Music Picks: Sky Saxon Tribute, Daddy Kev, Grace Jones, The Mekons
FRIDAY JULY 24
SKY SAXON TRIBUTE
at the Echoplex
With all of the recent hysteria about Michael Jackson shuffling off his mortal coil, the death of Sky Saxon in Austin on June 25 received comparatively little attention, even in the Hollywood music scene he once ruled. Before the rise of the Doors, Arthur Lee & Love and even the Byrds, Saxon’s Seeds were the kings of the Sunset Strip in the mid-1960s, churning out crude garage-rock stompers like “Tripmaker,” “No Escape,” “Mr. Farmer” and the hit “Pushin’ Too Hard,” as well as unexpectedly gentle ballads, like the poignant childhood reverie “Faded Picture” and the oft-covered classic “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine.” Spitting out the breathless 14-minute garage-blues incantation “Up in Her Room,” Saxon moved the Seeds away from teeny bop into a deeper, more sinister variation of Flower Power, but by the end of the ’60s he’d evolved far past the linear confines of time, space and even being in a band. He continued snarling his way through an intermittent series of underrated biker-psychedelic-garage solo albums, but he also went off the grid, began living in a Hawaiian forest and worshiping dogs as godlike beings, and was a longtime affiliate of the idealistically naturalistic hippie cult the Source Family, some of whose members will honor Saxon tonight with their ultra-heavy space jams. Also paying tribute are the Woolly Bandits’ Rick Collins and other musicians from recent Seeds lineups; former Love guitarist Mike Randle, performing solo; and a new supergroup called Spirits in the Sky, with the Electric Prunes’ Mark Tulin jamming with (believe it or not) his recent collaborator Billy Corgan. While the Smashing Pumpkin singer’s blowzy indie-pop bombast would seem to be the antithesis of the Seeds’ feral rock & roll carnality, it’s heartening that there’s at least one mainstream modern rocker who recognizes the historic importance of that late, great howling-at-the-moon mad dog, Sky Saxon. (Falling James)
LA ROUX, IO
at the Troubadour
One of your au-so-courant U.K. smash sensations currently changing the shape of the universe is Brixton’s La Roux, fronted by red-haired firebrand Elly Jackson and her synth-man Ben Langmaid. Another in a longish line of similar duo-entities, their strong-girl/effete keyboard fellow dynamic La Roux’s strongly resembles Yaz. There is, frankly, not a lot of groundbreaking art on La Roux’s new self-titled batch of electro-pop dance fodder on Polydor, but it’d be churlish to say that tracks like “Bulletproof,” “In for the Kill” or the deeply Prince-y “Quicksand” don’t make you twitch in your seat and don’t make you need to fling yourself onto the dance floor and lose yourself in writhing, liberated bliss. It’s Jackson’s charismatic way of putting her points across, and it’s the beats and compulsive synth sounds, which are remorselessly high-tempo, tighter than a rat’s bum, and amazingly on-point. And the point is. ... Well, party like it’s 1987. ... You don’t ask why. (John Payne)
DADDY KEV, GLITCH MOB, NOSAJ THING
at the Roxy
Know ye that this night of killing electronic/DJ/floor-rotting bass sounds is a farsighted extension of the grand vision of hip-hop, and that it’s presented by Alpha Pup Records, a high standard of truth and beauty to which we all should humbly aspire. This More Voltage Tour features the Glitch Mob, whose literally earth-shaking combo of multiple basses, head-squeezing polyrhythmic drum punishment and spontaneous remixing madness sounds like hip-hop at the end of the world. Nosaj Thing is a.k.a. Jason Chung, with a beautifully noisy line in rock-strewn electronic terrain and unfathomably dense beats. (Dude’s accomplished, too, having remixed the likes of Flying Lotus, Daedelus, Elliot Lipp and Health, not to mention winning the Project Blowed beat battle.) Last but by no means least is beat-slicing/hiphop-shredding producer/engineer Daddy Kev, who’s applied his considerable skills to work by AWOL One, Busdriver, Abstract Tribe Unique, Freestyle Fellowship and loads more. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday:
DE LA SOUL at the Key Club; THE SMITHEREENS at the Galaxy Theatre; JEWEL, MICHAEL FEINSTEIN at the Hollywood Bowl; X, MARIA MCKEE at the Pacific Amphitheatre; VAN DYKE PARKS & INARA GEORGE at McCabe’s; MIKE WATT & THE HANGMEN, THE LIVING SICKNESS, BARRIO TIGER at the Redwood Bar; SEMI PRECIOUS WEAPONS at the Viper Room; JESSIE EVANS & TOBY DAMMIT at Silver Factory Studios; JOE BAIZA UNIVERSAL CONGRESS OF, DOUBLE NAUGHT SPYCAR at Taix.
