Music Picks: Phosphorescent, Bomba Estereo, Gangi, Pablo Heras-Casado
RIVER CITY TANLINES AT WOOLY BLVD.
The late Arthur Lee was backed for many years by the local power-pop band Baby Lemonade, but many fans might not realize that the longtime Angeleno formed one final version of Love after he moved back to his Memphis hometown. That lineup included River City Tanlines singer-guitarist Alicja Trout and former members of the Reigning Sound, and the Memphis Love reportedly had more of an elemental style that returned Lee to his garage-punk roots, although the band was only in the rehearsal stage when the singer died from leukemia in 2006. Trout was already something of a Memphis legend, having played with the Clears and dueled with Jay Reatard in the synth-punk group Lost Sounds. River City Tanlines are a more straightforward garage-blues power trio, with Trout joined by the rhythm section of Terrence Bishop and John Bonds, who've previously supported blues icons T-Model Ford and R.L. Burnside. No shrinking violet, Trout howls feral blues-rock stompers like "I'm Your Negative" and "He Said Yes," letting up for the occasional pop reverie like "Lookin' for a Line." (Falling James)
ROBYN, KELIS AT THE MUSIC BOX
Proving that there's more to the current electro-pop moment than Lady Gaga, these two dance-floor divas have teamed up for one of the summer's coolest road shows, which they're calling the All Hearts Tour. Last month Robyn released Body Talk Pt. 1, the first of three sets the Swedish singer is promising to issue before the end of 2010. It's got only eight tracks, but each one is a keeper — especially "Dancing on My Own" and "Cry When You Get Older," both of which pull off the priceless electro-pop trick of sounding happy and sad at the same time. Kelis just put out Flesh Tone, a powerful collection of sparkly disco anthems that reflect on some heavy personal-life experiences, including the birth of her son and her divorce from Nas. With Dan Black and Far East Movement. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Friday: QUEENSRYCHE CABARET at Club Nokia; THE SPITS at the Echo; DELTA SPIRIT at El Rey; ALEJANDRO SANZ at Gibson Amphitheatre; JACKSON BROWNE, DAVID LINDLEY at the Greek Theatre; PLANET EARTH LIVE: LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC WITH GEORGE FENTON at the Hollywood Bowl; RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, CONOR OBERST & THE MYSTIC VALLEY BAND at the Hollywood Palladium; ZIGGY MARLEY, COMMON SENSE at Pacific Amphitheatre; KITTEN, PILLZ, DENSON SHORE at the Smell; SLEEPY SUN at Spaceland; LYLE LOVETT at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
THE GAME AT CLUB NOKIA
The Game can't seem to keep a friend for more than five minutes. Perhaps it's owing to the Blood's broken childhood in Compton, which mostly took place within Crip territory. Career-wise, early mixtape buzz and big-ups from Dr. Dre resulted in Game's placement within G-Unit, the budding gangsta crew led by 50 Cent. But that didn't last long. In fact, roughly within a year of the alliance, Game and his supposed partners had beef. Game denied that Fiddy had a heavy hand in creating his successful solo debut, 2005's The Documentary, while Fiddy took issue with Game's strip-club shenanigans and lack of loyalty when some cross-coastal static emerged. The drama continues to this day, leaving behind a wake of diss tracks (also directed at Jay-Z, Ja Rule and the Luniz's Yukmouth) and, according to lore, a bullet in Suge Knight's leg. Game's soon-out LP, The R.E.D. Album, shouldn't exist — he announced his retirement in 2008 — but confirmed collaborations with Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and Justin Timberlake seem promising, even if they'll all end up hating each other in a couple of months. (Chris Martins)
PINBACK PRESENTS THE ROB AND ZACH SHOW AT EL REY
Apparently leaping from buzz band to veteran status overnight (sometime around their 2004 master understatement Summer in Abaddon), Pinback provide both optimistic morning glories and intricately contemplative home-alone night sounds. Zach Smith's partly polyphonic, head-bobbing nerd bass builds summery latticework with Rob Crow's windup guitars, as their androgynous, gently fraught voices mingle and merge to almost chloroformic effect. The pair's four albums to date prove that drum machines, in the right company, do have soul, and that pristine arrangements and visceral connection are far from mutually exclusive. Tonight they'll be performing in their two-piece "Rob and Zach Show" incarnation, reinterpreting Pinback faves in stripped-down fashion (with minimal use of backing tracks) and previewing tunes from their imminent new album — their first since '07's rather water-treading Autumn of the Seraphs. (Paul Rogers)
