Music Picks: Shunda K, SebastiAn, Fleet Foxes, Miles Evans Band
After a string of EPs, a compilation of remixes for Daft Punk, Uffie and Kelis, among others, and a soundtrack co-produced by Sebastien Tellier for Mr. Oizo's Steak — a sci-fi comedy about a gang of milk-drinking kids wreaking havoc by performing extreme face-lifts — French electro-house producer and Ed Banger affiliate SebastiAn finally released his long-awaited debut album, Total, this past June. Yes, that album cover is indeed an image of SebastiAn kissing himself, a photo by Jean-Baptiste Mondino that SebastiAn claims represents his vision of artistic posture: "When you play a game, you should play it all the way or not at all." Tonight he performs with Sharooz. —Lainna Fader
Winning over American audiences while singing in a foreign language has never been an easy feat, but Hello Seahorse! is poised to do just that. The Mexico City band is part of a generation of young Mexican musicians that increasingly draws on international influences to great effect while still singing in Spanish. Hints of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Asobi Seksu shine through in Hello Seahorse!'s lush, dark soundscapes, swirling synths and singer Lo Blondo's ethereal vocals. Interestingly, the band recorded much of their latest album, Lejos. No Tan Lejos, at the Silver Lake studio of Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark, who produced a handful of the album's tracks. Here's hoping Hello Seahorse! can obliterate the language barrier that typically prevents indie kids from venturing across musical borders. —Laura Ferreiro
Miles Evans Band
Miles Evans is the son of the late, great arranger Gil Evans, with whom Miles Davis did some of his most notable recordings of the 1960s and for whom the younger Evans is named. Miles has continued in their footsteps in playing his father's music and arranging new songs for his own band for the last several years here in Los Angeles. Bassist Darryl Jones (the Rolling Stones) worked with Miles Davis in the 1980s, and serves as the foundation here, joined for the first time by longtime Stones backing vocalist Bernard Fowler. Other notable members include Doug Webb, Steve Ferrone, Mike Blumberg, Carol Chaikin and newcomers Dean Brown on guitar and the supersoulful Deron Johnson on keys, the last keyboardist Davis recruited for his own band. Also Sat. —Tom Meek
Few outfits marry easy-listening sounds to uneasy sentiments like Thievery Corporation, the long-running Washington, D.C., electro-lounge project spearheaded by conspiracy-minded mixmasters Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. On the group's latest, the semi-Orwellian Culture of Fear, guest vocalists such as Boston rapper Mr. Lif and singer Shana Halligan (of L.A.'s Bitter:Sweet) ponder the intersection of personal freedom and Homeland Security over sleek, globe-tripping soundscapes that pull from bossa nova, dub reggae and vocal jazz; it's sweet stuff with a sour center. Here they're joined by local retro-soulsters Fitz and the Tantrums (whose taste in formalwear may well have scored them the opening gig) and AM & Shawn Lee, whose Air-like Celestial Electric is out now on Thievery Corporation's ESL Music. —Mikael Wood
En Vogue, Salt-n-Pepa
L.A. COUNTY FAIR
The funky divas of En Vogue have been promising a new studio album since at least 2008, when Dawn Robinson rejoined the Bay Area–born R&B girl group for a tour commemorating their 20th anniversary in (and out of) the business. Three years later, the album has yet to materialize. And yet! En Vogue's original-issue hits — "Hold On," "Free Your Mind," "My Lovin'," and let's not forget their sumptuous remake of "Something He Can Feel" — retain so much charm that it might well be worth the drive out to Pomona this weekend to hear 'em again. That's doubly true given En Vogue's booking with Salt-n-Pepa, the groundbreaking rap act whose presence here more or less guarantees a performance of "Whatta Man," their joint 1994 single. Great song, that one. —Mikael Wood
The Ruby Friedman Orchestra
HOUSE OF BLUES
Despite their name, the Ruby Orchestra is really a six-piece bar band instead of a large jazz combo. When they first came to attention a couple of years ago, they impressed with a note-for-note yet passionately stylized remake of the Beatles' "I Want You." A subsequent cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top" was less convincing, if only because leader Ruby Friedman's brassy vocals are better suited to Broadway artifice than to rock & roll. That said, Friedman is a captivating and charismatic performer, and her deft backup band is starting to develop its own sound. Although such bombastic power ballads as "Montmartre" come off as generically overwrought, other weirder glam-pop originals like "Sex With Tod Browning" and the folksy "Want My Life to Testify" hint at the RFO's boundless commercial potential. —Falling James
FANG at Cobalt Café; RANCID at Fox Theatre (Pomona); LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES, BOSTICH & FUSSIBLE, ANA TIJOUX at Music Box; BASSNECTAR at Hollywood Palladium; DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. at Troubadour; GOBBLE GOBBLE at the Echo; PONCHO SANCHEZ at Culver Club, DoubleTree Westside; WAR TAPES at Hotel Café; ATARI TEENAGE RIOT at Key Club.
