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Music Picks: Nick Waterhouse, Datsik, The Kooks

Russian Circles: See Monday.
Russian Circles: See Monday.
PHOTO BY CHRIS STRONG

fri 3/7

Nick Waterhouse

AMERICAN LEGION HOLLYWOOD

Nick Waterhouse is more retro-minded than many musicians, but the singer-guitarist has turned his love of the past into a way of discovering who he is in the here and now. "You become something on the way there," he says of the ways he's incorporated the influence of idols Mose Allison and Van Morrison into his own music. Wearing oversize spectacles and formal suits, Waterhouse slightly resembles Buddy Holly, while the cover art of his upcoming second album, Holly, evokes Herb Alpert and Ladies of the Canyon. The Orange County–raised singer, however, is more about vintage soul and R&B on such up-tempo, horn-pumped numbers as "This Is a Game." Amid the Hammond-like organ, stylishly clipped guitar accents and overall early-'60s vibe of "High Tiding," Waterhouse urges, "Come close and see something moving in me." —Falling James

Anny Celsi

CINEMA BAR

Anny Celsi is one of this city's smartest and catchiest pop songwriters but, as is the case with so many talented musicians, she's far more popular in Europe than in her hometown. She might even be too clever for her own good, adapting the lyrics of such early songs as " 'Twas Her Hunger Brought Me Down" from a Theodore Dreiser novel and combining them with jangling power-pop melodies. On her latest album, January, Celsi revels in the simple pleasures of new friends and British record stores ("Travelogue"), hidden natural wonders ("Citybird") and the hope of romance ("Kaleidoscope Heart"). Love isn't always easy to find with "Ghosts in the Room," but she imbues sad, spare ballads like "Oh Baby, Is the Circus Back in Town?" with contemplative lyrics and intimately affecting vocals. —Falling James

sat 3/8

Mark Kozelek

FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH

From his early days with San Francisco band Red House Painters to his more recent solo albums and work with Sun Kil Moon, Mark Kozelek has always been an unpredictable musician, crooning his tales of tragic boxers in a distinctively wounded baritone. This is the man, after all, who once released two albums of AC/DC covers, where he marvelously transformed the Australian hard-rock group's feral anthems into gentle singer-songwriter introspection. Not many folks have covered songs by both Stephen Sondheim and Hüsker Dü, but even when he's interpreting music by John Denver and Simon & Garfunkel, Kozelek tends to radically rearrange the structures until they're virtually brand new. On Sun Kil Moon's just-released Benji, he creates an eerie and unsettling mood on such twisted interludes as "Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes" and "I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love." —Falling James

Datsik

THE WILTERN

Though playing the Wiltern for many is a promising sign of things to come, for Datsik, it's just another notch on the accomplishments belt. When the 25-year-old Canadian DJ hits the stage at one of Los Angeles' most hallowed concert halls, he'll bring with him the experience that comes with playing mega-festivals including Ultra, Coachella, EDC and Electric Zoo. Fusing a number of eclectic influences, the artist also known as Troy Beetles included the likes of Z-Trip, Infected Mushroom and Korn's Jonathan Davis on his 2012 debut. Late last year, via his own Firepower label, he unleashed Let It Burn, an album that continued the spread to the masses of his dirty, drop-ridden brand of dubstep. Attracting both EDM fans and bros alike, expect the floors of the 83-year-old Wiltern to be thumping as it has only a few times before. —Daniel Kohn

Gardens & Villa

EL REY THEATRE

Gardens & Villa's second album, Dunes, starts with "Domino," a burst of synth pop that instantly puts the listener in a mood better than the one he was in before the song started. That's the whole aesthetic of Dunes, which got its start in Gardens & Villa's hometown of Santa Barbara. It's a safe bet that this locale inspired the album's inherent beachiness and upbeat attitude, even if it was produced by former DFA Records stalwart Tim Goldsworthy (The Rapture, Cut Copy), in a cold, small town in Michigan. Dunes marries analog instruments with fresh, danceable sensibilities for a winning synth-rock/soft-rock fusion. "Bullet Train" taps into '80s robotic sounds, while "Chrysanthemum" hits stratospherically high vocal registers, and "Purple Mesas" moves at the speed of chillwave — a term possibly coined for such a record. —Lily Moayeri