BOMBA ESTÉREO AT THE GETTY CENTER
The Getty Center can seem like a staid place sometimes, but the Colombian duo Bomba Estéreo should shake things up at the museum this evening. Charismatic singer Liliana "Li" Saumet belts out lyrics in Spanish and occasionally in English as her musical partner, Simón Mejía, backs her with a dazzling array of beats and sonic effects on guitar, bass and assorted electronics. Cumbia grooves are juiced up with hip-hop and reggae rhythms, and then Mejía layers things further and deeper with spacy touches that make the duo's soundscapes both danceable and head-spinning. Their third album, 2009's Blow Up (Nacional Records), was their stateside breakthrough, as Saumet proved that she could seduce listeners not just with rapid-fire raps like "Fuego" but also with more melodic songs like "Aguasala." The early-evening show begins at 6 p.m. with a set of trippy techno from Nortec Collective's Jorge Verdín, aka Clorofila. (Falling James)
LOU BARLOW AND THE MISSINGMEN AT COLDWATER CANYON PARK
It's been a busy new millennium for Lou Barlow, a man who'd more than proven his worth several times over in the two decades that wrapped up the 20th century. In 2005, he reunited his best-known band, Dinosaur Jr., leading the archetypical '80s indie-rock outfit through not only a series of lauded tours, but two very well-received albums as well (2007's Beyond and 2009's Farm), both of which were as guitar-gnarled and pop-damaged as ever. Then, the "Sebadoh Classic" lineup reemerged as well, for the first time in 14 years, just in time for a handful of reissues from that classic '90s lo-fi act. Meanwhile, the Folk Implosion (whose membership includes young guitar god Imaad Wasif) dropped one more record, and Barlow, now an L.A. resident, borrowed Mike Watt's band, the Missingmen, to perform live the songs compiled from his last two solo records. He'll play two sets — one solo, one with the band — out under the stars in the verdant Coldwater Canyon, helping to raise money for the TreePeople nonprofit. (Chris Martins)
KARLING AT FARMERS MARKET
Rockabilly is so ritualized and reverently stylized these days that it usually comes off as stubbornly nostalgic rather than forward-looking, but Karling Abbeygate manages to breathe some life into the genre. The British-born singer is the former leader of Karling Abbeygate & the Monks of Love, although she recently dropped her last name with the release of her charming new CD, Bound for Nowhere. Part of the appeal is that Karling isn't a strict revivalist. She says she's inspired as much by Gwen Stefani as she is by Wanda Jackson, even as the album's arrangements by producer Donnie Whitbeck and the great lounge-swinger Joey Altruda imbue Karling's original tunes with a feeling of authenticity. Jeremy Wakefield's steel guitar gives the up-tempo rocker "Train Bound for Nowhere" a properly dreamy wooziness, while the contrastingly languid ballad "The Valley" has a countrified and slightly jazzy touch, as Karling wails achingly like a modern-day Patsy Cline. (Falling James)
SUZY WILLIAMS AT BEYOND BAROQUE
Singer Suzy Williams is The Queen of Oo-Bop-Sh'Bam, that indefinable swang thang that animates jazz and puts the roll in rock. She first made her name while flashing her shayna punim and belting lusty as the dame half of Stormin' Norman and Suzy, who blew New York's mind in the '70s with their resurrection of boogie-woogie and torch songs. Tonight she'll dazzle in The Lit Show, her fifth annual presentation of literature set to music and songs with lyrics by esteemed literati. Examples are "How Am I to Know?" by Dorothy Parker and Jack King and "Pull My Daisy" by Jack Kerouac and David Amram. Other contributing lyricists include Kurt Vonnegut, Edna St. Vincent Millay, J.D. Salinger, Samuel Beckett, Raymond Chandler, Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov and Rudyard Kipling. Suzy and pianist Brad Kay also wrote some of the tunes and will be joined by Rick Kellis on sax and flute, Oliver Steinberg on bass and Kahlil Sabbagh on drums. As some wit wagged, "You've read the book, now hear the song!" (Michael Simmons)
Also playing Saturday: BRIDGES at El Cid; ALEJANDRO SANZ at Gibson Amphitheatre; PLANET EARTH LIVE: LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC WITH GEORGE FENTON at the Hollywood Bowl; VERY BE CAREFUL at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; FAITH HILL at Pacific Amphitheatre; KID INFINITY, JUICEBOXXX, KID STATIC, SIGNALS at the Smell; MINIATURE TIGERS, THE SPINTO BAND at Spaceland; 311, THE OFFSPRING, PEPPER at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.
