L.A. COUNTY HOLIDAY CELEBRATION AT THE DOROTHY CHANDLER PAVILION
The county's afternoon holiday party is more like a three-ring circus, featuring two dozen choirs, bands and dance troupes from around the globe. The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and the Colburn Children's Choir and Young Men's Chorus will raise the Chandler's roof with seasonal musical greetings, and the Elliot Deutsch Big Band swings with jazzed-up Christmas standards. Antics Performance puts a hip-hop twist on "Sleigh Ride," while Mr. Vallenato steps lively with Colombian rhythms, and Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez evokes a Christmas in Chiapas. Amid all of that eclectic merriment, don't miss local duo Loch & Key, whose latest, Jupiter's Guide for Submariners, is an oft-enchanting blend of intimate balladry, bossa nova pop and glittery rock workouts. Backed by former American Music Club guitarist Sean Hoffman, singer Leyla Akdogan coos languid tunes like "In the Town of the Queen of the Angels" with an inviting purr. "Baby (I'm Thinking About You, Me & Somewhere)" is a cottony travelogue wrapped up in the cocoon of Hoffman's golden guitar shimmers and Akdogan's dreamy wanderlust. As pleasingly mellow as they can be, Loch & Key rock it up considerably on the breezily trippy idyll "A Rather Large, Television-Shaped Head" and a cleverly fuzzed-out and funky remake of Bill Withers' "Use Me." (Falling James)
TERMINAL TWILIGHT, THE PRESENT MOMENT AT SPACELAND
These are in fact cold and bleak times, scary times, wind-howlingly chilling times, which is why the gothy electronic Witch House wave seems so appropriate. Houston's Disaro Records is all about Witch House and its attendant harsh 'n' grim subgenre sickness, such as the minimal-synth malevolence perfected by the label's founder, Robert Disaro, who'll death-DJ tonight. Disaro's ace is the Present Moment, multi-instrumentalist Scott Milton's industrially tinged electro-goth grab bag lashed with new-wavey depresso-pop. His heavy-duty The High Road album is Throbbing Gristle–humps–Adam and the Ants. Reminiscent of Italy's late (and obscurely great) Chrisma, L.A.'s Terminal Twilight duo have designed a detached, disciplined disco beat/vintage-synth-sequences/dubbed-out mindfork, all rain-slicked back alleys, flickering bulbs and a sultry danger lurking. Check too their cruelly cool remix of the Polyamorous Affair's "The Avenues." Also DJ sets courtesy Black Rainbow and Zane. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday: BILLY VERA at Vitello's.
L.A. BEATDOWN: 6BLOCC & BUSDRIVER, DJ SWAMP, KLEPTOMADDOX, SCARUB AT THE MUSIC BOX
It's kinda comforting to know that dubstep does not break for Christmas. Probably the most pummeling electronic-music movement of the last two decades, the dank and moody, bass-addled stuff is exactly what you'd want to hear if, say, you've got no one to carve a goose with on the year's biggest Christian(ish) holiday. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to attend L.A. Beatdown. Like 6Blocc, for instance, one of the first and loudest local practitioners of the U.K. beat style. In fact, the guy's been an Anglophile long enough to be a bona fide ambassador, having founded the city's first jungle-music weekly back in 1994 in the then-abandoned Belmont Tunnel. As an added enticement, multitalented art-rap maven Busdriver will be spitting over 6Blocc's wonky, warbling sounds. The legendary DJ Swamp also will be performing — he was Beck's scratch man during the Odelay years and went on to collaborate with everyone from Devo to Katy Perry. Plus Living Legends MC Scarub, Corona duo Kleptomaddox and a handful of others. (Chris Martins)
INFECTED MUSHROOM AT AVALON
It takes a special sort of group to collaborate with both Perry Farrell and Korn's Jonathan Davis on the same album, in 2009 no less. But Infected Mushroom really is a rare thing — an Israeli trance duo heavily influenced by electronic strains of Indian psychedelic music, and otherwise obsessed with the kind of nü-metal rap and hard-rock hybrids perfected stateside in the mid-1990s. This is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, main aural architects Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani are very good at what they do — which involves combining high levels of studied musicality (on a mix of digital and acoustic instruments) with eerie throbbing textures and high-energy, major-chord guitar thrash. In person, it makes for one helluva rave but from what actually sounds like a live band. Last year's album is called The Legend of the Black Shawarma and it's one of Infected Mushroom's heaviest yet. Rally your flagging teen angst and greet the meat. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Saturday: XMAS AT THE KITTY at the Liquid Kitty.
