Rock Picks: Amy Millan, Dirty Projectors, Chip Taylor, LA 101
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30
Hot Chip DJ Set at Avalon
Were this virtually any other band, we’d be tempted to call tonight’s show “just a DJ set,” but the London electronic–dance pop quintet’s rambunctious, infectious sensibilities and influences are so varied and fun that anyone looking for a sweaty Hallow’s Eve on a packed dance floor would be well advised to hit this party, part of the weekly Control club at Avalon. Hot Chip has released three proper full-lengths. Maybe you’ve heard their song “Over and Over” in an ad for something or other on TV, this catchy song about the joy of repetition that hits “like a monkey with a miniature cymbal,” sung by co-vocalist Alexis Taylor, who sounds a lot like Paul McCartney. As a DJ unit, the five have dropped a Pete Tong Essential Mix on BBC1 to die for, and singer Joe Goddard is one half of the long-running Greco Roman DJ team with the founder of K7! Records. That pair’s first mix dropped in 2006, and is one of my favorite of the decade, a bouncy joyride that starts with Archie Bell & the Drells’ “Tighten Up,” the beat of which moves gradually from hard analog to plasticine synthetic, and from there rolls through Sade, Lady Sovereign (hey, it was 2006 ...), freakazoid Chicago house, electro and down-and-dirty Southern bounce (the Ying Yang Twins’ X-rated “Wait” should maybe get somebody arrested — it’s a disturbing song — but the Greco Romans temper it by mashing in Natascha Thomas’ “Why [Does Your Love Hurt So Much]”). The whole mix is a surprise, and funny, and, like the band that bore it, a template for a no-moves-barred-dance-floor Halloween weekend. No word on how many Hot Chips are spinning, but that don’t matter. We’ll be there with skulls on. (Randall Roberts)
Amy Millan at Spaceland
“Ghosts weren’t meant for bleeding,” Amy Millan announces delicately on “Bruised Ghosts,” from her second solo album, Masters of the Burial, a title that seemingly refers to her ability to eloquently distill romantic heartbreak into song before moving on. She doesn’t want to, but she realizes that she has to leave a troublemaker boyfriend before he self-destructs, in the rueful “Bound.” The Canadian singer, who also fronts Stars and is part of the extended Toronto musical collective Broken Social Scene, crafts such breakup songs with a world-weary wisdom rather than shortsighted anger. Joined on the new CD by guests like Leslie Feist and Stars’ Evan Cranley, Millan delivers her languidly lovely pop melodies with intelligence and clever, low-key embellishments such as trumpet, banjo and strings. When she combines these elements on happier love songs like “Low Sail” and her version of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” the results are even more delightful. (Falling James)
Chip Taylor at McCabe’s
The author of “Wild Thing” has had a wilder life — in fact, a whole series of wilder lives — than most pop-rock songwriters. During his first incarnation, as a New York tunesmith in the 1960s, he was more than a one-hit wonder, penning memorable songs for Janis Joplin (“Try”), the Hollies (“I Can’t Let Go”), Evie Sands (“Any Way That You Want Me”), Merrilee Rush (“Angel of the Morning,” which was later remade by Juice Newton, and covered by the Pretenders on their recent tour), as well as the Troggs, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Kinison, Prince, Hank Williams Jr. and X (“Wild Thing”). As a producer with Al Gorgoni, he worked with Sands and a prefame James Taylor (no relation, although Chip is Angelina Jolie’s uncle and Jon Voight’s brother). In the early ’70s, Taylor recast himself as a country singer and was a forerunner to the outlaw-country scene, but by the end of the decade he’d become a professional gambler, specializing in handicapping horses and counting cards, before getting banned from East Coast casinos. He stayed out of the music business for most of the ’80s, but got the creative spark back in the early ’90s. Since then, he’s been ridiculously prolific, releasing a flood of solo albums and collaborations with another protégée, the Texas singer-fiddler Carrie Rodriguez, who turned Taylor’s sidewinding blues-rocker “’50s French Movie” into an utterly captivating tale of role-playing seduction. Last year, Taylor released New Song of Freedom, an ambitious album of contemplative, history-spanning antiwar ballads. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
