Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis at the White House. Before Egizi heads back East for his Presidential Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music, he's joined by pianist Ruslan Sirota, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Dan Schnelle. The quartet almost certainly will show that the next generation of jazz is in very capable hands. —Tom Meek
Tribute to Shane Williams
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
Many of his admirers assumed that former Flipside columnist Shane Williams would die young — either from a drug overdose or in a hail of bullets during one of his notorious bank-robbery attempts — so it was considerably shocking when he was killed as a passenger in a relatively mundane car accident in Hollywood in June. Although he was in prison for much of his adulthood, Williams still managed to get more done behind bars than most people do in their entire lives. His long, rambling Shaneshit columns encompassed everything from appreciations of obscure Australian garage-punk bands to tangled philosophical rants about the hypocrisies of the criminal-justice system, along with more hedonistic digressions about his rampant lust for sex and opiates. Appropriately enough, tonight's tribute features an eclectic range of his favorite local bands, from the throttling hardcore punk of Symbol Six and Detroit-style punks the Neurotics to the expansive hard rock of Backbiter and roots-trash monger Lightnin' Woodcock. —Falling James
PATRICK STUMP at Saint Rocke (Hermosa Beach); PEPPER at Queen Mary Events Park (Long Beach).
"I feel no sympathy for no one ... Don't believe, ask the last dead n*gga," 25-year-old rapper Jay Rock, a native of Watts' Nickerson Gardens projects, bellows over ringing "Next Episode" chimes on "Bout That," the fiercest cut off the L.A. MC's long-awaited debut, Follow Me Home. Since dropping the Lil Wayne– and will.i.am-guesting cut "All My Life (In the Ghetto)" — also on his new LP — in late '08, Jay Rock has steadily built a reputation as a hard-edged ball bruiser, the Louisville Slugger–wielding hitman to backpack rap's softy shrink. Along with fellow Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar, Rock, whose gruff growl has been compared to Biggie and Shyne, has helped anchor a resurgence of classic West Coast hip-hop muscle. While slightly scared, we're extremely thankful. —Dan Hyman
SALASTINA MUSIC SOCIETY, BARITONE RODNEY GILFRY at LACMA; SHOGUN WARRIOR at Baked Potato; TORCHES IN TREES, SUMMER TWINS at Bootleg Bar; DJ HOSEH, VERSION, ANIMAL STYLE at El Chavito.
The one-woman synth army known as Kristeen Young returns to L.A. for another month of special blue-Monday appearances highlighting her recent EP, V the Volcanic. The record is a dense, dark and beat-heavy affair in which Young uses the travails of notable cinematic characters as a springboard to launch her own fantastic, dizzyingly romantic tales. But it doesn't really matter if you know that "Why Can't It Be Me?" is based on the plight of Lucy Westenra from Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula; the song stands on its own as a deeply moving, romantic ballad of heartbreak and loneliness. Working without a publicist or a backup band and releasing the EP on her own label, Young seems newly energized, having just returned to the States after a series of British concerts, opening for her old mentor, Morrissey. —Falling James
KATE CRASH, TENNIS SYSTEM at the Satellite; OLD SCHOOL STRAIGHT AHEAD JAZZ JAM at Nola's; THE PILLOWS at El Rey Theatre; DEATH KIT, YOUNG HUNTING at Bootleg Bar.
Bob Mintzer Big Band
Promoter/booker April Williams has transformed the once-sleepy upstairs cabaret room at Vitello's into one of the area's most sought-after jazz clubs. Williams pushes her envelope even further this month, beginning a Tuesday night big band series scheduled to feature the very best the Southland has to offer. First up is saxophonist Bob Mintzer, who somehow manages to split his time between Yellowjackets, a professorship at USC and numerous performance dates and arranging sessions to front one of the leading large ensembles anywhere. Mintzer's big band reputation was well established in New York before his 2008 move to Los Angeles, and he rapidly assembled a cast of equal eminence here. Drummer Peter Erskine backs the group, harkening back to his early days as the boy wonder for Stan Kenton. —Tom Meek
AN EVENING WITH ROB ZABRECKY at Steve Allen Theater; RED PONY CLOCK, THE LADYBUG TRANSISTOR, SEA LIONS at the Satellite; EXPLODING FLOWERS, TOMMY KEENE at Silverlake Lounge; ITZHAK PERLMAN at Hollywood Bowl; JENNIFER LEITHAM TRIO at Nola's; CHATHAM COUNTY LINE, HI HO SILVER OH at the Echo.
