Music Picks: Sasha & Kazell, She & Him, Efterklang, Xiu Xiu
HOLLY MIRANDA AT BOOTLEG THEATER
Followers of B-list Brooklyn indie-rock acts might remember this sultry-voiced singer-songwriter from the Jealous Girlfriends, with whom she made a pair of albums that earned placements on Grey’s Anatomy, The L Word and CSI: Miami. Now Holly Miranda is out under her own name supporting an impressive solo disc, The Magician’s Private Library, which was produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio and features no shortage of the swirling psych-soul atmospherics he’s brought to records by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Scarlett Johansson. In fact, a little shortage might have been nice, since Library doesn’t always showcase Miranda’s Cat Power–ish vocals in the way they deserve. (Google “Holly Miranda Ex-Factor” to see her do a gorgeously stripped-down version of that Lauryn Hill song in the back of a cab.) At the Bootleg, she’ll perform accompanied by a three-piece backing band; with any luck, they’ll give the singer the room she needs. (Mikael Wood)
QUASI AT SPACELAND
Fans of drummer Janet Weiss’ old band Sleater-Kinney might be surprised by her longtime project Quasi. Whereas Sleater-Kinney combined riot-grrl energy with distinctively soulful belting, the Portland trio Quasi are freakier and more eclectic on their eighth album, American Gong (Kill Rock Stars). Singer Sam Coomes (who’s also Weiss’ ex-husband) contrasts psychedelic hard-rock rambles such as the epic “Bye Bye Blackbird” and the bubblegum fuzz of “Repulsion” with relatively sparse, somber piano ballads like the deceptively titled “Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler.” The latter is anything but a good time, as Coomes howls hippie-ish lyrics into a lonely void like a PacNorWest John Lennon: “We’re all children of the selfsame star/All adrift on the selfsame boat.” By the end of the song, Coomes is supported by a swell of angelic harmonies, Joanna Bolme’s pendulous bass, and faintly trippy Flaming Lips–style orchestration as he murmurs about “The receding taillights of a teenage dream.” There are occasions when one wishes that Coomes’ lyrics were less sarcastic and facile and more personally revealing, but most of the time his clever asides are matched by Weiss and Bolme’s stormy rock dynamics. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
ADOLESCENTS, YOUTH BRIGADE, THE CROWD at El Rey Theatre; AGENT ORANGE, THE GEARS at Alex’s Bar; BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB at Amoeba Music, 6 p.m., and at the Echoplex, 8:30 p.m.; BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY at the Canyon; DR. KNOW at Cobalt Café; AMPS FOR CHRIST at Echo Curio; TRUTH & SALVAGE CO., THE PARSON RED HEADS, BASIA BULAT at the Hotel Café; PACK A.D., SYMBOL SIX at the Redwood Bar & Grill; JUCIFER, PHILM at Relax Bar; ANNA OXYGEN, DUNES at the Smell; HAPPY HOLLOWS at the Troubadour; MICHAEL MONROE, VAINS OF JENNA, THE BINGES at Viper Room.
A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW AT THE MINT
You might say that A Sunny Day in Glasgow has a most satisfyingly perplexing pop aesthetic. On the one hand, the Philadelphia-based band does indeed yearn to pump out the joyous, dreamy teen beat, full of nagging melodic hooks that plague the brain and keep the toes a-tapping, but it all comes in weird angles, like smeared shards of pop’s past mirrored in a thousand nonlinear images and sounds. At least that’s what you get on their latest album, Ashes Grammar, and especially their new EP, Nitetime Rainbows (both on the band’s own Mis Ojos Discos), which do all of the above by drawing supposed inspiration from modernist composers such as Arvo Pärt and Alvin Lucier, where the tones themselves are as important as the sum import of the “music.” While these days that sort of conceptualizing can come off as tedious, ASDIG is anything but: There’s sheer glee in everything they do. (John Payne)
SASHA & KAZELL AT AVALON
Whether he’s making originals from scratch or reconstructing and remixing submissions, Sasha (aka Alexander Coe) is always in command of what’s coming out of the speakers and what’s moving and shaking out on the dance floor. Among the U.K.’s most revered trance and progressive-house DJs, he’s made several U.S. cities his own (see the Global Underground series), and branched out stylistically with success. Like a top chef with his Ginsus and a spice rack, there are a million ways he can slice, dice and manipulate the flavor of beats and melodies. He’s sort of like Willy Wonka: Right under your feet, he can take some ambient and give you minimal house (a subgenre he hates); in the blink of an eye (or a hundred, because it happens in a REM-like dream state), he can turn a percussion-heavy break beat into sexy electro-house. Often paired with John Digweed (who’s booked for next week), tonight he’s playing with Avaland resident and local hero Kazell. Also a U.K. native, DJ Kazell came for the sun but stayed to steadily rock venues like Spundae, Giant and Avalon. (Daniel Siwek)
E-40 AT THE KEY CLUB
There are the rappers who get famous, and then there are the rappers who write the blueprint that other groups use to get famous. Northern California hip-hop godhead E-40 is decidedly of the latter variety — a true auteur whose considerable body of work has had an immense impact on rap’s last 20 years, even as his sales pale in comparison to those of his stylistic, ahem, students (let’s just say he created the “-izzle” that a certain Dogg bit). But despite the man’s infinite bragging rights, E-40 has been content in the role of influencer, founding his own indie label back in 1990 and using it to: (a) release the music of his quite talented blood relatives; (b) retain creative control of his own work while working with various major labels; (c) jump-start the Bay Area’s hyphy movement a couple years back. E-40’s 11th album, Revenue Retrievin’, is due out later this month, and its first single, “The Server,” seems to promise another record’s worth of raps and beats made to innovate. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Saturday:
THE BANGLES at La Salle High School; THE LIVING SISTERS at the Getty Center; VINICIO CAPOSSELA, SARA LOV at El Rey Theatre; CHOIR OF YOUNG BELIEVERS, GREAT NORTHERN at Bootleg Theater; THE BLACK WIDOWS at Copro Gallery; LA GHOST, THE HEALTH CLUB, COSMONAUTS at Pehrspace; THE DECADES, PAT TODD & THE RANKOUTSIDERS at Second Street Jazz; DEATH SENTENCE PANDA, AUTO DA FE, FOOT VILLAGE at the Smell.
