Music Picks: The Hangmen, Brother Ali, Tommy Rock-A-Shacka, Weezer
THE QUEERS, KEPI GHOULIE AT THE TROUBADOUR
It may be hard to remember these days, but punk rock actually used to be fun. It was the kind of thing where several drinking buddies could spontaneously start a band and come up with flippant, catchy melodies and write rude, silly lyrics without worrying about whether they'd get signed or create "art" of lasting importance. The New Hampshire–based group the Queers formed under such a set of circumstances, in a haze of pot and beer in 1982, and, although lead singer Joe King is the only remaining original member, the trio continues to churn out the same Ramones-inspired short, fast and simple tunes they did when they first composed sarcastic ditties like "We'd Have a Riot Doing Heroin." King and company haven't really matured since then, penning such deathless hymns as "Mrs. Brown, You've Got an Ugly Daughter" and "Little Rich Working-Class Oi-Boy." Apart from the occasional ode to their onetime pal G.G. Allin ("I Knew G.G. When He Was a Wimp"), most of the Queers' songs are about girls, sex, drugs and taking the piss out of fussy art-school snobs and nouveau-punk elitists. Tonight they're billed with singer Kepi Ghoulie, from the aptly named Groovie Ghoulies — another punk gang of fools who are more cartoonish than apocalyptically anarchistic. (Falling James)
WEEZER, BEST COAST AT THE GIBSON AMPHITHEATRE
Well, Raditude-haters, you've finally done it. After years of distancing himself from Weezer's 1996 emo-perv classic, Pinkerton, Rivers Cuomo is on the road this fall, playing that album (as well as the band's 1994 debut) in its entirety, satisfying at long last his fans' desire to see the guy air his most self-incriminating thoughts in public. Don't get me wrong: I loved Pinkerton when it came out and love it no less in its newly reissued form. But there is something kind of depressing about watching Cuomo give in to the morons who've spent the last decade holding him responsible for their collective inability to process gems like "Beverly Hills" and "I'm Your Daddy." Truly, no other alt-rock star (including Billy Corgan) has been subjected to as much misunderstanding as Cuomo has. Here's hoping he encores with "Dope Nose" six times in a row. With Best Coast, whose Bethany Cosentino took to her blog to call this opening slot a dream come true. Also Sat. (Mikael Wood)
BONOBO, TOKIMONSTA, INSPIRED FLIGHT AT THE MUSIC BOX
Brighton, England's Bonobo — aka Simon Green — rose to electronic-music fame as a star in the hallowed Ninja Tune label's second generation, where the innovative turntablism of folks like Kid Koala and Mr. Scruff was giving way to the darker digital arts previously monopolized by the Warp Records roster. His 2000 debut, Animal Magic, may not have immediately established Bonobo as a gilded name in the world of melodic downbeat pop, but his next two finished the job by 2006, bringing back a little bit of the old breakbeat flavor. His new record, Black Sands, is Green's first in four years and his most ambitious yet, staying positively mellow but venturing into both his homeland's ice-cold dubstep strains and L.A.'s more sunbaked beat scene. Hailing from the latter is direct support Tokimonsta, whose soulful instrumental hip-hop vacillates between melodic and soft on the one hand, and dizzyingly intricate on the other. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Friday: GESTAPO KHAZI, TIJUANA PANTHERS, FIDLAR, HINDU PIRATES at the Smell; MOONDOGGIES, DAWES and ROMANY RYE at El Rey; DJ QUIK at the Key Club; SALONEN CONDUCTS HINDEMITH, WAGNER at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
THE HANGMEN AT THE CAT CLUB
No matter how much the underground rock scene has changed over the past two decades, the Hangmen keep plugging away, seemingly oblivious to (and totally unconcerned about) passing trends. When singer-guitarist Bryan Small first moved from his Boise, Idaho, hometown to Hollywood in the late 1980s, the early Hangmen lineups rocked hard enough to be billed with hair-metal pretenders like Guns N' Roses, but they also had a punk ethos that aligned them closer with such heroes as the Gun Club, Johnny Thunders and Tex & the Horseheads. Band members and serious drug habits have since come and gone, but Small keeps on keepin' on, twisting wickedly spidery hard-rock riffs around weirdly sodden lyrics ("My head is pounding last night"), all of it delivered with his trademark garage-rock snarl. Instead of coming off as a relic from punk's heyday, the Hangmen are still vital, with recent recordings produced by Social Distortion's Mike Ness, and they're ironically more popular than ever — with their "bad" reputation pushing them always closer to legendary status. (Falling James)
DJ TOMMY ROCK-A-SHACKA WITH JANDISCO SOUND SYSTEM AT LA CITA
Japan's Tommy Rock-A-Shacka is one of the world's top collectors and DJs of Jamaican music, and reissues Jamaican artists on his label, Rock-A-Shacka. He has one of the deepest Jamaican record collections in the world and returns to L.A. to share them with you, supported by some of the best local reggae and dub DJs: Nina & Viktor (Rock Steady Lounge), J and Nicki Bonner (Jandisco), Rock Steady Chris (Rock Steady Lounge), Boss Harmony (Dub Club/Punky Reggae Party), Bigger Boss (Set the Tone, London) and Jah Faith on the mic. It's only $5 all night long and you'll hear Jamaican rarities the way they were meant to be heard: extraloud over a real-deal Jamaican-style sound system. If you'd like to preparty — or just do some of the best homework you'll ever have to do — spend some time researching Tommy Rock-A-Shacka's selections on Pirate's Choice Radio, available within the rock-a-shacka.com website. This is a rare event, since Tommy doesn't visit L.A. as often as he should. (Which would be every Wednesday, bringing his sound system to my apartment courtyard.) He's only been here a few times since his first visit last winter. All those records must be tough to get through Customs. (Lainna Fader)
HELLRIDE WITH MIKE WATT, STEPHEN PERKINS AND PETER DISTEFANO AT CENTRAL SOCIAL AID AND PLEASURE CLUB
Mike Watt really likes the Stooges. Even when he's not in the Stooges, he's in the Stooges. Hellride, the L.A. Stooges cover band experience, is Mike Watt yowling and playing bass, drummer Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction and guitarist Peter Distefano of Porno for Pyros. They've played together for years in various combinations — Banyan, Lil' Pit, etc. — so this is your chance to see three incredibly talented musicians play incredibly simple songs at an incredibly loud level of sound. Also on the bill: Lojic, who apparently "bring together a love of funk, rock, reggae, hip-hop and food" — which presupposes some kind of culinary breakdown onstage, but one never knows; and Mikey Pauker, a "folk and soul artist hailing out of Orange County," with his latest selection of "progressive spiritual songs demanding that we celebrate our differences, accept change and love each other." And if you don't celebrate your differences and love each other, his songs will have your legs broken. (David Cotner)
Also playing Saturday: THE FLOWER MACHINE at Spaceland; OK GO, A FINE FRENZY, SUMMER DARLING at ClubNokia; ATREYU at House of Blues; KARL DENSON'S TINY UNIVERSE, SUPER DUPER, BREAKESTRA at El Rey.
NEIL HAMBURGER AT SPACELAND
When you're feeling down, it's always a good idea to pin a note on your computer screen that says, "I'm not Eliot Spitzer." "I'm not Mel Gibson" is another good one. And then there's "I'm not Justin Bieber's hair." Probably, though, the best one is "I'm not Neil Hamburger," because nothing could possibly be so very, very sad as having to live the greasy, wretched life of this pathetic boob who calls himself "America's Funnyman" — without a trace of irony or humor! Night after night and even as we speak, Hamburger's out there, trodding "the boards," expounding on his interminable miseries in the vain hope that he'll get a little chuckle, a guffaw, even, or a groan, a bottle on the bean, a date, spare change, something ... anything. ... To be charitable, let us recognize that Neil Hamburger's life is pointless, stupid and depressing. Someone has to do it. (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday: BLUE SHADOWS, RUMBLEKING at the Redwood Bar & Grill; INTERNATIONAL TENNIS CHAMPIONS, PAULIE PESH and FARSPEAKER at the Bootleg Theater.
