Music Picks: Regina Carter, Madness, Melvins, Grace Woodroofe
The local avant-metal masters have an intriguing disc due out in June, called Freak Puke, on which Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover team up with Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle and Fantômas) for what sounds like chamber music from hell. Alas, that's not what they'll be playing tonight, one of the first few dates of a monthlong tour by the four-man Melvins lineup, featuring Osbourne and Crover along with Jared Warren and Coady Willis of Big Business. Last month that crew released a nifty little EP, The Bulls & the Bees, for free through Scion's website. Anyone worried about the ramifications of such a corporate alliance is advised to request "We Are Doomed." With New York noise rockers Unsane. —Mikael Wood
Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Tom Russell, Jon Langford & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Tonight's lineup is loaded with more superheroes than Marvel's upcoming Avengers flick. With so many roots-rock-folk-country-punk alpha dogs — each of whom can spin a merry yarn with the same ease that he can kick into a comfortable old ballad — on the same bill, it'll be interesting to see which dog will have his day and/or say. A onetime inspiration to his early acolyte Bob Dylan, the legendary New York folkie Ramblin' Jack Elliott keeps on ramblin' on, proving that he's more than a nostalgic trip, with recent albums like the apocalyptic folk-blues comeback A Stranger Here. Tex-Mex cowboy bard Tom Russell certainly is no stranger here, with tunes that have been covered by everyone from Joe Ely to the great Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Fellow Texan Jimmie Dale Gilmore has risen from the flatlands to cobble together a body of work that's pumped up with a honky-tonk pulse. Meanwhile, the Mekons' Jon Langford brings a boozy irreverence to everything he does, whether it's creating iconic paintings of American musicians or making some of that same classic American music from the viewpoint of a semi–grown-up English punk rebel. —Falling James
Karmetik Machine Orchestra
Featuring robotic instruments performing musical interpretations of traditional Indian morality tales, Samsara has its world premiere April 12-13 at REDCAT. Composer/robotics engineer Ajay Kapur and sculptor/theater designer Michael Darling conceived an event in which a human orchestra's performance on modified instruments interfaces world music with experimental compositions played on custom-built music machines. Musicians and dancers interact with these electro-mechanical instruments amid multiple speakers dispersed throughout the audience, creating a Gesamtkunstwerk where the spontaneous interplay among the dancers, the players, the machines and computer animation combines to tell the story. The event's ensemble of interdisciplinary performers includes interactive electronic performers Curtis Bahn and Tomie Hahn, choreographer Raakhi Kapur, animator Jason Jahnke and kinetic sculptor and musician Trimpin. —John Payne
Acid Mothers Temple, Phantom Family Halo, Pond, Hepa/Titus
Led by electric guitarist/violinist/bowed-peacock player/visionary Kawabata Makoto, Japanese psychedelicists Acid Mothers Temple pay tribute to the halcyon days of the late-'60s to mid-'70s progressive and avant-rock bands, including but not limited to Sun Ra, Gong, Hendrix, Floyd and Soft Machine. The collective's recorded output now numbers in the gazillions and varies in tolerability. But we do know that its earlier, Hawkwind-meets-Zappa improvised loon-pants/floppy-hats/cheesecloth-shirts hippie litter has evolved into more satisfyingly conceptualized works like the brutal Starless and Bible Black Sabbath, or the medieval space-rocky Mantra of Love. Phantom Family Halo purvey the glammy psych on their excellent new When I Fall Out; also cosmic crackpots Pond, from Perth, and Hepa/Titus. —John Payne
BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY at House of Blues; BILL CUNLIFFE at Vitello's; BRIAN MCKNIGHT at Grove of Anaheim.
