Music Picks: Plastic Ono Band, Ooh La LA Fest, Belle & Sebastian
SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS, ACTIVE CHILD AT ECHOPLEX
When New York's School of Seven Bells arrived in 2008 with their debut album, Alpinisms, there was a lot to prove. The trio's audio mastermind Benjamin Curtis had left the successful band he was known for, Secret Machines, while twin vocalists Alejandra and Claudia Deheza retired their post-rock outfit On!Air!Library! altogether in order to focus on this scrappy project. Alpinisms made the sacrifice worth it by taking the squelchy, husky feel of classic shoegaze and swirling in bits of modern electronica and warm, dreamy psychedelia. SVIIB's new one, however, Disconnect From Desire, finds the group already established and doing a lot of honing. In some cases this results in a blander version of Curtis, Deheza and Deheza, but for most of the album — and in particular emotionally charged songs like "I L U" and "Windstorm" — this translates to bigger swoons, a better pulse and more memorable melodies. Opener Active Child is a locally stationed multi-instrumentalist who uses his considerable talents to make lush and layered electronic soundscapes. (Chris Martins)
OOH LA LA FEST WITH REVOLVER, THE BEWITCHED HANDS ON THE TOP OF OUR HEADS AT SPACELAND
Actually, there are plenty of countries around the world that rock, and the French do so many other things so well that maybe they do protest a bit much with these events aiming to "prove" their legit rock cred. In any case, for its second annual affaire in L.A., the Ooh La LA fest presents round two of the New French Rock, tonight with the U.S. debut of Revolver, recently nominated for the French Grammy for their recent disc Music for a While (Astralwerks), which has gone gold back home. The trio of Ambroise Willaume (vocals, guitar, piano), Christophe Musset (vocals, guitar) and Jérémie Arcache (vocals, cello) make a really savory sort of chamber pop that draws from the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys and the Beatles, with dollops of baroque composers Henry Purcell and John Dowland thrown in. Reims' The Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads offer a nicely moody and hugely hummable folk-psych-laced melodic pop. (John Payne)|
THE AVETT BROTHERS, BRANDI CARLILE AT THE NOKIA THEATRE
Following a decade-spanning string of buzzed-about indie releases, North Carolina's Avett Brothers went big-time last year with the Rick Rubin–produced I and Love and You. That's big-time in an industry sense — they've since played Bonnaroo and opened amphitheater shows for John Mayer — but also in a musical one: On Love, the Avetts open up their down-home roots-folk fare to encompass a bit of the sweeping arena-indie grandeur for which Arcade Fire are so renowned. When they sing, in the title track, "Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in," you can almost hear a boroughful of hipsters shrugging their assent. Co-headliner (and fellow Rubin client) Brandi Carlile is a Seattle-based singer-songwriter whose incredibly powerful voice is worth hearing even when her material isn't. With Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, a funky soul-rock bunch from, um, Vermont. (Mikael Wood)
AIDS WOLF, XBXRX AT THE SMELL
Back around 2003, Montreal belched forth a frighteningly intense musical aggregation who thought to call themselves AIDS Wolf. Yannick Desranleau (aka Hiroshima Thunder) and Chloe Lum are the band's core members, people who prefer to make a very, very harsh, remorseless and not so paradoxically exhilarating sound built on subtle and extreme dissonance, neck-breaking percussive polyrhythms and what appear to be some genuinely new takes on compositional form. Yes, it bears some surface resemblance to the No Wave bands of New York's late '70s, and yes, it's also quasi-Beefheartian, but this simmeringly ugly-beautiful non-categorizable thing that is the band's new March to the Sea (Skin Graft) record is like an object lesson in modern, progressive, painfully pure music, with a special bonus: an even creepier version of Throbbing Gristle's "Very Friendly." In AIDS Wolf's view, "The landscape is all ears and the distance is deafening." (John Payne)
PLASTIC ONO BAND AT THE ORPHEUM
This all started earlier this year in Brooklyn, with a tribute to the original live lineup of the Plastic Ono Band (John, Yoko, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner) and a lineup of guests who reflected the tastes, in the words of producer and musical director Sean Lennon, "of my mom's generation." The L.A. shows should be quite different, as Sean and Yoko have invited a stellar roster of far more relevant figures who are more than happy to come out as proud Ono-philes. Brooklyn can keep Bette Midler and Paul Simon. We get Nels Cline, Iggy Pop, the RZA, Mike Watt, Perry Farrell and the current avatar of truly massive art-pop, Lady Gaga. (See also Saturday and the music section). (Gustavo Turner)
MATADOR 21, "THE LOST WEEKEND" AT THE PALMS IN LAS VEGAS
Not strictly an L.A. show, but a lot of people are heading out for this three-day weekender at the wannabe-hip Palms casino. Pavement, Sonic Youth, Belle & Sebastian, GBV, Yo La Tengo, Cat Tower, etc. If you were young and college-y in the '90s (and have a comfortable corporate job in the '10s to pay for the mini-vacation), you're gonna be there flashbacking to your Clinton glory days among the Ed Hardy'd bros and hos of the Strip. Also Saturday and Sunday. (Gustavo Turner)
Also playing Friday: FOSTER THE PEOPLE, SUPERHUMANOIDS at the Echo; NEON INDIAN, PREFUSE 73, MINIATURE TIGERS at the Music Box; FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE at the Troubadour; THE SWORD at El Rey; LUDO at Key Club; TOM PETTY, ZZ TOP at the Hollywood Bowl.
