Rock Picks: Everest, Mumiy Troll, Busta Rhymes
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27
Mike Watt & The Secondmen, Lee Ranaldo, The Nichemakers, The Electric Illuminati, The Hootenanny All-stars at Spaceland
This is a huge, arty blowout sort of thing in celebration of the opening of the group exhibition “Rock, Paper, Scissors” at Robert Berman Gallery (on view February 28–March 21), which highlights musicians who mash the mediums of music and visual art in their work — and that would have to include Raymond Pettibon, Daniel Johnston, Ron English and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, as well as Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. So just take a gander at the headline here and assume all sorts of creatively advanced rocking spew, in separate groups and in bizarre new collaborative hybrids-with-superspecial-unnameable-guests gracing the stage. Mike Watt & the Secondmen will chock-a-block-rock obliquely; the Nichemakers oeuvre stars the aforementioned Mr. Pettibon; the Electric Illuminati is fronted by Ron English; and then you’ve got this whole other amazing opening bit by the razor-witted Old War Shirt, plus M.S. Garvey’s Buspoems, the very, very Famous Bob Rokos and without a doubt much, much Moore. ... (The same bill, minus Lee Ranaldo, will perform a benefit concert at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m.) (John Payne)
Everest, Two Sheds, The Parson Red Heads at the Echo
Everest continue their climb up the indie-rock mountain, riding the momentum of their 2008 CD, Ghost Notes, which was released on Neil Young’s Vapor Records. They were supposed to open for “Old Man” Young last October at the Forum, but the concert was canceled at the last minute, when he refused to cross a union picket line. There are elements of Young’s pastoral country-folk on Ghost Notes, with Russell Pollard singing with a lonesome haziness. Actually, Pollard’s soft crooning on tunes like “Only in Your Mind” and “Trees” sounds more like Paul Simon, albeit surrounded by a sparkle of countrified guitars from the band, which includes former members of the Folk Implosion, Earlimart and Sebadoh. The Sacramento duo Two Sheds purvey a similarly mellow form of austere country-pop on their self-titled EP, highlighted by Caitlin Gutenberger’s coolly contemplative vocals. She and her bassist-partner, John Gutenberger, balance their downbeat ballads with a few unexpected twists, such as the charming way she turns the phrase “What the fuck?” into a sugary melodic hook on the relatively rocking “WTF?” or how they use the sound of their cat Buddy crunching his food as an effect on the acoustic interlude “To Be Alive.” Tonight’s bill is nicely rounded out with locals the Parson Red Heads, who expanded their own country-rock sound to encompass jangly power pop on their recent EP, Owl & Timber. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
HANK III at the Roxy; ANGRY SAMOANS at the Knitting Factory; PRINCESS SUPERSTAR, SOUTH RAKKAS CREW at Bardot; KENNY BARRON at the Jazz Bakery; KOOL KEITH, KUTMASTA KURT at El Rey; JON BRION AND FRIENDS at Largo at the Coronet.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28
Faun Fables, Voco at Spaceland
Building on a tradition of American avant-folk with roots stretching back to YaHoWa and Cromagnon and before, Dawn McCarthy, of Oakland, has collaborated with everyone, from Bonnie Prince Billy to Nurse With Wound’s Matt Waldron — not out of some misguided careerist collection of strategies but with an eye toward communion in a music world fraught with cynicism. With a name like “Faun Fables,” one might suspect the music to be inconsequential (or precious, or jocular) twaddle — yet the unassailable tradition of Americana that McCarthy draws from precludes such snark. Naiveté and simplicity notwithstanding, it’s music that’s not so much a fable as it is an ideal and a dream. Also on the bill are Voco, local Appalachia fetishists — where “fetish” means a meaningful totem, not a meaningless burlesque — who’ll present their modern volkish radiance via the inestimable talents of Moira Smiley, Jess Basta, Jessica Catron and Christine Enns on banjo, accordion, harmonies and “body percussion.” Acoustic body music (ABM)? It’s about time! (David Cotner)
Thank You at The Smell