GANGI, LUCKY DRAGONS, SWAHILI BLONDE AT BOOTLEG THEATER
How Gangi remains Glendale's little secret is a mystery unto itself. Led by reformed folkie Matt Gangi, whose reedy voice evokes a helium-toned David Byrne, the group specializes in psychedelic jangle accompanied by atmospheric haze and bright melody. A 2008 album, called A, drew comparisons to Neil Young on a more experimental bent — fair enough, but it's not hard to imagine this group as the more mellow appetizer to a full-course serving of Animal Collective. Lucky Dragons also bears some similarities to that tripped-out Brooklyn ensemble. Members Luke Fischbeck and Sarah Rara create constantly mutating audio forms using a distinct combination of acoustic instruments and home-wired electronics. They also typically solicit a great deal of audience participation, so be prepared to shake a bean pod for the betterment of the room. Last but hardly least is Swahili Blonde, the recently launched project of former WEAVE! member Nicole Turley which finds Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante on guitar and Duran Duran's John Taylor on bass, with other instrumental support from members of Warpaint, Corridor and the Like. (Chris Martins)
JIMMY CLIFF, SLY & ROBBIE, TARRUS RILEY AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
The Bowl's annual reggae extravaganza, serving up three of the style's most critical forces, weighs in as a particularly well-balanced and artistically nutritious bill. Veteran singer Jimmy Cliff, via his starring role in The Harder They Come and his coolly assured vocal performance on the film's title song, handily airlifted the Jamaican sound beyond the Caribbean for the first time in the early 1970s and has quite gracefully executed his duties as global ambassador ever since. But it's bass and drums shamans Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare who bring the genuine misterioso thrills; the get-around duo have recorded with just about every significant reggae, rock and pop star on the planet, but when they get down to business and dig into a groove, the results inevitably achieve an extraordinarily hypnotic intensity traditionally reserved for the likes of Sun Ra, yet Sly & Robbie alone have all the impact of an entire Arkestra. Seriously. Youthful Jamaican-American chanter Tarrus Riley makes a boldly convincing case for reinstating spiritual roots-reggae in the erotomaniacal dance-hall era, a wise-blooded up-and-comer whose well crafted originals have, at times, directly challenged the idiom's current expectations — and won. Essential, stirring stuff. (Jonny Whiteside)
BENEFIT FOR RICHIE HAYWARD AT JOE'S GREAT AMERICAN BAR & GRILL
Richie Hayward is a co-founding member of Little Feat, the mighty American funk 'n' roll band still doin' the Tripe Face Boogie after 40 years. Hayward is one propulsive, kinetic drummer who sounds like three playing simultaneously. He's held in awe by his peers: No slouch Jim Keltner recently expressed his deep admiration for Hayward's superhuman percussionality. Unfortunately, Hayward was stricken with Hep C and concomitant liver cancer and took a leave of absence from the Feats last year while he undergoes treatment. Surprise, surprise, he has no health insurance (God bless America) and can't afford to wait for Obama's plan to take effect. His musical brethren have been holding benefits for him, and tonight's includes fellow Feats Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett in their duo configuration as well as N'awlins second-lineman Eddie Baytos and the Nervis Brothers, Texas blues temptress Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps, as well as others who specialize in greasy bump and grind. For information on how to help Hayward, go to littlefeat.net. (Michael Simmons)
Also playing Sunday: PINBACK at Coach House; TAO SEEGER, TONGUE & GROOVE at the Hotel Café; THE SPAZMATICS at the Key Club; BLUE OYSTER CULT, FOGHAT at Pacific Amphitheatre.
