Rock Picks


{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:


{mosimage}FRIDAY, JANUARY 26

Of Montreal at El Rey Theatre

Your rhythm is off. You need a reset. Set aside that bottle and dial up Of Montreal’s 2005 album, The Sunlandic Twins. Skip to “Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games).” Layer by layer, the song works its way into you. Bobbing bass line, festive percussion, lively guitar and slinky vocals meld for four minutes of pop therapy. It has you imagining you’re the greatest dancer alive, in Antarctica for some reason, surrounded by hot pixies. Feel better? Now that you know what one song can do for you, consider the benefits of a show. A typical Of Montreal concert is a playful, mischievous affair featuring multiple wardrobe changes (a plastic shopping bag as a shirt?) and a sound that’s faithful to their recorded material. Afterward, set aside time to let Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? sink in. The Athens, Georgia, group’s latest came out Tuesday, and you’ll need a week to let its sweet, funky psychedelia settle in your bones. Also at Avalon, Sat., and the Troubadour, Sun. (Craig Gaines)

Veruca Salt at Safari Sam’s

When Veruca Salt came out of Chicago in the mid-’90s, they had a cool name (taken from a character in Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory) and a cool debut-album title, American Thighs (lifted, of course, from a lyric in AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”), and gained national attention by touring with Hole. Unlike other grunge performers of the era, Louise Post and Nina Gordon brightened their sludgy, heavy riffs with unique harmonies, so it was a shame when Gordon — who wrote Veruca Salt’s (arguably) best-known song, “Seether” — left the band in a bitter breakup in 1998. Post, meanwhile, carried on with various lineups before reinventing Veruca Salt with guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick, drummer Kellii Scott and former Radio Vago bassist Nicole Fiorentino. Although the current lineup’s 2006 full-length album, IV, is more slickly produced and mainstream-sounding than most releases on the local garage-trash label Sympathy for the Record Industry, it’s still a fine collection. Surprisingly, the most memorable tunes are fragile pop confessionals like “Perfect Love” and the gauzy daydream “Salt Flat Epic” instead of the expected harder rockers with their trademark towering grunge riffs. (Falling James)

Bob Forrest at Silverlake Lounge

Bob Forrest’s Happy Hour Hootenanny takes off at the highly reasonable time of 5:30 p.m. each Friday for the next few weeks, which is great news for those of us who like to get a little rockin’ in while we’re getting happy and then go home and tell everyone we know that we rocked out on Friday night, which is technically true, even though we were on the couch passed out in front of the TV by 8:30. Which brings us to Bob Forrest: Though we used to love the old, junkie-punky Bob with Thelonious Monster and later the Bicycle Thief, the 2007 Bob is still the same tortured-rocker/glasses-wearing imp but now comes in with more poetry and acoustic-guitar ballads. And you still get “Sammy Hagar Weekend,” one of the greatest paeans to stoner culture ever written. (Libby Molyneaux)

Black Lips, The Bloody Hollies at the Echo

Atlanta’s Black Lips are a scuzzy, scummy, clanging, rattling and proudly self-proclaimed “psychedelic comedy” band. Their garage-rock roots dig deep beneath the retro-rock topsoil to anchor firmly in the fertile garbage gardens of primal garage-rock influences like the Troggs, the Seeds and Roky Erickson. Wondrously sour, out-of-tune guitars jangle and mangle songs like the fuzz-drenched “Sea of Blasphemy” and the rambling wreckage of “Boomerang,” from the Lips’ extremely lo-fi slab Let It Bloom (In the Red Records). San Diego’s Bloody Hollies have a heavier punk rock sound after moving away from the dirty White Stripes–style garage vibe of their 2005 CD, If Footmen Tire You . . . (Alive), into a more solidly powerful attack on their upcoming release, Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love (also on Alive). An amped-up, MC5-influenced rant like the Hollies’ “Attica Rocks” might be (somewhat) more connected to the real world than the Black Lips’ erasable junkyard nostalgia, but both groups remind that genuine rock & roll sounds closer to the rusty scraping of Howlin’ Wolf than it does to the pleasant burbling of Dave Matthews. Black Lips also at Spaceland, Sat. (Falling James)

{mosimage}Rodrigo y Gabriela at the Troubadour

You hesitate in calling the Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela acoustic guitarists because the term implies feathery noodling, folkie narcissism and/or new-age muzak-making. Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero hammer and literally slap their instruments with exhilarating speed and heavy metal dexterity on last year’s self-titled John Leckie–produced CD (ATO Records), which comes with a bonus DVD of dramatic live performances, interviews and even no-bullshit guitar lessons. They may be unplugged, but the pair once played in a Mexico City metal band called Tierra Acida, and that background influences the compulsively rhythmic, nimbly fiery delivery on such original instrumentals as “Satori” and “Ixtapa,” as well as a spiky-sharp burst through Metallica’s “Orion” and a mellow ramble up Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” After busking for a living on the streets of Dublin, Ireland, they finally received some international recognition when Damien Rice invited them to tour with him. Also at Amoeba Music, Sat., 2 p.m. (Falling James)

Also playing Friday:

KEANE at the Wiltern; THE BRIEFS, BLACK FAG at Alex’s Bar; THE SHINS at Amoeba Music, 6 p.m.; OZOMATLI at the Canyon; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE, LILY MARLENE at El Cid; JOSH HADEN at the Hotel Café; COLD WAR KIDS at Spaceland; CHEB I SABBAH at Temple Bar.

