Music Picks: Nicole Atkins & the Black Sea, Teebs, Los Amigos Invisibles, Rare Grooves
BIG BOI, CEE-LO GREEN, RYAN LESLIE AT CLUB NOKIA
[See Music feature]
TEEBS, ASURA, AUSTIN PERALTA, REBEKAH RAFF AT FUTURA AT CENTER FOR THE ARTS, EAGLE ROCK
The big-beat flow-motion series "Futura" comes courtesy of L.A. prog-hop mutators Daddy Kev, Flying Lotus and ERMF, who promise nights with the most forward-thinking musical and visual minds in L.A.'s DJ/electronic scene. Tonight's the official record release for Austin Peralta's Endless Planets album on Mr. Lotus' very fine Brainfeeder label. Peralta will be accompanied by Thundercat and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, while harpist/mixer Rebekah Raff performs a solo set. Also Teebs, whose recent Brainfeeder set Ardour is both a deep-thumping and a delicately melodic set of time warps. He's also an acutely out-there mixologist, as his beautifully intuitive meltdown of the Gaslamp Killer & Daedelus' "Impulse" recently showed. Classically trained Asura is equally dedicated to dance-floor boombap and elegantly otherworldly synth melodies rooted in free jazz, contemporary classical composition, folk song and sound design. Visuals by Strangeloop. All ages. (John Payne)
MIKE WATT & THE SECONDMEN AT THE REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
Mike Watt continues to be San Pedro's leading post-punk Renaissance man, cranking out an astonishing amount of music with his mighty "thud staff." The singer-bassist-poet plays in the reconstituted Iggy & the Stooges, jams in the all-star combos Hellride and Banyan, participates in such disparate projects as the Unknown Instructors and Dos, and hosts his own podcast, The Watt From Pedro Show. Many of his personas and talents converge on his aptly titled new album with the Secondmen, Hyphenated-Man, a self-described "punk opera" that collects 30 minisongs inspired by paintings by Hieronymous Bosch. More than anything, tracks like "Stuffed-in-the-Drum-Man" and "Boot-Wearing-Fish-Man" recall the condensed minimalism of his old group the Minutemen, as jagged, arty riffs collide with jagged, arty scraps of poetry, with the accumulation of small details combining into a bigger statement of purpose and a clearer portrait of self. Ever the hard worker, this blue-collar visionary also gets busy on Saturday with Hellride at the Central Aid & Social Pleasure Club, jamming with MC5 guitarist Brother Wayne Kramer and "whupping up Stooges in a John Coltrane way." (Falling James)
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT AT LARGO AT THE CORONET
Singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright is the daughter of singer/actor Loudon Wainwright III and singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle, and her older brother's named Rufus. Martha's got her own homespun take on things, which she blasted out on her 2005 self-titled debut album and 2008's I Know You're Married but I've Got Feelings Too. Hers are a voice and persona that bespeak genuine hurt and fierce pride: Somewhere along the way her heart got broken, she stumbled and fell, now she howls it out with a rather spectacular vocal instrument, one stunning in its range. The effect is sensually pleasing and scorching in the uncompromising and apparently uncontrollable honesty with which she reveals the very core of her heart. Fittingly, this evening she'll also channel Edith Piaf. (John Payne)
NOBUNNY, DREAM DATE, RED ONIONS AT 6TH STREET WAREHOUSE
Power poppers Milk 'n' Cookies used to do a song called "Rabbits Make Love." Fast-forward to 2011 and Nobunny is fulfilling this power-pop prophecy with Sweet-style rock & roll energy bundled up inside Ramonesy I-wanna-be-your-something-something songs about all the wonderful mess that happens when two people get together and decide to call it a day. Toss a little Velvet Underground, Cramps and Hasil Adkins into the mix and you have a lot of bang for your 10 bucks. Admired and supported by Jack White and the dearly departed Jay Reatard — and scheduled to play the Playboy Mansion in a bunny-on-bunny extravaganza this year — Nobunny makes both love and lovely punky songs about love with an even mix of enthusiasm and technique. Newbunnies should pick up the classic albums Love Visions and the newish First Blood, but the real lovers already have their own faded copies of Raw Romance, which is Nobunny at his rowdiest. Also, Oakland's Dream Date and San Pedro's Red Onions, plus a "kissing booth" for the truly morally decrepit among you. (Kristina Benson)
