Music Picks: Stagecoach Festival, Yoshitake Expe, Hole, Chicha Libre
EVERYBODY WAS IN THE FRENCH RESISTANCE ... NOW! AT THE ECHO
Everybody Was in the French Resistance ... Now! is the clumsily named side project of Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos, who's got a way of redeeming dodgy ideas with his smarty-pants verbal flair and his sheer determination to entertain. So it goes on Fixin' the Charts, Volume 1, which Argos made with his girlfriend, Dyan Valdes of local rockers the Blood Arm. Their concept? Crafting scrappy synth-rock responses to well-known pop songs that were doing just fine without them. ("Billie Jean," for instance, as well as Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend.") According to NME, Art Brut guitarist Ian Catskilkin is playing with Argos and Valdes on the band's current North American tour, which kicks off here. Might requests for "Formed a Band" be honored? (Mikael Wood)
TRANZ-KUNT-INENTAL AT THE ROXY
In the tradition of Ziggy Stardust, Dr. Frank N. Furter, Hedwig and — dare we say it — Glambert, comes Tranz-kunt-inental, a band of L.A. drag-ster singers and punk-dude musicians out to prove that cock-rock swagger (tucked or untucked) and stage theatricality live on. Handpicked to open for Passion Pit during their sold-out Fonda gigs a few months ago, Tranz rose from the decade-old ashes of the '90s glam slam known as Club Makeup, the monthly dance orgy that saw all the best queens and session musicians in town rock out to classics on El Rey's stage. The Roxy's Nic Adler, lead guitarist Xander Smith (Run Run Run) and DJ Paul V are hoping this will be the kickoff of a regular midnight spectacle in the tradition of Rocky Horror, which Adler's dad, Lou, produced. This show also serves as a reunion of sorts for many in the former Makeup cover band (Charlie Paulson, Ari Shine, Paris, Monte Pittman and Noah Shain). Expect wild cross-dressing, loads of excess and a little hot-mess action too. Scheduled royalty include: the bodacious Momma and Mz. Alanna, the bootylicious Detox, Kelly Mantle (Mickey's nephew) and the sassy — if not exactly sweet — Candy Ass. We're shivering with antici ... pation. (Doors 11:30 p.m.) (Lina Lecaro)
HOLE AT THE HENRY FONDA THEATER
First things first: This isn't really Hole we're dealing with here. Sure, Courtney Love was always the sun around which this most fiery of rock bands revolved. But nearly as crucial as Love's songs and 'tude was Eric Erlandson's guitar, which on each of Hole's first three LPs provided la C-Lo with the sonic canvas required to put her act across: ugly garage-punk blurt (Pretty on the Inside), muscled-up radio rock (Live Through This) and West Coast glam-grunge (Celebrity Skin). Erlandson doesn't appear on Nobody's Daughter, the new Hole record, but his sound does, which tells you something about the value Love places in her old pal's playing; replacement Micko Larkin should probably be a little embarrassed about how baldly he rips his predecessor. As for Love's tunes, they're okay; most don't reproduce the brute force of lead single "Skinny Little Bitch." But none of this really matters: She will be onstage tonight, so you should go. (Mikael Wood)
NORAH JONES AT THE ORPHEUM
When Norah Jones released The Fall last November, I'll admit that some part of my positive reaction was attributable to the element of surprise: Here was the queen of spotless Starbucks soul going relatively grungy with a set of guitar-heavy art-folk tunes produced by the guy who did the last Kings of Leon record. Weird! Nearly six months later, though, The Fall still sounds great; beneath the rock-club textures and appealingly greasy organ licks are some of the handsomest, most believable songs Jones has written (or at least recorded) yet. That said, ol' Snorah may still induce snoozes onstage tonight — though the presence of both Joey Waronker and Smokey Hormel in her current live band bodes well. Word to all you NPR types: Reports from the road indicate that Jones has been covering Wilco's "Jesus, Etc." lately. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Friday: BATTLEHOOCH, SLANG CHICKENS at the Echo Curio; HIGH ON FIRE at El Rey Theatre; BLACK PRAIRIE, THE LIVING SISTERS at Bootleg; RX BANDITS at the Glass House; KILLOLA at the Roxy; HIM at the Wiltern; JON BRION at Largo at the Coronet; KID SISTER at Avalon Hollywood; THE FUXEDOS at Spaceland.
