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Rock Picks

THURSDAY, MARCH 1 

Rickie Lee Jones at Henry Fonda Theater The story of Jesus of Nazareth has been told, retold, interpreted and misinterpreted by a legion of true believers, spiritual seekers and even fanatics who deliver salvation with a sword or a gun. Rickie Lee Jones is probably thinking of such zealots on her new album when she declares, “See all those people praying on TV and in the churches/they like to make a big parade out of what they’re doing.” She prefers having a private conversation with God on her new CD, The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard (New West), which was inspired by her producer Lee Cantelon’s book The Word, which recasts the Christ legend in an artier, more personal and less dogmatic fashion. And unlike the sometimes slick mainstream-pop settings of her early work, the best songs on Exposition churn with a raw, acoustic-based radiance, such as “Tried to Be a Man,” where her filtered, hushed vocals simmer over swampy Creedence guitars, evoking the boho vibe of her old pal Tom Waits. Jones sounds just as influenced by another oft-misunderstood Jewish prophet — Lou Reed — on quietly ecstatic tunes like “Nobody Knows My Name.” (Falling James)

Macromantics at the Echo If you think Lady Sovereign is a weak rapper with little to say besides how great she thinks she is, you might prefer Romy Hoffman, a.k.a. Macromantics. The Australian performer is much more intelligent and aware of the world around her, and she’s influenced as much by feminist riot-grrl icons like Bikini Kill, Crass’ Eve Libertine and Lydia Lunch as she is by rap forefathers like Wu Tang Clan, Big Daddy Kane and Nas. On her new Kill Rock Stars CD, Moments in Movement, Miss Macro wastes little time on braggadocio and self-affirmation, preferring instead to “axe and slash the fascist fucks.” She’s joined by guests Ground Components on “Dark Side of Dallas,” where she reveals a surreally poetic side when she chants, “I give you the swarm of apostrophes/who dream in patches of splashes as magic as black is.” She meets her match on the autobiographical statement of purpose “Locksmith,” where she exchanges robotic-voice verses with her male doppelgänger, Sage Francis. DJ Amy scratches up an intriguing brew of magnificent sound effects, although a little more melodic variety would break up Miss Macro’s singsong delivery. (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:

JOSH RITTER, SUBMARINES at El Rey Theatre; THE KRIS SPECIAL at Mr. T’s Bowl; BAD DUDES, THE MAE SHI, BIPOLAR BEAR at the Smell ; JOSH HADEN at Tangier.

FRIDAY, MARCH 2 Snow Patrol, OK Go, Silversun Pickups at Gibson Amphitheatre

With oodles of cred already in place, Scotland’s Snow Patrol went for the commercial jugular with 2006’s gorgeously produced opus Eyes Open. Propelled by placement in prominent TV shows (sign of the times, eh?), the single “Chasing Cars” swiftly became last year’s default music in malls and dorms across America, but this doesn’t detract from Snow Patrol’s studied, melodramatic craftsmanship and Gary Lightbody’s delicately textured, I-am-singing-this-for-you-and-only-you timbre. Comparisons to Coldplay are simplistic: Snow Patrol have blunted their edges, but they’re still downright jagged next to Chris Martin’s lot. Right now OK Go are better known for their Grammy-winning (and truly inspired) “Here It Goes Again” video than their peppy, Weezeresque sonic shtick. Silversun Pickups are the current toast of Silver Lake scenesters, their shamelessly Smashing Pumpkins–y “Lazy Eye” single — all scribbles of guitar and sensitive-type vocals — both cozy and summery, intimate and escapist. (Paul Rogers) Clinic, Sea Wolf at the Troubadour

“Keep yourself hidden,” Ade Blackburn warns insistently amid the undulating waves of tremolo on “Gideon,” from Clinic’s recent psychedelic séance, Visitations (Domino). He’s not kidding about this secrecy stuff. He shrouds his ambiguous lyrics and tense-yet-spacy vocals in an impenetrable effects-laden wall of gauze, and he is, after all, accompanied by men wearing surgical masks. They could be Sky Saxon & the Seeds under those disguises on such fuzz-drenched garage-rock stompers as “Children of Kellogg” and “The New Seeker,” but Clinic also have a more expansive side, opening up a Can of space-junk echoes and drifting off into the galactic soup on “Paradise” and “Animal/Human.” Despite some retro references, Visitations is a thoroughly modern, creepily beautiful trip, especially on “If You Could Read Your Mind,” which stalks along a sinister “Lucifer Sam”–style riff. L.A.’s Sea Wolf are comparatively mellower as singer-guitarist Alex Brown Church strums gentle tunes like “Middle Distance Runner” and “Black Dirt” from their upcoming Dangerbird Records EP, You’re a Wolf. (Falling James) Sweeter Than the Day at Café Metropol

Composer/pianist/electronic musician Wayne Horvitz is a very, very special case in contemporary American music, a blessedly progressive thinker and tastefully wide-reaching player straddling a peculiarly personal range of genres. You might remember his steaming fusion-funk combo Zony Mash or the avant-prog-jazz-rocking Pigpen, or his earlier work in the N.Y. downtown scene alongside the likes of John Zorn, Carla Bley, Fred Frith, Bill Frisell and Bobby Previte; recent critically praised projects include his improvised-composition chamber ensemble Gravitas Quartet, not forgetting his work with his acclaimed composer/wife, Robin Holcomb. Formed in 1999, the improvisatory Sweeter Than the Day began as the acoustic incarnation of Zony Mash, with Horvitz caressing a gloriously airy yet — typically for him — harmonically serpentine acoustic piano; Timothy Young is the band’s cerebrally soothing guitarist, given a kind of propulsive, buttery interplay by acoustic bassist Keith Lowe and drummer Andy Roth. Also Sat. 923 E. Third St., dwntwn. (213) 613-1513, or www.cafemetropol.com. (John Payne)

 

Musiq Soulchild at the Roxy

This Philly-based dude is the neo-soul singer of choice for folks who’ve got no quarrel with Dreamgirls’ implicit suggestion that earthy nightclub performers always beat flashy disco stars. As his flower-power handle suggests, Musiq Soulchild cares far more about his R&B bona fides than the heat of his beats. That hasn’t always yielded the most thrilling music; each of the three albums Musiq made for Def Jam seems to go on forever, awash in a warm bath of electric-piano ooze — handsome, for sure, but a bit flat compared to stuff by more daring peers such as D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. “Buddy,” the snappy lead single from Musiq’s upcoming Atlantic debut, Luvanmusiq, heralds an improvement: It rides a sly radio-friendly groove that manages to sound both fresh and old school at the same time, and features Musiq’s most relaxed vocal to date. Perhaps he’s finally ditched his fear of fun. (Mikael Wood)

The Hangmen, The Superbees, The Binges at Safari Sam’s

Back when they emerged from their mountain cave in Idaho and crawled down to Hollywood in the late ’80s, the Hangmen were one of the few underground bands who were hard rocking enough to play on bills with Guns ’N Roses while also opening for darker and stranger performers like the Gun Club. Since then, singer-guitarist Bryan Small has led several lineups of the Hangmen through the muck & mire, finally getting some long-overdue national attention in recent years after touring with Social Distortion and releasing several consistently excellent CDs on Acetate Records. The Hangmen’s sound is typified by Small’s distinctively sneering howl, backed by mighty thunderous Johnny Thunders guitars, as on the band’s pummeling version of the Rolling Stones’ “Citadel” on 2004’s Loteria. The Superbees, who began in 1992 with a sound that crossed the Hangmen’s seediness with the full-tilt attack of the MC5 and Radio Birdman, are playing tonight for the first time in almost five years. They’ll be pushed along by the Binges, one of the few new bands who have the same no-bullshit, non-indie-rocking drive as the headliners. (Falling James) Also playing Friday:

ALEXI MURDOCH, MIDNIGHT MOVIES at El Rey Theatre; JOEY ALTRUDA, PLEASANT GEHMAN, COATI MUNDI at the Bordello; BODIES OF WATER at the Echo; SIXTH CHAMBER at Good Hurt; BLASTERS, MAD MARGE & THE STONECUTTERS at Knitting Factory; DITTY BOPS at McCabe’s; RALPH CARNEY, OLIVER FUTURE at El Cid; BABYLAND at Jewel’s Catch One.

SATURDAY, MARCH 3The Dandy Warhols at the Wiltern

Individually, the Dandy Warhols are a ticktacktoe board of ’90s boho aesthetics — the often-topless redhead on keys, the smirking, Afro’d drummer, the languid other guy and the proto–Pete Wentz pretty boy singing apathetic anthems. Together, they are skinny pop art, slickly perfect icons for the first pressing of the Hipster Handbook. The Dandys aren’t strictly about appearances, though — they have no singularly great album, and their shows can be long, long evenings of swirling psych rock, but among their singles are more than a few moments of simple, embarrassing orgasmic rightness. The Dandy Warhols were also quite possibly the first indie rock entity to simultaneously embody the roles of “edgy indie band” and “capitalistic shills” after they parlayed their cool cachet and accessibility into a corporation equal to or greater than their existence as a rock band. Trendsetters, indeed. (Kate Carraway)

