ROCK PICKS: CEU, GIRL IN A COMA, COLDPLAY, GRAVEYARD
FRIDAY JULY 17
AT THE ROXY
Amid the seeming plethora of Brazilian singers of recent vintage, the one called Ceu — a.k.a. Maria do Ceu Whitaker Pocas — flies way above for her startling clear tone and persuasive technical finesse, a subtly inventive sort of phrasing that adds depth to an intriguing and very catholic taste in repertoire. While her new Vagarosa album on Six Degrees is rife, as per the rest of the pack, with the breakbeat electronics and other nods to jazzy funk-soul familiarity, she’s woven in strands of the old, acoustic Brazil in darker explorations that rewrite the burnished inner rhythms and harmonies of samba, bossa nova and the bittersweet fado. There’s a satisfyingly intelligent yet relaxed vibe about the album, and about Ceu: She’s got nothing to prove, and she’s proving it. (John Payne)
GIRL IN A COMA
AT ALEX'S BAR
Girl in a Coma are named after a Smiths song and have opened for Morrissey, and they’re signed to Joan Jett’s estimable Blackheart Records, but the San Antonio trio’s music doesn’t really sound like either of their champions. Singer-guitarist Nina Diaz’s songs share some of the romantic frustration of Morrissey’s worldview, but her lyrics are more direct and less self-conscious. Girl in a Coma can rock it up with a churning punk rock attack, but there’s more of a restless exploration and a wider variety of melodic styles on their latest CD, Trio B.C., than in Jett’s primal rock declamations. The truth is, GIAC sound like no one but themselves. They’re distinguished by Diaz’s powerful yet soothingly tuneful vocals, but her soaring lamentations are pushed farther into the heavens by her sister Phanie Diaz’s stomping drums and Jenn Alva’s exhilarating bass lines. Moods swing from the dreamy girl-group languor of “Vino” and the cottony pop perfection of “Ven Cerca” to the heated neo-rockabilly rush of “Slaughter Lane” and the hard-charging “Baby Boy.” With the retro noir–pop of Miss Derringer. Also at the Knitting Factory, Sat. (Falling James)
AT THE WHISKEY
Christopher Joseph Ward was in an unenviable position when he joined the Ramones in 1989. Not only was he replacing the band’s main songwriter, bassist Dee Dee Ramone, but he was forced to dress and look like Dee Dee, in keeping with the group’s militantly cartoonish image. C.J. Ramone gamely played his role with the commitment of a true Method actor, and his positive attitude helped to keep the notoriously combative outfit together during the next decade of stressful touring. He ended up singing a few lead vocals when Joey Ramone was dealing with medical problems, and some of those songs, such as “Makin’ Monsters for My Friends” and “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.,” are among the catchiest tracks on the Ramones’ final studio album, Adios Amigos. It didn’t hurt that Dee Dee — far from being jealous of the young man who replaced him — continued writing songs for the Ramones until the band’s breakup in 1996. Like an actor trying to distance himself from his most famous role, C.J. looked almost unrecognizable as a bearded biker dude in the Ramones’ documentary We’re Outta Here. In subsequent interviews, he revealed himself to be a deeper and more thoughtful individual — interested in things like the plight of the Lakota Sioux tribe — than he was caricaturized in the Ramones. As with former drummer Marky Ramone, C.J. seems to be struggling to establish his own musical identity, and tonight he intends to perform a set of the old hits. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
THREE MILE PILOT, OPTIGANALLY YOURS at the Echoplex; PETER HOLSAPPLE & CHRIS STAMEY at McCabe’s; BUBBA SPARXXX at the Knitting Factory; SLEEPY BROWN at the Galaxy Theatre (Santa Ana); TORI AMOS, ONE ESKIMO at the Greek Theatre; TOADIES, WILDHEART, THE WILLOWZ, ROLL THE TANKS at El Rey Theatre; CHARLIE WILSON, KEITH SWEAT, JUPITER RISING at Club Nokia; DEMI LOVATO, DAVID ARCHUETA, KSM at the Nokia Theatre; THE HAPPY HOLLOWS, THE VALLEY ARENA at the Echo; TEARS FOR FEARS at the Pacific Amphitheatre; COCO LEE at Walt Disney Concert Hall; RATT, EXTREME, SWIRL at the Wiltern; GIRL IN A COMA, MISS DERRINGER, NORMANDIE, SHOTGUN SHOWDOWN at Alex’s Bar; CRATER FAMILY at Echo Curio; ANDERS OSBORNE, CLARENCE BUCARO, JOHNNY SANSONE at the Mint; MIKA MIKO at the Smell; NITE JEWEL at Space 15 Twenty; THE DONNAS at the Troubadour; MISSING PERSONS, ANKHESENAMEN at Universal Citywalk.
