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Rock Picks

{mosimage}THURSDAY, JANUARY 18

Die Rockers Die
at the Echo

Die Rockers Die might sound like the only logical response to washed-up metal retreads like Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, but the ever-evolving/expanding L.A. band are so much more than just haters of bad hair metal. They formed in the Philippines in 2003 before moving to Long Beach and undergoing various lineup changes. These Rockers claim to be “open-minded people whose membership[s] to the human race are under ‘probationary social conditions’” and they enjoy making contrarian statements like “Please don’t dance to our music.” Their often-improvised songs range from confrontational, straight-up punk rock to funkier post-punk structures and atmospheric, psychedelically wandering krautrock, often with hilariously abrasive lyrics. They’re part of the mysterious and somewhat ominously titled Central Second Collective with such bands as the Transmissions, Anchors for Architects and Death to Anders, all of whom are coagulating tonight to raise funds for underground Internet station Killradio. Prepare to die. (Falling James)


Also playing Thursday:

DIXIE DREGS, STEVE MORSE
at the Canyon; PAPA GROWS FUNK at the Mint; LOS ABANDONED at Amoeba Music.


{mosimage}FRIDAY, JANUARY 19

Reverend Horton Heat at House of Blues

When you look at Reverend Horton Heat, you see a man who’s suave yet raunchy, scrubbed yet filthy — and that’s just his suits! Rockabilly, punkabilly, psychobilly — whatever “billy” you prefer, his scorch-rock delivers the quiver to your liver. When he sits down to write an extremely blistering song and names it “Psychobilly Freakout,” do you think he says to himself, “Man, this one better be extremely blistering with a title like that”? I bet he does. Do we care that the good reverend is coming to town with no new album to promote? NO, WE DO NOT! With Junior Brown and the Legendary Shack Shakers. Also at Henry Fonda Theater, Sat., and the Troubadour, Sun. (Libby Molyneaux)


Wounded Lion at Zamakibo

Wounded Lion — one of the most self-effacing bands in Los Angeles (the group don’t even come equipped with obligatory glamour shots) — are quickly becoming a word-of-mouth sensation. Formed just over a year ago, Wounded Lion sound like they’re comprised of a bunch of kids with really extensive record collections — including the sunshine pop of the Beach Boys and the minimalism of Liliput. If you catch yourself doing stupid things, like incessantly listening to the Monks’ Black Monk Time record or contemplating the deeper meaning of Dan Treacy’s lyrics, Wounded Lion are right up your alley. While the term supergroup is seldom used to describe a punk band, sordid newcomers Arrow Down come close to matching that description with a member of Red Onions and two Alleged Gunmen. The show starts at 9 p.m. 1320 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; all ages. (Ryan Leach)


My Ruin at the Whisky

(Sing to the tune of “Candy Man.”) Who can take a buzzard/Rip its head off/Cover it in rats’ blood/And a shiny sword or two? My Ruin band can! My Ruin band can! My Ruin band can ’cause they stalk and rock your brain and make the world taste vile! My Ruin rock/Everywhere they go/Gory songs and frightening images/Singer Tairrie B likes witches/Bet she never does the dishes!/Who can make a nightmare/Dripping in black tar?/Now you want to kill/But you feel better now/My Ruin/My Ruuuuuuuu-innnnnn. (Libby Molyneaux)


Also playing Friday:

PRETTY BOYS, KELLY MANTLE
at the Gig; ODETTA at McCabe’s; COLD WAR KIDS, PARSON RED HEADS, BOB FORREST at Silverlake Lounge; ATOMIC SHERPAS, AMADANS at Taix; SUBTLE, PIGEON JOHN at the Troubadour.


