Music Picks: No Doubt, Nikki Hill, Alice Cooper

Nikki Hill: See Thursday.
Nikki Hill: See Thursday.

fri 11/23



Kicking off with a barrage of ringing guitars, "The Garden" blooms vibrantly on Tamaryn's second album, Tender New Signs. The New Zealand native croons in a contrastingly soft and somnolent voice as the loud guitars and bass fuse into a golden, molten lava that washes over her fragile melody. Her musical partner, Rex John Shelverton, cranks out a blurry storm of shoegazer (although they prefer the term "skygazer") atmosphere on similarly hazy reveries like "Heavenly Bodies." The San Francisco duo's self-described "impressionistic sketches of once well-guarded emotions" are often entrancing, rarely moving faster than at a midtempo but gradually building into a woozy state of hypnosis that's more real than reality. —Falling James

Moris Tepper, Jon Wahl & the Amadans


Moris Tepper is a magic man, and not just because he used to be a part of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. He's a veritable magician onstage, turning simple chords into rabbits and doves that hop and flutter with the barest sleight of hand. Tepper's the guitarist responsible for much of the arty sounds on Tom Waits' Frank's Wild Years album, and he's also twisted up strange shimmers for PJ Harvey and Frank Black. His own solo recordings are less overtly freaky, with Tepper drawling in an easygoing voice over amiable, Dylan-esque blues-folk rockers like "How Many Ways Can a Rich Man Die?" from his most recent solo album, A Singer Named Shotgun Throat. Speaking of shotguns, former Claw Hammer mastermind Jon Wahl has a scattershot approach to country, jazz and rock, blasting them together into a bitchin' brew while he rants over it all. —Falling James

Dom Kennedy


Leimert Park native Dom Kennedy joins West Coast compatriots TY Dolla $ign, Niko-G4 and Audio Push for what is sure to be an energy-packed performance at Club Nokia. Greatly influenced by the likes of the Notorious B.I.G., Ice Cube and DJ Quik, Dom chose to pursue rap full-time in the late 2000s after a brief stint at junior college. His witty and braggadocious rhymes were unforgettably showcased on his 2008 debut, 25th Hour, which yielded the locally lauded jam "Watermelon Sundae." In later years, his mixtapes From the Westside With Love and From the Westside With Love II acquired international hip-hop renown, scoring co-signs from rap stars Rick Ross and Kanye West. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Bobby Bland



A real gasser of an authentic, deep-in-the-hood blues party headlined by no less an R&B god than the redoubtable 82-year-old thriller Bobby "Blue" Bland. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer made his bones as one of Memphis' Beale Streeters (a gang including Johnny Ace, Roscoe Gordon and Junior Parker) and made history with such gospel-tinged, soulful and all-around incomparable R&B masterpieces as "Turn On Your Love Light" and "Farther Up the Road." Whenever Bland comes to town, it's a major event. Tonight's extravaganza also features vocalist Willie Clayton (an associate of Bobby Womack, Sam Cook and Marvin Gaye), local blues guitar star Gregg Wright, and sizzling soul sister Sue Ann Carwell, plus comedian Luenell. Seriously sublime. -- Jonny Whiteside

sat 11/24

Sara Petite


San Diego singer Sara Petite was raised in the sticks of the state of Washington, and, not surprisingly, a country-rocking spirit runs through her rootsy tunes. Bluegrass rhythms and fiddles adorn homey songs like "Little House." While it might seem strange that such a young performer would sing traditional songs about bootlegging and making moonshine (does anyone really make moonshine anymore?), the charming Petite comes off with plenty of rural authenticity. She's even more appealing when she slows it down a bit and reveals her heart on such gentle ballads as "I Shouldn't Be Doing This" and "Circus Comes to Town." —Falling James

