Music Picks: Black Heart Procession, Vandelles, Minnie Driver, Ronnie Mack


Six Organs of Admittance
at the Echo

The ghosts of probing six- and 12-stringers John Fahey and Sandy Bull hover benignly above the nimble-fingered guitarist and singer Ben Chasney, but that tells a mere small part of the multihued musical sage-isms he brings to his own Six Organs of Admittance. Chasney, whose ultra-guitar intuitions also grace up such progressive-spirited bands as Comets on Fire, Current 93 and Plague League, has a new Six Organs disc out, Shelter From the Ash (Drag City), done in collab with producer Tim Green of the Fucking Champs, the Magik Markers’ Elisa Ambrogio and Chasney’s Comets on Fire bandmate Noel Harmonson; it reveals much of the darker implications of Chasney’s surreally misty dreams — or ruminations on war — in tightly structured or droney excursions flecked with flickering acoustic guitars or spikily soaring electrics; tin pots and plucked piano innards add to the often ambiguous allure — which can explode in one’s face without fair warning. (John Payne)

{mosimage}FRIDAY, Jan. 11

The Black Heart Procession at Spaceland

These gloomy San Diego–based goth-punk merchants sat out 2007 despite a wealth of dark vibes to draw from, but the Black Heart Procession are charging into 2008 with a brief West Coast tour on which they reportedly intend to road-test material they’ll lay down for a new album due out later this year. With any luck, the new stuff will share more with 2002’s excellent Amore del Tropico than with 2006’s so-so The Spell. On Amore, they tricked out their slow-and-low grooves with tasty traces of Latin music that made their sad-dude laments seem weighty and exotic (rather than tired and whiny). The Spell featured less stylistic dabbling and therefore less excitement. Whatever they play, the Black Hearts almost always put on a compelling live show — particularly when they don their appealingly creepy horse-head masks. (Mikael Wood)

Also playing Friday:

at the Airliner; GRAY KID, HAPPY HOLLOWS at the Echo; SOCIAL DISTORTION at House of Blues; MELLOW MAN ACE, KID FROST at the Key Club; JON BRION at Largo; SKY PARADE, THE VANDELLES at the Scene; SHINICHI & ALL THE WAY LIVE at Tangier; THE START, THE DOLLYROTS at the Troubadour.

DAY, Jan. 12

The Boars, The Guilty Hearts, The Jinxes, The Thingz at Mr. T’s Bowl

If you’re one of those garage-rock purists who think the White Stripes are too complicated and lavishly orchestrated, then you might dig this bill of even-lower-fi subsonic reducers. Coed Long Beach the Thingz crank out gloriously silly garage-punk songs that are often about the joy (and terror) of eating food (“Manicotti Massacre,” “Mastication Blues”) and living underwater (“Do the Crab,” “She’s a Piranha”). Led by former members of St. Jorge & the Dragons, local thugs the Jinxes play an extremely crude brand of Farfisa-fueled ’60s-style rock with songs that sound like they were recorded from outside of a closed and tightly locked garage. Fellow Angelenos the Guilty Hearts (featuring Blood on the Saddle drummer Hermann K. Senac) have a similarly snarling garage-rock attack, albeit juiced up with tons more fuzz and a creepy rootsiness on songs like “Ghost in My Room,” which really does sound like “a long night of drinking, hallucinations and sex.” San Francisco quartet the Boars have been “keepin’ it feral” with sludgy, smoky, claustrophobic rave-ups that draw upon such primal influences as the Count Five, the Sonics and Billy Childish. (Falling James)

