Music Picks: Femi Kuti, Love Revisited, Fol Chen, Riot Grrl Carnival
WALLPAPER, ROB ROY, WHITE APPLE TREE AT SPACELAND
We'll save you some time while simultaneously facilitating the blowing of your mind. You can skip White Apple Tree. The San Diego band sounds like a bad mash-up of Bloc Party and Miike Snow, so if you like low soul and high sheen, go for it. But you cannot — we repeat, cannot — afford to miss either of the other two acts performing tonight. Oakland funk-merchant Wallpaper headlines, and you can expect the duo to bring everything that we've come to love about it: deep Parliament-inspired bass grooves, high hyphy percussion, chillwave-friendly synth warmth and, of course, a sense of humor. Frontman Ricky Reed represents equal parts ribald celebration-of-swagger and biting pop-culture commentary, both of which have come into play on his viral remixes of Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" and Jay-Z's "Death of Auto-Tune" (in which he profusely pitch-shifts Jigga himself). L.A.-via-Jacksonville's Rob Roy presents a similarly inspired and style-twisted profile, unraveling fractured raps over a melding of Houston screw music and Miami booty bass. (Chris Martins)
DÂM-FUNK, MASTER BLAZTER, PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, MC EIHT AT THE TROUBADOUR
According to a series of tweets he issued last week, L.A.'s boogie-funk kingpin Dâm-Funk is spending the summer "wind[ing] down" Toeachizown. That's the five-volume collection of old-school space-soul jams Stones Throw released last year to the enthusiastic acclaim of record nerds, music critics and the members of Animal Collective, who recruited Dâm-Funk to remix their song "Summertime Clothes." (Up next: collabs with Nite Jewel and Jody Watley.) Before he moves on, though, the longhaired keytar maestro is playing the Troubadour with a live band — with any luck he'll complement the Toeachizown stuff with "How U Gon Fuck Around and Choose a Buster (Over a Real Gangsta)," an awesomely titled jam he recently posted for free download on his label's site. Also on the bill: Master Blazter, Dâm-Funk's group with Computer Jay and J-1; Stones Throw chief Peanut Butter Wolf; and Compton-based gangsta-rap veteran MC Eiht. (Mikael Wood)
THE ENTRANCE BAND, THE GROWLERS, VOICESVOICES AT THE SMELL
If you haven't seen the Entrance Band in person, you're missing out. Since "commit[ting] to the full realization of the power trio" last August, the former solo project of the once Baltimore-based blooze-hound Guy Blakeslee has blossomed into a thing of strange, hirsute beauty. Rounded out by rubber-armed drummer Derek James and A Perfect Circle/Zwan's Paz Lenchantin — who plays her bass like a lead guitar — the band rocks about five yards of hair and a nearly endless expanse of heavy, gritty psychedelic groove. On their 2009 self-titled album, the three often veer into Hendrix Experience–style jamitude, but they've tightened up their act since, and have no problem pumping the breaks at the exact moment when the freak-out train is headed off the rails. The Growlers should make for a good opener, as the Long Beach outfit trades in similarly skronky soulful rock, though owing more to Jim (Morrison) than Jimi. The pretentious murk supplied by VOICEsVOICEs can be safely passed over. (Chris Martins)
COCOROSIE, CIBELLE AT THE ORPHEUM
Sierra and Bianca Casady, together CocoRosie, have issued a new album, Grey Oceans. It's their first for Sub Pop but our fourth disturbingly beautiful peek into the sisters' very complex and very private world. It's a quite creepy, elegiac and strangely sentimental place — a gothic/Victorian plane of existence where the chief activities are reveling in childlike awe at fairy tales and fantasy and probing fearlessly in the darkness behind a confoundingly broad matrix of emotions. Grey Oceans is a dense, medieval tapestry of swooping strings, squirmy synths, bubbling bass clarinets and steam-pump drum thump. Our two little adult-girl singers paint their faces with manly stubble and cat whiskers, then make chamber folk from another dimension which only amplifies the eeriness of our own. Also: Brazilian singer/multi-instrumentalist Cibelle in punxotic loungecore cabaret tunes from her Las Vênus Resort Palace Hotel, on the estimable Crammed Discs label. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday: THE RISING, HOLLYWOOD U2 at the Canyon; LIMELIGHT at the Galaxy Theater; JORDIN SPARKS at the Grove of Anaheim; FISHBONE at Hollywood Park; PEPPERMINT CREEPS at the Key Club; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; BLACKLIGHT REVELATION at Mr. T's Bowl; THE SPAZMATICS, BRASILIDADE, THE TOLEDO SHOW, THE SANTA MONICA JAZZ ENSEMBLE at the Waterfront; THE RHYTHM SHAKERS, BLUE COLLAR COMBO, COURTNEY CRUZ at Weber's Place.
