Rock Picks: Don Caballero, Yo! Majesty, Joan Baez, Juana Molina
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13
DON CABALLERO, SBACH AT THE ECHO
Veteran Pittsburgh atom-smashers Don Caballero are back, way back, with a new-old thing titled Punkgasm (Relapse), a subtle title that may clue you in to the brainily ballsy boom-boom bonanza enfolded within. The followup to last year’s overwhelming live set World Class Listening Problem, the new one offers yet more and, if possible, even trickier time signatures, several carloads of dissonantly drawn superstructures, and a number of satisfyingly indie-ironic song titles, such as “Celestial Dusty Groove,” “Why is the Couch Always Wet?,” and, of course, “Awe Man That’s Jive Skip.” Drummer/deity Damon Che leads his band through aforementioned stuff with a pyro-technique’d precision and a newfound dynamic range that tips a hat to the band’s free jazz and Crimso/Beefheartian forebears, yet easily transcends the headbanger symphonists from whom they also derive. Also: wicked, wanton ax/cheapo-synth chopper Spencer Seim of Hella, in his new, even more intensely rad role as sBach. (John Payne)
THE CHERRY BLUESTORMS AT CAFE AUDREY
It’s worth tracking down the Cherry Bluestorms’ 2007 CD, Transit of Venus (Roundhouse Recording), if only because the 3-D cover is a spacy variation on the psychedelic artwork to the Rolling Stones’ 1967 album, Their Satanic Majesties Request. The music inside isn’t bad, either, starting with a glittery makeover of the Beatles’ “Baby, You’re a Rich Man,” which is blown up by ex-Dickies guitarist Glen Laughlin’s crunchy, hard-bubblegum production and frosted with Deborah Gee’s sweetly reproachful vocals. The tune sounds fresh again and would probably already be in television commercials everywhere if the duo had any connections. In their best original songs, such as “Fear of Gravity,” Laughlin surrounds Gee’s desperately yearning vocals with swirling arpeggios and doomy, dramatic descending chords. On “Daisy Chain,” they get away with chanting giddy lyrics like “The moon and all the stars watch Venus dancing home to Mars” because there is real power in their power pop. The plainer lyrics in their lesser songs are generally offset by Gee’s clear, melodic singing and Laughlin’s jangly guitar curlicues. It could prove interesting to see how they fit their intergalactic pop into this small Audrey Hepburn–themed café on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas Avenue. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
JON HASSELL & MAARIFA STREET at Royce Hall; PRINCE PAUL, PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, ARABIAN LOVER, DAM FUNK AND MAYER HAWTHORNE at the Echoplex; DEMETRI MARTIN at the Henry Fonda Theater; PATTI AUSTIN at Walt Disney Concert Hall; LL COOL J at Club Nokia; APPLESEED CAST at the Knitting Factory.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14
YO! MAJESTY, FLOACIST AT THE ECHOPLEX
Tampa’s Yo! Majesty may never rise above the shock delivered by their raunchy debut, “Kryptonite Pussy,” but it’s not clear that these ladies give a damn, frankly. A recent press photo shows songstress Jwl B. midair, grasping her large, liberated breasts like they’re a pair of floaties (the same pair, by the way, makes frequent appearances at Y!M shows). And though their album, Futuristically Speaking ... Never Be Afraid, includes production by esteemed folk like Basement Jaxx, Yo!’s lyrics are enough make 2 Live Crew blush. To wit, in “Hott,” rapper Shunda K informs us that “When I get aroused/I just stick it with my fist.” The duo — black, lesbian, Christian — flouts just about every social more one could imagine. Best enjoyed with a bottle of Courvoisier. (Chris Martins)
EXTREME ANIMALS, ANAVAN AT THE SMELL
Feel the love Valentine’s Day when Pittsburgh-meets-San Diego duo Extreme Animals land in downtown. Much like their pals Black Dice and Neon Hunk, Extreme Animals (drummer David Wightman and noisemaker/MC Jacob Ciocci) pulverize sounds and beats to make a glorious, multilayered dance orgy — as if Wagon Christ had Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo’s baby, then raised the little one on pure corn syrup and meth. Ciocci’s laptop sends spastic MIDI transmissions to his ramshackle drum machine/keyboard, where he generates a series of feedback loops (and sings) through a mixer — Wightman provides the pounding accompaniment. Above all else, Ciocci and Wightman are master showmen, so expect any of the following: roller skates, group hugs, everyone encouraged to gather under a bed sheet, burning wires, interpretive dance, heat stroke, seeing rainbows, seeing God, etc. Openers Anavan are Smell darlings from way back. Their drumset antics, computers, microphone-rigged helmets and shredding dance grooves will have you sore the next day. (On Sunday, Ciocci will present films he’s created as a member of the art collective, Paperrad, at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre; Fortress of Amplitude will perform, as well.) (Wendy Gilmartin)