Iggy & the Stooges, Le Butcherettes
It's a shame that it took a tragic death to get the Stooges' Raw Power lineup back together. Real wild child Iggy Pop had already reunited with the surviving members of the Stooges' original lineup — guitarist Ron Asheton and drummer Scott Asheton — earlier this decade, and the band sounded surprisingly menacing after an absence of 25 years. However, when Ron died from a heart attack in early 2009, Iggy decided to keep the group going, with incendiary guitarist James Williamson joining Scott Asheton and new bassist Mike Watt. As sad as it might seem, the addition of Williamson enables the newly revamped Stooges to reprise their landmark 1973 opus, Raw Power, the David Bowie–produced album that included such blistering tracks as "Search & Destroy" and the relatively vulnerable "I Need Somebody." Fittingly, the openers tonight are crazed Mexican post-punks Le Butcherettes, whose leader, Teri Gender Bender, throws herself fearlessly into the pit much like Iggy still does. —Falling James
If anyone wondered whether this trailblazing songwriter-producer-mogul's influence died with his most famous protégé, Michael Jackson, last year's star-studded Soul Bossa Nostra should have settled the question. What other lifer in his late 70s still has the juice to corral cameos by Akon, John Legend, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Mary J. Blige and the late Barry White? (Album kind of sucked, but still.) Tonight's Bowl show celebrates Jones' six decades in music (per the L.A. Phil's description) with a bill that leans toward his jazzier side: singer Patti Austin, bassist Richard Bona and pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, along with Jones' own All-Star Big Band. And from Planet Pop he'll pull Gloria Estefan and the Brothers Johnson, with whom he famously remade Shuggie Otis' "Strawberry Letter 23." —Mikael Wood
Def Leppard, Heart
You don't have to have heard this year's live Mirrorball to know what you're gonna get at a Def Leppard gig these days. "Foolin'," "Photograph," "Pour Some Sugar on Me" — each is sure to deliver its pop-metal payload as expected. But folks who haven't checked in on Heart in a while are strongly encouraged to spin last year's excellent Red Velvet Car; it demonstrates how good the Wilson sisters have gotten at blending their trashy riff-rock side with their misty-mountain folk side. (Alas, they don't make much use of their hairspray-hardened power-ballad side.) Reports from the road promise a scene-stealing opening performance from these Jet City women. Don't be late. —Mikael Wood
Ex-members of Finland's surf-twang kingpins Laika & the Cosmonauts regroup as the Latebirds and issue Last of the Good Ol' Days. A succulent slice of rootsy rock and folk stuff that derives a gray-skies gloom from songs largely focused on social and political ills, the record is dedicated to Russian human rights activist/journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in Moscow in late 2006. While the album is a cornucopia of familiar rock, folk, punk, country, gospel and R&B styles, it comes at it from unfamiliar angles. Featuring guest biggies such as keyboardist Benmont Tench, Minnie Driver, The Band's Levon Helms and guitar god Nels Cline, it includes an EP of five tracks cut at Helms' Woodstock studio, gnarly, tough-love takes on tunes by Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt, as well as two band originals. —John Payne
RACHEL GOODRICH at Silverlake Lounge; VIVA BROTHER at Troubadour; RANCID at House of Blues (Anaheim); BEN HARPER at the Grammy Museum.
Band of Horses
Looking at the beard of Ben Bridwell, the frontman for this roots-rock quintet — they formed in Seattle but now call South Carolina home — is like staring into a robin-infested thicket of disarray one might expect from the neighborhood hobo you can't tear your eyes away from. Yet, when the ex-homeless singer opens up his mouth, there is an unexpected beauty: the sound of doves floating down from the pearly gates. Over the course of three albums, Bridwell and co. have transformed themselves from Pacific Northwest indie buzzers, kicking up some dust where it always rains, to opening for Pearl Jam on a global jaunt. Their latest, last year's Infinite Arms, is at once rollicking and gentle; a band, and singer, hitting their stride on all hooves. —Dan Hyman
Alongside Cro-Mags and Murphy's Law, Agnostic Front personified an indigenous folk music of early-1980s New York City: hardcore. Angrier and less artsy than its stateside punk predecessors, NYHC told tales of Reagan-era urban marginalization and resulting street-level brawling and bonding through battered beats, primitive guitars and "singing" that sounded more like the barked orders of a takeover bandit. During multiple lineup changes (and a jail term for frontman Roger Miret), Agnostic Front went kinda metal, lost fans, then returned to their sometimes overly sentimental "oi" roots and connected with a whole new generation of pissed-off pit-heads. With pessimism becoming America's pastime, Agnostic Front make perfect sense again. —Paul Rogers
Spindrift, Icarus Line, the Country
On their latest Xemu release, Classical Soundtracks Vol. 1, heavy West Coast psychedelic troupe Spindrift take you on a rollicking trip with songs and instrumental pieces taken from spaghetti Western soundtracks that don't (but should) exist. Played by a group of rock musicians rather than Italian orchestral players, they pay homage to this gold mine of American cinema with their Wild West desert theme. Spindrift celebrate with a special event featuring a selection of visual presentations, sets by the Icarus Line, the Country (members of Gram Rabbit) and Buddyhead's Travis Keller, a sneak preview of their new video for "Theme From Drifters Pass" (directed by Abigail Bean) and a screening of "Theme From Ghost Patrol" (directed by Jean Balest). —Lainna Fader
JOYCE YANG, BRAMWELL TOVEY at Hollywood Bowl; MONTROSE at Canyon Club (Agoura Hills); SABROSA PURR at Viper Room; THE CRAZY SQUEEZE at Alex's Bar; JUDY WEXLER at Café 322; BORETA, AGES at Heavy; THE JIM JONES REVUE, TRMRS at the Echo; MICHAEL DES BARRES BAND at Silverlake Lounge.
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