OOH LA LA FEST WITH GOTAN PROJECT, GENERAL ELEKTRIKS, EL HIJO DE LA CUMBIA AT CLUB NOKIA
Last night of the Ooh La LA fest (see above) brings the baddest Nuevos Tangueros on the block: The Gotan Project, who've ripped world music a new sound hole with their tough-minded mélange of tango, electronics, neo prog jazz and dubby trip-hop that's dark and hot and very, very smart indeed. The ecstasy barely contained on Gotan's recent album Tango 3.0 (XL) is a dangerous thing, as is the controlled volatility of the band as a live unit. Also Hervé Salters, aka General Elektriks, a Parisian vintage keyboard aficionado, composer and songwriter with a tasty line in the post-post electro hip-hop beats and sounds game; and nuevo electro-cumbia from young Argentine producer-musician Emiliano Gómez, who calls himself El Hijo de la Cumbia. (John Payne)
BAD COMPANY AT L.A. COUNTY FAIR, POMONA
Supergroups are often more commercial ventures than organic collectives. Yet Bad Company, by modern standards, sounds like a bunch of (incredibly talented) buddies jamming in a barn. Never mind the bastardized incarnations in between, it's the original 1973 lineup of Free vocalist Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs, reunited in 2008 (only one missing: King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell, who passed in 2006) that matters. While Bad Company don't quite achieve Free's outdoorsy, sepia-toned self-reflection, they remain a visceral animal thanks to fluid musicianship and Rodgers' subtly grained, aching soul. Yes, they were a hit factory ("Can't Get Enough," "Feel Like Making Love," etc.), but it's more modest tracks like "Simple Man" (from 1976's Run With the Pack) that truly allow Rodgers to explore both inflection and whole eras of emotion. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Saturday: PLASTIC ONO BAND at the Orpheum (see Friday and music section); ARTICHOKE at the Eagle Rock Music Festival (see music section); MARIACHIS LOS CAMPEROS DE NATI CANO at Royce Hall; MATADOR 21 at the Palms in Las Vegas (see Friday); MATT & JIM, FANG ISLAND, HAWNAY TROOF at Music Box; THE BLOOD ARM at Spaceland; CARRIE UNDERWOOD at the Hollywood Bowl.
BELLE & SEBASTIAN, JENNY & JOHNNY AT HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM
There's never been a better musical rebuttal to jocks than the existence and continued success of Belle & Sebastian. Since the Glaswegian group's formation in 1995, they've boldly stood for all that is fragile and precious and deeply romantic in the world. This is no small feat — just look at Morrissey's ever-growing status as indie rock's curmudgeon-in-chief — but B&S have grown up gracefully, taking the quiet whimsy of their auspicious debut Tigermilk and giving it room to expand and retract over time. This has allowed for both the bright and soulful folk-pop of 1998 classic The Boy With the Arab Strap and more introverted moments, like 2002's overlooked soundtrack for Storytelling. It's fitting, then, that the septet's last album was called The Life Pursuit. Also almost comically apropos is the title of their soon-to-be-released eighth album, Belle & Sebastian Write About Love. Like, duh. Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and her beau Johnathan Rice also will be channeling adoration as the rootsy indie-pop duo Jenny & Johnny. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Sunday: DEAD MEADOW, EXPLODING FLOWERS at Echoplex; MATADOR 21 at the Palms in Las Vegas; GUITAR WOLF at El Rey; ROBERT HENKE: MONOLAKE LIVE at REDCAT (see GoLA).
