Music Picks: The Undertones, Prince, Eternal Summers, Check Yo Ponytail 2
What else can we say about Prince's 21-Nite Stand residency last week? Yup, it's obscenely good. Pro tip: DO NOT LEAVE THE VENUE unless security forcibly ejects you. Even if it looks like the show is over, it ain't. Prince's "encores" the first night turned into an extra 90 minutes of gems and obscure jams. Go. —Gustavo Turner
Joan as Police Woman
Joan as Police Woman is the nom de guerre of Joan Wasser, a singer-violinist who got her start with the Dambuilders and has collaborated with such stellar folks as Joseph Arthur, Lou Reed, Antony & the Johnsons and her late boyfriend, Jeff Buckley. Her new album, The Deep Field, is a fine collection of neo-soul workouts and solemn balladry. Although the subdued electric keyboard tones and her tremulous vocal delivery on songs like "The Action Man" and "The Magic" evoke vintage 1970s soul, Wasser is at her most interesting when she breaks away from the retro formula and adds traces of her own restless personality. "Flash" is a more intriguingly ethereal soundscape, where her fragile vocals create a slowly building spell, while "Say Yes" is a fuzzily glittery modern rocker. —Falling James
My Chemical Romance
The latest album from these now-local emo-goth guys hasn't captured mainstream attention the way 2006's platinum-selling The Black Parade did. But Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys might actually be the better record — at least, if you've been looking for a band committed to finding the midpoint between Coldplay's Viva la Vida and the first album by Suicide. (Last year, frontman Gerard Way told us Danger Days had been inspired in part by M.I.A., whom he called "the new Johnny Rotten.") My Chem sounded (and looked) great tearing through the new stuff at a release-week House of Blues gig last November. But it's a good bet that after two months on the road, these drama kings will bring even more fire tonight. Also Sat. —Mikael Wood
Gangi, SFV Acid, Baron Von Luxxury
Matt Gangi's music is a bit disorienting, a fact he blames on all the bright lights and loud noises that mess with our little minds as we try to go about our daily business here in the city of angels and demons. Gangi and drum buddy Eric Chramosta drag in a thousand genre sources that can shift without notice within the same song, then they rain it down with ambient/musique concrète effects atop an otherwise ethereal big-beat pop and decidedly heavy-duty psychedelic rock. SFV Acid's wobbly funksonic spew makes for a seriously ill take on West Coast hip-hop, among other things; post-post-synth-pop king Baron von Luxxury has done wicked things on the underground disco scene via remixes for Glass Candy, Health, Little Boots and Hilary Duff. Video artist Miko Revereza supplies the eye candy. —John Payne
MOUNT EERIE at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock; JON BRION at Largo; RED PONY CLOCK, WOUNDED LION, FATTY DEAREST at the Smell; DUSTIN O'HALLORAN at Masonic Lodge.
@House of Blues
It ain't hard to tell the "Queensbridge murderers" came to prominence in the same hardcore hip-hop era that also saw the rise of the Notorious B.I.G.: Prodigy and Havoc's verses cut sideways glances out of narrow slits of eyes at the grimy street life of their native New York. Their deliveries are mirthless, underscored by the roiling, dark clouds of Havoc's production. Prodigy's real life actually mirrored his raps and landed him in prison for three years. But their music transcends time precisely because it speaks to the darkest corners of human nature. Prodigy was released from his sentence just a couple of months ago, and the place will become a party if a longtime friend, local producer the Alchemist, drops by. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Daniel Lanois' Black Dub
@THE MUSIC BOX
Yes, he did produce the likes of U2, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Peter Gabriel, but guitarist/pedal-steel ace Daniel Lanois sidelines in solo and band projects that highlight the restless polytalent's considerable chops in diverse musical worlds. Dive into the warming waters of his Black Dub, an experimental bar band whose slack 'n' swampy rock & roll delivers a high-stepping, good-timey vibe that owes a lot to Lanois' bluesy ax-slinging and to the yeoman efforts of a real sterling band: soulicious vocals courtesy Trixie Whitley (the late Chris Whitley's daughter), Daryl "Da Bird" Johnson on bass and the ever-smoking tub whacker Brian Blade on deeply, deeply funky back line. Keep your ears peeled, too, 'cause Lanois might slyly strew the whole mess around via some secret, special miking magic. —John Payne
This legendary soul man is best known for '70s singles like "That's the Way I Feel About Cha," "Woman's Gotta Have It" and "Across 110th Street," but a new generation is discovering his bone-rattling baritone thanks to an unlikely source. Last year, the singer's voice came buzzing through the airwaves on the back of the disco-damaged Gorillaz single "Stylo." It was Womack's first studio recording in nearly a decade, and he wound up joining Damon Albarn's star-studded cartoon band for a massive tour last fall. It's safe to assume this concert is inspired by the warmth Womack received on the road — he's spoken about seeing teen Gorillaz fans waving his early albums at him from the audience — and that it'll be chock-full of timeless R&B classics. —Chris Martins
Glee Live! In Concert!
