Rock PIcks

{mosimage}FRIDAY, November 24

Asobi Seksu, Mates of State at El Rey Theatre

How do you say “playful sex” in Japanese? Asobi Seksu — the Brooklyn-based band who combine sexy tunes with a playful spirit. On their recent album, Citrus (Friendly Fire), the quartet adeptly balance shoegazey, guitar-driven walls of sound with pop sensibilities and a gift for catchy melodies. Tonight audiences can expect to get lost in the dreamlike atmosphere their music creates, with singer Yuki Chikudate’s vocals soaring and swirling in Japanese and English over James Hanna’s wailing guitars. Simultaneously melancholy and uplifting, Asobi Seksu hearken back to the days of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, but with a decidedly modern twist. Headlining are Mates of State, the jubilant husband-wife duo who use two instruments — keyboard and drums — to create a luminous full-band sound. Kampai! (Laura Ferreiro)

Also playing Friday:

DIXIE CHICKS at Staples Center; MORLOCKS, PURPLE GANG, SWAMPLAND at the Echo; MARK FOSSON at El Cid; HELLOGOODBYE at House of Blues; PATRICK PARK at the Hotel Café; WHITE at Mr. T’s Bowl; LES GEORGES LENINGRAD, NORA KEYES at Spaceland.

SATURDAY, November 25

T.S.O.L. at the Vault 350

Say goodbye to the True Sounds of Liberty — to all of them. First there were the Fullerton hardcore punks T.S.O.L., spitting out politically charged rants like “Property Is Theft” and “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” on their 1981 Posh Boy EP. Later that year, the group suddenly morphed into a Damned-style, goth-tinged band with singer Jack Grisham slathered in face paint and crooning apolitical odes to necrophilia (as well as such straight-ahead punk classics as “80 Times”) on the grimly-fiendish Dance With Me album. By 1982, with the release of the Weathered Statues EP and Beneath the Shadows LP, T.S.O.L. were already off in a more melodic, keyboard-based direction. Throughout all the changes (with the exception of an ill-advised generic-metal-band incarnation in the mid-’80s when guitarist Ron Emory and bassist Mike Roche carried on with singer Joe Wood), Grisham has always been a charismatic figure — whether running for governor of California in 2003 or leading several thousand punks in a sit-down protest at the notorious police riot at S.I.R. Studios in the early ’80s. After this weekend’s breakup shows, these true sons of mayhem and danger will leave punk rock in the hands of their more insipid, pointlessly happy-go-lucky imitators. Also Sun. (Falling James)

{mosimage}Cat Power at the Orpheum Theatre

2006 has been a particularly turbulent year for Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power. The January release of her seventh album, The Greatest (Matador) — a lush suite of smoldering, nearly-ethereal Americana — was followed by an aborted tour and a mysterious disappearance only recently revealed in a New York Times profile as a dangerous stint of solitude that found the songwriter a shut-down shut-in sequestered in her Miami apartment and abstaining from food and sleep. Reissued in early September with different artwork and a knocked-down price, The Greatest is finally being road-tested by a presumably stabler (and newly Chanel-fronting) Marshall backed by the Memphis Rhythm Band, the seasoned session players who tracked the disc’s smoky splendor. Performing tonight in the none-more-ornate Orpheum Theatre, Marshall’s pocket-soul orchestra will have a suitably elegant space to drift out plumes of soft brass, tremulous guitars and crackling snares to accompany the singer’s raw-nerve ballads. (Bernardo Rondeau)

Prodigy at the National Orange Show Events Center

After their massive stateside success in the late ’90s, it took Prodigy brain-man Liam Howlett seven years to come up with 2004’s unjustly ignored Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (curiously missing contributions from founding members Keith Flint and Maxim) — a shame because the Juliette Lewis–sung single “Hotride” was a real hoot and could’ve been “Firestarter”’s rightful heir. And then there was the disappointing Coachella performance a few years back — their one and only SoCal appearance in nearly a decade — from which “vocalist” Flint’s and “rapper” Maxim’s tandem screeching is still ringing in our ears. But if there’s an electronica “act” still worth dragging your aging raver butt to, it’s these guys. With a Rolling Stone cover; “Smack My Bitch Up” and its controversial accompanying video (it was a girl behind all the debauchery, damn it!) that had NOW crying sexism; and 1997’s Billboard-topping The Fat of the Land, Prodigy became the face of a genre that finally caught America’s attention. And with all the guest artists they’ve collaborated with in the past, including Kool Keith, Liam Gallagher and Republica’s Saffron, it’ll be interesting to see who they’ll get to slap you around. Also featured on this oddly named Rokout Festival is Shiny Toy Guns, DJ Z-Trip, Sage Francis and Mickey Avalon. Starts at 3 p.m. 689 S. “E” St., San Bernardino. (877) 71-GROOVE or (Siran Babayan)

