Music Picks: X, Lucinda Williams, Jackie DeShannon, Fujiya & Miyagi
Dengue Fever, Secret Chiefs 3
EL REY THEATRE
First, the bad news: Last time I saw L.A.'s Dengue Fever at El Rey, in 2008, these Cambodian-American popsters seemed overwhelmed by the space — they were a deeply lovable party band cruelly stripped of a party. But that show came before last year's Cannibal Courtship, on which Dengue Fever beefed up their sound with bigger guitars and pricklier rhythms (not to mention luscious backing vocals by the Living Sisters). Perhaps frontwoman Chhom Nimol and her mates will have better luck tonight raising El Rey's art deco roof. They share the bill with Secret Chiefs 3, the eclectic (and enigmatic) Bay Area instrumental crew led by Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle. —Mikael Wood
Symbol 6, RF7
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
When you sift through the ashy dust of time, it turns out that West L.A.'s Symbol 6 and Simi Valley's RF7 were two of the better punk bands of the early 1980s. Each was a major force in the cultural and geographical shift from the late-'70s Hollywood punk nexus to the louder, faster and more violent suburban hardcore scene of the '80s. Both groups dropped out of sight for years, and now they're enjoying considerably productive second lives by cranking out hard-charging new songs instead of just relying on the early classics. Powerful new Symbol 6 tunes like "Go" and "Napalm Love" are even fiercer and more sinister than their ancient Rodney on the Roq hits. RF7 leader Felix Alanis was an unusual and underrated presence in the old days, howling unsentimental rants from a Christian working man's perspective and releasing on his Smoke Seven label some of the first recordings by Redd Kross, Sin 34 and Bad Religion. —Falling James
Lucinda Williams tends to serve up something special for her adopted hometown. At her 2007 five-night, guest-studded El Rey stint, she re-created one of her albums each evening. Last year started with a Valentine's Day set at Bardot and ended with a November show incorporating covers of Dylan, the Allman Brothers, Skip James and Marvin Gaye songs. Tonight, Williams — whose Blessed ranked among the Weekly's top 2011 local records — returns to Royce Hall, the site of a memorable 2006 concert with her father, poet Miller Williams. She's supposed to start solo and then team up with the opening act, the up-and-coming singer-songwriter Blake Mills, before wrapping things up with a full band ... although you never know what Lu will decide to do. —Michael Berick
Scott Henderson Nomad Quartet
THE BAKED POTATO
Guitarist Scott Henderson is seen by many of his peers as one of the world's finest, working with Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul while developing the '90s fusion supergroup Tribal Tech (slated to release their first album in more than a decade this spring). Henderson has been off touring the world with various superbands for much of the last year, and tonight he plays his first 2012 show in L.A. The group known as Nomad includes drummer Andy Sanesi (Black Baptista), British bassist Rufus Philpot (Planet X) and keyboard wiz Mitchel Forman (Stan Getz/Mahavishnu/Andy Summers). The Nomad mix includes songs from Wayne Shorter, Weather Report and jazz standards Henderson fuses with his particular style to create something often quite distinct from the originals. —Tom Meek
RINDE ECKERT at REDCAT; JAMES McCARTNEY at Viper Room; WILCO at Los Angeles Theater; BRIAN CHARETTE ORGAN SEXTET at the Blue Whale; LOU REED & BOB EZRIN at the Carpenter Center; DIRT DRESS, HOLY ROLLER, GORGON ZOLOFT at the Smell.