Just when you thought that Baltimore was all about Bmore hip-hop, club and gutter music, Thank You come along and rip you a new one. With their sophomore record (first for Thrill Jockey) appropriately titled Terrible Two, the trio of Jeffrey McGrath, Michael Bouyoucas and Elke Wardlaw have carried five songs and just more than 35 minutes to places few full-blown orchestras (the Spike Jones type) have ever dared to go. The trio owes a debt of gratitude to Sonic Youth and the Boredoms, and there seems to be something cultish about them: They blindfold and spin you around with their syncopation, then hypnotize and seduce you with feedback and drones. Their lady percussionist, Wardlaw, is like two Moe Tuckers with double doses of speed, and the album’s first cut, “Empty Legs,” may have you thinking that someone told them they just got the gig to create the soundtrack for a new surf movie called Apocalypse Now. Mi Ami is also on the bill. (Daniel Siwek)
John Doe, Jim White at Largo at the Coronet
As fiery as X sounded just last December at Club Nokia, the veteran L.A. punk band haven’t released any new material since 1993’s Hey Zeus!, so it’s encouraging that singer-bassist John Doe is coming off his strongest solo album, 2007’s A Year in the Darkness. He follows up that success with Country Club (Yep Roc), a new collaboration with the Canadian roots-country outfit the Sadies. Doe and the Sadies, led by the brothers Dallas and Travis Good, split the difference between the Bakersfield and Nashville country scenes with a lively set of cover songs by Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette and Roger Miller. The combination of Doe’s mournful, deep vocals with the Good brothers’ nimble bluegrass and country guitars is an inspired pairing, and the album’s enlivened further by several original barnburning instrumentals and “It Just Dawned on Me,” which was co-written by Doe and Exene Cervenka and sounds like a lost Knitters song. Former Southern preacher Jim White (not to be confused with the Dirty Three drummer), who’s best known as the author of such surreally whimsical tunes as “If Jesus Drove a Motor Home” and “A Perfect Day to Chase Tornados,” previews tracks from his new Luaka Bop live EP, A Funny Little Cross to Bear. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
RA RA RIOT, CUT OFF YOUR HANDS, TELEKINESIS! at El Rey; LMFAO at the Sin City Social Club; EXTRA LIFE, ABE VIGODA at the Smell; MARTHA WAINWRIGHT at the Getty; DEATH VESSEL at Bardot; LISA LAMPANELLI at Club Nokia; KENNY BARRON at the Jazz Bakery.
SUNDAY, MARCH 1
Busta Rhymes at Club Nokia
Between his acting career, his unsavory legal troubles and the simple fact that he’s seemingly been around forever, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Busta Rhymes is still an active recording artist — especially when you consider that beyond the awesomely Daft Punk–jacking “Touch It,” dude hasn’t really made an unforgettable record inside the 21st century. That said, if early singles and leaks are to believed, Busta’s upcoming Back on My B.S. (due out March 24) could have what it takes for a comeback: “Don’t Touch Me (Throw da Water on ’Em)” is a five-alarm banger with no shortage of top-shelf battle-rap boasts; “Decision” resists a good-intentions overload despite cameos by Common and John Legend; “Arab Money” has a beat as hot as its lyrical content is dubious. Busta’s long been one of hip-hop’s most energetic (and capable) live performers; given the gas he’s got in the tank right now, expect fire tonight. (Mikael Wood)
Tribute to Chris Darrow with Akron/Family, Ben Harper, Howlin Rain, others at McCabe’s
Once upon a time, circa early ’70s, Chris Darrow was a bona fide hero on L.A.’s country-rock-folk scene, with a couple of pioneering albums, Chris Darrow (1973) and Under My Own Disguise (1974), that’ll soon be reissued by the very fine Everloving Records label. Darrow also founded superprescient world-beat-psych-rock combo Kaleidoscope with David Lindley; was a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and collaborated with many other heavies of that era. (For more information, see music feature.) This concert pays dues to Darrow, with an interesting buncha artists who claim the esteemed Mr. Darrow’s heavy influence: avant-folk arkestra Akron/Family premiere material from their forthcoming Set ’Em Wild, Set ’Em Free album; Ben Harper brings the gritty folk-blues growl ’n’ guitar sling; and, potentially blowing the walls entirely off are the ’60s classic-rock hybridic stylings of the unfathomably great Howlin Rain. Joining in are special guests Charlie Wadhams, Michael Andrews, Jonathan Wilson and Elisa Randazzo. Note that things get rolling at 7 p.m. (Also note that Akron/Family play a three-night set at Steve Allen Theatre March 10 to 12; see listings for more info.) (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday:
MOLLY JENSON at Largo at the Coronet; EEK-A-MOUSE at the Ivar Theatre; THE SOPHOMORE ATTEMPT, GO CRASH AUDIO, THAT WAS SOMETHING at the Mint; TYVEK, WEAVE! at the Echo; 826LA’S BATTLE OF THE BANDS at the Echoplex.