{mosimage}Minnie Driver at the Hotel Café

What’s worse — rock musicians who think they can act (Roger Daltrey in Lisztomania comes immediately to mind) or actors who think they can rock (Juliette Lewis pretending to be Iggy Pop)? Both forms of dilettantism are equally embarrassing, and such celebrity indulgences should be approached with extreme caution, if not outright terror. And yet actor Minnie Driver acquitted herself admirably on her 2004 debut album, Everything I've Got in My Pocket. She took a minor Bruce Springsteen track, “Hungry Heart,” slowed it down to a ballad tempo and turned it into a gently moving song of yearning. Her second CD, 2007’s Seastories (Zoë/Rounder), is another engaging affair of softly rocking pop, with Driver writing or co-writing all of the tunes. “I’ll be your magnetic north,” she confides endearingly on the acoustic idyll “Beloved.” She’s not very musically adventurous, but she has a seductively serene voice, and “Mockingbird” and “Lakewater Hair” are well-crafted, if mainstream love songs with traces of countrified soul. Stellar guests Ryan Adams, Liz Phair and the Wallflowers’ Rami Jaffee lend their approval, adorning Driver’s siren songs with low-key embellishments. (Falling James)

{mosimage}Mitsu Salmon & the Open Gate Band at Diavolo Dance Theater

Telling stories with movement and music — in surprising new ways — is the story behind Tales of Love and Woe, a theatrical experience by Mitsu Salmon and the Open Gate Band. The hourlong event finds dance-performance artist Salmon in 10-minute collaborative works with the very cream of the avant-progressive/art-jazz scene in L.A. in an interesting format of music/performance, where the aural and visual elements complement and juxtapose one another. Among the pieces is “My Home the Library” (“about a Dewey Decimal–singing librarian who craves order and introversion,” says Mitsu), written and performed by Mitsu Salmon with music by percussionist Brad Dutz, sax/reeds man Vinny Golia and flautist Will Salmon (the founder of the venerable Open Gate Theater). “Yellowtail Unrequited Love Sashimi” (“about the food-service industry, unrequited love and Los Angeles”) is a collaboration between tuba/multimedia maestro William Roper and Mitsu Salmon. “Flight” (“about a neurotic flight attendant who seeks spiritual transcendence”) was written by Mitsu Salmon with music by Will Salmon, bassist Bill Casale and Dutz. Also solo and collaborative works by Golia, Dutz, Roper, Casale, drummer Alex Cline and George McMullin. 616 Moulton St., dwntwn. (in the Brewery Arts Complex); 8 p.m. (626) 795-4989. See Dance listing. (John Payne)

Also playing Saturday:


{mosimage}SUNDAY, Jan. 13

The Vandelles, Spindrift at the Echo

The Vandelles come straight outta Brooklyn, riding a hurricane of feedback, sound effects, blown amplifiers, reverb, echo and other electronic haziness. The coed quartet pair their sonic maelstroms with relatively basic rock & roll melodies, a combination that heavily recalls the noise-pop collisions of the Jesus & Mary Chain. “Swell to Heaven” bops along with a Beach Boys/Ramones simplicity on an ocean of fuzz, which mostly buries the laconic singing. “Lovely Weather” is positively mesmerizing with disembodied vocals floating atop jagged spy-movie guitars and even more fog banks of supersaturated fuzz and white noise. The “noir rock” stylists are composed of former members of the Mercenary Gang and Del Black Aloha, and while they still need to distinguish themselves from their influences, they sure do pile up some awesomely beautiful stacks of noise. The Vandelles open this Part Time Punks shindig for headliners Spindrift, the self-proclaimed “slithering desert kings of California.” The psychedelic combo artfully blends spaghetti-Western guitars with rambling soundscapes that unravel like a less-bombastic and more hypnotic version of the Doors. (Falling James)