FUNERAL PARTY AT THE VIPER ROOM
Straight outta famously rocking Whittier scream these four, sometimes five cheeky lads who, hanging out in a park late one night, formed a band that would tell a different story about what was really going on in their hardcore- and metalhead-clogged hood. Playing on borrowed equipment at East L.A. backyard parties and warehouses, they worked up an almost frighteningly frenzied brand of punky disco-dance typa stuff and released it on The Bootleg EP, which features the righteously snotty "New York City Moves to the Sound of L.A." and three other nicely nonderivative originals. The herky-jerky precision of their bass-heavy attack owes as much to cold-ass electro as to any het-up vintage punk-rock poop, and they don't skimp on the cowbells and timbales. What more could you ask for? A debut album, Golden Age of Knowhere(RCA), is due in January. (John Payne)
Also playing Monday: MISSISSIPPI MAN, THE PITY PARTY, THE FRANKS, THE DAMN SONS at the Echo; SUMMER DARLING at Spaceland; UNKLE MONKEY at the Waterfront.
PHOSPHORESCENT AT THE TROUBADOUR
Matthew Houck has been writing beautiful, memorable songs for years now, quietly becoming a kind of singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter. After the bittersweet Phosphorescent collections Aw Come Aw Wry and Pride, Houck tried to shake all those Will Oldham comparisons (fair, yet off the mark) by exploring more accessible versions of the country mythology (we even heard him once onstage musing about envying Kid Rock — and he was less than half-kidding). After last year's heartfelt homage to Willie Nelson, Houck is back with another Phosphorescent album, adding a little Springsteen to the mix — check out opener "It's Hard to Be Humble (When You Are From Alabama)." Here's to Taking It Easy (subtitle: Tho the Jaws of This World Wish Only to Grab Hold of Your Sweet Ass) adds a new set of originals to his already impressive repertoire, like instant sing-along "The Mermaid Parade," or a cautionary tale named after our fair metropolis, where people couple "frozen and blind," and the poor country boy among the industry wolves makes his romantic, Dylanesque stand. (Gustavo Turner)
PABLO HERAS-CASADO, DAVID FRAY AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
An evening of power and glory under the stars at the Bowl features the Los Angeles Philharmonic with guest conductor Pablo Heras-Casado and the Bowl debut of 28-year-old French pianist David Fray. The 32-year-old Spanish-born Heras-Casado is a highly celebrated conductor (mentored by Pierre Boulez) who brings a broad range of expertise, from 17th- to 18th-century repertoire to contemporary choral works. Fray is equally feted for his fertile musicality and prodigious technique, and like Heras-Casado seems part of this new breed of classical artists nimbly straddling very wide palettes of ancient and modern musics. They and the enormous sky above will bring an especial life force to Beethoven's majestic Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica") and the idiosyncratically modern Piano Concerto No. 3 — not that these drama-heaving pieces need much added oomph exactly. (John Payne)
WOUNDED LION, FUNGI GIRLS AT ORIGAMI VINYL
L.A.'s Wounded Lion owes a lot to Pavement, and that's a good thing. The garage-rock five-piece toes a sloppy yet delicate line between silly, slurry pop and skronky lo-fi noise, always anchored by a considerable backbeat. They dropped an overlooked yet tasty self-titled debut on Eagle Rock's In the Red Records this April, and for all the goofier asides — the sped-up stomp that wraps up "Pony People," for instance, or the often shaky, warbled-out vocals of Brad Eberhard — the band conveys a sincere love for the giants that have come before them, from the Velvet Underground to the noiseniks of the '90s. They also seem to have fond feelings for Star Wars, as their joyous, Clash-reminiscent grinder "Degobah System" pays tribute to the interstellar region that played host to Luke Skywalker's early training at the hands of Yoda. Fungi Girls are a loud gang of 14- and 15-year-old guys from the Dallas 'burbs. (Chris Martins)
