Music Picks: Dum Dum Girls, Tricky, Leon Russell, OFF!
OFF!, THEE OH SEES, NOBUNNY, WHITE SHIT AT THESEX
Funny that two Black Flag alumni — Raymond Pettibon, visuals, and Keith Morris, vocals — would get together and name their band OFF! (What's next — Raid?) The L.A. hardcore supergroup — Morris, Dimitri Coats of Burning Brides, Steven McDonald of Redd Kross, Mario Rubalcaba of Rocket From the Crypt — celebrate their First Four EPs (Vice Records) box set release. It's Morris doing what he does best: wailing and spitting lyrics for the minute or two it takes their phosphorescent music to explode, ironically — for all of punk's issues with authority — sounding like a cop yelling at you through a megaphone. Oakland's Mr. Rogers-meets–The Ramones revue Nobunny contribute their bit to rock legend — let's just say that if you throw feces at singer Justin Champlin, he will immediately chase you down, break your jaw and rub your own feces in it. San Francisco garage rock merchants Thee Oh Sees (or however they're spelling it this week) play songs from Warm Slime, their latest on local label In the Red [Music ed.'s note: Get this album — it's great!], while White Shit play even more hardcore, harkening back to those golden days when shit was in fact white. (David Cotner)
PEACHES AT THE ORPHEUM
A decade after she helped break the once-hot electroclash scene, the teaches of Peaches have grown a little stale. (Last year's I Feel Cream might have been more accurately titled I Feel a Little Sleepy — Can We Sit Down on This Nice Bench for a Minute?) So it comes as something of a relief to find that for her current tour, the Berlin-based provocateur is leaving behind her usual repertoire in order to present Peaches Christ Superstar, a typically audacious one-woman interpretation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar in which she sings all of the rock opera's roles herself. If nothing else, her endurance should be a sight to behold. At the Orpheum, Peaches will be accompanied on piano by her longtime collaborator Chilly Gonzales, who similarly has found life after electroclash as a kind of postmodern cabaret act. Even in the world of indie, it seems, it's Glee's world — we just live in it. (Mikael Wood)
LEON RUSSELL AT THE CANYON
On The Union, his recent collaboration with Elton John, the Oklahoma singer-pianist Leon Russell credits his new partner for "giving me new air for my lungs and a reason to use them a little longer." On the other hand, John insists that his own music wouldn't exist without the inspiration of Russell, and the album's unexpected success has reinvigorated the careers of both pianists. Russell, who confesses that he's "massively bipolar and ... in constantly unexpected shape," underwent an intense round of surgery and nearly died during the recording of The Union, but now seems to be revitalized creatively as well as physically. Tonight he's back on the road and back on his own, but perhaps Russell finally will get attention for his ongoing vitality and prolific songwriting, which extends far beyond his circus-y 1970s pop hits "Tight Rope" and "Delta Lady." One of his best recent songs is the mesmerizing blues-gospel dirge "There's No Tomorrow" (co-written with Elton John, T Bone Burnett and James Timothy Shaw), which convincingly conjures the kind of funereally eerie doom that Nick Cave is always trying to approximate. As Russell murmurs ruefully, "Is this the final curtain? ... We end up no question/Outside of death's door." (Falling James)
AS TALL AS LIONS, DIAMOND LIGHT AT THE TROUBADOUR
Long Island's As Tall As Lions emerged in 2003 as an answer to all of the melodic MOR indie-ish rock (e.g., Coldplay, Snow Patrol) that was coasting through the airwaves at the time. Their debut album, Lafcadio, didn't do much to break rank, other than infuse the sound with a little folksy jangle in parts. It came as no surprise, then, when the group covered Counting Crows' "Children in Bloom" for a compilation a year later. But singer Dan Nigro has a soaring voice that always deserved a bit of instrumental chutzpah, and the quartet's self-titled 2006 follow-up delivered on that by weaving harder, emo-influenced guitar work and drumming into the mix. A tour with Sparta followed, and last year's You Can't Take It With You was ATAL's strongest and widest-ranging effort to date. The album incorporated strains of drum 'n' bass and a Muse-like heaviness, but it simply came too late, sounding dated amidst the cream of the blogosphere crop. This is the band's final tour — send 'em off in style. (Chris Martins)
THE ZEROS AT REDWOOD BAR