Fox's hit show-choir series has only grown in popularity (and influence) since last year's inaugural live tour: Witness the endorsement of teen-pop godhead Max Martin, who co-wrote and co-produced "Loser Like Me," Glee's first original single. So it's probably safe to expect a stage show more elaborate than the relatively austere production that played the Gibson Amphitheatre almost exactly 12 months ago. Or maybe not: Recent episodes have seemed to emphasize the value of raw vocal talent in an age defined by multimedia flash. (We're holding out hope this weekend for Brittany and Santana's movingly stripped-down take on "Landslide.") Working hard for the money, the cast will perform two shows today: one at 3 p.m. and another at 8. —Mikael Wood
After four decades of goring such semi-sacred cows as Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis, newscaster Tricia Toyota, the Moody Blues, the Dalai Lama and those shifty auto repairmen Manny, Moe & Jack, punk rock wisenheimers the Dickies still show no sign of letting up. Hailing from the exotic San Fernando Valley, they started in 1977 as a cover band that was heavily inspired by the now-obscure but brilliantly sarcastic power-pop revisionists the Quick (whose members wrote or co-wrote half the tracks on the Dickies' classic first three albums). Perkily insolent singer Leonard Graves Phillips and redoubtable guitarist Stan Lee have since become masters at dishing out their own gorgeously crafted pop anthems like "Wagon Train," "Rosemary" and "Marry Me, Ann." —Falling James
ALLO DARLIN', RED PONY CLOCK at the Echo; BIZZART MC IMPRINT at Ghetto Grounds; ASOBI SESKU, SCATTERED TREES at the Satellite; DUB CLUB with MADOO, RANKING JOE, SISTER NANCY at the Echoplex.
[See Page Two.]
GUITAR WOLF at Troubadour; THE GOLDEN GHOSTS, JOHN CARPENTER, LOVERSDRUGS, THE LEXINGTONS at El Cid; RAW GERONIMO at 3 Clubs; WALTER MEEGO, SEVEN SATURDAYS at Bootleg Theater; UNDERGANG at The Blvd.; ASTA KASK at Di Piazza's (Long Beach); NEIL HAMBURGER at the Satellite.
This rabid "power violence" outfit seldom makes it past the minute mark before punching themselves out. Unsurprising, considering that their urgent, earnest hardcore packs more snare hits, barre chords and strained cords into a single verse than better-adjusted bands manage in entire sets, while conveying decades' worth of disgust and disillusionment. At once militaristic and disheveled, ultra-organized yet off-the-leash, these Aussies deftly lay siege to the status quo despite largely unintelligible lyrics. Keenly aware of the power of massed aural assaults, they also juggle their elements wisely, with well-placed breakdowns and sludgy shifts in groove punctuating the primal thrust of four young blokes attacking instruments simultaneously, skillfully and with staggering indignation. —Paul Rogers
VAUD AND THE VILLAINS, SILVERLAKE CHORUS at the Satellite.
Eternal Summers, The Beets
Virginia's Eternal Summers specialize in a style they've coined "dream punk," which is handy shorthand for a lo-fi brand of no wave pop that swoons as much as it shreds. Live, it's hard to believe the group makes as much noise as it does, but Daniel Cundiff smacks skins with the vim of three drummers, and Nicole Yun does double duty, coaxing thick riffs from her guitar while singing in a sweet, husky coo. The pair's 2010 debut, Silver, is an impressive testament to the poignancy of rock & roll simplicity. Sharing an appreciation for the primitive is New York band the Beets, who play loose and jangly tunes that sound like the Ramones slowed down by weed and warm beer. —Chris Martins
Swedish singer Lykke Li has come a long way in her short career. The former dance-pop diva has moved away from the simple electronic grooves of her early releases into a deeper, much more diverse sound on her latest album, Wounded Rhymes. "Youth Has No Pain" melds spacey percussion with circus-y, '60s-style garage-rock keyboards, while the poignant, heart-catching melody "I Follow Rivers" unfolds into a funky and oddly affecting soundscape. "Unrequited Love" is a comparatively austere, almost countrified pop ballad that's iced with bittersweet doo-wop harmonies. "Like a shotgun needs an outcome/I'm your prostitute," she confides intriguingly over shimmering guitars and boxy percussion on "Get Some." Then it's back to the dramatic girl-group balladry of "Sadness Is a Blessing," which is just as enchanting in its own strange way. —Falling James
Check Yo Ponytail 2: Stereo Total
The Berlin-based, long-running French/German duo have been making infectious electro-pop dance music since the mid-'90s, creating their own colorful universe that oscillates between garage rock, '60s pop, 8-bit sampling, vintage synths and even some disco. The international pop collagists sing about sex and revolution and make it all sound so bouncy and fun and carefree, they've earned a cultlike following that's still growing after more than a decade. Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring — perhaps the perfect boy-girl indie pop act — return to L.A. to play Franki Chan's legendary CYP2 party in support of their 10th record, Baby Ouh! —Lainna Fader
SLAUGHTERHOUSE at House of Blues; BRUCE COCKBURN, JENNY SCHEINMAN at El Rey Theatre.
Gruff Rhys, Andy Votel
Welsh pop chameleon Gruff Rhys has demonstrated a deep commitment to psychedelia across a handful of styles. With his main group, Super Furry Animals, he focuses on whimsical rock. For side project Neon Neon, he makes futuristic dance tracks. And on his own, he often explores breezy folk. But Rhys' latest solo LP, Hotel Shampoo, mixes in a bit of everything for an easy-to-love batch of lightly experimental tunes that should sound great live. In person, he's known for bringing his songs to life using an arsenal of odd instruments and noisemaking toys. Andy Votel's DJ set is not to be missed. The man's exhaustive knowledge of world psych-rock is evidenced by the lauded compilations he releases, albums with names like Welsh Rare Beat and Prog Is Not a Four-Letter Word. —Chris Martins
The Michael Formanek Quartet
The double-bassist's quartet brings what he calls "proportional lines between improvised and composed music" into imaginative focus. This is a supersmart and genuinely modern brand of jazz whose unique structures and heady atmospheres derive resonance from the composer and ensemble's miraculously spare touch, which masks some formidable playing chops — a barely contained explosiveness is never too far away. Formanek has supplied bass lines for everyone from the Mingus Big Band, Stan Getz, Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan to Cedar Walton, Evan Parker and Elvis Costello, and he's joined tonight by the masterful trio who contributed to his recent ECM debut, The Rub and Spare Change: alto saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. —John Payne
Earth, Wind & Fire, Aaron Neville
The soul-music mainstays of Earth, Wind & Fire — well, some of them — are on tour this year, celebrating the band's 40th anniversary in showbiz. So you can bet that the Nokia will be filled with fans from the old days tonight. But EWF members also have been making the next-generation rounds of late, with singer Philip Bailey turning up on Cee Lo Green's The Lady Killer and former keyboardist Larry Dunn contributing to Stone Rollin' by Raphael Saadiq (who worked on EWF's most recent studio disc, 2005's surprisingly solid Illumination). Don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting next to a youngster without a gray hair in sight. With Aaron Neville, who made last year's gospel-inspired I Know I've Been Changed with Joe Henry here in L.A. —Mikael Wood
Even as he transitioned from adorable baby-faced preteen star to baby, those abs, the sexy singer cashed in on his image as eternally scorned lover. Some preternatural goddess or another's been making him lose his mind since he was 16. Now in his 30s, the loads of dirty laundry he aired from those failed relationships seem to have steadied that mind enough to focus on more mature matters. So what if Usher's a little young, and a lot hot, to be slinking about soliciting sex in dicey underground clubs, as in the video for "Lil Freak"? So what if he's a little old to be churning out cheesy techno-tinged club joints like "OMG"? Part of being a grown-up (musician) is making sacrifices (for your desired fan base). —Rebecca Haithcoat
Tinie Tempah, Rob Roy
Britain's fastest-rising rap talent, South London's Tinie Tempah, has racked up an array of awards and accolades abroad over the past year for his winning combination of sharp lyrical swagger and epic electronic production. High-octane bangers like "Frisky" and "Pass Out" are as effective on the radio as they are on the dance floor or in headphones, while the folk-kissed "Wonderman" (featuring Ellie Goulding) and the piano-driven "Written in the Stars" showcase the MC's stylistic range. Though the United States is untested waters for Tinie, his inaugural LP, Disc-Overy, debuted at No. 1 in the U.K., and this may be the first and last chance to catch him at a relatively intimate venue. Local alt-rapper/crooner Rob Roy opens. —Chris Martins
KODE9, YOUNG MONTANA? at the Airliner; ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI at the Music Box; THE WOMBATS at the Troubadour.
