Music Picks: Lamb of God, Miike Snow, and Hanni El Khatib
PHOTO BY JEN DAIGLEAvalon Omega: See Tuesday.
Bob Dylan & His Band, Mark Knopfler
"Bring down my fiddle/Tune up my strings/I'm gonna break it wide open," Bob Dylan announces on his 35th studio album, Tempest. It's the latest in a series of remarkably fertile records the legendary (and legendarily erratic) singer has released over the past 15 years, following a lengthy fallow period in the '80s and early '90s. He breaks it wide open not so much sonically — his deft band cooks up a low-key shuffle of dusty blues grooves, with lead guitarist Charlie Sexton, Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and, especially, multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron conjuring some subtly sublime settings — but in the way he sees the world at the age of 71. While the onetime folk singer still casts a wary eye at world leaders in such new tunes as "Pay in Blood" ("another politician pumping out the piss") and "Early Roman Kings" (strutting around "in their sharkskin suits"), Dylan remains most fascinated by the laws of lust and attraction in "Duquesne Whistle" ("You're like a time bomb in my heart") and the bewitchingly strange "Scarlet Town" ("If love is a sin, then beauty is a crime"). Tonight, the man from Duluth is joined by distinctively feather-toned Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, who collaborated on several of Dylan's better albums in the late '70s and mid-'80. —Falling James
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
This is the time of year when rock bands slather on face paint and cover themselves in fake blood and cobwebs, but when it comes to The Dagons, every day is already Halloween. The Atwater duo's unsettling folk-punk chansons are creepy enough to appeal to goths, but their darkly poetic lyrics and weirdly exotic music, which fuse singer Karie Jacobson's fuzz guitar with drummer/producer Drew Kowalski's bleary sitar, are too restlessly strange to fit neatly into some obvious retro genre trap. The 15 tracks on their recent album, Upon This Dull Earth, roam from up-tempo garage punk ("I Am Not Nice") and jangling, doom-ridden balladry ("The Switch") to eerily convulsive psychedelic trances ("Rose-Patterned Walls" and "The Party"). You can get the usual drenching of blood and guts from practically every death-metal band in town this week, but The Dagons practice that fine lost art of cracking open skulls and letting the gauziest and softest dreams flutter forth like drunken moths. —Falling James
Considered royalty by Los Angeles' hip-hop underground, Dilated Peoples are among the few rap acts that still incorporate hip-hop's mother element: the deejay. While most widely known for their 2001 anthem "Worst Come to Worst" featuring Guru, it was the 2004 Kanye West–produced track "This Way" that catapulted the Peoples to international music stardom. Throughout their 20-year career (a rarity for a former major-label rap act), Rakaa Iriscience, Evidence and DJ Babu (Beat Junkies) have come to be globally revered for their kinetic live show. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley
English songbird Sophie Barker may fly solo now after first coming to attention with the coolly groovy, down-tempo group Zero 7, but her stately new pop songs are just as stirringly soulful while also revealing a greater breadth of styles. String-laden idylls like "Paper Thin" and "Paradise Lost" are simply beautiful ballads, with Barker's trademark soothing hush of vocals lingering softly in the echoes between gentle guitar chords. But the London native also lets the sun shine in amid the funky wah-wah guitar and upbeat horn retorts of the infectiously ebullient pop-rocker "Bluebell." It's an unexpected joy to see the queen of cool and restraint kick up her heels like this. —Falling James