SATURDAY, JULY 25
THE HANDSOME FAMILY
The Handsome Family are really just the Albuquerque wife-and-husband duo Rennie Sparks and Brett Sparks, although they’re sometimes augmented by guest musicians in the studio and on the road. At their best, they strum and pluck folkie Americana tunes, which can be haunting and even beautifully scary. At their worst, their songs tend to be a little sleepy and corny, albeit well-crafted, such as “Linger, Let Me Linger,” which is the inauspiciously stodgy beginning to the Handsome Family’s otherwise fine new CD, Honey Moon (Carrot Top). Brett intones creaky country anthems and murder ballads with a foggy mournfulness, but it’s Rennie’s evocative lyrical imagery that makes the songs interesting. “Love is like a white moth sipping tears from sleeping birds,” she announces. In “A Thousand Diamond Rings,” she marvels that “The sunset’s a bird with wings made out of fire. ... The desert dirt shimmers like a sea of watermelon light.” (Note: The Handsome Family play McCabe’s on Sunday night at 7 p.m. with opener Daniel Knox, followed by a separate late show from the Mekons at 9:30 p.m.) (Falling James)
STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS
at the Echoplex
This past February, a not-quite-but-almost Pavement reunion (sans Scott Kannberg) occurred in Nashville, sending fans and blogs into a frenzy of probably/maybe touring speculation. Afterward, a Web site quoted Stephen Malkmus as saying, “I’m happy about it, but I’m into the new thing.” The “new thing,” we suppose, means the Jicks — even though Malkmus has recorded four albums and toured more with his current group than he ever did with his famous former indie-rock institution. Maybe the Jicks’ indefinite honeymoon comes from its truly collective ability to crank out an ever-evolving catalog of prolific albums — those that have achieved an easily congealed cohesiveness between the smarty-pants wordplay and hooky song structures Malkmus never reached in Pavement (although it sounds like indie-rock sacrilege to say it). With well-rounded and mutually competent co-conspirators, like everyone’s favorite drummer Janet Weiss (Sleater Kinney and Quasi) and players Joanna Bolme and Mike Clark, Malkmus just seems freer with the Jicks. (Wendy Gilmartin)
CUT CHEMIST, WE ARE THE WORLD
at the Getty Center
Never try to predict what may transpire when Cut Chemist takes to the decks. The former DJ for Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli has reached legendary status in his native Los Angeles, in part because of his flawlessly eclectic collection. (Rare soul? Check. Detroit techno? Check. Heavy metal? Check.) But choice vinyl can only get you so far and Cut Chemist has the extra advantage of showmanship on his side. Not only does the DJ work with remarkable speed, but you never know when he might do something like strap a turntable on like a guitar and scratch at the edge of the stage. For this edition of the Getty Center series Saturdays off the 405, Cut Chemist will collaborate with vocalist Hymnal, who you might recall from his track “What’s the Altitude” from The Audience is Listening, and VJ Pimpadelic Wonderland from Cinefamily. What happens after the three take the stage is anyone’s guess. (Liz Ohanesian)
Also playing Saturday:
PAULA COLE, JAMES LEE STANLEY at Pershing Square; JEWEL, MICHAEL FEINSTEIN at the Hollywood Bowl; ROCCO DELUCCA & THE BURDEN, ALEX BAND, INGRAM HILL, CHRIS PIERCE at the Ford Amphitheatre; MISSING PERSONS at the Canyon; REBEL REBEL at Relax Bar; SEMI PRECIOUS WEAPONS at the Viper Room.
SUNDAY JULY 26
GRACE JONES, OF MONTREAL, DENGUE FEVER
at the Hollywood Bowl
Undoubtedly the Hollywood Bowl’s kookiest booking of the summer, this way-eclectic triple bill is guaranteed to freak out a sizable portion of the Bowl’s white-haired season-subscriber contingent. Our headliner, of course, is one of disco’s most fascinating eccentrics, even if she’s probably best known to fans younger than 30 as the angular James Bond baddie from A View to a Kill. Last year Jones released Hurricane, her first studio album in nearly two decades; unfortunately, despite appealingly zany lyrics about corporate cannibals and digital criminals — not to mention guest appearances from such avant-pop heavyweights as Brian Eno, Tricky and her old pals Sly & Robbie — “amazing” doesn’t really describe this Grace. Still, the lady’s catalog stuff rules; pray for oldies tonight. Kevin Barnes and his bandmates in Of Montreal have spent the past few years transforming themselves from cutesy-pie twee-pop twerps into fearless glam-soul warriors — an advisable change, to be sure. L.A.’s Dengue Fever play a modern American version of Vietnam-era Cambodia’s version of old-school American rock. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Sunday:
METAL SHAKESPEARE, HARVEY SID FISHER, BRENT WEINBACH at Spaceland; BLONDIE, PAT BENETAR, THE ROMANTICS at the Pacific Amphitheatre; HAPPENIN’ HARRY & THE HAP TONES ALL-STAR BAND at the Cat Club; DAVID SERBY, JAIMI SHUEY, THE LINCOLN BEDROOM at the Echo; LE SWITCH, PAM SHAFFER, THE BLANK TAPES at Echo Curio; ASHER ROTH, KID CUDI, BOB, PAC DIV at House of Blues; LA SKA WARS FEATURING LA RESISTENCIA, RED STORE BUMS, RASKAHUELE, LOS KUNG FU MONKEYS, OTHERS at the Knitting Factory; THE HANDSOME FAMILY at McCabe’s (early); THE MEKONS at McCabe’s (9:30 set time).