Also playing Saturday:

HEAD AUTOMATICA at the Wilern; 400 BLOWS at Alex’s Bar; CANDYE KANE at the Blue Cafe; J. ROCC, ALOE BLACC at the Echo; THE PROBE, PAT TODD, MOTORCYCLE BLACK MADONNAS, IANSCREAMS at Mr. T’s Bowl; GREEN JELLY, ROSEMARY’S BILLYGOAT at Safari Sam’s; AUTUMNS at Spaceland; MEDUSA at Temple Bar; MARGOT & THE NUCLEAR SO & SO’s at the Troubadour; JAMES INTVELD at Arcadia Blues Club.

{mosimage}SUNDAY, November 26

Talib Kweli at House of Blues

When Jay-Z big-upped Brooklyn’s perennial indie-rap hero Talib Kweli on “Moment of Clarity” (“If skills sold/truth be told/I’d probably be/lyrically/Talib Kweli”), it was a watershed moment. The king of bling and braggadocio acknowledging the people’s champion with such a bold proclamation was like a sledgehammer to the Berlin Wall between the underground and commercial sides of the hip-hop nation. Kweli’s been bashing away at it ever since. He’s adopted Jigga’s business acumen, establishing the Blacksmith Music label, snatching up fire-spitting rapstress Jean Grae. In the downtime until his upcoming album, Ear Drum, drops, Kweli’s MySpace page is burning with bomb tracks like “Funny Money,” alongside Madlib from their anticipated collaboration Liberation, and “Country Cousins,” which finds T.K. trading verses with Southern dons Bun B and Pimp C. Yo, Nas: Hip-hop is so not dead. Black Moon’s Buckshot opens. (Scott T. Sterling)

Also playing Sunday:


MONDAY, November 27

New Model Army at the Knitting Factory

It took real nerve to spout leftist politics from pub stages in ’80s England as knuckle-dragging skinheads prowled. Now that “punk” is a haircut, Hot Topic and adolescent whining, it’s difficult to grasp the sincere, educated dissidence of bands like New Model Army, who emerged from Yorkshire in 1980 with an anthemic, hybrid folk/punk sound, and (middle) fingers pointing firmly at Thatcher, Reagan and fellow capitalist warmongers. It says much for their songwriting that NMA nonetheless snagged a brace of major record deals and repeatedly gatecrashed the Brit singles chart for a decade (“mysterious” visa problems mostly kept them out of America). Main man Justin Sullivan has persevered despite the passing of longtime drummer Rob Heaton in 2004. Last year’s Carnival finds his husky, working-man’s incantations as grittily poetic as ever, yet sufficiently tuneful to lube some still-lofty subject matter. (Paul Rogers)

Also playing Monday:


{mosimage}TUESDAY, November 28

The Hidden Cameras at the Echo

Would you like some orchestral pop with your go-go dancers? Upping the creative ante set by their lush songs, Toronto-based Hidden Camera’s live shows are no mere spectacle. With said dancers provoking the crowd into a frenzy, it is here that we may experience a true spiritual celebration. They’re touring in support of their third record, AWOO, which continues on the witty, poetic journey that master of ceremonies Joel Gibbs began in 2001. With one gripping word after another, Gibbs pulls the listener into his sociopolitical-charged personality (“Ode to Self-Publishing,” “Ban Marriage”), and once you hear, you may never go back. These sentiments ignite a fierce fire in the listener at these shows. Watch and you will see bodies sweating, bouncing, singing, and you might just find your new family . . . or even yourself! (Devon Williams)

Lloyd Banks at House of Blues

Lloyd Banks may not be carrying Gotham on his back, but this Jamaica, Queens, mixtape slayer and G-Unit soldier feels the city’s pain. Whether it’s the backlash against the G-U or Southern-rap hegemony, too many New York MCs (or at least NYC-based critics) are reveling in martyrdom. If that’s true, how sweet is the sound of self-pity on Rotten Apple, a clean-&-sleek affair that, production-wise, recalls Banks’ solo debut platinum banger, Hungry for More. Even Rotten’s few anemic tracks are still blessed with this ghetto Sinatra’s pithy flow; board work from Havoc, Eminen and Ron Browz; and family cameos including Tony Yayo and Young Buck. He’s on ex-homie the Game’s turf tonight, but from mall parking lots to Power 106, West Coast love is there. (Andrew Lentz)