Mavis Staples at Luckman Fine Arts Complex

Mavis Staples, of revered gospel family powerhouse the Staples Singers, has already carved out a stunning musical legacy, but with her current CD, We’ll Never Turn Back, she has — in terms of her brilliant vocal performances — bested almost everything previously achieved. The civil-rights-struggle-inspired set tours a period remarkable for both its grim historic truth and uplifting commitment, and Staples, with a remarkable, almost masculine attack style, bears down with such deep back-country blues-soul-gospel fire and honed-over-a-lifetime technique so authentic and authoritative that it’s downright chilling. Given the album’s subject — with all the pain, fear, rage and injustice of battle fully present — it is one of the most profound, far-reaching and hard-hitting discs you’ll ever hear. These kinds of stark realism and brilliant artistry rarely converge, but for Staples it’s a natural-fact duty, and she rises to the call with a breathtaking, spellbinding mixture of gutsy aggression and unspeakable tenderness. Flabbergasting. Cal State L.A., 5151 State University Dr., L.A. (Jonny Whiteside)

 

Weird Science, Har Mar Superstar, Some Girls, The Willowz at El Rey Theatre

Welcome to Hipsterpalooza, bitches. This big sonic sundae showcases a sundry array of styles from every which way but loose. Topping the bill is Weird Science, the activated Wonder Twin power source in the form of celebri-DJ Steve Aoki and Moving Unit Blake Miller spinning a sleazy swirl of electric indie dance mania. Har Mar Superstar brings his naked disco sideshow to the stage, fresh from fugging it up with Stroke Albert Hammond Jr. on V-Day in L.A. this year. The Willowz shake out Southern-fried country crunk like only SoCal kids on the Dim Mak label can. Some Girls just come straight at you with homicidal deathcore punk that’s blood-brother related to bassist Justin Pearson’s other band, the Locust. Crowd control between sets will be handled by DJ impresario Them Jeans, mashing up hair metal, ghettofied hip-hop and horn-rimmed rock with considerable aplomb. Fellow jock Chris Holmes will keep the indie kids honest. (Scott T. Sterling)

Also playing Saturday:

DILATED PEOPLES, KRS-ONE, LIVING LEGENDS, X-CLAN, SAUL WILLIAMS, AZTLAN UNDERGROUND, MEDUSA at L.A. Center Studios, 4 p.m.; DROPKICK MURPHYS, SICK OF IT ALL at Grove of Anaheim; HAROLD RAY at the Bordello; SWEETER THAN THE DAY at Café Metropol; MALAJUBE, SNOWDEN at the Echo; PETE TOWNSHEND, BEN HARPER, TENACIOUS D at the Hotel Café; DJ QUIK at House of Blues; RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT at Largo; BLASTERS, JAKE LA BOTZ at Malibu Inn; VIC CHESNUTT at McCabe’s; NELS CLINE, MIKE WATT at Safari Sam’s; BARR, MARNIE STERN at the Smell; JOHN DIGWEED, MSTRKRFT at the Vanguard.

SUNDAY, MARCH 4Dandi Wind at the Echo

Dandi Wind really is like a dandelion with her head floating in the wind, scattering herself about the known universe while riding the rhythms of her robotic beat boxes. She combines funky techno rhythms with Middle Eastern musical flourishes and arty lyrics on “Umbilical Noose,” from her wondrously strange 2005 CD, Bait the Traps (Bongo Beat). She spits out rapid-fire lyrics like a cranked-up Nina Hagen on “Balloon Factory,” supported by a collision of spacy sound effects and uptight grooves. She chants mischievously in between the steam-blast exhalations and glitter beats of the eerie dance-scape “Ms. 45,” and chirps “Drawing Straws” with a breezy militancy. The exhibitionist Montreal performer also likes to deck herself out in equally shiny, metallic costumes while wallowing around on dirty stages and working out some fascinating inner psychodramas. Backed by keyboardist Szam and drummer Evan, the intriguingly bizarre Ms. Wind is finally touring the States, though it’s anyone’s guess what kind of visual/musical spectacle she and her crew will throw down when they make their Los Angeles debut tonight. Expect some additional weirdness from their upcoming album, Yolk of the Golden Egg. Also at Spaceland, Wed. (Falling James)

Also playing Sunday:

DROPKICK MURPHYS at Ventura Theatre; WATSON TWINS at the Hotel Café; DJ QUIK at House of Blues; KITTIE at Key Club; BRIGHTBACK MORNING LIGHT, MARIEE SIOUX at McCabe’s; SABERTOOTH TIGER, CHE ARTHUR, BOBB BRUNO at the Smell; SPINTO BAND, DIOS (MALOS) at the Troubadour; ERIC ROBERSON, ALOE BLACC at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

MONDAY, MARCH 5

Playing Monday:

CHRISTINA AGUILERA at Honda Center; AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT, LOW VS. DIAMOND, HAPPY HOLLOWS, RADARS TO THE SKY at the Echo; SALLY KELLERMAN at Genghis Cohen; WADDY WACHTEL at the Joint; WINGER, METAL SKOOL at Key Club; CROOKED COWBOY at Mr. T’s Bowl.

