Rock Picks


Apples in Stereo at Spaceland

If the Archies went to college, they’d be Apples in Stereo. There was a time when Queen was considered rock’s most educated band. Today, we have Robert Schneider, who’s gotten all Copernicus on our ass and invented a new musical scale, the non-Pythagorean scale. Schneider studied physics in college and is a self-confessed math-head. On the band’s recent New Magnetic Wonder album, you get two non-Pyth compositions, and though I will not pretend to know anything about scales, Pythagorean or non, I can tell you that the rest of the album has some of the most shimmering, sparkling pop songs ever recorded for your air-tambourine pleasure. (Libby Molyneaux)

Also playing Thursday:

at Staples Center; BADLY DRAWN BOY at El Rey Theatre; KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, DRAGONFORCE at the Wiltern; BIRDS OF AVALON at Alex’s Bar; ANN MAGNUSON at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; KRIS DELMHORST, BETH THORNLEY, ANA EGGE at Hotel Café; OZOMATLI at Key Club; KRS-ONE at Malibu Inn; RADIATORS at the Mint; DIRGES, MIGHTY REGIS at Molly Malone’s; MARIA FATAL, NEFALIM, PASTILLA at Safari Sam’s; ANAVAN at the Smell; ANTIBALAS at Temple Bar; BLAG DAHLIA, NICK OLIVERI at Crane’s.

{mosimage}FRIDAY, MARCH 23

The Trucks, Von Iva, The Studio Fix at El Cid

“You can’t hate a girl who looks good dancing,” declares Trucks singer Kissy Kristin under the cool keyboard sheen of “Zombie,” aptly describing the performers on tonight’s bill of dance-rock revisionists. Seattle’s all-femme electro-punks the Trucks brag that their music sounds like “two 1987 Casios in a lover’s quarrel” on disco grooves like “Shattered” (where Kristin defiantly announces “No, I won’t sit nice and be quiet”), but she also reveals a poppier side on such intimate confessions as “Messages.” With their sinister synths, San Francisco’s Von Iva also want to shake your soul, as lead singer Jillian Iva begs, “Show all your hidden truths, girl.” SoCal’s the Studio Fix keep things grounded with a funk-rock base as singer-guitarist Nicole de Leon sings yearning melodies like “Time Machine” and “Magical Michael.” The Studio Fix have a distinct pop influence, but what’s interesting is the way they deliver their songs with deft art-funk rhythms that sometimes evoke the Minutemen. (Falling James)

{mosimage}Heavens, Boom Bip at the Troubadour

A collaboration between Thieves Like Us’ Josiah Steinbeck and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, Heavens conjure dreamy post-rock rife with midperiod Depeche Mode inflections and subdued but tangible emo sentiments. Their latest, Patent Pending (Epitaph), has echoes of Interpol’s stark minimalism but is more deeply rooted in late-’80s alterna-pop bands like the Church and Echo & the Bunnymen. The title track even steps it up with an indie dance-floor stomp like Bloc Party’s second album never happened. Heavens would’ve ruled the second 60 of MTV’s 120 Minutes. Cincinnati expat Boom Bip generally uses electronics to imagine misty, organic re-creations of ’70s SoCal mellow rock with nods to Can and Fairport Convention. But previews of his upcoming One of Eleven EP find him raving to propulsive, post-Aphex Twin beats. Go figure. Both acts do it again at El Rey on Sunday. (Scott T. Sterling)

Also playing Friday:

at the Wiltern; LOS LOBOS, ZEN CRUISERS at Malibu Performing Arts Center; SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM at El Rey Theatre; CIVET at Anarchy Library; PLEASANT GEHMAN, MR. UNCERTAIN, EXCELSIOR at Bordello; GREEN JELLO, ROSEMARY’S BILLYGOAT at C.I.A.; BLUE OYSTER CULT, BLUEBIRD at the Canyon; CARINA ROUND at Hotel Café; DECRY at Mr. T’s Bowl; GARY LUCAS at Safari Sam’s; DIE ROCKERS DIE at the Smell; BIRDS OF AVALON, METALCHICKS at Spaceland; PUTTANESCA at Taix; ANTIBALAS at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; CHAPIN SISTERS at Getty Center; SHIELDS, FLUFFER, EJECT at the Airliner.