The Handsome Family at El Cid

Like Porter Wagoner and Jackson Browne slowed to 16 rpm, Handsome Family’s vision of Americana stems from influences as subtle as life in underrated Albuquerque to glove paralysis and other swamp things sucking at the fringes of the American experience. Tonight, the Family — a married duet of author Brett (guitars, voice, words) and seer Rennie Sparks (bass, melodica, voice) — observe their 10th year as a group making music that’s self-professedly “a little bit creepy and a little bit country.” Last Days of Wonder (Carrot Top) is their latest, vaguely apocalyptic journey into the black sun of Eeyore consciousness. Be there to witness their wry, corrosive illumination of this nation’s dark corners, because some people drink to remember — and some people drink to forget that they missed nights like this. Also Wed. (David Cotner)

Also playing Tuesday:


WEDNESDAY, November 29

Sugar Minott, Admiral Tibet at the Echo

Kingston-born roots-dancehall chanter Sugar Minott has spent most of his life immersed in reggae, starting with his first professional job as co-founder of the African Brothers — when he was barely 13. With some choice subsequent guidance from crucial studio boss Coxsone Dodd, Minott developed a powerfully declarative, soulful style, and, after leaving Dodd to start his own label, finally made significant impact in the early ’80s with his classic Ghetto-ology album. Minott also had an active hand in initiating the shift from Lover’s Rock to the fast-blossoming dancehall sound, and he’s hardly faltered since. He’s teamed tonight with Admiral Tibet, another hard-hitting dancehall militant, and with dub maestro Scientist at the controls, expect a first-rate hypno-ball. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Wednesday:

DANZIG, LACUNA COIL at the Wiltern; JOANNA NEWSOM, BILL CALLAHAN at Malibu Performing Arts Center; HANDSOME FAMILY at El Cid; BUTCH WALKER at the Hotel Café; MIKE STINSON, MERLE JAGGER at Safari Sam’s.

{mosimage}THURSDAY, November 30

The Duhks at the Hotel Café

There’s a new movement of 20-something acoustic musicians, wryly tagged as “All-Timey.” The Mammals, Crooked Still, Uncle Earl and others have fully immersed themselves in old-time string-band music and added impurities. Along with their more psychidyllic cohorts, they’re dragging North American folk music into the 21st century. This is a welcome development in an age when popular culture too often means legalized torture and Britney Spears (is there a difference between the two?). One of the best All-Timey bands is the Duhks, from Winnipeg. They’re fronted by Jessee Havey, whose powerful, bluesy and distinctly contemporary pipes make her one of the finest singers in any genre. The rest of the quintet — banjo, fiddle, guitar, percussion — are crack instrumentalists who swing like jazzbos. Youth, originality, chops and soul in one package are a damn good sign of things to come. (Michael Simmons)

Mr. Lif at the Knitting Factory

As part of the mighty El-P’s Definitive Jux family, Mr. Lif is also one of its smartest, sharp-tongued hired guns. Whether he’s guest-starring with Def Jukie Aesop Rock, Japan’s DJ Krush or calling one-third of the shots for indie-hoppers the Perceptionists, he’s bringing the brains with the pain. And he’s got the research to back up his potshots, as well as an uncanny flow that would be the envy of mainstream rap stars if they weren’t getting paid to suck. Catch up with the details on that inverted value system via Lif’s latest, Mo’ Mega, a potent dose of analysis and rage that dissects everything from class and oil wars to his deadbeat dad and his beloved kid. Those tired of dumbshit hip-hop need look no further, at least tonight. (Scott Thill)

Lucinda Williams & Miller Williams at Royce Hall

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams didn’t just pick up her acclaimed lyric-writing skills on the street (or, to appropriate one of her titles, on a “gravel road”). Some of it undoubtedly comes from her genes. Her father, Miller Williams, is a well-regarded poet and college professor best known for his recitation at President Clinton’s second presidential inaugural. Both father and daughter share a Southern-bred, plainspoken quality to their writing. Each pens lean, powerful prose, rich with sharply turned details, that travels the dark corners of small-town America to the turbulent emotions of the human heart. The Williamses don’t often perform together, so this evening — billed as “Poetry Said, Poetry Sung” — provides a rare opportunity to see these two talented wordsmiths sharing the stage, swapping songs and poems, just like they might in the family living room. As an added treat, Lucinda also may be trying out some tunes from her February-bound new album. (Michael Berick)

Also playing Thursday:

JOANNA NEWSOM, BILL CALLAHAN at El Rey Theatre; IMOGEN HEAP at the Wiltern; LOS ABANDONED at the Echo; GRANDE MOTHERS at House of Blues; JILL SOBULE, JULIA SWEENEY at Largo; MELVINS at the Troubadour.


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