GUIDED BY VOICES AT THE WILTERN
At a moment when seemingly every band that ever existed (and then broke up) is back on the road in some kinda-sorta form or another, there's something refreshingly straightforward about Guided by Voices' current U.S. trek, which hits L.A. directly after the semi-legendary Ohio garage-rock act's appearance at Matador Records' 21st-anniversary blowout at the Palms in Las Vegas (see Friday). The Guided by Voices Classic Lineup Reunion Tour, as it's called on their website, is exactly what you get: frontman Robert Pollard, guitarists Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell, bassist Greg Demos and drummer Kevin Fennell, presumably doing songs from Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes and Under the Bushes Under the Stars — aka the mid-'90s albums that cemented GBV's status as lo-fi heroes and the ones that contain all the songs people still wanna hear a decade and a half later. Here's hoping the beer doesn't run out till they've played 'em all. With Times New Viking. (Mikael Wood)
WET & RECKLESS AT SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
With a name like a top-shelf magazine and the heady/nostalgic effect of a top-shelf tipple, Wet & Reckless convey complex moods through deceptively deft, if technically simple, punk-lite. These Echo Park gals oddly evoke a lo-fi, less android Interpol with the chiming guitars and in-and-out dynamics of the gauzy "Your Song" and nervously urgent "Walk Me Home." Yet the more lived-in "Take" comes on a little country, with woody bass and swingy drums bouncing beneath savvy lyrics loaded with both blatant regret and implied self-esteem ("I'd rather pass out when the past is coming out my sleeves"). Wet & Reckless turned in a solid outdoor set at Silver Lake Jubilee in May, but the cozy surroundings of this October residency should better suit their autumnal, confessional creations. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Monday: FIRST AID KIT, FARRABY LIONHEART at Largo; EVAN VOYTAS at the Echo; KEVIN BLECHDOM, BACK TO THE FUTURE THE RIDE, UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA at Pehrspace.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA, BACK TO THE FUTURE THE RIDE AT ORIGAMI VINYL
Those are not typos above, nor is this entry a lost orphan from our nonexistent travel section. Universal Studios Florida and Back to the Future the Ride are a pair of bands currently trolling the West Coast together on what clearly should have been named the "Cease and Desist" tour. We're not sure how they get away with it, but we're glad they do, as the two previously unaffiliated outfits each trade in sounds rich with nostalgia and a certain wide-eyed magic. U.S.F. hail from Seattle, making music "[not] necessarily representative of the city we're from, but more the places we've been." Naturally, theirs is a sun-kissed, tropical sound with aqueous electronic textures and blissful jams à la Animal Collective. Their indie release, Oceans Sunbirds, is a fine listen, with not a rain cloud in sight. L.A.'s BttFtR features members of the "drum-and-shout" collective Foot Village, but specializes solely in sweet sounds seemingly influenced by Cluster and Eno — happy music, served up minimal and floaty. (Chris Martins)
MARIANNE DISSARD AT THE ECHO CURIO
Marianne Dissard was born in France but lives in Tucson. She hangs out with Calexico, put out a cult-followed album in 2008 and is gonna reissue a second proper album in 2011, along with a film remake of Andy Warhol's sexy western Lonesome Cowboys. But between her two records, Dissard recorded and released the much more low-key Paris One Takes, which in fittingly Fellini-esque fashion she considers her album number 1 1/2. This "intermmediary" work is a little marvel: charming, slow-burning, and with all the right hard edges that set it apart from the more common "wispy French girl" genre. In a world of Jane Birkins and Françoise Hardys (not that there would be anything wrong with such a world), Dissard is a Juliette Greco, with bonus Southwestern spice. It's likely to get scorching in the tiny Echo Curio. Also, fellow chanteuse, artist and Calexico collaborator Françoiz Breut. (Gustavo Turner)
Also playing Tuesday: FIRST AID KIT, BASIA BULAT at the Echo; JENNY & JOHNNY, FARMER DAVE SCHER, WHISPERTOWN at the Troubadour; VAN MORRISON at the Hollywood Bowl; TALVIN SINGH at Echoplex; ANGUS AND JULIA STONE at El Rey; REPEATER at Silverlake Lounge.