PEACH FUZZ, THE THINGZ AT THE REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
Here’s a Valentine’s Day bill that should appeal equally to sad-sack loners and happy, sappy lovebirds. Peachfuzz’s love songs, such as “Change Her Mind,” will provide a fitting soundtrack for the evening, with their Beatles-eque chord changes and Big Star harmonies, but there’s also a welcome dose of good, old-fashioned Kinks-style cynicism and contrarian intelligence lurking in the folk-pop strumming of “L.A. Is Where I Belong” and “Hero of Nineteen Eighty Three,” from their 2007 CD, Catch Your Snap (Teenacide Records). So, whether you’re reveling in moon-in-June bliss or trying to get over the memory of an unhappy breakup, Peachfuzz will transcend cheap sentimentality by beefing up their pop hooks with a Cheap Trick drive. The coed Long Beach garage-punks the Thingz are all about love, but they’re apparently more enamored with homicidal pasta dishes and spiny undersea creatures than they are with actual people. There’s simply no time to mope and get tragic about lost love, as the silly trio whip into such deliriously manic and proudly flippant joke songs as “Manicotti Massacre” and “She’s a Piranha,” not to mention the incisive social commentary of “I’m Glad I’m Not a Mollusk.” Also with the fizzy, effervescent pop-rock of Peachfuzz’s Teenacide label mates the Makeout Party. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
SPARKS at Royce Hall (see feature); RICKIE LEE JONES & THE VAUDEVILLIANS at Largo at the Coronet; ADAM FREELAND, LUCENT DOSSIER EXPERIENCE, Z-TRIP at Lucent Lamour; GIL MANTERA’S PARTY DREAM at Spaceland; HORROR POPS, SEVEN SHOT SCREAMERS, LONGWAY at Avalon; THE GOURDS at the Mint; BABYFACE, ALL-4-ONE at Club Nokia.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15
MUSIC TAPES, NANA GRIZOL, BRIAN DEWAN AT THE ECHOPLEX
Neutral Milk Hotel’s Julian Koster is no stranger to experimentation. Parts of his near-inscrutable 1999 debut as the Music Tapes, 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomads, were recorded on a century-old Edison wax cylinder, some tidbits nothing more than a bouncing ball, a cuckoo clock and traffic noise. But something happened in the nine years that passed before a sequel. Last year, Merge released the exceptional Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, and while its opening song may carry the suspect title “Saw Ping Pong and Orchestra” — and Koster indeed utilizes all three therein (the singing saw is his go-to instrument) — melody and timbre are as important to this record as they were to a certain un-succeeded classic by his former group. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Sunday:
TEENA MARIE, MORRIS DAY & THE TIME at the Nokia Theatre; PAPERRAD, FORTRESS OF AMPLITUDE at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16
MISHKA, K’NAAN, THE SWEET REMAINS at the Roxy; BEN LEE at Largo at the Coronet; FOOT VILLAGE, E&E, PUPPY DOG, MAN’S ASSASSINATION, VAMPIRE PUSSY at Pehrspace; LE SWITCH, THE MINOR CANON, THE BREAKUPS, SWIM PARTY at Spaceland; HOLLOYS, RAINBOW ARABIA, PIT ER PAT at the Echo.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17
JUANA MOLINA AT THE TROUBADOUR
Juana Molina’s Un Dia is an offering to those of us tired of the same angry guitars and Xeroxed whiners, self-absorbed coffeehouse girls and monomaniacal rappers who build themselves into genre-specific bunkers and then dig deeper with each successive album. Molina, an Argentinian singer and actress who first gained fame in the late ’80s as a TV comedienne, started releasing records in 1996, but they weren’t funny endeavors. Rather, her early work features her tango-esque, hypnotic acoustic-guitar lines interlaced with feather-pillow electronic rhythms and her singsong feminine whisper. Over the years, though, her music has expanded, even as it’s gotten weirder. Not Bjork-weird, though; Molina still prefers structure to chaos, and on Un Dia, that structure is rhythm, which is sturdier and more textured than on her formative stuff. It’s one of last year’s best records, a subtle electronic creation that’s not silly or overly dramatic. Just pure, beautiful music. This show marks Molina’s first performance in L.A. with a full band, and promises to be a memorable evening. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Tuesday:
MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS, THE CHAPIN SISTERS, THE MOON UPSTAIRS, BIG SEARCH at Spaceland; MURDER CITY DEVILS at the Henry Fonda Theater; THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK at the Mint; WE SHOT THE MOON, BIG SURRENDER at the Knitting Factory; RUSKO, CONGOROCK, AC SLATER at the Roxy.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18
ANDREW BIRD, LONEY DEAR AT THE ORPHEUM