When class of '77 punk-rock spearheads The Zeros re-formed (on the day Sky Saxon died) last summer, few imagined they would function beyond a handful of shows. Despite years of the groups' individual members trying to defy their past, the inescapable truth of the band's sheer artistic value triumphed, thank goodness, over latter-day reticence. Banging, glitter-tinged, thunderous and, above all else, emotionally charged, The Zeros' songs always exhibited an unusual depth. The perplexed adolescent frustration that spawned them assumes a deeper relevance when projected upon today's confusing and vexatious reality — check the lyrics to "You, Me, Us," "Talkin' " and "Getting Nowhere Fast." Any Zeros set list displays an empathic, universal reach that, combined with the elegant ferocity these cats bring to the bandstand, qualifies them as one of the single most exciting forces in rock & roll. Ever. (Jonny Whiteside)
ROB HALFORD AT THE WILTERN
Legendary, you might call him: Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford is celebrated slack-jawed for his fiendishly facile falsetto , leather 'n' studs 'n' sailor caps and for riding Harleys onstage and all that — in short, for embodying every supermacho fantasy we boys 'n' girls require in our archetypal heavy-metal figureheads. But Halford is these days most interesting as a smasher of stereotypes. The dude's 59 years old, after all, he's famously glad to be gay and, maybe strangest of all, seems to radiate a positivity and excellent humor, which his recent solo album Halford IV: Made of Metal boasts in supercolossally slab-thick loads. No moping about in doom 'n' gloom here, just a lot of righteous ranting and railing like there's no tomorrow over his hairy young band's twintastic guitar leads, monster-ass double-kick tubs and decibels in excess of your doctor's recommended levels. Perhaps Halford will whip out a few Priest covers, but you needn't feel cheated if he doesn't, because Rob Halford is all about doing new things, and doing it His Way. Yes, Rob Halford is The Man. Or one of them, anyway. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday: DROP THE LINE, AC SLATER, STAR EYES at the Avalon; LIGHT FM, DANTE VS. ZOMBIES, FUTURE GHOST at Satellite; BEEP!, ELEPHANT AND CASTLE at the Smell; JON BRION at Largo; LUIS & THE WILDFIRES at Webbers; THE MASSES SCREENING WITH DUBLAB DJs at Downtown Independent; LIGHT FM at the Satellite.
KILLING JOKE AT THE WILTERN
Thanks to the band's latter-day output, it's easiest to remember England's Killing Joke as a post-punk original, but the list of artists heavily inspired by their eponymous 1980 debut speaks more to the group's founding sound: Metallica, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Tool, Faith No More, etc. Jaz Coleman's famous five-piece was practically a metal band. Just, you know, without all that hair (both physically and metaphorically). From the get-go, they specialized in a doom-seething, industrial-flavored, bass-loving style of punk rock that sounds fresh even today. Part of that is due to the fact that Killing Joke have continued to craft their own legacy. In fact, they've taken off only five years in three decades, after the release of one of their strongest, danciest records to date, 1996's Democracy. This year's Absolute Dissent — album No. 14 — reunited Coleman with original members Geordie, Youth and Paul Ferguson to thrash as hard and as loud as the band ever has. The wearing of black is encouraged. (Chris Martins)
ALBERT LEE AT NICK'S TASTE OF TEXAS
Albert Lee is a fast guitarist, but then again so are many whiz kids these days. The difference is that the British country-roots veteran combines manual dexterity with a supreme sense of soul and imagination. If Emmylou Harris wants him to mimic the sound of a train, Lee can do it, fingers barely seeming to move across the guitar's neck as he pries out an intense flurry of click-clacking, onrushing notes. But he also can evoke a desert sunset or a country back road with a bare minimum of effort, filling in the empty spaces through a judicious selection of sounds instead of flashy histrionics. This ability to find the right note — and know when to use it — has served him well, whether he's supporting such traditionalists as Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers and Earl Scruggs, or tripping out with Marilyn Manson's John 5. Don't miss this relatively rare Southland appearance. (Falling James)
OZOMATLI, CHALI 2NA, LA SANTA CECILIA AT CLUB NOKIA
A Very Special Quinceañera party for NPR-endorsed, Latin fusion institution Ozomatli, featuring Jurassic 5's Chali 2Na (who recently released a remarkable mix tape called Fish Market 2, on the heels of last year's equally remarkable Fish Outta Water), and people's choice perennial La Santa Cecilia. A rare occasion where Los Angeles–with-a-hard-ge will take over the cell phone–branded corporate downtown room. Should be a lot of fun. (Gustavo Turner)
Also playing Saturday: WOUNDED LION, SIC ALPS, TRMRS at the Satellite (see Music Feature); STEVIE WONDER AND FRIENDS at Club Nokia; BACKBITER, MECOLODIACS, FATSO JETSON, BLACK WIDOWS at Café 322; PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN at Origami Vinyl; LUCKY DRAGONS, MY DADS at the MIME; BELA FLECK at the Orpheum; ROONEY at the Bootleg.
