Rock Picks: Amadou & Mariam, Manimal Festival, Marianne Faithfull, Gil Scott-Heron
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2
Amadou & Mariam at Henry Fonda Theater
Fans who missed Amadou & Mariam back in July, when they were the implausible opening act on a Coldplay arena tour, get a second chance to see them tonight, in a relatively intimate setting that should give the blind Malian duo more room to explore the shape-shifting melodies from their 2008 CD, Welcome to Mali. Singer Mariam Doumbia and singer-guitarist Amadou Bagayoko exchange lyrics in several languages, including French and English, that wind with a lulling grace through a seamless blend of folk, blues, funk, reggae and African rhythms. Tracks like “Djuru” and “Ce N’est Pas Bon” are too hypnotically memorable and stylistically free-ranging to be lumped in with the work of other world-music outfits. It’s that indefinable combination of influences that helps to attract such musically adventurous collaborators as the Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan, who duets on the ebullient potential hit “Africa,” and Manu Chao, who produced the couple’s similarly engrossing 2005 masterwork, Dimanche à Bamako. (Falling James)
Domizil Artists, Mem1, Steve Roden, Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions is hosting a rare night of even rarer musical experiments in electronics and ambiance. The headlining artists hail from a small Swiss label with a 10-year history of subversive sounds, Domizil. Marcus Maeder, Bernd Schurer and Jasch, each making his L.A. debut, specialize in digital forms that range from the divine (glassy aural pools with no foreseeable terminus) to the harsh (wild jags of squelchy feedback that shocks the senses), but each is a master of his domain. A highlight of the night will be local husband-and-wife duo Mem1, who improvise their way to a perfect marriage of live cello and real-time electronic manipulation using Mark Cetilia’s own custom-made software. L.A. audio/visual artist Steven Roden also performs, and members of Switzerland’s Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology will open the night with a series of “four-channel tape compositions,” which is a fancy way of saying they’ll be providing a warm analog counterpoint to the evening’s chilly digital finale. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Friday:
ROBERT EARL KEEN at the Troubadour; BIG SANDY & HIS FLY-RITE BOYS at Redwood Bar; THE POSTMARKS, BROOKVILLE at Spaceland; DRUMS OF DEATH at Avalon; WYNTON MARSALIS & JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA at Royce Hall; LOGGINS & MESSINA at the Greek Theatre; WORLD PARTY, PARADE OF LIGHTS at El Rey Theatre; CAROLINE SMITH & THE GOODNIGHT SLEEPS at the Bootleg Theater.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3
Marianne Faithfull at Royce Hall
Marianne Faithfull of our heart, pushing forward, rusted voice getting more crackled by the hour, where to start? How about with “Dear God, Please Help Me,” her take on Morrissey’s mournful love song, which she covers on her nearly perfect new album, Easy Come, Easy Go. The song begins with a foreboding piano as Faithfull describes walking through Rome with her heart on a string. A humming, monochromatic church organ comes in. “I am so very tired of doing the right thing,” she exclaims. “Dear God, please help me,” and you can hear the exasperated years in her phrasing and tone. The way she says “god” contains multitudes — to say nothing of the way she says “there are explosive kegs between my legs, please help me.” Marianne Faithfull. Marianne Faithfull. Marianne Faithfull, one of the most beautiful names in the English language, connotes so much from two sing-songy words. The Rolling Stones and London, 1965. Junked out and homeless in the 1970s, followed by Broken English and (temporary) salvation. Strange Weather, her first collaboration with producer Hal Wilner. It’s a roller coaster of tragically sexy successes and consequent failures that we male wannabe lovers follow from afar, thinking privately to ourselves, “All you gotta do is call, Miss Faithfull. We’ll be on the next plane to Rome.” Easy Come, Easy Go, indeed. Produced by Wilner, the album is one of her best (even if we always wish that Wilner would tone it down just a notch), mostly because she tackles a fascinating repertoire, including songs by Dolly Parton (“Down From Dover”), Neko Case (“Hold On, Hold On,” which features backing vocals by Cat Power), Brian Eno (“How Many Worlds,” a duet with Rufus Wainwright) and Smokey Robinson’s “Ooh Baby Baby” (a duet with Antony Hegarty). It’s one of those records that we wish we could telepathically beam into your head as you read this, because it will fill your heart with a bulb of light so warm and honest that it’ll calm any storm. (Randall Roberts)
Manimal Festival at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Palace (Pioneertown)