MONDAY JULY 27
at the Echo
Maybe had circumstances evolved differently, you’d have heard of the Mekons by now. If singer Sally Timms had finally killed singer/guitarist Jon Langford onstage, as she’s had every right to do over the course of the band’s 30-year history, they’d have drawn enough attention to start the conversation. If they hadn’t signed a few shitty record deals, their great pop song “Millionaire,” with the catchy refrain of, “Lust corrodes my body/I lost count of my lovers/But I can count my money/Forever and forever,” might have given them a popular boost. If they’d all lived on the same continent at the same time or something. But probably not, because die-hards know that the Curse of the Mekons is real. How else to explain the relative anonymity of a band that seamlessly merged punk, dub and country music without it sounding totally ridiculous — that, lo, sounds nearly perfect? Rising from Leeds in 1977 alongside Gang of Four and the Delta 5, the Mekons have remained a creative entity ever since (give or take), have released at least four perfect albums (Fear and Whisky from 1985, Honky Tonkin’ from 1987, Rock ‘n’ Roll from 1989 and Retreat from Memphis, 1994), have spawned countless offshoots, have performed in Chicago a string of New Year’s Eve shows that stand as musical highlights of at least one L.A. Weekly music editor’s concert-going life. And yet everybody’s still name-checking Gang of Four, a one-trick-pony compared to the Mekons. It’s not fair. (The Mekons also perform a Sunday night acoustic set at McCabe’s.) (Randall Roberts)
at the Wiltern
On his second solo album, the Steve Albini–produced Further Complications, Jarvis Cocker turns to a funky, fuzzed-out sound that’s part post-punk, part garage rock. Songs like the title track and Elvis Costello–esque lead single “Angela,” seem like a stretch for those most familiar with his work as the lead singer of the synthpop-tinged Britpop superstars Pulp, but the collection is still unmistakably Jarvis, filled with the quirky narratives and massive doses of wit that have marked his songwriting style. Live, Cocker is the frontman who looks like a professor, tall and lanky with unkempt hair, a blazer and oversized glasses. However, he has the soul of the consummate entertainer, crooning through songs that sometimes blur the lines between hopeless romanticism and bitterness. His pauses between numbers are simply gaps he fills by charming the crowd with one wisecrack after the next. A night with Jarvis Cocker is always as sophisticated as it is raucous. (Liz Ohanesian)
Also playing Monday:
TINY VIPERS, LAZARUS, NIGHT CANOPY, DAMEON LEE at Echo Curio; ASH REITER, PIERRE DE REEDER, THE LONG LOST at the Bootleg Theater; NO DOUBT, THE SOUNDS, PARAMORE at the Gibson Amphitheatre; STARLIGHT MINTS at the Troubadour; JAPANESE MOTORS, THEE MAKEOUT PARTY, THE BLANK TAPES, GOLDIGGERS at the Echoplex; LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO, THE MONTHLIES, RIO BRAVO at Silverlake Lounge; ANDY CLOCKWISE, EBONY BONES, THE AUDREYS, CARLA WERNER, MATT ELLIS at Spaceland; 60 WATT KID, SHIRLEY ROLLS, THE SEIZURE, MIKKI & THE MAUSES, SINGLE MOTHERS at Women.
