Music Picks: Buzzcocks, Diana Ross, Isis, the xx
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM AT THE PALLADIUM
As archetypal a New York City band as any on active duty right now, LCD Soundsystem nonetheless made the brand-new This Is Happening right here in L.A., at Rick Rubin's purportedly haunted Laurel Canyon mansion. (Earlier this year LCD mastermind James Murphy told Pitchfork that the album's lead single, "Drunk Girls," is about the fact that the mansion's chef regularly referred to Murphy and his coterie as "the girls.") So perhaps we're in for some poignant reminiscing at the Palladium, where LCD will perform as a reportedly ripping six-piece live band that currently includes synthmeister Gavin Russom, Tyler Pope of !!! and local guitarist David Scott Stone. Even if Murphy foregoes the anecdotes, though, you should definitely go: With its juicy dance-rock grooves and its funny-depressing lyrics (on romance, aging and the romance of aging), This Is Happening is most certainly that. (Mikael Wood)
COMPTON METAL NIGHT AT THE SMELL
Most likely you don't think of little old Compton as a hotbed of metalmania. Fact is, though, there's a thriving scene for some real grand grind/doom/crust/power-violence there: Suffering Luna's been around since the '90s and keeps resurfacing with a hellish brand of psychedelic hardcore laced with weird polyrhythms, media–sound bite samples, tape loops and hairy walls of guitar that owe to the artier strains of Scando black metal and '70s Euro kosmische musik. Their performances are grueling, paranoid affairs that burn their way into trance. Demoralize got together in early '09, and their angle on the metal is like a work in progress. Expect a slamming Anthrax/Motörhead/Sepultura/Slayer kinda homage in their original tunes. Necrobitchuery is Juan (lead guitar), Francisco (drums), Frank (bass) and Alexis (rhythm guitar/vocals), who offer this advice: "Keep shit true to yourself and don't follow no pussy-ass trends." (John Payne)
50 CENT AT NOKIA
This 50 Cent is a mogul monster, what with the films and TV shows and record label and collabs with Kelly Clarkson and all, so you want to witness the man's spoutin' prowess before he gets the rest of his tattoos lasered off for those future big-screen roles where he'll play a dad in Encino whose best friend is a St. Bernard or something. The onstage 50 Cent is all tight and lean and very much on toppa his game, not like his Get Rich or Die Tryin'movie would've indicated, more like that "Blood on the Sand" video where he's in Iraq beatin' the crap outta terrorists. Just saying that you still need to have this guy on your side. Onstage, dude's a genially scary dynamo, with a famously natural flow. He's doing things with a live band, too, and while his newfound interest in upbeat "dance" music probably won't be a big part of this set, you just never, ever know. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday: MIIKE SNOW at Fox Theater Pomona; PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, NEON INDIAN at Natural History Museum; MIA DOI TODD, SIMONE WHITE at McCabe's Guitar Shop; MUMFORD & SONS, THE MIDDLE EAST at the Music Box; LOCAL NATIVES, SUCKERS at the Troubadour; MOSES CAMPBELL, MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, BIG WHUP, SPIRIT VINE at Echo Curio; TRASHCAN SINATRAS at Key Club; HELLO MY NAME IS RED, TOMORROW'S TULIPS at Pehrspace; THE GOLDEN FILTER at Spaceland; CLASS ACTRESS at the Echo; THE RALPH PENLAND POLYGON at LACMA; THE SILVER LAKE CHORUS at El Cid; BEN VAUGHN & THE DESERT CLASSIC at Cinema Bar.