SMITH WESTERNS, YUCK AT THE ECHO
It makes good sense that Smith Westerns recently wrapped up a tour with San Francisco's Girls. Though this fuzz-fueled quartet hails from Chicago, their music jibes perfectly with the current San Francisco sound — which is to say, shambling, hook-laden garage rock that openly worships at the altar of Marc Bolan. But while many of the Bay Area bands cling to their lo-fi status, the Westerns aren't afraid to get pretty, and they do just that on their brand new album, Dye It Blonde. Part of it could be the fact that they now have a budget (thanks to a recent signing to Fat Possum), but part of it, too, is that the band broadened its scope. While the Nuggets noise is still skulking around in Smith Westerns' songs, there's an unexpected influx of Britpop as well (i.e., Suede), which gives the record its sparkle. Live, those melodies really shine. Labelmates Yuck support, offering up a louder, more '90s-inspired mix of distorted guitars and catchy choruses. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Friday: DANIEL HOPE, JEFFREY KAHANE at UCLA; KILLOLA, GOLDSBORO at the Bootleg; MURDER BY DEATH, THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS at the Echoplex; LARRY KARUSH at the Blue Whale; UNION 13 at the Blvd.; THE PRETTY RECKLESS at El Rey Theatre; GRUPO FANTASMA at the Mint; LINDSTROM at Vanguard.
ANA TIJOUX, MONEY MARK, NOCANDO AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
This unusual bill offers three distinct takes on the sounds and culture of contemporary hip-hop. Rightly headlining is the criminally underexposed Ana Tijoux. This French- Chilean MC (and occasional songstress) mixes old-school, sample-based rap with modern influences from South America, where she currently resides. Turntable scratches, deep bass grooves and Latin-flavored percussion and brass form the bedrock of her smoky verses. Kicking things off is L.A. rap addict Nocando, a raw, street-tested battle rapper who became Scribble Jam's freestyle champion in 2007. He's a product of the Project Blowed camp (Freestyle Fellowship, et al.), so it makes sense that he's been notching on-album collaborations with artsy types like Busdriver and Open Mike Eagle. Nocando is most at home on the stage, however, so prepare to be impressed and, quite possibly, dissed in rhyme. Sandwiched in between these two is legendary producer and Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark. Though the man's usual weapon of choice is the keyboard, he'll be crafting his DJ set using nothing but cassette tapes, a trick he's perfected on the low at Silver Lake's "Top Tape" DJ night. (Chris Martins)
LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES, TROMBONE SHORTY AT THE CONGA ROOM
After their first career Latin Grammy, in 2009, for their wickedly partylicious studio album Commercial (Nacional), Los Amigos Invisibles finally found themselves getting some props. It's hard to say no to the heady hash these Venezuelan disco-funk masters purvey with such witty style and just frighteningly tight precision. Their mix is getting real interesting, too, with the sparkling shades of pumping Afro-rock figuring into their salaciously retro-to-the-future disco-funk electro-sleaze. They've got a supertasty new Not So Commercial disc out, too, which further fractures the party into the ether and right down into your pantalones. Straight from the swamps (or somewhere nearby), Trombone Shorty and his Orleans Avenue band bring the artfully groove-savvy funk/rock of his recent Verve album Backatown. (John Payne)
A TRIBUTE TO TEENA MARIE AT NOKIA THEATRE
Perhaps as a result of her nickname, it's hard not to think of Teena Marie as the forever-young teenager who graduated from Venice High School in the mid-1970s and attended Santa Monica College before finding fame as the most successful white R&B singer on the Motown label. Of course, the talented diva and multi-instrumentalist — who was championed by the late Rick James — went on to assert control over her career by writing and producing her own albums. The former Mary Christine Brockert was still touring and performing her energetic soul-dance workouts up until her untimely death late last year; she even had several bookings scheduled at local venues when she passed away from natural causes at her Pasadena home at age 54. Given Teena Marie's popularity and influence at Motown (Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder were among the mourners at her funeral), it's no surprise that tonight's tribute will feature such stellar guest stars as the Mary Jane Girls, the Whispers and Keith Sweat, along with her longtime backup band. (Falling James)