In an era when music evolves with exponential velocity, real timelessness has become an even rarer commodity than it was in, say, the late 1960s. By putting his own spin on the psychedelic and folk currents of that era, Seattle's Damien Jurado winds up with something both warmly classic and bracingly new. His latest album, Maraqopa, was produced by Richard Swift, a man with a touch that's more than a little reminiscent of Phil Spector's. These 10 songs find their author stretching out far beyond his typical, melancholic hush to create a rich sound thickened considerably by the occasional children's choir or searing guitar solo. While this album is the most diverse of his 11 so far, its consistency is a level of quality and craft that's often lacking from your typical man-with-guitar fare. It's also his greatest work yet. —Chris Martins
THE VIPER ROOM
"I never would have thought the words wrote on the page would have me on the other side of the Earth on a stage," Evidence raps on his latest album, Cats & Dogs, but this cat has been out of the bag for a long time, with his deft, highly conscious wordplay and fever-dream musical collages finally reaching a wider audience. A founder of local hip-hop heroes Dilated Peoples, the Venice homie born Michael Perretta has a decisive, incisive delivery as he muses on everything from "Fame" to "Sleep Deprivation," joined by such guests as Raekwon and Aloe Blacc. "This is crime-scene cinema," Evidence muses, as he surveys the wreckage of his neighborhood and the absence of dead friends. As ever, he's always thinking, always moving and never satisfied: "I came a long way, and I still got so far to go." —Falling James
Moab are an L.A. power trio powered by the kinds of primeval forces that have been sacred to cosmic rock explorers since the day guitarist Randy Holden filled an empty opera hall with Marshall amps and tried to crack open a vulnerable little piece of the universe. This is riff and drone, vibe and tone, and depth and mass arranged in just-so conjunction, and when it works, a single, roaring guitar note sounds like it goes on forever. Last year's debut Ab Ovo marks them as disciples of Sabbath (for sound, but Sir Lord Baltimore and Pentagram are roiling around in there, too) and Julian Cope (for psychological inspiration) across songs that sound like slo-mo footage of old nuke tests look. Which is: grainy, deadly, inhuman and LOUD. —Chris Ziegler
NATE HOLDEN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Regina Carter is regarded as one of the best violinists in jazz anywhere in the world, and with good reason. Her extensive career has seen her work with Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel and Mary J. Blige, among others, in addition to her own recordings. Carter's latest album, Reverse Thread, is an exploration of African folk melodies, adding an African kora harp and an accordion to her musical mix, and was funded with a grant from the MacArthur Foundation (which also has made a substantial commitment to an eventual new home for the Jazz Bakery, sponsor of this evening's concert). The Bakery's "Movable Feast" series lands tonight at a hidden jewel tucked away in South L.A., which is as good as any stage of less than 500 seats in Southern California. —Tom Meek
WOODY GUTHRIE CENTENNIAL CONCERT at Club Nokia.
During the early stages of their development, France's Alcest traveled down the left-hand path of pure black metal. As they evolved, band leader Neige (who on their new album, Les Voyages de l'Ame, plays everything but drums) steered the band into fashioning shoegaze-infused, post-rock dreamscapes. Alcest make their ambition work by underpinning their dreamy harmonies with momentary flashes of black metal. Neige mostly maintains a dulcet tone with his vocals and guitar work but will pepper his songs with black metal cries. Winterhalter, the other member of Alcest, keeps a mostly midtempo beat on drums but will occasionally break into blazing metallic outbursts (though never resorting to unnecessary blast beats). The band has perfected a balancing act that is the musical equivalent of a hypnotist who momentarily lulls you into mentally being on another plane but pulls you back into reality at the last second before you are lost forever. —Clint Mayher
Madness might have been the lighthearted face of Britain's late-1970s ska revival — downright cheeky Monkees next to grittier 2 Tone genre mates the Specials and the Selecter — but their perky, wink-and-a-nudge pop continues to resonate (literally, in the case of a 1992 London reunion concert where the dancing of 75,000 fans was mistaken for an earthquake and damaged nearby buildings). Like Queen and Monty Python, Madness are a bona fide U.K. institution, complete with their own West End musical and an upcoming performance at Buckingham Palace, but they made their mark stateside, too, with a Top 10 hit (1982's wonderfully nostalgic "Our House") and a palpable influence on America's mid-'90s "third wave" ska scene. So expect tonight's inevitable mass sing-alongs to have an oddly mid-Atlantic accent. —Paul Rogers
