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Music Picks: Grizzly Bear, Muse, Dark Dark Dark, the Charlatans UK

We (heart) Heart.
PHOTO BY RANDEE ST NICHOLAS

FRIDAY/SEPTEMBER/17

UPROAR FESTIVAL AT VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATER

Brought to you by the same folks responsible for Taste of Chaos and Mayhem Festival, the newly inaugurated Uproar tour pairs as headliners two hard-rock acts without much in common beyond recent No. 1 debuts: Chicago-based Disturbed (whose Asylum bowed atop the Billboard 200 last week) churns out a chunky brand of industrial-tinged everyman metal, while Orange County's Avenged Sevenfold (whose Nightmare topped the charts in August) spikes Metallica-style thrash with a theatricality descended from Guns N' Roses. As far as songs go, there's no question of the latter band's superiority; they've got at least a half-dozen new-school classics to their credit, including "Almost Easy," which the USC marching band performed at the Rose Bowl last year. But Disturbed's live show packs a powerful fuck-the-man punch. Also on the bill: Stone Sour (with Corey Taylor and Jim Root of Slipknot) and Hellyeah (with dudes from Pantera and Mudvayne), as well as Halestorm, Airbourne, Hail the Villain and New Medicine. (Mikael Wood)

ZOLA MOONAT STARBOARD ATTITUDE

Unlike so many blues singers, Zola Moon doesn't live in the past. Her "postmodern blues" tunes may echo the powerful declamations of Koko Taylor and Etta James, but they're infused with a non-retro perspective and bohemian spirit that often evoke her literary heroes Charles Bukowski and Tennessee Williams. By writing about her own experiences and day-to-day frustrations, the South Bay singer makes the music feel immediate and palpably real instead of dispiritingly predictable. Considering her impressive back-catalog of original love songs and soulful ballads, it's ironic that her seventh and latest album, Undercover, is a set of classic-blues remakes. As such, the CD is a fine showcase for Moon's fiery vocals, and she infuses her non-slavishly faithful versions of songs by Robert Johnson and Big Mama Thornton with plenty of her own brassy personality, while lead guitarist Michael "Monster" Carter unreels dizzily agile solos all around her. (Falling James)

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDSAT EL REY THEATRE

One of the problems with U.K. buzz bands is that, by the time they arrive stateside, their material seems to be a little shopworn. This was not a big problem in the Beatles era because everyone was on speed and bands kept churning out singles and albums, but given current "release cycles," U.K. acts tour their material a year (or way over a year — see Florence and the Machine) after the initial excitement spreads through the blogosphere. Marina Diamandis' inventive melodies and powerful, theatrical pipes have been making noise online since last summer, but it's only now that we get a chance to see her in a proper theater setting. She's been lumped with La Roux, Little Boots and, yes, Florence in a new wave of British songstresses, but we think she stands out. Oh — she loves/hates Hollywood, so make sure to yell out that she looks like Shakira and Catherine Zeta-Jones! (Gustavo Turner)

Also playing Friday: MEN at the Echo (see Music feature); LOCAL NATIVES at the Music Box; PARSON RED HEADS at Spaceland; THE ADICTS at the Key Club; RAKAA at the Airliner; SAM AMIDON at the Bootleg; PRIMUS, MARIACHI EL BRONX at Club Nokia; TOWER OF POWER, AVERAGE WHITE BAND at Fairplex; THE OTMARO RUIZ TRIO at the Blue Whale.

 

SATURDAY/SEPTEMBER/18

JEFF THE BROTHERHOODAT THE SMELL

The Napoleon Dynamites of rock & roll, Jeff the Brotherhood rather overdo the dork shtick, but are awkwardly irresistible all the same. Nashville siblings Jake and Jamin Orrall (both ex–Be Your Own Pet) lustily straddle stoner Ramones riffs, shambling Sonic Youth–isms, motorik beats and mumbled slacker vocals with both the naive abandon of first-timers and an innate, shaggy sexiness that can never be learned. Jake looks like he just scooped up an electric guitar and could magically play the Sabbath-y fuck out of it, while Jamin disciplines his minimalist kit with digital meter and Neanderthal glee. Their latest full-length, Heavy Days, handily ups Jeff the Brotherhood's muscle and melody, but it's their loose-limbed, kegger-ready live show that separates them from the post–White Stripes slew of garage-pop duos. (Paul Rogers)

PHOENIX, GRIZZLY BEAR, GIRLS AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL

It's been a huge year for Phoenix. Ever since the French pop band's fourth album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, dropped in May 2009, the reverberations have been traveling around the globe, forecasting the arrival of the quartet itself. The group is just wrapping up a (mostly) sold-out world tour, interrupted only by a dozen or so festival stops. Oh, and that time when they stopped to accept the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, beating David Byrne and Depeche Mode, among others, with their winning mix of propulsive rhythm, tight riffing, clap-along choruses and inescapable hooks. If nothing else, Grizzly Bear have made a vocal fan of Jay-Z in that time and been covered by Michael McDonald, two odd but significant honors that illustrate the Brooklyn group's musical breadth. Theirs is a sort of catch-all modern classical played out on rock instruments. San Francisco's Girls are not girls at all, but four dudes playing a distinctly Left Coast blend of surf, pop and punk. (Chris Martins)

HEART AT GIBSON AMPHITHEATRE

There's no doubting that tonight's Heart show will include many (if not most) of the Wilson sisters' biggest hits, from mid-'70s hard-rock jams like "Magic Man" and "Crazy on You" to mid-'80s power ballads such as "Alone" and "These Dreams." And there's no doubting that those hits will sound awesome; these ladies remain powerhouse performers with vocal and instrumental chops to spare. Check it out, though: Even if Heart announced in advance that they planned to spend their entire set playing stuff from their new album, I'd still advise you to go, since unlike 99 percent of latter-day efforts from bands Heart's age, the just-released Red Velvet Car totally rules. It's got riffed-out rockers ("WTF," "Wheels"), folky campfire sing-alongs ("Hey You," "Safronia's Mark") and one tune ("Queen City") in which Ann Wilson somehow makes "Yo ho, yo ho" seem like a cool lyric. Easier said than done, people. (Mikael Wood)

Also playing Saturday: DENGUE FEVER, FITZ & THE TANTRUM at Lobster Festival; THE DANCE PARTY at Spaceland; TWEK, WOUNDED LION at the Smell; FIREBALL MINISTRY at Blue Star; AUTOLUX, GIANT PANDA at El Rey Theatre; SWORDS OF FATIMA at Redwood Bar & Grill; ELIZABETH COOK at McCabe's; LADIES OF SOUL at Gibson Amphitheatre.

 

SUNDAY/SEPTEMBER/19

TONYA WATTS, THE GEARS, TROY WALKER, SIMON STOKES AT VIVA CANTINA

The lineup at this evening's edition of the Messaround — the monthly no-cover music series presented by the veteran country-music critic and L.A. Weekly contributor Jonny Whiteside — might be the strangest and most pleasingly diverse bill he's assembled so far. It's headed by Alabama firebrand Tonya Watts, who subverts traditional country expectations with slyly rebellious Southern rockers like "Music Made a Man Out of Me" (from her new album, Handcuff My Soul) and such insightful ballads as "Daddy's Redneck Flaws." Meanwhile, L.A. punk survivors the Gears continue to crank out an authentic pre-hardcore punk sound that marries the Ramones' sense of summertime fun and terminally teenage subject matter (girls, smoking dope, vowing to never grow old, etc.) with rootsy, Stones-y rock & roll power. The bill shifts gears, so to speak, yet again with a set by the fascinating transvestite icon and lounge-pop-country stylist Troy Walker, whose fans have included everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Cramps. Amping up the weirdness and seediness factor is underground-rock renegade Simon Stokes, whose freaked-out garage-rock '60s beginnings barely hinted at the depraved stance of his controversial '70s biker-rock outfit, the Black Whip Thrill Band. The late-afternoon show begins at 5 p.m. (Falling James)

VIVA MEXICO! WITH CALEXICO, OZOMATLI, MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL

In honor of the bicentennial of Mexico's independence and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, here's a night with artists whose varied sounds and sights share a cultural bond with that other world just south of the border. Named after the town near the California/Mexico border, Calexico mix a new spaghetti Western with ranchera, norteño and a Euro-modernist twist in a heavily atmospheric mélange that boasts a genuinely epic drama. Multicultural mixmeisters Ozomatli are L.A.'s kings of the hip-hop/cumbia/samba/funk/merengue/comparsa stew, with tasty dashes of R&B, reggae and raga thrown in. Sonic seer Camilo Lara and his Mexican Institute of Sound lay out the joy from their recent album Soy Sauce (Nacional), a blissfully retro-modern messing with trad cumbia and other sonidos in a heady swirl of electronic dance tracks. Also performing: Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, the first all-female mariachi group in the U.S., and the swirling splendors of Grandeza Mexican Folk Ballet Company. (John Payne)

