Rock Picks

No one pous better than Redd Kross, Friday. (Photo by John Scarpetti)


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.

{mosimage}FRIDAY, MARCH 9

Redd Kross, The Donnas, Channel 3, The Nymphs
at Henry Fonda Theater

Rodney Bingenheimer might not be slickest or most articulate DJ — and his take on affirmative action seems to be that he’ll play songs by female artists if they happen to be young and cute — but there’s no denying the tremendous impact he’s had on the local music scene. He was the first L.A. disc jockey to give serious airtime to the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Van Halen and Blondie, as well as early SoCal punks like X, the Germs, the Crowd, the Avengers, Rik L. Rik and the Alley Cats (if not the Angry Samoans, who were banned from KROQ after releasing the sacrilegious anti-Rodney rant “Get Off the Air”). While his musical taste has gotten more mainstream in recent years, his Rodney on the Roq program remains one of the few non-playlist-infested oases on commercial radio this side of Jonesy’s Jukebox. The colorfully over-the-top power-pop revisionists Redd Kross are the perfect band to honor Bingenheimer, paired with their less-clever all-femme equivalents, the Donnas (who come off like the after-school-special version of the Runaways), and contrasted by the still-chilling punk fury of Channel 3 (especially the unforgettable “Manzanar”) and singer Inger Lorre’s latest comeback with the Nymphs. (Falling James)

Razorlight, Mohair at El Rey Theatre

Razorlight front man Johnny Borrell inherited his bravado from Britpop braggarts like Liam Gallagher of Oasis, but on last year’s Razorlight, the London quartet’s vastly superior follow-up to their 2004 debut, Borrell cribs his tune sense from an unlikelier source: post-punk blue-eyed-soul stuff by formal-wear enthusiasts such as Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello. Though Borrell and his bandmates are huge stars in the U.K., the self-titled disc met widespread indifference here in the States, a situation the group’s current round of American live dates might remedy — provided Borrell can keep his well-documented ego in check. Openers (and fellow Brits) Mohair released an album here last year called Small Talk that wasn’t small at all: Despite their decidedly unfabulous name, Mohair tend to the flamboyant, larger-than-life glam-pop tradition familiar to fans of Queen and Jellyfish. (Mikael Wood)

{mosimage}The Nice Boys at the Echo

The Nice Boys are a blast from the past — the glammy pop-rock ’70s, when Slade, Sweet and the young Cheap Trick were blitzing the ballrooms. This Portland, Oregon, outfit combine Anglicized vocals, retro riffage and cowbell-topped drumbeats to bring their glorious vintage sound to life. Nice Boys front man Terry Six was the sole survivor of the tragic van crash that killed the rest of his band the Exploding Hearts back in ’03. For his new group, he turned to what makes rock & roll fun: girls, guitars and, to borrow their CD’s leadoff title track, “Teenage Nights.” While their self-titled debut disc’s groovy ’70s artwork suggests period fetishism, the band don’t ape their influences. Their exuberant music — like the foot-stompin’ “Dugong Along” and the driving “Southern Streets” — extols the timeless virtues of simple, big-beat rock & roll. (Michael Berick)

Fiona Apple at Largo

One of the coolest things about the dual-disc version of Fiona Apple’s magnificently romantic 2005 CD, Extraordinary Machine, is that the DVD side features five songs recorded live at Largo, the small club on Fairfax where the singer got her start and which currently serves as her unofficial secret local hideout. It’s a delight to see the charmingly self-deprecating and shy, refreshingly undiva-like Apple interact with a small crowd as if she were singing “Paper Bag” and “River, Stay Away From My Door” in her own living room. Tonight’s special appearance (she was also scheduled to play a Largo set on Monday, March 5) is tinged with melancholy as it’s a benefit to raise funds for her beloved cancer-stricken sound man, Gordon “Gungi” Paterson (“He’s like some mystical, benevolent giant right out of a fairy tale,” she says on her Web site). Chances are that such grand-&-doomy ballads as “O’ Sailor” and “Parting Gift” will take on an added emotional resonance, given the circumstances. And don’t be surprised if pals like the multi-instrumentalist/producer Jon Brion hop on stage to flesh out Apple’s tunes. For more info about Paterson, go to (Falling James)

Joey Altruda at the Bordello

We all know Jump With Joey, the swinging Latiny-jazzy cabaret ork led by musician Joey Altruda. His new alter ego, a gothed-out character named Excelsior, might better be described as Jump From Joey. The theme of Altruda’s weekly show dubbed “The Darker Shadows Macabaret” celebrates “all things macabre, vaudevillian and made to give you bad dreams at night.” Along with Excelsior, master of ceremonies duties are shared with Mistress Abigail De’ath, your “hostess with the leastess” (guess that’s better than “with the yeastess”). The antics include knife throwers, whip artists, stripteasers, mentalists and, somewhere in there, music to move your inner ghoul. (Libby Molyneaux)

Also playing Friday:

at the Getty Center; CARINA ROUND at Hotel Café; REYES BROS., AKIL at Knitting Factory; THE WAILERS at Malibu Inn; TWO TON BOA, 31 KNOTS at the Smell; BLACK WATCH, SMART BROWN HANDBAG at Taix; SEBADOH at Troubadour; LION FEVER at Mountain Bar; ANNY CELSI at Synergy Cafe.