{mosimage}SATURDAY, JANUARY 27

The Chieftains at Cerritos Center

It’s never too early to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day and start lying about our Irish heritage and how our great-grandfather invented the potato peeler and had to flee Kilkenny during the great peeler scandal of 1899. And drink. The Chieftains are Dublin’s most famous living contribution to Celtic music. They could turn an al Qaeda terrorist into a step-dancing leprechaun. Paddy Moloney on the uillean pipes and that haunting tin whistle, Matt Molloy’s flute and Kevin Conneff’s lovely bodhran (that’s a goatskin drum, but you knew that because you’re Irish like me) make you almost feel like you know the difference between a jig and a reel. And did you know that there are the same amount of calories in a pint of Guinness as in a pork chop? So don’t forget to have a few pork chops before the show! (Libby Molyneaux)

RTX at Safari Sam’s

When Jennifer Herrema first came to attention in the late ’80s with ex–Pussy Galore guitarist Neil Hagerty in Royal Trux, the onetime Calvin Klein model sang in a low, scratchy purr that sounded at times like Anita Pallenberg fronting the Rolling Stones. After Hagerty and Herrema broke up musically and romantically in 2000, she carried on with her own band, RTX, and just released her latest CD, Western Xterminator, on Drag City. Traces of Royal Trux’s druggy artiness remain in the laid-back title track, a windswept, flute-laced reverie that dreamily evokes Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.” The rest of the album is more straightforward, ranging from the Stones-y riffs of “Balls to Pass” to the generic ’80s hair-metal squall of “Restoration Sleep.” “I’m the garbage collector,” Herrema snarls on “Black Bananas,” which is smothered in absurd amounts of reverb and other special effects that — rather than adding layers of mystery — tend to wash out her vocals and lessen the overall impact of the band’s hard-rock crunch. Similarly, her echoey remake of the Fang classic “The Money Will Roll Right In” isn’t as powerful as previous versions by other wild-woman-fronted bands like Bimbo Toolshed and Snatch. (Falling James)

Also playing Saturday:

OF MONTREAL, ENON at Avalon; BRIAN WILSON & AL JARDINE at Long Beach Terrace Theater; THE BRIEFS at Alex’s Bar; RODRIGO Y GABRIELA at Amoeba Music, 2 p.m.; ANAVAN, BOB BELLERUE at Il Corral; GLISS at the Scene; BLACK LIPS, WILLOWZ at Spaceland; PROJECT K, CHAIRS OF PERCEPTION at the Buccaneer.


Playing Sunday:

GUILTY HEARTS, FORTUNE’S FLESH at Alex’s Bar; BLITZ, CHANNEL 3 at the Knitting Factory; OF MONTREAL at the Troubadour.


Playing Monday:



{mosimage}Kaki King at Largo

Calling Kaki King a good guitarist is like saying that Michael Jordan’s a decent basketball player. She’s got game, can hit the open outside shot and can play her acoustic guitar in all the traditionally plucked, melodically strummed ways. But, like Jordan, she’s at her best when she’s going to the hoop for a presumably impossibly reverse layup, twisting and turning and finding new ways to score. As with fellow acoustic guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela, who are also in town this week, King often bangs on her ax for percussive emphasis and finds new chord positions in unexpected places. Her 2004 debut, Legs to Make Us Longer, was a satisfying instrumental travelogue through imaginary realms, and she expanded her range further on 2006’s . . . Until We Felt Red, where she sang a few tunes in a soft and breathy voice. Last time she came through town, at MOCA in August, she even crooned a site-specifically charming version of Elliott Smith’s “Angeles.” Lovely stuff, but she’s at her most breathtaking when she takes apart and stitches her guitar back together with the skill of a surgeon. Also at the Hotel Café, Wed. (Falling James)

Earl Greyhound at El Cid

Yes, it happened to me too. The first time I read the name “Earl Greyhound,” I spit on myself laughing. However, any pun-induced wincing and titters evaporate quickly in the presence of their truly ferocious rawk. The cheekily named, Brooklyn-based trio have been drawing comparisons to Led Zeppelin and T. Rex since their 2002 inception but are finally earning heavy buzz after releasing their full-length debut, Soft Targets, and hiring the percussive monster Ricc Sheridan. While lanky and angelically featured front man Matt Whyte churns out mind-searing ’70s guitar solos and howling, echoey vocals, Kamara Thomas lays down funktastic bass, and the result is a shimmering and spellbinding resurrection of pure vintage rock that should not be missed. Also at Silverlake Lounge, Wed. (Alie Ward)

Also playing Tuesday:

BRUCE HORNSBY at Malibu Performing Arts Center; DUSTIN O’HALLORAN, FISHTANK ENSEMBLE, HT HEARTACHE at the Derby; THE NIGHTWATCHMAN at the Hotel Café; PENNYWISE, CIRCLE JERKS at House of Blues; KRS-ONE at the Knitting Factory.