Andrew Bird’s success story has to be one of indie rock’s unlikeliest: We’re talking, after all, about a whistling, violin-playing dude from Chicago who has somehow managed to outlast his stint with the Squirrel Nut Zippers by penning impossibly erudite art-folk tunes about fake palindromes and Scythian empires (and then titling them “Fake Palindromes” and “Scythian Empires”). Bird’s new Noble Beast contains no shortage of quirk — “From Proto-Sanskrit Minoans to porto-centric Lisboans,” goes one oft-quoted line in “Tenuousness” — but with its less-cluttered arrangements and increased melodic presence, the album could also be his bi d for an audience that includes more than NPR listeners and Will Shortz devotees. At the Orpheum, expect to rub elbows with NPR listeners and Will Shortz devotees. Loney Dear is the working name of Swedish indie-pop craftsman Emil Svanängen, whose catchy little ditties rarely thrill but usually satisfy. (Mikael Wood)
SIOUX CITY PETE & THE BEGGARS AT THE REDWOOD BAR AND GRILL
There was a time when preachers warned that the blues wasthe Devil’s music, that it was dangerous and would send you straight to Hell, but nowadays it’s usually considered harmless background music at picnics, sporting events and boating tours. But no one will be inviting Sioux City Pete & the Beggars on any restful blues cruises in the near future. These drifters from Iowa hammer down an awful, abrasive, scarifying, rumbling, crude garage-industrial blues racket that’s so hellishly loud, it buries most traces of its ostensible Charley Patton/Robert Johnson/Howlin’ Wolf/Cramps/Gun Club influences in a junkyard racket. Ex–Chicken Hawks guitarist Sioux City Pete stubbornly digs into generally taboo subjects (pedophilia, racism, genocide, Satanism, cannibalism and necrophilia) but not because he’s trying to be shocking or punk-rock offensive; he sees modern-day horror and cruelty as just being part of an unbroken chain that stretches back past the time Johnson first noticed the hellhounds were following him. Another recurring theme is how seemingly gentle, stout-hearted and steady Midwestern farmers are secretly boiling over with homicidal impulses, with Pete bookending his imprecations in raw swaths of distorted slide guitar. These are murder “ballads” that really do sound like murder. (Falling James).
Also playing Wednesday:
MYSTERY JETS at Spaceland; GRETCHEN PHILLIPS at Genghis Cohen; MURDER CITY DEVILS, SILVERGHOST, TWEAKBIRD at the Henry Fonda Theater; TATSUYA NAKATANI & MICHEL DONEDA at The Smell; JESSICA FICHOT, THE MEEMIES, ADAM ARCURAGI at the Bordello.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19
ANDRE WILLIAMS AT ALEX’S BAR
Rhythm-and-blues renegade Andre Williams is one bad, lowdown and wicked man — thank heavens. With an extraordinary career divided between recording and performing some of the most potent, rebel R&B ever created (with 1950s stunners “Jail Bait,” “Bacon Fat”) and operating as a key, behind-the-scenes songwriter and studio cat (penning the likes of “Shake a Tail Feather,” “Twine Time,” helping Berry Gordy get Motown up and running, producing sessions for Ike Turner), Williams is both an important historical figure and an artist whose contemporary, ongoing exercises in underground sleaze-o-rama always bear close examination. The dapper, dangerous and completely unpredictable Williams (who, it is worth noting, exerted a powerful influence on the late Lux Interior) always delivers a magnificent brand of reekingly funky, ultramaxi venery, put across with a down-in-the-bottom vehemence that still plays as nothing less than mesmerizing. (Jonny Whiteside)
JOAN BAEZ AT ROYCE HALL
Joan Baez has always had a pure, powerful voice that’s an awesome combination of natural inspiration and refined technique, and her rich, molasseslike phrasing and birdlike trilling have given an eerily haunting sheen to many otherwise austere folk songs over the past four decades. Beyond her longtime social activism, she’s perhaps best known for her off-and-on collaborations with Bob Dylan, acting at times as both his muse and his biggest critic, and interpreting his acoustic songs with her highly stylized delivery. In interviews, like so many of Dylan’s former peers in the early-’60s scene, she sometimes comes off as bitter that he wouldn’t behave and stay put in a neat folk-music straitjacket, but Baez also had some especially wise and insightful things to say about the mystery tramp in the No Direction Home documentary. On her latest album, Day After Tomorrow (Bobolink/Razor & Tie), producer Steve Earle reins in her tendency to oversing, with a well-chosen set of songs by Patty Griffin, Eliza Gilkyson, Elvis Costello, and Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan, as well as three tunes by Earle. There’s a chilling intimacy and restless timelessness on such spare folk interludes as Griffin’s “Mary.” (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo at the Coronet; BLUE RODEO at the Mint; DUNCAN SHEIK, LAUREN PRITCHARD at the Vista; WYNONNA at Club Nokia; RITA MORENO at the Conga Room; ELENI MANDELL at the Echo.
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