The Sadies, The Tragically Hip at El Rey Theatre

The Sadies get by with a little help from their friends on their satisfying career-spanning live double CD, In Concert, Vol. 1 (Yep Roc). The cast of guest stars includes the Band’s Garth Hudson, powerhouse chanteuse Kelly Hogan, the Blues Explosion’s Jon Spencer, the Mekons’ Jon Langford and their frequent collaborator Neko Case. Such stellar visitations are enjoyable but don’t detract from the CD’s main purpose, which is to show the full range of the Toronto group’s styles in concert, including down-home rootsiness (“Taller Than the Pines”), Morricone-style surf instrumentals (“Lay Down Your Arms”), bluegrass rave-ups (“Higher Power”), spectral ballads (“Lonely Guy”), pure rock & roll (“Justine Alright”) and unexpected covers (a sinister reworking of Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam”). With the Good brothers’ sibling duality of both high and foggy-bottom-low vocals, the Sadies are a bit like Rank & File but with better songwriting and more colorful arrangements. Fellow Canucks the Tragically Hip — fresh off their opening slot on the Who tour — headline, and while their pleasantly jangly music is more mainstream and predictable than the Sadies, there are occasionally interesting moments on their recent CD, World Container, including the rousing big-rock chords of “Yer Not the Ocean.” (Falling James)

{mosimage}The Sharp Ease at the Smell

Can it really be that the Sharp Ease, with their enigmatic Magic Marker of a name, are really breaking up? Apparently so, which is a real shame as no other local band sounds quite like ’em, with their mix of punky backing, catchy melodies and Paloma Parfrey’s winsome vocals. Guitarist Aaron Friscia adorns Parfrey’s intelligently poetic lyrics with inventive post-punk arrangements that are sometimes shimmeringly beautiful, like the watery plucking that starts “LA Mist.” His delicate stepping stones of guitar pave the way for the sexual tension on songs like “Night Knight” as Parfrey vows to go out, get wild and paint the town red. “We’ll make our fears into pet peeves,” Parfrey sings on “Remain Instant,” turning cowardice neatly on its head. Who will teach us to be brave and similarly forward-looking (instead of merely retro like most bands) after the Sharp Ease’s final set tonight? Perhaps it will be one of their friends on the bill: the Tamala, Devon Williams, BD Breakout, Fuckin’ A, Your Mother’s Lover and Spooky Ruben. (Falling James)

Cheeseburger at the Ex-Plex

I have not heard rock & roll with balls this big since Andrew W.K. came stomping and puking into town a few years ago. Cheeseburger has the whole Thin Lizzy thing going on: monstrous riffs, a singer who has Phil Lynott down and a drummer playing to the crowd in the nose-bleeds. But if you think Cheeseburger is sexy, think again. These guys are comical dweebs and proud of it. Check out their video for “Tiger,” with lead singer Joe Bradley in a full-on tiger suit while pies are chucked at his face. How cool is that? (Libby Molyneaux)

Kleveland at Mr. T’s Bowl

Given that singer-guitarist Stephanie Smith pals around with larger-than-life Portland-scene rowdies like Storm Large and Michael Dean Damron (ex–I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House), it shouldn’t be a big surprise that her latest band, Kleveland, is a straight-up, no-nonsense confrontational rock & roll band. There’s a bit of dark punk menace on songs like “Jonny Is a Klepto” from last year’s self-titled CD on Pampelmoose, but generally Smith is coming from a more classic-rock background. Sometimes she evokes the seedy urban milieu of early Concrete Blonde and the Pretenders, and she has an Iggy-ish tendency to throw herself down and crawl around dirty stages if she feels she’s not getting enough attention. She seems happiest in dark and forgotten places: “I don’t wanna get in the pool,” she sneers on the ironically titled “Summer Fun.” “Get your flip-flops away from me, ’cause I wanna sleep right through the summer/I’m gonna sink right to the bottom.” Although she revealed great pop instincts with her previous band, Spectator Pump (whose underrated Styrofoam Archive CD was produced by the Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd), she rarely takes her foot off the gas pedal on the hard-charging new album. (Falling James)

Also playing Saturday:

at Orange Pavilion; LIL JOHN, BUSTA RHYMES, E-40 at Honda Center; JOEY ALTRUDA at Bordello; WEST INDIAN GIRL, SLOW SIGNAL FADE at Spaceland; RED SPAROWES, BIG BUSINESS at Troubadour.