Delicate Steve, Dana Buoy


With his hyper-musical second album, Positive Force, New Jersey wonderlad Delicate Steve weaves a not-so-crazy quilt of superbly melodic everything-pop, mellifluously laid out in his bedroom studio with many, many guitars and even more effects boxes. Head-spinningly eclectic, with classic-rock/vintage R&B/electro/tropicalia/Afrobeat flavors, the record's glorious haze of lovingly layered loudness cannot hide the hummable pop structures that dart out of the fray and fly into the sky. Delicate Steve is a joyful type who makes addictively catchy yet sonically complex tunes with one clear goal in mind: liberating rock & roll ecstasy. A nicely psychedelic post-post-rock comes courtesy of opener Dana Buoy, better known as percussionist Dana Janssen of Akron/Family. —John Payne

No Doubt


With six albums of solid, genre-hopping pop and, in Gwen Stefani, one of the most magnetic figureheads of its generation, Anaheim's No Doubt could play to the exact same crowd for this entire seven-night stand and still leave every fan satiated, every night. The epitome of a sum transcending its parts, No Doubt boast no single songwriting genius but collectively conjure singable ditties kept interesting by variously incorporating ska, punk-lite and '80s New Wave (their first three albums), quasi-Caribbean dancehall (2001's Rock Steady) and, on newbie Push and Shove, even pangs of country. But the band's enormous connection, which appears as much emotional as sonic, centers around Stefani, who augments her tremulous Cyndi Lauper timbre with an easy-to-identify-with palette of neuroses, still raw even after a decade-plus of A-list adoration. (Also Nov. 26, 28 & 30; Dec. 2, 4 & 6.) —Paul Rogers


mon 11/26

Everyone Dies in Utah


Post-hardcore bands don't dwell in some dark kingdom where only battering-ram beats, gurgled vocals and de-tuned guitars are tolerated. While plenty brutal, many of these acts also are influenced by the dance-music genres dominant among their peers. The Texas sextet Everyone Dies in Utah cradle airy arms-aloft melodies, escapist harmonies and nightclub-evoking electronica amidst desolate riffs and raw-throated wrath — summoning irreverent Day-Glo undertones all too welcome in what can be an overly grim genre. With such song titles as "Bed, Bath and Beyoncé" and "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish," they're willfully flippant, but Danny Martinez's bestial screech and the band's repeated rhythmic muggings still are unsettling in their premeditated ultraviolence. —Paul Rogers

tue 11/27

Bela Fleck and The Marcus Roberts Trio


Banjoist Bela Fleck has almost singlehandedly redefined what was previously an instrument confined to bluegrass and Dixieland music, garnering a total of 13 Grammys along the way. Born and raised in New York, Fleck has performed over the last three decades in jazz, rock, classical, folk and other musical genres while gaining recognition as the finest banjo player in the world, most often at the helm of his own band, The Flecktones. Tonight Fleck begins a four-night run at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood in yet another unusual musical combination: joined by a trio led by blind pianist Marcus Roberts, who burst upon the jazz world as a member of the Wynton Marsalis groups of the 1980s. The pair is touring in support of a new album, Across the Imaginary Divide. —Tom Meek

wed 11/28

Spirit Vine


The Echo Park tribe Spirit Vine are obsessed with "wine, weed, witches, warlocks ... wombs, windows" and other weird words that start with the letter w. Their music is suitable witchy and bewitching, as keyboardist Jaquelinne Cingolani belts it out in a mournfully moody yet powerful voice, while guitarist Gabe Pacheco cuts up little chunks of glowing ice cubes, which hiss and spark when they brush up against Cingolani's keening vocals. Like The Duke Spirit, Spirit Vine construct songs that aren't short and bubble gum–cute. Instead, tangled and serpentine guitar lines unwind slowly while Cingolani chants hard and heavy incantations like "Cold Living." But the band also has a coolly melodic side on such pretty tunes as "Pluto Why," which nonetheless rockets into the ether, leaving behind a trail of psychedelic sparks. —Falling James