MEXICANS WITH GUNS, SALVA AT THE AIRLINER
In an alternate dimension where every child is born wearing a lucha libre mask and the Top 40 is divided into charts with names like Zacatecas Glitch, Son Jarocho de House and Norteño Crunk, a single man looms large over the entirety of Western music, and his name is, oddly enough, Mexicans With Guns. In our own dimension, there's a fella called Ernest Gonzales. He runs a legit San Antonio electronic label called Exponential and makes gorgeous recordings of his own — highly musical digital pieces that vacillate between ambient and orchestral. Sometimes he dons a wrestling mask and steps through a wormhole. And when he does, the earth shudders. Big bass, barking dogs, cowbell, hand claps, sizzling lo-bit synths, roiling southwestern guitars, shotgun blasts, and lovely ladies cooing "Damelo" (give it to me). Such is the stuff of Mexicans With Guns, a project that imagines Low End Theory relocated to the heart of Ciudad Juárez. These are musical borders that need to be crossed. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday: TERA MELOS, SKINWALKER at the Bootleg; COCOROSIE at the Music Box; BROKEN BELLS at the Wiltern; NIGHTMARE & THE CAT at Spaceland; PETER WOLF at Largo.
LISSIE, DYLAN LEBLANC AT THE TROUBADOUR
To those who say songwriting is a lost art, I submit Lissie. Born Elisabeth Maurus in Rock Island, Illinois, she came up in musical theater as a child but eventually ditched the costumes and spotlights for an acoustic guitar and the ambience of coffee shops. But lest you assume Lissie is just another in a long line of bathetic, navel-gazing singer-songwriters, think again. Her list of latter-day credits and accomplishments is bizarrely diverse — opening for Lenny Kravitz, covering Kid Cudi, writing with Ed Harcourt, being remixed by DeadMau5 — but not exactly misleading. While her taste never strays far from Americana, her approach is wildly varied. Her full-length debut for Fat Possum, Catching a Tiger, changes its tack with almost every song, bouncing between Dolly Parton pop, bluesy shredding, Lilith Fair — erm — fare, malt-shop nostalgia and Willie Nelson acoustic country. Oh, and she can sing like the devil in a country dress (though she prefers blue jeans). (Chris Martins)
CULTURE COLLIDE FEST AT SPACELAND AND OTHER VENUES
If there's a thread weaving through that connects the gargantuan jumble of bands playing at Filter mag's Culture Collide festivities, we're not sure what it is. And that no doubt is the point. All righty, this fest says, "We are the world when we're united in song," or something a tad less corny, but just lookit all the countries contributing bands to this outrageous gathering: Greenland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, Israel, Sweden, Poland, the U.K. and the good/bad ol' USA, and Norway, even, and too many more to fit this space. The Echo, the Echoplex, the Standard Hotel, Taix French Restaurant and several other venues will host the events, running Oct. 7-10. See culturecollide.com. (John Payne)
ARCADE FIRE AT THE SHRINE AUDITORIUM
There's something surprisingly appropriate about the fact that the No. 1 debut earlier this year of Arcade Fire's The Suburbs was succeeded by the return to the top spot of Eminem's Recovery: Although the Canadian indie rockers don't share much stylistically with the Motor City maniac, The Suburbs explores the same thematic territory as loads of Eminem's work, namely, the spiritual desperation of young people searching for a path unlike the one laid out at birth before them. (Bonus pop-psychological fun fact: Billboard's next No. 1 was Katy Perry's Teenage Dream, providing yet another snapshot of Where the Kids Are At.) Actually, given the amped-up energy of Eminem's recent live shows, the distance between his onstage experience and Arcade Fire's famously cathartic one might not be so great after all. What else are you looking for tonight than to lose yourself in the music, the moment, and to never let it go? Also Oct. 8. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Thursday: JOHN WICKS AND PAUL COLLINS at the Coffee Gallery Backstage; L.A. PHILHARMONIC SEASON OPENER at Disney Hall.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.