Music Picks: Iannis Xenakis Now and Tomorrow, Ozzy Osbourne, War Tapes, Liz Pappademas
IANNIS XENAKIS NOW AND TOMORROW AT REDCAT
The CEAIT (Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology) Festival is back with three electronic/sound events composed and inspired by the late composer/architect Iannis Xenakis. Three different programs spread over three nights feature pieces by composers guided by Xenakis' innovations in sound, space and high technology. Xenakis' own multichannel electronic works, game strategy pieces and instrumental compositions — startlingly beautiful masses of pure sound drawn in points, lines and massive blocks — include a performance of his war-themed Pour la Paix for speakers, chorus and electroacoustics. Performances run Jan. 28-30, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. Free preconcert presentations take place in the Ahmanson Auditorium at MOCA, Saturday, Jan. 29, at 3 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 30, at 1 p.m. (John Payne)
YING YANG TWINS AT KEY CLUB
Hard to believe it's been more than 10 years since the South unleashed crunk (a blend of the fine ingredients "crazy" and "drunk") music on the country. Atlanta's Kaine and D Roc, better known as the Ying Yang Twins, will never be noted among the most lyrical of rappers. But popularizing Southern-fried terms like "fitty-'leven" in "Get Low," sullying a Disney classic in "Whistle While You Twurk" and sighing shock-worthy suggestions into your ear in "Wait (The Whisper Song)" have certainly earned them commendation in strip clubs [like Cheetahs; see Lemmy piece on Page Two]. Besides putting out a compilation album and managing to champion their song "Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk)" as the New Orleans Saints' unofficial anthem, the Hotlanta duo hasn't made hip-hop headlines in a while, so we're guessing this show's just a good old-fashioned Dirty South hoedown.
BLACK DUB AT EL REY
When he's not busy producing the major league likes of U2, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and many others, guitarist/pedal-steel wiz Daniel Lanois keeps himself occupied with solo and band projects that highlight the restless polytalent's considerable musical chops. His Black Dub proposes an experimental bar band whose slack 'n' swampy rock & roll features Lanois' very personal brand of bluesy guitar sling spruced up with the soulicious vocals of Trixie (daughter of the late Chris Whitley). Lanois' longtime bandmates Daryl "Da Bird" Johnson on bass and Brian Blade on deeply funky drums hold down a really hefty back line. This is a high-stepping, good-timey vibe, and a spacey one, too. (John Payne)
JON BRION AT LARGO
Jon Brion's show at Largo at the Coronet is the best show in town, and we are so geographically fortunate that we can see it once a month. If you don't know him by name, you certainly know his sound: Brion has scored numerous films, including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch Drunk Love and I Heart Huckabees, and produced music for myriad artists, ranging from Fiona Apple to Brad Mehldau to Kanye West. You can expect to see Brion acting as his own backing band, looping a battery of vintage and obscure instruments live — though he spends most of the time at the same upright piano Largo has had for years, with a Viking helmet perched on top . Brion never plays the same song the same way twice and never performs with a set list. His show is one long stream-of-consciousness blend of worked originals from his film scores and his only solo LP, Meaningless; wild covers of classic pop and rock & roll songs, often with sing-alongs; and improv sets with special guests. Be sure to stop by the Little Room for a drink after the show. (Lainna Fader)
MELVINS AT THE SATELLITE
This is the last night of the Melvins' by-now-legendary monthlong residency at the Satellite. In this final episode, the current lineup of the Melvins performs what they're calling a "normal" set, which will feature tunes from their wicked latest meisterwerk, The Bride Screamed Murder. Plus you get the heavy majesties of the band's classic, classic Stoner Witch played from beginning to end CD-style (i.e., with no break to turn the record over). (John Payne)
CROCODILES, TAMARYN, HEAVY HAWAII AT THE ECHO
