Music Picks: Robben Ford, Hard L.A., Adams Conducts Adams, the Polyphonic Spree

Sleigh Bells: See Wednesday.

fri 3/30

Mike Watt, RF7, Carnage Asada, Barrio Tiger


There's a little something for everybody at tonight's sonic smorgasbord, a birthday celebration for longtime local soundman Dirty Ed. Led by former Hangmen guitarist Jimmy James, Barrio Tiger crank out a tough, no-nonsense brand of hard-rocking punk. Meanwhile, RF7 also punk out but with more socially conscious lyrics and faster hardcore tempos on blue-collar rants like "Traditional Values" and their scabrous remake of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." If you took the minimalist shards of the Minutemen and pulled them apart like taffy, you'd get something like the sound of Carnage Asada, who alternate between riff-heavy punk blasts like "Mexican Tar" and such spacey dance workouts as "Zombie Funk." Former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt plays with several Stooges cover bands — including the current reunited version of the group with Iggy Pop — but he's at his best when he's infusing his original tunes with arty scraps of poetry and those intense bass runs. —Falling James

Radio Moscow, Black Apples


They call 'em Radio Moscow, but these guys are tuned to a pirate station that plays Blue Cheer by day and Pentagram by night — and maybe Groundhogs, Leafhound or Sir Lord Baltimore on occasions of state. Lester Bangs called this sort of thing "sub-sub-sub-sub-Hendrix," and that many subs translates into a band that cares for nothing but shred, throb, pound and yowl. Primitive? Radio Moscow do the life story of a dinosaur, from cracking out of its ancient egg to immolation by cosmic fire. Openers Black Apples got two drummers in case they need to match Moscow for sheer weight, but their archaeological explorations are dedicated to the Sunset Strip circa '66, where Love and Clear Light and the Yellow Payges deploy lovely harmonies and ugly fuzz to beautiful effect. —Chris Ziegler

Robben Ford


Guitarist Robben Ford first came to prominence in 1986 as a member of Miles Davis' band, and he spent the next 25 years building a reputation as one of the most respected modern blues guitarists of this generation. Ford has played with the likes of Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Gregg Allman and Phil Lesh, garnering four Grammy nominations along the way. Ford teams with megaguitarist Michael Landau in the band Renegade Creation, which released an album in 2011. While blues is Ford's mainstay, he's just as comfortable in the worlds of rock and fusion. Tonight marks the second of a three-night run for him as he leads a trio through Saturday. —Tom Meek

Also playing:

TOM PAXTON at McCabe's; MATTHEW DEAR, SONGODSUNS at Natural History Museum; RACES, LIVING THINGS at the Echo.


sat 3/31



Headlining this latest minifest by the EDM lovers at HARD is A-Trak, a legendary DJ who has thrilled two generations of beat-loving showgoers. Montreal-born Alain Macklovitch rose to prominence in the '90s as a gifted turntablist. He won the revered DMC World Championship at 15, the youngest victor ever, and then he won it four more times. He invented a notation system for scratching, became a member of the still-whispered-about Invisibl Skratch Piklz crew and toured the world as Kanye West's personal DJ. As electronic dance music rose to prominence, his remixes and record label (Fool's Gold) played a prominent role, and now A-Trak is a party-crushing icon to a new set of fans, due in no small part to his and Armand Van Helden's massive house hit, "Barbra Streisand" (credited to Duck Sauce). Also on deck: Jack Beats, Destructo, Oliver and JWLS. —Chris Martins

Mindless Self Indulgence


These delightfully tasteless synth-punk brats have never quite actualized the next-big-thing buzz that has surrounded Mindless Self Indulgence for more than a decade now. But if their perennial underdog status bums out frontman Jimmy Urine and his mates, you certainly don't get a sense of it from their music, which couldn't be jollier. On MSI's most recent studio disc, 2008's If, Urine holds forth on money, drugs and revenge over manic-panic riffs 'n' beats that sound now like a precursor to Korn's recent collaboration with Skrillex. They hit L.A. near the end of a U.S. tour in support of a deluxe reissue of the band's out-of-print 1999 debut, Tight; be sure to request "Dickface" and "Pussy All Night." —Mikael Wood

Also playing:



sun 4/1

Julia Holter


Frequencies do not come more sublime than those commanded by Julia Holter, whose loop-de-loops of harmony and echo find the perfect serene center between Brian Eno, psychedelic true believer Linda Perhacs — who adopted Holter into her live band — and Brian Wilson, who felt that voice layered upon voice was the purest sound in all of music. Holter's just-out album, Ekstasis (on RVNG INTL, home of the shattering Sun Araw/Congos collaboration, too), is endlessly experimental, bottomlessly deep, and alive and alight with the kind of fearless humanity that so rarely makes it past the first set of demos. These aren't songs so much as tiny worlds, and tonight is called a release party probably because some part of you will be set free. A crucial record for this crazy year. —Chris Ziegler


Daniel Rosenboom Septet


Young, gifted trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom has been on a roll, showcasing his classical chops with the L.A. Philharmonic and on a world tour with Josh Groban, but all that glitz and glamour can't eradicate his dogged dedication to composing music that would send those Groban fans running out of the room holding their ears. Now that they are gone, the rest of us can dig on his vibe, which is about achieving a heavy rock sound with all acoustic instruments, done with ascendant splendor on his 2011 album, Fallen Angeles. This shit rocks harder than those bands you hear through the walls in rehearsal studios around town, and Rosenboom leads the charge with his supermanly trumpet blasting. One of the most original, exciting, adventurous groups in L.A. right now. —Gary Fukushima



These Riverside ranters' unusually articulate hardcore stands out in a tsunami of numb suburban rage. The metallic guitars and boot-camp barking of songs like "A Place Called Home" suddenly give way to refrains oozing early 2000's Warped Tour "everyone-come-together" optimism. They aren't shy about shifting groove gears, either, flitting between flat-out pit pummeling and almost dissonant, sludgier passages with an irreverence apt for the genre. With their propensity for singing in unison and even some sensitive acoustic guitars ("This Was Never Meant to Last"), Darasuum's bravely nuanced punk is as much about held hands as slit wrists. —Paul Rogers

Charlotte Martin


Charlotte Martin's piano melodies may seem a little treacly at first, but if you dig deeper, you'll find intriguingly arty twists within her mainstream pop. The former 1994 Miss Illinois Teen USA layers songs like "The Dance," "Veins" and "Keep Me in Your Pocket" with sophisticated harmonies and occasional funky cul-de-sacs of digression, where everything drops out except sparse percussion and her hushed, hymnlike entreaties. Martin was endearingly desperate ("I'm normal/Please date me") on her sarcastic 2008 anthem "The Stalker Song," but she was more serious on her 2011 album, Dancing on Needles, which was affected by her struggle with the nerve disorder intercostal neuralgia. Her upcoming DVD/CD, Hiding Places, features new tracks like "Mission Control," which is a little slick but still has a certain glittery electronic sparkle. —Falling James

Also playing:

PROTEST THE HERO at Key Club; TYGA, YG at Club Nokia.


mon 4/2

The Polyphonic Spree


It says much about the maudlin mood of most indie shows that the Polyphonic Spree's onstage euphoria has been declared cult- or even substance-fueled. But what if the 20-something (in number; not age) uniformed members of this symphonic Dallas troupe just really fucking love making and sharing music together, and aren't afraid to show it? With 2007's The Fragile Army (their most recent full-length), the Spree's songwriting finally made up some qualitative ground on their live performance, Tim DeLaughter's distinctively tremulous timbre wending its way through robustly retro horn- and flute-flavored reflections on nostalgia and human nature. But the truth is that you don't need to dig their tunes to get blissfully lost in the Polyphonic Spree's oh-so-welcome, wide-eyed return to joy in rock & roll. —Paul Rogers


tue 4/3

Heartless Bastards


Given all of the thunderous hard rock and bluesy sounds that have emanated from Erika Wennerstrom's mighty ax over the past decade, it might seem surprising that Heartless Bastards' fourth and latest album, Arrow, starts off with a gentle ballad. "Oh, I ventured so far that I've forgotten what I was running from," she confides on "Marathon," as her candied guitar tones rain down lightly over Dave Colvin's slowly rolling tom-toms. But Wennerstrom has always scattered pure pop songs among her heavier workouts. She explores the vagaries of love and longing on such bittersweet tracks as "Parted Ways" and "Only for You," which have an undercurrent of rootsy country-rock restlessness. Still, the Cincinnati native and Austin transplant is at her most exhilarating when she unfurls her majestic voice on explosive rockers like "Simple Feeling," which sounds like a cross between The Who and Backbiter. —Falling James

Also playing:

KYLE EASTWOOD at Catalina's; CHAIN AND THE GANG at Satellite; KELLY CLARKSON at Nokia Theatre.


wed 4/4

Jonwayne, Juakali


La Habra's Jonwayne may identify himself as a "basement-dwelling virgin" for his guest verse on the just-out, Portishead-related beat project Quakers, but the 22-year-old rapper/producer is set up to get a whole lot of play in 2012. For the past year, he's been a fixture at Low End Theory, either catching inspiration from the floor or wowing crowds with his unique brand of glitch-addled, piano-fueled instrumentals. Last year's Bowser collected those dark, heaving bangers, while an upcoming Stones Throw album (not to mention the freshly dropped, highly essential This Is Fake mixtape) will showcase the man's vocal abilities, which bear more than just an aural resemblance to those of the late, great Biggie Smalls. In from Trinidad is dubstep singer/MC Juakali, whose blackened chanting sounds like a doomsday portent set to a soundtrack of brutal bass compositions. —Chris Martins


Sleigh Bells


Like all the great duos (Sonny & Cher, Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin, Laurel & Hardy), Sleigh Bells are a classic collision of opposites. Where would Derek Miller and his massive slabs of hard dance-punk guitar be without the crowning grace of Alexis Krauss's ultrapoppy melodies, and vice versa? Miller has always been the bedrock of Sleigh Bells' musical attack, but Krauss was more fully involved in the songwriting on the Brooklyn duo's second album, Reign of Terror, which is simultaneously harder and sweeter than their 2010 debut, Treats. What's amazing is the pair's newfound mastery of disparate styles, from the surging pop-fuzz euphoria of "Comeback Kid" and the breathy interstellar waves of "End of the Line" to the pulverizing density of "Born to Lose" and "Leader of the Pack." —Falling James

Also playing:



thu 4/5

The Pierces


Last week this New York City sister act finally issued an American version of their album You & I, which originally came out in England in May 2011. Given the album's excellence, the Pierces' rock-star connections and — look, there's no use denying it — the ladies' CW-ready good looks, it's anyone's guess why a U.S. label took so long to get on board. Maybe old-model A&R types were spooked by soft sales of 2007's equally excellent Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge. Whatever the case, You & I (produced in part by Guy Berryman of Coldplay) was worth the wait, with an embarrassment of gorgeous goth-folk riches perfect for use over the long summer to come. The Pierces were excellent at the Hotel Cafe in January; expect nothing less tonight. —Mikael Wood

Adams Conducts Adams


L.A. Phil Creative Chair John Adams interprets works by three composers. One facet of Adams' own varied modernist, expressionist concerns comes to light in his Violin Concerto, where the soloist (longtime Adams collaborator Leila Josefowicz) plays without stopping throughout the entire piece, the orchestra serving as rhythmic/colorative backdrop. Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten is a spiritually cleansing piece that simulates the ambience of a very old cathedral. And Philip Glass' Symphony No. 9 gets its West Coast premiere tonight; this L.A. Phil co-commission is a large-scale, three-movement work for orchestra. There's a lot of bass-y brass and timpani in it, and Glass himself calls it "big and unrelenting." Also Fri. and Sat. —John Payne

Also playing:

HELMET at House of Blues; BEAR IN HEAVEN, BLOUSE at the Echo; INSPECTAH DECK at Detroit Bar (Costa Mesa); LEAH ZEGER at Vibrato; HOT SNAKES, BEEHIVE AND THE BARRACUDAS at Alex's Bar.

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