RIOT GRRL XMAS CARNIVAL AT THE SMELL
The annual Riot Grrl Xmas Carnival is for a good cause, benefiting the Downtown Women's Center, which provides housing for homeless women. But it's also an anomaly amid all of this seasonal holiday cheer, with defiant femme-punk bands railing about social inequity and personal politics instead of harmonizing sweetly about sleigh bells and partridges in pear trees. Bay Area quartet the Splinters have a coolly poppy Fuzzbox-style melodic drive underneath their primal garage-rock guitars, and the combination is oddly mesmerizing. Locals Las Sangronas y El Cabron have a more blisteringly raw hardcore-punk stridency in songs like "No Limit," while the Outskirts' Charlie DeKay howls with a gutturally scabrous and barely intelligible voice on such furious thrashers as "My Friends Were Right." Anus Kings, meanwhile, have a stripped-down folk sound with acoustic blues guitar and contrarian, sarcastic anthems like "Man of My House" and "Predictable Teenage Rebels." (Falling James)
ANDRE THIERRY & ZYDECO MAGIC AT THE GOLDEN SAILS HOTEL PCH CLUB
Northern California's East Bay area has always been a sort of Bermuda Triangle for unconventional creativity — Oakland alone produced avant-garde poet Gertrude Stein, King Kong stop-motion-animation overlord Willis O'Brien and R&B spearhead Johnny Otis, while adjacent El Cerrito spawned Creedence Clearwater Revival. Richmond, long a bastion for Creole Louisiana émigrés (and top destination for touring Louisiana acts), has given the world Zydeco squeeze-box paragon Andre Thierry. No less an authority than Clifton Chenier proclaimed the kid a natural-born accordionist when he was but a toddler, and Thierry has definitely made good on the promise. With a deep, rolling, blues-centered drive, Thierry's accordion pumps out a coolly volcanic, gleaming, chrome and vermillion–toned grind, which, taken with a rubboard's propulsive, percussive hop, skip and bump, delivers an impossibly irresistible set of Frenchin'-the-Boogie grooves. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Sunday: FMLY FEST at COZY CASTLE; GANGI, THE DELTA MIRROR at the Bootleg; DAMIAN ROMERO, RENE HELL at Dem Passwords.
CAPTAIN AHAB, NICOLE KIDMAN, KEVIN GREENSPON, TRUDGERS AT PEHRSPACE
Nicole Kidman, the band, has a song called "Don't Take This too Seriously," and that might be a good subtitle for this show. That's not to say the talent amassed for this cozy strip-mall gig is somehow subpar, but these are artists who inject humor into their wildly diverse and uniquely inspired work. Headlining is Captain Ahab, who refer to their sound as ravesploitation, and it truly is that: a swarming mix of musical influences (rap, pop, electro, metal, punk) united by big beats delivered in incredibly sweaty doses. Jonathan Snipes mans the decks and mic, hollering out priapically obsessed obscenities while the svelte Jim Merson strips to his skivvies and bumps, grinds and thrashes with members of the audience. Kidman sound a lot like Daniel Johnston crooning unrequited love paeans to science teachers, and Miley Cyrus over spare guitar noise and Casio beats. Kevin Greenspon is a one-man band specializing in ambient textures and garage-punk ventures. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday: FMLY FEST at COZY CASTLE; FEEL FREE, DEVON WILLIAMS, RUN-ON SUNSHINE at the Smell.
PROJECT BLOWED 16TH ANNIVERSARY AT THE ECHOPLEX
Being booed by an Apollo audience must rank pretty high on the list of most mortifying experiences, but at least blinding footlights (and an orchestra moat) will shield you from your hecklers. If an audience began to chant, "Please pass the mic!" during your performance in the Good Life Café era of Project Blowed, you weren't booted off to a dark backstage to lick your wounds; you faced your fate. Much respect, therefore, to the MCs who walked through that particularly humiliating fire, and morphed the night into Blowed, the longest-running hip-hop open mic in the world. The rewards have been many, though — Scribble Jam Freestyle and Rap Olympic titles, not to mention shiny participants like members of what became Jurassic 5, Freestyle Fellowship and Nocando's recently shooting star, live in its trophy case. Tonight's anniversary features not only the mind-numbing talents of tongue twisters like Aceyalone, P.E.A.C.E., Nocando and Dumbfoundead but also big beat-banging masters like Dibia$e and Ras G. In other words, expect Cirque du Soleil–like cyphers that make you grab your head and gasp "WHOA." (Rebecca Haithcoat)
JANE MONHEIT AT CATALINA BAR & GRILL
The Long Island diva Jane Monheit might not be the most adventurous jazz singer, but she has such a warm and vibrant voice that her interpretations of classic love songs are captivating nonetheless. Her arrangements of old jazz-pop standards are, well, standard, but with Monheit it's not about reinvention or experimentation. Instead, she has a gift for making romantic entreaties come across as sincere and moving instead of maudlin and saccharine. It doesn't hurt that the new mother is backed on her latest, Home, by such tasteful sidemen as guitarist John Pizzarelli, pianist Larry Goldings, violinist Mark O'Connor and her drummer-husband, Rick Montalbano. Versions of Rodgers & Hart's "There's a Small Hotel" and Billy Rose & Lee David's "Tonight You Belong to Me" (where Monheit's honeyed vocals are framed only by Pizzarelli's guitar) are rendered with care and a delicate touch instead of brassy, overwrought posturing. If you're in a sentimental mood during this sentimental season, Monheit and her crew likely will make you feel good without too much of a sticky-sweet hangover. Also Wed.-Thurs. (Falling James)
GREENHORSE AT SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
Greenhorse make hedonistic yet oddly wistful electro-pop that manages to maximize booty-shakin' without marginalizing melody. The L.A.-via-Wyoming duo of Chris Hackman and Shawn Day (both bassists by choice) manipulate saucy synths, "Blue Monday" beatboxes, sheens of guitar and sometimes androgynous voices to revisit Duran Duran, Howard Jones and the Human League — and thus rub shoulders with MGMT. Their 2009 Transcontinental EP could force even wallflowers out onto the floor but retains enough emotional fiber to chew on should you choose to remain against the wall. "Sunbreak" is an invitation to cocktail-blurred rooftop red carpets and slightly dangerous debauchery, while "Hot Night$" tips you off to the (notably more naked) after party. Greenhorse's website lists "TV and Film Clients" but they ain't no sterile soundtrack: They're too in touch, too tuneful and way too much wink-and-nudge fun for that. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Tuesday: A THOUSAND FIFTY LIES, THE MOONDOG ORCHESTRA, BLACK ELEPHANT at La Cita.
MKNG FRNDZ, GHOST MOM, COLD SHOWERS, MGM GRANDAT THE SMELL
Brooklyn's Mkng Frndz is, frankly, awesome. The duo was founded by the totally badass queer folkie Tami Hart, a onetime label mate of Le Tigre's, when she was bored and miserable and listening to lots of Justin Timberlake. As a result, she and partner Daniel Erickson make lo-fi, '90s-flavored R&B that sounds not only like it was made for the bedroom but made in the bedroom as well. "All I Wanted 2 Do" is a slow-grinding, positively creepy tribute to Missy Elliott, while "Situation" toys with throbbing drums and bubblegum vocals, and "Don't Make Me Cry" is a tiny, skronky anthem for the hopelessly brokenhearted. Oregon's Ghost Mom is another boy-girl pair, but this one specializes in spare, playful blues ("YAY!") and swooning Best Coast–y garage surf ("MC Hammer Was My Boyfriend"). Cold Showers is a new project featuring at least one former member of Mika Miko, and MGM Grand is an experimental dance troupe that'll collaborate with one or all of the night's bands. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday: ROSIE FLORES at the Cat Club; GIANT DRAG at the Satellite.
THE GROWLERS AT THE ECHO
Bong Leach homies the Growlers do most everything on the cheap and warped, and it sounds good, end of story. They do a kinda surfy-psychedelic thing, on the surface, but it gets tricky when you dig a bit; sometimes it's bluesy bits about feedin' the dog. Well, most of the time they're all about the miracle of crappy sound and high-to-medium concept, dishing the goods for those times when you crave a lot, and we mean a lot of twangy tremolo'd semituned electric guitars and wryly sinister/jokey rock tunage. Basically, they rock very, very hard, yet they deliver clever humor and genuinely atmospheric music. Therefore, sometimes they howl, sometimes they pluck their banjos 'round the campfire, and sometimes they sound like the Doors, because the keyboardist favors that Ray Manzarek organ sound and the singer vibratos handsomely like wicked old Mr. Mojo Risin'. The Growlers are not clotheshorses, yet they reek of style. Interesting! (John Payne)
THE DUKE SPIRIT AT THE ROXY
Not to be confused with the Americana-laced Long Beach roots-pop combo Delta Spirit, the British quartet Duke Spirit have a grandiose, otherworldly hard-rock sound that's anything but folksy or down-home. Singer Liela Moss is a striking figure onstage, banging on her tambourine and howling icily searing melodies as the rest of her band churns up a compelling racket that's as sparkling and luminescent as it is hard-driving and powerfully convulsive. On new single "Everybody's Under Your Spell," Moss praises an unknown Svengali with a vocal delivery that's sinuous and spellbinding, even as Luke Ford sends out foreboding, sirenlike squalls of lead guitar. For such a heavy group, though, the Duke Spirit also have an atmospheric, spacey side to them, especially on such tracks as "Northbound," where Ford's and Toby Butler's riffs drizzle like rain and Moss invokes her heroes the Gun Club and declares beguilingly, "I'm friends with moonlight. ... The fire of love sends you northbound." (Falling James)
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REPEATER AT SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
While no stylistic Second Coming, Long Beach's Repeater plunder the '80s and '90s to densely intense effect. Growling Gang of Four bass, New Romantic keys, and vocals that evoke both Interpol and a rather livid Pet Shop Boys exceed the sum of their parts with a rare sense-of-self strut. Though produced by "Godfather of Nu Metal" Ross Robinson, Repeater's recent EP The Pattern should be filed next to his more recent work with At the Drive-In and the Cure. "To Swallow Lost Goodbyes" is an indignant, danceable slap around the face that smarts (yet pleasantly) for days; "Keep the Sun From Rising" is both introverted and epic (and curiously pseudo-Celtic), in an Editors sorta way; and the pride-hurt "Patterns" should be a shoo-in for the Fahrenheit 451 remake soundtrack. Factor in Repeater's frenetic live show and it all hints at a night in post-punk paradise. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Thursday: TERMINAL
TWILIGHT at the Satellite; BATTLE SHOW III at the Smell.