BROKEN BELLS AT THE TROUBADOUR
Broken Bells, if you haven’t already heard, is a buzzy new psych-pop project pairing producer Danger Mouse with James Mercer of the Shins; rendered in italics, it’s also the name of their debut album, which just hit stores on Columbia. These guys make for comfortable collaborators: Waiting for the light to change one day last year at the intersection of Cahuenga and Sunset, I spied the two of them heading toward Amoeba Music together, and catchy, spacey, sleepy little ditties like “The High Road” and “Sailing to Nowhere” sound like what they might’ve laid down after returning from that record-shopping excursion. Rounded out by members of Hella and Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band, Broken Bells bowed as a live act last month in a surprise show at the Bootleg, where they complemented stuff from the album with covers of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” by Neutral Milk Hotel, and Tommy James & the Shondells’ “Crimson & Clover.” Slightly bigger room tonight, but a nicely intimate experience still awaits. (Mikael Wood)
ALICIA JO RABINS AT BOOTLEG THEATER
Singer-violinist Alicia Jo Rabins fiddles with the madcap New York City klezmer-punk ensemble Golem, as well as the mesmerizingly arty folk-rock band Girls in Trouble, which she says sounds as “if the ladies of the Bible had an indie-rock band.” Her solo music encompasses her varying tastes and influences, from the classical formalism of Bach and Ives to more-rustic evocations of country and folk music. Such instrumental pieces as “Bubover March” have a mournfully elegant classical bent, while rootsy tracks like “Neil Gow’s Lament” and the merrily uptempo “Fort Washington Two Step” dance with a lively down-home playfulness. On “Yiftach’s Daughter,” she strums an austere acoustic-guitar pattern while cooing with a sweetly beguiling intimacy, joined by hauntingly lovely pastoral harmonies. Rabins follows a set by the all-femme San Francisco group the Real Vocal String Quartet, whose classical-folk stylings are enlivened by occasional forays into Latin and world music. (Falling James)
MUMIY TROLL AT SPACELAND
The Russian band Mumiy Troll have come a long way since their start in 1983, when they drew the attention of Soviet authorities, who called them “one of the most socially dangerous bands in the world.” (Actually, when you’re from Vladivostok, on Russia’s eastern coast, anywhere you go is a long way.) But lead singer Ilya Lagutenko has gotten the last laugh, surviving long enough to see the band evolve from their position as subversive outsiders in the underground music scene to mainstream popularity and elder-statesman status in their home country. In recent years, Lagutenko has broadened his appeal, singing in English on Mumiy Troll’s 2009 album, Comrade Ambassador. “What a planet!” Lagutenko exclaims, as Yuri Tsaler’s persistent guitar swoops down menacingly. “Break a leg, sister/Mind the gap/The next stop might be a trap/Paradise ahead,” Lagutenko croons, while the rest of his mummy trolls create intriguingly evocative post-punk and elegantly shadowy moods. As he aptly puts it, “What a tune/Sing along, God dammit.” (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
THE WAILERS at Galaxy Theatre; THE CHEVELLES, GOONS OF DOOM at the Echo; THE WATSON TWINS at the Echoplex, 1 p.m.; BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB at the Echoplex, 8:30 p.m.; THE BIG MANNY BAND at Liquid Kitty; THE SWELL SEASON at McCabe’s; CIRCE LINK, RENEE SAFIER, AMILIA K. SPICER at Molly Malone’s; SUN ARAW, BEACHES, LOVE OF DIAGRAMS at the Smell.
