Music Picks: Of Montreal, Kristeen Young, Sofia Gubaidulina,
@ THE MUSIC BOX
After her three-year musical fling with Jack White in the melodramatic blues exorcists the Dead Weather, prodigal daughter Alison Mosshart reunites with her old partner Jamie Hince in the melodramatic art-rock duo the Kills. The pair's fourth album, Blood Pressures, is another mesmerizing collection of lurching guitar chords, tribal rhythms and enigmatically romantic lyrical exchanges. In the Kills' tear- and bloodstained world, passion flickers and trembles "like the pinball lights" and thumps "like a broken sail." And yet, even with all of the fuzzy, crunchy, hard-edged chaos of rants like "DNA" and "Satellite," the album's highlight might be the atypically low-key closing tune, "Pots and Pans," which echoes the unexpected poppiness of the sublimely bittersweet ballad "Black Balloon" from the Kills' previous album, Midnight Boom. —Falling James
Man Man, Shilpa Ray
@ El Rey Theatre
[See Page Two.]
Futura With Mia Doi Todd, Teebs, Asura
@ CENTER FOR THE ARTS EAGLE ROCK
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Todd sings a gracefully conceived form of the art-folk genre. Hers is joltingly intimate song craft at times, gingerly plucked on acoustic guitar and sung pristinely in a voice taking a defiant stand for joy, love and enlightenment. She's culled this sonic point of view from an intriguing range of musics — her new album Cosmic Ocean Ship includes covers of "Gracias a la Vida" by Chilean folk icon Violeta Parra and "Canto de Iemanjá," the Afro-samba composed by Baden Powell and Vinícius de Moraes. She continually redefines her repertoire in collaborations with many of the most forward-looking thinkers/players from Los Angeles' electronic scene, a group that includes tonight's co-stars, Teebs and Asura. —John Payne
Brian McKnight, Jagged Edge
@ NOKIA THEATRE
Sigh. Always the Grammy nominee, never the winner. But when you have 16 noms, as soulful multi-instrumentalist McKnight does, who cares? The New York native might sing to the flesh, as opposed to the spirit (his older brother founded a cappella gospel group Take 6), but even when insisting "What's My Name?" his voice is washed in the gospel music of that old-time religion. After spending a few years as a radio and television host, he's back with a 10th album, featuring 10 new songs, as well as a disc of solo acoustic concert performances. Expect an intimate setup that spotlights the way the softened edges of McKnight's voice cushion his bundle of Quiet Storm classics. With Atlanta's baby-makin' R&B bounce group Jagged Edge. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Also playing Friday:
THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE at the Satellite; URGE OVERKILL at the Troubadour; JEFFERTITTI'S NILE, ALLAH-LAS at Bordello; THE DAYLIGHTS at Hotel Café; NOCTURNAL at the Blvd.; JOHN MAUS at the Echo; LARRY KOONSE, JEFF COLLELA, CHRIS COLANGELO at Blue Whale.
More of a ringleader than a frontman, singer Kevin Barness directs the Athens, Ga., psych-pop band in a larger-than-life, psychedelic explosion of fantastical costumes, creepy sideshow characters and bizarre props that feels like Alice in Wonderland on (even more) acid. This will be your chance to hear their latest, Thecontrollersphere, come alive and welcome them back on the freak track. Expect more costume changes in mere minutes than you thought humanly possible in an entire week for this postmodern theatrical spectacle. Also, half-naked bodies — including Barness' — covered in glitter and shimmery paint, and various manifestations of Barness' obsession with human-beast hybrids. With the dreamy electro-pop of L.A.'s own Nite Jewel. —Lainna Fader
@ THE WILTERN
So what if none of the music Rusko created for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale made that album's final cut — dude's still headlining a sold-out Wiltern as the last date of his North American tour. Widely credited as dubstep's crossover king, the currently L.A.-based knob-twiddler hit a radio-ready sweet spot on last year's O.M.G.!, recruiting Gucci Mane and Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors to stud his bass-in-your-face with some snap-crackle-pop. Expect to hear plenty from the album tonight, as well as his sparkly new single, "Everyday," which one iTunes customer recently referred to as evidence that Rusko has been "raped by the mainstream." With Doorly and Destructo. —Mikael Wood
@ WHISKY A GO GO
One of the charms of "true" metal bands like this is that they truly try. They try to be technical masters of their instruments; try to put on a spectacle of a show; and try to have a bloody good time while so doing (faux-indifferent indie bands take note). These Burbank boys are all about stretch jeans, waist-length hair and funny-shaped guitars — shirtless hesher heroes mining early Metallica, Megadeth and Maiden (i.e., metal before the sacrilegious scourge of screamo). Double-kick beats are battered around as much as beneath twin widdle-fest guitars, while song structures wander with perhaps more ambition than direction. Oh, and big plus: Unlike most contemporary metal frontmen, Nick Simile's lyrics — stuff about power and darkness — are actually audible in his soaring, Tarzanesque timbre. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Saturday:
DEANA CARTER at the Hotel Café; WANGO TANGO at Staples Center; ZAC BROWN BAND at Hollywood Bowl; PETER BJORN AND JOHN at El Rey Theatre; ROVA SAX QUARTET at Blue Whale; BEAT JUNKIES at the Echoplex; LORD HURON at the Troubadour.
