Rock Picks: Bob Dylan, Martin Rev, The Saints


Shout Out Louds at El Rey Theatre

The modest acclaim afforded this Swedish group’s 2005 debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, wasn’t quite enough to keep the Shout Out Louds from being spared the major-label ax earlier this year when Capitol Records and Virgin Records merged. But the corporate pink-slipping might actually end up benefiting the group, judging by the considerable buzz building online around Our Ill Wills, the Shout Out Louds’ sophomore disc, which Merge is releasing in September. Indieland certainly seems like a more appropriate fit for the band: Produced by Bjorn Yttling of Swedish folk-popsters (and unlikely Kanye West faves) Peter, Bjorn and John, Our Ill Wills grooves and jangles like Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst leading a Cure tribute band. Expect a preview of the new album tonight, along with a handful of Howl Howl highlights. (Mikael Wood)

Ryan Adams at Wilshire Theatre

Like his good buddy Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams has been on a veritable tear in recent years, seemingly releasing an album every 15 minutes and producing or collaborating with disparate folks including Jesse Malin, the Wallflowers, Minnie Driver and Nelson. His latest solo CD, Easy Tiger (Lost Highway), is a satisfying collection of countryish laments and lovely pastoral ballads. On “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.,” he finds himself unwittingly eavesdropping on the lovers in the hotel room next door: “If I could, I’d fold myself away like a card table/a concertina or a Murphy bed . . . I’m open all night and the customers come to stay.” Adams’ customers will likely appreciate how great his voice sounds, as well as the Neil Young–style dramatics and pedal-steel skyline of “The Sun Also Sets.” “I’ve got a Halloweenhead . . . full of candy bags,” he announces on the stomping rocker “Halloweenhead,” perhaps in reference to his gloriously misspent youth. A wailing harmonica suitably frames the album-closing ballad, “I Taught Myself How to Grow Old,” where he confesses to being “crooked on the outside/the insides caved.” It’s sad and lonely and beautiful all at the same time. (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:

at the Canyon; TEAM DRESCH at the Echo; JILL SOBULE, JULIA SWEENEY at Hotel Café; DOLORES O’RIORDAN, JESSIE BAYLIN at House of Blues; B-SIDE PLAYERS at Key Club; JON BRION at Largo; CARINA ROUND at the Roxy; JESSIE DELUXE, GEISHA GIRLS at Silverlake Lounge; PATRICK PARK at Spaceland; HAR MAR SUPERSTAR, ROLAN BOLAN at Viper Room; FIELD at Joseph’s Cafe.


{mosimage}Sonic Youth, Redd Kross at the Greek Theater

Sonic Youth’s recent Rather Ripped pulls the maturing band toward a more mellifluous path that doesn’t reject their famously splintered tonality but seems a bit more ear-friendly as it addresses a subtler emotional terrain. With the departure of multi-instrumentalist Jim O’Rourke, S.Y.’s now back to their “classic” lineup of guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, bassist-singer Kim Gordon and drummer Steve Shelley. At the Greek they’ll perform their just-reissued classic Daydream Nation in its entirety. Meanwhile, only a total fool would miss the opening set by L.A.’s kitsch-king glam/bubblegum/power-pop/punk rockers Redd Kross, whose comeback shows in recent months have proved they’ve not nearly shot their collective creative wad. They’ll perform the entire Born Innocent album and choice bits from their vast repertoire of shoulda-been hits. Sonic Youth with guest Dntel also perform a free show at Urban Outfitters in the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica on Saturday. (John Payne)

Also playing Friday:

at El Rey Theatre; ANTISEEN at Alex’s Bar; FEMI KUTI & THE POSITIVE FORCE at House of Blues (see Music feature); JON BRION at Largo; BAG THEORY, AMADANS, LOFTY CANAANITES at Mr. T’s Bowl; DWARVES, TIME AGAIN at Safari Sam’s; EKUK, DEVILETTES at Spaceland; ADAM MARSLAND, PUTTANESCA at Taix; TIJUANOS at Temple Bar; PIGEON JOHN at Troubadour; MONDO GENERATOR at Viper Room.