Yes, '60s garage-rock trad-bearers The Neumans use vintage gear and wear old-school threads. And they sport bitchin' haircuts. But all of that pales beside the indisputable fact that these 20-something whippersnappers flat-out deliver — rocking like mad with a primitive glee and thorough, soul-deep involvement that's nothing less than flabbergasting. It's a blast of skill, bite, heat and raw talent. Also, it's enjoyable as hell. Gigging for less than a year, The Neumans' potential for continued refinement and accomplishment is downright sickening. Suck it up and see them now before they grow out of this simple, satisfying, rock & roll ruckus phase and turn into some kind of goddamn all-around artistic juggernaut. —Jonny Whiteside
Hanni El Khatib
KCRW MASQUERADE BALL AT PARK PLAZA
Some people call a guitar an ax, and that's precisely how guitarist and singer Hanni El Khatib uses his: Every song by this gregarious L.A. garage rocker goes chop-chop-chop, from his irreducibly minimal Funkadelic and Cramps covers to his own originals. Although Bo Diddley called his guitar "Lucille," he and El Khatib use the instrument in the same way, building music out of nothing but staccato rhythm and some absolutely committed singing. El Khatib found a kindred spirit in the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who's producing his coming sophomore LP. But then again, he seems like a guy who's found a lot of kindred spirits, most probably on a lot of rare vinyl. A Halloween show like this gives him a perfect chance to really raise the dead. —Chris Ziegler
Benoit & Sergio
Benoit & Sergio describe their sound on Facebook as "teenage romance," which is apt, even when the lyrics are barely decipherable. The international duo (Benoit is based in D.C., Sergio in Berlin) crafts melodies that flutter like butterflies trapped in the gut. On their latest EP, New Ships, they layer sighlike vocals over beats that seem caught between synth-pop and '80s house music. On this night, they headline what could well be the year's coolest Halloween dance party. Organized by three superb promotion teams (NOX Illusio, Superfreq and Shits & Giggles), the event will also feature local [a]pendics.shuffle, Shits & Giggles DJs Victor Rodriguez and Chris Bowen, and many more. Expect appearances from Tammie Brown (RuPaul's Drag Race) and other drag superstars as well. —Liz Ohanesian
Public Image Ltd.
The last time Public Image Ltd. played this joint, way back in 2010, lead singer John Lydon was amazed that such a shiny new venue didn't have air conditioning — especially because he was wearing polyester that night. As ever, the former and occasional Johnny Rotten was just as sarcastic about himself as he was about the legion of celebrities and political and religious leaders he's famously skewered. "I intend to lose weight," he said preemptively before any young punk could heckle him. Actually, buttressed by an excellent lineup of drummer Bruce Smith, bassist Scott Firth and wizardly guitarist Lu Edmonds, Mr. Lydon looked fairly fit and prowled the stage energetically, snarling and chanting his contrarian lyrics with much of the same bile and fiery charisma as the early days, when Public Image's austere and brutally unsentimental harshness made punk rock seem as harmlessly ancient as ye olde classic rock. —Falling James
Fueled by colossal amounts of working-class beer, the members of Red Fang are abundantly hairy and enormously loud. The group's stoner metal isn't revolutionary, and it isn't changing the landscape of music; they're just pounding out solid metal with undeniably catchy riffs and power that demands you bang your head. Combining the power of a Mack truck with a carefree, youthful attitude, they make you want to drink beer and blow shit up — with a smile. Their enormously comedic music videos have featured a suit of beer-can armor, a station wagon crashing into a wall of beer, and air guitar, so their inclusion on Metal Swim, the Adult Swim metal compilation, seemed only natural. For this show they're sure to perform the fan favorites, as well as a few brand-spanking-new tracks. Make sure you're insured, have a beer, smash shit and get your stoner metal on. —Diamond Bodine-Fischer
The Monolators, et al.