JEFFERTITTI'S NILE, GUY BLAKESLEE, THE CERVINE FURS AT THE BOOTLEG
Jeffertitti's Nile are the kind of (freak)folk that call their EPs things like Hypnotic River of Sound, so they make for a fitting closer for a bill that includes Entrance Band's head shaman (and home decoration porn website The Selby fashionplate!) Guy Blakeslee. It will be interesting to see Blakeslee get his neo-psychedelia on without the bass grounding of Entrance Band partner-in-crime Paz Lenchantin, but he's usually fascinating to watch, particularly when he's in an out soloing mood. (Gustavo Turner)
Also playing Sunday: CROM, IT'S CASUAL at the Echo (early show; see Music Feature); SLITS/ARI UP TRIBUTE (PART TIME PUNKS) at the Echo (late show; see Music Feature); A FINE FRENZY at Largo; MONSTERS OF ACCORDION at the Troubadour; LOS LOBOS, RUBEN GUEVARA at House of Blues.
MICHAEL NHAT AT PEHRSPACE
When Silver Lake's Michael Nhat says his main motivating forces are "loneliness, rejection and guilt," he's not being glib or pretentious. In a recent interview, Nhat explained that he survived a plane crash as a child, though his mother didn't, and he subsequently ended up in foster care. Life with an abusive stepbrother and racist adoptive family followed, so it's no wonder the man's songs sport titles like "Falling Down a Bottomless Pit," "All I Hear Is Silence" and "Replacing Their Owners [sic] Heads." Nhat is releasing his third album in just over a year on Tuesday via I Had an Accident Records. Dubbed Just Plain Dying, it sports a sound that could only be described as "classic Nhat" — an inimitable mix of beats that ranges from spare and light to black and clanging, and his unusual raps, which pour forth in an urgently percussive tumble. Fans of Busdriver, Shapeshifters and early Anticon take note. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday: BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA CHRISTMAS SHOW at Walt Disney Concert Hall; SHADOW SHADOW SHADE, RUMSPRINGA at the Echo; MIDNIGHT MAGIC at Bardot; SWEATERS at the Satellite.
BELL BIV DEVOE AT HOUSE OF BLUES
When it comes to classic New Jack Swing, it doesn't get much better than Bel Biv DeVoe's 1990 debut, Poison. The album contained not only that percussive, swooning title single but the era's ultimate sex jam, "Do Me!," plus "BBD (I Thought It Was Me)" which includes Michael Bivins' near-perfect line, "My waterbed/Kept us afloat." Their 1993 offering Hootie Mack was solid, too — perhaps New Jack's last gasp — featuring the street-ball anthem "Above the Rim" and slowed-down Babyface collabo "Something in Your Eyes." But then came 2001's BBD, an incredibly cheap approximation of the group's former glory that traded in the winkingly sensual raps and yearning, harmony-laden choruses for blatant come-ons and trite hooks. That's the nice thing about reunion tours — the entire production is an act of pandering, so all you're likely to hear are the hits, and the pre–21st-century output of BBD is nothing but butter-smooth examples thereof. (Chris Martins)
DUM DUM GIRLS AT THE ECHOPLEX
Dum Dum Girls started as a one-woman band led by Dee Dee Penny, but the punk-pop group have since expanded to a four-piece outfit. As they've grown, so has their sound, which has evolved from crude, tinny and shadowy blasts into more diverse and melodic styles on their recent Sub Pop CD I Will Be. But these gals aren't getting slick or dum-dumbing down their sound; Dee Dee's songs are still shrouded in massive layers of rust, reverb and echo, coming off like a girl-group version of the Jesus & Mary Chain marooned in a fallout shelter. And, apart from all of the punky soul-clanging, there are also icily beautiful tunes, like their cover of Strawberry Switchblade's "Trees & Flowers." Expect more growing pains and even deeper maturity when Dum Dum Girls return to action at Check Yo Ponytail tonight, after they had to cancel a fall tour following the death of Dee Dee's mother several weeks ago. (Falling James)
BUZZBANDS.LA HOLIDAY PARTY AT THE ECHO
L.A. Weekly collaborator Kevin Bronson, of the Buzzbands.LA website, is hosting his annual holiday party at the Echo this year, benefiting Silver Lake's own Pablove Foundation and featuring the diverse talents of an all-L.A. lineup with Lonely Trees, Rabbits Rabbits Rabbits, John Carpenter and Non Ultra Joy. Lonely Trees's atmospheric sound features ex-members of Monsters Are Waiting and Campfire Girls in boy/girl harmonies (think Blonde Redhead, with hints of School of Seven Bells). Rabbits Rabbits Rabbits make introspective California shoegaze and dreampop and are fronted by Jack Burnside, formerly of Mezzanine Owls. John Carpenter will steal the show, with a long track record of shredding with his four-piece band, and singing bleak and spooky songs rising from the shadows of a seedy dive bar. Non Ultra Joy describe themselves as "The Cure mugging Dinosaur Jr." but with Guided By Voices showing up every once in a while to get in on the fight. Five bucks gets you all this and more (treats have been promised!) and it's for the best of causes, going straight to support the Pablove Foundation's fight against childhood cancer. (Lainna Fader)
Also playing Tuesday: WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; WINTER SOLSTICE SOUND BATH at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts; DEAD COUNTRY, HIGH PILOTS at Silverlake Lounge.