TUESDAY JULY 28
at the El Rey
This New York–based quirk-pop darling doesn’t need much to entertain: Last time I caught her live, Spektor kept me riveted with only a piano for accompaniment. Nevertheless, that creative self-sufficiency hardly kept the Moscow-born songstress from hiring no fewer than four A-list producers to help craft her new CD, Far, which after its release last month debuted impressively at No. 3 on Billboard’s album-sales chart. Mike Elizondo, Jeff Lynne, Jacknife Lee and David Kahne each tricked out Spektor’s ditties differently — I dig Elizondo’s groove-heavy arrangements best — yet Far still feels defined by the singer’s considerable idiosyncrasies; she’s definitely one for whom stylistic dress-up only accentuates what’s going on inside. At the El Rey, Spektor will perform both solo and with a drummer and string quartet. (Mikael Wood)
IDA MARIA, GLASVEGAS
at the Henry Fonda Theatre
The Norwegian singer Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen has so much creative talent and pop potential (two things that aren’t necessarily compatible or even heading in the same direction) that it’s just as easy to worry about where she might end up as it is to celebrate where she is already. Songs like “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked,” from her recent CD, Fortress ’Round My Heart, are exuberant and energetically hooky, but they also have a facile pop cuteness that seems better suited to Avril Lavigne. But when Ida Maria croons a tempestuous ballad like “Keep Me Warm,” she reveals a soulful depth and melodic phrasing that’s quite moving. “Stella” and “Queen of the World” are simple lovely pop songs that have a Feist-like buoyancy. Meanwhile, the sunny jangle of “Louie” is one of the most charming apologies for being too drunk you’re ever likely to hear. Ida Maria opens for sarcastically sentimental Scottish indie-rockers Glasvegas. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC COMPANY, THE DONKEYS, OLD CALIFORNIO at the Echo; EARTH, WIND & FIRE, CHICAGO at Club Nokia; BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH at the Galaxy Theatre; NO DOUBT, THE SOUNDS, PARAMORE at the Gibson Amphitheatre; GLASVEGAS, IDA MARIA at the Henry Fonda Theatre; OUR LADY PEACE, BILLY THE KID at the Troubadour; OBI BEST, WILLOUGHBY at the Bootleg Theater; JESCA HOOP, THE CHAPIN SISTERS, KRISTY KRUGER, THE ONCE WAS, FITZ at the Hotel Cafe; THE NIGHTS, PULSE OUT at the Silverlake Lounge.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 29
Long ago (in the early oughtties), before loads of bands hit the tables with their laptops and Mr. Sample machines, the duo of Jel and Adam “Doseone” Drucker, concocted a gloriously busted musical mess with their Boss pedals and computer glitches, turning nasally muttering into a rhythm instrument itself and forming a Frankenstein monster out of art-rock, IDM and rap. After a long break, Doseone’s slaphappy facial contortions and whacked-out dance moves are still here, but the six-year hiatus and the susequent work they made together in the prog-pop/rap band Subtle lends a sophisticated tone to the ecstatic, sonic chaos, which wasn’t there before. With their newest release, theFREEhoudini, Themselves force-feed listening ears with as much scattered shreddiness as one would expect from their signature breakdown, but they’ve medicated their attention deficit disorder process and actually produce tracks resembling songs now. On theFREEhoudini, Themselves are joined by almost every O.G. Anticon collective member left in the Bay Area (including Buck 65, Busdriver, Lionesque, Slug of Atmosphere and Aesop Rock). Who knows who might end up at the show. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Wednesday:
CRYSTAL ANTLERS, MIKA MIKO, AUDACITY at Alex’s Bar; THE FRAY, JACK’S MANNEQUIN at the Verizon Amphitheater; BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH, THE LIONS, ROOTBEER & PIGEON JOHN at the Roxy; TRASHCAN SINATRAS, BROOKVILLE at the Troubadour.
THURSDAY, JULY 30
at the Roxy
What kind of music would Jack Bauer listen to, assuming he ever had the time, after surviving yet another of his implausibly long days fending off terrorists on 24? It’s hard to say, but it’s clear that the actor who portrays him, Kiefer Sutherland, has a soft spot in his heart for the jangling folk-pop of Venice duo HoneyHoney, who are signed to his label, Ironworks. Their restful, tuneful songs are a world away from the frantic pacing and explosive punctuations of 24’s mindless hysteria. Suzanne Santo has an engagingly sweet voice on HoneyHoney’s recent full-length CD, First Rodeo, where the moods range from quaintly retro folk to mainstream pop. She and co-songwriter Ben Jaffe are terribly ordinary lyricists who rely too much on all the old clichés, but their melodies are winning enough to make up for the fact that they don’t have anything new to say. With HoneyHoney, it’s more about the way the swinging lilt in Santo’s voice and her violin adornments align with Jaffe’s nonflashy guitar, especially on the gently mesmerizing “Not for Long.” (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
GLORIA TREVI at House of Blues; THE SOUNDS at the Key Club; CASTANETS, WARMER MILKS at Spaceland; BILLY BOY ON POISON, SMASHUP BROTHERS, DIN CALIBUR, VAS DEFRANS, VINNIE LERRA, DANNY JOHNSON at El Rey Theatre; HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS at the Pacific Amphitheatre; JIMMIE VAN ZANT at the Canyon; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo at the Coronet; WAYNE “THE TRAIN” HANCOCK at the Mint; GRAM RABBIt, OLIVER FUTURE at the Troubadour; HOLY GRAIL, ILLUMINATION, SYNEKA at the Whisky a Go-Go.
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