In a week already oozing with Halloween events, this particular Monday oozes very competitively with four decades of alt-classics via five much-loved local bands. Most intriguing is the warhorse indie-pop band Monolators' Bee Gees set. Will they do the highly prized '60s psych songs? The '70s disco classixxx? Both at once? Really, it comes down to Travolta-style chest hair or collector credibility — and how could you even choose? Also on deck are Del Scorcho, a special set of South Bay punx doing Weezer; singer-songwriter Sara Radle (ex-Rentals) and a roaring full-band Ramones rendition; an Animal Collective set with members of Seasons and Torches; and a happily unexpected Elastica set by a combo of maximum R&Bers the Do-It To-Its and The Shirley Rolls. Discount if you come in costume ... or is that a penalty fee if you don't? —Chris Ziegler
Miike Snow saved some hit songs from their time writing for Britney Spears to make a smash of their self-titled debut — and some leftover for its follow-up, Happy to You. Made up of leftovers though the latest may be, it still maintains its predecessor's inherent pop sensibility and clear lyrical intonation. A steady listen rather than a boring base spiked with singles, Happy to You embraces EDM with rave influences on the early-'90s Italian piano house of "The Devil's Work" and "Paddling Out." Snare drums march through "The Wave" and drive militantly through "Bavarian #1 (Say Your Will)," while jabbing keys feature heavily on "God Help This Divorce." —Lily Moayeri
SILVER LAKE LOUNGE
Tiny yet tremendous, the youthful electro-groove thrill brat Avalon Omega is a dramatically self-possessed artist. This defiantly untamed soul works an exhilarating brand of shiny rap-crackle-pop, one that's infused with the gaudy color and atmosphere of a wildly charged creative vision unique to herself. The Omega sound skips and skitters across the cerebellum, flinging generous handfuls of break-beat glitter and techno fairy dust that burst into shimmering clouds of aural extravagance. The effect is nigh on mesmerizing. This Atwater avatar of cool's kinetic presentation, taken with her star-spangled high guttersnipe wardrobe and such original delicacies as "Outer Space Girl" and "Two Twenty Two," collide with emphatic, refreshing results. Fine, reckless fun. —Jonny Whiteside
WHISKY A GO GO
These hirsute Ohioans don't mess with metal. Indeed, had they appeared even 20 years ago, when their main musical stimuli (Bay Area thrash; the New Wave of British heavy metal; first-wave black, death and Viking metals) were already old news, they'd have barely raised a hesher eyebrow. But where Skeletonwitch score big is their sheer quality and zeal in execution. Last year's Forever Abomination, their first album with relentlessly dexterous drummer Dustin Boltjes, is 32 minutes of speedy craftsman's metal built upon endless busy-bee riffs, widdly yet song-relevant leads and Chance Garnette's eternally damned death screech. Despite serious chops (and ghastly album art), this is a beer-swillin' party band at heart, best sampled in smaller, sweaty clubs like the Whisky. —Paul Rogers
Lamb of God
It's testament to a band's persistence and evolution when it outgrows genre labeling to become a musical movement of one. Such is the case with veteran Virginia metallers Lamb of God, who, after 22 years and seven albums, have critics and fans alike groping for tags. Though these extravagantly bearded blokes look ever-ready to defend the ramparts of Helm's Deep, their music is every bit of this earth, banishing escapism through an impatient punk energy and Randy Blythe's knowing skid row growl. Like a simple sentiment eloquently put, the buzzing riffage of guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler becomes convincing once bolted to Chris Adler's ludicrously detailed, cunningly savage drumming, while Blythe's organic, eye-bulging commitment prevents LoG's descent to a mere shredding clinic. —Paul Rogers
L.A. trio Gothic Tropic take post-punk's dubby spaciousness and attach it to pre-punk forms, which in their case politely introduces Nigerian world-music innovator King Sunny Ade to Cleveland weird-punk originators Pere Ubu and Georgia snarlers Pylon. (You ask if there will be interesting guitar? There will be simply fascinating guitar!) Their Awesome Problems EP is four songs taking four minutes each to fully reveal their own intricate skeletal structure. It's nothing but bones, rhythm and voice, the last from singer-guitarist Cecilia Della Peruti, who goes from affectless to overwhelmed in the space of a few bristly notes when necessary. This is a precision collision of music from at least two hemispheres, born of all the records that live at the edges of the record stores. —Chris Ziegler
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