LOVE REVISITED AT SPACELAND
Founding Love lead guitarist Johnny Echols sets the scene tonight with a rare full-length concert, reprising his appearance at this club last year, when he played under the name Johnny Echols' Turn. He's backed again by members of Baby Lemonade, the local pop-rock stylists who resuscitated the late Love singer Arthur Lee's career, both before and after he went to prison on weapons charges in the '90s. Although Echols and Lee briefly performed together a few times before Lee's death in 2006, it was a shame that the mercurial frontman didn't reconcile with his old guitarist sooner. Besides crafting so many of the memorable licks on such early Love classics as "7 & 7 Is" and the fuzzily enchanting, sourly droning "No Matter What You Do," Echols later went on to jam with folks like Miles Davis, carving out a proto-psychedelic blues-rock style that anticipated Lee's pal Jimi Hendrix. At Spaceland last fall, Echols and Baby Lemonade surprised longtime fans with a concisely groovy rendition of the landmark improv opus "Revelation," a stirring version of "Can't Explain" (which Lee seldom performed in his final decades) and Echols' stirring "America," an unreleased track from Love's legendary lost late-'60s album Gethsemane. While it's inescapably sad to see the familiar bright-red Love logo on drummer David Green's bass drum again and realize that Lee won't be around to sing his delicately twisted melodies, Echols and Baby Lemonade should come close to recapturing much of the spirit of Love, quite possibly the greatest L.A. band of all time. (Falling James)
BLECTUM FROM BLECHDOM, CAPTAIN AHAB, FOOT VILLAGE AT THE SMELL
Call them an electronic duo if you insist, but Blectum From Blechdom's Kristin Erickson (aka Kevin Blechdom) and Bevin Kelley (as Blevin Blectum) prefer a scabrously chuckly toe-tapper brand of art that just happens to be so, so glitchy and noisy and full of intellectual challenges along the way. Mills College grads they are. They've got their conceptual chops together, and they actually broke up shortly after the release of their awesome, prizewinning first album, The Messy Jesse Fiesta (2001), with both doing solo work under their Blectum and Blechdom stage names. They've performed sporadically since re-forming as a duo in 2007, and this particular show is a rare, precious and beautiful thing. Plus the sincerely epic Captain Ahab on "the end of irony," and an audio colonoscopy from L.A.'s Foot Village. (John Payne)
Also playing Saturday: THE TUBES, SUBURBAN SKIES, FULLY LOADED at Coach House; JIMMY Z, DUBLUVA, JET WEST, JONATHAN BLAKE SALAZAR at Dakota Lounge; DUM DUM GIRLS, CROCODILES at Detroit Bar; HOT BISCUIT at El Cid; THE RISING, HOLLYWOOD U2 at Galaxy Theater; CARTE BLANCHE, DESTRUCTO at Key Club; LOS PINGUOS at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; TRUC TIEP THU HINH V66 at Long Beach Terrace Theatre; MOTO, MIDNIGHT CREEPS, SPURTS at Redwood Bar & Grill; CAGE at the Roxy; BATHS at the Troubador (see Music feature); LED ZEPAGAIN, ROLLING THE STONES, FAN HALEN, BONFIRE, CUBENSIS at the Waterfront.