BUZZCOCKS AT CLUB NOKIA
"This may sound strange/My future and my past are presently disarranged," Pete Shelley sang back in 1978 on the Buzzcocks' second album, Love Bites. "And I'm surfing on a wave of nostalgia for an age yet to come." Tonight, the Buzzcocks' past and present merge for a special concert that's ostensibly about nostalgia but which will likely emphasize just how vital the long-running British punk-pop quartet still is. Like so many other veteran musicians these days, the Buzzcocks plan to perform a full-length rendition of one of their classic albums, in this case Love Bites. But because many of their early songs are so short and snappy, the twist here is that Shelley and guitarist-singer Steve Diggle will also have time to play their entire debut album, Another Music in a Different Kitchen, as well as a scattering of hits from throughout their fertile career. Obviously, the focus tonight will be on such beloved oldies as "What Do I Get?," "Fast Cars," "Sixteen Again," "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" and the sublimely mesmerizing "E.S.P." — a seemingly endless string of compellingly melodic gems that inspired a legion of critics to accurately describe the Buzzcocks as "the punk Beatles." However, let's hope that the group will also break out some of the thrilling tunes, such as "Choices," "Flat-Pack Philosophy" and the aptly titled "Why Compromise?," from their more recent (and criminally underrated) comeback albums. (Falling James)
ISIS AT THE TROUBADOUR
"Simply put, Isis has done everything we wanted to do [and] said everything we wanted to say." So spake the atmospherically inclined hard-rocking crew that helped reinvent metal for a generation unimpressed by prefixes like nü- and hair-. In late May, the L.A.-based band, which got its start in Boston, announced that after 14 years in the game, this current tour will be its last. This news came as a shock to Isis' fans, many of whom regard 2009's Wavering Radiant LP as among the group's best work to date. Furthermore, Isis' embrace by metal fans, indie rockers, ambient aficionados and lovers of the avant-garde virtually guaranteed another decade of success — a fact that's all the more confounding considering the split seems to be amicable. But perhaps other interests came calling — frontman and founder Aaron Turner runs the consistently innovative Hydra Head label, collaborations with minimalist Tim Hecker have been whispered about, and the band shares members with a laundry list of local hard-rock bands. (Chris Martins)
KROQ WEENIE ROAST AT VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATER
Does the extraordinarily high number of reunion acts here — Stone Temple Pilots, Hole, Devo and the Bradley Nowell–less Sublime — say something bleak about the current state of America's Alternative Nation? Yeah, probably. (That STP record's not bad, though.) Still, don't let the preponderance of oldsters blind you to some of the fresher talent at KROQ's annual start-of-summer blowout: Tennessee's Paramore, for example, are the single finest pop-punk band currently working in America; their Brand New Eyes, from last year, is emo with a point. Against Me! make similarly vital use of loud guitars on their new White Crosses, while Deftones turn their noise inward on the typically thoughtful Diamond Eyes. And Spoon are pretty much always worth seeing (even if this year's Transferencecould do with a few more catchy tunes). Also on the bill: L.A.'s own Silversun Pickups, as well as Chevelle, Cage the Elephant, the Dirty Heads, the Temper Trap and Passion Pit. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Saturday: LOCAL NATIVES, VOXHAUL BROADCAST at the Bootleg Theater; THE MIDDLE EAST at Detroit Bar; BODY PARTS, THE PRESERVATION, OH YEAH, THE FUTURE at Echo Curio; LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, HOLY GHOST! at Fox Theater Pomona; THE XX (also see Sun.) at the MUSIC BOX; SCREAMING FEMALES at Spaceland; SUBHUMANS, AHEAD at the Glass House; DAN BLACK at the Roxy; GRACE WIDOW, MIKE WATT at the Smell; RITA MORENO at Catalina Bar & Grill; MAXWELL, JILL SCOTT at Staples Center.
THE XX AT THE WILTERN
Earlier this year, in an essay for the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll, I lamented the fact that a great many of America's rock critics found this arty English trio a more satisfying source of soul music than the-Dream or R. Kelly. Well, joke's on me: Last month Maxwell told Billboard that for the follow-up to 2009's BLACKsummers'night he's taking influence from the xx. In fact, he could do worse: In sleekly minimalistic jams like "Crystalised" and "Islands" (a sample of which recently turned up online in a new Shakira song), the xx forge a fresh sound that seems to pull as much from Timbaland's space-age R&B as it does from the clean-channel guitar tangle of Washing Machine–era Sonic Youth. I'm unsure why so many of my peers find that sound so passionate, and I'm not at all certain that the band's trademark delicacy will survive their growing buzz. But I'm definitely interested in seeing where they go. Also Sat. at the Music Box. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Sunday: VETIVER at Spaceland; SUBHUMANS at the Echo; HATCHET WOUND, DUNES, BIPOLAR BEAR, NEONATES at the Smell; PLAYBOY JAZZ at Warner Center Park.