Garbage, Keb’ Mo’, Bonnie Raitt, The Martinis at the Alex Theatre

What are the chances that the sleek, space-age pop-rockers Garbage would ever be paired on a bill with the down-home rootsiness of Bonnie Raitt? Or that South-Central blues man Keb’ Mo’ would appear on the same stage as indie-rockers the Martinis, starring the Pixies’ Joey Santiago and David Lovering? It would take a mighty unusual event and an atypically far-sighted booking agent to place such disparate performers on the same night, and yet here they are, coming together for “Beat It, Wally,” a special benefit to raise funds for ace drummer Wally “Llama” Ingram, who’s battling throat cancer. Ingram has backed such luminaries as the Animals’ Eric Burdon, David Lindley and Sheryl Crow, as well as Keb’ Mo’ and Raitt, and he has no shortage of heavy friends willing to lend a hand. Organized by celebrated producer/Garbage man Butch Vig, tonight’s lineup also includes Victoria Williams joined by Tom Freund, the stirring rock/classical strings of the Section Quartet, Freedy Johnston, and the Know-It-All Boyfriends, with rumored visits from Jackson Browne and Burdon. The show starts at 7 p.m. 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. (818) 243-2539. (Falling James)

Helmet, Totimoshi at the Troubadour

Back in the early ’90s, one Page Hamilton from Oregon moved to New York to further his jazz-guitar studies. Which he did, somewhat, but more importantly he formed Helmet, a bunch of supertuff-type playahs who’d create a new kind of metal that would boast alternative tunings, stuttering polyrhythms and an overall tonality that smelled like electric chamber music more than standard bar-band rock & roll. As a kind of East Coast answer to Soundgarden, they slayed, and over the course of several albums, including their landmark debut, Meantime, and the follow-up, Betty, they established a sound often called the primary inspiration for the enormous load of “nu metal” (Korn et al.) that has graced the airwaves this recent decade. After their inevitable collapse, Hamilton relaunched Helmet in 2004 with a very fine cruncher called Size Matters (Interscope); the band’s recent Monochrome (Warcon) is a kind of explosively sensitive affair that proves there’s a lot of life left in the Helmet equation. Plus: Page Hamilton protégés Totimoshi, from Oakland, whose new Ladron (Volcom) is a big, fat, sloppy slice of heavy-rock mud. Also Thurs. (John Payne)

Also playing Wednesday:



Morrissey at Pasadena Civic Auditorium

Past experiences and a quick study of the Pasadena Civic’s floor plan, with its sizable pit area, tell us that you’ll have ample opportunities to do what every self-respecting fan does at least once at a Morrissey concert: jump the stage and give papa bear a big bear hug — don’t touch the hair! Perhaps it’ll be during “Everyday Is Like Sunday” or “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,” when the audience is lost in a dreamy daze and its defenses are down. Or maybe during “Meat Is Murder,” when he pretends to suffer for your sins to the sound of slaughtered sheep. (Don’t forget the part in “November Spawned a Monster” when guitarist Boz Boorer breaks out the flute and Morrissey is supposed to drop to the floor and recoil in agony as the “poor twisted child.”) Your best bet, of course, is always during the newer songs off 2004’s You Are the Quarry and the current Ringleader of the Tormentors, when everyone’s faces turn quizzical. Lastly, wear thick-soled creepers, bring a big posse for hoisting and lose your aversion to being manhandled by security. Godspeed, and leave the postshow tug of war for a piece of his Gucci shirt to the really crazy fans. Also Fri.-Sat., Feb. 2-3. (Siran Babayan)

Nine Pound Hammer, Charley Horse, Chelsea Smiles at the Scene

Rock & roll is best served at its most exaggerated and grotesque extremes, and this little fracas is guaranteed to operate pretty much at a nonstop frenzy pitch. With the walloping cowpunk & roll blitz of Nine Pound Hammer, who boast the participation of destructo-ax man (and chief howler for Nashville Pussy) Blaine Cartwright, there’s little doubt that ears will bleed. (Cartwright states, “With so much crap rock out there, and so many lightweight ‘alt-country’ bands, we are pissed off and ready to show these little shits how it’s done.”) Stir in the berserk big-beat assault of Charley Horse, another band specializing in Dixie-fried overkill (and featuring Nashville Pussy alum/incendiary Amazon Corey Parks), and the Chelsea Smiles, who, despite that candy-ass moniker, perpetrate fairly convincing slash-and-trash punk-glam savagery, and it looks to be an appropriately untamed affair. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Thursday:

BUSDRIVER at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; GORDON LIGHTFOOT at the Canyon; PENNYWISE, CIRCLE JERKS at House of Blues; TIN HAT TRIO at Largo; CHEATIN’ KIND at Lava Lounge; HELMET, TOTIMOSHI at the Troubadour.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >