Rock Picks: Coachella, Lynda Carter, Hot Chip
THURSDAY, APRIL 24
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Choking Susans Colleen Caffeine hangs from an imaginary trapeze.
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Sly Stone channels the Plasmatics Jean Beauvoir.
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From on high: Kate Maki
The Black Heart Procession at the Troubadour
“I have waited all these years beneath the snow,” Pall Jenkins croons somberly on “The Waiter #5,” from the Black Heart Procession’s most recent full-length CD, 2006’s The Spell (Touch & Go), and Tobias Nathaniel’s icy piano tinkling perfectly matches the song’s windswept chilliness. “Hiding in the smoke and trees we live,” Jenkins sings enigmatically on “Tangled,” as neat a summary as any for the San Diego band’s sense of foreboding elegance and shrouded mysteriousness. Matt Resovich’s violin quivers on “The Letter” and the title track, adding a layer of exotic restlessness to the aptly named Pall’s wintry obsessions. “Return to Burn” simmers in its own juices as Jenkins’ baleful lap-steel guitar hovers over a placid, funereal backing that’s positively mesmerizing. The BHP are working on an album that’s scheduled to be released by the end of this year, and it’s rumored that they’ll unveil some of their new songs tonight. (Falling James)
Fuck Buttons at El Rey Theatre
England’s Fuck Buttons — the name conjures both a fetishistic device and an anti-digital rebel yell — constantly summon forces seemingly in conflict. Their music is innocent and violent, bursting with horror and wonder, mechanical but organic. The duo of Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power craft something like post-noise, if we must hang a genre signpost on the distortion-caked slush they shoot from amplifiers like sewage pumping out of a docked ocean liner. The acidic simmer, a toxic shimmer of overtones and percolating hiss, is underscored by single-note drones and music-box twinkles providing a melodic salve from the chaos. A voice chatters and screams, bursting with bleached harmonics in exorcised hysteria. But what nudges Fuck Buttons beyond total white-hot wipeout is rhythm. On “Bright Tomorrow”, the penultimate track on the group’s debut, Street Horrrsing, Hung and Power chop up the caustic ectoplasm with the Field’s flicker-flicker ecstasies and a brazen dance-floor-ready thump. (Bernardo Rondeau)
Siberian at the Silverlake Lounge
Importing coy boys with floppy bangs and vintage guitars to Silver Lake is a bit like having hypocrisy shipped to the White House. But Seattle quintet Siberian, though apparently an archetypal indie band, are far from superfluous even on the shoegazer-saturated Eastside, as they actually have some serious songwriting substance amid their well-worn aesthetics. Siberian’s debut full-length, last year’s With Me, is also with Radiohead: thick with the overthinking alienation and questioning vocals of that band’s first two records, but buffed with Interpol’s metropolis sheen, talkative bass and melodramatic dynamics. Remote arpeggios drown in crafted sheets of chord play; bustling beats crave both dance floor and dorm room. Defying its title, With Me is a lonesome record, but comforting too — evoking the night of the breakup next to an open fire. Without a hefty infusion of self-esteem and identity, Siberian will soon be forgotten, but for now this is about as good as melodic, under-the-radar rock gets. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Thursday:
AGENT ORANGE, D.I. at Crash Mansion; BIRDS OF AVALON, TWILIGHT SLEEP at the Echo; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; LESLIE & THE BADGERS at Taix; TIMBIRICHE at Vault 350.
