Music Picks: Rome, The xx, Aretha Franklin
The Zeros, The Muffs
It's going to be a "Wild Weekend" once The Zeros get going tonight. The Chula Vista quartet, who were still teenagers when they formed in 1976, were never as manically poetic as The Germs or as relentlessly political as The Clash. Instead, the Zeros played a fun, high-spirited version of punk rock that drew heavily from Johnny Thunders, topped with power-pop hooks on such anthems as "Wimp" and "They Say That (Everything's Alright)." Guitarist Robert Lopez later went on to greater infamy as El Vez, but The Zeros have never lost any of their swagger during their occasional reunions and on underrated comeback albums like 1992's Right Now. The Muffs, who do a memorably intense cover of The Zeros' "Beat Your Heart Out," are another punk-inspired pop band who match Ramones-style riffs with lovelorn and insatiably catchy, fuzzed-out melodies. —Falling James
HOUSE OF BLUES
Approaching their 25th anniversary next year, these Buffalo, N.Y., death-metal godfathers still seem able to raise eyebrows (and blood pressure) with charming song titles like "Meat Hook Sodomy" and album artwork deemed too disgusting to be even displayed in certain countries. But an emotionally stunted gore obsession alone won't sell millions of albums worldwide (despite almost zero mainstream airplay), so give some credit to Cannibal Corpse's unwavering musical vision: a demented yet super-disciplined blur of speed-freak beats and angry-gnat guitars topped with the disturbed gurglings of some bloke called "Corpsegrinder." They'll likely never fill American stadiums but, judging by their recently released 12th studio album (Torture), CC's real achievement has been a careerlong middle finger to compromise — and how many veteran bands can truly claim that? —Paul Rogers
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
M.O.T.O. — "Masters of the Obvious" — is Paul Caporino and pals playing punk 'n' rock 'n' roll, and since it's 2012, he's probably just celebrated his 30th anniversary of being an unstoppable force of nature. Like most things that search and destroy, M.O.T.O. moves around under the radar, spitting out singles and LPs that could make a whole record collection all their own, and drawing from best records that should be in everyone else's collection anyway. You know all those bands that heard The Ramones in, like, '77 and reacted with two and a half minutes of their own teenage mind-blow? Teenage Head, The Trend, Forgotten Rebels, early Zero Boys, the chunk of the Bomp! roster that was more power than pop — that's where M.O.T.O. was born and where it lives yet. Unrestrained P-U-N-K. —Chris Ziegler
LA SERA, MAGIC TRICK at the Echo; TALIB KWELI at the Roxy; ALAN JACKSON at Greek Theatre; NICK 13, TRIPLE CHICKEN FOOT at El Rey Theatre.
Luxembourg artist Jerome Reuter founded the avant-garde folk project Rome in 2005. Despite the somewhat recent start, Rome have put out a sizable catalog, the latest being 2011's Die Aesthetik der Herrschaftsfreiheit. This Saturday, Bar Sinister hosts an intimate Rome performance, and fans are already starting to arrive from all across North America for it. Some critics have a hard time classifying Rome's music, dubbing it apocalyptic folk, industrial-folk, martial industrial, cold wave and an assortment of other obscure, hyphenated subgenres. On more than one occasion Rome's music has been described as "challenging" to listen to. But, like a perfectly blended cabernet that is rife with sediment, the same complexities that make it challenging also make it great. The beauty of Rome's work comes from the many fluid layers, unfolding throughout the musical experience. —Diamond Bodine-Fischer
HOUSE OF BLUES
For more than two decades, the U.K.'s DJ Hype has been representing the machine-gun blasts of quality drum 'n' bass. Whether it is via his True Playaz record label, his radio show on London's seminal KISS or his monthlies at that city's Fabric venue — not to mention his globe-trotting DJ sets — Hype is the embodiment of that genre's upfront, jump-up style. Bassrush brings his purist jungle beats, helmed by classic rhymes courtesy of MC Armanni Reign, to this House of Blues show. Co-presented by Los Angeles' long-running drum 'n' bass weekly Respect, its Junglist Platoon DJs Machete and Scooba alongside MC XYZ, as well as Circuit, will be supporting Hype. Wear comfortable shoes: This is where you are going to burn off all the calories from the week. —Lily Moayeri
Is it possible to have a bad time at a Smokey Robinson show? Casual scientific research suggests not: We distinctly remember one gig at New York's Carnegie Hall a few years ago in which even a dude punctuating Robinson's every song with loud-ass cries of "Go Smoke!" failed to diminish the pleasure this soul-music legend routinely purveys. Robinson no doubt will stick to the hits here, but don't fret if he starts going on about how much his new stuff means to him. Timeless Love, from 2006, might be one of the prettiest late-career standards albums you'll hear, while 2009's Time Flies When You're Having Fun demonstrates his still-sharp songcraft. Also Fri. —Mikael Wood
FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE at the Roxy; RAY DAVIES at Wiltern; RINGO STAR at Greek Theatre; FACE TO FACE at Troubadour; THE HAPPY HOLLOWS, MAGIC WANDS at Bootleg Bar.