Niño Astronauta at Little Temple

Like a foreign-exchange program with a neighborhood of rock & roll heaven, drummer Argel “Arhkota” Cota, laptop/guitarist Ignacio “Nashio” Chavez and bassist Tati Moreno Cota hail from the halcyon expanse of Ensenada to purvey their brand of electronica, which is smooth yet spiky, like a baby hedgehog that is simultaneously cute and grumpy. Niño Astronauta have been relatively quiet since their self-titled debut in 2005, but when they do play out these days, they’re sculpting the tracks from their forthcoming untitled album — the Boss, the Akai, the winding circuitry that somehow makes a thing of beauty spring fully formed from the gutter — it’s all there. They worked with everyone from Nortec Collective to Ben Watt of Everything But the Girl, and the resulting mélange of “nu-jazz/two-step/breakbeat/dance/glitch/rock” means you’ll like it so much, you’ll swallow it hook, line, sinker, rod, reel and the fuckin’ boat to boot. 4519 Santa Monica Blvd. (David Cotner)

Also playing Sunday:

at House of Blues; ADRIAN LEGG at Live at the Lounge; PUNK BUNNY, THE GODDESS BUNNY at Mr. T’s Bowl; BONEBRAKE SYNCOPATORS at Safari Sam’s.

{mosimage}MONDAY, Jan. 14

Miss Derringer at the Viper Room

Liz McGrath looks like such an adorably sweet little doll that it’s hard to believe she creates such gory (and Goreyesque) paintings, dioramas and sculptures. The singer — who was the cover girl in the Weekly’s September 14, 2007, issue — defies expectations with her latest band, Miss Derringer, which sounds nothing like the chaotic thrill ride of her old punk group, Tongue. Miss Derringer are more traditionally melodic and rootsy on their new EP, Black Tears (Stay Gold Records). The title track is a slice of unabashed ’60s girl-group pop, while “Heartbreaks & Razorblades” offers a more subdued sense of romantic disappointment. Augmented by McGrath’s husband, guitarist Morgan Slade, Miss Derringer are all about atmosphere and setting a retro mood as they examine “honky-tonk subjects like prison, alcohol, sobriety, God, death, murder and alcohol.” When it comes to atmosphere, nobody creates a more enchanting vibe than former Avengers bassist James Wilsey, who’s perhaps best known for scratching up those classic glittery, twangy guitar tones for Chris Isaak. Wilsey opens with his own set and will likely sit in with Miss D, bringing his ghostly tremelo shivers. (Falling James)

Faun Fables at the Knitting Factory

One of the more enjoyably spine-chilling experiences of the last couple years has been locking one’s self in a closet and listening to Faun Fables’ The Transit Rider album in the dark. A profoundly haunting set of tunes based upon an arcane “dream within a dream,” The Transit Rider presented bellowing centaur Nils Frykdahl of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum partnered with an unusually thrilling singer named Dawn McCarthy, together proffering mostly acoustic tunes distantly recalling English plainsong and folk-art offspring such as the Incredible String Band. McCarthy has invented a strange world of grimly gripping tall tales, given a cinema verité–enhanced production that aids the moody mystery immensely. This sound/place is heavily dusted with atmosphere and that strange allure of the obscure... The lineup tonight will be McCarthy, Frykdahl, Kirana Peyton and Meredith Yayanos. (John Payne)

Also playing Monday:

at the Echo; PARSON REDHEADS, MEZZANINE OWLS at Spaceland; KATE NASH at the Troubadour, 9 p.m., and Amoeba Music, 6:30 p.m. (see Music feature).

{mosimage}TUESDAY, Jan. 15

Jesca Hoop at the Hotel Café

Most debut albums only give hints of a promising artist’s potential, but Jesca Hoop’s new CD, Kismet, is a fully realized and often-astonishing work. She could be describing her own music when she sings, “You could hear the song of spiders/strumming fibers/calling her to the web,” amid the tangled instrumentation and dynamic contrasts of “Seed of Wonder.” Hoop got her start in show biz working as a nanny for the children of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, but her intricate harmonies and inventive arrangements sound more like Kate Bush and Björk than the old Rain Dog. Despite such influences — and asking “Can I borrow your bones and marrow till I get my own?” on the playfully surreal love song “Intelligentactile 101” — she ultimately sounds like no one else. “Havoc in Heaven” unwinds with fairy-tale chimes and waltzing clockwork rhythms, while “Silverscreen” crackles and pops with celluloid-inspired whimsy. “Where do we go/the freaks/on the fringe/when the edges are all rounded out?” she wonders on “Money,” a breezily searing critique of the music industry. Let’s hope she keeps her edge now that she’s signed to a major label, Columbia Records. (Falling James)