{mosimage}SATURDAY, MARCH 10

Saccharine Trust at Mr. T’s Bowl

We’re lucky to live in an era of second chances. So many of the early L.A. punk and postpunk bands broke up without leaving behind even lipstick traces of their messy existences, and yet today several prime originators are still thriving with all of their skills intact. A good example is the South Bay band Saccharine Trust, who released a series of brainy albums on SST Records in the early ’80s, from the punk-based debut, Pagan Icons, to more expansively jazzy CDs like Worldbroken and We Became Snakes, where guitarist Joe Baiza’s funky dexterity perfectly framed singer Jack Brewer’s artfully rambling, high-level poetry, as well as the band’s trademark version of the Doors’ “Peace Frog.” Although Saccharine Trust still perform early punk bursts like “Disillusion Fool” (and perhaps even “I Am Right,” which was once covered by Sonic Youth), it’s much more exciting to see such a once-vital band actually making currently vital new music. “Lightning’s a façade quip/the younger Gods/Still in internship,” Brewer confides on “The Sinister Rain,” from the band’s fine comeback CD, The Great One Is Dead (Hazelwood). It’s nice that these old gods still have something to say. (Falling James)

Also playing Saturday:


{mosimage}SUNDAY, MARCH 11

Beasts of Bourbon at the Troubadour

The last couple years have been a great time to be living in Los Angeles if you’re a fan of Australian rock & roll. Last summer, influential Sydney punks Radio Birdman not only toured here for the first time in their 30-year career, but they also released a smashing new CD, Zeno Beach. And recent months have seen a welcome invasion of disparate underground bands from Down Under, ranging from Brisbane’s Grates to Melbourne’s Love of Diagrams. This week we get an extremely rare visit from the Beasts of Bourbon, who once cooked up a swampy stew of Stones-y country-blues and punk originals, although they might be best known in America for their brilliantly creepy version of Leon Payne’s “Psycho.” These Beasts began in Sydney in 1983 with members of the Scientists and the Hoodoo Gurus (another great Aussie band scheduled to play locally at the end of this month), and singer Tex Perkins and original guitarist Spencer Jones are back in black with a new CD, Little Animals, and punchy, aptly titled stompers like “I Don’t Care About Nothing Anymore.” (Falling James)

The Kevin K Band, Mad Lovers at Mr. T’s Bowl

Like a sailor, the prolific Kevin K seemingly has a band in every port. He’s based in Florida but tours constantly, especially in Europe, where he’s relatively popular. For this local stop, he’s assembled an L.A.-specific all-star backup band that includes the late, great Excessories rhythm section, drummer Roy Morgan and bassist Dino Everett. Mr. K has an obvious affection for Tinseltown — both the mythical, glittery version and the seedy reality — on his latest CD, Hollywood (Full Breach Kicks), which includes the Johnny Thunders–style rocker “Life in LA” (where the star-struck singer declares, “I can’t wait to get to L.A.,” without irony) and the sentimental acoustic ballad “Hollywood High.” He strums another unplugged ode, “Joey and Dee Dee,” a reflective tribute to his heroes the Ramones, although most of the album rocks harder with uptempo tracks like “Story of a Girl” and “Jennifer Love Song,” which combine New York Dolls energy with Kevin K’s melodically yearning vocals. Don’t miss the new local band Mad Lovers, who have an appealing garage-pop sound on such original tunes as “Pseudo Love.” (Falling James)

Also playing Sunday:

at El Rey Theatre; EPMD, PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS at House of Blues; SO SO MODERN, PANTHER at the Smell; L.A. GUNS at the Whisky.


at the Echo; WADDY WACHTEL at the Joint; GOSLING, CUT OFF YOUR HANDS, GLISS, SO SO MODERN at Safari Sam’s.