THE DEADBEATS AT THE REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
The Deadbeats were always considered strange and more than a little unsettling, even by their fellow punk bands in the late-1970s Hollywood scene. While other groups were approximating the music of the Ramones and Johnny Thunders with straightforward barre-chord riffs, the Deadbeats were weirder, employing abrasive noise, offbeat rhythms and a No Wave jazz attack on such cheery tunes as "Let's Kill Maria" and the seedily swanky, sax-drenched S&M opus "Crawl." Lead singer Scott Guerin took great delight in subverting the expectations of everyone around him, including members of the increasingly ritualistic and formulaic Blank Generation, especially on "Kill the Hippies," where he cheekily advised, "Kill them because their views were wrong" and "Send them back to San Francisco!" It was always hard to tell where the joke ended and reality began. Unlike so many punk reunions, the Deadbeats are still more rude than sentimental. Abetted by the veteran keyboardist Paul Roessler (Twisted Roots, Nina Hagen) and the savagely incisive guitarist Sarah Tonin, the pranksterlike Guerin continues to play with people's minds, forcing even old punks to rethink their own stereotypes and comfortable clichés. (Falling James)
PARKWAY DRIVE AT GLASS HOUSE
Metalcore is the latest in a long line of unholy marriages of metal's technical prowess and punk/hardcore's reflex rage, tracing back to late-1970s Motörhead through the thrash metal of the '80s and grunge a decade later. Though born of ultra-organic elements, metalcore mainstays like Australia's surf-lovin' Parkway Drive are beginning to sound like malevolent machines. On their third full-length, last year's Deep Blue, PD's addictively precise double-kick grooves, endless choreographed breakdowns and militaristic chug-athons allow for little swing or soul. Thankfully the album gets a kiss of life from Winston McCall's unusually supple roar, which pendulates between satanic drill sergeant and overworked waste-disposal unit to eye-widening effect. Further blurring the collection's otherwise crisp lines are the added atmosphere and melody of Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick's guitars this time around, including perky, harmonized New Wave of British Heavy Metal pirouettes ("Sleepwalker") and moments of picked-clean clarity ("Alone"). To the uninitiated, tonight will be a modern metalcore crash course; to converts, a State of the Genre address. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Saturday:KRS-ONE at the Roxy; DECEMBERISTS at the Wiltern; APEX MANOR at the Satellite; EMBRYONIC DEVOURMENT at the Blvd.; LARRY KARUSH at the Blue Whale; THE CHUCK DUKOWSKI SEXTET at the Smell; ATLANTIC/PACIFIC, JARROD GORBEL at the Echo; DIERKS BENTLEY at the Troubadour; KAREN ANN at the Skirball Center.
RARE GROOVES, CJ BOYD AT THE SMELL
It's typically a term associated with obscure funk songs, but Rare Grooves is a local punk band with ties to DIY institution the Smell. Of course, that doesn't mean these kids don't have soul. Theirs is a youthful, spiky thing that does indeed value a good low end. Actually, worship might be a better term, as the members of the band formerly known as Widow Babies have long nurtured a serious obsession with famous Minutemen bassist Mike Watt [see Friday]. They actually named an early EP after him, lyrically pitting their hero against a vampire Abe Lincoln who'd managed to somehow steal Watts' life-giving hands (sample song title: "In Which Mike Watt Wins Back His Hands and Basses a River Into Existence"). As Rare Grooves, they continue to mix spiraling guitars and playful riddims with shrill vocals and surfy vibes, and they've actually collaborated with Watt for a recent 7-inch, which is both rare and grooved. Speaking of bass, opener CJ Boyd is a master of both the electric and stand-up varieties and, whether plucking, picking or bowing, has developed an undeniable knack for creating gorgeous, palpable atmosphere. Live, he utilizes loops, overdubs and improv to maximum effect. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Sunday: PART TIME PUNKS' "MY BLOODY VALENTINE" NIGHT at the Echo.