SHE & HIM AT LARGO
The “Him” in this musical equation is the celebrated Portland singer-songwriter M. Ward, while the “She” is actor Zooey Deschanel. Like so many actors who venture into music, Deschanel claims that singing is really her true love and that success in acting just happened to arrive first. Whether that’s true or not, she is a pleasantly charming singer who wrote most of the tunes on the duo’s second album, Volume Two (Merge Records). While Deschanel’s lyrics are as simple and plain as the album title, Ward surrounds them with engaging touches like the airy strings and gospel rejoinders on “In the Sun” (not the Blondie song). The romantic reverie “Thieves” has a breezy retro ’60s girl-group feel, as Deschanel coos her delicate lamentations against a thicket of Ward’s acoustic guitars. (Falling James)
Also playing Monday:
THE TAILS, HALINA LARSSON, NEMA at the Bordello; NICOLE EVA EMERY at Genghis Cohen; THE SO SO GLOWS, LOVELY BAD THINGS, PROTECT ME, BATWINGS CATWINGS at Pehrspace; JONNEINE ZAPATA at the Roxy; BLUE SKIES FOR BLACK HEARTS, SEASPIN at Silverlake Lounge; MOONRATS, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, CORRIDOR at Spaceland; ANDY CLOCKWISE, MARVELOUS TOY, LE SWITCH, MATT ELLIS at the Troubadour.
EFTERKLANG AT SPACELAND
Copenhagen’s Efterklang offer near-excruciatingly lovely, frozen slabs of ambient wintry wonder world cloaked in sustained airy drones and tiny electronic crackles like the crunch of twigs beneath the boots as one treks across the tundra. The evocative atmospheres that pervade their new Magic Chairs album (4AD) are the result of tastefully picturesque orchestrations twined with signal processors and studio atmospherics, along with a raft of excellent melodies, which they’re not as often credited for. Engineer/producer Gareth Jones (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Depeche Mode, Grizzly Bear, Wire) and the band’s electronics man, Mads Brauer, should win a Grammy for this effort — the album’s a lot of things, but, at the very least, perhaps the best-sounding record of the year so far. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday:
REPTET, LEARNING MUSIC, ZOO at Echo Curio; THE MECHANICAL BRIDE at Hyperion Tavern; SINNER-SINNER at La Cita; MAGNOLIA MEMOIR, ALAIN JOHANNES at Molly Malone’s; THE NEUROTICS, THREE WAY, SYLVIA JUNCOSA at the Redwood Bar & Grill; IRATION at the Roxy.
LES BLANKS, THE BLASTING COMPANY, FRANCISCO THE MAN AT SPACELAND
The night’s opener and closer are fine enough — Les Blanks churn out swaggering, boot-stomping indie rock, and Francisco the Man specializes in epic alt-Americana — but the highlight of this show will almost undoubtedly be watching the Blasting Company deliver a full set of Balkan blues under an actual roof. You can typically catch the Petrojvic brothers (Justin, Joshan and Daniel) with a handful of Gypsy cohorts busking the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sundays. The ragtag gang is easy to spot — they camp out on the southern end, where there’s space enough for the sizable crowd they draw, which includes plenty of return customers. In addition to having a bang-up act (helped along by spiffy Eastern European duds and Justin’s charm), the boys of the Blasting Company have serious chops when it comes to their instruments — accordion, trombone, trumpet and pedal-propelled drums. Both the Petrojvics and their collaborators hail from the Killsonic street orchestra, so a certain roughshod excellence is always to be expected. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday:
OLLIN, BRANT BJORK at the Echo; YOUNG DUBLINERS, KING WASHINGTON at House of Blues; THE GROOVY REDNECKS at Jumbo’s Clown Room; DEAD RABBITS, CULAN’S HOUNDS, 1-94, SLUGGER O’TOOLE at Molly Malone’s; T.S.O.L., D.I., THE STAINS, AGRESSION at the Roxy.
XIU XIU, TUNE YARDS, NOVELLER AT THE ECHO
Xiu Xiu have unleashed their challenging new record, Dear God, I Hate Myself, another incredibly ambiguous jumble of music and words and dashed hopes and future fears, rather frighteningly confessed by guiding black light Jamie Stewart. Thankfully, his painful warbling — blatantly confusing and sour to the taste, but always genuinely literate — spews forth, shrouded in startlingly original scapes of sound, shocking washes of xylophones and gongs, lacerating synths, much laptop hack and chop, and a perilous landscape randomly strewed with sonic rubbish. Stewart’s bewilderingly broad range of textural approaches to umbrella all this deeply scarred desolation makes a perfect kind of sense … in these confusing times. Tune Yards is Merrill Garbus, who flings a digitally damaged hodgepodge of reggae, hip-hop and folk loops onto the floor and stomps on them gleefully, foghorning powerfully, banging xylophones and punishing innocent ukuleles. Seek out her 4AD album Bird Brains, uncategorizably prime stuff. Also, avant-drone guitarist/filmmaker Sarah Lipstate, aka Noveller. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
PENNYWISE, T.S.O.L. at Ventura Theatre; STEPHEN STILLS at Henry Fonda Theater; VOODOO GLOW SKULLS at Alex’s Bar; JUDY COLLINS at the Canyon; AGENT ORANGE at Key Club; THE WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; DOUBLE NAUGHT SPYCAR, THE BLACK WIDOWS at Taix; ASHLEY MAHER at the Talking Stick.
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