Music Picks: Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Bad Religion, Non
THE WEDDING PRESENT AT THE TROUBADOUR
In 2007, this long-running U.K. guitar-pop outfit hit the road for a European trek celebrating the 20th anniversary of George Best, its delightfully acerbic studio debut. Three years later, the Wedding Present's continued influence is cropping up in the work of a new breed of fuzzy-jangly indie acts (Surfer Blood, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart). To show the kiddies how it's done, front man (and part-time Angeleno) David Gedge and his mates are touring North America 21 years after the release of the band's sophomore disc, Bizarro, which they'll play at the Troubadour in full, along with a handful of other tunes from Gedge's lengthy songbook. A 2001 reissue of the album tacked on righteously amped-up covers of Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" and Pavement's "Box Elder"; cross your fingers for one (or both) of those tonight. (Mikael Wood)
GRAM RABBIT AT THE ECHOPLEX
From deep in their hutch out in faraway Joshua Tree, Gram Rabbit present for your listening pleasure something you didn't know you needed, or wanted, even: the sound of surprise. This subtly bizarre band's sound runs a gamut from slanted electro-pop and oddball country stylings to arcanely freaky rock psychedelicism that in its recombinant future-primitive urges recalls that of similarly sunbaked visionaries like Captain Beefheart and Harry Partch. Led by charismatic vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jesika von Rabbit and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Todd Rutherford, the Rabbit are in fact a thrillingly unclichéd band with a refreshingly singular path, heard in its best form on 2007's Radio Angel & the Robot Beat. That album goosed the goods higher by mockingly worshiping the excesses of big-rock-guitar rifferama interspliced with some fine, sultry loads of quiet-campfire R&B. The wise and witty way they sift through and polish the unloved detritus of pop — without metal detectors — should be an inspiration to us all. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday:
MICHIKO HIRAYAMA at Redcat; FIRST FRIDAYS featuring the BREAKESTRA at the Natural History Museum; KENNY WERNER QUARTET at Catalina Bar & Grill; LEBOWSKI FEST at the Wiltern; CAPTAIN AHAB at the Smell; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at Disney Hall; TORCHES IN TREES, SWEATER GIRLS, TREMELLOW at the Echo; LAURA GIBSON AND ETHAN ROSE at Echo Curio; ALKALINE TRIO, CURSIVE, THE DEAR & DEPARTED at House of Blues; LAMB BED, STILL CHAOS, JULY CRUISE at Rainbow Bar & Grill; J-DAVEY, U-N-I at the Roxy; AL STEWART at Brixton South Bay; THE WEBB BROTHERS at Spaceland; ART OF SHOCK at the Cat Club; THE DAN BAND at Club Nokia; JAY POUNDERS & THE BRADS at Molly Malone's.
PAID DUES FESTIVAL AT THE NOS EVENTS CENTER
For this year's installment of his annual indie-rap blowout, Los Angeles MC Murs cast the net a little wider than usual, booking a handful of putatively above-ground acts that he defends in a video on the Paid Dues Web site as instrumental architects of West Coast rap. When those acts include Ice Cube, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, and Kurupt and Daz Dillinger's Snoop-sanctioned Dogg Pound, only a fool (or a killjoy) would take issue with his choices (or his reasoning). Other Californians on the bill: Dilated Peoples, People Under the Stairs, and Freestyle Fellowship, back in action after a lengthy hiatus in which Aceyalone became an indie-rap hero in his own right. But that's not all, folks! You also get Raekwon (fresh off last year's Only Built for Cuban Linx ... Pt. II and his brand-new Wu-Massacre disc with Method Man and Ghostface Killah), blog-rap buzz baby Jay Electronica and, of course, Murs himself, joined here by his frequent collaborator 9th Wonder. Yes, yes, y'all. (Mikael Wood)
PANDIT SWAPAN CHAUDHURI AND USTAD AASHISH KHAN AT REDCAT
Whether or not you're a North Indian classical-music aficionado with detailed knowledge of its myriad forms and techniques, there could be no more edifying and exhilarating experience than witnessing tabla master Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri in action. A much-honored player of simply unbelievable speed and dexterity, his performances of the music's often hair-raisingly difficult forms (e.g., the dhir dhir chalan) are notable as well for his perfectly pitched drum tuning and breathtakingly precise finger work, which give his tablas a most melodious clarity. The 12-piece CalArts Tabla Ensemble joins Chaudhuri for a piece that draws from the repertoire of traditional and contemporary music for Hindustani tabla. Duos by Chaudhuri and equally revered sarod master Ustad Aashish Khan comprise the second half of the program. (John Payne)
