Music Picks: Matt & Kim, Partch, Booker T, Motley Crue,
The Waldos, the Stitches
After the New York Dolls fell apart in the mid-1970s, singer-guitarist Johnny Thunders joined with ex-Demons lead guitarist Walter Lure to form a new band that was leaner, meaner, louder and grittier, with grimly unromantic back-alley anthems that would help usher in the new punk rock revolution. They called themselves the Heartbreakers (not to be confused with Tom Petty's band), and Thunders yowled most of the group's best-known antihits, including their signature song, "Born to Lose," and Dee Dee Ramone's seedily euphoric junkie tale "Chinese Rocks." But Lure was the more masterful guitarist, and he sang and composed many great Heartbreakers tunes, including "Get Off the Phone" and "One Track Mind." A stockbroker today, Lure still tours with his band the Waldos, who'll also perform twice on Saturday at the Redwood, with an all-ages matinee at 1 p.m. plus an evening show with O.C. punk stalwarts the Stitches. —Falling James
Argentina has produced loads of megatalented bands and solo artists since the explosion of the Rock Nacional scene in the late 1960s, but by and large (and with a few very significant exceptions, like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Soda Stereo), many of the best Argentine artists are not well known abroad, not even among Spanish speakers. Enanitos Verdes ("the little green midgets" — apparently a UFO reference) are an odd exception. Active since 1984 and steadily peddling a kind of basic, lite-Stones rock and lite-Beatles pop sound, they've never been an A-list act back home. In Mexico and the formerly Mexican regions of the United States, however, they are hugely popular with several generations of rock en español fans. (Fun trivia: Google "Coldplay" + "Satriani" + "Enanitos Verdes" and be amazed! ) Also, Spain's equally popular '80s pop group Hombres G. —Gustavo Turner
Partch: At the Edge of the World
The composer/musical philosopher/hobo/inventor Harry Partch (1901-1974) was a defiantly anti-establishment outsider whose chief contribution to the contemporary canon was his lifelong pursuit of challenging ways to smash the rigid formalities of the Western 12-tone musical scale. His own 43-tone scale shaped the framework for a multitude of pieces composed for beautifully odd instruments that he designed and built in order to perform his works' intricate tonal deviltries. John Schneider's Partch ensemble performs using re-creations of these wonderfully strange wooden and metallic percussive and stringed contraptions, which are graced with names like Cloud Chamber Bowls, Blow Boy, the Harmonic Canon, Boo, the Marimba Eroica and Spoils of War. The program includes excerpts from Lyrics of Li Po and Ulysses at the Edge of the World, and a screening of a rare 1958 Partch documentary. Also Sat., June 11. —John Payne
These Japanese re-enactors forever dwell in that turn-of-the-'80s era of Day-Glo drainpipe pants, thrift-store blazers and cheap plastic sunglasses. Their fizzy, compact punk is a playful wink and a theatrical slap rather than a grim, grunting uppercut, and they seem happier changing hairstyles than lives. Sounding like a belated sequel to The Incredible Shrinking Dickies (albeit sung in Japanese), maybe it takes these superenthused imports to remind us of the campy joys of pre-Reagan SoCal pop-punk. —Paul Rogers
Flash Bang Grenada, Open Mike Eagle, Co. Fee
Flash Bang Grenada combines the talents of two of the Los Angeles rap underground's most distinctive voices. Scene statesman Busdriver is famous for his rapid-fire singsong delivery, originally perfected at the world-famous open-mic nights hosted by Leimert Park's Project Blowed collective. His mix of dadaist poetry and ornately detailed observances is a marked contrast to the street-honed battle rhymes of Nocando, who represents a new generation of Angeleno art rap. He's the resident MC of the renowned Lincoln Heights club Low End Theory, so it's no surprise that the pair will be spitting over genre-warping electronic production from folks like Nosaj Thing and Free the Robots. Opening are smooth-voiced hip-hop crooner Open Mike Eagle (also from L.A.) and Orange County–based beatsmith Co. Fee. —Chris Martins
