Music Picks: Hootenanny, The Moonbeams, Kamasi Washington
Races: See Friday.
PHOTO BY BRYAN SHEFFIELD
THE THREE CLUBS
Given Beck Black's glamorous image and her background as an actress (she appeared on Grey's Anatomy, had a small role in Clint Eastwood's Changeling and was a regular on Elimidate, of all things), you might expect the music she makes to be frothy, glitzy and poppy. Instead, with her local band The Moonbeams, she pumps out dark and heavy swells of funereal organ while crooning dourly about being trapped between "the material world and the spiritual realm." At times, her moody blues evoke the Doors at their strangest, or perhaps a more gothic Nico, wrapped up in a web of eerily spidery harpsichord lines. At other times, the Moonbeams kick out the jams with a punk-rock intensity, pushing Black madly along as she reverses gender roles on an apocalyptic version of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog," before switching back to the shadowy, simmering soul of febrile original ballads like "On My Way." —Falling James
Bass Drum of Death, DZ Deathrays
Bass Drum of Death are John Barrett and Colin Sneed, hard-rocking boys from Oxford, Miss., who specialize in a hook-heavy brand of bluesy garage punk. Imagine Wavves remaking the Black Keys' early albums, or the Stooges channeled by a pair of goons. Since releasing their beloved lo-fi long-player GB City last year, the dudes have played backing band for Odd Future rap duo MellowHype and released an earworm-y new single called "White Fright." Both of these things bode well for BDD's L.A. stopover. Opening are Australia's dissonant dance punks DZ Deathrays, who should please fans still longing for the glory days of Q & Not U and Les Savvy Fav. Shane Parsons' high-pitched bark and spiraling shreddage pair well with Simon Ridley's powerful pummeling. For a crash course, take a careening Spotify spin through last month's sleazy surprise of a debut LP, Bloodstreams. —Chris Martins
Dropping an iconic debut album presents an obvious challenge. Is it possible for an artist to live up to this initial display of excellence? For Twista, the longtime deity of Chicago's underground hip-hop scene who famously spits bars at a meteoric clip — a talent best displayed on his critically praised first offering, 1997's Adrenaline Rush — such introductory success has led to a slew of overwrought attempts to prove he's still got it. And if it's lightening-quick rhymes, then yes, Twista still has it in his arsenal; 2010's attempted return to glory, The Perfect Storm, and more explicitly, his decade-after-the-fact follow-up, Adrenaline Rush 2007, proved this to be so. But if his best-selling 2004 album, Kamikaze, shined, it was only because overwrought production helped overshadow the rapper's blatant one-dimensionality. While more nuanced artists have accelerated, Twista's been stuck in tar. —Dan Hyman
L.A. band Spirit Vine have been making their own special kind of witchy rock & roll — the kind of thing you think of when you hear Beefheart growl about coming outta the desert — since 2008, but last year's Blue Star EP split their sound as two extremely distinctive local producers took two tracks apiece. Happily, what you get are two burners and two smokers, which defines the band nicely. Joe Cardamone (of Icarus Line) makes Spirit Vine feel ferocious with revved-up psych-punk songs that fit somewhere between Shocking Blue and The Scientists, and Joel Morales (of dios and more) peels them away from the fuzz and fur and points them toward the lonesome ghost-on-the-highway sound of Dream Syndicate and Mazzy Star. It's a great concept for an EP, two better halves at once. —Chris Ziegler
Races, Gliss, Lili Haydn
As any good musician already knows, the best way to get over a broken heart is to take all that loneliness and misery and turn it into a song. Races frontman Wade Ryff transmuted his disappointment over "the bitter ending of a relationship with a real-life witch" into a full-length album titled, appropriately, Year of the Witch. Hazy guitars loom large over Ryff's clear but weary vocals while soothing femme harmonies wash consolingly over everything. The instrument-swapping trio Gliss (who divide their time between L.A. and Copenhagen) also give good atmosphere, as Martin Klingman and Victoria Cecilia exchange dreamy lines while surrounded by David Reiss' wall of shoegazer guitars and shimmering keyboards. Cecilia's candied vocals and Klingman's and Reiss' cottony keyboards swim in a literal sea of lush sound effects on Gliss' recent track "Weight of Love," a tantalizing glimpse from their upcoming album, Langsom Dans. Lili Haydn, who's also working on a new album, has backed everyone from Roger Waters and George Clinton to Jimmy Page and the L.A. Phil, threading their disparate music with her mesmerizing, serpentine twists of violin. —Falling James
ALLAH-LAS at California Plaza; SARA WATKINS at Levitt Pavilion (Pasadena); NICK MANCINI at Blue Whale; BUBBATRON at the Baked Potato; RICKEY WOODARD at LACMA; CAT & CIP at Out Take Bistro.