Playing Sunday:



El-P at the Troubadour

Rapper/sound artist El-P’s first group, Company Flow, did that great Funcrusher Plus album on Rawkus back in the day, a groundbreaking set that led to his joints with a heavy cast of the more critical underground-type hip-hop artists in recent memory, such as Mos Def, Blackalicious, Dilated Peoples and the radical Cannibal Ox. Along with some fantastic mixed-genre work with jazz avantistas Matthew Shipp and William Parker, El-P has also founded the essential Definitive Jux label, and remains one of the most prolific and stubbornly iconoclastic producer-artists in the game. He’s consistently refused to mushify his sound for corporate tastes, and that sound is a head-skewingly dense mass of low-budget old-school styles with a pointy head in the progressive-rock and nu-jazz clouds. His mixes and ornately articulate lyrications, in fact, are just about suffocatingly complex — disturbing — so if you’re feeling pinned to the wall by it all, he’s done his job right. This is a record-release show for El-P’s new I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead; five years in the making, it was worth the wait. (John Payne)

{mosimage}Gym Class Heroes, RX Bandits, K-OS, P.O.S. at House of Blues

With the stoned cadence of Sublime, a self-deprecating sense of humor like the Pharcyde and that old-school hip-hop fun-time attitude, a band like Gym Class Heroes breaking out was inevitable. It’s amazing there isn’t one on every American college campus. But few would be savvy enough to hijack the chorus of Supertramp’s 1979 smash “Breakfast in America” and flip it for the new scene. Having Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump sing it for you helps too (the band is signed to Pete Wentz’s Decaydance label). For this “Daryl Hall for President” tour, GCH bring Seal Beach punk-poppers RX Bandits to make like Incubus for boys, while Canadian indie hip-hop hero/current blog sensation K-OS brings quirky but thoughtful raps to the party. Minneapolis punk rock rapper P.O.S. spits in the style of early Eminem over mosh-pit guitar tracks. Crazy sold out. Kids rule. (Scott T. Sterling)

Also playing Monday:

at the Echo; SARA LOV, DUSTIN O’HALLORAN, MEIKO at Hotel Café; YOU ME & IOWA, VANNA at Knitting Factory; JIM TURNER, ANN MAGNUSON at Largo; NORA KEYES, FOOT FOOT at Pehrspace; BUFFALO ROAM at Silverlake Lounge; MIDNIGHT MOVIES, KIND HEARTS & CORONETS at Viper Room.


{mosimage}OOIOO at the Echo

They’re fairly underground, the Boredoms, but their symphonies of noise have earned them a strong cult following, so when drummer Yoshimi P-We decided to put down her sticks and pick up the guitar to front her own all-female outfit, people took notice. OOIOO’s sound is certainly more musical than her other band, still avant-garde but more John Cale than John Zorn, and her prowess on the trumpet is impressive. The songs on their Thrill Jockey release, Taiga, range from the meditative to the destructive to the freakin’ funky, P-We playing her role like Björk guesting on Zappa’s The Grand Wazoo in a sound clash with Yoko Ono’s primal scream. On their upcoming EP, Boredoms cohort, eYe, takes P-We’s experiments with “nature sounds” and adds some techno flair, but you won’t need his remix to dance to their binary beat. (Daniel Siwek)

Also playing Tuesday:

at Hotel Café; THE DOLLYROTS at Key Club; DONOVAN LEITCH, PAUL WILLIAMS at the Roxy; DATAROCK at Safari Sam’s; CALLA, MOLECULES at Spaceland.


