Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour
@ THE SATELLITE
OK, let's get it out of the way: We have no idea whether Jeff Mangum, certified Godlike Indie Genius and former frontman of Neutral Milk Hotel, will be a part of the Elephant 6 collective's roving musical circus. But like you, we're hoping and praying (melting Pavement vinyl, pouring it over a pair of sacrificial Chucks) that he'll make it out. All of his friends will be there — members of the Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power, the Music Tapes, Circulatory System and his old band — swapping instruments and playing their inimitable brand of quirky, concept-heavy, lo-fi psychedelic rock. (Just joining us? Of Montreal sprang from this motley, Athens, Ga.–based crew.) There will be games and short films also. Enough to summon us out, and maybe Mangum, too. —Chris "Remember the '90s?" Martins
Wet & Reckless
@ BOOTLEG THEATER
Wet & Reckless sounds like the name of a 1980s hair-metal band, but the new Echo Park quartet is actually far more interesting than their generic name might imply. "I've got a reputation to erase," singer-guitarist Emily Wilder confides, as her band churns up a charming lo-fi pop-punk backing. Far from being metal revivalists, Wet & Reckless blend reverb garage riffs with punky rhythms and poppy melodies. Wilder's guitar alternates between fuzzy strumming and the chiming echoes of indie-rock experimentation without being overwhelmed by the simple, effectively nonflashy backing of drummer Deanna deVries, guitarist Whitney Blank and former Movies bassist Jessica Gelt. Much of the band's appeal rests in Wilder's endearingly vulnerable romanticism in lyrics such as, "You said something funny/Turn my headaches into honey." —Falling James
Conspiracy of Beards
@ THE MINT
This group is not, as you might think, a cabal of ambitious aspiring actresses who pretend to be married to high-profile Scientologists. It is "a 30-member a capella male choir that performs exclusively the songs of the legendary poet, novelist and asinger-songwriter Leonard Cohen." We'd go see either. —Dave Parkman
Also playing Friday:
WILD NOTHING, ABE VIGODA at the Natural History Museum; ANNI ROSSI, WHITMAN, EZRA BUCHLA, EMILY LACY at Show Cave; SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, BIOHAZARD at OC Fair & Event Center; THE CONCRETES at the Troubadour; AUTOLUX, THE SOFT MOON at the Echoplex; NEVEREVER, SWEATERGIRLS at the Echo; DUDAMEL CONDUCTS BRUCKNER at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Baths, Braids, Gobble Gobble
@ THE TROUBADOUR
Who would've thought that lone dudes playing with laptops in their bedrooms would become the Valley's next great export after pornography? OK, that may actually seem like symbiosis, but trust us, it's not. Some electronic music does get down and dirty, but not the lush, considered tunes of Baths, aka Chatsworth's Will Wiesenfeld (a childhood neighbor of Flying Lotus). His auspicious 2010 debut, Cerulean, bursts with bright musicality and welcoming creativity, and his live show is positively transcendent. Calgary band Braids specializes in a similar brand of effusive yet calming tunes, though featuring playful, folksy female vocals a la Joanna Newsom. Make sure to arrive in time for the fuzzy and raucous Gobble Gobble, also Canucks, who mash up electronics and acoustics into a techno-damaged rubber ball of rock. —Chris Martins
Julieta Venegas, Ceci Bastida
@ NOKIA THEATRE
Venegas has been celebrated so much for her mellow pop songs, winning several Grammy and Latin Grammy awards in the past decade, that it's easy to forget she used to be a much edgier and artier performer. While the Mexican singer's recent albums are undeniably well-crafted collections of breezily ebullient Spanish-language pop songs, they aren't nearly as innovative and, yes, inventive as her early works. Still, new tunes like "Eterno" are more intelligent and playfully creative than most mainstream Mexican pop, blending Venegas' flourishes of old-world accordion with dreamy indie-rock production. Also, Ceci Bastida, who used to play keyboards for Venegas and is only now breaking out with her own restlessly adventurous music. —Falling James
@ WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
One of the funkiest men to grace the ivories with his hallowed fingertips, jazz legend Herbie Hancock should absolutely own Disney Hall at this intimate Saturday-night performance. His band will be a quartet, simple yet fierce. Fellow jazz giant Wayne Shorter (founder of Weather Report) will wield his weapon of choice — the sax — while Dave Holland (who played in Miles Davis' band at the same time as Shorter) is on bass, and former Frank Zappa steady Vinnie Colaiuta hits the skins. With Hancock at the helm, expect the unexpected: Wild modal jazz is just as likely a possibility as forays into stone cold funk, and a nod or two to hip-hop wouldn't be out of character, either. —Chris Martins
Chick Corea and Gary Burton
@ ROYCE HALL
Pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton's 1979 pairing on the classic Crystal Silence (on ECM) was a milestone pointing beyond, to the seemingly infinite possibilities of a new chamber jazz. Corea's precisely placed and modulated notes deftly melted down jazz, folk, Latin and classical forms with a minimalist lyricism perfectly matched and further prompted by Burton's four-mallet tones. These combined and intertwined points of light produced amazingly unclichéd and resonant music, deeply probing sounds that sing, circle and shine; their soothing mysteries have a timeless air of open space and mental/spiritual freedom. The duo have gone on to explore this special musical place on several projects through the years, notably their Grammy-winning New Crystal Silence. —John Payne
Also playing Saturday:
JAPANTHER, TINYLITTLE, JEHOVAS FITNESS, JOYCE MANOR at the Smell; ALEXI MURDOCH at Bootleg Theater; VOXHAUL BROADCAST, SEA OF CORTEZ at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts; THE BLACK JESUS, WYOMING, COUNT FLEET at Lot 1.