NE-YO AT NOKIA THEATRE
You could arrange a worse Valentine's Day date than a trip to see Ne-Yo: Though he's for sure one of current R&B's craftiest craftsmen — check out his pitch-perfect Off the Wall impression in "Cause I Said So," from last year's Libra Scale — he's also as tender a slow-jam slinger as you'll find in this age of tough-talking young lotharios (think Trey Songz and Chris Brown). Libra Scale doesn't quite live up to 2008's Year of the Gentleman, which had sharper hooks and a more expansive production palette. (Nor is it as sensitive: In the earlier album's "Why Does She Stay?" dude actually went ahead and apologized for not doing the dishes.) But you can bet he'll bring his A-game tonight. With Monica, who returned to the soul scene last year with the surprisingly strong Still Standing, and promising newcomer Miguel. (Mikael Wood)
JENNY O AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
What better way to stave off the black panic of Blue Monday, aka Valentine's Day, than tonight's show with Jenny O? That's a rhetorical question — just be lulled by the reassuring dulcet tones of the Big O, who holds forth every Monday in February at Bootleg for free, tonight with Henry Wolfe, Sara Lov and John Gold. Jenny O's debut EP, Home, was just released on chic alternative-consciousness merchant Manimal Vinyl. It's another in a string of mellow gold jangle for O, and over five songs, she sings breathlessly from the soul, spanning an artistic legacy from the soft rock of the '60s to the jazz of the '90s, and never losing her open-minded, self-avowed hippieness. (David Cotner)
Also playing Monday: PARKWAY DRIVE at Camarillo Ranch House; JOHN CARPENTER, SLANG CHICKENS at the Echo; ROBOTANISTS at Silverlake Lounge.
SUSAN JAMES, EVIE SANDS, ANNY CELSI, DOUBLE NAUGHT SPYCAR AT THE ECHO
Tonight, folk-country singer-guitarist Susan James climbs down from her Topanga mountain home after an extended exile to celebrate the release of her long-awaited (and fittingly titled) fourth album, Highways, Ghosts, Hearts & Home. [See album review on Page Two.] The album sweetly examines the competing pulls between domestic, familial loyalties and a musician's love of the open road. In keeping with the communal theme of the album (which features guests Shivaree's Danny McGough, the Punch Brothers' Gabe Witcher, D.J. Bonebrake and members of I See Hawks in L.A.), James will be joined by her extended family of friends and collaborators for a jam-backed bill presented by Grand Ole Echo. Among the many highlights, don't miss the fantastic pop singer Evie Sands, whose songs have been covered by everyone from Barbra Streisand and Dusty Springfield to Beck, Sonic Boom and Beth Orton. After a career of several decades, Sands is only now beginning to garner the recognition she should've had all along [Ed.'s note: If you find a copy of her obscenely good 1970 album Any Way That You Want Me, we'll buy it from you!] The local pop-folk stylist Anny Celsi is paired with longtime indie-pop accompanist Nelson Bragg, while the interrelated bands I See Hawks in L.A. and the eclectically frenetic instrumental combo Double Naught Spycar are scheduled for short sets. Also with Tony Gilkyson & Kip Boardman, Cosmo Topper, Old Californio, the Quarter After and others, starting early at 7:30 p.m. (Falling James)
ROCK OF AGES AT THE PANTAGES
[See Page Two]
Also playing Tuesday: WYNTON MARSALIS/LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA at Walt Disney Concert Hall; KASPER TOEPLITZ AND MYRIAM GOURFINK's Breathing Monster at REDCAT; JOSEPH ARTHUR, MADI DIAZ at the Bootleg; TODD SNIDER at El Rey Theatre.