"If I ever give you up, my heart will surely fail," Allison Mosshart, global man-slayer and lead singer of this London punk-blues duo — as well as Jack White's gothic blues crew the Dead Weather — grumbles atop tribal snares and gnarly, satanic riffs on the opening cut of the Kills' newest release, Blood Pressures. That we don't know whether the black-haired growler is referencing, via her countless catatonic come-ons, Kills guitarist and Kate Moss' hubby, Jamie Hince, or White makes the lust-laden tension slathered over their superb new album all the more palpable. Like the trio of albums that preceded it, the twosome's newest is steeped in lo-fi, garage grit. But a larger, sonically fleshy mood emerges. Call it baby-making music for a whips-and-chains-heavy ménage a trois. —Dan Hyman
Husky-voiced singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne returns to the Greek with his longtime touring band, the Pariah Dogs, with whom he recorded his fourth LP, God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise, released last summer. LaMontagne produced the country-tinged album — his first shot at producing all on his own, and his first with a co-billed band — in just two weeks in his woodsy home in western Massachusetts. On God Willin', his voice emits weary melancholy, sounding as if it's coming from an old bluesman born and raised on the shores of the Mississippi. In December, the record was nominated for a pair of Grammys, taking home the title of Best Contemporary Folk Album. Tonight, they perform with Brandi Carlile and Vusi Mahlasela. —Lainna Fader
Rick Potts, Precious, Toning
A seminal figure on the L.A. nongenre/electronic/avant-pop/misc. noise scene. Potts founded the Los Angeles Free Music Society in the mid-'70s and plucked power punk e-bass in Human Hands. He played sax, xylophone and saw (and applied an electric toothbrush to an electric guitar) in LAFMS offshoot Le Forte Four through the early '80s, and carried the experimental torch further in his disco-aristo-sarcophagus combo Dinosaurs With Horns with sample-loop king Joseph Hammer. With Medicine's Brad Laner he made up the essential Steaming Coils and Debt of Nature, and later formed the lopsided electro-acoustic pop perverters known as Solid Eye with Hammer and ex-Monitor man Steve Thomsen. Tonight Potts will be seen behind a table strewn with laptops, digital and analog FX units, an electric guitar and an undying love for a sound beyond. —John Payne
CEREBRAL BALLZY at the Roxy; HANSON at House of Blues (Anaheim); SUPERHUMANOIDS, POLLYN at Bootleg Theater; FLAVIA BULLET QUARTET at Club Nyx; MITCHEL FORMAN QUINTET at Alvas Showroom; BOB SHEPPARD QUINTET at Vitello's; PETER DALTRY at Satellite.