X, The Avengers, The Dead Kennedys
GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY AT MOCA
The idea of a presumably dignified museum (as part of the sprawling Pacific Standard Time art festival) hosting these three once-blacklisted punk bands reminds me of one of those old Flipside cartoons warning that the Germs might sell out someday and end up playing football stadiums. The joke was funny because, at the time, there was little chance that major labels or radio stations like KMET and K-EARTH would ever give a punk band a chance. In recent years, though, punk has become so respectable that it has been classified, codified, exhumed, dissected, defanged, analyzed, sentimentalized and turned into crappy Broadway musicals. The question is, can something that was intended to be subversive and ephemeral ever truly fit in within a museum setting? L.A. heroes X (whose 1982 album title, Under the Big Black Sun, was lifted as the name of MOCA's semirelated art survey) and S.F. firebrand Penelope Houston and the Avengers still retain much of their old passion, but be aware that this version of the Dead Kennedys does not include lead gadfly Jello Biafra. —Falling James
Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
Walt Disney Concert Hall
As part of the L.A. Phil's ongoing Mahler Project offerings, conductor Gustavo Dudamel's pride and joy, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, struts its stuff. It's an inspiring story, to say the least: A group of young musicians ranging in age from 18 to 28, and mostly from impoverished backgrounds, has proved its prowess in performances on worldwide stages and in the recording studio, too — the orchestra's Deutsche Grammophon albums under Dudamel's baton include sensational performances of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Mahler. This 11 a.m. performance is a family event ideal for kids ages 5-11. A separate 8 p.m. performance of Mahler's First and 10th symphonies also is slated. —John Payne
We could wax nostalgic about this Twin Cities band's considerable legacy. About how, formed in 1984, Mint Condition foreshadowed the arrival of New Jack Swing, and hence became the only group associated with that movement whose members played all of their own instruments. About its famous musical breadth live, where R&B takes on elements of jazz, funk, rock, reggae and Latin. About those timeless classics, the slowly burning "Breakin' My Heart" or the upbeat pop-soul hybrid "Nobody Does It Betta." But the real story is the quintet's 2011 album, 7... . In addition to racking up a pair of Grammy nods, Stokley Williams and Co. delivered a record as apt to satisfy millennials after a retro fix as noobs who don't know that Ne-Yo stole that thing he does with his feet from Michael Jackson. In fact, it might be Mint Condition's best yet. —Chris Martins
Reigning Sound's Greg Cartwright is a rock & roll & soul true believer who knows if you tell a good story and put in a good hook, you make a song with a good chance of living forever. He's got a lot of songs like that — "Straight Shooter" or "If You Can't Give Me Everything," which hit some heartbroken spot between the Rolling Stones, the Flamin' Groovies and Stax soul. He once was part of caveman rockers the Oblivians, historic in their own right, but Reigning Sound are animated by a different spirit — that of old-school songwriters like Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, battling their way to a humble kind of musical perfection. This is the strong stuff, so get one beer to guzzle and another to cry in. With the Strange Boys. —Chris Ziegler
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS at UCLA; SIMPLEXITY at the Blue Whale; MATT SKIBA at Troubadour; SKRILLEX at the Palladium; BOB MINTZER TRIO at Vitello's.
Arrington de Dionyso, Larkin Grimm, Anna Oxygen
Nice, weird, mixed bag of stuff: A. de Dionyso is the chameleonlike former Old Time Relijun guy. With his new band, Malaikat Dan Singa, he purveys a rudimentarily psychedelic dance-hall thump highlighted by his rather exploratory art warblings, sung in intentionally bogus Indonesian. Anna Oxygen is Olympia, Wash.'s, Anna Jordan Huff, who did a really great solo record called This Is an Exercise on the Kill Rock Stars label in 2006, later singing on records by the Microphones. In a removed way, the vagabond Larkin Grimm channels magic from the Appalachian folk tradition, but that somehow has nothing at all to do with it; she's just Larkin Grimm. Search for her new Soul Retrieval album on Bad Bitch Records; it was produced by the legendary Tony Visconti (David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Sparks). —John Payne
SIOUX CITY PETE AND THE BEGGARS at Redwood Bar & Grill; RAY WYLIE HUBBARD at McCabe's; LA FONT, ROSS SEA PARTY, ROGUE VALLEY at Bootleg Bar.
THE GRAMMY MUSEUM
It's a shame that the great songwriter Jackie DeShannon is playing here rather than at a bigger venue. Shows in the Grammy Museum's relatively small performance area tend to sell out quickly, making it hard for true fans to attend, and the room's bright lights and the moderator's overly obvious explanations tend to demystify the whole spirit of creativity and making music. On the other hand, even in this antiseptic, bookish environment, the intimacy encourages performers to answer questions, tell stories and play a few songs, as DeShannon will do tonight with stripped-down remakes of "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "Bette Davis Eyes," from her new album, When You Walk in the Room. —Falling James
MO-ODDS with RESTAVRANT at Redwood Bar & Grill.