SATURDAY JULY 18
COLDPLAY, AMADOU & MARIAM
AT HOME DEPOT CENTER
Singer Mariam Doumbia and singer-guitarist Amadou Bagayoko are a blind couple whose positively bewitching music has expanded wildly since their minimalist beginnings in Mali in the 1980s. In recent years, their curiously timeless blend of blues, pop and traditional Malian folk styles has encompassed psychedelic rock, jazz, funk, reggae and exotic world-music flourishes that transcend international borders. French-Spanish superstar Manu Chao collaborated on the songwriting and produced the duo’s amazing 2005 album, Dimanche à Bamako, infusing it with his uniquely febrile-dreamy touches. Although Chao didn’t work on Amadou & Mariam’s most recent CD, 2008’s Welcome to Mali, it’s still a wonderfully engaging blur of unexpected influences, with newfound orchestral grandeur juxtaposed against funky horn retorts, sinuously mesmerizing guitars and the pair’s eerily evocative vocals. The French tunes are augmented by forays into occasional English-language tracks like “Africa,” where guest K’naan’s raps are deftly twined with Amadou’s soulful French rejoinders into an ebulliently sunny hook. Coldplay certainly deserve credit for exposing the couple to bigger audiences on this tour, but hardcore Afro-blues fans who don’t want to sit through the narcissistic British band’s incompatibly bombastic rock might prefer to wait for Amadou & Mariam’s own headlining tour, when they perform at the Henry Fonda Theater in October. (Falling James)
AT THE BOOTLEG THEATRE
Like the narrator, Mephistopheles himself, in the Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” Graveyard was and is omnipresent, here, there and everywhere malevolence and mayhem prevail. They were there, at least in spirit, in the times of Disraeli, when Cream churned a strange brew of blues, psychedelia, and hard rock; they were there in the Garden of Eden when Iron Butterfly turned the psychedelic rock into progressive metal; they were there at the California Jam in 1974, where, under a fake rainbow, Black Sabbath taught some stoned surfers a little something about Aleister Crowley; they were at Castle Donington, at the first Monsters of Rock in 1980, where thousands of sweaty kids celebrated their hard-rock heroes; they were there at SXSW 2006 when Austin’s own, The Sword, made it hip to dig retro-metal and swamp rock at the same time. Graveyard may be everywhere but they are from Sweden, the birthplace of Viking metal, and their self-titled debut is finally available stateside through Tee Pee Records. They are sharing the bill with labelmates Night Horse, who just released their first in a series of three split 7-inches. (Daniel Siwek)
Also playing Saturday:
SO MANY DYNAMOS, CAST SPELLS, KINCH at Spaceland; BRAND NEW, DIOS at the Troubadour; GIRL IN A COMA, MISS DERRINGER, KILLOLA at the Knitting Factory; DEVENDRA BANHART, ADAM TULLIE & GRED ROGOVE at Space 15 Twenty; SUZY WILLIAMS at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center; CAGE at El Rey Theatre; ANITA BAKER at the Pacific Amphitheatre; CRYSTAL ANTLERS at the Three Clubs; BLUE OYSTER CULT at the Canyon; GILBY CLARK, SUPERTONE, ELLIE SKY, OTHERS at the Viper Room; EFM, TERRAPLANE SUN, THE LOST MARAUDERS, THE LONELY DRUNKS CLUB at the Cat Club; MEN, DANCES WITH WHITE GIRLS, LEXICONDON, HEY WILLPOWER, OTHERS at the Echoplex; SEBASTIAN CLARK & NORMANDIE WILSON at McCabe’s; LIGHT, MAKC WINSTON & THE REFLECTIONS, WIDOWER, RENATO PARADA at Pehrspace; KIM FOWLEY’S HOLLYWOOD SEXUAL UNDERGROUND at the Redwood Bar.