BAD RELIGION, LIGHTNIN' WOODSTOCK, MISS DERRINGER, DEL TORO AT HOUSE OF BLUES SUNSET STRIP
It's difficult to imagine a time when L.A.'s Epitaph Records was a high school operation. The biggest indie in punk made its considerable millions in 1994 (with key releases from the Offspring, NOFX and Rancid) when the punk revival broke through to the mainstream. But Epitaph's real strength comes from the band at the heart of it all: Bad Religion — guitarist Brett Gurewitz started the label in 1980 in order to release the records produced by his brand-new band. With an untitled 15th album due out later this year, Bad Religion is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, three whole decades of maintaining against the grain. It's easy to take the remarkably consistent group for granted. Not only does their music go down easily — informed as it is by equal parts Black Flag and Elvis Costello — but it has inspired a generation or two since to add melody and lyrical sharpness to the hardcore equation. Don't squander this chance to witness the original article onstage in all of its glory. SoCal pride is welcome. Also Sun. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Saturday:
WADADA LEON SMITH'S GOLDEN QUINTET at Barnsdall Gallery Theater; KENAN BELL, DOT HACKER, THE FAMILY ALBUM, WHITE ARROWS at Spaceland; FUNKY SOLE at the Echo; COLD, NONPOINT at the Roxy; LEBOWSKI FEST at the Wiltern; THE DEEP EYNDE at the Airliner; AMANDA JO WILLIAMS at Mandrake Bar; KENNY WERNER QUARTET at Catalina Bar & Grill; OUT OF GRAY, MORKESTRA at the Viper Room; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at Disney Hall; MR. MISTER MIYAGI at Alex's Bar; FAITH & THE MUSE at Boardner's; THE IRON MAIDENS, ELVISS SIMMONS & THE MEMPHIS STRUTTERS at Brixton South Bay; LOS FABULOCOS & KID RAMOS at Cozy's; KELLY PARDEKOOPER at Crane's Hollywood Tavern; KENNY ENDO AND FRIENDS at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center; BLACKBYRD McKNIGHT at the Mint; THE PIPER DOWNS at Molly Malone's.
NON AT THE ECHO
In or out of his Non de plume, musician/writer/provocateur Boyd Rice presents a most interesting proposition, or dilemma or something. Countless interviews, photo ops, song titles, books and live performances have seen Rice buddying up in word and image to a litany of society's most hated, feared and contempt-strewn phenomena, such as Nazism, satanism, skinhead "culture," misogyny, sadomasochism and the great American White Flight up its own angry bum hole. What Rice really is, or would like to think of himself as, is an art prankster, deliberately baiting white liberals (supposedly) with the dankest, furthest reaches of their own banal fears and barely suppressed desires. Of course, this claim about Rice's work's artistic aims could be utter horse poo, and if something smells like a dead fish, it could be that that's exactly what it is. Consider then the troubling but undeniable power — the Riefenstahl effect, if you will — of this particular sound artist's music, whose dark industrial-electronic ambience is simply state-of-the-art. It may compel you to look at yourself in the mirror, where you may or may not like what you see. (John Payne)
CINEFAMILY'S THE KING OF KINGS SCREENING WITH CABEZA DE VACA ARCESTRA AT THE SILENT MOVIE THEATRE
Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 silent The King of Kings was an over-the-top version of the Passion of the Christ as only the loonily ambitious DeMille could depict it. Blessed with one of the biggest budgets in Hollywood history, Kings, a box-office smash from coast to coast, featured a cast of literally thousands ("intoning" intertitles drawn directly from the Bible) amid a really spectacular wide-screen extravaganza chock-full of 1927-style cinematic wizardry. The epic's effect among all ye sardonic art dorks of today this Easter, one can assume, will be both chuckle-inducing and deeply moving. Jesus — who, as you know, ended up strung out and alone — would have approved of Cabeza de Vaca Arcestra's magnification of his life's painful chronology in highly assaultive ways, possibly involving intense feedback, wobbly theremins, Tuvan throat singers and wailing walls of brass. (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday:
BLOWFLY at Alex's Bar; BAD RELIGION, THE VANDALS at House of Blues; NELLIE McKAY at the Echoplex; MISS KIMMY'S ROCK & ROLL KARAOKE at Rainbow Bar & Grill; PATT BRITT & THE ALL-STARS at Cat & Fiddle; THE BIG MANNY BAND at Liquid Kitty; JETBOY, REVLON RED, ELECTRIC SISTER at the Viper Room; TRIO ELLAS at Eastside Luv; GOSPEL BRUNCH at the House of Blues; SUPER SOUL SUNDAYS at the Short Stop.