I See Hawks in L.A.
It's country music, after all, and it wouldn't be any fun if it weren't kind of a bummer. See, that's what I See Hawks in L.A. understand all too well, so when you're feeling this little elation at the unfamiliar ways the band's folky Americana and classic Californ-y country rock stretch the emotional terrain on their recent A New Kind of Lonely, well, you ain't gotta scratch your head, 'cause that effect was intentional. The band's alternative-country vision is presented here in a mostly acoustic version of the vaguely psychedelic and/or jazz-tinged swinging they devised on previous sets, high- and lowlighted by songs about drug addiction, hopeless love, urban paranoia and the natural wonders of the great but troubled state of California. Wry and dry singer-guitarist Rob Waller is a man of few words, and he uses 'em well; masterful Fender Telecaster/lap steel man Paul Lacques beautifully orchestrates the sound. —John Payne
THE JACKSONS at Greek Theatre.
Foxygen are full of paradoxical truths. They are tribute and reinvention. They are weird and easy to love. They are sloppy but sound. They are unknown but born to be rock heroes. Imagine Bowie reinvented by Ariel Pink, the Stones covered by Sonic Youth, or a drunk John Lennon locked in a basement with an old Casio, a trashed Fender and a glitchy four-track. The "band" comprises two rock & roll bums: Olympia, Wash.'s Sam France (vocals) and New York City's Jonathan Rado (guitar, keys), both 22 years old and both clearly obsessed with classics. Their 2011 debut EP, Take the Kids Off Broadway, is filled with impressionistic takes on past masters fleshed out using deep bass grooves, blissfully shambling strum, loosely mapped beats, all manner of effects and layers of voice that alternately growl, shout, swoon and hum. Suck up their rare air as it floats overhead. —Chris Martins
These U.K. goth-soul ghouls haven't played in the United States since 2010, when The xx wrapped up support of their self-titled semi-hit debut and subsequently went into studio-hibernation mode. This summer, they're back on the road ahead of the Sept. 11 release of Coexist, the trio's highly anticipated sophomore disc. New songs they've been doing live overseas suggest that The xx's recent dalliances with Shakira and Rihanna (both of whom sampled tunes from The xx) haven't made them any less moody or whispery. With Jacques Greene, a Montreal-based DJ best known perhaps as the geeky white dude into whose left ear Azealia Banks is yelling in the video for "212." —Mikael Wood
Scream It Like You Mean It
GLASS HOUSE (Pomona)
Bringing together multiple purveyors of multiple heavy-metal "-core" subgenres, this monthlong package tour confirms that, when it comes to super-aggressive guitar music, there are indeed myriad ways to skin the proverbial cat. Ohio's Attack Attack! add interest to their otherwise line-towing, middle-weight metalcore with techno-flavored electronic sprinkles, while The Chariot's slightly deranged, raw-throated matchcore actually (and thankfully) sounds more like a thrust for self-expression than just a plea for commercial validation. Frequently dubbed "deathcore," relative veterans The Acacia Strain create contemporary and ambitious metallic hardcore that traces a string-calloused finger through Pantera and Meshuggah all the way to Dillinger Escape Plan. With more than a dozen other core-suffixed bands on this same bill, "Corecore" can only be a matter of time. —Paul Rogers
ST. LUCIA, MR. LITTLE JEANS at the Echo.
