Music Picks: Stiff Little Fingers, CunninLynguists, The Nubians, System of a Down
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CunninLynguists, Blue Sky Black Death
@EL REY THEATRE
These Southern independents have long occupied a rare space between the brainy backpack hip-hop of Hieroglyphics and the pop-rap experimentalism of Goodie Mob. The trio's just-released fifth album is named after the study of dreams (Oneirology), which is fitting, considering producer Kno's lush and hazy backing tracks — thick synths, choral vocals, sharp chimes and twinkling keys — as well as the heady rhymes of rappers Natti and Deacon the Villain, a perfect mix of emotional, intellectual and adept. Rising stars Big K.R.I.T. and Freddie Gibbs guest. CunningLynguists are rappers' rappers, and seasoned performers who know how to work a crowd. —Chris Martins
It's unlikely the Forum could have booked a more inconvenient act than Rammstein to play the Inglewood arena while Prince takes a breather from his 21-show stand there: These Berlin-based disco-metal freaks tour with a full-scale stage spectacle that features gigantic lights, moving walkways and more pyro than the old Backdraft attraction at Universal Studios. (The Foo Fighters, by comparison, probably would've just made do with Prince's set.) Rammstein haven't toured the U.S. in about a decade — they booked their current trek after a gig last year at Madison Square Garden sold out more or less instantly — so you can expect to hear stuff from their last several studio albums tonight. The most recent one includes a song called "Pussy." —Mikael Wood
Also playing Friday:
ALLAH LAS, GRAND ELEGANCE at 5-Star Bar; GRASS WIDOW, X-RAY EYEBALL, DIRT DRESS at Blue Star; CITIZEN FISH at Glass House (Pomona); SISTER CRAYON, LOVE LINKS, BLACK ELEPHANT at the Echo.
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Houses, The One AM Radio
It makes sense that Houses' gorgeous debut, All Night, was written in a coastal Hawaiian village. If sunsets made songs, they'd probably be this breathy, ambient and thick, with warbling melodies, warm vocals and mellow percussion. There's also a lovely intimacy to the dreamy electro-pop of boyfriend and girlfriend Dexter Totoriello and Megan Messina, which sets them apart from other chillwavers. Los Feliz group the One AM Radio just released Heaven Is Attached by a Slender Thread, which may prove to be this city's sleeper album of the year. Hrishikesh Hirway has become a master of melancholic pop. Imagine Air meets Hot Chip produced by the Postal Service, and you're halfway there. —Chris Martins
Puro Instinct, DâM-FunK, Diva, PB Wolf, Others
@HIGHLAND PARK EBELL THEATRE
Local designer Violet Valen handpicked her favorite local DJs and musicians — most at home on Highland Park's Stones Throw Records — to perform live as she debuts her fifth Buddy Society collection with L.A. RECORD and Part Time Punks. Puro Instinct enchant and mesmerize with breezy dream-pop born of a love for Eastern bloc new wave. Leader of the Galactic Funk Federation and master of keytar-driven boogie grooves DâM-FunK brings funk back to the future. Stones Throw head Peanut Butter Wolf and the label's newest signee, Vex Ruffin, also perform, along with Diva Dompé, formerly of Pocahaunted, and Part Time Punks' Michael Stock. —Lainna Fader
In much the same way as Sade, these Parisian sisters transport you to a completely different reality — and in a nod to the mysterious chanteuse, Les Nubians covered "Sweetest Taboo" in French. Speckling their smooth, jazzy R&B melodies with hip-hop scratching and guest appearances by the likes of Talib Kweli and the Roots have made the Grammy nominees successful in the States despite the language divide. Their latest album, the sunny, jammy Nü Revolution, should further seal their popularity. With their gently woven vocals draped over loose, breezy tracks, it lifts you out of everyday dreariness into perma-summer. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Also playing Saturday:
SAINT MOTEL, VANAPRASTA at the Roxy; ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN at Club Nokia; YELLE at Music Box; CATHETER at The Blvd.; RIVAL SCHOOLS at Bootleg Theater.