Support Your Local Moustache with Don Juan y Los Blancos


By the time you read this, Movember will almost be over — yes, Movember, one of the more touching months of the year, when folks everywhere grow moustaches to raise both awareness and funding to battle prostate and testicular cancer. Thus there is no better time for Don Juan y Los Blancos, L.A.'s moustachiest garage rock & roll band, to lend their time and riffery to a good cause. They've been sporting fancy facial hair since their first full-length on Wild Records in 2009, and while Billy Childish may yet possess the most impressive upper-lip adornment in the genre, the Blancos are in the running. They'll look like Snidely Whiplash and sound like The Sonics and The Milkshakes. Good health has never seemed so attractive! —Chris Ziegler

Lawrence Arabia


Lawrence Arabia is the pseudonym of New Zealand's James Milne, who, among several things, is the singer in Reduction Agents and a former member of The Brunettes and The Ruby Suns. He is a songwriter-producer of prodigious and wonderfully idiosyncratic gifts, as evidenced by his recent solo album, The Sparrow. The album is a gorgeously crafted song suite delineating the outer and inner aspects of what a pop song might possibly be, with Milne weaving minor-keyed, melancholic moods strewn under the shadow of Scott Walker, Serge Gainsbourg and, most obviously, John Lennon. The Sparrow is a tersely defined work with a subtle lushness of emotion, and drily witty as well. Yet with the album's overarching theme of dashed hopes and fading dreams, songs like "Travelling Shoes" and "The 03" make you want to say "ouch." Also appearing at Origami Vinyl on Nov. 27. —John Payne

thu 11/29



Famous collaborative jazz bands are rare, with only a handful of notable examples: Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, The Bad Plus. As in those groups, Kneebody's members have become as well-known as their occasional cause célèbre. Saxist Ben Wendel and trumpeter Shane Endsley have stellar New York jazz careers, Adam Benjamin plays keys with Dave Douglas, and bassist Kaveh Rastegar has played with Cee-Lo Green and Bruno Mars. Drummer Nate Wood is also a star on bass and guitar and as a singer-songwriter. (He even has his own fan site.) Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk are cool, but what if they joined forces in the same movie? Kneebody could be the Jazz Avengers, if only that name wasn't taken by some group in Wichita. —Gary Fukushima


Nikki Hill

VIVA CANTINA (back room)

The fast-rising, hard-charging, 20-something, North Carolina born-and-bred singer Nikki Hill has more than earned her evocative "Southern Fireball" moniker. This African-American rock & roll sister trades in resolutely old-school soul and R&B, and she does so with stunning measures of heat, grace and impressively flawless vocal technique. Hill's vivid atmospherics, innate dynamicism and declarative delivery make for some thrillingly memorable song stylings. No mere fetishistic '50s throwback, she's facing an uphill battle out of the brain-dead ducktail-and-fat-cuff rockabilly ghetto. But Hill definitely has the pipes and the power to transcend that hell and reach Olympian heights. Just try to keep up with her. —Jonny Whiteside

Alice Cooper




Ah, Alice. Sweet, sick Alice -- where to begin? With the groundbreaking shock rocker who gleefully drove "a stake through the heart of the Love Generation"? The renegade wastrel whose arrival on the Sunset Strip circa '68 appalled Frank Zappa and delighted Jim Morrison? The eyebrow-raising showman whose elaborate Grand Guignol set pieces forever transformed how stadium rock gets presented? The diehard rocker, just honored in the London as the sole non-U.K. act to headline Wembley Arena in five consecutive decades? The leather-lunged genius behind Killer, one of the single greatest rock & roll LPs of all time? The pastel-clad nerd who used to golf with Barry Goldwater? Such rough-and-tumble bad-ass music. Such rowdy, gaudy audacity. Aw, hell. Don't even ask. -- Jonny Whiteside

Delicate Steve: See Saturday.


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