THE BOOKS, BLACK HEART PROCESSION AT THE MUSIC BOX
One explanation for the fact that critics almost uniformly adore the Books is that they represent hope for incurable music geeks everywhere. As the story goes, Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong first bonded in 1999 over a copy of a record by obscure Harlem scat singer Shooby Taylor. Sure, they were also accomplished players in their own right (guitar and cello, mainly), but the legacy they've built in about 10 years has had as much to do with their esoteric taste in other people's audio. They set the mold as the Books with their 2002 debut, Thought for Food, weaving unusual vocal samples and field recordings into a finely chopped tapestry of their own acoustics. Another explanation for the consistent praise these guys have received is their near-magical ability to turn their collage art into brilliantly arranged, endlessly enjoyable songs that manage to thrill anew with every album. The Books' latest, The Way Out, borrows heavily from hypnotherapy tapes, but the effect is positively ebullient. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday: ROGER WATERS at Staples Center; DIRT DRESS, OH DARLING, CUM STAIN, ALLAH LAS at Spaceland; BLACK APPLES, JAIL WEDDINGS, MY PET SADDLE, DANTE VS. ZOMBIES at the Echo; CHASING KINGS, WOOLEN, FRANCISCO THE MAN, TOY BOMBS at Silverlake Lounge.
NEW KINGDOM AT THE SILVERLAKE LOUNGE
If you weren't remotely surprised when Faith No More covered the Commodores' "Easy" and you're down with a band that lists "sexy" as its genre, New Kingdom awaits. This lusty, local foursome throws down groovin', guitarless gauntlet — crotch-thrusting beats, kitschy organ, Noah King's soulful wail and even flickers of Jacko's wacko warbling funk — and dares you not to let loose. Their live shows are impossibly frenetic, step-outside-yourself hip-hop/rock/blues celebrations. In fact, it's hard to imagine how the cozy Silverlake Lounge will contain King's paranormal pentathlon-on-PCP antics. Devoid of the onstage visuals (or their cracking, clothing-optional "When Can I See You" video), New Kingdom's Naked Time EP treads some water, especially during the slowies, but for the first three songs tonight you'll be wondering why other bands even bother. (Paul Rogers)
FAITH NO MORE AT THE HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM
Faith No More deserved a reunion tour, if only to remind the world that the '80s-formed funk/metal/pop outfit shouldn't be historically lumped into the disgusting pile of nü-metal dreck that followed their pretty damn untouchable run of albums. Plus, whoever orchestrated this thing got it right, coaxing back the almighty Mike Patton for the job (instead of the band's first, far inferior singer, Chuck Mosley) alongside the pummeling vintage triumvirate of skinsman Mike Bordin, keyslayer Roddy Bottum and bass-slapper Billy Gould. The group has always cycled through guitarists, but Jon Hudson is a good choice, since he manned the ax through FNM's incredibly focused, melodic high point and swan song, Album of the Year (1997). But expect the set list to reach as far back as 1989 megahit "The Real Thing," to dip into the weird stuff with songs from 1992's Angel Dust ("Be Aggressive") and to dive into the dirt of 1995's King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime ("Digging the Grave"). Epic indeed. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Tuesday: THE FRAMES at Avalon; GRINDERMAN, ARMEN RA at the Music Box; KITTEN, A HOUSE FOR LIONS at the Echo; THE CALIFORNIAN, LE SWITCH, TIGERBITCH at LaBrie's.
BROTHER ALI AT EL REY
Brother Ali may not really be a brother, but the white rapper isn't exactly a Vanilla Ice–style poseur, having worked with such luminaries as Public Enemy's Chuck D. What really sets the Minnesota performer apart — and renders questions of racial identity irrelevant — is the superior way he crafts words together, with an artistry and a restlessly literate curiosity that are unrivaled. Ali can break it down on a personal level, whether he's articulately expressing his frustrations with past romantic partners or exploring his heartfelt spiritual connection to Islam, but he's even more of a master when it comes to challenging the status quo. He's unafraid of dissing corporate sponsors and loves to neatly eviscerate the U.S. government's lust for war and oppression of the poor: "Welcome to the united snakes/Land of the thief, home of the slave ... Try and separate a man from his soul/You'll only strengthen him and lose your own." On his most recent album, Us, Ali avoids coming off as preachy by blending his insights within grooves that are both artful and coolly funky. Salvation and moral elevation never felt so good. (Falling James)
LAZER SWORD, AGES, HOPPA & MINE+US AT THE AIRLINER
In the just-released video for Lazer Sword's crystalline synthesizer and sequence-driven track, "Beast's Reprise," a young man shakes his head back and forth and up and down violently, except it's shown in slow motion. This actually goes a long way to describing the Lazer Sword experience. The L.A.- and Berlin-based duo of Lando Kal and Low Limit specialize in a form of electronic music that's as big on face-oscillating bass tones and head-nod factor as it is on thick, gluey textures and morphing tempos. Though they've been dropping sizzling singles and mondo mixtapes for a few years now, the dudes only just released their debut album via up-and-coming Angeleno indie label Innovative Leisure. On Lazer Sword, the pair continue to, ahem, innovate, wrangling guest vocalists to do their thing over what works quite well as instrumental music. No word on whether L.A. art-rap archetype Myka 9 or Bay Area hyphy freak Turf Talk will make an appearance for their songs live, but it's worth showing up to find out. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday: JOHN McLAUGHLIN at Royce Hall, UCLA; ABYSSINIANS at Dub Club at the Echoplex; EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN at Music Box; MIRACLE PARADE, PIERRE DE REEDER (RILO KILEY), JERRY BORGE at Silverlake Lounge; ODD FUTURE at the Echo.