SUNDAY JULY 19
THE B-52s at the Pacific Amphitheatre; ALICE PEACOCK, ALISSA MORENO at McCabe’s; THE DONNAS, PSYCHOSTAR, JESSIE DELUXE, THE RAINMAN SUITE at Alex’s Bar; SYD STRAW, RICH MAHAN, THE UNLAWFUL KINGS at the Echo (5 p.m.); JIM BIANCO, BROTHER SAL, BUDDY, HOLLY CONLAN, BRENDAN HINES, CHRIS PIERCE at the Hotel Cafe; DEAD WESTERN, FEATHERBEARD, PRIVATE BEACH at Echo Curio; ALL, BIG DRILL CAR at House of Blues.
MONDAY JULY 20
THE PAINS OF BEING PURE
AT HEART AT THE ECHO
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, from New York City, kick out fuzz-drenched twee-pop jams so addictively tuneful and knowingly droll that they almost make you forgive that beyond-dreadful band name. On their self-titled debut, released earlier this year on the recently revitalized Slumberland label, frontman Kip Berman sings about sex and romance with the sly frankness of the Vaselines — “Young Adult Friction,” one tune is excellently titled, while another is called “This Love is Fucking Right!” — over a chiming, hook-studded guitarscape that recalls the prime work of early-’90s college-radio faves such as Rocketship and Velocity Girl (the latter of whose Archie Moore mixed the disc). The Pains have picked up a huge amount of Internet hype over the last few months, which their music totally deserves; let’s just hope it doesn’t overpower what is an appealingly fragile sound. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Monday:
JAPANESE MOTORS, THE GROWLERS, SWEATERS, GRAND ELEGANCE at the Echoplex; JOE NOLTE & MIKE NOLTE (THE LAST), SCOTT REYNOLDS, JR. JUGGERNAUT at Alex’s Bar; DIAMOND LIGHT, LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO, STEELWELLS, SPIRIT VINE at the Silverlake Lounge; ROYAL CHORD, LEYNA NOEL & THE FINER THINGS at the Smell; DEVENDRA BANHART at Space 15 Twenty; ANDY CLOCKWISE, LITTLE RED RADIO, PTERODACTYL at Spaceland.
TUESDAY JULY 21
MICACHU & THE SHAPES
AT THE ECHO
What’ll pop trash sound like 100 years from now? Like Micachu & the Shapes, maybe. They’re a very young English trio fronted by one Mica Levi, often seen chopping away deadpan at an oddly tuned miniature guitar — cheap at 10 pounds Sterling – while Raisa Khan warps out the jagged electro programs on her even chintzier synth and drummer Marc Pell flails desperately trying to keep up. The group’s recent Jewellery release on Rough Trade is a joyful mess of quirkily fruggable impetuousness that mongrelizes Ms. Levi’s haphazardly clever bedroom-indie tunes with the kind of joltingly dissonant one-finger synth patterns that bend the ear because they are blissfully free of any adult-style conventions about what constitutes normal tonality, or responsible behavior, for that matter. And the funny thing is, after a few spins it all sounds bloody logical. (John Payne)
Christina Courtin is a little different. Most performers recording their debut album don’t get to work with seasoned musicians like keyboardist Benmont Tench (Tom Petty), pedal-steel whiz Greg Leisz (Dave Alvin, Bill Frisell), guitarist Jon Brion (Fiona Apple) and guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits), but the young New York singer-songwriter was able to cajole these and other luminaries to adorn her self-titled CD on Nonesuch with subtly sublime touches. Of course, Courtin took an unusual path to solo success, attending Juilliard as a violin student, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma and being introduced to her label by operatic soprano Dawn Upshaw. Ironically, Courtin doesn’t even play violin on her album, which she