sun 3/9

Aussie BBQ

Bootleg Theater

Oz meets L.A. today with an event featuring 22 bands hailing from the land Down Under. A local SXSW showcase, the Aussie BBQ returns to L.A. for its sixth year, landing at the Bootleg Theater and featuring a boatload of top-of-the-line Australian acts making a stopover on their way to Austin, Texas. The mini-festival (yes, there will actually be BBQ) spans genres, with the charming, heartbroken sounds of Gossling, the infectious excitement of The Jungle Giants, cheery gang vocals of The Griswolds, Sun Rai's jazzy melodies and more. This daylong pageant offers a glimpse into the musical happenings on the other side of the world and is a supremely pleasant opportunity to catch bands that just may never roll through the City of Angels again. Throw another shrimp on the barbie, and dive into the foreign fun. —Britt Witt

mon 3/10

The Kooks

TROUBADOUR

A nearly perfect poppy rock band, England's Kooks conjure relentless melody, hook-making harmony and just enough stylish perversity — flecks of pallid reggae and off-the-cuff acoustic doodles — to keep it all intriguing. Two and a half years since Kooks' confused, bet-hedging third album, Junk of the Heart, most fans are still more interested in its brilliantly consistent insta-classic predecessor, Konk, a 2008 release that wrung sufficient wistful beauty from youthful lust and loss to fuel an entire career. The Kooks' 2011 Troubadour show was staggering in its front-to-back quality, delivered with a rare swagger that comes only from holding a hand jammed with truly world-class tunes. Let's assume that Junk... is but a stumble, and that these tousle-haired talents will once again school their peers at the Troub. —Paul Rogers

Russian Circles

EL REY

The Chicago trio's recent LP Memorial is a brontosaurus-heavy rock stomper guaranteed to bum you out in the most righteous ways. Misery: Our ugly times seem to call for it, and there's nothing fancy about the brutal way Russian Circles dole out their dark, unforgiving sonic punishment. Memorial is like the "well, you asked for it" show, and even if you're not sure that you did, you must submit and admit that it's cathartic as hell. On the other hand, the album is almost perversely rife with gorgeously orchestrated, super-hooky melodies to pair with all the bone-splintering metallic mayhem. The upshot is that this is very heavy rock music veering dangerously close to the overdramatized, but pulled off without a collapse into total corndoggery. —John Payne

tue 3/11

Real Estate

THE FONDA THEATRE

The five guys behind New Jersey–born band Real Estate are heading directly toward an overtly Wilco-esque spot in the pantheon of classic indie rock, and they wouldn't balk at the comparison. In addition to the interest and influence they've found in Wilco, Real Estate recorded their newest album, this month's Atlas, during a two-week stint in the band's Chicago studio. On their third full-length, as on their first two, the guys stick to what they do best: clean, guitar driven–melodies, lovely, layered instrumentation and relatable, hummable lyrics. Altogether, Atlas serves as a sort of map through the band's consistently engaging sound. While Real Estate have yet to miss a chance to charm, the new LP finds the band in its most adult space to date — more years, more marriages, more members, more maturity and more time on the road and toward a niche they neither want nor need to leave. —Kelsey Whipple

wed 3/12

Shpongle

AVALON

Psychedelic music has taken on many forms over the years, from the classic acid-rock excesses of the late 1960s to the less literal, but no less engrossing, passages of world-music bands like Tinariwen. British duo Shpongle, featuring Simon Posford and Raja Ram, takes the old trippy traditions and gooses them up with rampant electronics and ambient textures on fifth release Museum of Consciousness. Posford manipulates the modern world through his banks of synthesizers, while Ram evokes the natural mind with his weaving flute melodies. Extended tracks like "How the Jellyfish Jumped Up the Mountain" and "Brain in a Fishtank" shape and shift from frenetically spacey mechanization into more melodically languid sections. Also at the Observatory, Sunday, March 9. —Falling James

thu 3/13

Carsick Cars

LOS GLOBOS

Some time in the last decade, China cracked open and rock spilled out, thanks to bands like the ghostly, Velvet Under­ground–influenced droners Offset: Spectacles, the Joy Division–meets–Pere Ubu post-punkers P.K. 14 and the revved-up pop artistes Carsick Cars, a standout and maybe even breakout band from a particularly energetic Beijing scene. L.A. has been lucky enough to host a few shows by Carsick Cars, who return with promising and powerful new album 3, produced by Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom and The Clean's Hamish Kilgour. Lead single "15 Minutes Older" is an instant winner, animating the bent but beautiful melodies of Chairs Missing–era Wire with a heartfelt energy that recalls the best New Zealand indie pop. (Like, say ... The Clean!) It's a rare but welcome show from a band that's going to go far — and who has come so far already, right? —Chris Ziegler


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