All-4-One, Color Me Badd
REDONDO BEACH PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Sandwiched between a Peruvian cultural revue and a youth dance recital is this gem of early '90s New Jack-dom. So what if All-4-One had only one huge single across 20 years and seven (!) albums — 1994's "I Swear" was enough of a doozy to earn these handsome harmonizers a Grammy and an indelible stamp on the hearts of '80s babies everywhere. One critic went so far as to call their latest, 2009's No Regrets, a "career album for All-4-One," but we know better and are betting that Delicious Kennedy & Co. do, too. Expect some unfamiliar tracks in a mix that leans heavily on period pieces: "I Can Love You Like That," "So Much in Love" and, if we're lucky, "She's Got Skillz." Of course, after their hit-making predecessors Color Me Badd are done sexing us up, we might have to call it a night. —Chris Martins
OAK CANYON RANCH
Southern Californian rockabillies and garage punks, rejoice. Hootenanny, the Oak Canyon Ranch rockabilly festival, is back in its 14th year with its most stacked roster to date. Festival veterans Rev. Horton Heat and Bouncing Souls join headliner Rancid, along with Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants, The Growlers and Lucero. If you've got a classic ride, be sure to bring it out for the car show, or find your pin-up queen at the Miss Hootenanny competition. With 16 bands and a slew of events packed into one day, you're gonna need to build an itinerary to see all of Hootenanny's heavy hitters, but for a measly $39, you'll more than get your money's worth. —K.C. Libman
MATES OF STATE, STEPKIDS at the Echo; BLIND PILOT at the Henry Fonda; PAPA at Bootleg Bar; JOE LA BARBERA QUINTET at Alvas Showroom.
LEVITT PAVILION (Pasadena)
Tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington is an L.A. native, a product of musical parents who are also educators and a graduate of the Hamilton High Music Academy. Shortly after enrolling at UCLA, Washington began playing in the bands of numerous faculty members, including Kenny Burrell and 2011 Grammy nominee Gerald Wilson. Washington's own style is reminiscent of the mid-'60s free jazz of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, most often heard locally at Leimert Park's World Stage. Washington comes north for tonight's show at the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena as part of its fine program of 50 free summer concerts. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more musical way to spend a lovely outdoor evening in July. —Tom Meek
HIROE SEKINE at Vitello's; APL.DE.AP TAKES YOU TO THE PHILIPPINES at Hollywood Bowl.
JMSN, Family of the Year, ERAS
In 2005, an 18-year-old Christian Berishaj signed to Atlantic with his party-pop band Love Arcade. A few years later, he went solo as Christian TV, inked with Universal, toured with Backstreet Boys and wound up remixing Rihanna's "Rude Boy." Now, freshly freed of his label commitments (again), he appears at this minuscule venue under his new guise, JMSN. As it happens, third time's the charm, as Berishaj's new material ditches the major gloss for the kind of creeping darkness that R&B oddballs like The Weeknd and Drake prefer. In other words, JMSN's self-released debut, Priscilla, combines the vocal chops of a born pop star with the bleak outlook of that same singer after his every attempt to make it big fell flat. Local folksters Family of the Year are about as opposite an opener as one could imagine, but their sun-dappled jangle isn't to be missed. —Chris Martins
GEOFF STRADLING'S STRADBAND at Typhoon.