TRICKY/NOCANDO AT THE TROUBADOUR
As slippery as rapper/producer Tricky's tracks sound, it's no wonder he's so hard to categorize. After appearing on Massive Attack's 1991 debut, Blue Lines, he spun hypnotically onto the scene with his sexy, trippy first album, Maxinquaye. Drenched in persistently pulsing beats, ripe with heady songs looped with everything from gun cocks to Digital Underground and layered with his own throaty murmurs, the funky, soulful album made Tricky a leader of the trip-hop movement in the U.K. Hating that title, he tried migrating toward the harder edges of punk, but as he puts it, "The farther you run, it's still there." Plucking from rock, reggae, blues and beyond, his latest release, Mixed Race, is much tighter than his early, sprawling records — all of the tracks clock in at less than four minutes — but still retains the element of surprise that his signature sampling of genres provides. Seasoned West Coast battle rapper and Low End Theory resident host Nocando, whose fresh, funny flow was honed at Project Blowed and is representative of the best freestylers, opens. (Rebecca Haithcoat)
ZOOEY DESCHANEL AT LARGO
Zooey Deschanel might be better known as the free-spirited waif in such films as Elf and Almost Famous, but she gained a considerable amount of credibility in the music scene when she teamed with songwriter M. Ward in the charming pop duo She & Him. Far more than just another Hollywood dilettante, Deschanel has been performing music live for more than a decade, going back to her days in the jazz-cabaret act If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies. Tonight she plans to take part in an unusual event called Beauty Shop to benefit Why Hunger and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. She'll be joined by the Chapin Sisters for an evening of mellow holiday pop song, which should prove she's a serious musical force to be reckoned with, even apart from M. Ward. Don't be surprised if surprise guests show up to help spread the good cheer. (Falling James)
BIZZY BONE AT KEY CLUB
It's been more than 15 years since the release of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's 1994 breakthrough hit, "Thuggish Ruggish Bone." But at the cue of, "We're not against rap. We're not against rappers. But we are against those thugs," and seven muffled, warbly keyboard notes, the club still goes crazy. The five-member band of Bones (Bizzy Bone, Flesh-n-, Krayzie, Layzie and Wish), signed to Ruthless Records by Eazy-E, pressed a pushpin in Cleveland on hip-hop's map. Maybe their G-funk would've been enough to grab Eazy's attention, but what really set them apart was their blend of smooth harmonies with flows that tripped so quickly, you couldn't catch all the gangsta in their lyrics from one listen. Bizzy might've been the best of the bunch; there's a reason his is the last verse on that first single. While the group set off without him this fall to tour with their seminal album, E. 1999 Eternal, Bizzy's decadelong solo career should supply him plenty of material on his own. Nobody's touching Twista as the "fastest rapper alive," but Bizzy's talents were twofold: Running hot on the heels of his ricochetlike raps was a high-pitched tenor that had the power to transform that machine gun flow into a sweet song. Also Thursday, Dec. 23. (Rebecca Haithcoat)
Also playing Wednesday: WINDS OF PLAGUE at the Glass House.
WINDS OF PLAGUE AT GLASS HOUSE
Winds of Plague see deathcore through a fish-eye lens. While they check off the genre's ADHD grooves and nail-gun drums, and have a singer (one Johnny Plague) who's apparently resolved not to clear his throat for the duration of their career, WOP also enjoy escapist, pseudo-orchestral interludes, a Wagnerian sense of ceremony and patchouli-stained breakdowns. Joining a little trend in metal, alongside Cradle of Filth and Bleeding Through, they temper their militarized testosterone with a female keyboard player (Alana Potocnik — the latest of three women to fill the role). Though hailing from Upland, they effectively live on back-to-back deathly package tours worldwide alongside other BWILs ("bands with illegible logos"), these Pomona shows being a homecoming finale to the WOP-headlined December Decimation Tour. Winds of Plague's most recent album, 2009's The Great Stone War, crammed a little too much concept into its 37 minutes for some fans, but they deserve doublewide horns for being as brave as they are brutal. Also Wed., Dec. 22. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Thursday: ROSIE FLORES, KARLING ABBEYGATE at the Redwood Bar; BIZZY BONE at the Key Club; EILEEN IVERS at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
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