BEACH HOUSE AT THE MUSIC BOX
It's been a minute since we've heard from Baltimore dream-pop act Beach House, but house calls are always welcome, as evidenced by the band's back-to-back sold-out nights at the Music Box. Fans no doubt are hoping to hear some new material from singer-organist Victoria Legrand and guitarist-keyboardist Alex Scally, but really anything from the duo's three-album back catalog would do. Their 2006 eponymous debut was a spellbinding affair — hazy, layered and cool with a certain psychedelia to it. With 2008's Devotion, Legrand's velvet-lined vocals were given more emphasis and the gauzy arrangements more warmth, leading to moments of true catchiness like "Wedding Bells." Their latest, Teen Dream, found Beach House buttressed by a bigger budget and bringing their already cavernous, beatific sound to a church converted into a studio. The results were, to paraphrase one critic, like tuning into the band at the correct frequency for the first time. Also Thurs. (Chris Martins)
NICOLE ATKINS & THE BLACK SEA AT THE TROUBADOUR
Nicole Atkins' just-out Mondo Amore finds the New Jersey "pop" singer-songwriter diving deep into something dark and painful, almost mangled — all of which, true to form, she delivers with a transcendent grit not unlike the old blueswomen she seems to carry inside. These are very tough-minded, brave performances, bound to split opinion on whether Atkins goes too far over the obsessive edge in her search for some kind of perspective on the pitiless storms of loss and disillusionment she's had to confront and conquer. This is the sound of the way love feels in our own grim times, and it is, not so paradoxically, enthralling. [Ed.'s note: The album cover is pretty striking too: Google it.] Atkins' ambitions are blessedly high; she's also guided away from mere rock emo-bathos by this smart, no-bullshit band to back her up, the Black Sea. (John Payne)
THE RADIO DEPT., YOUNG PRISMS AT EL REY THEATRE
No one who plays in a band can be truly shy, but the Radio Dept. can sure sound like it. Through a dozen-plus years of balancing delicate, guitar-based dream-pop (notably on debut Lesser Matters) and synth-'n'-drum-machine–generated indie dance (the disappointing Pet Grief), these elusive Swedes have kept things neatly introverted and quietly romantic. Last year's appropriately titled Clinging to a Scheme, despite being four years in the making, is more concise than ever (at just 34 minutes) and marks both a return to form and an artful melding of Matters' and Grief's more effective elements (though more from the former than the latter). TRD floats wistful, wandering lyrics on buoyant, sometimes baggy beats and sunny sheens of guitar sown with almost flippant electronic chiming. They ache hard but with apparently mendable heartache. Openers Young Prisms bring insistent, oil-projector psychedelia straight from their San Fran garage. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Wednesday: SPONGE at Key Club; GRAM RABBIT at Bordello; VANAPRASTA, HE'S MY BROTHER SHE'S MY SISTER at the Satellite.
LUCERO, OLIN & THE MOON AT THE ECHO
Memphis country-rock band Lucero is one of the hardest-working groups out there, touring almost 200 days a year. Their sixth studio album and major-label debut, 2009's 1372 Overton Park, embraces their Memphis roots with the addition of a horn section and arrangements by legendary session musician Jim Spake (Al Green, Cat Power, etc.). The driving force behind Lucero is raspy-voiced frontman and guitarist Ben Nichols, who sings about good loving and good drinking and will no doubt bring a raucous, drunken hootenanny. Idaho-bred, L.A.-based roots favorites Olin & the Moon's twangy country anthems will melt your heart and conjure up dreams of prairie sunsets, dusty roads and deserted towns. Just a few weeks ago they released their new record, Footsteps: Hopefully they'll play new tracks like "Not in Love," a soul-crushingly sad but beautiful tale of love and loss. (Lainna Fader)
BEACH HOUSE AT THE MUSIC BOX
Also playing Thursday: JAMIE FOXX'S FOXXHOLE ALLSTAR JAM at Club Nokia; SHADOW SHADOW SHADE at the Satellite.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.