Eleni Mandell, Lavender Diamond
Many musicians claim that releasing an album is just like giving birth, but Eleni Mandell really did give birth — not only to her eighth and most recent album, I Can See the Future, but also to a real-life baby, who inspired new songs like "Bun in the Oven." And yet all is not bliss for Mandell, who has always specialized in delicately rendered, often mournful ballads. For one thing, the baby's father is apparently an anonymous "astrophysicist sperm donor who likes classic rock," she says, so there are elements of mystery, longing and distance that hang over gentle tunes like "Magic Summertime" and, fittingly, "Now We're Strangers." What ties it all together are Mandell's languidly captivating vocals, imbuing spare idylls like the countrified "Desert Song" with a bit of warmth and intimacy. Becky Stark, one of Mandell's partners in the sweetly harmonizing supergroup The Living Sisters, appears with her band Lavender Diamond, who are kind of an ebulliently positive and poppy counterpoint to Mandell's solemn contemplations. —Falling James
Simone White, Sara Watkins, Tom Brosseau
When Simone White's long-player I Am the Man came out in 2007, we heard an enchanting and curiously shadowy batch of folk stories sung melodiously and laced instrumentally with a languid melodicism culled from '50s-'60s dream pop. She's followed up with a couple of pleasantly mystifying sets of contrasting hues, including the just-out Silver Silver, where the spacey grace of White's crystalline voice resonates in surprising ways with producer Fol Chen's densely woven electronic arrangements. White's sardonic/sweet songs of politics (personal and otherwise), fated love and times good and bad are overflowing with an ecstasy that sounds purely musical, fully intuitive. Nickel Creek singer-fiddler Sara Watkins plays songs from her recent Sun Midnight Sun; singer-songwriter Tom Brosseau debuts material from his latest, as-yet-untitled collection, accompanied by guitarist Sean Watkins and others. —John Payne
Minecraft players know and fear the Endermen, dark, long-limbed block movers who appear benign until you look directly at them, at which point they put down their blocks and stare directly at you, daring you to turn away. Pianist Jordan Carrington doesn't have long limbs and he won't kill you, unless you're getting slayed by his prodigious piano skills and innovative writing of the head-exploding variety. This 20-year-old is endowed with a sui generis identity and a musical vision others could never achieve with a lifetime of study. His band of brutes includes his mentor, long-limbed trumpeter John Daversa, plus saxophone wunderkind Jacob Scesney, drummer Brijesh Pandya and bassist Neil Patton, all in possession of high skill and health points. Enjoy the music, but please don't make eye contact. —Gary Fukushima
Marina & the Diamonds
HENRY FONDA THEATER
"All I ever wanted was the world," Marina Diamandis declares humbly enough on her new single, "Primadonna," a pure-pop confection that either celebrates or mocks a diva's sense of entitlement. Apparently, the world — at least, as defined by the British charts — didn't mind, with the single reaching the Top 20 in the United Kingdom. Diamandis' second album, Electra Heart, catalogs her bittersweet attitude toward love on such ambivalent tracks as "Lies," "Fear & Loathing" and "Homewrecker." Her new electronic-based direction and production sometimes make the songs feel slick and impersonal, but Diamandis' innate wit and charisma eventually save the day, especially when she disses an ex-lover, "You may be good-looking, but you're not a piece of art." —Falling James
DUNES, INFINITE BODY at the Smell.
Ray Charles Tribute
If there's ever a time to sneak out of work early this summer, it's for the Bowl's homage to the legendary voice whose wail on jacked-up jams like "I Got a Woman" still gets a party started and whose sweet, gravelly ode to his home state of Georgia can still bring a tear to this Southern girl's eye. The something-for-everyone guest stars alone warrant your attendance (Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Martina McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater and BeBe Winans), but the real treat might be the big band that's backing them, the world-famous, multiple Grammy Award–winning Count Basie Orchestra. Expect them to bring the kind of stomp and fervor that will entice Ray Charles' spirit to smile and definitely get you on your feet, even without cracking open that bottle of rosé you stashed in your picnic basket. —Rebecca Haithcoat
MIKE MILLER at Vitello's; SPEEDY ORTIZ, LA FONT at the Smell; STEPHAN JACOBS, KLOUD at the Airliner.
SANTA MONICA PIER
The Lions left behind being just a band years ago; now they're somewhere between an institution and a local landmark, thanks to a history so deep it reaches pretty much all the way back to Black Ark and Studio One and a roster of musicians from about a dozen of the most memorable ska-funk-reggae-hip-hop-and-more projects of the last two decades. With core members of expert instrumenters Breakestra, Connie Price and the Keystones and Orgone, Lions pulled together as a strictly-roots reggae outfit in 2006 and put out the rough 'n' ready full-length Jungle Struttin' in 2008. Two necessary and faithful 45s followed, and on deck is a Stones Throw debut — makes sense because some of these guys are helping Madlib make music, too — that promises the dust and depth the Lions thrive on. —Chris Ziegler
MAHLIS PANOS PROJECT at the Baked Potato.
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