Music Picks: Goldfrapp, Concrete Blonde, Sally Seltmann, Black Francis
BLACK FRANCIS AT THE MINT
Frank Black, aka Black Francis, seemingly has a lot more time on his hands these days after the Pixies decided to cancel a scheduled appearance at a music festival in Tel Aviv this month, in protest of Israel's deadly attack on a flotilla of Turkish boats attempting to bring supplies to the quarantined Gaza Strip. (Gorillaz and Klaxons also dropped out of the festival, and Gil Scott-Heron and Elvis Costello are among the other musicians boycotting Israel.) While it's debatable whether such a protest is really the equivalent of "cultural terrorism," as some critics in Israel have alleged, it temporarily frees Black from his nostalgic Pixies obligations and offers the chance to hear newer tunes by his Black Francis persona in an intimate small-club environment. Black's solo songs from 2009's The Golem and the recently released Non Stop Erotik are more weirdly eclectic than his Pixies oldies and are well worth a listen. Also Sat. (Falling James)
WARREN G, BRANDOE THE YOUNGER, SWADE G, THE MAC AT KEY CLUB
One of Long Beach's original gangstas, Warren Griffin III became a near-perfect conduit for the G-Funk sound when he adopted the alias and supersmooth flow of Warren G. He got his start in 1990 with the group 213, which aligned the 19-year-old with the similarly velvet-voiced pair of Snoop and Nate Dogg. Griffin is Dr. Dre's half-brother, and he actually had a hand in linking up his crew mates (though, wisely, not himself) with Death Row Records. He maintained his exceptionally laid-back rap even while he was "getting jacked" and "breaking [him]self," as the lyrics of the Grammy-nominated hit "Regulators" famously detail, and on through six albums, including 1999's jazz-rock fusion, I Want It All. The gangsta image never really stuck to Griffin, whose songs have always seemed far better suited for summer barbecues than gritty club floors. Befitting this image, Griffin's done a great deal of charitable work in his hometown, inspiring the mayor of Long Beach to declare the first seven days of August "Warren G Week." (Chris Martins)
ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL AT EXPOSITION PARK AND MEMORIAL COLISEUM
"Super blooming beats, funkdafied freaks and full-size carnival rides" is what the Electric Daisy Carnival advertises, and we'll be damned if it doesn't deliver. Merry-go-rounds abound during this two-day dance-music festival, while on the freaky side, you'll find various dancers (go-go, burlesque, pole), athletes (acrobats, contortionists, aerialists) and swallowers (swords, flames, pills). Musically speaking, there's enough bump for this entire city's amassed trunks. Virtually all of the big names in big beats are scheduled to show, from freshly risen stars like Deadmau5 and Swedish House Mafia (whose sets reportedly involve steam jets, giant wolf heads and forest nymphs) to techno mainstays like Kaskade, Armand Van Helden, Sasha, Z-Trip and Dieselboy. A handful of high-profile DJ sets are on deck as well — Moby, Basement Jaxx, BT, Infected Mushroom, Groove Armada — and, thanks to will.i.amand Spank Rock, the MCs won't go unrepresented either. This year Electric Daisy is popping up in Denver, Dallas and Puerto Rico as well, but Southern California is where it all started 14 years ago. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Friday: LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE at the Music Center; HEAD LIKE A KITE, SMOOSH at Bootleg Theater; GRUPO FANTASMA at El Rey Theatre; OTTMAR LIEBERT & LUNA NEGRA at Catalina Jazz Club; WARPED TOUR at Home Depot Center; KAY, THE PALOMINOS at Weber's Place; THE RESCUES at the Troubadour; IRON BUTTERFLY at Coach House; THE VENUS, TD LIND at El Cid; BROTHER SAL, LINDSAY RAY, SCOTT MELLIS at Hotel Café; BACKSTREET BOYS at the Pechanga Showroom Theatre.
