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Rock Picks

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21

Sepultura at the Whisky

Named not for the intersection of Sepulveda and Ventura boulevards but instead the Portuguese word for “grave,” Sepultura was founded in the early 1980s in Brazil. It’s thrash metal forged in the fires of the ruling Figueiredo military regime, the decline of the pornochanchada film industry and the continued reign of the Catholic Church, which, understandably, is not too “hot” for any metal heavier than gold. Amid rumors swirling like so many flushed toilets that founder and Soulfly throat-scourer Max Cavalera might return, Sepultura released their concept album Dante XXI (SPV) this spring. Inspired by Dante Alighieri’s rib-tickling journey through three realms of the dead, it encompasses 15 tracks of Jesus-God-Brazilian-jujitsu-just-clobbered-me headbanging — a perfect martial art for the sweatbox known as the Whisky a GoGo. Aficionados, take note: This may be the last tour that Max’s brother Igor Cavalera plays drums. (David Cotner)

Sky Saxon & the Seeds at the Knitting FactoryIf you want a faint approximation of what rock & roll was like in Hollywood in the mid-’60s, you can always check out the creepy, wax-museum artifice of tribute bands like Wild Child. But if you need a taste of the real thing — in all its bluesy, psychedelic, unpredictable and untamed glory — you can’t get any more authentic than the Seeds’ Sky “Sunlight” Saxon, the true mayor of the Sunset Strip. The Seeds’ 1966 garage-rock classic, “Pushin’ Too Hard,” would be enough to ensure the group’s legendary status, but real-wild-child Saxon also put his scarifying howl to such proto-punk nuggets as “No Escape” and “Tripmaker,” as well as the psychosexual epic “Up in Her Room” and the disarmingly vulnerable ballad “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine.” Over the decades, Mr. Sunlight has lived in the Hawaiian jungle, championed dogs as godlike beings and recorded with Redd Kross. Despite his “crazy” reputation, he still sounds focused and fiery with his new incarnation of the Seeds. (Falling James)

Quetzal at the Echo

This fiercely Chicano outfit from East Los Angeles have been honing their decidedly nontraditional mix of urgent cultural pride and political activism for more than a decade, but, four albums later, it still sounds brand new. The band’s latest, Die Cowboy Die (Quetzal Music), finds them in a transitional mode, from lineup changes (new vocalist-keyboardist Quincy McCrary brings a soulful edge) to vibrant vocalist Martha Gonzalez’s meditation on impending motherhood, “Breast Pump Waltz.” What hasn’t changed is their fiery political voice, be it the perpetual debate over the U.S./Mexican border on “Migra” or an unflinching shot at America’s colonization power trip on the simple but effective title track, which wears a strong Morrissey influence in both Gonzalez’s vocal inflection and the sardonic lyricism: “The killing of millions of people/Now you must die/Genocide missions no longer justified.” Ain’t that the truth. (Scott T. Sterling)

Also playing Saturday:

THE VANDALS at House of Blues; THE DIFFS at the Knitting Factory; BACKBITER, BOB LEE, THE CHAIRS OF PERCEPTION, MOTORCYCLE BLACK MADONNAS at Mr. T’s Bowl; SLICK RICK at Vine Street Lounge; THE REYES BROTHERS, MELLOW MAN ACE, SEN DOG at the Whisky.

Los Lobos, Lowrider Band at House of Blues

Once East Los Angeles rockers Los Lobos established themselves in the mid-’80s, the band quickly realized that — unless they busted bold artistic moves — they might well be permanently relegated to the roots-rock ghetto, a drab stretch of pop music’s back 40 where few want to spend any time. Instead, they transformed themselves into a free-thinking and far-reaching combo whose mastery of folk, blues and high-and-outside rock expression expanded their audience as much as it did their sound, and that plan of attack has much in common with the tremendous musicians opening the show tonight. Billed as Lowrider Band, these cats were the core players of War, a group of unparalleled skill in the art of meld-and-amaze musicality, and their singular soul/funk/Latin/R&B jamology not only represents flat-out genius, it’s also guaranteed to positively dazzle. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Wednesday:

LISA HALEY at Pershing Square, noon; COCKWIND, ANAVAN at Il Corral; PROJECT BLOWED 12th ANNIVERSARY PARTY at Safari Sam’s; PATTY BOOKER, LISA FINNIE at Cinema Bar.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28Playing Thursday:

UPGROUND at Pershing Square, 7 p.m.; MYNX, JENNA RIOT, STACEY Q at Mr. T’s Bowl; ROCKY DAWUNI, NAJITE, BRIAN JORDAN, IJEOMA NJAKA, DJ DREZ at Zanzibar.


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