{mosimage}SATURDAY, JANUARY 20

Carina Round at the Hotel Café

Some folks really want Carina Round to be the new PJ Harvey, if only because both singers are English and because they each rely on a non-divalike curiosity and independence as they travel down similarly mysterious and unexpected byways. Other than that, though, they really don’t have much in common. Round, from Wolverhampton, has a melodic pop side, but she also rocks out expansively with cleverly layered arrangements, such as the glittery strut of “Lacuna” and the stormy, violin-laced clangor of “Monument,” both from 2004’s The Disconnection. Last year’s Slow Motion Addict is even more bewitching, as Round gets seductively dangerous in a “Stolen Car,” peels back the skin to deconstruct a relationship on the eerie “Gravity Lies” and slinks through majestic pillars of looming, chiming guitars on the haunting title track. This elusive songbird appears to have settled down here for the winter, playing frequently around town at intimate clubs like this. Catch her while you can. (Falling James)


E.A.R. at Silverlake Lounge

Rugby’s Sonic Boom used to be known as Pete Kember, singer-guitarist of Spacemen 3 along with future-Spiritualized man Jason Pierce. Sonic’s subsequent Spectrum unit and overlapping E.A.R. (Experimental Audio Research) took off in pursuit of Boom’s more investigational impulses. E.A.R. in particular is a framework housing a loosely organized group (which has included My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields) for studio and live explorations in highly disciplined improvisation and interaction performed on custom analog electronic equipment such as theremin, modular synths and insect- and human-voice generators. Sonic has said that E.A.R.’s emphasis on form/shape and the close attention paid to the impact of the whole while not bogging down in highbrow concept takes inspiration from Stockhausen and Cage as much as Joe Meek and Kraftwerk, “where preconceptions and prejudice can be left outside and sounds can exist for their intrinsic values.” (John Payne)


Also playing Saturday:

BIG JAY McNEELY
at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill; REVEREND HORTON HEAT, JUNIOR BROWN, LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS at Henry Fonda Theater; KRAIG GRADY at Il Corral; SOULIVE, DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND at the Knitting Factory; BACKBITER, PAT TODD, SACCHARINE TRUST, THIRD GRADE TEACHER at Mr. T’s Bowl; BABYLAND at the Smell; DEAN CHAMBERLAIN, KINGSIZEMAYBE at Taix; COCKTAILS WITH JOEY at the Bordello; ADAM MARSLAND, THE LAST at Brennan’s Pub.


{mosimage}SUNDAY, JANUARY 21

Donovan, David Lynch at Kodak Theater

Two great tastes that taste whaaa?! In this literally (and figuratively) free live action, David Lynch’s zesty comfort with the adjective Lynchian leads him tonight to discuss his new book, Catching the Big Fish (Tarcher/Penguin), which uses fishing as a metaphor for the creative process. He’ll also discuss Inland Empire, his latest cinematic meditation on love and improvisation; and possibly his Rashomon-themed production of Surveillance, a serial-killer meller due in 2008. Donovan, conversely, performs his greatest Freedom Rock from many decades, including “Season of the Witch,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Sunshine Superman,” and possibly a Toto-influenced duet with Lynch on the “Desert Theme” from Dune, but likely nothing off his Josie LP from 1991, which is about as unfairly neglected and rejected as a used RealDoll on eBay. (David Cotner)


Mad Lovers, Sioux City Pete & the Beggars, The Dagons at Mr. T’s Bowl

“I wanna know,” singer-guitarist Kacey wonders on Mad Lovers’ demo. “How do your favorite records sound?” Well, some of them sound a lot like Mad Lovers, a new L.A. combo with power-populist potential who say they’re influenced by “lightning radio... drunk dials, bubblegum and soda pop.” Even when Kacey swoons into ’60s girl-group melodrama on “Jerkin’ Out My Tears,” her band’s Ramones-y, garage-rock delivery keeps things from getting too wimpy. There’s nothing pop about Chicken Hawks guitarist Sioux City Pete, who takes his ragged Beggars on an Iowa death trip through the history of genocide and religion with leaden blues riffs, abrasively distorted guitar, Jello-like ranting and Gun Clubby slide. “Don’t need no big city, no urban sophistication,” he shouts on the sour slab “Farmlands,” declaring that depravity and murderous behavior lurk everywhere in the cornfields. Countrified goth-punk duo the Dagons are off in their own world, somewhere below the eyelids and under the cranium, deep into a dreamland where sea chanteys wash up on the shores of Appalachia and secrets are revealed in cryptically poetic song titles like “How to Get Through the Glass.” (Falling James)


Also playing Sunday:

PIERS FACCINI
at the Hotel Café; BELLE BRIGADE, ANA EGGE, JESCA HOOP, PUTTANESCA at Tangier; REVEREND HORTON HEAT, JUNIOR BROWN, LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS at the Troubadour.