PHIL ALVIN AT THE REDWOOD BAR
Phil Alvin, professor of mathematics, blues man extraordinaire and longtime leader of roots-rock paragons the Blasters, is a gargantuan musical talent. Weirdly, Alvin is all too often taken for granted or carelessly relegated to the retro-nostalgia ghetto. Big mistake. Alvin — a performer as self-possessed as James Brown or Frank Sinatra, a vocalist as accomplished and distinctive as both, and a guitarist of chilling acuity — displays an unstoppable drive and a mastery which are as consistent as they are underappreciated. His excruciatingly intense degree of involvement with a song is unmatched, and his Olympian repertoire — covering not just arcane blues, but equally exotic folk, hillbilly, rock & roll and Tin Pan Alley rarities — showcases the singer's trademark ardor and sensitivity. Kicking off a month-of-Mondays residency that is also set to feature a crew of handpicked special-guest artists, the reliably unpredictable Alvin is certain to exploit this opportunity with fanatic zeal, guaranteeing a musical experience of uncommon and wondrous scope. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Monday:
CARSICK CARS, WALKING SLEEP, STEVENSON RANCH DAVIDIANS, SONS OF AUGUST at the Echo; FANGS, RARE GROOVES, THE REAL NORIEGAS at Pehrspace; JAKOB DYLAN at the Grammy Museum; THE CHURCH at the Roxy; HELEN STELLAR, MERE MORTALS at Spaceland; STEEL PANTHER at the House of Blues; MARK BALLAS at the Mint; HENRY WOLFE at Bootleg Theater, KEVIN KANNER QUINTET at Blue Whale; CHAD WATSON at the Cowboy Palace Saloon.
RJD2 AT EL REY THEATRE
This Philly-based sample slayer earned no shortage of scorn with 2007's The Third Hand, on which he steered away from the post–DJ Shadow psych-rap stylings of his celebrated Deadringer toward a poppier sound (complete with vocals) that kind of suggested Todd Rundgren messing around on a MacBook Pro. Released in January on his own RJ's Electrical Connections label, The Colossushas more hip-hop in it — "The Shining Path," for instance, features Phonte Coleman of Little Brother — but still reflects RJ's reluctance to downplay his love of melody and whimsy. The album's best cut, "Games You Can Win," is a collaboration with Kenna, whose history with (and without) the Neptunes speaks to a similar mind-set. At El Rey, he'll present a mixture of live-band playing and turntable shenanigans, and, according to his rep, he's bringing costumes. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE AMERICANS AND AMERICANS FESTIVAL at Disney Hall; ALICIA KEYS at Staples Center; SIGNALS, THE NUMERATORS, PO PO, ALLAH LAS at the Smell; SCORPIONS at Guitar Center Hollywood; PAPER TONGUES, STARS ALIGN at the Troubadour; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at Walt Disney Hall; FIVE FOR FIGHTING at the Wiltern; MALEA McGUINESS at Dakota Music Lounge; MOENIA at House of BLues; HELLO MENNO, FRANCO NEAR DEATH at La Cita; SHATTERED ATOM at the Viper Room; CHICAGO-STYLE BLUES JAM at Rainbow Bar & Grill.