MUMIY TROLL at the Key Club; DEAD MAN’S BONES at the Echo; DENGUE FEVER at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, Broad Stage; KRAAK & SMAAK at the Roxy; BOUNCING SOULS, BAYSIDE, BROADWAY CALLS at El Rey Theatre; FLORENCE & THE MACHINE, IO ECHO at the Troubadour; PHISH at Empire Polo Field (Coachella); JON BRION at Largo at the Coronet; BUILT TO SPILL, DISCO ROOM at the Echoplex; TIGER ARMY, 45 GRAVE, BRIGITTE HANDLEY & THE SHADOWS at the Grove of Anaheim; HARD HAUNTED MANSION at Shrine Auditorium; THE GROWLERS, POCAHAUNTED at the Bootleg Theater; BONHAM, JETSTREAM at the Canyon.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31
Justice, Deadmau5, Basement Jaxx, A-Trak, Major Lazer, Modeselektor at Hard Haunted Mansion 2009 at the Shrine Expo Center
Hold on to your pumpkins, ’cause HARD’s back with its biggest, baddest dance-music orgy since the gargantuan HARD New Year’s Eve and HARD Summer Fest spectacles (or, in the latter’s case, nonspectacle) in L.A. Spread out over two days on two stages, Hard Haunted Mansion brings a most choice selection of progressive-aligned DJs and electronic-dance movers and shakers, emphasizing a more extreme modernist soundmakers’ contingent that includes the French duo Justice and U.K. veteran house-music innovators Basement Jaxx, rarely seen live in these parts, who’ll preview audacious versions of their upcoming Scars album. All good, right, but the ultraboombastic competing lineup includes Deadmau5, 2ManyDJs, Crookers, A-Trak, the Bloody Beetroots, Modeselektor, Major Lazer, Buraka Som Sistema, the strangely awesome Zombie Nation, Steve Aoki, Destructo, Don Rimini, Shinichi Osawa and too, too much more. Runs 8 p.m.-4 a.m. both nights. And be aware that this will be a limited-capacity event, so get your tix, like, now. Also Fri. (John Payne)
Dirty Projectors, Little Wings at the Jensen Rec Center
With Bitte Orca under its belt, Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors would be forgiven for taking the tail end of 2009 off. That album — a virtuosic and hyper-rhythmic testament to what might happen if D’Angelo and Paul Simon had a music-baby together — is easily one of the year’s best. But instead of indulging in the soft, homey comforts of the holiday season, David Longstreth and his exceedingly tight six-piece are working a double-shift here in L.A., on Halloween night. Their loss, of course, is our gain. Appropriate costumes for a night of angular R&B? Mariah Carey, David Byrne, or the aforementioned mutant music-baby. Kyle Field, a.k.a. Little Wings, voiced the part of Death on the Microphones’ epic, album-length dirge Mount Eerie, but his own stuff is generally lighter — folksy fare that often finds the Alabama-born artist posing beatific questions in a slack drawl over bedroom-born pileups of guitar, voice and light drumming. Think Will Oldham wearing a K Records suit. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Saturday:
KCRW MASQUERADE PARTY FEAT. EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS, LITTLE DRAGON, SEA WOLF at the Park Plaza Hotel; DEAD MAN’S BONES at the Echo; CHEVELLE, NICO VEGA, THE AFTER MIDNIGHT PROJECT, NEW MEDICINE at Club Nokia; TIGER LILLIES at Royce Hall; GORGEOUS GOT A GUN at the Mint; BOUNCING SOULS, BAYSIDE, BROADWAY CALLS at El Rey Theatre; PHISH at Empire Polo Field (Coachella); TIGER ARMY, MILWAUKEE WILDMEN at the Grove of Anaheim; ROB ZOMBIE, NEKROMANTIX, CAPTAIN CLEGG & THE NIGHT CREATURES at the Hollywood Palladium; USELESS KEYS, TASSO, OVIDEO at American Legion Post 206; DOWN & DERBY HALLOWEEN ROLLER DISCO FEAT. PINK DOLLAZ at the Echoplex.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1
Kris Kristofferson at Walt Disney Concert Hall