RIOT GRRL CARNIVAL AT THE SMELL
Apart from the patriotic fireworks and feel-good pomp and circumstance of typical Fourth of July concerts, the Smell presents a contrarian riot-grrl celebration to benefit the Downtown Women's Center. Las Sangronas y El Cabrón crank out a crudely effective, caustically feral brand of 1977-style punk, as Susy rants unsentimentally about such grim subjects as "Pipe Dream," "Bitter Youth" and the ominously sludgy "Cold Dead Valley Girl." They're billed with the fierce Georgian tribe Stella Pace, whose "vocal harmonic revolution" and stirring melodies evoke X-Ray Spex. San Gabriel Valley's Sin Remedio create "border-hoppin' hardcore" that contrasts the sonic silliness of "Chipmunk Grind" with melodic experiments like "Aun Despierto" and the trio's namesake song, "Sin Remedio." Desmadre en Krisis hail from "San Joakland," spitting out guttural Spanish-language hardcore, while Sacramento/Chico femmes Social Concern's heavy punk anthems are fueled by Sarah's soulful howling. Locals Angustia are far less interested in hooks, slamming out metallic riffs at hardcore tempos with shredded cookie-monster vocals. Happy birthday, America, but get ready for another revolution. (Falling James)
EAGLE WINGED PALACE AT ECHO COUNTRY OUTPOST
Riding a wave of soaring, soothing harmonies, the alt-folk collective Eagle Winged Palace make their full-length debut with the just-out Where We're Coming From. And where, exactly, are these Angelenos coming from? Leader Cashew (ex-Prix) conjures old-timey reveries that evoke California's vanishing pastoral past, buttressed by an all-femme choir of angelic voices. "Timber" is spiked with gentle acoustic guitars, while Michelle Vidal, Meegan Michel and Cashew's wife, "Uncle" Rhea Harding, blend their vocals like a psychedelicized Fifth Dimension. The hushed harmonies light up "Movin' on to Avalon" with a warm choral glow, while "Skeleton Crew" is a weirdly engrossing sea chantey about a siren beguiling a pirate. "He's sailed too long," the women sing, "He's robbed so much he even stole his own soul." (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday: JULY 4TH FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR: VINCE GILL, LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC, JOHN MORRIS RUSSELL, U.S. AIR FORCE BAND OF THE GOLDEN WEST at the Hollywood Bowl; THE SPAZMATICS at Key Club; ATIF ASLAM at Long Beach Terrace Theatre; WHICH ONE'S PINK?, QUEEN NATION, BELLADONNA, DESPERADO, NO DUH, CABO VERDE CRETCHEU at the Waterfront.
THE OUTLINE, SUPERHUMANOIDS AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
Kicking off a Monday-night residency at the Bootleg is the Outline, an L.A.-born-and-bred band that combines sharp experimentalism, pop sensibility, punk energy and a propensity for the epic into a winning and sorely overlooked mix. The trio's 2009 album, Phantasmagoria, went largely unpromoted, despite the fact that the Outline had an earlier hit on its hands with the soaring rock anthem "Shotgun." But the new Who You LoveEP marks a near rebirth, with lead-off track "Isolene" pitting the mathiness of Dismemberment Plan against glitchy effects and downturned post-punk melodies. Opener Superhumanoids may be one of the most promising unheard talents in the city right now — a sorta twee, sorta angular, sorta ethereal bedroom pop band that has an impeccable ear for the sort o' delicate beauty that weaker acts die trying to achieve. Singers Cameron Parkins and Sarah Chernoff also put in time with garage-punks the Franks, but here they coo comely over soundscapes that wouldn't sound out of place on a Byrne-Eno production. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday: KASEY ANDERSON at the Hotel Café; SUMMER DARLING at Spaceland; UNKLE MONKEY at the Waterfront.
FOL CHEN AT THE ECHO
Highland Park's Fol Chen is a mysterious entity with some very curious ties. For one, the six-piece indie art-pop ensemble shares a couple of members with the darkly experimental Liars. They've also featured bona fide Lakers Girls in a music video, seem to be the last scions of a retired Long Island radio station, and at least one of them is an award-winning film director whose 2001 gay-life opus, Punks, was produced by Babyface. Returning to the middle point however, Fol Chen has fashioned an odd conceptual existence for itself, whereby the band members initially rose up against a faceless, radio-quashing entity named John Shade (see 2009's Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made) only to discover (on the just-released Part II: The New December) that the very code they'd used to defeat the beast has morphed into a virus that garbles text and language willy-nilly. All that means to you is that they'll wear masks when they perform their deliciously cut-up, electro chamber-pop. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Tuesday: STEEL TRAIN, MATT EMBREE, YOUNG THE GIANT at El Rey Theatre; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC, GRANT GERSHON, JESSICA RIVERA, CHRISTINE BRANDES, KELLY O'CONNOR, LOS ANGELES MASTER CHORALE at the Hollywood Bowl; SAM BRADLEY, CHARLIE MARS at the Hotel Café; THE RICHARD GLASER JAZZ BAND at Waterfront.