@ THE TROUBADOUR
This sound could only be born of siblings (OK, and a cousin): the telepathic vocal interplay, spooning harmonies and quaint quirks that speak to lifelong familiarity. With an image equal parts Vans, Vogue and Deliverance, this East Texas quintet offers an apparently impossible marriage of youth and sonic wisdom. Even after 15 years as a band, keyboardist/vocalist Stacy DuPree is only 22, and the whole gaggle clocks in under 30. For all their waifish looks and gauzy production, there's a fierce musicality and sense of self-empowered lyrical purpose here: supertuneful without spoon-feeding sentiment; sad (especially on newbie The Valley) but seldom sorry for themselves. The sensitive side of the Warped Tour generation and, in truth, harder-hitting than any of those leap-around guitar bands could ever be. —Paul Rogers
The 80-year-old Russian composer makes a rare U.S. appearance in this series of performances spread over three nights. The programs include an animated film scored by Gubaidulina, The Cat Who Walked by Herself; a concerto for bassoon and low strings; the concertos Introitus for piano and chamber orchestra and Detto II for cello and chamber ensemble; and several other pieces. This will be a showcase for her tough-minded, often very percussive sound and uniquely colored melodic/harmonic language. The intensity (to understate it) and high idiosyncrasy of these compositions, often based on traditional musical forms, is remarkable, but their greatest achievement might be their ability to plunge one into relatively unknown emotional states. Soloists are Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, cello; Julie Feves, bassoon; Mark Menzies, violin; and Richard Valitutto, piano. Sun., May 15, 3 & 7 p.m.; Mon., May 16, 8:30 p.m.; Tues., May 17, 8:30 p.m. —John Payne
@ BOOTLEG BAR
Chicago-bred, L.A.-based singer-songwriter Haroula Rose's self-released These Open Roads is an easy-on-the-ears debut that launches Rose as a deft and resourceful melodicist, a subtly superb acoustic guitar stylist and evocative vocal presence. These are timeless tales of loneliness, lousy breakups and "so long to the past and hello to the future." While this particular palette of fear, cheers and sneers could be a tired recipe for maudlin moping in lesser hands, in hers it's used as a chance to revel in the fascination of pure creation. Rose's album is full of inventively arranged originals that are comforting but deeply felt (and she does a riveting take on Mason Jennings' "Duluth"), aided by a sterling cast of steel-guitar players, harmonizing singers and multi-instrumentalist/producer Andy Lemaster. —John Payne
Fancy Space People
@ THE ECHO
Don Bolles might have been there at the high-water mark of L.A. punk (he was and is a real live Germ), but his soul has always been full-glitter glam. (True story: If you run into him by a used-record bin, he's more likely to school you on Bowie than on the Ramones.) Now he's ditched his trademark fur hat and finally gets to lead a crew of psychedelic glam warriors. Part Time Punks is enabling — it should be out of this world. Also the Deadbeats and Gestapo Khazi. —Gustavo Turner
Also playing Sunday:
BIBLICAL PROOF OF UFOS at Viva Cantina; THE BLACK ANGELS, SLEEPY SUN at El Rey Theatre; EALDATH at the Blvd.