{mosimage}TUESDAY, MARCH 13

El Perro Del Mar, Rosie Thomas at Rec Center Studios

Swedish thrush Sarah Assbring calls herself El Perro Del Mar (the Sea Dog), which occurred to her during a vacation in Spain, where a bummed-out Assbring got a shot of new hope by a stray dog who tried to cheer her up as the two gazed out to sea ... Good boy! This inspired El Perro Del Mar toward a super-original brand of songwriting and performance that melds hushed tales of love’s travails imbued with sumptuous Spector-ish aural settings and a doo-woppy melodic sensibility right out of the Mann-Weil songbook. Please immediately grab her eponymously titled full-length and feel the glow. Also tonight is the humorously heavyweight singer-composer Rosie Thomas, whose pleasing new These Friends of Mine features collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Damien Jurado, Denison Witmer and others. El Perro Del Mar also at Hotel Café Wednesday with the One AM Radio, a.k.a. Hrishikesh Hirway, who’s got an intense and cathartic recent disc called This Too Will Pass on Dangerbird. 1161 Logan St., Echo Park. (John Payne)

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly at the Echo

Maybe if James Joyce were alive today, he’d be making music instead of writing books, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man might sound a lot like the songs conjured by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly on the fantastic album The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager. This barely-out-of-his-teens Londoner was born Sam Duckworth before discovering his eye-catching alias in a Batman video game. The guitar-slinging troubadour pushes the singer-songwriter model into the 21st century, fully equipped with a laptop loaded with skittering, nervy beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Björk record. He freely flaunts his personal as well as politically charged influences (e.g., Billy Bragg), but always with the uplifting, life-affirming optimism that comes with youth. Already a hit in the U.K., he’s one scene in Grey’s Anatomy away from taking America too. (Scott T. Sterling)

Also playing Tuesday:

at Henry Fonda Theater; HATEBREED at Avalon; ANBERLIN, MEG & DIA at El Rey Theatre; THE SKATALITES at Knitting Factory; LISA GERMANO at Largo; THAO NGUYEN at Silverlake Lounge; WILLIAM TELL, THE OOHLAS at the Troubadour.


Dr. Dog, Bobby Bare Jr. at the Troubadour

The roiling mire of indie rock keeps spewing forth more and more bands, and more and more of them seem so dedicated to the fine non-art of recycling that it often seems as if one is being sucked into a backward-spiraling vortex of rock & roll stylings that were pretty damn drab the first time around. Philadelphia comers Dr. Dog have stewed up a fairly convincing mixture of ofay soul, pop gloss and psychedelicized exploration, but it’s a sound falling a bit short of the high-indie adventure that characterizes middle-billed oddball Bobby Bare Jr. The Nashville rock renegade, with appropriately maleficent assistance from his hardy Young Criminals Starvation League, has demonstrated a boldly unhinged sensibility since he first damaged minds with his Boo-Tay debut almost a decade ago, and Bare continues to propose a satisfyingly deranged — and thankfully unpredictable — musical model. (Jonny Whiteside)

{mosimage}Ute Lemper at Royce Hall

If you already know that Berlin is the sister city to Los Angeles and that the two cities are celebrating their 40th year as urban siblings, then you probably have your tickets to see Ute Lemper in “A Journey From Berlin to Los Angeles.” Though she’s equally at home covering Nick Cave and Edith Piaf songs in her seductive style, Lemper gained a reputation as one of the premier interpreters of Weimar Republic cabaret songs, and this show will prove why this Brecht girl is Nr. ein. Along with the Weill songbook, she’ll also treat the audience to music by such homegrown composers as Irving Berlin and Oscar Hammerstein II. And, with all due respect to the ever-fab Ms. Minnelli, Lemper’s stunning version of “Mein Herr” will leave you saying, “Liza who?” (Libby Molyneaux)

Also playing Wednesday:

at the Echo; EL PERRO DEL MAR, GREG LASWELL, THE ONE A.M. RADIO at Hotel Café; FUJIYA & MIYAGI at Spaceland.


Merle Jagger, 8-Bit, The Fresas, Death Party at Safari Sam’s

As each of the founding members of the Ramones dies — only drummer Tommy Ramone is left from the original lineup — it’s become increasingly clear that the band has had an even wider impact on the sound of popular music than the Beatles. The Ramones’ militantly economical use of riffs and melody has inspired a thousand modern-day pop groups, and Johnny Ramone’s hypnotic drone of distorted power chords has been adopted by practically every punk band since the Ramones began in 1974, ranging from fast-&-furious early indie combos like Black Flag, the Crowd and the Gears to the more processed and slick sound of current corporate-backed punk and emo outfits. Tonight, Safari Sam’s ongoing series of tribute shows focuses on the Ramones’ influence on a bizarre array of disparate local performers. Vivacious pop-punk gals the Fresas and the comparatively crude and morbid goth-punks Death Party will take on the Ramones oeuvre with a traditional punk attack, while instrumental band Merle Jagger will reinterpret the songs through a bluegrass filter. And one can only wonder how 8-Bit — the raunchily hilarious rappers who are Highland Park’s answer to the Beastie Boys — will mangle and transmogrify classic Ramones tunes. (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:

at Malibu Performing Arts Center; CHEATIN’ KIND at Alex’s Bar; CIVET at Knitting Factory; GLEN PHILLIPS at Largo; THAO NGUYEN at Tangier; HEAD AUTOMATICA at Troubadour; OLLIN at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.

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