Well, this looks like something ... how you say ... hallucinogenic: A festival of rhythmic trip music from one of L.A.’s best record labels going right now, Manimal Vinyl. Taking place over two days out in the desert — where, by the way, you can lose your mind and no copper’s gonna know the difference as long as you put your pants back on before you walk into the doughnut shop — the Manimal Festival this year features 18 or so bands, the majority of them from L.A. The mere listing of them suggests tracers and echoed acid feedback freak-outs. Most of the Manimal roster is represented: Warpaint, Rainbow Arabia, Hecuba, the Polyamorous Affair, We Are the World, VoicesVoices, Alexandra Hope, all of whom have at their essence an appreciation of artistic expression in its many forms, from visual art to film to, of course, music. (That, and a joyful beat.) In addition to the wild manimals, a bunch of kindred spirits float in. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros have seen in the past few months a meteoric rise that culminated a few weeks back in a triumphant performance on Letterman. Fool’s Gold, which shares a percussionist with the Magnetic Zeros in Orpheo McCord, has just released a solid debut on IAMSOUND Records. A bunch of others will join in, including Moonrats, Chairlift, Juliette Commagere, Exitmusic. And probably a few random bongo and tambourine players. And that dude over there wants to play. He’s awesome. Do you mind? (Also Sun.) 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. (760) 365-5956. Music starts at 4 p.m. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Saturday:
THE PHARCYDE at the Key Club; CROSBY, STILLS & NASH at the Greek Theatre; LADYHAWKE at Avalon; JOLIE HOLLAND, MICHAEL HURLEY at Largo at the Coronet; L.A. PHILHARMONIC feat. DAVID HIDALGO, HERBIE HANCOCK, TAJ MAHAL, LOS CENZONTLES at the Hollywood Bowl; NEW MODEL ARMY at the Knitting Factory; MING & PING, WOODEN PONIES at the Bootleg Theater; YOU ME & IOWA, RADARS TO THE SKY, THE VELTEXANS at Spaceland; BODY & SOUL feat. FRANCOIS K, DANNY KRIVIT, JOE KLAUSSELL at House of Blues.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4
Kylie Minogue at the Hollywood Bowl
It used to be so easy to dismiss seemingly manufactured dance-music mavens like Kylie Minogue, but that was before independent music embraced dance and poppy electronica, and held DJs, turntablists and mixmasters in high regard. The line between multidimensional diva and endlessly programmable femme-bot is a blurry mess nowadays, and Kylie Minogue is strategically centered in the midst of it. She’s been remixed by iconic, electronic heavies like Chemical Brothers and Fischerspooner, and therefore acquired some definite club cred since the days of “Loco-Motion.” (And the Stannard and Gallagher–produced “Love at First Sight” is arguably one of the catchiest dance hits of all time.) But it’s possible her anything-goes fashion prowess has given her career the biggest boost overall. Like Madonna once was, she’s Jean Paul Gaultier’s It-Girl now, and that brings us to the hard-to-believe fact that this is Minogue’s first U.S. tour, and, subsequently, her first show in L.A. — remember, she’s been performing since 1989. In terms of over-the-top eye candy, tonight’s multimillion-dollar spectacle of costumes and staging — including more than a few custom-made Gaultier wardrobe changes throughout the night — shouldn’t disappoint. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Gil Scott-Heron at El Rey Theatre
Gil Scott-Heron has become a touchstone for the hip-hop generation, and the proof is in the loads of instances he’s been sampled by the likes of Kanye, Mos Def, Common and Jay-Z, to name a few. Politically wry, poetically gifted and infinitely cool, Gil Scott-Heron’s sampled voice serves as a musical talisman for a solid, meaningful track in the minds of many rappers and producers these days. And, as it turns out, the feeling is mutual. Scott-Heron has fully embraced hip-hop and an inventive, electronic process of remixing and sampling his own work on recent releases — but that’s to be expected with his well-known, groundbreaking history blending the lines between soul, spoken word and jazz, not to mention the experimental fusion forms he ushered in back in the ’70s and ’80s. But his current work remains grounded on an earthy foundation. Minimal beats, scratchy samples, heartfelt storytelling and visceral imagery — delivered via his signature low and gravelly timbre — make up his yet-to-be-released I’m New Here (out in early 2010). Expect a chilled-out evening meandering through these new tracks and some from the days of “The Bottle” and “We Almost Lost Detroit” too. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Sunday:
PEDRO THE LION’s DAVID BAZAN at the Troubadour; JACK PENATE, MIIKE SNOW at Spaceland; GOD DETHRONED, ABIGAIL WILLIAMS, WOE OF TITANS at the Key Club; GURF MURLIX at McCabe’s.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 5
School of Seven Bells, Warpaint at the Troubadour