{mosimage}SATURDAY, JULY 21

Rasputina at El Rey Theatre

The cello-stoked trio Rasputina have shown fitful signs of brilliance in the past, but their grand ambitions have finally been realized on their sixth full-length CD, Oh Perilous World. The album’s fancifully tangled story lines and larger-than-life characters include Fletcher Christian’s son Thursday and a demented Mary Todd Lincoln, who leads her blimp army as the Queen of Florida. The lyrics to “Choose Me for Champion” are based on a speech by Osama bin Laden, while “In Old Yellowcake” references the battle for Fallujah. Bandleader Melora Creager (who got her start playing cello on tour with Nirvana) says that “current world events were more bizarre than anything” she could dream up, but the way she weaves such real and fictional events together is positively magical. A thicket of oppressive fuzz descends ominously on the aptly titled “Draconian Crackdown.” Foreboding cello strokes march like sentient redwoods, elegantly framing the hazy fantasy “A Retinue of Moons,” before being pulled back for the austere melody of “The Pruning.” What a weird and wonderful World. (Falling James)

Daft Punk, Ratatat at L.A. Sports Arena

No other electronic-music act gets rock fans excited like France’s Daft Punk, the robot-masked duo whose absurdly joyous disco-metal anthems have touched off a French dance-punk craze that’s cresting this summer in a major way. The duo don’t have a new album to promote — their latest release is a silent art film called Electroma — but since the Daft Punk live experience isn’t about catching up on new tunes, that’s nothing to worry about. A Daft Punk show is about pumping your fist to killer synth-guitar riffs and beholding the sight of two androids rocking out atop a giant illuminated pyramid. Or maybe they’ll have something else in store — you never know. Elsewhere on the duo’s North American tour, the Rapture are opening the show; we get Ratatat, a Brooklyn disco-metal duo who don’t equal the Rapture but are pretty fun nonetheless. With Sebastian and Kavinsky. (Mikael Wood)

Nervous Gender at the Cocaine

The early punk pioneers came up with their own set of musical rules that were ultimately just as limiting as the hippies’ classic-rock formulas, so it was exciting when L.A. synth-punk saboteurs like the Screamers and Nervous Gender challenged the primacy of the guitar in the late ’70s. Unlike the many techno and synth-punk bands that followed in their wake, Nervous Gender used their synthesizers as aggressive noise weapons instead of merely providing a lulling dance-floor soundtrack. Over the years, Nervous Gender’s lineups have featured Phranc and various folks from 45 Grave and Wall of Voodoo, but the key members were Gerardo Velasquez, Edward Stapleton and Michael Ochoa. Nervous Gender haven’t performed their anti-religious rants and sexual-identity anthems since 1991, a year before Velasquez died of AIDS, but now Ochoa and Stapleton have reconfigured their Gender with Joe Zinnato. Recent demos like “Cardinal Newman 2007” and the George Bush–sampling/savaging workout “Andy’s Song” update the malicious subversion of such early tracks as “Do the Gestalt.” 366 E. Second St., dwntwn. (213) 680-0047. (Falling James)

The Phantom Surfers at Mr. T’s Bowl

When the Phantom Surfers first crawled up on the beach back in ’88, graybeard daddies Dick Dale and the Ventures were almost the only surf rockers still operating, but this mad little Bay Area combo, in short order, just about caused the entire West Coast to tumble into the ocean. With a rock ’em, sock ’em blend of deliriously brain-dead gags and their lacerating manner of riff mongering, the Phantom Surfers not only resuscitated a terminal musical patient, they also established an operating standard that a subsequent horde of surf revivalists always fell far short of. The most glorious aspect of the Surfers’ savage shtick is that they never, but never, take themselves too seriously — one can expect these masked marauders to vigorously lay waste to all things boring and predictable. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Saturday:

at Urban Outfitters, Third Street Promenade, 7 p.m.; OZZY OSBOURNE, LAMB OF GOD, STATIC X, MONDO GENERATOR at Hyundai Pavilion; BUSDRIVER at MOCA Grand Avenue; DWARVES, DICKIES, THROW RAG at Galaxy Theatre; JOEY ALTRUDA at the Bordello; THEO & THE SKYSCRAPERS at the Echo; VERUCA SALT at Key Club; RENTALS at Spaceland; KINGSIZEMAYBE at Taix; NIGHTWATCHMAN, IKE REILLY at Troubadour; POISON IDEA, STITCHES at Vault 350.


Playing Sunday:

at Greek Theatre; GIRLS AGAINST BOYS at El Rey Theatre; QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL at Pacific Amphitheatre; POISON IDEA, THE CROWD at the Airliner; BLUE HAWAIIANS at Bordello; AKIL at the Gig; NEVILLE STAPLES, UNTOUCHABLES at House of Blues; ELY GUERRA at Knitting Factory; JOHN WESLEY HARDING at McCabe’s; DAGONS, SIOUX CITY PETE, MAD LOVERS, FANGS ON FUR at Mr. T’s Bowl; HANK WILLIAMS III, ANTISEEN at the Roxy; QUI at Safari Sam’s.


Playing Monday:

at Greek Theatre; RUSH at Hollywood Bowl; SLINT at Henry Fonda Theater; BRANDI SHEARER at Hotel Café; PROCUSSIONS, MONOLATORS at Knitting Factory; BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO at Safari Sam’s; SIOUX CITY PETE, GITANE DEMONE, GABE HART at the Scene; ESKIMOHUNTER at Spaceland; DIVISION DAY, HEALTH CLUB at Viper Room.