FEMI KUTI & THE POSITIVE FORCE, TERENCE BLANCHARD AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
With Fela! killin' 'em on Broadway and Knitting Factory Records in the midst of a massive reissue campaign, it's difficult to remember a time when stateside interest in the music of Fela Kuti was higher than it is right now. One result of the uptick in attention? A brief U.S. tour by Fela's son Femi Kuti, who keeps the spirit of his father's groundbreaking Afrobeat innovations alive with records and concerts that marry progressive politics to percolating grooves. In one of the funkiest cuts on Femi's latest album, 2008's Day by Day, he questions why the level of poverty in Africa is so out of proportion with the continent's natural splendor. Femi's hardly bashful about stretching out in the studio, but onstage is where he and his band, Positive Force, really find their legs — expect to use yours tonight. With Terence Blanchard, the celebrated jazz trumpeter, who's slated to premiere a new work with L.A.'s Lula Washington Dance Theatre. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday: DIAMOND SNAKE at the Dragonfly; CATHERIN AD, GUGGENHEIM GROTTO at the Hotel Café; FEAR FACTORY, 36 CRAZYFISTS, AFTER THE BURIAL, DIVINE HERESY at House of Blues; THEATRE 360 at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; WE WERE LOVERS at Viper Room.
AU REVOIR SIMONE, ALEXA WILDING, GEORGE SARAH AT THE ECHOPLEX
"Every time that we say goodnight, goodnight, goodnight/I'm haunted by your eyes/And how long they've been crying," sing Brooklyn trio Au Revoir Simone on their 2009 LP, Still Night, Still Light. There's something just as haunting about the way they paint a romantic picture with little more than bubbling, momentous keyboards and the delightful way they make the phrase "goodnight, goodnight, goodnight" sparkle with such radiant optimism. "I hope you're coming with me," they sing, and you'd be a fool to resist the gentle entreaties in songs like the sleekly austere "All or Nothing" or the dizzily orchestral "Stay Golden." New York City songwriter Alexa Wilding first came to attention with ex–Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert's International Shades before starting her own solo folk-pop career. Her mellow acoustic ballads, such as "Black Diamond Day," are distinguished by her fragile if slightly mannered delivery. The multitalented local classical/electronic composer George Sarah has worked with M.I.A., David J and Josh Haden and neatly describes his atmospheric soundscapes as "unrequited love songs with a minor-key introspection." (Falling James)
KONONO NO. 1 AT THE SANTA MONICA PIER
Scan the liner notes of The Imagine Project, Herbie Hancock's new star-studded follow-up to his Grammy-winning 2007 set of Joni Mitchell interpretations, and among the A-list likes of Pink, John Legend and Dave Matthews you'll find a more unexpected name: Konono No. 1, the Congolese street band known for fuzzing up the sound of the likembé (or thumb piano) with homemade amplifiers assembled, in part, from old car parts. In the six years since Belgium's Crammed Discs released the group's debut album, Konono No. 1 have traveled miles both literal and figurative, performing their trance-inducing dance music at shows in Europe and the United States and collaborating with art-world heavyweights such as Björk, who featured the band on her album Volta. And now they're here playing the Santa Monica Pier (!) in support of Assume Crash Position, a new disc whose propulsive forward momentum justifies the album's title. Can Oprah's approval be far behind?(Mikael Wood)
BENJI HUGHES AT LARGO
Although he racked up loads of fawning reviews — including a recent-ish piece in The Believer that called him "one of the best pop songwriters in America" — this North Carolina native didn't quite bust into the mainstream with his 2008 double-disc debut, A Love Extreme, which he made here in L.A. with producer Keefus Ciancia. So it should be interesting to find out what Benji Hughes has been up to lately at this Largo gig, the first of four Thursday-night shows there this month: Has the Leon Russell look-alike's lack of Top 40 love convinced him to dial down the stylistic adventurousness? Or has he perhaps burrowed even more deeply into his considerable idiosyncrasies, à la Prince during the mid-'90s Chaos and Disorderdays? Either way, keep your eyes peeled for celebrity guests — dude's got friends in high places. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Thursday: LEON RUSSELL, THE SPAZMATICS at the Canyon; DON CARLOS, FORTUNATE YOUTH, JAAM KWEST at Coach House; SUGARLAND, MICHELLE BRANCH, WILL HOGE at the Greek Theatre; ADMIRAL RADLEY (see Music feature), THE HAPPY HOLLOWS at Hammer Museum; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC, NIKOLAJ ZNAIDER at Hollywood Bowl; AMBER RUBARTH, GARRISON STARR, LEILA LOPEZ at the Hotel Café; JOHN MCEUEN at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; LEO RONDEAU at the Redwood Bar & Grill; SPELL TALK at Silverlake Lounge; LISA & HER KIN, PONDOROSA at Weber's Place.
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