Brooklyn’s School of Seven Bells comprises ex–Secret Machines guitarist Benjamin Curtis and On! Air! Library! sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, who packed in their old bands to join forces on a debut, Alpinisms (Ghostly International), that found the trio shooting for an opulent gossamer pop that stomps. The album’s wide-screen-ish ambitions toward a new kind of pop froth can’t help befuddle with loads of fly-in-the-ointment textural ploys enmeshed in gargantuan guitar waterfalls , odd machine beats and the eerily twin-toned trills of the sisters Deheza. It’s a sort of tightly played (very) contemporary catharsis that sneaks in a seemingly de rigueur edgy aggravation — in a good way, of course. Hazy-dazy openers Warpaint offer an intriguing psychedelic folk-rock-post-punk stew highlighted by some exquisitely ethereal vocal harmonies, which can be further dug into on their Exquisite Corpse EP on the majestic Manimal Vinyl label. (John Payne)
Also playing Monday:
THE BUGS, SAD HORSE, THE MO-ODDS at the Smell; W.P.A., MOLLY JENSEN at Largo at the Coronet; CORREATOWN, EAGLE & TALON, THE VOYEURS, BANDITO ROYALE at the Echo; LIGHT FM, WE BARBARIANS, TIGERS CAN BITE YOU, QUEEN KWONG at Spaceland; JONNEINE ZAPATA, THE FARAWAY PLACES, INTERNATIONAL TENNIS CHAMPIONS at the Silverlake Lounge.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6
Breakestra, DJ Jeremy Sole, DJ Day, Simple Citizens at El Rey Theatre
L.A. funk-soul outfit Breakestra has got a rich history in this city of reinventing old-school break-beats in an even older school context: the big band. With a core of eight players (sometimes many, many more) and led by husky-voiced Root Down founder “Music Man” Miles Tackett, the Breakestra collective has been throwing incredible local shows for the better part of 13 years, bolstered by instrumental prowess and old-fashioned showmanship. The group’s second studio LP, Dusk Till Dawn, was just released last week via Strut Records, and this show celebrates that loving tribute to fallen Root Down comrade DJ Dusk. Considering, it could be a guest-filled night for Breakestra, who’ve collaborated with members of Jurassic 5, People Under the Stairs and Stones Throw Records, to name a few. KCRW’s DJ Jeremy Sole also appears, no doubt spinning an eclectic mix of funky strains from around the world. Palm Springs–based producer DJ Day is taking a break from his residency at the Ace Hotel to stop in as well, and live-music rap crew Simple Citizens opens. (Chris Martins)
The Joe Perry Project at the Viper Room
When the classic lineup of Aerosmith fell apart in a druggy haze in the early 1980s, it was claimed that this would lead to more productivity, since there supposedly wasn’t room for so many great songwriters in one band. In reality, the various spinoff groups, as well as the fraudulent incarnation that carried on for a few years under the Aerosmith name, were creatively bankrupt, with only the Joe Perry Project managing to strike some legitimate sparks. (Ironically, when the original lineup got back together in 1984, they were so short on ideas, they resorted to employing such hack songwriting mercenaries as Desmond Child and Jim Vallance. Aerosmith became slicker and more generic, but no one seemed to care once their comeback CDs achieved multiplatinum status.) With Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler out of commission for a while after recently injuring himself in a tumble from the stage at a concert in South Dakota, guitarist Perry gets a chance to stretch his legs on his new solo album, Have Guitar, Will Travel (Roman Records). While the onetime author of “Let the Music Do the Talking” will never be the most articulate lyricist, Perry has crafted an imaginatively diverse work that stands apart from Aerosmith, with majestic psychedelic raveups like the glimmering epic “Heaven and Hell” and the funky hard-blues instrumental “Wooden Ships.” About the only drawback is a surprisingly wimpy remake of early Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer’s “Somebody’s Gonna Get (Their Head Kicked in Tonite),” which sounds creaky and doddering next to the Rezillos’ definitive version. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
DR. DOG, JEFFREY LEWIS at Club Nokia; INGRID MICHAELSON at the Troubadour; RAY MANZAREK, ROBBY KRIEGER at Club Nokia; ROBYN HITCHCOCK & THE VENUS THREE at Spaceland; STARFUCKER at the Echo; 69 EYES, DOMMIN, THE BECOMING at the Key Club.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7
Fever Ray at Henry Fonda Theater
Fever Ray is a solo project by Karin Dreijer Andersson, a singer with the Swedish electronic-music duo the Knife. This self-described “capsule of energy” used to play in Honey Is Cool and has made guest appearances on records by Röyksopp. Fever Ray’s recent self-titled CD (Rabid/Mute) showcases Andersson’s eerie vocals in a variety of electronic settings, ranging from the icy cyber-funk of “Triangle Walks” to the ominously throbbing hum of “If I Had a Heart.” She packs away her romantic entreaties in a “cushion filled with all I found,” and the combination of wintry soundscapes and spectral vocals often evokes midperiod Kate Bush. Such enigmatic lyrics as “There is room in my lap/For bruises, asses, handclaps” and “I learned to not eat the snow . Velvet mites will keep us warm” contribute to the gently intoxicating sense of mystery. (Falling James)