LOU BARLOW, SARAH JAFFE AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
"Somewhere someone's listening to the sound of a record spinning," Sarah Jaffe confides on "Summer Begs," from her new album, Suburban Nature. "Secrets are for keeping/That's what gives them their meaning/It's your certain proclamation, and it needs no explanation." Explanations may not be needed for her gentle folk-pop music, but it's worth noting that the Texas singer-guitarist reveals more intelligence and thoughtfulness than most mellow songwriters. "Before You Go" starts out as an acoustic campfire tune, until the drums kick in and her soaring vocals take on an eerie aspect. "Clementine" and "Wreaking Havoc" are solemn, vulnerable songs that are shaded movingly with moody swells of violin and cello. Meanwhile, the austere echoes of "Swelling" evoke the painful intimacy of Cat Power's balladry. Jaffe opens tonight for Lou Barlow, the founding member of Dinosaur Jr. who went in a more folkie direction with his ensuing projects Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion. Following his recent reunion with Dinosaur Jr., Barlow last year released his second solo CD, Goodnight Unknown, where his Cat Stevens–style ruminations were augmented by such guest stars as Imaad Wasif and Lisa Germano. (Falling James)
SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS AT THE WILTERN
You could call them the soul-funk historians of Brooklyn, 'cause Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings come off so wise about their brassy brand of '60s and '70s R&B/related hot stuff. But precisely why they never come off like pointyheads pulling chops from a book owes to the gritty authenticity beaming out from singer Jones (maybe something to do with her having spent several years as a corrections officer in big, bad NYC). Jones' authority rings true on hurtin'-for-certain wailers like "How Long Do I Have to Wait for You," from the band's recent album, I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone), and she's known to improvise on any number of juicy topical matters like bank fraud and the big oil spill, so hold on to your hats. This is a classic soul revue on a stage loaded with heart (and brains), pumped with precision by Jones' masterful Dap-Kings combo. (John Payne)
DANZIG AT CLUB NOKIA
A gloriously muscle-bound, black-clad man-beast, Glenn Danzig may outwardly seem like a one-trick pony, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The 54-year-old "father of horror-punk" has helmed three influential bands, started a couple of record labels, written songs for Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash and even founded an adult-oriented comic book publishing house. The band Danzig evolved from his previous musical efforts — the Misfits, which infused the shambolic thrash of the Ramones with B-movie horror themes; and Samhain, which took Glenn into the realm of heavy metal proper. But Danzig the band borrowed a tangible blues streak from the Doors that went well with Glenn's trademark baritone growl. While weathering a mercurial lineup, the group has released nine albums to date, including the just-out Deth Red Sabaoth, which features all of the hypermasculine excellence Danzig fans have come to expect. Meanwhile, Glenn is reportedly working on his third solo classical album, Black Aria III. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Saturday: THE TUBES at Canyon Club; OTTMAR LIEBERT & LUNA NEGRA at Catalina Jazz Club; A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS at Coach House; ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL at the Coliseum; A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS at Spaceland; RUMBANKETE at Conga Room; HARLEM at Detroit Bar; BRIDGES at El Cid; ABBA FEST at Hollywood Bowl; PERLA BATALLA at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena.
GOLDFRAPP AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
Almost five years ago, the British synth-pop duo Goldfrapp broke through with the international dance-club hit "Ooh La La," rocking up their old electronica with newfound guitars and a pulsating riff that juiced up a borrowed John Lee Hooker groove for the 21st century. After that, singer Alison Goldfrapp and keyboardist Will Gregory moved in a more pastoral direction on their 2008 CD, Seventh Tree, blending folk and ambient styles with often interesting results. Their fifth and latest album, Head First, is much less adventurous, as Goldfrapp and Gregory return, almost stubbornly, to a more-anonymous '80s new wave sound. Nonetheless, Goldfrapp's breathily urgent sighing gives the stronger tracks, such as "Believer" and "Alive," a bit of personality and disco-diva charisma à la Andrea True Connection. Curiously, "Alive" floats by airily as Goldfrapp relies once again on making a hook out of the sound "ooh" — an exhalation that has clearly worked for her in the past. (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday: WARPED TOUR at Ventura County Fairgrounds; NEIL HAMBURGER at Spaceland; LITTLE FEAT at Canyon Club; THE GROWLERS, THE ENTRANCE BAND at Detroit Bar.
CONCRETE BLONDE AT THE MUSIC BOX
Much like vampires, the members of Concrete Blonde never really die, and they'll come out of the shadows tonight to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their third CD, Bloodletting, which was recently reissued in an expanded edition by Shout Factory. The album features the trio's biggest hit, the soft-rock ballad "Joey," and a cover of Andy Prieboy's "Tomorrow, Wendy," but those are actually its least interesting tunes. The title track rides a slinky blues riff, and its haunting lyrics about New Orleans and vampires were inspired by Anne Rice (long before Twilight made the undead hip again). "The Sky Is a Poisonous Garden" and "Darkening of the Light" are lovely elegies tinged with a grimly fiendish romanticism that hints at the morbid allure of the early Doors. Former Sparks guitarist Jim Mankey embellishes fiery singer-bassist Johnette Napolitano's bloodstained lyrics with coolly elegant arrangements, making the album one of the rare successful combinations of underground-punk attitude and mainstream ambition. Napolitano, who always called herself a Happy Hermit, is no longer "Still in Hollywood," having moved to a remote part of the Mojave Desert many years ago. While her recent desert-inspired solo albums are much stranger and artier than her work with Concrete Blonde, she and Mankey should put enough passion into this rare reunion to make it more than just a sentimental walk in the dark. (Falling James)
GARY WILSON AND THE BLIND DATES, RAINBOW ARABIA, WEAVE! AT THE ECHO
The career of experimental electro-funk icon Gary Wilson follows an arc all its own. The 56-year-old, who's known to wrap himself in cellophane and duct tape during performances, began home-recording to tape in his native New York by the age of 12. At 14, he found himself visiting the home of avant-garde composer John Cage, who bequeathed upon him the priceless wisdom that "if it doesn't irritate people, you aren't doing your job." Wilson had been obsessed with early teen idols and the Beatles, and now began to infuse his pop-oriented songs with extreme bouts of experimentalism. This eventually resulted in his cult 1977 album, You Think You Really Know Me, which has, to this day, only been available in limited runs. Shortly after releasing this debut LP, Wilson effectively retired, only to be discovered in San Diego in 2002, working at a porn theater and playing lounge on the side. He's since released two albums through reputable L.A. indie labels, Mary Had Brown Hair on Stones Throw (2004) and Lisa Wants to Talk to You on Human Ear Music (2008). (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday: RAINBOW ARABIA at the Echo; MARC ROBILLARD at the Mint; WE BARBARIANS at Spaceland; UNKLE MONKEY at Waterfront.