TUESDAY, MARCH 6Playing Tuesday:

CHRISTINA AGUILERA, DANITY KANE, PUSSYCAT DOLLS at Staples Center; ALBERT HAMMOND JR., MOONEY SUZUKI at El Rey Theatre; NEIL HAMBURGER at the Echo; KRIS TINER, KRAIG GRADY, DAVID KENDALL at Il Corral; ZOE, LOS ABANDONED at Knitting Factory; YOUNG KNIVES at Safari Sam’s; HT HEARTACHE at Silverlake Lounge; SAM PHILLIPS, DAVE PALMER at Spaceland; NICO VEGA at the Troubadour.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7Bright Eyes at El Rey Theatre

Neil Young probably means well, but when he released his anti-Bush CD, Living With War, last year, he groused that he had to take political action because no other singers were daring to speak up. Coming from a former fan of Ronald Reagan, this newfound concern was amusing enough but also a bit sadly ignorant, considering that old man Young was once one of the few singers of his generation who seemed aware of the modern world after Woodstock. There were, of course, plenty of anti-war warnings by everyone from Public Enemy to D.O.A. several years before popular critical mass shifted and folks like Young finally got on the bandwagon. Not least of these songs was Bright Eyes’ “When the President Talks to God,” which used some of Young’s own nervously childlike folkie delivery to send a succinctly disarming message about madmen in power. Naturally, there’s a lot more to the music of Conor Oberst, a.k.a. Bright Eyes, as documented on the dual release of the electronics-flavored Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and the contrastingly acoustic CD I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning in early 2005. Keep an ear out for rustic new tunes from his upcoming CD, Cassadaga. Also Thurs. (Falling James)

 

The Cult at Henry Fonda Theater

Ah, the Cult — you’ve loved them ever since “She Sells Sanctuary” and that fetching Baktabak interview picture disc hanging on the wall at Licorice Pizza. It’s been three weeks since singer Ian Astbury quit the Doors, and a week since the Cult played NASCAR’s “Rock ’n’ Racing” series at California Speedway in Fontana (rumors of a duet with race commentator “Loudmouth Larry” Huffman unsubstantiated at press time). The band — vocalist Astbury, eternal Cult guitarist Billy Duffy, rhythm guitarist Mike Dimkich, drummer John Tempesta and bassist Chris Wyse — plan the recording of a new album due this autumn, their first since 2001’s Beyond Good and Evil for Atlantic. They even still perform “Moya” and “God’s Zoo” from those early Southern Death Cult and Death Cult days. When you buy a ticket, don’t pay for the whole seat — you’ll only need the edge! (David Cotner)

Also playing Wednesday:

QUEENSRYCHE, DOKKEN, JANI LANE at Key Club; KTU, 22-PISTEPIRKKO, LODGER, DISCO ENSEMBLE, KEVIN K, PAT TODD & THE RANK OUTSIDERS, THE MOOG at Knitting Factory; MIDWAY, MULHOLLANDS, SEXYTIME EXPLOSION at Safari Sam’s; MEDICINE FUCK DREAM, DANAVA, WOUNDED LION at the Scene; YOUNG LIONS, DANDI WIND at Spaceland; ALBERT HAMMOND JR. at Amoeba Music, 6 p.m.

THURSDAY, MARCH 8

Die Hunns at the Knitting Factory

You don’t normally expect anything resembling mercy being offered by any of tattooed punk rocker Duane Peters’ other bands — including U.S. Bombs and Exploding Fuck Dolls — but Die Hunns, his collaboration with wife Corey Parks, is full of surprises. It’s not that the skateboarding legend Peters and fire-breathing former Nashville Pussy bassist Parks are mellowing out, but their 2006 CD, You Rot Me, has a wider range of ways to kick in your head. “Jorge” is a midtempo rocker iced with Parks’ sweet backup vocals, while the title track marches along to vintage Clash guitar upstrokes. “Don’t Want to Hear It” spotlights Parks’ unexpectedly poppy lead vocals under some shadowy, non-punk chords, and on “Die for Me” Peters even morphs into a ’60s-style garage rocker. Not every track works as well, but songs like “Ain’t It a Shame” and the harmonica-laced “Mad Society” (no relation to the early-’80s preteen punk band of the same name) are catchy songs with classic rock & roll power, spat out with Peters’ gravelly roar. (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:

BRIGHT EYES, VETIVER, ANNIE STELA at El Rey Theatre; TWO TON BOA, 31 KNOTS at Alex’s Bar; KY-MANI MARLEY at the Canyon; SPINDRIFT, MOON UPSTAIRS, CROOKED COWBOY at the Echo; EVANESCENCE at Key Club; KIND HEARTS & CORONETS at Knitting Factory; NINJA ACADEMY at Mr. T’s Bowl; JETLINER at the Roxy; CHARLIE WADHAMS at Tangier.


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