Hailing from the oppressive, meathead-riddled conservative stronghold that often is San Diego, Crocodiles present an intriguing contrast to their surroundings. At the core of the band are singer and beat programmer Brandon Welchez and guitarist Charles Rowell, who've been partners in iconoclasm for more than a decade. After playing in a number of hardcore bands and backing Dum Dum Girls for a spell (Welchez is married to frontwoman Dee Dee), they struck out on their own, composing garage-rock ditties that are as sonically pretty as they are lyrically disturbed. The title of their 2009 Fat Possum Records debut kinda sums it up: Summer of Hate. Their new one, Sleep Forever, displays an expanded palette and improved production sense, but just like their hometown, Crocodiles never change that much. In their case, this is a good thing. (Chris Martins)
LES SAVY FAV AT THE ECHOPLEX
New York's Les Savy Fav are still, after 15 years and five albums, one of the most interesting math-damaged post-punk bands on the map. This isn't solely due to the fact that their major competitors — Q and Not U, and Dismemberment Plan — have both retired. If anything, that point only serves to underline what a great job singer Tim Harrington and his boys have done to keep things fresh for themselves and their fans. When Les Savy Fav first turned ears with their 1997 debut, 3/5, their sound was a fantastically discordant skronk, while Harrington screeched and rasped over the raw, jagged murk. Things got spikier and more urgent (1999's The Cat and the Cobra) before they got playful and more melodic (2001's Go Forth), but the last two records, including 2010's Root for Ruin, have shown off a band reborn, honing its angularity with a pop presence of mind that's made space for horn sections, catchy hooks and guest appearances. Live, of course, the band still fries minds and pummels hearts. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Friday: SOCIAL DISTORTION at the Palladium; THE HUMPERS, THROW RAG at Alex's Bar; NICO VEGA at Saint Rocke; THE GET UP KIDS at Glass House; THE HANDSOME FAMILY at the Bootleg.
WEEN AT THE WILTERN
[See Page Two]
DEERHOOF, BEN BUTLER AND MOUSEPAD, NERVOUS COP AT ECHOPLEX
It makes perfect sense that Deerhoof would take on as lofty a task as defeating evil on their new album, Deerhoof vs. Evil. The San Francisco four-piece has long been a vanguard act, pushing forward the cause of experimental guitar-based music with a manic intensity and sometimes even cutesy mien. The latter is primarily due to the vocal performances of Satomi Matsuzaki, who chimes, squeals and coos in a mix of English and her native Japanese over the clanging, shambolic and often trebly art rock of her bandmates. Their latest focuses more on low-end, which imbues the songs with a winning continuity and, on occasion, bona fide groove. (Chris Martins)
IAN HUNTER AT EL REY
Ian Hunter's importance in the history of rock & roll can't be overstated. Where, for instance, would the Clash have been without the direct influence of Hunter's old band, Mott the Hoople? It's not just that the Clash echoed Mott the Hoople's version of "All the Young Dudes" in their own tune "All the Young Punks"; Hunter's blend of Dylan-ish wordplay and 1970s hard-rock glitter was a major inspiration for the late Joe Strummer's own poetic ambition and urgency. Following the late-'70s breakup of Mott the Hoople and the death of his longtime accomplice Mick Ronson in 1993, Hunter has moved in a more singer-songwriter-style direction, but recent albums like 2007's Shrunken Heads and 2009's Man Overboard show that he's still vital, whether he's examining the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina in "How's Your House?" or assessing his place in the world as a middle-aged man on "I Am What I Hated When I Was Young." The British singer is most often associated with his early solo hits, "Cleveland Rocks" and "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," but he's got a bag full of great new songs as well. (Falling James)
THE HANDSOME FAMILYAT McCABE'S
Handsome Family singer-guitarist Brett Sparks and his bassist-banjoist wife, Rennie Sparks, face the same problem as many other modern country-Americana outfits: how to create new music that's relevant without indulging in cornpone sentimentality. The Albuquerque duo has largely succeeded by crafting folksy tunes and murder ballads that come off as haunting and immediate rather than nostalgic. It helps that their sound isn't rooted in a specific time period or genre, as reflected on their new collection, Scattered: A Further Collection of Lost Demos, Orphaned Songs and Odd Covers. Although Brett's twang feels mannered and overly studied on such retro and potentially hokey tracks as "Snowball" and "A Plague of Humans," the pair branches out on surprising experiments like "Little Buddy," which is shot up with distorted punk-rock guitar. Several of the oddball covers further reveal the Handsome Family's range, especially a loping, countrified take on Bob Dylan's "Just Like Thumb's Blues," and Rennie's glowing remake of "Eleanor Rigby," which is recast as a banjo-spiked intimate folk ramble. Also at the Bootleg Theater, Fri. (Falling James)
L.A. LOTTERY LEAGUE DRAFT NIGHT AT PROJECT INFEST
The L.A. Lottery League, the local response to an endeavor created by a group of Columbus, Ohio, artists in 2008, takes the members of more than a dozen local bands and reshuffling them to create a dozen brand-new bands by the end of February. The first part, Draft Night, is presided over by a "council of chiefs": The Smell's Jim Smith, musicians Michael Nhat and Dalton Blanco, impresario Sean Carnage and booker Deseret Rodriguez. This Star Chamber of the scene chooses the combinations of musicians who will work together under a new band name to produce a dozen minutes of unpredictable, completely new music. The result might be a phenomenal blossoming of artistic potential — or it might be the musical equivalent of the Louisiana Superdome, at which occasionally some kind of barbaric sex or suicide occurs. Free; details at newmusicarchive.org. (David Cotner)
Also playing Saturday: IANNIS XENAKIS' NOW AND TOMORROW at REDCAT; KARSH KALE/MIDIVAL PUNDITZ at UCLA; FOL CHEN, DARWIN DEEZ at Spaceland; SEAN ROWE at McCabe's; CHARLOTTE MARTIN at the Bootleg; YANN TIERSEN at Luckman Fine Arts Complex.
SAVAGE REPUBLIC, THE URINALS, CLIPD BEAKS AT THE ECHO
Punk rock was supposed to be a brief meteor streaking across the musical sky but, if anything, it's even bigger and has more cultural impact today than it ever did as a fringe genre in the late 1970s. Veteran punks claim that you had to be there in the beginning to truly understand what it all meant, but many of the most vital and authentic early punk bands have reunited and been more productive in recent years than they ever were in the old days. Savage Republic was never a typical punk band, and the L.A. collective employed heavy percussion and foreboding riffs to invent its own brand of awesome, often terrifying post-punk industrial music. Unfortunately, the current version of the band doesn't include all of the original members, which considerably lessens the impact of this reunion, but the nouveau Savage Republic still retains a forward-thinking artfulness and experimentation that places them in the same league as Einstürzende Neubauten and Gang of Four. With the Urinals, whose lo-fi sound is as contrastingly minimal and shrunken down as Savage Republic's is massive and expansive. (Falling James)
TANYA MORGAN, RAPPER BIG POOH AT THE ROXY
Tanya Morgan is not a country singer, but don't ask what the name means. Just take Donwill, Ilyas and Von Pea's word that they chose the unusual moniker because they weren't trying to be a typical rap group. Brooklyn-born Von Pea and Cincinnati MCs Donwill and Ilyas formed the group, naming it after a fictitious woman because they assumed it would just be a casual side project. Instead, their 2006 debut LP, Moonlighting, was lauded by the Roots' drummer Questlove as one of the top 10 albums of the year. A successful, classy sophomore release later, the group has not only gained enough attention to be sick of questions regarding their misleading name but also to be mentioned alongside lyrically complex rappers like Little Brother and Lupe Fiasco. Rapper Big Pooh, one of the three members of now-defunct, near-deified North Carolina group Little Brother, also is on the bill. If you like your hip-hop show both jazzy and a jam, this one's for you. (Rebecca Haithcoat)
AGAINST ME! AT THE MUSIC BOX
A couple of years ago, these fire-starting Florida punks stirred up some serious next-Nirvana buzz. Turns out the big mainstream breakthrough never quite happened, which is probably why frontman Tom Gabel announced the band's departure from Sire Records on his blog last year, not long after the release of White Crosses, Against Me!'s decidedly lower-wattage follow-up. Does that premature stall-out mean you should stop paying attention to these guys? It does not; if anything, the experience probably has sharpened Gabel's eye for the kind of everyday absurdity he writes about. And the recent addition of drummer Jay Weinberg (who's filled in for his dad, Max, in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) can only have upped their arena-rock power — with or without the arenas. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Sunday: IANNIS XENAKIS' NOW AND TOMORROW at REDCAT; SUN FOOT at the Smell.
THE FLING, BELLE BRIGADE AT THE SATELLITE
Long Beach folk-flavored roots-rock band the Fling plays the last show of the last Monday-night residency at beloved Silver Lake venue Spaceland with Belle Brigade tonight. Recently signed to Silver Lake's Dangerbird label, the Fling sounds like Black Mountain and Big Pink with vocal harmonies and intricate chord structures. They've been around for a few years, and toured with new labelmates the Delta Spirit and Darker My Love, but only just dropped their first full-length album, When the Madhouses Appear, on Lady Monk (their Dangerbird debut is released in the spring). (Lainna Fader)
Also playing Monday: SIERRA SWAN at the Hotel Café; FAMILY OF THE YEAR at the Bootleg.
OZZY OSBOURNE, SLASH AT UNIVERSAL AMPHITHEATRE
With the memory of The Osbournes fading amidst a blizzard of even more ridiculous TV reality shows it helped spawn, and his bat-biting and ant-snorting antics now ancient history, our focus can return to Ozzy Osbourne's actual music. Because say what you will about ol' Oz, but there's still no other voice like his ominous, crinkled moan and, as a noninstrumentalist, he has stayed savvy in his choice of collaborators. For last year's Scream, the Double-O shook things up by replacing longtime on-off guitarist/co-songwriter Zakk Wylde with Gus G, enlisting drummer Tommy Clufetos in place of Mike Bordin and writing with both producer Kevin Churko and keys man Adam Wakeman. The results are sinister, sentimental and surprisingly spirited, and while Ozzy never wanders far from his old band Black Sabbath's chuggy template, his new crew certainly has delivered fresh fireworks. Having former Guns N' Roses six-stringer Slash open the show keeps things cozy. (Paul Rogers)
DAS RACIST, YELAWOLF, 87 STICK UP KIDS, CRAZE, ROB ROY AT the ECHOPLEX
The Check Yo' Ponytail 2 party continues with what promises to be a really entertaining hip-hop lineup, including East Coast pranksters Das Racist. Combination In-N-Out/Taco Bell, anybody? (Dave Parkman)
Also playing Tuesday: BATHS at Amoeba; TRISTEN at the Echo; HAROULA ROSE, SEAN ROWE, SARA LOV at the Hotel Café; SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS at the Conga Room.
X-RAY PRESS AT SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
Bassist/guitarist/vocalist Michael Pasuit and singing guitar player Paurl Walsh (fleshed out onstage with some dexterous "honorary members") indulge in math rock's full arsenal of complex, haunted-carnival licks, off-piste time signatures and clever-dicky starts and stops. In there somewhere, however obscured, are actual jazz-informed grooves and songs with emotional resonance. Instrumentally, XRP are what At the Drive-In might sound like today had Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala imposed their Mars Volta vision on that band rather than forming a new one. Vocally, their Everyman tones are the portal between their raggedly perfect arrangements and fellow human beings. X-Ray Press will never rule this world, but on the besieged Planet Math their new UVB-76 collection is defiant proof of life. (Paul Rogers)
THE CHURCH AT EL REY
On this anniversary tour, Aussie dream poppers the Church have set out to prove that on top of being the "best guitar band on earth" (says The New York Times), they're one of the most stamina-endowed acts as well. For each stop, the Church are performing, start to finish, three of their greatest full-length albums. Kicking things off is their '88 breakout, Starfish, a hauntingly elegant and gorgeously polished work that included their only U.S. hit, "Under the Milky Way." Fast-forward a few years and you'll find 1992's hypnotic Priest = Aura, which featured a properly atmospheric backdrop for Steve Kilbey's cryptic poetry. Predictably, they'll close with their most recent LP, Untitled #23, but there's nothing tired or out-of-character about this late-career release. It's the kind of hazy, sublime masterpiece that only the Church could make. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday: MEN at Amoeba; GRAM RABBIT, SPINDRIFT at Bordello; THE DOLLYROTS at the Troubadour.
WAR TAPES AT SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
War Tapes hit the ground running in 2006: With their drainpipe jeans and angled hair, their elegantly melodramatic, '80s-informed "doom pop" made them the perfect after-Interpol tipple and they shared stages with everyone from Smashing Pumpkins to She Wants Revenge. But following their debut album, 2009's The Continental Divide, they seemed to step back. Returning with their Fever Changing EP in October, the local foursome now lend equal weight to style and content and are allowing themselves a little more joy (and a lot less Joy Division). The melodies are purer and less self-conscious now, especially when bassist Becca Popkin takes the mic (as she increasingly does), and the beats are more flamboyant. To re-create their more gregarious studio approach, War Tapes have expanded to a five-piece onstage, and though some fans feel their evolved outlook is a bid for bigger crowds, it sounds more like a savvy pop group simply moving with the times. (Paul Rogers)
"HEARING VOICES" WITH BRAD DUTZ, TIMUR BEKBOSUNOV, DZOVIG MARKARIAN, ANET RIS-KELMAN AT CENTER FOR THE ARTS, EAGLE ROCK
The mighty Open Gate theater/music group comes through again with a performance in movement and sound of four sections from Peter Maxwell Davies' monodrama Eight Songs of a Mad King. The songs, with a libretto by Randolph Stow derived from the words of George III, are based on the tunes played by a mechanical organ owned by Mad King George, which he used to try to train bullfinches to sing. The onstage action is quite crazy, including a mad soliloquy by the king and the players trapped in large birdcages. This performance features dancer Anet Ris-Kelman and a large instrumental ensemble composed of a slew of the very best new thing/new-genre players on the L.A. scene. There'll also be puppetry and extended-vocal pieces. Tickets are a paltry $10; half-price for seniors, students and previous Open Gate performers. (John Payne)
LIZ PAPPADEMAS & THE LEVEL AT THE MINT
When Liz Pappademas released her debut solo album, Eleven Songs, in 2007, its deceptively plain title gave no hint of the lush, restlessly poetic imagery that made her Fiona Apple–style pop ballads so incisive and multilayered. But now the local singer-pianist has changed things up in an even more dramatic fashion, backed by a full band on her second release, Television City. The ambitious album is a cycle of interconnected songs about a fictional game show called Who's Your Neighbor? The concept allows her to explore the inner lives of a fascinating set of characters. Pappademas' forceful piano accents frame the action stylishly on such sly, melodically rich pop gems as "Your Favorite Game Show" and "Grand Prize Winners," while the album-closing "Parting Guest" is a trippy sound collage of mesmerizing echoes. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday: FANCY SPACE PEOPLE, THE SWEET at the Echoplex; WE BARBARIANS at the Echo; SHADOW SHADOW SHADE at the Satellite; BOBBY LONG, HE'S MY BROTHER SHE'S MY SISTER at the Troubadour.
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