Although Beyoncé foolishly misspoke when she called Tina Turner the queen of soul at the 2008 Grammys, the world of soul has long been ruled by only one queen, and her name is still Aretha Franklin. Rightly celebrated for her powerhouse voice, which imbued late-'60s hits like "Chain of Fools," "Think" and "Respect" with a fiery gospel intensity, Franklin is also an underrated pianist who pumped up those classics with emphatic funkiness. She reinforces her legacy further on her latest collection, Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980–1998, where she duets with Whitney Houston, Annie Lennox and Elton John and is accompanied by such guests as Keith Richards and the late Clarence Clemons. Despite some health scares in recent years, Franklin can still raise the roof with that legendary set of pipes. —Falling James
Stanton Moore Trio and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Drummer Stanton Moore has been sharing a Wednesday residency at the Mint with Greyboy All-Stars leader Robert Walter and guitarist Will Bernard for the last several weeks. Moore and Walter also are known for their stints with guitarist Charlie Hunter, a frequent visitor to the Mid-City club. Moore's style has been described as "jazz meets [John] Bonham," and at least one solo from Moore's online videos can be recognized for the same opening as "Moby Dick," the late Led Zeppelin drummer's signature tune. Moore's experiences cover the musical gamut from jazz to rock to funk and many more. For this show, the evening includes the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a group of fellow New Orleans natives who've merged elements of funk and bebop jazz with the traditional Big Easy brass band sound to create an entirely new audience for the last 30 years. —Tom Meek
SHERYL CROW at Pacific Amphitheatre; VOXHAUL BROADCAST, MINI MANSIONS at Troubadour; REEL BIG FISH, SUBURBAN LEGENDS at House of Blues.
The last we really heard of Nosaj Thing was in 2009. As the burgeoning buzz was rightly reaching a fever pitch around L.A.'s bass-bumping Low End Theory club, the man born Jason Chung dropped Drift and, alongside scene heavyweight Flying Lotus, racked up a ton of attention for his idiosyncratic electronic works. While FlyLo is famous for blending jazz and soul-inspired organic matter into his gritty sonic tapestries, Nosaj takes a very clean, multidimensional approach to sound design, weaving melodic contrails through a celestial scene of sparkling beatwork and swirling effects. He's long overdue for a new album — word is it's in the works, and with a Blonde Redhead feature, no less — but credit where credit's due: He's also been perfecting his live show, which employs two-tone projections that follow his every move, swelling and shrinking in time with the tunes. —Chris Martins
It's nice to think about the world the Intelligence comes from — a place where Devo's big hit was "A Plan for U," a place where people automatically think of Australia when they think about the punk band called X, and a place where Mark E. Smith got Morrissey's place in pop culture and hard-core fans trek to Salford Docks instead of Salford Lad's Club for photos. This is beautiful music for slightly bent people, built around a bombsight-precise rhythm section (which includes a member of L.A. mind-grinders Zig Zags) and Intelligence founder Lars Finberg's capacity for limitless experimentation. On their new album Everybody's Got It Easy but Me, that capacity stretches between countdown-to-liftoff intro "I Like L.A." and an adorably faithful duet with Shannon of The Clams on Del Shannon's "Little Town Flirt." —Chris Ziegler
WESTFIELD CENTURY CITY
For all of jazz's vaunted free-spiritedness and openness to improvisation, it still remains a closed shop and something of a boys' club in many ways. In the early '80s, John Leitham was a respected bassist working steadily with Doc Severinsen's orchestra on The Tonight Show and gigging with stellar folks like Mel Torme and Woody Herman. Feeling trapped in a male body, Leitham began living as a woman, changing her name to Jennifer and eventually undergoing gender-reassignment surgery. "My heart was female," she explains in the new documentary I Stand Corrected. "Music is the thing that definitely saved me when I was going through the worst crisis of my life." Not surprisingly, much of the jazz community couldn't keep up with this tempo change, and it took a painfully long time before Leitham was accepted again for her playing. She has a strong yet nimble style, rambling easily up and down the neck of her upright bass, and remains one of straight-ahead jazz's most intuitive bassists — regardless of which clothing she wears or the name she chooses. —Falling James
HOT CHELLE RAE at Pacific Amphitheatre; GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH at Bootleg Bar; SPOEK MATHAMBO, GOTHIC TROPIC at Echoplex.
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