@ THE ECHOPLEX
These Toronto punks are ambitious freaks — they just put out a compilation of fake bands from a fictional British town born in the head of frontman Damian Abraham. It's a companion soundtrack (natch) to their upcoming heady, drugged-out rock opera David Comes to Life, about a guy who works in a lightbulb factory, falls in love with an activist and then gets cornered by an evil prosecutor for her accidental death. They're also notorious for their live-show madness — you might find lovable screamer Abraham slicing his chest with a shard of glass or "accidentally" destroying photographers' cameras, and you'll probably get punched in the face or at least get a beer dumped on your head. Hardcore, hypnotic and hysterical insanity. —Lainna Fader
Kristeen Young, Yael Naim
@ HOTEL CAFÉ
Once championed by none other than her former touring mate Morrissey, New York singer Kristeen Young constructs eccentric sonic structures that contrast her birdlike Kate Bush–style trills with densely cluttered backing. Songs like "Depression Contest" and the aptly titled "Comfort Is Never a Goal" are pumped up with aggressive piano accents, even as her arty vocals spiral airily above the mechanized madness. This combination of ethereal spaciness and assembly-line rhythms is unique, and it should prove fascinating to see how Young strips down her studio creations at this intimate venue for singer-songwriters. Yael Naim's music isn't nearly as dark as Young's psychological fusillades, but the French-Israeli chanteuse's pop-folk tunes are infused with Old World touches, intelligent lyrics and soothing melodies. —Falling James
Stephen Kellogg, Tift Merritt
@ BOOTLEG THEATER
Tift Merritt's music has evolved quite a bit since her 2002 debut album, Bramble Rose, announced the arrival of a thoughtful country singer who was seemingly uninterested in duplicating the syrupy pop of most modern Nashville divas. Since then, the North Carolina songwriter has ventured into brassy R&B and introspective indie-rock balladry, and she seems less interested than ever in perpetrating twang clichés. Her most recent album, See You on the Moon, might not be her strongest collection, but it's still a fine assortment of gently wistful pop songs interspersed with occasional up-tempo rockers. She opens tonight for the Sixers' frontman, Stephen Kellogg, whose earnest if lightweight songs attempt to evoke a comfortably worn, Jackson Browne/Bruce Springsteen kind of Americana. —Falling James
@ THE TROUBADOUR
Argentine moodscapist Aubele's new album, Berlin 13, offers a resonant, relaxing tension that feels very right for these sweet 'n' spooky times. The album's future-nostalgia might appear to belie the life-changing experiences Aubele had during his recent stay in Berlin, with his customary mix of folkie strains and sweetly sung melodies astride loping, dubby downbeats and spidery nylon-string guitar, astride lacy electronic ornamentations. His artful musique concrète samples pay homage to the classically trained Aubele's modern-music heroes — whose influence you might detect in the satisfyingly "composed" way Aubele brings his eclectic materials together in unified vision. By the way, the number 13 in the album title refers to the 13th tarot card, "Death"; Aubele figured that meant rebirth. —John Payne
Also playing Monday:
WHITE ARROWS at Bootleg Theater; HE'S MY BROTHER SHE'S MY SISTER at the Satellite.
The Fiery Furnaces
Siblings Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger are a very smart coupla kids. Their records are chockablock with sundry stuff melted from a massive source supply of classic rock & pop (BOC and Carpenters), some "blues," operettas 'n' music hall and a whole lot more. But they're not eclectic as such — no, they're masher-uppers, and the results are lovely, plaintive, elliptical, genuinely literate, ironic in a friendly way, skronking-rocking, epic but not too, spellbindingly harmonized and jaw-droppingly arranged. Eleanor is way charismatic; Matt cannot contain the musical lava that pours from his ears. The pair are taking a break in between their last album, I'm Going Away, and their new one with these shows sans band, which feature radical reworkings of catalog faves. Yes, there will be a karaoke interlude. —John Payne
Also playing Tuesday:
THE ELECTED at the Troubadour; THE DEATH SET, WIN WIN at Bootleg Theater; BOSCO DELREY, DROP THE LIME at the Echoplex.
@ VIPER ROOM
James Grundler writes the sorts of robustly melodic, shamelessly cinematic rock songs that are enjoying a renewed lease of life in an era when TV placement (where music is required to add drama to images) is replacing radio as the medium through which new sounds get heard. His current quartet is essentially a continuation of his previous outfit, Paloalto (which sadly got lost somewhere between Radiohead and Coldplay), with that band's original bassist, Alex Parnell, now returned to the fold. Grundler's gorgeously melodramatic electric/acoustic mini epics have found appropriate births on TV's Deadliest Catch ("All Roads Lead Home") and the BBC's broadcast of last month's royal wedding ("Til the End"), yet even through earbuds alone they paint pictures unimaginable to lesser talents. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Wednesday:
WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; CITIZEN FISH at Cobalt Café; NIKOS SYROPOULOS GROUP at Blue Whale; JOHNNY FLYNN at the Echo.
Vieux Farka Touré
@ THE SATELLITE
Malian singer Vieux Farka Touré might be the son of the legendary Ali Farka Touré, but his music has its own distinct style. He blends traditional West African grooves with a more modern array of influences, and the resulting combination is often entrancing, with soulful chanting over a bubbling brew of percussion and funky blues rhythms. As with such celebrated Malian performers as Mariam & Amadou and Tinariwen, Touré's songs are distinguished by the region's slippery, shiny, psychedelic guitars, which simultaneously root the music in the earth and also send the shimmering melodies soaring into the stratosphere. Elements of dub, reggae and hip-hop slip in and out of the music, adding to the trancelike, hypnotic spell that Touré masterfully weaves. —Falling James
Also playing Thursday:
WOLVERSPENT, WINO at Bordello; IBRAHIM MAALOUF & DANIEL ROSENBOOM at Blue Whale; RACHEL GOOD-RICH at the Echo.
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