{mosimage}Martin Rev, Fuxa, LSD & the Search for God at Silverlake Lounge

Martin Rev lands in Los Angeles to kick off a microscopic “tour” tonight that takes him to the Knitting Factory on Wednesday and up to San Francisco before dropping him back home in New York for the weekend. Not just one of post-punk’s distinctive audio mechanics but also one of its most iconic, Rev was the man-machine itself, a singular sound-generating presence behind massive, impenetrable shades and wrapped in black leather. But just as Suicide, the epochal duo Rev co-chaired with vocalist Alan Vega, availed the cement-mixer churn and noir-cold sleaze of industrial music, so it also offered a primal, malformed minimalism that sparked assorted psychedelicists. One of these is certainly Randall Nieman, pilot of the gentle, drifting amoeba cluster of reverb and drone called Fuxa and also proprietor of Mind Expansion Records, the label that not only houses LSD & the Search for God (fellow travelers in mesmeric washes of the ethereal) but also reissues Rev’s little-heard solo records and, in August, will release Fuxa Commits Suicide, a collaborative EP with the synth lord that also ropes in Dean Wareham and Sonic Boom for a communal bliss-out. (Bernardo Rondeau)

Tegan & Sara at Amoeba Music

I don’t like twins. As toddlers, they often speak their own language, and I am quite sure they say mean and nasty things about me. I also do not care for Canada. It’s a global mystery why a country the size of all of Europe has virtually no recognizable identity beyond hockey and Moosehead beer. So why is the easy-peasey pop of Canuck doublets Tegan & Sara — identical twins, the worst kind — so embraceable? Their latest album, The Con, is said to be their most accomplished yet, which isn’t much of a feat when your calling card is barely being able to play your instruments. The title song has a richer, layered sound, with more dueling vocals that recall Sleater-Kinney. “Back in Your Head” has a boppy, laid-back groove that feels like the perfect song for the remaining Sunday afternoons of summer 2007. I do like their hair, though. Also at the Malibu Performing Arts Center, Thurs.-Fri., July 26-27. (Libby Molyneaux)

Also playing Tuesday:

at House of Blues; VANESSA CARLTON at the Roxy; CRIBS, SEAN NA NA at Troubadour.


{mosimage}The Saints at Spaceland Postponed

Forget all about how the Saints helped invent this thing we now call punk rock back in the mid-’70s with such incendiary tunes as “(I’m) Stranded,” the ultimate late-night loner’s anthem. And forget about how Chris Bailey, the Australian band’s sole ongoing member, abdicated his punk rock throne and instead placed his soulfully ravaged vocals in unexpected Irish folk, acoustic blues and lavishly orchestrated pop settings with various lineups over the past three decades. Now the Saints are back — for their first L.A. gig since 1987 (and only second overall, barring a couple of Bailey’s boozy solo unplugged sets) — with Bailey playing all the guitars and backed by just a bassist and drummer. The stripped-down, juiced-up format on the Saints’ new CD, Imperious Delirium (Wildflower), has Bailey cranking out his most purely rocking songs since the late ’70s. “Drinking cocktails in the gutter/It’s a mess but it doesn’t matter/very much like this song,” he sings too humbly on the flat-out brilliant “Je Fuckin’ T’aime.” He’s always had a way with cool titles like Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow, and the Saints’ recent box set, The Greatest Cowboy Movie Never Made, neatly fills the gaps from Bailey’s missing non-punk years. (Falling James)  This show has been postponed due to visa problems, but should be rescheduled for the fall.

Birgit at the Joint

Just what the world needs, another self-proclaimed “Hard-Rocking Diva.” This time it’s a knockout beauty from Amsterdam who plays up the sex-kittenish thing to an Aguilarian level. However, Birgit Schuurman’s got something to say and sultry pipes that enchant. Her single from her upcoming album, True Stories I Made Up, is called “Guniang” and draws on her experiences of being a woman of mixed races: part Chinese, Dutch, Creole, among other things. “His kisses were hot but believe it or not/He said, ‘There is something I got to confess/I thought you were Asian/But you’re Caucasian/You better put on your dress.’” She even covers Kate Bush’s classic love paean “Wuthering Heights,” which she pulls off with aplomb to spare. That’s a stunt that takes a lot of tubes to attempt. Also at Loggia, Thurs. (Libby Molyneaux)

The Moaners, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter at the Bordello