This annual ritual celebrating the fine art of knitting ink into flesh features all of the roots, punk, rockabilly and burlesque performers one would typically expect at such an affair, but a couple of the headliners aren't traditional tattooed love boys. Garage-rock kingpins the Sonics are one of America's quintessential rock & roll bands, with Gerry Roslie snarling such classic blasts as "Strychnine" and "The Witch." After an absence of more than three decades, the reunited Sonics still sound powerfully elemental, although it's unclear when their planned collaboration with the White Stripes' Jack White will be released. The Buzzcocks also aren't heavily tatted up, but their deathless blend of punk-rock guitars and Pete Shelley's almost masochistically lovelorn melodies goes well with stabbing one's self with sharp needles. And don't miss those supreme soul-stirrers, the Detroit Cobras, whose raw garage-rock riffage is crowned by fireball diva Rachael Nagy's brassy R&B declarations. Also Sat.-Sun. —Falling James
DAX RIGGS at the Echo; BELLE BRIGADE at the Satellite; JOHN PRINE at the Orpheum; WISIN Y YANDEL at Nokia Theatre; DEFTONES at Hollywood Palladium; FRIENDLY FIRES, WISE BLOOD at Music Box; BARE WIRES, SHITTY LIMITS, COSMONAUTS at Blue Star; DJ NOBODY and TRACKSTAR THE DJ at Bootleg Theater; UPSALON ACRUX at the Smell; VARDAN OVSEPIAN CHAMBER ENSEMBLE at Blue Whale.
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Jenny & Johnny
The excellent 2010 debut by this local duo didn't get half as much attention as it should have — a real surprise, given the critical adulation regularly (and rightly) showered on Jenny Lewis' main gig, Rilo Kiley. Nevertheless, Lewis and her boyfriend, Johnathan Rice, are still out there supporting I'm Having Fun Now, and good on them for that: In crackerjack tunes like "Big Wave," "Scissor Runner" and "My Pet Snakes," Jenny & Johnny channel the slacker-riffic early '90s indie-pop vibe of the Lemonheads' semiclassic It's a Shame About Ray. This headlining hometown date comes at the end of a brief North American tour; later this month they're off to Europe to play festivals and open for Bright Eyes. —Mikael Wood
Marissa Nadler, Timber Timbre
Brooding in captivity: Singer-guitarist Marissa Nadler's predilection for the dark and bleak might owe to her having endured brutal winters while growing up in a small town in Massachusetts. Nadler's new self-titled record on her own Box of Cedar label finds her hovering in a ghostly, gothic air evocatively orchestrated with alternate-tuned 12-string guitars, vibes and cooing synth-coils, mining somewhat the tradition of folkie psychedelia circa late '60s–early '70s. Built on classical harmonic lines, her spellbinding reveries and startlingly crystal-clear voice bring all the old doomy blues back home. Timber Timbre's Creep On Creepin' On is the recent follow-up to the Canadian band's Polaris Prize–winning debut. It's another beautifully unnerving set of isolationist creepy-blues whose choice melodicism, played on vintage instruments, evokes the thrills and chills of being alone, together. —John Payne
DAX RIGGS at the Echo; THE WALDOS at the Redwood; GIRL IN A COMA at Alex's Bar; PLAYBOY JAZZ FESTIVAL at Hollywood Bowl; MY DISCO, YOUNG WIDOWS at the Satellite.
Bruno Mars, Janelle Monáe
Bruno Mars and Janelle Monáe are calling their joint North American trek the Hooligans in Wondaland Tour, after his Doo-Wops & Hooligans album and her Wondaland Arts Society posse. In truth, though, there's nothing remotely thuggish about either of these young soul-pop stars: What kind of hooligan admits, "I think I wanna marry you," as Mars does in one of the craftiest cuts on his exceedingly crafty debut? Monáe, meanwhile, puts far too much effort into her future-shock performance art to be taken seriously as any kind of delinquent. (Sometimes that effort pays off, by the way; other times it's strenuous to behold.) With local retro-R&B dude Mayer Hawthorne, whose major-label bow is due out this fall. Also Tues. —Mikael Wood
Times New Viking, King Tuff
Ohio lo-fi lovers Times New Viking originally got famous off the unlikely strength of a hissy, hook-laden record that had been recorded straight to VHS, so when a band good enough to pull that off finally hits the studio for the first time, it had better be a big deal. True enough, their new album, Dancer Equired, finds the group cleaning up their act and unveiling even more of the sugary-sweet boy-girl harmonies and catchy melodies that anchor their songs. Mellow garage-poppers like "No Room to Live" are actually quite beautiful, and thrashy numbers like "Fuck Her Tears" sound a little brighter and brattier. It'd be a mistake to miss Brattleboro, Vt.'s, King Tuff. The longhaired rocker plays in Witch with J Mascis but specializes in tunes that combine Television and Todd Rundgren. —Chris Martins
SEAN WHEELER & ZANDER SCHLOSS, MARK LANEGAN at Hollywood Forever; BUZZCOCKS at Queen Mary (Long Beach).