FRIDAY, APRIL 25
Carlene Carter at the Mint
Carlene Carter’s trove of raw talent has often been overshadowed by some unfortunate events. There was that dramatic New Mexico dope bust a few years back and the infamous 1979 show where she announced that she intended “to put the cunt back in country.” The raw witticism likely would have gone unreported except that, unknown to Carlene, her mother June Carter and step-father Johnny Cash were in the audience (Cash probably laughed his ass off). Carter has confronted more than her fair share of disaster — at that time she was on her third doomed marriage (to Nick Lowe) — but returns here to perform numbers from her fine new CD, Stronger. It’s an arresting, individuated set that displays her innate musical gifts, the fruit of a formidable gene pool: She is the daughter of the today under-appreciated Grand Ole Opry honky-tonk star Carl Smith and, of course, June, whose legendary mother, Maybelle, was one of country music’s most important architects. Expect Carter to extend the artistic legacy in high style. (Jonny Whiteside)
Choking Susan at Alex’s Bar
Sheena is a punk rocker, and so is Colleen Caffeine, lead singer/exhibitionist with the band Choking Susan, who are making their SoCal debut tonight. They’re from Detroit, but don’t lump them with Motor City garage-rock groups like the Gore Gore Girls and the Detroit Cobras. Instead, Choking Susan have a pure punk sound that’s very Noo Yawk circa 1979, with a dash of early-’80s Brit hardcore, on their latest CD, The FBI Did It. Like Bowie’s Jean Genie, Ms. Caffeine is outrageous; she screams and she bawls, and sings on her back when she’s not crawling around the stage or humping the monitors. Backed by brutal riffery from guitarist Killer Keith and boom-lowering bassist Lower G.I. Joe, Caffeine focuses her incisive social commentary on such crucial issues as modern romance (“Wanker”), pain management (“I’m Gonna Hurt You”), cultural identity (“Punker”), companionship (“Personal Stalker”), nymphomania (“Blackened Lung Song”) and inner beauty (“Silicone Chest”). On their rabble-rousing cover of Blitz’s “Warriors,” she spits out the words with an unsentimental Wendy O. Williams bravado. Simply put: She kicks ass, and you’ve been warned. Also at Cero’s in Anaheim, Sat.; and Biacci’s in Upland, Sun. (Falling James)
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at Empire Polo Field
In last week’s cover story, L.A. Weekly music editor Randall Roberts methodically broke down the data about the legion of performers at this weekend’s Coachella traffic jam, definitively quantifying them on the basis of gender, ethnicity, productivity and geographic origin. Statistics don’t lie, but I’m a terrible mathematician, so here, then, is a messily subjective list of potential highlights away from the numbers. The Raconteurs’ new album, Consolers of the Lonely, is more full-bodied (i.e., there’s bass) than Jack White’s minimalist garage-rock scrapings with the White Stripes. British duo Goldfrapp have moved away from the souped-up John Lee Hooker electronica of their throbbing 2005 hit “Ooh La La” into an airier, more pastoral folk-pop sound on their new CD, Seventh Tree. Local glam-punk-pop heroes Redd Kross will kick out the jams and perhaps fill some of the shock-rock void caused by Turbonegro’s cancellation. Kraftwerk won’t sound dated since the Western world is still catching up to their soothingly hypnotic futurama. Mick Jones’ Carbon/Silicon should carry on convincingly where his old band the Clash left off, while Gogol Bordello’s frantic, frenetic Gypsy punk might cause a riot. The Love & Rockets reunion could be exciting, if only to hear Daniel Ash carve up that majestically transcendent solo on “Kundalini Express” again. All aboard. Also Sat.-Sun. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
Bevis Martin and Charlie Youle
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Hot Chip wait for Andrew Bynum.
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Mojo rising: Etran Finatawa
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The days of wine & roses: Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags
NEKROMANTIX at L.A. Convention Center; ROBBIE RIST, THE UNKNOWN COMIC at the Cat Club; VICTOR WOOTEN, MIKE PETERS at Crash Mansion; 2MEX, HUMANBEINGS at the Echo; THE GEARS, CONTROLLERS, THE CROWD, THE DEADBEATS at the Scene; THE THINGZ, THE FLEAGLES at Fern’s Cocktails; LYNDA CARTER at Fred Kavli Theatre.