{mosimage}MONDAY, JANUARY 22

The Broken West at Spaceland

A name change may have been the best thing to happen to the Broken West. Formerly the Brokedown, the Echo Park quintet had to relinquish the moniker after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from a Chicago punk band of the same name. Since then, the Broken West have created a new identity, signed with Merge Records and released a debut album that critics are gushing about. I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On overflows with power-pop ditties replete with tambourines and tinkling pianos, the Kinks’ energetic spirit, and Beach Boys harmonies. At live shows, singer Ross Flournoy, known for his charismatic stage presence, often invites unannounced special guests onstage to handle tambourine duties. Catch the Broken West during this monthlong Monday-night residency at Spaceland before they head East for an extensive U.S. tour. (Laura Ferreiro)


Also playing Monday:

WADDY WACHTEL
at the Joint; IDYLLISTS, ROLLING BLACKOUTS, SYLVAIN SYLVAIN, LEMMY KILMISTER & SLIM JIM PHANTOM at Safari Sam’s; PITY PARTY at Silverlake Lounge; GLISS at the Viper Room.


{mosimage}TUESDAY, JANUARY 23

Dar Williams at Largo

With the support of her early fan Joan Baez, singer-songwriter Dar Williams shyly emerged from the New England coffeehouse scene in the mid-’90s with sincere songs about romance and religious searching, leavened with a firmly liberal, tolerant attitude that deeply connected the heterosexual performer with her many gay fans. She embraces her eternal themes on her most recent album, 2005’s My Better Self, duetting with Marshall Crenshaw on the non-sarcastic pop gem “Teen for God,” questioning authority on “Empire” and daring to be optimistic on “Echoes.” She’s just as charming on a lilting, jangling remake of Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” and harmonizes with Ani DiFranco on a hazily pretty version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” Also at the Hotel Café, Wed.-Thurs. (Falling James)


Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton, Tall Firs at El Rey Theatre

Tall Firs are a Brooklyn trio on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label, but the music on their self-titled CD is imbued with a more restrained and peaceful kind of peace. Laconic, colorless vocals float softly over slow acoustic-guitar plucking, occasionally inlaid with subdued swirls of electronics. Whether you find these dozy Firs dull or hypnotically engrossing might depend tonight on whether you’re standing or sitting during their opening set. Even without the heavy backing of her day-job band, Metric, singer-keyboardist Emily Haines should prove fascinating rummaging through the downbeat ballads from her 2006 solo album, Knives Don’t Have Your Back. The Soft Skeleton leave plenty of soulful space for Haines’ foreboding speed bumps of piano on the Beatles-like “Our Hell,” where she confides, “I tried to save you/but it can’t be done.” On “Mostly Waving,” she’s mostly sarcastic: “You frighten off the frat boys/Use your baby talk.” This “Detective Daughter” also sorts through the meanings of the death of her father, the poet Paul Haines, with thoughtful lyrics (“I’d rather give the world away/than wake up lonely”) and touchingly elegiac melodies. (Falling James)



Also playing Tuesday:

TOM BROSSEAU & HILARY HAHN
at Amoeba Music; DUSTIN O’HALLORAN, FISHTANK ENSEMBLE, ANA EGGE at the Derby; THE NIGHTWATCHMAN at the Hotel Café; MIDNIGHT MOVIES at Safari Sam’s; HT HEARTACHE at Silverlake Lounge; BETH THORNLEY at Temple Bar; THE BIRD & THE BEE, MIKE ANDREWS at the Troubadour.