Teenage Jesus & the Jerks at Henry Fonda Theater
In much the same way that the early punks roiled the waters and capsized the sunny dreams of the easy-listening yacht-rock crowd, No Wave bands like Teenage Jesus & the Jerks in turn challenged the musical limitations and increasingly rigid formalism of the original punks. Whereas the Ramones sang about chain-saw massacres, the Jerks sounded like literal chain-saw massacres, with poet-guitarist Lydia Lunch “hammering out rhythms dictated by the insults, which were chicken scratched in my notebooks.” As she explains in the liner notes to the Jerks’ 2008 reissue, Shut Up and Bleed (Atavistic), “The driving vision behind Teenage Jesus was to castrate the tradition of melody and composition and simply vent in the most primal way possible the horrible din of my own torture.” Out of all of that abrasive atonality came something emotionally cathartic and even weirdly uplifting, especially in the way that the Jerks’ beautiful noise anticipated and instigated other groups in the New York City underground, such as the Swans and Sonic Youth. Lunch will reportedly be joined tonight by longtime drummer Jim Sclavunos (Bad Seeds, Congo Norvell) for this reunion set, a curiously and atypically nostalgic event from this confrontational and terminally forward-looking artist. (Falling James)
Also playing Wednesday:
JACK PENATE, MIIKE SNOW at Spaceland; JULIAN CASABLANCAS at the Broadway Palace Theatre; THE QUEERS, TA80, THE LEFTOVERS at the Knitting Factory; STAR WARS IN CONCERT at the Nokia Theatre; TOTIMOSHI, SUBARACHNOID SPACE, OVO at the Echo; HOT TODDIES, FOXES, KISSING COUSINS, RACHEL IN THE WEEDS at the Silverlake Lounge; INGRID MICHAELSON at the Troubadour; THE CHAPIN SISTERS at Hotel Cafe.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8
Andrew W.K. & the Calder Quartet at Largo at the Coronet
If you haven’t paid attention to Andrew W.K.’s career over the past few years, you might be surprised to find that the over-the-top party rocker — once known for gems like “Party Til You Puke” and “Totally Stupid” — has cultivated a bizarre sideline as a motivational speaker. Yet even that’s not quite as unlikely as his latest gig: classical pianist. On his new 55 Cadillac, W.K. tickles the ivories with little of his usual pop-metal abandon, establishing instead a convincingly refined mood better suited to art openings and dinner parties than to beer-soaked blowouts. For this show, the final gig of a seven-date North American tour, he’s teaming with L.A.’s Calder Quartet for a collaborative performance that W.K. promises on his Web site will “stimulate all parts of your brain” and offer the opportunity for “both rapt listening and raucous dancing.” Party on. (Mikael Wood)
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Secret Machines, Future of the Left at Henry Fonda Theater
Veteran Austin rockers And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead released The Century of Self last February to pretty much universal acclaim, and why is that? Well, the band really feels like it’s got a new lease on life after liberating itself from its longstanding contract with Interscope. They’re always a riveting jolt up the arse with their genuinely epic tales of the perils and pleasures of life, and the new Century’s got a rough-hewn and haywired yet somehow more focused attack, where the band’s infamously chaotic near-desperation comes off considerably more desperate, more urgent, more important. Sanding grainier a sound that has sounded maybe too slickly repressed on their recent albums, they’ve unleashed a new fury especially thrilling via great twin-guitar leads and wickedly obsessive vocal flurries. These songs remind you of how it really is possible to achieve true non-corny drama within the context of the hard-rocking, gnarly bar band. Also Secret Machines’ avanty noise & rock, and, straight from the shores of Cardiff, Wales, Future of the Left’s viciously intelligent (they’re funny) and drunkenly rocking anthems to thrash to, as heard on their recent Travels With Myself and Another (4AD). (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
A HACK & A HACKSAW, DAMON & NAOMI at Spaceland; CAVE IN, COALESCE at the Knitting Factory; FITZ & THE TANTRUMS at the Three Clubs; HAR MAR SUPERSTAR at the Echo; LUCENT DOSSIER EXPERIENCE at El Rey Theatre; STAR WARS IN CONCERT at the Nokia Theatre; ZACH GILL at the Mint; MR. GREEN ALL-STARS, THE SCIENTIST at the Echoplex; SATYRICON, BLEEDING THROUGH, TOXIC HOLOCAUST at the Key Club; THE RESCUES at the Troubadour.
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