THAO & MIRAH WITH THE BEST OF ALL AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
What happens when you combine two of the smartest and most adventurous American indie-pop singers into one big, brand-new collaboration? We're not sure exactly what Thao Nguyen and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn have planned tonight, but, considering their separate track records, it doesn't seem to be an exaggeration that their new project is titled the Best of All. Based in Portland, Oregon, Yom Tov Zeitlyn has already had a wild and varied career, combining introspective pop songs with electronic experimentation and working with Spectratone International and members of the Black Cat Orchestra when she examined the secret life of insects on the marvelously inventive album Share This Place. Kill Rock Stars' Nguyen is coming off an unusual album of breakup songs, Know Better Learn Faster, where her clever, self-deprecating lyrics were dressed up with elaborate orchestration. For this tour, Thao & Mirah are performing in a stripped-down format, backing each other acoustically while dipping into each other's estimable song catalogs. (Falling James)
Also playing Monday: DELTA SPIRIT at Amoeba; PU$$Y COW, PRIZZY PRIZZY PLEASE, OH BARRACUDA at Echo Curio; NORA KEYES, NO BABIES at Pehrspace; EVEN VOYTAS at Silverlake Lounge; WE BARBARIANS at Spaceland; RAINBOW ARABIA at the Echo.
HENRY CLAY PEOPLE AT SPACELAND
They were working part time, all the time, to paraphrase one of the stellar Henry Clay People songs that'd been kicking around the L.A. underground for a few years. There was a minute there when it seemed like the band's moment would never come — that all of those excellent, Americana-tinged, punky rock ditties would go the way of the dodo as national focus moved from the Silver Lake songwriters to the downtown noisemakers. But then, in what outwardly seemed sudden (and what inwardly must've been a long time coming), TBD Records announced it'd signed HCP, making them label mates with — wait for it — Radiohead. Somewhere on the Golden Coast, which is out the day of this show, will be the band's third LP and should be chock-full of the edgy, upbeat energy that sets the People apart from L.A.'s also-rans. Catch them now before they embark on a massive national tour opening for an apt pair of headliners: Silversun Pickups and Against Me. (Chris Martins)
HEALTH, BEST COAST, INDIAN JEWELRY, GOLD PANDA AT THE ECHOPLEX
Despite the natural tendency to assume otherwise, the L.A. noise scene is about as diverse as the city that's nurtured it. This night's stars hail from nigh-opposite ends of that spectrum. HEALTH uses electronics to garble its sound; Best Coast relies upon old-fashioned guitar fuzz. HEALTH singer Jabob Duzsik chooses to express himself through a series of spine-chilling hisses and screams; Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino prefers oohs, aahs and candy-sweet melodies delivered with slackerly aplomb. The former's band attracts words like "terrifying," "aggressive" and "dark"; the latter's collects descriptors like "warm," "swooning" and "beachy." You get the idea. So where's the common ground? Aside from a general commitment to large amounts of distortion, the connective tissue lies in the fact that both acts are damn good at what they do. HEALTH's Get Color was one of the finest L.A. releases of 2009, and Best Coast's series of seven-inches has inspired eBay shoppers to pay as much as $50 for two songs at a time. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Tuesday: SUCKERS at Amoeba; THE GOOD LIFE, THE PARSON RED HEADS at the Glass House; GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS at the Roxy.