The National, Neko Case & T Bone Burnett, Sharon Van Etten
Brooklyn alt-rockers the National headline this night of fantastic voices at the Bowl, with lead singer Matt Berninger putting his foggy-bottom baritone to contemplative anthems like "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Mistaken for Strangers." You can almost hear a little bit of Peter Murphy's shadowy mystery around the edges of Berninger's deep crooning. Opener Sharon Van Etten hails from New Jersey and has a delicately sweet, almost countrified phrasing in rueful pop-folk tunes like "One Day." But the most majestic voice of the night belongs to Neko Case, whose powerful country-pop belting should sail stirringly and unfettered over the hills of Hollywood. She'll be joined by the oft-celebrated T Bone Burnett, whose recent productions of albums by Elvis Costello, Grace Potter, and Leon Russell & Elton John may sound a bit thin, but the lanky music vet was once a key member of Bob Dylan's notorious Rolling Thunder Revue. —Falling James
Shunda K, Yo! Majesty
In 2006, Yo! Majesty, a rap trio of females out of Tampa, Fla., had in-the-know clubs going crazy as they chanted, "Fuck that shit!" in "Club Action," a body-rattling, tongue-twisting single that showed they could go as hard as the boys. They also get just as nasty (sample song title: "Kryptonite Pussy"). Bucking their 2 Live Crew heritage, though, they toured with indie darling gay-rights advocates the Gossip, and were openly lesbians and Christians. Typical band trouble led to Shunda K leaving the group, but tonight, she and original member Jwl B. join back up. Shunda K has collaborated with gender-shrugging singer Peaches, and in January she released a solo album, The Most Wanted. Featuring the same punky, funky marriage of sound as Yo! Majesty, the record snaps from squealing rock & roll guitar licks to boombastic bass that'll drop the bottom out of your car. —Rebecca Haithcoat
BIG & RICH at L.A. County Fair; DAVILA 666 at the Echo; HTRK, TROPIC OF CANCER at Part Time Punks (the Echo); BRAD RABUCHIN GROUP at the Baked Potato.
Kissing Cousins, Wet & Reckless
You might have seen Heather B. Heywood playing bass in husband Ben Heywood's expansive alt-rock band Summer Darling, but she also fronts the all-femme group Kissing Cousins, who have a heavy yet introspectively moody sound. Songs like "You Bring Me Down" thunder with a doom-ridden rock power that belies Heather's background as the obedient daughter of a Pentecostal minister. "Silhouettes" is quieter and more somber, with a restlessness that lurks just beneath its angular guitars, while the funereally dreamy "Snake Handler" alludes to the contradictions of her religious past. Fellow local gals Wet & Reckless jingle and jangle with inviting lo-fi punk-pop melodies, as lead singer Emily Wilder casts off her shackles and resists being pulled back into "Your Cemetery." —Falling James
GIVERS at Troubadour; SALLY KELLERMAN at Vitello's; KATISSE BUCKINGHAM QUINTET at Seven Grand.