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24

Deerhoof, Hella, Busdriver at El Rey Theatre

If you still need to scrape away those last stubborn, sticky bits of oh-six, entertain your brain with this soul-scrubbing sonic three-for-all. San Francisco’s Deerhoof have ascended the indie food chain by adroitly pingponging between dreamy experimentalism and quirky but pleasant pop darts. Survey says they’ve created their most coherent (and accessible) set yet with the forthcoming Friend Opportunity, led by the horn-blasted “+ 81,” a smiley smashup of White Stripes, Sonic Youth and Cibo Matto. NorCal’s Hella redefine post-metal riffery with their latest fuzzy math-meets-Nintendo freak-out, There’s No 666 in Outer Space, and probably the best drummer you’ve ever seen live, Zach Hill. L.A.’s own polysyllabic bebop-hop word-worker Busdriver digs deep into his mental thesaurus to dilate the pupils of your mind with his lightning lyrical histrionics, pulling from his freshly minted collection of existential rhymes, Roadkill Overcoat. See Music feature. (Scott T. Sterling)


Also playing Wednesday:

DAR WILLIAMS
at the Hotel Café; GZA, DJ MUGGS at the Key Club; WILL HOGE, THE DRAMS, EVA O at the Knitting Factory; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE at Tangier; GOATWHORE, GOD FORBID at the Whisky.


{mosimage}THURSDAY, JANUARY 25

Heartless Bastards at the Knitting Factory

When Heartless Bastards first came out of nowhere — in their case, Cincinnati, Ohio — with the release of their debut album, Stairs and Elevators, in 2003, there had never been a band like them on the rootsy Fat Possum label. Sure, singer-guitarist Erika Wennerstrom belted out a magnificently heavy remake of Junior Kimbrough’s “Done Got Old,” but the trio tended to play with more volume and power than most blues archaeologists, and her own tunes ranged from pulverizing and murky to melodic and occasionally airy. On their second album, All This Time, the Bastards expand their range further as Wennerstrom sets sail with billowing waves of pop piano on “Into the Open,” then rolls her black keys up against Mike Lamping’s bass and Kevin Vaughn’s bashing drums to create a momentously shimmering Velvet Underground wall of thrumming on the title track. That’s not to say that they’re mellowing out: “Valley of Debris” thunders with the footsteps of giants, while “Finding Solutions” tunnels through mountains before coming out on the other side and into the light. (Falling James)


The Dickies at the Key Club

What could be sillier than a punk band juicing up giddy, impossibly fast sugar-rush remakes of the themes to such childhood faves as The Banana Splits and Gigantor? Or, for that matter, a grown man like Dickies front man Leonard Graves Phillips singing from the point of view of his penis while waving a lumpy, phallus-shaped puppet? And yet, despite their deliriously inspired/brutally savage remakes of oldies by Simon & Garfunkel, Black Sabbath and the Moody Blues — as well as tastelessly rude original tunes like the Sammy Davis Jr. ode “Where Did His Eye Go?” — the Dickies have always had a tragic undercurrent. “Wagon Train,” the band’s tribute to their talented but tormented former keyboardist-saxist Chuck Wagon, who killed himself after a Dickies show at the Topanga Corral in 1981, is a gorgeously rueful anthem. Songs like “Rosemary,” “Fan Mail,” “Magoomba,” “Marry Me, Ann” and their madcap version of the Quick classic “Pretty Please” — stoked by Stan Lee’s metallic filigrees — are simply timeless slices of pop perfection. No joke. (Falling James)


Also playing Thursday:

THEE MIDNITERS & LITTLE WILLIE G
at Amoeba Music; ARIEL PINK, KIND HEARTS & CORONETS, BODIES OF WATER at the Echo; DAR WILLIAMS at the Hotel Café; WHITE, SQUAB, J.G. THIRLWELL at Mr. T’s Bowl; LAVENDER DIAMOND, WINTER FLOWERS, FINCHES at Safari Sam’s; LOS ABANDONED, FOREIGN BORN, GO BETTY GO at the Troubadour.