Ronnie Mack’s Barndance at El Cid

For the past 30 years, Baltimore-born guitar-slinger Ronnie Mack has kept his hand on the wheel, first with his successful late-’70s Palomino gig, a wild stint as part of upstart rockabilly indie Rollin Rock’s unhinged stable and, for the last two decades, running his no-cover, wide-open roots-music showcase, the Barndance. In that time, he’s hosted some of the biggest names in American music (Bruce Springsteen, James Burton, Rose Maddox, Del McCoury, Bonnie Owens) and built up his own stable of able local acolytes, most of whom are pitching in for tonight’s 20th-anniversary blowout. From the drastically gone rockabilly originator Ray Campi to hard-country veteran George Highfill to honky-tonk poet Mike Stinson, it’s a formidable brawl. Add in the liquored-up thrills of the Cheatin’ Kind’s show-stopping Babs McDonald and Rosie Flores’ unpredictable and unbeatable country-rockabilly explorations, and it’s a downright irresistible proposition. Thanks, Ronnie. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Tuesday:



Simple Plan at the Troubadour

There are a few possible approaches when outlining the essence of the Quebecois pop-punk band Simple Plan. (“We’re not trying to be punk!” they feebly cry, barely audible underneath a dense haze of trying to be punk.) So, first: They are not quite as good as a whipped-bile sundae. Second: What do five slimy pepsis think they have to offer us that isn’t utterly antithetical to actual punk rock? A grown-up and zenned-out ex-punker would be forgiven by his wife and kids for coming out of retirement to shiv these guys. Third: Simple Plan is a totally capable and uplifting children’s folk band. Fourth: Your life is but a fragile tuft of time and experience, and if spending it with lyrics like “No you don’t know what it’s like when nothing feels all right/You don’t know what it’s like to be like me,” then you totally fucking deserve it. (Kate Carraway)

Also playing Wednesday:

at the Hotel Café.

{mosimage}THURSDAY, Jan. 17

Cornelius at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Under cover of a canopy of high-concept titles — the Cornelius Group Synchronized Sensuous Show headlining a program titled Man-Machine in the Digital City as part of the L.A. Phil’s “Concrete Frequency” series — there is a rather simple proposition tonight: the singular art pop of Japan’s Keigo Oyamada (a.k.a. Cornelius) played amid a multimedia extravaganza. Considering that IDM lifers Plaid are the opening act, on paper the event looks like a late-’90s nostalgia revue. It was indeed a decade ago that Oyamada landed on U.S. shores with his debut album, Fantasma, fashioned under the sign of suburban America’s two pillars of pre-punk wonder, both of them rooted in Southland soil: Walt Disney and Brian Wilson. Tonight’s performance, then, should be some sort of homecoming. Oyamada imagineered a vivid galaxy spiraling with cartoon tones, sunray chorals, swaying strums and chiming synths. His pre-millennial pet sounds were equal parts analogue and digital. Transitioning through the jagged minimalism of 2001’s Point, he still brandishes crisp lines, sharp corners, jolts of rhythm and white-on-white glares on last year’s Sensuous, but they remain tempered by strands of melodious euphoria and Muppets-y merriment. (Bernardo Rondeau)

Also playing Thursday:

at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium; PRISCILLA AHN at the Hotel Café; LUPE FIASCO at House of Blues (see Music feature); VOLTO, GRYPHON LABS at the Knitting Factory; THE WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; PERRY FARRELL, PAUL GREEN SCHOOL OF ROCK ALL-STARS at the Roxy; GANG WIZARD, MEHO PLAZA at the Smell; AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT, RADARS TO THE SKY, THE ADORED at Spaceland.

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