SATURDAY, APRIL 26
Rose Rossi at the Whisky
Does the world really need another precocious, pretty and self-absorbed pop singer? Not really, but, then again, when it comes to the young Los Angeles native Rose Rossi, what’s the harm? She’s still straddling the line between making cloying mainstream pop and evolving into a more distinctively personal songwriter on her new debut CD, Hello to You, but she’s a talented singer with a ton of commercial potential. Rossi should evolve eventually beyond the facile settings of such songs as “Fade” and occasionally awkward, overreaching lyrics like “Beheaded by the pause, loving all that’s lost.” She’s already approaching the pop savvy of her inspiration Gwen Stefani on tracks like “My World” and “The Fool,” and the musical backings laid down by her Svengali producer Cliff Brodsky are well crafted, although one wonders if it’s a potential conflict of interest that he serves not just as her pianist and co-songwriter but also as her publisher and label head. His swirling keyboards drive the album’s catchiest song, “There Is a Girl,” where Rossi wakes up sadder but wiser after yet another romantic heartbreak. (Falling James)
Sly & the Family Stone at House of Blues
“Ever catch a falling star?” Sly Stone once wrote. “Ain’t no stopping ’til it’s in the ground.” After his magnificent coed multiracial psychedelic funk-pop band the Family Stone broke up in the ’70s, Sly Stone kept falling into a black hole of drug addiction and seclusion, despite various aborted reunion attempts over the past three decades. Word is that he’s finally ready to perform again, following his frustratingly brief and somewhat bizarre cameo at the Grammy Awards in 2006. Tonight — should he actually show up —Sly will be backed by several members of the original band, including his sister Rose Stone, sassy trumpeter Cynthia Robinson and trumpeter Jerry Martini. Longtime fans might be frustrated by Sly’s past no-shows, but the possibility that he’ll actually rummage through those classic songs again (and perhaps even debut some of his reportedly hip-hop-flavored new tunes) makes this high-stakes gamble very, very tempting. Also at House of Blues Anaheim, Fri. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
THE SPINNERS at Marsee Auditorium; J. ROCC, JAMES GADSON, THE BREAKESTRA at the Echoplex; THE LAST, OLD HAUNTS, MIKE WATT & THE MISSINGMEN at La Conga Mexican Cantina; PETER CASE at McCabe’s; BACKBITER, THE URINALS, BIBLICAL PROOF OF UFOs at Mr. T’s Bowl; MARY COPPIN & HELEN SLATER at Room 5 Lounge; SCREAMS FOR TINA, EX VOTO, DEEP EYNDEat Safari Sam’s.
SUNDAY, APRIL 27
Howe Gelb, Kate Maki at McCabe’s
We’re going to have fun sorting out Howe Gelb’s abundant output over the next 25 years, because lord knows we can’t really keep pace now. Like fellow expertly prolific creatives Sun Ra, Duke Ellington, Woody Guthrie, Dr. John and Jandek, Gelb is a working musician and treats his job, and his gift, seriously: 38 records (solo, with his band Giant Sand, or oddball side projects) over 23 years. There will be dissertations. And the Arizonian (who has also lived in Hollywood and the Mojave Desert) keeps delivering, releasing slightly askew avant Southwestern country & Western rock drawn from the deep well of America. His production work is equally inspired, the best of which is his recent collaboration with Kate Maki, a Canadian neuroscientist-turned-teacher-turned-songwriter whose great third album, On High, overflows with guitars, pianos, optigons, Wurlitzer organs, whistles, guitars and thrills. Her voice is warm and conversational, her songs contain structure but with secret spaces for wandering, and most arrive in lyrical and melodic destinations a few blocks away from where they started. (Randall Roberts)
Debashish Bhattacharya at Occidental College’s Herrick Chapel