co-produced with bassist Greg Cohen and guitarist Ryan Scott. Instead, she revels in her breathy, expressive vocal style, which ranges from the pop charm of the globe-trotting fantasy “Foreign Country” (where she playfully wonders, “If I were France, would you visit?”) to the delicate jazz phrasing of the lovely piano ballad “Mulberries.” She comes off as precious and too cute on such narcissistic tunes as “Bundah,” but she contrasts that sugary tendency with the mournfully arty “Laconia” and “Unzipped,” which closes the CD with an elegant crescendo of psychedelic instrumentation. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
MATTHEW SWEET & SUZANNA HOFFS at the Grammy Museum; CLUTCH, BARONESS, LIONIZE at House of Blues; COUNTING CROWS, MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD, AUGUSTANA at the Greek Theatre; ZODIAC DEATH VALLEY, BLACK APPLES at the Bordello; THE FOCKRS at Canter’s Deli; JAY BRANNON, TERRA NAOMI, CIVALIAS at the Roxy; THE PARSON REDHEADS, MATT VASQUEZ (DELTA SPIRIT), THE ROMANY RYE at Spaceland; JOHN BUTLER, NICKY BOMA at the Troubadour.
WEDNESDAY JULY 22
THE WEAKERTHANS, JASON COLLETT
AT THE ROXY
Though they’ve actually been around longer, Canada’s Weakerthans don’t get anywhere near as much notice from Americans as do fellow Canucks such as Broken Social Scene, Feist and Metric — and that’s unlikely to change any time soon, given frontman John K. Samson’s lyrical preoccupation with “the Cold War and card catalogs” (as he puts it in one song) and the band’s lack of a sexy-lady lead singer. But as demonstrated on records like 2007’s Reunion Tour, their most recent (and perhaps their finest), the Weakerthans are one of a tiny handful of rock groups capable of marrying politics and poetry with loud guitars and a stiff backbeat in a way that doesn’t feel at all lame or goofy or out of touch. Like 85 percent of all Canadian musicians, opener Jason Collett holds down a spot in Broken Social Scene, but on his own he makes sensually scruffy folk-rock records that split the difference between Tom Petty and Interpol. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday:
THE MIGHTY DIAMONDS at the Echoplex; ELBOW, JESCA HOOP, MELLOWDRONE at the Wiltern; NO DOUBT, THE SOUNDS, PARAMORE at the Gibson Amphitheatre; THE MOODY BLUES at the Pacific Amhitheatre; WATTS ENSEMBLE at the Bootleg Theater; DAVID GARZA, RAUL PACHECO, MEGAN JACOBS at the Mint; LACUNA COIL, KILL HANNAH, SEVENTH VOID, DOMMIN at House of Blues; VAUXHALL BROADCAST, THE UNION LINE at Pershing Square; NOISETTES, MAGIC WANDS, BARRACKS at Spaceland.
THURSDAY JULY 23
AT THE CANYON
New Jersy’s heralded bar band arrives in L.A. to perform the Who’s Tommy, which they courageously and successfully released as an album-length cover version earlier this year. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Thursday:
CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE, CONCERN, FORMER GHOSTS at the Echo; EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS at the Hammer Museum; MASTER, GOREAPHOBIA, DREAMING DEAD, HORRID, OTHERS at the Knitting Factory; ERIC HUTCHINSON, ANYA MARINA at El Rey Theatre; KELLY CLARKSON at the Pacific Amphitheatre; MADE IN MEXICO at the Ukranian Cultural Center; SYDNEY WAYSER at Largo at the Coronet; ROBERT FRANCIS, RUMSPRINGA, HAIM at the Roxy; SPIRIT ANIMAL, ROBOTANISTS, TIGERS CAN BITE YOU at Spaceland; LADY SINATRA, SEMI PRECIOUS WEAPONS, PURPLEMELON, SINGAPORE at the Viper Room; AFRO FUNKE SOUND SYSTEM, JOY JONES at Zanzibar.
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