TAME IMPALA AT SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
Straight outta Perth, Australia, the hard-to-pinpoint Tame Impala have a just-out debut, InnerSpeaker, on the excellent Modular label and it is chock-filled with a pleasantly confusing variety of musical strands. Now, that's very, very "musical" in the great-melodies and toe-tapping-beats departments, the album boasting an addictive, breezy, swaying ambience that's texturally intriguing, harmonically superadvanced and played with a heft and craft bespeaking sophistication and joy. They've been touring the States with MGMT in recent weeks, and more power to 'em, but grab this chance to see them up close and personal at these smaller venues. They'll no doubt be doing their own raving version of the interesting Solitude Is Blisssingle package just out, which features remixes by Midnight Juggernauts, Mickey Moonlight and label mates Canyons. Also at the Echo, Mon. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday: BLITZEN TRAPPER, THE MOONDOGGIES at El Rey Theatre; THE PARSON RED HEADS at Spaceland; TAKING BACK SUNDAY at the Wiltern; JESSE COOK at Club Nokia; MILLION KIDS at Redwood Bar & Grill; THE DAYLIGHTS, GLACIER HIKING at Roxy Theatre; THE GRACIOUS FEW at the Troubadour.
SALLY SELTMANN AT THE TROUBADOUR
This Australian singer-songwriter spent the '00s as New Buffalo, releasing a couple of well-regarded indie-pop discs that eventually led (in one way or another) to her co-writing Feist's Grammy-nominated "1234." Her confidence bolstered perhaps by rubbing award-show elbows with Nelly Furtado and Christina Aguilera, Seltmann goes by her own name on her latest, this year's Heart That's Pounding. It features no big stylistic shifts but does reflect a deepening of Seltmann's craft, most noticeably in the misleadingly titled "Dream About Changing," a delightful neo-Motown number that totally deserves a place alongside "1234" in some future iPod campaign. ("I'm a little bit shy," Seltmann sings repeatedly in that number, just in case you thought she'd gone Hollywood.) At the Troubadour, where she'll conclude her current North American tour, Seltmann will be backed by a duo that includes her husband (and Avalanches member) Darren on drums. Cute, right? (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday: HOT HOT HEAT, VOXHAUL BROADCAST at Bootleg Theatre; DAMIEN JURADO at Spaceland; JOHN LEFLER at Hotel Café; GRAVITY, EDDIE SANABRIA, LLOYD'S GARAGE at the Mint; SKEETOX at the Roxy.
DUM DUM GIRLS, CROCODILES AT THE ECHO
The preeminent local act in a bicoastal lady-led hipster-garage scene that also includes New York's Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls deconstruct '60s-era girl-group pop and reassemble it with fresh fuzz on I Will Be, their buzzed-about Sub Pop debut from earlier this year. It's a narrowly defined sound that the band's surnameless mastermind, Dee Dee (formerly known as Grand Ole Party frontwoman Kristin Gundred), gets loads of mileage out of, thanks to her darkly melancholic songs and the involvement of producer Richard Gottehrer, who, in addition to co-writing "My Boyfriend's Back," has worked with other latter-day lo-fi types such as the Raveonettes. San Diego–based openers Crocodiles, with Dee Dee's husband, Brandon Welchez, on vocals, have an appealingly droney new one due out in September that they made with James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco. Perhaps they'll offer a preview tonight. (Mikael Wood)
THE ADICTS AT THE KEY CLUB
Some people feel that punk is birthed from anger, while others feel that it's rooted in ecstatic fun. For the latter, the Adicts are the be-all, end-all of punk rock. Since the mid-'70s, the boys from Ipswich, England, have been throwing a party onstage every night, a marathon of up-tempo songs you can't help but sing along to. Frontman Monkey performs in ensembles that would make Michael Jackson jealous, joined by Pete Dee, Kid Dee, Mel, Scruff and Fiddle Dan in Clockwork Orange droog–style uniforms. The Adicts put on a show that answers the bizarre question, "What if GWAR replaced all the blood and pus with confetti and streamers?" It's the ultimate house party you spent all night looking for when you were 17. With the Blanx, the P.I.N.S. and the Victims kicking things off. (Diamond Bodine-Fischer)
Also playing Thursday: SAINT MOTEL, KITTEN at Hammer Museum; SLOANE at House of Blues; GARRISON STARR at Hotel Café; SENECA HAWK at Viper Room; SUGARHILL GANG at Whisky A Go-Go; SEE SPOT at the Troubadour; LITTLE FEAT at Coach House.
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