ADAM LAMBERT AT PACIFIC AMPHITHEATRE
Performing at Staples Center during KIIS-FM's Wango Tango in May, Adam Lambert seemed tamped down by his relatively early slot and by the fact that he was sharing the stage (and the crowd's attention) with the tween-friendly likes of Justin Bieber and B.o.B. So I've got high hopes that the former American Idol contestant will fly his freak flag a little higher in this headlining date at Costa Mesa's Pacific Amphitheatre, where his insanely devoted fans are sure to cheer every crotch thrust like the second coming (if you know what I mean) of Ziggy Stardust. "I'm here for your entertainment," Lambert promises in his excellent debut single. Prove it, dude! With Australian singer-guitarist Orianthi, who, prior to scoring a semihit with last year's "According to You," was best known as a member of Michael Jackson's ill-fated This Is It production. Also Wed. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Tuesday: LYLE LOVETT & HIS LARGE BAND at Grove of Anaheim; THE MONTHLIES, LIGHT FM, GARLAND, GOLDEN YEARS, ONE SILVER ASTRONAUT, GREG HAPTOR, JOHNNY O'DONNELL at Spaceland.
OBITS, THE NIGHT MARCHERS AT THE ECHO
Rick Froberg and John Reis have played together in three of America's finest underground guitar bands: Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes. These days none of those acts are in business — at least for the moment — but here we find the two men sharing a killer double bill with their current outfits, both of which dial down the full-on prog-punk fury of yore in favor of a mellower, slightly more spacious sound. Froberg's Brooklyn-based Obits are the more rhythmic-minded of the two groups — their 2009 Sub Pop debut, I Blame You, has loads of interlocking guitar parts that tick-tock with an appealing efficiency. Reis' Night Marchers, from San Diego, are more tuneful, with a soul-rock shuffle seemingly derived from the high school dance scene in Back to the Future. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday: LAURA MARLING at El Rey; SQUEEZE, ENGLISH BEAT at Gibson Amphitheatre; COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA, DAVE HOLLAND BIG BAND, DAVE DOUGLAS BIG BAND at the Hollywood Bowl; PETER BRADLEY ADAMS, GUGGENHEIM GROTTO at the Hotel Café; CHARLIE HOPE at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; ADAM LAMBERT, ORIANTHI at Pacific Amphitheatre; SKEETOX at the Roxy.
NATACHA ATLAS AT SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER
The Belgian singer Natacha Atlas has roots in the Middle East, and her music marries traditional Arabic styles with modern-day electronica to often-entrancing effect. She first came to attention working with former PiL bassist Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart, an experience that likely inspired her to be expansive and experimental in her own music and in her longtime collaborations with Transglobal Underground. Atlas' delicately birdlike singing flutters marvelously over a bubbling sonic stew of pop, R&B and rap beats, as synths and violins weave in and out of her songs with melodic Arabic embellishments. At times, such as on her most recent studio CD, Ana Hina, her instincts can get her marooned on the shoals of mainstream pop, until the Middle Eastern arrangements take her back into more exotic places. Look for a new album, Mounqualiba, from Atlas later this year. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday: NATHANIEL RATELIFF at the Echo; MEMORYHOUSE at the Echo; ALL-BEETHOVEN: LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC WITH PABLO HERAS-CASADO, DAVID FRAY at the Hollywood Bowl; NEW FIDELITY at Spaceland; HERE WE GO MAGIC at the Troubadour.
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