Superstar producer Don Was, the Wallflowers’ Rami Jaffee, the Red Headed Stranger (Willie Nelson) and others grace the gravelly goodness of Closer to the Bone, Kris Kristofferson’s new full-length album, the best one in a real long while. Including odes to many fallen musical brethren like Eddie Rabbitt’s late son, after his battle with cancer, it can be a downer, yes, but Closer to the Bone is equally hopeful and honest and you sure as hell won’t hear it on the radio — mainstream country is way too pansy-ass to go down Kristofferson’s ghostly road. You get the feeling the man prefers it that way; with lines like “God bless Obama, God bless America, and God bless the others outside our borders” all over his album, his is less a sentiment wrapped in jingoistic overdrive and more a quiet prayer for tragedy’s terrible spell to wane toward hope. Tonight Kristofferson is flying solo; much like his 2005 Royce Hall show under one lonely spotlight. Fittingly on Día de los Muertos — when those taken from us are remembered through celebration and song — the show is dedicated to one of Kristofferson’s fallen band mates, Stephen Bruton, who served as guitar sideman to Alejandro Escovedo, Bonnie Raitt, T Bone Burnett and countless others. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Horrorpops at House of Blues
HorrorPops are a band from Denmark who kick up their ska-pop tunes with punk-rock tempos and a twist of rockabilly. But what really makes them unique is singer/standup bassist Patricia Day, who possesses a mighty voice with a grand Siouxsie Sioux allure and presence that give even the poppier songs a darkly moody edge. I’m always afraid that, considering the melodic potential of her singing, HorrorPops will turn into No Doubt any day now. But they’ve so far resisted taking the easy route, with Day’s guitarist-partner Kim Nekroman churning out distorted power chords that keep things sounding punk. And while they’re more “pop” than “horror,” they’ve always been a fun Halloween band, with a crew of foxy, colorfully garbed dancers wreaking havoc as Lady Day pumps her bass and belts out vengeful anthems about duplicitous blonde femme fatales. (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
DAM-FUNK at Amoeba Music; PHISH at Empire Polo Field (Coachella); TIMES NEW VIKING, SIC ALPS, AXEMEN at the Echo; ASHFORD & SIMPSON at the Canyon; JUNKYARD, PAGING BETO at the Redwood Bar; SO MANY WIZARDS, PIZZA!, OLD BLOOD, FORT WIFE at Spaceland.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2
The Happy Hollows, Pepper Rabbit, Dirt Dress at Spaceland
The Happy Hollows are such an East Side staple that it’s hard to believe the band has only just put out its debut LP. The punky art-rockers self-released Spells in the first week of October, which was part of the problem: as recently as March, the band was signed to Nettwerk. The label pulled out for reasons still unknown, but the trio, led by the charismatic Sara Negahdari, seems no worse for wear. Spells is a challenging but wholly rewarding record, rolling Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pixies and Deerhoof into one big ball of yelpy but pop-driven angular angst. This is the first night of their November residency at Spaceland, a month of shows that include appearances from Widow Babies, the Drums, Dios and the Pity Party to name a talented few. Opening night promises a special guest, in addition to the lilting chamber folk of Pepper Rabbit and the minimal scuzz of Dirt Dress. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday:
WHITE RABBITS, GLASS GHOST, LOCAL NATIVES at El Rey Theatre; SHONEN KNIFE at the Echo; REZUREX, VIERNES 13, LOS CREEPERS, THE HOWLERS, OTHERS at the Echoplex; THE KEVIN O’DAY BAND, DJ QUICKIE MART at the Mint; I.E., DISCO BUNNY, BASTIDAS, HELLO MY NAME IS RED at Pehrspace; BLIND BOY PAXTON & FRANK FAIRFIELD VARIETY SHOW at the Redwood Bar; SHAKEY GRAVES, MISSISSIPPI MAN, AMANDA JO WILLIAMS, DIETRA KRUSCHEV at the Silverlake Lounge.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3
LA 101 feat. Silversun Pickups, Matt & Kim, Dandy Warhols, Dengue Fever at Gibson Amphitheatre