ELIOT LIPP, EGADZ, EDISON AT LOW END THEORY (THE AIRLINER)
Electronics maestro Eliot Lipp has lived all over the United States, picking up influences on his way to now. In his hometown of Tacoma, Washington, he learned that music was his calling after nurturing a suburban love for the sounds of Wu-Tang Clan. In moving to San Francisco, he got closer to the Bay Area's hip-hop scene, soaking up the energy coming from Hieroglyphics and Quannum at the time. A few years later in Chicago, he discovered a firsthand love for post-rock and electronic sounds, the latter of which brought him to L.A. in search of camaraderie. Unfortunately, Lipp left two years too soon (he moved to New York in 2006), ignorant to the fact that this city's beat scene was on the verge of blowing up. With this gig, Lipp gets his second chance. Not that he needs one — the man's highly musical, digitally designed soundscapes have been a favorite among fans of electronic music for years. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday:
MILES KUROSKY, PANCHO-SAN, SEXY JAIL at the Echo; DEEP SEA DIVER, THE FLING at Spaceland; CITIZEN COPE at The Wiltern; A FINE FRENZY at Largo; DUB CLUB at the Echoplex; THE DANIEL CAPELLARO BAND, ANDY DAVIS, LELIA BROUSSARD at the Hotel Cafe; ALICIA KEYS at Santa Barbara Bowl; JOSHUA KETCHMARK, VENICE MAKI at Molly Malone's; JESSE MACHT, RYAN HARRISON & THE ORPHANS at theMint.
MASTA KILLA AT THE ECHOPLEX
Masta Killa has always been handed the short end of the Wu-Tang scepter. He made it onto the crew's classic 1993 debut, 36 Chambers, but only barely. His lone verse on the album comes at the very end of "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'," and even that was reportedly due to the fact that Killah Priest fell asleep in the studio. He upped his presence over the next few Wu albums but alongside the manic, more aggressive stylings of his colleagues, the Masta seemed to live in the shadows — a quality that mimics by his low profile in the public eye. The dude has granted precious few interviews in his time, and those that he has given show a rapper with workmanlike devotion to his craft and very little interest in small talk. Masta Killa's small solo oeuvre (see 2004's No Said Datein particular) is actually quite great, free of filler and full of dark, grit-bearing beats — even though RZA hasn't granted him a single instrumental to rap over yet. (Chris Martins)
[Ed's note: As of press time, Masta Killa's MySpace page was still listing this show, but the Echo Web site was not. This being the Wu, the show might or might not happen. If we were you, we'd make a Plan B for the evening.]
REVOLVER GOLDEN GODS AWARDS AT CLUB NOKIA
As a freelance contributor to Revolver, the hard-rock magazine responsible for putting on the Golden Gods Awards, I spent much of last year's inaugural show backstage at Club Nokia chatting up the various metalheads being feted. Good times overall, but the highlight was definitely hanging with lifetime-achievement honoree Ozzy Osbourne, who is no less hilarious in person than he was on reality TV. For the second edition (hosted by Andrew W.K.), Revolver is recognizing Lemmy Kilmister for his continuing contributions to the genre, and I'll admit I'm slightly intimidated by the prospect of entering Lemmyland: Dude eats guys like me for breakfast! (Maybe I'll bring a bagel.) On the live-music tip, expect a joint performance by Rob Zombie and Slipknot's Joey Jordison, as well as a Lemmy-Slash–Dave Grohl run-through of Motörhead's "Ace of Spades." Arrive early and you'll catch a DJ set from Korn front weirdo Jonathan Davis.(Mikael Wood)
Also playing Thursday:
AMON AMARTH at the House of Blues; WE ARE THE WORLD, WE ARE THE WOLVES at the Echo; THE KILL UNCLE MOZ BAND at El Cid; VEIL VEIL VANISH, SEASPIN at Spaceland; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at Disney Hall; THE ALTERNATES, TANGENT TRANSMISSION, OSTRICH EYES, THE GRAVES at the Roxy; DEPSWA, OPUS DAI at the Troubadour; THE IMPS at Genghis Cohen; SMOGTOWN, AM at Alex's Bar; BETA WOLF at the Mint; BRASSTRONAUT at the Viper Room; GRUPO NICHE at the Mayan; BURLESQUE NIGHT at Rainbow Bar & Grill.
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