STAGECOACH FESTIVAL AT EMPIRE POLO CLUB
Stagecoach, our greatest annual country-music blitzkrieg, seems to have finally achieved the ideal balance of god-awful contemporary stars and genuine, artistically significant originators. Saturday brings on Aussie groaner Keith Urban and the syrupy fizz of Sugarland, but also features the incomparable California titan Merle Haggard, whose just-released I Am What I Am (subtitle: I Do What I Do) demonstrates that the 73-year-old singer is as gloriously iconoclastic as ever. The presence of former Hank Sr. roommate Ray Price, whose career spans from the honky-tonk of "Crazy Arms" to the luxurious croon of "For the Good Times," is a guaranteed gasser. Bobby Bare, who knocked everyone on their ass (again) a few years back with that fabulous The Moon Was Blue album, gets a rare local date. Come the Sabbath, clockwork redneck Toby Keith and boot-scootin' blowhards Brooks & Dunn (that retirement is seriously overdue, dudes) preach the corporate gospel. Veteran Grand Ole Opry star Little Jimmy Dickens, prized for crucial numbers like "Slow Suicide" and "Salty Boogie," will not only provide a potent antidote — he'll demonstrate the true, fine art of hillbilly alchemy, spinning corn into gold with his showstoppingly morbid recitation of "Raggedy Ann." Quite fine. (Jonny Whiteside)
YOSHITAKE EXPE, MATTHEWDAVID, SAMUEL PARTAL, DEAD WESTERN AT ECHO CURIO
Although he employs no fewer than 70 effects pedals to do his strange bidding, Japanese guitarist Yoshitake Expe is hardly your usual avant-garde noisenik. The dreadlocked virtuoso specializes in what he's dubbed "space guitar" — an uninventive name for a very inventive art that involves channeling ambient, funk, electronic and bossa sounds into one surprisingly enjoyable aural soup. This one-man band can make his ax mimic percussion, a sitar, a laser gun or a spaceship, and he's been tapped to do so by everyone from the Boredoms to legendary experimentalist Keiji Haino to Brazilian pandeiro player Marcos Suzano. The appearance of L.A.'s own genre-flouting collagist Matthewdavid sweetens the pot considerably. He runs the burgeoning cassette label Leaving Records, and, true to form, his grit-bearing ethereal compositions sound as if they've never touched a computer. Dusty rhythms, field samples and analog hiss all figure heavily in his textured soundscapes. Matthewdavid's most recent release is a must-own 10-inch split with Low End Theory regular Take. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Saturday: THE BLOODY BEETROOTS at the Palladium; THE SPIRES, THE FRENCH SEMESTER, DIVISADERO at Pehrspace; JOE LOUIS WALKER at Harvelle's; MARCY PLAYGROUND at the Key Club; L.A. OPERA at the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; ASSEMBLY OF DUST, JENNIFER KNAPP, PAWNSHOP KINGS at the Mint; LA PASION ORCHESTRA at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
CHICHA LIBRE, VERY BE CAREFUL AT ANGEL'S
Deep down in the Amazon regions in the '70s, bands like Los Mirlos and Juaneco y Su Combo mixed Colombian cumbia with surf rock, ratty Farfisas, indigenous music and psychedelic sounds. They called this musical brew Chicha, after the local fermented drink viewed by the musicians as a symbol of indigenous empowerment. Brooklyn's Chicha Libre pay heavy-hitting homage to that sound with a batch of their own explosively eccentric cumbias and related polyphonic psychedelicisms — check their Sonido Amazonico on Barbes Records. Guitarist Jose Luis Carballo of Chicha originators Los Hijos del Sol joins Chicha Libre for a few songs. L.A.'s Very Be Careful deal in a punky new take on the accordion-driven folk music of Colombia known as vallenato, heard to ferocious effect on their new Escape Room(Barbes). Also at El Cid on Fri., April 23. (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday: EMERSON AND LAKE at the Orpheum Theatre; RAINBOW ARABIA, SISTER CRAYON, TEARIST at Space 15 Twenty; WARPAINT, HIS ORCHESTRA at the Echoplex; THE MONOLATORS at Spaceland; CHRISTIAN SCOTT at Amoeba Music; LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC at Walt Disney Concert Hall; L.A. OPERA at Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; THE EAGLES at Honda Center.
JASON CASTRO AT THE TROUBADOUR
We can be honest about American Idol lately, right? Shit kind of sucks. Maybe it's the post-Lambert vacuum — how refreshing was it to see him do the mentor thing this season? — but nobody this year seems to have the pop-star spark crucial to making the transition from reality TV to actual reality. Season 7 finalist Jason Castro didn't really have it, either, but at least he appeared to be in possession of a personality; compared to the current crop, this profoundly laid-back dreadlock dude is a one-man Vegas revue waiting to happen. On his self-titled debut, Castro largely sticks to the shuffling jam-folk vibe he worked on Idol; fans of Gavin DeGraw and the Fray will find much to love. Everybody else: one more stripped-down take on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"! With Castro's younger brother Michael Castro, who made it to Idol's Hollywood Week earlier this season. (Mikael Wood)
RADAR BROTHERS AT THE ECHO
Eastside staple the Radar Brothers present their new whimsical album, The Illustrated Garden, in a bill with Walking Spin and Obi Best. The result (according to drummer Stevie Treichel) of "analog tape and whiskey," the Radars' new material continues developing a sound anchored on their relaxed harmonies and their attempt to capture an aura that is both pastoral and as urban as L.A. gets. The guys also have a way with the covers — check out their folkie take on Rufus Wainwright's "Oh, What a World," currently streaming on their MySpace. (Gustavo Turner)
Also playing Monday: WALKING SPIN, RADAR BROTHERS, OBI BEST at the Echo; HELEN STELLAR, SEASPIN at Spaceland; CHRIS THILE at Largo at the Coronet; MARC BALLAS, JEN MURZDA, MARCELA CARMONA, EIGHT O'CLOCK HOLIDAY, ADORA VIDA at the Mint; AQUALUNG at Bootleg; STEEL ROD at Cinespace.