Florence + the Machine
It took her nearly two years, but Florence Welch's dog days are indeed over: Lungs, the English singer's 2009 debut as Florence + the Machine, was recently certified a gold seller in the United States, while "Dog Days Are Over," her breakout soul-punk single, went platinum. (At press time Lungs was outselling all but one of the nominees for the Grammys' 2010 Album of the Year.) Like a perfect midpoint between the latest from Adele and Stevie Nicks, Welch's record marries the mystical and the mundane; she's one of these songwriters who seems as though she was born to be broken up with. Producer Paul Epworth told Nylon not long ago that Flo's upcoming sophomore disc sounds like Animal Collective and Kate Bush; perhaps she'll provide a preview tonight. Also Tues. —Mikael Wood
"Let's walk down the road that has no end," John Paul White and Joy Williams coo to each other on "C'est la Mort," from the Civil Wars' debut full-length album, Barton Hollow. The Tennessee duo lead the listener on a gently winding path through solemn folk-roots balladry, all of it delivered with delicate phrasing and subdued musical accompaniment. The heartache in their twined voices is the glue that keeps the songs from being merely precious. The entrancing acoustic idyll "Girl With the Red Balloon" and the spare piano instrumental "The Violet Hour" are rendered with loving care, setting up a pleasing contrast with the louder tunes, such as the swaying groove of the roots-rocking title track. Also Tues. —Falling James
POSSESSED at Key Club; VOWS, DOUBLE NEGATIVES, DANTE VS. ZOMBIES, BLACK APPLES at the Echo; J. IRVIN DALLY, ONE AM RADIO at Echoplex; ASA at Hotel Café.
The psychedelic rockers land their spaced-out show in the cemetery for two nights — tonight, they bring back 1999's The Soft Bulletin; tomorrow, they trot out their experimental version of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. The stint has all the makings of the kind of surreal experience that, for years to come, will bind stranger to stranger over the rapturous realization that they both "were there." —Rebecca Haithcoat
Bastard sons of Billy Ocean, this local trio put android electro drums, textured monophonic synths and frantic Nile Rodgers guitars to work in the cause of wild dance and mild trance. While their oft machine-generated, achingly '80s tones can be indoorsy and decidedly urban, the wistful melodies channel carefree country bike rides, pre-punk optimism and pre-complications love affairs. Yes, "electroclash" is yesterday's news, but Greenhorse are more about fun than fashion and they have the tunes to transcend trends. —Paul Rogers
Mötley Crüe, New York Dolls
Cynics joke that this would have been a much better show in 1972, mainly because both Mötley Crüe and Poison wouldn't have been around yet and the New York Dolls still would have been anchored by their irrepressible late guitarist, Johnny Thunders. And while it might seem strange to bill the seemingly lowbrow hard-rock act Mötley Crüe with the relatively intellectual Dolls, there is actually a connection between these artistically dissimilar bands. Corpselike Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx got his start in the heavy metal group Sister with WASP's Blackie Lawless, who was briefly a member of the Dolls. And certainly the Dolls' boisterously punky reduction of the Rolling Stones was a major template for hair-metal revivalists like Poison and Mötley Crüe, albeit without the saucy subversion and hip allusions found in Dolls frontman David Johansen's wisely sodden lyrics. —Falling James
MARC BROUSSARD at El Rey Theatre; MONA at the Echo; AIDEN at Key Club.