Australian singer Grace Woodroofe hails from the other end of the Earth, or, to be more precise, Perth, which is about as far as one can get from Los Angeles and still be on the same planet. She croons acoustic folk songs like "I've Handled Myself Wrong" with a husky, weary voice that sums up and communicates all of the miles she's traveled. "I know I'm not the only one," she repeats like a mantra, as soothing ripples of guitar spread outward on the water of a quiet lake. Woodroofe plucks her guitar softly on "Oh My God" with a spare intimacy, which serves to highlight the grand melancholy of her rich and deeply bluesy vocals. Tonight, she continues with the third in a series of weekly shows during this month's residency at the Bootleg. —Falling James
THE HIVES, THE RAPTURE at Glass House; BAND OF SKULLS, WE ARE AUGUSTINES at El Rey Theatre; MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA at the Music Box; ERIC HUTCHINSON at Hotel Café; ATARI TEENAGE RIOT at the Echoplex.
Neon Indian, Housse de Racket
With song titles like "Terminally Chill" and "Deadbeat Summer," it initially wasn't difficult to pin down the sound of Neon Indian, the project masterminded by Denton, Texas, native Alan Palomo. Goopy synthesizers and warmed-over tape warble set the tone for a woozy brand of sun-dappled, guitar-kissed psych, which was neither traditional rock nor electronica as we knew it. The blogs called it chillwave for short, and while Neon Indian were the exact embodiment of that word, last year's Era Extraña saw Palomo broadening his sound to gainful result, swapping out slackerly instincts for pop prowess and instrumental ambition. Tracks like "Hex Girlfriend" and "The Blindside Kiss" crackle with energy and swoon like shoegaze, even while maintaining the glossed-over drugginess of their predecessors. Opening is Parisian duo Housse de Racket, who (audibly) cut their teeth as studio players with Phoenix and Air. —Chris Martins
GLASS HOUSE (POMONA)
Only a half-dozen or so months after buzzing online, A$AP Rocky, the Harlem-born, Houston-minded leader of the A$AP Mob, signed a rumored $3 million deal for him and his crew in September. Rocky's syrup-softened slur and languorous, eyelid-lowering mixtapes Deep Purple and LiveLoveA$AP owe more to Texas' chopped and screwed movement than his namesake, New York's legendarily unsmiling rapper Rakim. Opening for Drake recently at USC's Galen Center, his crew played a paint-by-the-numbers set; his show at SXSW, however, was more rambunctious. We bet the tone of tonight's show, squeezed in between his Coachella appearances, will lean toward the latter. —Rebecca Haithcoat
EL REY THEATRE
There are certainly things to find fault with in the work of Miike Snow, the electro-leaning Swedish indie-pop trio composed of singer Andrew Wyatt and beat-making savants Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnburg (better known as dance-pop production duo Bloodshy & Avant, the brains behind Britney Spears' "Toxic"). There's Wyatt's voice, what with its nasally, Damon Albarn–without-the-distinguished-nuance tone. Lyrically, there's also much to be desired. But as befits their backgrounds, Wyatt has also logged production time. Miike Snow do compose tight, aurally appetizing tracks. "God Help This Divorce," an elegantly manicured cut on their latest full-length, Happy to You, is just one of many approaching the audible charm of "Animal," the breakout single from their 2010 eponymous debut. —Dan Hyman
The British quartet has been absent from our shores for the last five years. Its most recent album, Velociraptor!, wasn't even released domestically. That fact hasn't made a huge difference in Kasabian's nonexistent impact on Americans whose memories would have to be jogged to recall vaguely the group's sync-friendly, chase scene–ready 2005 single, "Clubfoot." Kasabian are known for their infusion of electronic instrumentation into dance-rock song structures. Velociraptor!, however, is Kasabian's least adventurous album, sounding like it needs to be shaken awake every two minutes or so. Kasabian's live shows, on the other hand, have no need for a jump-start. The group brings its full-bodied, stimulating live show to L.A. in between Coachella appearances. —Lily Moayeri
COUNTING CROWS at Club Nokia; ELVIS COSTELLO at the Wiltern; KIMBRA at Troubadour.