TAMARYN, PURO INSTINCT, DUNES AT THE ECHO

Before the release of Best Coast's chart-climbing debut Crazy for You, New York's Mexican Summer label was known mostly by vinyl collectors and music-blog devotees — the kind of imprint to release thick slabs of wax in limited-color runs from a rogue's gallery of bands more or less destined for greatness. The label may be getting more attention, but its commitment is still thusly aligned, evidenced by this showcase of sorts. San Francisco's Tamaryn specializes in a hypnotic sort of psychedelia where breathy female vocals float on a sea of heavy shoegaze and bright dream pop. Her new album, The Waves, is just out. L.A.'s Puro Instinct originally made its name as Pearl Harbor, a pair of flaxen-haired sisters (and friends) whose wistful, summery track "Luv Goon" caused a minor stir before the band relaunched under a presumably less burdened name. Dunes too are psych-inclined locals, but theirs is an angstier, more angular mash-up of girl-group swoon and gothic slouch. (Chris Martins)

CHILLY GONZALES AT LARGO

Chances are if you nurse even a passing interest in Feist, Peaches or Jamie Lidell, you've unwittingly heard the work of Chilly Gonzales. He's a virtuosic pianist, gifted producer and, erm, occasional rapper, and his best recorded work over the past 15 years has been in the service of others, using his dual French and Canadian citizenship to bounce back and forth across the Atlantic adding bits of ivory to records by the aforementioned three. But even if Gonzales' solo work is a bit wonky — see the unlikely boast "Never Stop Rap," on his just-released Ivory Tower — his live show is not to be missed. A surly fireball of Victor Borge musical humor and Andrew W.K. performance-art intensity, Gonzales has been known to strong-arm audience members into getting involved, stage impromptu piano battles and bring in some high-profile guests. Considering this Largo gig is being billed as a "Piano Talk Show," guests likely can expect all of the above. (Chris Martins)

Also playing Sunday: LOS CENZONTLES at House of Blues.

 

MONDAY/SEPTEMBER/20

I AM NOT LEFT HANDED AT MOLLY MALONE'S

This London trio describes itself as "mostly Irish"; its "female vocal, male harmonies, plus a delicate balance between acoustic and electric" act has been compared to 10,000 Maniacs, Rilo Kiley and Suzanne Vega. The material on their EPs is extremely promising and this gig will be a chance to catch them in an intimate pub setting. (Gustavo Turner)

Also playing Monday: FAMILY OF THE YEAR at Silverlake Lounge.

 

TUESDAY/SEPTEMBER/21

EFTERKLANG, BUKE AND GASS AT THE TROUBADOUR

Copenhagen's Efterklang offer excruciatingly lovely, frozen slabs of ambient wintry wonderworld cloaked in sustained airy drones — tiny electronic crackles like the crunch of twigs 'neath the boots on a trek across the tundra. The evocative atmospheres that pervade their latest album, Magic Chairs (4AD), are the result of very tastefully picturesque orchestrations twined with signal processors and studio atmospherics. They also offer a raft of excellent melodies, which they're not as often credited for. Also Brooklyn duo Buke and Gass, whose just-out Riposte on the choice Brassland label presents a piquantly pointy-headed pop played on homemade hybrid instruments, spiced with loping African polyrhythms and other odd meters. B&G's happily lopsided "song" structures are custom-designed to encourage deep-in-thought chin-stroking even on the dance floor. (John Payne)

Also playing Tuesday: RATATAT, DOM at Club Nokia; FURTHUR at the Greek; KELE, DOES IT OFFEND YOU YEAH at the Music Box.

 

WEDNESDAY/SEPTEMBER/22

THE CHARLATANS UK, GIANT DRAG AT EL REY THEATRE

Soldiering on after past tragedies, including the death of keyboardist Rob Collins in 1996, the Charlatans UK continue to wind up their mournfully melodic songs, even as music styles have come and gone in the many years since the British band started in 1989. Singer Tim Burgess croons elegiac anthems like "I Don't Care Where You Live" and "My Beautiful Friend" with tuneful panache, as guitarist Mark Collins and keyboardist Tony Rogers weave together trippy entrails of hypnotizing sounds. The Charlatans return to the States with selections from a new album, Who We Touch. Adding considerable allure to the evening is an opening set by local alterna-rocker duo Giant Drag, who don't play live as much as they should. Singer Annie Hardy intones gently lulling tunes that are contrasted by her soaring, surging guitar lines and drummer Micah Calabrese's heartbeat rhythms. Hardy's blend of distorted, Sonic Youth–style riffs and cottony vocals is positively enchanting. (Falling James)

THE XX, WARPAINT, ZOLA JESUS AT THE HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM

The most surprising part about The xx winning Britain's most prestigious music award, the Mercury Prize, isn't actually the fact that the dour indie act's eponymous debut album beat out far more accessible fare by the likes of soul chanteuse Corinne Bailey Rae and folk phenomenon Mumford & Sons. What's shocking is that singer Oliver Sim — who'd be first choice for the lead in a Dracula prequel — actually appeared gracious and glowing when he received the honor. On album, the deadpan Sim and his breathy emotive foil Romy Madley Croft weave a slow and deliberate path through a minimal stew of gothic pop and new-wave soul. It doesn't sound like a celebration, but it does deserve to be celebrated for its cool confidence, and The xx live show is a mesmerizing thing full of black getups, gold crosses, ghostly croons and coifed dos. L.A.'s moody grunge-pop girl group Warpaint opens, in advance of their October Beggars debut, The Fool. (Chris Martins)

Also playing Wednesday: THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT, CALDER QUARTET at the Ford Amphitheatre.