Woodsman, Tape Deck Mountain, Kissing Cousins, White Hinterland
Denver's Woodsman draw the occasional Animal Collective comparison for their soupy, electronics-tinged psychedelia, but their sound is more raw, more live. With all those cascading guitars and keys, and Mark Demolar's reverb-soaked vocals, the band's a closer cousin to Flaming Lips or My Morning Jacket. Tape Deck Mountain hail from San Diego and have perfected a unique strain of lush, droney surf-rock that's as pleasantly dark and warm as a balmy night on the beach. Far more sinister is the sound of Silver Lake's Kissing Cousins, four ladies with a penchant for heavy Sabbath-y riffage and seductive girl-pop vocals. First but not least is Portland duo White Hinterland, whose bare-bones pop is livened up by Casey Dienel's spry singing and soulful arrangements. —Chris Martins
@FOX THEATRE POMONA
Though it seemed unlikely at the time, these perky yet pensive Brits have lived up to (and outlived) the critical drool fest over their 2006 debut. Their charming tension is built of contrasts: When the rhythm section is angular and angsty, the guitar might sit back and shimmer; when the fuzz box kicks in, the groove may almost perversely swing. Even when all the instruments fuse into an agitated insect orchestra, vocalist Alex Turner observes wryly from the sidelines, oddly contemplative. And despite their youth and decidedly post-Blur indie-pop instincts, AM's aura is thick with midlife melancholy and incongruous curled-corner nostalgia. Four albums in six years is hyperactive by modern standards, but there's little evidence of a quantity/quality trade-off thus far. —Paul Rogers
Even among the flood of early punk bands, the Undertones were a unique group. The quintet from Northern Ireland married Ramones-y punk chords with giddy melodies on such classic tunes as "Teenage Kicks" and "Here Comes the Summer," maintaining an infectious exuberance that was miles away from the Clash-like fury of Belfast's Stiff Little Fingers. One of the main reasons the Undertones stood out was the charmingly bratty vocals of Feargal Sharkey, who went on to a successful solo career after the band broke up in the mid-1980s. Most of the original lineup reunited in 1999, although sadly without Sharkey, who was replaced by Paul McLoone. The new Undertones possess much of their old energy, thanks to guitarist-brothers John and Damian O'Neill, but Sharkey is still sorely missed. —Falling James
@HOUSE OF BLUES
When they opened for fellow vets Scorpions last summer, this Philly foursome reminded us of their twist on the hard-rock template. In contrast to the headliner's choreographed über-enthusiasm and clinical precision, 'Rella relied on earthy song craft, epic melodramatics and Tom Keifer's wounded yowl to telegraph tales of heartache, mistakes and survival. They are equally adept at piano-based weepies and bluesy bawlers; their metal stylings appear to be as much affection as essence. See, for all of their hair spray and histrionics, Cinderella come across as a gifted blue-collar bar band that simply adopted '80s-appropriate imagery as a passport to that decade's charts. —Paul Rogers
BAD PLUS at Catalina.
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