Josh Haden (of the prodigious Haden music family, which includes jazz legend father Charlie and triplet sisters Petra, Tanya and Rachel) has had a peculiar career with his best-known musical project, the band Spain. They emerged in 1995 with the surprise hit album The Blue Moods of Spain, pitching a sound that was too Britpoppy for the tail end of grunge and too atmospheric for rootsy Americana. Also, although they're an L.A. band and part of the much-derided "Silver Lake Scene," their sound seems almost tailor-made for U.K. ears. After Johnny Cash covered their one bona fide standard, "Spiritual," Spain soldiered on until 2001 and re-emerged in 2007 with some live shows. A gorgeous single several months ago ("I'm Still Free") was said to presage a new album, but we're still waiting. Not your typical KCRW band, and the small venue should be perfect. —Gustavo Turner
Matt & Kim, Thermals
If happiness could be distilled into sound, it'd be the music of Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim. Their 2010 album Sidewalks feels like an LP-length grin, thanks to not only the infectiously saccharine vocals of keyboardist Matt Johnson but the always upbeat drumming of Kim Schifino, who's known for beaming during performances. While the pair's early songs were strictly power-punk (fast rhythms, thick synths), their new material broadens the spectrum with nods to mainstream rap production ("Block After Block"), New Orleans brass ("Cameras") and happy hardcore ("Red Paint"). Live, it's just the two of them, but two is always enough — having cut their teeth at warehouse parties and basement shows, Matt & Kim are expert entertainers. Best of all, it's service with a smile. —Chris Martins
Brian LeBarton Live Scores F.W. Murnau's Sunrise
Chances are that if we say "live scoring of a classic movie," you'll be thinking of lots of avant-gardish string players doing their thang over a grainy copy of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu. Tonight the good folks at Cinefamily offer an unexpected twist: Yes, it's still Murnau, but instead of a nightmare-inducer, it's his visually stunning melodrama Sunrise, given innovative sound textures by Beck's musical director, electronic maestro Brian LeBarton. The evening should be cliché-free, as the inventive LeBarton provides a 21st-century soundtrack to what the best minds of the golden age of film criticism considered Murnau's actual masterpiece and a rare pre-Hitchcock example of Hollywood getting a little Eurosophistication. —Gustavo Turner
DEFTONES at Fox Theater (Pomona); DEATH GRIPS, SUBTITLE at Low End Theory.
Bill Callahan has the blues on Apocalypse, the Austin-based Americana outsider's 14th album in 21 years, counting his output as Smog. For the listener, this is a good thing. The man's bewitching baritone seems to drop another octave — with a bottle of whiskey and a pack of smokes, he'd be on Johnny Cash's turf — and even back when he was recording scratchy, lo-fi rock, Callahan had a knack for exposing hard personal truths and dirty societal underbellies. His latest batch of songs is short on instrumentation and long on open space, leaving room for the full force of confessional gems like "Riding for the Feeling" and searching odes like "Baby's Breath." In person, all of Callahan's depth — in voice, in meaning, in arrangement — is stunningly felt. —Chris Martins
Booker T & the M.G.s' bluesy instrumental "Green Onions" was one of the sublime recordings of the 1960s, with Steve Cropper's artfully cropped guitar accents leaving behind a sacred space that was memorably filled by Jones' vibrant waves of Hammond B-3 organ. That one track, not to mention crucial cuts like "Time Is Tight" (which was covered by the Clash), would be enough to ensure Jones' legacy as one of rock's all-time greats, but the Memphis-raised keyboardist has kept pushing onward in his long, wide-ranging career. He's worked with everyone from Rancid and Ray Charles to Elton John, Leon Russell and fellow Scorpio Neil Young (with whom Jones shares a birthday), and his celebrated 2009 comeback album, Potato Hole, was recorded with the Drive By Truckers. Look for new tunes from his upcoming release, The Road From Memphis. —Falling James
MEAT PUPPETS at the Echo; YOUSSOU N'DOUR, ANGELIQUE KIDJO at the Greek; FORD & LOPATIN, TELEPATHE at Echoplex.
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