A Guitar Wolf concert isn't a show so much as it is a sonic evisceration. Led by Seiji (aka Guitar Wolf), the Japanese trio's amps (and lungs) howl and screech with an overload of distortion and all-around noise. You could call their music punk or garage, but it's actually much wilder and sloppier than that. There's more spectacle than melody, as Seiji throws himself around the stage like a rag doll, his microphone spewing fire and his guitar spitting sparks (sometimes literally). Bassist Hideaki Sekiguchi died from a heart attack in 2005, but the group has a new "Bass Wolf," aka U.G., who supplies the necessary low-end mayhem. For all of their noise and confusion, Guitar Wolf also possess a lot of style and even have their own fashion line. —Falling James
Black Angels, Moon Duo
Moon Duo's Ripley Johnson — if he's still got the beard and the hair — looks like a young Roky Erickson and sounds like a guy who knows he looks like a young Roky Erickson. His other band, Wooden Shjips, does a bristly, feral kind of psychedelia like the Stooges, Spacemen 3 and Japan's legendary mind-debriders Les Rallize Dénudés, while this band, Moon Duo, does a zoney-droney kind of psychedelia like Suicide, Sonic Boom and the (the early, angry) Jesus and Mary Chain. Dream to this one, dissolve to the other, or do both to both. Austin's Black Angels backed Roky for probably his most daring set in recent memory and deliver reverb-heavy rock & roll in the most honorable Old Weird Texas tradition. As a wise man once told Dick Clark when he asked who was the head of his band: "We're all heads in this band, Dick." —Chris Ziegler
TECH N9NE at House of Blues; WILD BEASTS, SUPERHUMANOIDS at the Echo; TURISAS at Key Club.
FOX THEATER (POMONA)
Yes, Pulp are playing Coachella, where frontman Jarvis Cocker is sure to unload some delightfully withering commentary on the other acts sharing the bill this year. (Prepare yourself, Afrojack.) But if any band at the megafestival is worth seeing on its own, surely it's this reunited Britpop outfit, last heard from on record in 2001 with the typically incisive We Love Life. Pulp famously shifted shape throughout the course of their original run, so it's hard to say definitively what the band's music will sound like here or, indeed, even to say what exactly Cocker and his mates will play, other than "Common People," Pulp's classic 1995 meditation on the chimera of noble savagery. Whatever they decide, expect it to be very, very good. —Mikael Wood
Call it the xylophone's big comeback. Thanks to the chart-climbing success of Gotye's hit single "Somebody That I Used to Know" and, more specifically, the haunting xylo loop that underpins its melody, Belgian-born, Australian-raised singer-songwriter Wally de Backer has given this oft-perceived-to-be-elementary instrument its due. One imagines, though, it was all part of the plan: Gotye, whose breakout album, Making Mirrors, is held together by oddball instrumentation and countless samples, is a self-proclaimed audiophile. The song "Eyes Wide Open" even includes a sample from a musical fence located in the Australian outback. Gotye may borrow, but he also gives back. The musician, who gigs on SNL the weekend before his Los Angeles performance, has brought along Kimbra, the New Zealand–bred vocalist featured on his hit single, for his stateside jaunt. —Dan Hyman
WILD FLAG at El Rey Theatre; MANA at Staples Center; FRANKIE ROSE, DIVE (BEACH FOSSILS), TWERP at the Satellite; JUDY WEXLER at Vitello's; SEOUL PHILHARMONIC at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
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