The Moaners live up to their name on their new CD, Blackwing Yalobusha (Yep Roc), with a primitive sound that draws on the deep mystery of the blues. The North Carolina duo, with singer-guitarist Melissa Swingle (Trailer Bride) and drummer Laura King, have the same minimalist approach to the blues as Mr. Airplane Man and the White Stripes, although Swingle’s smeary slide guitar also evokes the Gun Club’s lonelier moments. The Pam Grier homage “Foxy Brown” oozes with a woozy guitar that sounds like it’s slowly winding down, much like the warped swamp chords of “When We’re Dead and Gone” or the way Swingle’s harmonica and guitar blend together like bagpipes on “Hopelessly Lost.” A rare song with bass, “Dreamin’ About Flyin’?” is just as spacy as its lyrics (“You never needed any of those pills”). The Moaners’ junkyard bone-rattling should make for a delicious contrast with the headliners, Seattle dream-time chanteuse Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, with their languidly hypnotic pastoral reveries and Neil Young–flavored rambles. (Falling James)

Also playing Wednesday:

at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre; THE RAPTURE at the Mayan; MARTIN REV at Knitting Factory; RESTAURANT, KINGSIZEMAYBE at Safari Sam’s; TOKYO POLICE CLUB at Troubadour.


{mosimage}Chromeo, Flosstradamus at the Echo

Montreal electro-funk duo Dave 1 and P-Thugg erupted onto the retro-irony scene with their hit “Needy Girl,” a ditty about Dave’s girlfriend, who always interrupted band practice with her passive-aggressive whining. With their new 12-inch, “Fancy Footwork” (Vice), continuing to prove the pair as “the only successful Arab/Jew partnership since the dawn of human culture,” Dave (the Jew, and brother of DJ A-Trak) and P-Thugg (the Arab) come off like a slightly more suave Zapp & Roger, partly because neither has been involved in a murder-suicide. Flosstradamus, the Chicago DJ duo of Josh “J2K” Young and Curt “Autobot” Cameruci, show that they’re more than meets the eye, cross-fading through genres as quickly as a good drum break and plying their skills at crowd-moving as religiously as ass worship. (David Cotner)

Bob Dylan at Pacific Amphitheatre

“I keep recycling the same old thoughts,” Bob Dylan mutters darkly on his recent CD, Modern Times, but the truth is that he’s in the midst of a creative hitting streak, reinventing himself (again) on his last three studio albums as a blues-steeped wise man coming to terms with the sins of his flesh. It’s fascinating how perspectives change and roles get switched. In the ’60s, he famously declared that he wouldn’t work on Maggie’s farm anymore; on Modern Times he sings, under coiling swarms of vulture slide guitar, “Someday, baby, you ain’t gonna work for me anymore.” Whether he’s announcing himself as the new boss or setting a lover free, Dylan has made himself at home as a temporal soothsayer sermonizing over the sensual, sidewinding bounce of John Lee Hooker–style rhythms. His remake of the traditional song “Rollin’ & Tumblin’?” has much of the seedy eeriness of the Chicken Hawks’ earlier version, but it’s augmented with dourly apocalyptic new lyrics. Martin Scorsese and D.A. Pennebaker tried their best to squeeze Dylan into a perfectly sized ’60s-legend box, but the cantankerous old poet keeps springing back out with new surprises. (Falling James)

The Bangles, Abby Travis at House of Blues

Don’t write off the Bangles as another band in a seemingly endless chain of ’80s performers who have reunited merely for nostalgic purposes. The L.A. pop quartet have been back together for a few years now and still play such old favorites as “Hero Takes a Fall” and “Manic Monday,” but they’ve balanced recent set lists with the catchiest tunes from their underrated 2003 comeback CD, Doll Revolution. “Stealing Rosemary,” “The Rain Song” and “Here Right Now” — with beguiling, band-penned lyrics that are buoyed by those famously sumptuous harmonies — are among the standout performances on the Bangles’ new live DVD, the awkwardly titled Return to Bangleonia. Other highlights include a rocked-up “In Your Room” and “Get the Girl” (which ranks with the Jam’s “Start” and Cheap Trick’s “Taxman, Mr. Thief” among the better homages to the Beatles’ “Taxman”). Besides sitting in with the Bangles in replacement of departed bassist Michael Steele, local wonder gal Abby Travis opens with a set of songs from her 2006 solo CD, Glitter Mouth, which ranges from celestial glam-rock ballads (“Now Was”) to shimmering space-age funk and torchy Brechtian hybrids (“Hunger”). (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:

at the Mayan; BUFFALO TOM, JULIANA HATFIELD at El Rey Theatre; BODIES OF WATER at Pershing Square, 8 p.m.; TEGAN & SARA at Malibu Performing Arts Center; NICE BOYS at Pehrspace; PATRICK PARK, TEMPORARY THING at Spaceland; PORTUGAL THE MAN at Troubadour; BIRGIT at Loggia.

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