The 1969 song "Gimme Shelter" unwinds with four and a half of the most powerfully mesmerizing minutes in the long and winding musical career of the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards conjured trembling waves of unusually pretty, shimmering guitar chords, which were shadowed with a solemn grandeur by the late pianist Nicky Hopkins until drummer Charlie Watts rudely smacked everything back to reality with an iconic double shot of snare and that ensuing resigned shrug of shoulders on the tom-toms. Singing forcefully about love and war, Mick Jagger was never in finer voice, but what really made the recording stand out was the participation of previously unknown gospel singer Merry Clayton. Her wraithlike backup vocals burned through the haze with a stirringly eerie passion, and the native Louisianan's subsequent solo albums have further revealed the reach of her soulful delivery and that warm fire of a voice. —Falling James
If you've read anything about this onetime Hotel Café regular, it's probably that she's married to Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon. But on her third album, this month's Little Spark, Jessie Baylin actually busts out connections to loads of other impressive folks, not the least of whom is Stevie Nicks' longtime guitarist, Waddy Wachtel. (With his flowing locks and sleeveless tees, dude is always a delight to see. Maybe he'll show up here?) Music's nice, too: strummy, tuneful folk-rock stuff with cool studio-pop touches like the tubular bells in "The Greatest Thing That Never Happened." L.A.'s Watson Twins contribute backing vocals (as they did a few years ago on Jenny Lewis' Rabbit Fur Coat), and they're set to open for Baylin tonight. —Mikael Wood
Lonely Avenue [formerly Ross Garren Blues Band]
Tuesdays at Blue Whale can now be filed under "the best thing you didn't even know existed." In yet another episode we have harmonicist/pianist/composer Ross Garren and his mission to "re-present" American folk music by encapsulating it in more contemporary and artistic forms. This clever composer has arranged music for B.B. King, his songs are compelling and his blues harmonica playing is bodacious. But the heavenly voice of Angela Vincente is to die for; her ability to sing powerfully and sweetly at the same time just might kill you. Bassist Dominic Thiroux and drummer Gavin Salmon expertly round out the stripped-down band, which exposes the songs in all their raw, beautiful and unbelievably soulful affection. Throw away your old Rambo videos, for this music will actually make you proud to be an American. —Gary Fukushima
OLIN & THE MOON at the Echo; DALE EARNHARDT JR JR at the Echoplex; RUTHIE FOSTER at the Grammy Museum; IT'S CASUAL at La Cita; OVERDOZ at the Roxy.
Fujiya & Miyagi
Formed in Brighton, England, at the turn of the millennium, Fujiya & Miyagi have always seemed a quick DFA Records endorsement away from making it big. As playfully wry as Hot Chip and as smartly danceable as Yacht, the trio has delivered three hugely satisfying records over the years. Paying dap to forebears like Neu!, Broadcast and Aphex Twin, Fujiya & Miyagi have done their influences well, demonstrating an ear for the arty and angular ("Ankle Injuries," from 2006's Transparent Things), as well as for the upbeat and unequivocally hip ("Knickerbocker," from 2008's Lightbulbs). But last year's Ventriloquizzing felt like a coming-out of sorts, as singer David Best ditched some of his occasionally goofy lyrical non sequiturs in exchange for darker fare, and the band followed suit, creating a set of songs made all the more icy by crystalline synths and subterranean bass. —Chris Martins
EVERYONE DIES IN UTAH at Cobalt Café; KATE CRASH at Silverlake Lounge; JULES DAY at Vitello's.
RTX were Jennifer Herrema's new band after her years in the still-legendary Royal Trux, and they were already unbelievable — heavy-metalloid shredders with snakeskin guitars and Herrema going feral on the floor. But now she has Black Bananas, who are basically the rechristened RTX, and they have a new album called Rad Times Xpress IV. Listen, it delivers nothing short of obliteration. It's like Satanic Majesties, Ash Ra Tempel, Super Ape, Gremlins Have Pictures and "Atomic Dog" have melted down to their most primal common element. Know the concept of the "rock star"? Well, this is rock TAR: thick, heavy, ancient and hungry for your skeleton. Tonight is the release party for this crucial record. Hungry freaks: Eat Black Bananas and get sick! —Chris Ziegler
Black Sheep Wall
This California quintet is the slow, sludgy sound of revenge for every wrong ever done to anyone, ever. Deliberate, detuned and often dissonant guitars loom over beats sufficiently sluggish to allow for sudden elaborate spasms, while vocalist Trae Malone suffers for all of us from some lonely, raw-throated and indignant oblivion. Though rarely extending themselves beyond a pedestrian pace, Black Sheep Wall (yes, named for an all-revealing cheat code in StarCraft, nerds) find an attention-holding range of tempos and grooves within their seemingly unending misery, flipping the feel switch with little regard for comfort or convention. If today is the worst day of your life, Black Sheep Wall are your jukebox; if not, find some reason to rail. —Paul Rogers
While some hip-hop collectives make headlines for slapping photographers and using homophobic slurs, Minneapolis seven-piece Doomtree make their trade in something far less controversial but much more inspiring. Doomtree have been churning out beats for nearly a decade, and bring positive energy and spirit to their live performances and their highly literate brand of rap. Several of the group's members, among them P.O.S., Sims, Mike Mictlan, Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter and their only female, Dessa, have flourishing solo careers, perform at Coachella and produce albums for other rappers. But they readily admit that they work better together. Their stop at West Hollywood's Troubadour in support of their recent album, No Kings (on their eponymous label) might just prove that there are, in fact, rap kings, and a queen, in our midst. —Laura Ferreiro
THE FEATURES at Bootleg Bar; ED SHEERAN at Hotel Café; JAYHAWKS at the Roxy; MUTEMATH at Club Nokia.
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