All right, look, it’s our party — we’ll brag if we want to: LA 101 is L.A. Weekly’s new annual musical extravaganza, and to headline the inaugural edition, we’re proud to say we’ve snagged one of L.A.’s best (and most ambitious) young rock outfits, Silversun Pickups, whose Swoon from earlier this year is a dream-pop stunner sure to satisfy Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine fans alike. Also on the main-stage bill: Brooklyn’s liveliest boy-girl organ-drums duo, Matt & Kim; local Cambodian-American globe-trippers Dengue Fever; and Portland’s Dandy Warhols, who’ve been churning out their tunefully cracked brand of psych-garage boogie for nearly a decade and a half. You’ll also find a KROQ-sponsored second stage featuring Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, Aushua and Funeral Party, as well as lots and lots of top-shelf food. (Mikael Wood)
DEVO at the Henry Fonda Theater
Let’s say it up front: Old-time punkers and new wavers haven’t aged as gracefully up there onstage as their more traditional rock and blues compadres. Urgent youth-directed calls to action don’t seem so urgent coming from grandpa’s mouth. But Devo, recall, are mutants, so all bets are off, and their performances in the last few years have been as furious, fiery and fun as they no doubt were at the beginning of their career (early 1970s, Akron, Ohio). Tonight Devo, who have been based in Los Angeles for most of their half-life, perform the entirety of their seminal Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, released in 1977. The band recorded the album with Brian Eno in Germany at one of the most important European studios of the era, Konrad Plank’s Conny’s Place studios, where a lot of the classic krautrock of the time — early Kraftwerk, Neu! and Cluster — was put to tape. It’s an odd and intense record: “Uncontrollable Urge” is one of the great male adolescent hunger songs ever recorded, the cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is unrivaled, and “Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin’)” is just plain weird. Indeed, if you can fault Devo, it’s for introducing the “weird” gene that spawned some of the silliest excesses of the new wave (see: Oingo Boingo). But Devo were, and are, so much more. Their songs are rock solid. Seamless. Compact. Urgent. Don’t miss. If you must, at least you’ll be able to see them tomorrow night, when they perform the entirety of their third album, Freedom of Choice, which is, arguably, an even better record. It’s got “Gates of Steel,” after all. (Randall Roberts)
Lucero, Jack Oblivian, John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives at the Echoplex
Jack Oblivian might not be a household name, but he’s a primary influence on the White Stripes, the Detroit Cobras and Mr. Airplane Man. Former L.A. trio the Ettes, who were just in town, have covered a bunch of his songs in their short career. The Memphis man has been in a zillion bands, including the Oblivians, the Compulsive Gamblers, the Cool Jerks, the Tennessee Tearjerkers and Tav Falco’s Panther Burns. Whether he’s playing garage-rock, roots, R&B or blues, he makes everything seem more primitive and stripped down while always digging up catchy melodies underneath all the fuzzed-out, reverb-saturated, overly distorted chaos. Openers John Paul Keith & the One Four Fives have a more countrified sound, but they rock up Ritchie Valens’ “Come On, Let’s Go” with a convincing fervor, much like a punky Crickets. Headliners and fellow Memphians Lucero work a louder, fuller, more typical Southern rock style. At their best, they evoke the late, great Texas band Slobberbone. At their worst, they sound too much like the not-so-great Black Crowes and John Mellencamp. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
LIGHTS, STARS OF TRACK & FIELD at the Troubadour; HENRY PHILLIPS at Largo at the Coronet; PIGEON, BLACK WHALES, DEVLIN at the Silverlake Lounge; WARPAINT, SEASPIN, CORRIDOR at Spaceland.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4
Pixies, No Age at the Hollywood Palladium