HOSANNAS AT SPACELAND
The Portland, Ore., band Hosannas really live up to the title of their song "Opposite People." They may seem at first like just another indie-rock group, but there are some unexpected delights lurking around the twists and turns of their songs. Funereal keyboards and splinters of spacey guitars align themselves with a lonely majesty on tracks like "When We Were Young," from their new release, Together. Conversely, "Happiness" is, well, happy, with a toy box of colorful guitar rays beaming over Brandon and Richard Laws' breathy, dreamy vocals. "Don't be afraid/Put out your heart/Happiness is all right," they chime with a refreshing lack of irony, as perky keyboards and jangling guitars spiral together upward into the ether. And then there's the older song "Opposite People," where they sound almost shell-shocked and disembodied, while a quivering hum wells up behind them. There's some strange magic going on here. (Falling James)
OS MUTANTES, ARIEL PINK AT THE MUSIC BOX
Brazilian Tropicalia pioneers Os Mutantes were formed in 1966 in São Paulo by brothers Arnaldo (bass/keyboards) and Sergio Baptista (guitar) and vocalist Rita Lee. Along with Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, these Tropicalistas formed a movement that mishmashed trad folk music, sambas, psychedelia, avant-garde theatrics and politics. Mutantes' music was perhaps the strangest and most musically savory, a very weird blend of Brazilian rock and prog and psychedelia whose peculiar beauty hasn't dimmed these long years and even sounds a bit more relevant, as witnessed by their return to action after a 15-year break, with the album Haih or Amortecedor (Anti-). They're worshipped by all your pointy-head musos, including Beck, Devendra Banhart, David Byrne, Of Montréal, the Flaming Lips and, yes, Kurt Cobain. It's an inspired double bill, with the complementary Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti bringing their own improbability theories to play in the form of tunes from their strangely slick Before Today album (4 AD) — Pink's sort of ode/mash-up to Beatles-ish glam rock and West Coast funk. (John Payne)
STONES THROW VS. DIM MAK VS. SMOG VS. DUB CLUB AT EXCHANGE L.A.
Here's one supercolossal beatdown battle royale between the apples and the oranges and the pears and the grapes: Red Bull Music Academy Culture Clash makes its U.S. debut with an all-out war or kinda contest, where four "collectives" of the L.A. persuasion throw down their best onstage and the "winner" is decided by the crowd. Modeled on the classic Jamaican sound clashes, tonight's big smackdown features some real serious-cred types purveying electro, roots reggae, dubstep and vintage funk/soul/hip-hop: Dim Mak's bringing Them Jeans, Thee Mike B, DJ Fashen, DJ Funk; Dub Club's got Echodelic Soundsystem with Tom Chasteen, Boss Harmony, Dungeonmaster, Roy Corduroy and Jah Faith, plus the renowned Brigadier Jerry; dubstep specialist Smog offers 12th Planet, Craze, Juakali + Kemst; Stones Throw boasts Peanut Butter Wolf, Mayer Hawthorne, J Rocc and Dâm Funk. You gotta be 21 to get into the venue, at 618 S. Spring St., downtown. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday: EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN at the Echoplex; EPMD at the Key Club; Miss Derringer at the Troubadour; LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO, THE STEELWELLS, PITHY SWEET at Silverlake Lounge; EVEREST, HE'S MY BROTHER SHE'S MY SISTER at the Echo.
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