Hoodoo Gurus at El Rey Theatre

Call Qantas and cancel that vacation to Sydney. With so many legendary Australian bands jetting in for rare stateside visits — including Radio Birdman last year and the Beasts of Bourbon two weeks ago — L.A.’s become somewhat of a nexus point for troubadours from Down Under. Now we get a more-than-slight return from Hoodoo Gurus, who combined such unforgettable power-pop anthems as “I Want You Back,” “Tojo” and “Bittersweet” with Cramps-y rockers like “Dig It Up” on the classic mid-’80s albums Mars Needs Guitars! and Stoneage Romeos (which the band just re-released on CD with bonus tracks). Because singer Dave Faulkner still has a flair for penning indelible melodies on more recent tunes like “Domino” and the mariachi-laced “When You Get to California,” it’s easy to forget that he got his start on Oz’s wild west coast in Perth with the late-’70s punk band the Victims (check out a clip of their rabidly bratty ode to Dinah Shore, “Television Addict,” on the Gurus’ new Tunnel Vision DVD, which is fully loaded with 30 videos, live footage and a definitive documentary). Go see ’em because — as Faulkner once declared under the glimmering ringlets of Brad Shepherd’s gorgeous lead guitar on “Death Defying” — “now’s no time to hesitate.” (Falling James)

{mosimage}Scanners at Spaceland

Just back from South by Southwest, London’s Scanners are playing a slew of shows in town this week, so if you can’t make this one, there are several other chances to see the band. If Scanners sound more than a bit like those ’80s Manchester groups, that’s okay, because Scanners are one of the best ’80s Manchester bands ever, even though they were all in nappies at the time. Since the days of Joy Division and the like, nobody has really grabbed the Moog and run with it as well as these two gals and guys. Lead singer Sarah Daly is a little bit Siouxsie, a little bit Stefani and is a darn fine, pitch-perfect, vibrato-free rock-&-roll singer. Only one problem: lame lyrics. You should get a fine for lines like “Death is like a new beginning.” (Libby Molyneaux)

Black Time, The Husbands at the Scene

Don’t like the way most corporate rock & roll sounds these days? Why don’t you tear it all apart and put it back together — leaving out various unnecessary parts and limbs — like the bands on tonight’s bill? San Francisco gals the Husbands smash together a primal drums backbone with spidery, slinky garage-rock riffs on such tunes as “Swept Aside,” which is trash-compacted with Sonics-style riffage and frosted with Sarah Reed’s coolly serene vocals. These femme Husbands stir up a wickedly strange brew on “Running Scared,” with spacy tremolo guitar and haunting, super-reverbed-out girl-group vocals. The Husbands aren’t ghost whisperers; they’re ghost screamers. Black Time crank out a similarly crude condensation of savage(d) rock & roll on their recent In the Red CD, Midnight World. Bassist Janie Too Bad and guitarist Lemmy Caution throw caution to the hurricane as they rip through tinny, claustrophobic rants like “Mystery Shopper” and “Office Suicide” with so much fuzz and maxi-distortion that they make similar sonic reducers like the Black Lips and Pussy Galore sound like Barry Manilow. If your ears are already blown, what have you got to lose? (Falling James)

Also playing Wednesday:

at Ventura Theatre; HIGH SOCIETY, MOON UPSTAIRS at Bordello; THE ATARIS at House of Blues; THE LOCUST, CATTLE DECAPITATION at Knitting Factory; MULHOLLANDS, EKUK, CASXIO at Safari Sam’s.


Jill Cunniff at the Hotel Café

Even hardcore fans of Luscious Jackson, the mid-’90s all-lady Beastie Boys spinoff group, had to be surprised by the appearance last month of a major-label L.J. greatest-hits disc: Though they made a respectable contribution to funky-fresh post-Odelay pop, singer Jill Cunniff and her bandmates never really broke out of the big-city hipster ghetto and connected with the kind of listeners for whom greatest-hits discs were invented. As it happens, the best-of isn’t the only L.J. product in stores right now; Cunniff also just released her solo debut, City Beach, whose mellow folk-hop grooves she brings to the Hotel Café tonight. Brooklyn-based Cunniff says she made the album “to bring the beach to caged-up city dwellers,” and though that’s not a trick in huge demand around these parts, she’s retained enough of her appealing tunecraft to charm even a career surf bum. (Mikael Wood)

Also playing Thursday:


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