David J, Sleepmask, The New Room
@ THE ECHO
Formerly the bassist of pioneering British gloomy goth-rock band Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, David J wrote the lyrics to several Bauhaus tracks, including the seminal Dracula dirge "Bela Lugosi's Dead," and sang backing vocals on many more. In Love and Rockets, he played bass and shared vocals and songwriting duties with guitarist Daniel Ash, also of Bauhaus. David J will perform songs spanning his career — from Bauhaus to Love and Rockets to his solo material — with a full band this evening. Joining David J are dark-wave/shoegaze romantics Sleepmask and post-punk/new-wave locals the New Room. —Lainna Fader
Also playing Sunday:
THE VELVET TEEN (REBORN!), THEMES at the Echo; GOBBLE GOBBLE, CAPTAIN AHAB, FOOT VILLAGE, HELLER KELLER at the Smell; MORCHEEBA at the Music Box; ADAM RUDOLPH'S ORGANIC ORCHESTRA at Electric Lodge; SHAMS ENSEMBLE at UCLA; YEMEN BLUES at the Troubadour.
@ THE TROUBADOUR
Longtime fans of this Athens, Ga.–based outfit will want to find a way into tonight's sold-out Troubadour gig: The Drive-By Truckers arrive in L.A. direct from two nights at San Francisco's much larger Fillmore, and though the band's buzz has diminished a bit since the heady mid-'90s days, you're still unlikely to catch them again in a room this small anytime soon. Expect to hear lots from last month's Go-Go Boots, which finds the Truckers in a folkier, more soulful mode than on 2010's harder-rocking The Big To-Do. (Despite its title, "Assholes" might be the prettiest DBT tune since 2003's "Heathens.") Whatever their focus, though, they're likely to use the Troubadour's cozy dimensions to stretch out. Wear comfy shoes. —Mikael Wood
Benoit Pioulard, Balmorhea, Frank Fairfield
@ THE ECHOPLEX
Portland's Benoit Pioulard is the latest alias of one Thomas Meluch, whose new album, Lasted, brings a dark and melancholic "folk" acoustica magnified through a dusty electronic lens. Pioulard/Meluch meshes his baleful croon in field recordings and clanky percussive bits that juxtapose cleverly with strangely memorable melodies. Austin's Balmorhea offer a smart brand of chamber acoustic, where the folk and modernist classical elements compare notes in admirably spare and quite wide-screen effect. The central valley's baggy-suited and neatly coiffed Frank Fairfield plays banjo and fiddle on stylized originals and standards of the American folk book like the earnest devotee to all things old that he apparently is. His album of last year, Unheard Ofs & Forgotten Abouts, was a sweetly satisfying collection of ancient tunes he'd gathered off old 78s. —John Payne
Also playing Monday:
LACO$TE, E & E, SIMO SOO at Pehr-space; JOHN HOLLENBECK LARGE ENSEMBLE at REDCAT; BOWERY BEASTS at Silverlake Lounge; SPIRIT VINE, SILENT COMEDY, ORIGAMI DJS at Echo; ELIZA RICKMAN, ZOE BOEKBINDER at Hotel Café.
Khaira Arby, The Sway Machinery
@ THE ECHOPLEX
There's something inexpressibly unique about much of the music coming from Mali these days. Chanted vocals blend in a mesmerizing fashion with the distinctively twisting, shifting guitar patterns employed by groups like Tinariwen and Amadou & Mariam. Timbuktu diva Khaira Arby adds her own impressively soaring vocals to the mix, as her guitarists unreel dazzling riffs that flip and undulate like psychedelic blues mutations. Championed by Ali Farka Touré, the Malian singer is only now being recognized for her long career and starting to tour places like the United States. As rich as her nation's musical heritage is, Arby stands apart, singing in four languages and braiding multicultural influences into a densely layered tapestry of sound. Openers The Sway Machinery may hail from Brooklyn, but their musical travelogues are heavily inspired by Afro-pop, reggae, dub and other world-beat rhythms. —Falling James
@ KEY CLUB
Death metal is a spiteful ambush of niggly guitars, battering beats and bullying, bellowed lyrics that would be best left in the journals of disturbed teens. But with the godfathers of the genre, like Florida's Deicide, grimacing their way into middle age, all this bile is clearly no adolescent phase. On their 10th album, To Hell With God, Deicide are still wired and riled (mostly at organized religion, apparently). Guitar licks like amped-up arcade-game ditties fizz around drums blurred with malevolent bluster, while main man Glen Benton — he of inverted-cross branding and occasional squirrel-shooting — utters threats to humankind from deep in the abyss. But if you're going to do something, anything, do it first and do it damn well. Kudos to Deicide on both counts. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Tuesday:
ERIC CLAPTON at Gibson Amphitheatre; CHICO TRUJILLO at Bootleg Theater; MARCUS VERY ORDINARY, JOHNOSSI, GOLD MOTEL at the Echo; BLUEPRINT at the Viper Room; ANDY CLOCKWISE at the Satellite; BOWERY BEASTS, ZIG ZAGS, INDIANS at Silverlake Lounge.
Lykke Li, Johnossi
@ EL REY THEATRE
The last time Lykke Li played this city, it was as a different person entirely. Though her lyrics pointed at a complex web of emotions, the then 22-year-old was bouncy, energetic and — dare we say — cutesy. Her music was a call to dance, to make out, and to dance while making out. But Li's new album, Wounded Rhymes, finds her badly damaged by love's fickle hand, and packing a battle ax in desperate need of grinding. That fantastic mix of dance thrust, rock energy and folk intimacy is still in her music, but the score is darker now and, thanks to Björn Yttling of Peter Björn and John, plays like a black echo of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Recommended for the masochistic among us. —Chris Martins
@ THE TROUBADOUR
Shoegaze blended with catchy hooks to bring you airy dreampop in both Japanese and English. Think J-pop meets My Bloody Valentine, a match made in heaven by Yuki Chikudate's whispy, airy melodies, which float suspended over James Hanna's heavily processed guitar. Their first release won rave reviews. Single "Walk on the Moon" was a CMJ favorite and in heavy rotation on MTVu. Their most recent release, Fluorescence (appropriately available in limited-edition pink vinyl), picks up where they left off, with Chikudate spinning stream-of-consciousness lyrical soundscapes over driving walls of reverberation. Those of you nostalgic for that slice of the '90s that brought us Lush [Ed.'s note: O Miki Berenyi, where art thou?] and the Jesus and Mary Chain will dig on this. —Kristina Benson
@ WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
His commanding technique and probing intellect make pianist Yefim Bronfman your go-to man for a program as varied and challenging as this one. He'll do Haydn's Piano Sonata in C, the exhilarating run through almost bizarrely emotional terrain that's like a survey in the history of counterpoint, lyrical/dissonant schizophrenia and athletic pedal effects — and it's all crammed into three minutes. Esa-Pekka Salonen's Humoreske gets its world premiere tonight; we assume that his humors refer in the original sense to those of the body once thought to determine a person's physical and mental states, as does William Schumann's Humoreske in B-flat, which also gets a look. Bronfman, if he survives (he will), then tackles Chopin's rolling, roiling 12 Études, "formal exercises" with a highly informal, feral ferocity of audacious harmonies and burning fingerwork. —John Payne
Susan James' recent fourth album, Highways, Ghosts, Hearts & Home, examines the competing pulls between domestic, familial loyalties and a musician's love of the open road. —Falling James
Also playing Wednesday:
MAD PLANET at the Viper Room; DANNY HOLT'S PIANO and others at REDCAT; SEASONS, MOSES CAMPBELL at the Echo.
The Entrance Band
@ THE SATELLITE
[See Music Feature]
MarchFourth Marching Band, Mutaytor
@ THE ECHOPLEX
Spring got you craving a carnival? Portland's MarchFourth Marching Band will take you on that ride without the rickety roller coasters and scary carnies. Since 2003, the traveling big-band bonanza has been turning venues into life-size jack-in-the-boxes. Out pop stilt-walkers, fire dancers and stilt-walking fire dancers. The collision of saxes, trombones, trumpets and drums means it sounds like the happiest, heartiest halftime show you've ever seen, or a Bollywood movie, or a jazz funeral in New Orleans, or the No Doubt (with whom they've performed) video for "Hollaback Girl." All the members are also artists, designing their costumes, merch and even their drum harnesses. Mutaytor, a vaudevillian circus that burst forth from Burning Man, promises to "convert civilians to rock stars." Come one, come all. —Rebecca Haithcoat
[See Page Two]
North Mississippi Allstars
@ THE ROXY
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[See Page Two]
Also playing Thursday:
THE DEARS at the Troubadour; SILK FLOWERS, SFV ACID, EARN, CALI DE WITT at the Smell; IS/IS, MORE at Silverlake Lounge.