@THE MUSIC BOX
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Dunes, Cold Showers, Cheveaux
Local trio Dunes owe a great deal to gothy, lady-led forebears like Cocteau Twins and Siouxsie and the Banshees, but their take on the idiom is inimitably their own. Instead of histrionics and sass, Kate Hall (Mika Miko), Stephanie Chan (Finally Punk) and Mark Greshohawk (Talbot Tagora) specialize in lo-fi and drone, making for a luxuriant wash of bent guitars, subdued drums and vocals that echo as if they were recorded in a cave. It's an alluring and ultimately addicting thing that envelops the listener bodily, then slowly sinks in its hooks. Also from L.A., Cold Showers have nabbed comparisons to the Kills for their boy-girl vocals and gritty garage-pop, but the downcast post-punk of Joy Division seems a more apt influence. —Chris Martins
Devin the Dude
If Snoop Dogg godfathered mellow stoner-turned–crossover king Wiz Khalifa, then the original Dude is New Orleans' lazy-eyed fire-spitter Curren$y's forefather. Signed to the groundbreaking Southern label Rap-a-Lot Records when he was part of the alternative hip-hop group Odd Squad (draw the obvious local comparison here), the Houston rapper went solo with much critical but little mainstream success. While he can switch from a sleepy Too Short flow to a Swisher Sweet singsong to a Southern snap, his lyrics pretty much cover smoking weed, Cadillacs, women, and smoking weed while in a 'Lac with a woman. He might not be your favorite rapper's favorite rapper (that honor probably belongs to his former label mate Scarface), but he's a close second. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Krautrock Nite With Neu, Can, La Dusseldorf Cover Bands
At some point bands from Germany circa late '60s to mid-'70s got all lumped together under the umbrella term Krautrock. It was a bit misleading, as the German sound was varied and not all that identifiably German in style. One could say the postwar German groups shared an interest in creating a new music that stood outside the usual rock & roll paradigms of loud guitars, bashing drums and songs about sports, cars and girls. Neu and their offshoot La Dusseldorf did tranquil electronic ambience, processed guitars and machinelike beats; Cologne's Can were everything and anything, really, electronic and "ethnic" steam-packed into entrancing polyrhythms and a world of sampled sound. Members of Best Coast, Moving Units, Upsilon Acrux, Pharohs and others will do their contempo takes on some of the above. —John Payne
Japan/Haiti Benefit With Dilated Peoples, Breakestra, Very Be Careful, others
In the wretched wake of the natural disasters they've suffered in recent times, both Haiti and Japan are in serious need of material aid, shelter, medical supplies and funds for rebuilding. The Rhythm & Soul for Relief: Concert for Japan, Haiti & the World, with net ticket proceeds donated to Operation USA for its relief efforts in Japan, Haiti and other disaster zones, offers a superior slice of L.A.'s funkiest best, including hip-hop heads Dilated Peoples, righteous soul-funk horn crew Breakestra, the nuevo cumbia band Very Be Careful, Latin soul kings Boogaloo Assassins and a heavy new reggae crew called the Good Times. There'll be ace DJ sets by 2High of DPG Japan, Music Man Miles of the very fine Funky Sole/Root Down set, and main man Tom Chasteen of Dub Club/Echodelic Soundsystem. —John Payne
Also playing Sunday:
DESTRUCTION at Key Club; STEVE EARLE at Bootleg Theater; L.A. MASTER CHORALE at Walt Disney Concert Hall; COLIN VALLON TRIO at Keyboard Concepts.
James Blake, Nite Jewel
London's James Blake got his start as a producer of dubstep — dreary, bass-heavy British electronica — but rose to fame when he replaced the vocal samples in his music with his own golden voice. As it turns out, he has pipes to rival Antony Hegarty but the subtlety of Leslie Feist, and he covers the latter's "Limit to Your Love" quite strikingly on his eponymous debut. While some of his peers have a tendency to weight their tracks down with excess effects and gut-busting low end, Blake takes a minimal approach, crafting his stuttering, fathomless, emotive songs out of piano, percussion and programming. He's picked up a drummer and guitarist for the road, ensuring that none of the nuance is lost in live translation. —Chris Martins
Yeasayer, Smith Westerns
@THE MUSIC BOX
Brooklyn-based postapocalyptic rockers Yeasayer tried to be as uncool as possible and failed miserably. They smashed through with All Hour Cymbals and wrote (and abandoned) an ambitious musical about an interracial love affair in a turn-of-the-20th-century coal-mining town. Yeasayer blew up with their sophomore album, Odd Blood, and as a thank-you to their cultlike following, gave away an album recorded live in a Belgium club before demanding their fans champion their local record shop by picking up Odd Blood outtakes. Yeasayer are joined by young Windy City quintet Smith Westerns, who play feel-good garage rock steeped in '90s Britpop and glam rock and bursting with sunny charm. Also Tues. —Lainna Fader
She Wants Revenge
Though they have yet to rediscover the mainstream Midas touch of their 2006 debut (and maybe they're not seeking it), SWR are in fine sonic fettle on newbie Valleyheart. Their cultured, strutting rock-tronica is made all the more elegant by Justin Warfield's deadpan Bowie-via–Phil Oakey croon, but has its edges softened with whimsical, Cure-ish sonic subplots. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Monday:
CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD at the Echoplex; WHITE ARROWS, EULOGIES, GARDENS AND VILLA at Bootleg Theater; HE'S MY BROTHER SHE'S MY SISTER, AMANDA JO WILLIAMS at the Satellite; BAD MANNERS at Key Club; CAPTAIN AHAB at Pehrspace; JARED MEES & GROWN CHILDREN at the Satellite.
@WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
The final Green Umbrella concert of the season finds L.A. Phil creative chair John Adams leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group in a program of premieres by emerging composers. There will be world premieres of three works: Dissolve, Oh My Heart, for solo violin by composer Missy Mazzoli, featuring violinist Jennifer Koh; Orinoco Sketches by singer-composer Gabriel Kahane; and Try by composer Andrew Norman. An intriguing addition is the West Coast premiere of electric guitarist Steven Mackey's Four Iconoclastic Episodes, a four-movement double concerto for violin, guitar and orchestra. Don't miss the free Upbeat Live preconcert event at Disney Hall's BP Hall an hour before the concert. —John Payne
System of a Down
With a (credible) Pantera reunion now impossible, the return of these Armenian-American genre-benders is perhaps the ultimate déjà vu delight for Hotmail-era heshers. The only act on the planet that could both headline Ozzfest and serve as Borat's wedding band, they marry death metal's vomitoid guitars and Iron Maiden's galloping melodrama to imploring Old World harmonies and a twinkling, folksy embrace. It's possible that they're just touring again for the money, and probable that they'll play no new material, but so long as they make that sound, no one will even care. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Tuesday:
SAM ROBERTS BAND, MOTOPONY at Troubadour; SEAN ROWE at Hotel Café; SCOTT WEILAND at Viper Room.
@THE MUSIC BOX
Devoted Greg Dulli fans got a look at the latest five-piece iteration of the Twilight Singers in February, when the sort-of-local soul-rock group played Amoeba to mark the release of Dynamite Steps. But an in-store performance under bright shopping lights hardly seems like the best environment in which to see these guys: As he did with the Afghan Whigs and occasionally does with the Gutter Twins, Dulli uses the Twilights as an opportunity to examine the inevitability of his own moral turpitude; without the benefit of shadows, the whole project kind of falls apart. Last year Dulli did a solo tour, playing tunes from his lengthy songbook, which may (or may not) mean he'll throw in some Whigs stuff tonight. —Mikael Wood
Also playing Wednesday:
NOAH & THE WHALE, BAHAMAS at El Rey Theatre; WHITE DENIM, RABBITS RABBITS RABBITS, ALLAH LAS at the Echo; YELLOW RED SPARKS, RADARS TO THE SKY at Silverlake Lounge; MORNING TELEPORTATION, JAILL, DEVON WILLIAMS at the Satellite.
The Radio Dept.
This Swedish trio emerged in the early aughts as buzzworthy shoegaze revivalists, but their latest album, Clinging to a Scheme, ironically finds them taking a new tack. The fuzz and feedback are all but gone, replaced by shimmering guitars and synthesizer flourishes. Those with a sweet tooth will be sated by the bright and breezy hooks of Phoenix-esque singles like "Heaven's on Fire," while the rest can revel in the roughed-up production of lo-fi treats like "The Video Dept." Expect homage to Pet Shop Boys and the Cure, and a low-key confidence that perfectly complements the group's entirely unpretentious on-album brilliance. —Chris Martins
Stiff Little Fingers
@EL REY THEATRE
Forming in Northern Ireland at the height of that country's grisly Troubles gave these first-wave punkers instant cred in a genre where grit was gold. That they're still headlining theaters far from home nearly 35 years later suggests their craft outlived its context. SLF's perky protest songs are spiky and serious, yet often bloom into chant-along outbursts of defiant optimism. The Troubles, thankfully, are behind us, and "punk" is now little more than haircuts and bumper stickers, but something in these agitated, gruffly romantic anthems has hopped borders and transcended eras. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Thursday:
MIA DOI TODD, BLANK BLUE at the Echo; KWANZA JONES at Cat Club; LOS ANGELES JAZZ COLLECTIVE FEST at the Blue Whale.
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