The immediate free-associative words that entered my mind when I first heard Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya were “Ravi-on-Ry.” But the man’s music deserves better than a deli-sandwich analogy. While building on the trademark drone of raga music, he slides and slithers like a Hawaiian or Mississippi blues man. Furthermore, he retains the spiritual aura of his country’s traditional music while channeling the gritty, earthy realm as well. Fans of stringed instruments, take note: The man burns. He plays three of his own design, ranging from 4 to 14 to 24 strings and is joined by brother Subhasis on tabla and sister Sutapa on vocals. The Calcutta native was made a pandit (master) at age 40 and is a favorite of some of the world’s greatest guitarists, John McLaughlin — who shared a band with him — being one. 1600 Campus Road; 11 a.m. (Michael Simmons)
Lynda Carter at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts
Superheroines come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of superpowers, but very few count musical ability among their arsenal of tricks. Lucy Lawless, a.k.a. Xena the Warrior Princess, is a decent pop-rock singer, but when she came through town earlier this year, she was saddled with a lightweight band, and most of her worshipful fans weren’t there for the music, preferring to turn her gig into a mini Xena convention. Former Supergirl star Helen Slater, who’s playing Saturday at Room 5 Lounge, is a more persuasive pop-jazz singer-pianist who even writes her own tunes. But every comic-book collector knows that Wonder Woman can kick Supergirl’s ass (and Xena’s too), so it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that Lynda Carter turns out to be a masterful jazz chanteuse. Carter’s singing career predates her fame as Miss World USA and Wonder Woman, and she released a pop album, Portrait, in 1978 and performed in the London production of Chicago. On recent versions of the jazz standards “Cry Me a River” and “God Bless the Child,” she purrs with a warm, seductively languid voice that’s quite captivating. Also at the Fred Kavli Theatre, Fri. (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
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Yo Majesty, stuck in a spin cycle
NAKED AGGRESSION at Cobalt Cafe; FATSON JETSON, SACCHARINE TRUST, DOS, FREEHEAD, NELS CLINE, THE AMADANS at the Echoplex, 4 p.m.; MICHAEL PROPHET, SCIENTIST at Malibu Inn; THE HEALTH CLUB at Mr. T’s Bowl; THROW RAG (late show), BONEBRAKE SYNCOPATORS (early show, noon) at Safari Sam’s.
MONDAY, APRIL 28
Hot Chip at the Mayan
If it weren’t for Vampire Weekend, maybe all the heat-guided snark missiles would be aiming for Hot Chip right about now. Already boasting an album-of-the-year crown (handed to them last month by The Grand Rapids Press), they’re a fixture of pop-ups, embeds, banners and all other strains of viral marketing, and they’re nearly as overexposed as the Columbia cretins. And given that both groups knowingly gentrify black popular music, be it from the Congo or Chi-town, for Gap-suitable heavy rotation, how come H.C. get away with it? Maybe it’s their propensity for textured synthetics, jet-puffed beats and morphing sprawls of glistening electronics. Or the vulnerability of Alexei Taylor’s high and sweet tenor and Joe Goddard’s defeated baritone. Smart pop dolloped out with industrial efficiently, sure, but also stinking of coffee breath and toothpaste. And, as they continue to drain their music of the same rancid irony that swells like puss-heavy cysts on Vampire Weekend’s clear complexion, Hot Chip are looking great even with some acne scars. (Bernardo Rondeau)
Also playing Monday:
I’M FROM BARCELONA at El Rey Theatre; SHE & HIM at the Vista; DR. KNOW at Cobalt Cafe; RADARS TO THE SKY at the Echo.