KAREN ELSON AT SPACELAND
Karen Elson might be best known as Jack White's wife, but the British model has been a longtime member of the NYC cabaret collective the Citizens Band, putting her personal spin on songs by the Velvet Underground, Marlene Dietrich and Kurt Weill. More than just a pretty face, Elson has an enchanting voice and has recorded duets with Cat Power and Robert Plant. She met White when she acted in a video for the White Stripes song "Blue Orchid," and married him in 2005. Since then, the Nashville-based couple's collaborations have included two children, as well as Elson's debut CD, The Ghost Who Walks (Third Man Records). Although White produced and played drums, the album is really Elson's show. She delves into rootsy folk and country styles, infusing them with a sense of eeriness that's echoed by the haunting imagery in the title track. Elson is just as persuasive when she's intoning stripped-down, austere folk songs like "Lunasa" as she is singing the circus-y cabaret idyll "100 Years From Now" and the funereal blues lament "Mouths to Feed." (Falling James)
DIANA ROSS AT NOKIA THEATRE
Backed by a sizable ensemble that includes live strings and horns, Diana Ross is on tour playing hits from a career that's spanned some serious stylistic turf: soulful girl-group pop with the Supremes, bluesy vocal jazz in Lady Sings the Blues, hands-in-the-air disco in "I'm Coming Out." The show's called More Today Than Yesterday, after the Spiral Starecase hit she covered on 2006's so-so I Love You, but judging by reports from the road, the set list (which evidently includes a tribute to Michael Jackson) has more to do with yesterday than with today. Given Ross' still-powerful voice and her wonderfully diva-tastic hair — not to mention a promise from the singer's rep of "breathtaking costumes and stage designs" — that shouldn't be a problem. "Breathtaking," people! (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday: JAGUAR LOVE at Alex's Bar; HOT HOT HEAT at the Bootleg Theater; LOOKBOOK, TWILIGHT SLEEP at Silverlake Lounge; BATHS at the Echo; SAGE FRANCIS at the Glass House; THE GOOD LIFE, THE PARSON RED HEADS at the Troubadour; JOSE JAMES at Catalina Bar & Grill.
THE SADIES AT THE ECHO
Over the course of their 12-year career, the Sadies have worked with Neko Case, John Doe and Andre Williams — collaborations that have sometimes overshadowed their own brilliant records. The Canadian band's new CD, Darker Circles (Yep Roc Records), produced by the Jayhawks' Gary Louris, tries to put the focus back on their music, which ranges from traditional country and folk to weirdly evocative spaghetti Western soundscapes. Brothers Dallas and Travis Good trade off on guitars and vocals on such hazy ballads as "The Quiet One" and fiery barn burners like "Another Day Again," which sounds like the Meat Puppets riding the rails. The guitar pluckin' is intricately knotted on the rootsy folk ramble "Postcards," while the enigmatic "Violet and Jeffrey Lee" (a possible reference to the late Gun Club singer Jeffrey Lee Pierce?) churns with febrile banjo embellishments. (Falling James)
BILLY CHILDS JAZZ-CHAMBER ENSEMBLE AT REDCAT
One of the busiest composers, arrangers and pianists in jazz, Billy Childs has been showered with Grammy nominations and a couple of wins (one for Best Instrumental Composition for "Into the Light," from his 2005 album, Lyric, and the other for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist, for Chris Botti and Sting). The L.A. native does a lot of things well, but it's his contribution as one of the supreme melodicists working the new-jazz turf that really stands out. That gift comes to the fore in the beautifully autumnal settings he's sketched for what he calls his Jazz-Chamber Ensemble, whose sets tonight will be performed by Bob Sheppard (woodwinds), Larry Koonse (guitar), Carol Robbins (harp), Hamilton Price (bass), the great Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums) and the Eclipse String Quartet. These concerts are presented as part of the Jazz Bakery's "Movable Feast" series. (John Payne)
BARRINGTON LEVY AT HOUSE OF BLUES
Fans of the SoCal reggae scene may recognize Barrington Levy's hypnotic croon from his guest work with Long Beach Dub All Stars, or San Diego–based Skunk Records stars Slightly Stoopid, but the 46-year-old vocalist has a considerable legacy that stretches back to his native Jamaica. Levy was 13 when he founded his first dance-hall band, in the populous Clarendon Parish. Mighty Multitude's first single was "My Black Girl," and though it was a minor hit at local parties, the pubescent singer wasn't happy sharing the modest glory. He went solo at 14, and was eventually discovered by producers from the Channel One studio, where Roots Radics would serve as his backing band. Levy's peak came in '79 and '80, with a pair of excellent roots reggae albums, Englishman and Robin Hood, but his influence has been steady over the years in part due to the fact that his relative obscurity has made his music worth discovering time and time again. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Thursday: JESSE MALIN at the Bootleg Theater; FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS at Spaceland; CAPTAIN AHAB, BLISSED OUT, RUN DMT at Synchronicity Space; ALL LEATHER, NARWHAL PARTY at the Smell; HOLY FUCK at the Troubadour; LOS PINGUOS, CUCHATA at Air Conditioned Lounge; AMBER PACIFIC at the Whisky a Go-Go; EL GRAN SILENCIO at the Conga Room; JACK SHELDON at Jax Bar & Grill.
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