 

THURSDAY/SEPTEMBER/23

ALL FOR THE HALL AT CLUB NOKIA

Nothing is more antithetical to the spirit of musical creativity than the idea of placing folks in a hall of fame. By the time some fussy, hidebound and conservative organization gets around to entombing — er, enshrining — a musician in such a musical mausoleum, it's a sure sign that the honoree's songs stopped being relevant many years earlier. Nonetheless, tonight's All for the Hall event, a fund-raiser for the Country Music Hall of Fame, is worthwhile, if only for the chance to see Emmylou Harris and Kris Kristofferson, as well as the relatively lightweight pop-country starlet Taylor Swift. Harris somehow always manages to bestow her own grace on such glitzy affairs. No matter how pompous the occasion, Harris' aching, piercing harmonies lend a gravitas and feeling of soulfulness that evoke the primacy of country and real roots music. Apart from his forays into stardom as a Hollywood actor, Kristofferson has always been an incisive songwriter, with such memorable hits as "Me & Bobby McGee" and "Sunday Morning Comin' Down." The combination of Harris and Kristofferson on the bill should go a long way toward counterbalancing the sycophantic, self-congratulatory smarminess of such events. (Falling James)

DARK DARK DARK AT HAMMER MUSEUM

Built around the introspective piano musings of Nona Invie, the mini-symphonies of Minneapolis-based chamber-folk sextet Dark Dark Dark offer a beguilingly beautiful experience. The collective was founded by multi-instrumentalists and singers Invie and Marshall LaCount, songwriters with a deep love for somewhat disparate musical strands including minimalism, pop, New Orleans jazz, Americana and Eastern European folk. While that sort of eclecticism is hardly unique these days, this particular combo seems imbued with a special expertise in the tricky maneuverings of texture, harmony and (especially) acoustical tone. This darkly delicate instrumental imagery is heard to best effect on their new Wild Go album, a 10-song set of highly cinematic magic on which Invie's soaring, haunting voice and piano are juxtaposed against wonderfully spare drumming, an evocatively reverbed e-guitar and waterfalls of banjo and accordion. (John Payne)

MODESELEKTOR AT EL REY THEATRE

Let's be clear about the music of Modeselektor: You can get all heady and intellectual about it, or dancedancedancedance. Or both, we suppose. Modeselektor — named after a function on the Roland RE-201 Space Echo analog delay effects unit (now you know) — is Berlin's Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, a wired couple of dudes who live and breathe the noisy-nasty jumbling jungle of IDM, glitch, electro and, of course, hip-hop. They wouldn't stand out all that much, however, if it weren't for their rather devilish disregard for genre or trend, often coming up with mixes equally at home with the screech of metal, the luxuriant wisps of "ambient" and (we could swear) even the odd bit of country and western. They don't, in other words, give a toss about your hairsplitting electronic-music genre wars. But they do care that you dance your ass off when they rip onstage, tonight most likely pulverizing last year's Moderat album (on the BPitch Control label) and further stompings on techno-dubstep terrain. (John Payne)

MUSE AT HONDA CENTER

Perhaps their sheltered incubation in a sleepy seaside town and a lack of diluting lineup changes since forming in 1994 has preserved in Muse a mild madness. For no matter how poppy they get, the Brit trio still stir in unfashionable globs of progressive rock and classical/exotic baroque that keep them idiosyncratic, intriguing and, well, credible. Like their obvious aural ancestors Queen, Muse are the acceptable face of prog, shamelessly catchy but seldom kitschy and with enough singable singles on last year's The Resistance ("Uprising," "Resistance") to make people actually listen to that album's 13-minute "Exogenesis: Symphony" epic. Even when we don't really know what falsetto-prone singer Matthew Bellamy is on about, his heroic, can't-keep-us-down lyrics can be comfortably projected onto our own everyday struggles. And don't worry: Muse's music translates unusually well in megavenues like Honda Center, as it was always aimed squarely at 'em. (Paul Rogers)

Also playing Thursday: JOHNNY WINTER at the Canyon; JOHNNY POLYGON & PM DAWN at the Whisky; FOOL'S GOLD, WALLPAPER, RAINBOW ARABIA at the Troubadour.

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