MASONIC LODGE IN HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY
Charismatic carrot-top Patrick Wolf is at the very least a triple threat: a songwriting chronicler par excellence of youthful dreams/desires/disasters, a cleverly adept violinist and baritone ukelele-ist, and a boldly adventurous musical arranger capable of astonishingly lush tapestries of sound. But it's the charisma that makes all that matter, and while that's best witnessed live onstage, it can be heard to thrilling effect on Wolf's Lupercalia, out in America next month. Lupercalia is another ambitiously orchestrated meisterwerk that finds our plucky lad in heartbreaking form, sing-pleading, cajoling and crowing in spine-tingling splendor. Also Wed. —John Payne
Metalcore is reaching a sterile second stage where believers seem to be ordering "build-a-band" kits: the reverse–wind tunnel hairdos, droopy V-necks and chest tats; and alternating screeching/sensitive vocals framed by ominous in 'n' out guitars and busy, clicky beats. North Hills' Lions!Tigers!Bears! certainly check off some of the above but find considerable sense of self within the template. The drums are freethinking and hardcore-leaning; keys and samples sprinkle between borderline militaristic guitars; and Josh Wallace — while down with the genre playbook — has the shaggy makings of a hoodie messiah. L!T!B!'s tunes are sufficiently singable to be ADHD anthems for the abbreviation generation. When "metalcore" is a dirty word (like, next year), Lions!Tigers!Bears! will still be standing — and doubtless sounding rather different. —Paul Rogers
My Satellite can be dreamy and detached, epic and escapist, yet there's heart and humanity at the core of their complex recordings. MS are techie for sure (Bryan Stage works in L.A. Weekly's IT department, after all), but, as recent full-band acoustic performances have admirably demonstrated, all the gizmos and gigabytes are but servants of actual songs and visceral voices. Evoking a more Earth-bound Björk, My Satellite is at once a sonic cocoon for urban commuters and a euphoric, kaleidoscopic companion to canyon wanderings. Nuanced in his sincerity, Stage sends warm, timeless transmissions via sometimes chilly, utterly contemporary mediums. —Paul Rogers
ALL FOR THE HALL at Club Nokia; EISLEY at Chain Reaction; ERIC TELFORD COLLECTIVE at the Baked Potato; THE GOURDS at the Echo; HEROES OF POPULAR WARS at Silverlake Lounge.
Fleet Foxes, the Walkmen
It's easy to get lost within the thicket of enchanted melodies, choirboy harmonies and beatific yarns from this CSNY-ish Pacific Northwest indie-folk outfit (never more so than on their lilting, melody-driven second effort, Helplessness Blues) and believe frontman Robin Pecknold was given a power of supine storytelling from on high. But the self-admitted shy boy is simply an anxiety-driven perfectionist: He struggled to complete his band's newest, still seemingly effortless collection of canorous charms, scrapping it more than once, and even thought of trashing it altogether. This tale of hardship makes Helplessness all the more remarkable. While it's a laugh to still insist divine art and struggle are codependent, Pecknold makes you wonder. The Foxes are joined by echo-laden, post-punk New Yorkers the Walkmen. —Dan Hyman
CRACKER, CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN at the Satellite; HORRIBLE CROWES at Troubadour; SUN ARAW, RTX, HEAVY CREAM at Freak City; THE MOONDOGGIES at the Echo; PANGEA, AUDACITY, MIKAL CRONIN at the Smell; ADAM SCHROEDER at Seven Grand; CAROL CHAIKIN QUARTET at Vibrato; BRIAN BLADE FELLOWSHIP BAND at Colburn School Zipper Hall; HELEN SUNG TRIO at Vitello's; THE JOY FORMIDABLE at El Rey Theatre; 2CELLOS at Largo.
In the ursine world of music, Teddybears are simultaneously weirder and cuddlier than, say, Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear or Minus the Bear. It doesn't hurt that the Swedish group loves to wear teddy-bear masks onstage, but what really separates them from the rest is their madly eclectic potpourri of styles on their latest release, Devil's Music. While the new album isn't as immediately engaging as 2006's Soft Machine (which featured such luminaries as Iggy Pop and Neneh Cherry), Devil's Music does include a similarly tantalizing lineup of guest-star collaborators, like the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, the B-52's, Eve and Cee-Lo Green. Coyne adds hazy vocals to "Crystal Meth Christian" (a weird sort of answer song to Tommy James' "Crystal Blue Persuasion"), while Green and the B-52's purr like kittens on the dance-floor workout "Cho Cha." —Falling James
THE HORRORS, THE STEPKIDS at El Rey Theatre; LADY ANTEBELLUM at Troubadour; ROBOTANISTS at Bootleg Theater; RTX at Alex's Bar; JERRY VIVINO at the Baked Potato; ANGEL CITY JAZZ YOUNG ARTIST FINALS at Blue Whale; STAFF BENDA BILILI at Grand Performances.
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