Reunion tours are a dime a dozen, but the legendary Pixies may be experiencing a true second coming. Each of the band’s five albums — released over five consecutive years, 1987 to 1991 — modified the very DNA of alternative rock in ways that can never be undone. To wit, Kurt Cobain famously told Rolling Stone in 1994 that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a direct attempt to rip off the Pixies sound, a mercurial mix of dark pop, jagged guitars, bent harmonies and cryptic poems. 1989’s Doolittle is widely regarded as the band’s greatest moment, and in honor of that album’s 20th anniversary, Black Francis and co. are performing every song on it, front to back, B-sides included. Along with the recent release of the gorgeous Minotaur box set and news that the group is headed for the studio in 2010, it’s all enough to make a monkey think he’s died and gone to heaven. H, and did we mention No Age is opening? Also Thurs. and Fri. (though not with No Age). (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday:
ATLAS SOUND, BROADCAST, SELMANAIRES at the Troubadour; MIA DOI TODD, GOOD LISTENERS, BONE GUNN at the Bootleg Theater; FAUN FABLES, DIRT BIRD at the Mint; RUSTED ROOT, CROWFIELD at El Rey Theatre; DEVO at the Henry Fonda Theater; QUEEN LATIFAH at House of Blues; ENRIQUE BUNBURY at the Nokia Theatre; LOW VS. DIAMOND, MELEE at the Echo; MILES BENJAMIN ANTHONY ROBINSON, THESE UNITED STATES, JESSE WOODS at Spaceland; DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR at Taix.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5
R. Kelly, Pleasure P at Nokia Theatre
On December 1, R. Kelly — or the Pied Piper of R&B, as he brazenly refers to himself in spite of a widely publicized child-pornography trial, which ended last year in a not-guilty verdict — is scheduled to release a new album called Untitled. The disc was originally to have been in stores by the launch of Kelly’s current road show, known as the Ladies Make Some Noise! tour, but that didn’t happen. (Untitled actually began life in 2008 as 12 Play: Fourth Quarter, a sort of sequel to Kelly’s 1993 solo debut; when that album leaked to the Internet shortly after the singer’s acquittal, he shelved it and returned to the studio.) Untitled’s lead single, “Number One,” recently earned Kelly his 35th Top 10 single on Billboard’s R&B chart. The just-released second single, “Religious,” finds Kelly singing not about church but about a woman who reminds him of church. With Pleasure P, formerly of the proudly lascivious R&B boy band Pretty Ricky. (Mikael Wood)
Tahiti 80, Brookville at the Troubadour
Normandy’s Tahiti 80 have recently released their fourth album, Activity Center, but only in France and Japan. It’s typically unpushy of them, what with their mellow offering of likable and loose-fitting, garagey electro-pop. The English-singing band, who’ve been around since 1996, seem to care only about quietly crafting sounds that take joyful cues from the usual suspects of the British Invasion era yet have evolved into something even more breathlessly innocent. Tonight’s opener is the very tasteful eleganza-pop specialist billing himself as Brookville, a.k.a. Andy Chase, the ex-Ivy member whose moody new Broken Lights album was produced by his pal Pedro Resende of Tahiti 80. Chase’s background is wide and varied — he has produced Juliana Hatfield and composed the score for the Farrelly Brothers’ Shallow Hal, among a lot of other things, and he’s full of new-pop surprises, as you’ll see tonight. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
THE BRAVERY at the Wiltern; PIXIES at the Hollywood Palladium; VENETIAN STARES at the Key Club; ZIGABOO MODELISTE at the Mint; AVI BUFFALO, AARON EMBRY, WILDBUNCH at the Echo; GIFT OF GAB at Amoeba Music; DINOSAUR JR., LOU BARLOW at House of Blues; CAGE THE ELEPHANT, MORNING TELEPORTATION, THE SHACKLETONS at El Rey Theatre; RUSTED ROOT, CROWFIELD at the Canyon; BOSTICH + FUSSIBLE at the Echoplex; 13 GUITAR RUMBLE at the Redwood Bar & Grill; STILL FLYIN’, YELLOW FEVER, HEARTS OF PALM UK at Spaceland.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Los Angeles, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.