DR. DOG, DEER TICK AT THE HENRY FONDA THEATER
There are plenty of throwback acts in the business who owe their sound to the pop/rock explosion of the '60s, but so few get it right. Philadelphia's Dr. Dog are one band that breathes that rarefied air. Since their inception, they've racked up constant comparisons to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Band and David Bowie, but have rarely been taken to task for the obvious similarities. As for why, chalk it up to plain, good old songwriting, spot-on full-band harmonies and the largely ineffable feeling of authenticity that these five emanate. Early on, Dr. Dog embraced a dingier, lo-fi approach, but they've since given in to their natural dispositions. To wit, the band's brand-new seventh album, Shame, Shame, is their most polished yet, a collection of alternatively dark and bright tunes played with an urgency to match the consistently excellent live shows. Rhode Island's Deer Tick should be a good match considering the band's grungy folk-blues leanings and the tears-in-his-beers delivery of singer John McCauley. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Tuesday: AQUATEEN HUNGER FORCE LIVE at El Rey Theatre; RANDOM PATTERNS, TREVOR O'NEILL at Bootleg; JULIETTE LEWIS at the Echo.
AQUASERGE, SISTER CRAYON, CORRIDOR AT SPACELAND
An evening of chin-stroking party sounds as curated by Manimal Vinyl. France's art-rocky quartet Aquaserge features members of Stereolab and makes a way-curious wall of organized chaos. The band blends art-rock angularisms, dissonant horn sections, a mustachio'd, Can-ish guitar god and deceptively sloppy chops veering into mathy noir-jazz and big-band surfin' and spyin' type stuff. They're full of surprises, and the context is more the art-jazz-rock of early Soft Machine than "prog." Sacramento's Sister Crayon is vocalist Terra Lopez and a small host of synths, programs and drums treading that mildly Stereolab-ish trippy-ambient/hip-hop pop road. Sister Crayon's music is deftly textured and harmonized, and rather literate, what with the tunes being inspired by Jean Genet and all. Crayon's Bellowalbum comes out on Manimal in late 2010. Corridor is multi-instrumentalist Michael Quinn's chillingly beautiful head-dive into obscure psychic worlds via expertly orchestrated guitar, cello and sampler loops and digital effects. (John Payne)
Also playing Wednesday: BLUE JUNGLE, THE BELLYS at the Smell; SHPONGLE (DJ SET) at the Roxy; DARK STAR ORCHESTRA at El Rey Theatre.
JAMIE LIDELL AT THE TROUBADOUR
It seems odd that Compass, due out in mid-May, is only Jamie Lidell's third major album. The Berlin-based British soul singer does everything big — so big, in fact, that it's easy to forget there's just one skinny, hyped-up white boy running the whole show. His 2005 breakthrough, Multiply, found Lidell manning the boards, beat-boxing, layering his searing croon and playing a handful of instruments across 10 tracks that mashed old-school IDM (Aphex Twin, Squarepusher) up against old-school R&B (Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding). His awaited return in 2008 yielded JIM, which shed the glitches entirely for a stylish, shining suit of neosoul — a bold move that turned off some critics but proved its merit over repeated listens. Compasslooks to be Lidell's most ambitious LP yet. Guest spots from Beck, Feist, pianist Chilly Gonzales and members of Grizzly Bear and Wilco seem to portend a return to Lidell's ADHD period, with early single "The Ring" offering up a blues-addled stomp served hot on a bed of busted-up beats. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Thursday: ROGUE WAVE at El Rey Theatre; MURDER CITY DEVILS, MIKKI AND THE MAUSES at the Glass House; HIS NAME IS ALIVE at Bootleg; DANTE VS. ZOMBIES at Spaceland; LEMON SUN, LEOPOLD AND HIS FICTION at the Echo; SIGNALS, DINOWALRUS, EZRA BUCHLA at the Smell; JOE BROOKS, CINDY SANTINI, CHRIS MANN at the Mint; LOS ANGELES CHAMBER ORCHESTRA at Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, Broad Stage; EMILY WELLS at Largo at the Coronet; THE MARY ONETTES at the Viper Room.
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