TUESDAY, APRIL 29
Etran Finatawa at Temple Bar
When you’re battling for your cultural survival, music can be a powerful weapon. With their pastoral nomadism under extreme duress from desertification, societal upheaval and political conflict, the Tuareg and Wodaabe peoples of northwest Africa struggle to balance their traditions with the pull of the modern world. Bands like Tinariwen and Etran Finatawa have become guitar-wielding standard bearers of social continuity, sharing their stories with a compelling, trance-y desert-blues choogle that stretches and contracts like the Sahara’s endless horizon. Unlike Tinariwen’s all-Tuareg lineup, Niger-based Etran Finatawa includes members from both groups: The Wodaabe influences give the group’s percussive cross-rhythms additional texture and complexity, while the vocals possess more of a keening nasal twang than those of their colleagues in the groove. The just-released Desert Crossroads finds Etran Finatawa’s mojo on the rise — charming, urgent, dark and rockin’ — a celebration of life and expression of the profound pain of separation and loss. (Tom Cheyney)
The Breeders at the Glass House
As great as Black Francis’ songs were in the Pixies, many fans (including some guy named Kurt Cobain) were so enamored by charismatic bassist Kim Deal’s rare lead-vocal turns on tracks like the exhilaratingly surging “Gigantic” that they couldn’t wait for her to start her own band. And while the Breeders have undergone many lineup changes since they began in 1988, her bewitchingly cool vocals (later augmented by her twin sister Kelley) have always been the focus of their sound, from the 1993 hit “Cannonball” to their sublimely groovy version of the Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” The Breeders’ new album, Mountain Battles (4AD), is another enchanting affair, with the sisters trading off their glassy vocals on austere, somberly lulling idylls like “Night of Joy” and the languidly pretty “We’re Gonna Rise.” They rock it up louder on such jaggedly arty spells as “German Studies” and the fuzzy “No Way,” and trip out into weirder territory on the eerie call-&-response shouts of “Istanbul.” Also at Coachella, Fri. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
SHE & HIM at the Vista; BRIAN GRILLO, LOS TRENDY at the Echo; ALICIA WITT at the Mint.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30
Scotland Barr & the Slow Drags at Molly Malone’s
Puns aside, Scotland Barr’s music is perfect for bars. On his new disc, All the Great Aviators Agree, he serves up colorful boozy tunes about meeting “a flat-chested girl in a Flat Head bar” who “stole [his] wife”, spending “one more drunken Christmas in . jail” and apologizing because he “drank all the wine and . killed all the roses.” The nicotine-throated Barr prevents his bar-stool odes from being watered-down Bukowski through his spirited (and varied) roots-rock sound, ably abetted by his trusty, talented band, the Slow Drags. Bryan Daste’s pedal steel and Chris Hubbard’s piano bring the honky-tonk and roadhouse (respectively) to Barr’s apologia “Dirty Old Waltz,” while Zach Hinkelman slips some Allman Brothers–like guitar licks into “Fall Hard.” The rousing saloon sing-along “Juanita,” a disc highlight, sounds like the Pogues heading for Mexico. A veteran of the Portland, Oregon, scene, Barr knows that it’s good to have a shot of rock along with the tears in your beer. (Michael Berick)
Also playing Wednesday:
SEAL, SEAN KINGSTON at Avalon; ENTRANCE BAND at the Echo; MARTY WILLSON-PIPER at Hotel Café; HAZELDEN at Silverlake Lounge; SARA LOV at Tangier.
THURSDAY, MAY 1
Yo Majesty, Does It Offend You Yeah at El Rey Theatre
Three tuff-looking goils from Tampa got together with London neu-funk producers HardFeelingsUK and came up with this authentically crappy sounding (in a good way) EP of furiously fiving, snottily cool hip-hop à la the real, real old-school. It’s ingeniously booty-quaking stuff, all of it, though you really only need to hear their anthem “Club Action,” whose rinky-dink electro-beatbox and echoed-out speed raps frame a memorable chorus of “Fuck that shit!” Meanwhile, over in England, Does It Offend You, Yeah, have been busy barfing out their own early-’80s punky dance-rock tribute, all vocodered vocals, phat-ass synth bass coiling its merry way up your rump, further backdating the mishmash with a Hendrixian electric guitarist named Morgan Quaintance and loads of cowbell-rock swagger incorporated into their relatively artful mash-up of electro-funk ecstasy. They have a B+ album with several variations on this theme called You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Yourself Into. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
THE UGLY BEATS, VOODUO at Alex’s Bar; VOODOO GLOW SKULLS at Key Club; ZOMBIE BAZOOKA PATROL, COUSIN LOVERS at the Mint; THE KRIS SPECIAL at Mr. T’s Bowl; UNKNOWN HINSON, LONESOME SPURS at Safari Sam’s; THE URINALS at the Smell; MAKANA, ESTELLE at Temple Bar.
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