MONDAY, MARCH 2
Bob Mould at the Hotel Cafe
First, there was Hüsker Dü, one of the most important post-punk bands of the ’80s, and partially responsible for Nirvana and the Pixies. Then there was Sugar, the Bob Mould–fronted trio which, in the early ’90s, saved distorted guitars from grunge’s chokehold. Since then, Mould has recorded nine solo albums, run a record label, played tons of gigs with friends like Patti Smith and Vic Chesnutt, hosted a gay-D.C. dance event called Blowoff, (which might explain the electronic-ness of last year’s album, District Line), written plotlines for the World Wrestling Federation and completed a soon-to-be-released autobiography. So it seems the new bald, bearded and kinda buff Mould is warming up to his legacy while continuing to craft it. That’s evident on his new album, Life and Times (out in April), complete with dirty lyrics, messy punk growls and the wide spectrum of sound and storytelling Bob Mould fans haven’t heard in a while. Like his first solo album, Workbook (1989), Life and Times is a stripped-down return to the basics Mould does best. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Monday:
SUMMER DARLING, THE HECTORS, WRITER, MONOLATORS at the Echo; NICO STAI, EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, POP NOIR, HESTA PRYNN at Spaceland; THE AMAZEMENTS, MICHAEL VIDAL (OF ABE VIGODA), PROTECTME at Pehrspace.
TUESDAY, MARCH 3
Allen Toussaint, Henry Butler, Jon Cleary & Absolute Monster at Cerritos Center for the performing arts
New Orleans pianist-producer Allen Toussaint has to be one of the heaviest talents that this remarkable city has ever spat forth. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer also served in the crucial capacity of upholding the Crescent City’s postwar rumba-tinged, second-line R&B tradition — exporting it beyond Louisiana via national hits for local lights Ernie K-Doe and Irma Thomas — and later reaching out to stir it into the deep funk and soul explosion of the 1960s. This represents nothing less than a remarkable stewardship, and in the process, Toussaint expanded N.O.’s sound into wild new permutations — he’s the cat who mentored those rowdy Neville Brothers into the Meters, honing their spellbinding syncopation when they served as house band at Toussaint’s studio. His remarkable track record includes writing innumerable hits like “Workin’ in the Coal Mine” for Lee Dorsey to (say what?) Herb Alpert’s “Whipped Cream,” but don’t let all that overshadow Toussaint’s own gifts as a performer; he’s got way more tricks in his bag than “Southern Nights,” and this date should serve as a mind-rendingly comprehensive display of New Orleans’ most bewitching music. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also Playing Tuesday:
FUJIYA & MIYAGI, POP LEVI, PROJECT JENNY, PROJECT JAN at the Echoplex; LAURA GIBSON, TOM BROSSEAU, MUSEE MECANIQUE at Spaceland; LES BLANKS, DIRT DRESS, SHIRLEY ROLLS, HUNTING ACCIDENT at the Silverlake Lounge.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4
M. Ward at the Henry Fonda Theater
Chief among my professional regrets last year was that nobody asked me what my favorite 11 albums of 2008 were, which therefore limited the praise I had opportunity to shower upon Volume One by She & Him — M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel’s totally charming folk-pop duo. Fortunately, this year might provide a corrective, since Ward’s just-released Hold Time has already earned a provisional spot on my 2009 Top 10: Like the Ventura County native’s last several solo discs, Hold Time sounds like a reissue of a record that never actually existed in the first place; nobody swirls together country, soul and pop as effortlessly as Ward, whose superbusy session-dude schedule obviously hasn’t harmed the health of his own songwriting in the slightest. Ward’s handlers are campaigning for a mainstream breakthrough this time out — dig this month’s admiring features in both the New York and Los Angeles Times. Next time he’s here, the setting might not be so cozy. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday:
JODECI at Club Nokia.
THURSDAY, MARCH 5
Mumiy Troll at the Roxy
Not only are Mumiy Troll a Russian band, but they’re from Vladivostok, on that country’s eastern coast, far, far away from the usual rock & roll pathways to success. They began as a genuinely underground garage-rock band back in 1983 and were viewed with suspicion by the Soviet government, which harassed them and jailed them several times. They took a long hiatus when lead singer Ilya Lagutenko had to serve in the Russian army, but they eventually re-emerged as one of the country’s most popular groups. Lagutenko croons in Russian and English with a distinctive style that combines his sandpaper-rough vocals with a breathy intimacy on slinky indie-rock songs like “Oh Paradiso,” from the band’s 2008 album, 8. What really distinguishes Mumiy (as in “Mummy”) Troll, though, are Lagutenko’s and Yuri Tsaler’s guitars, which circle majestically over “Oh Paradiso” like giant black vultures. On the moody ballad “Let It Burn,” the riffs uncoil with a languid spaciness that’s somewhere between post-punk iciness and power-pop melodicism. Even when Lagutenko sings in English, his lyrics are mysteriously poetic and impressionistic rather than literal, such as the strange tourism tale “Bermudas,” where he slips in cryptic references to malevolent angels, green dragons and “the night’s heavy blotter,” in the tight spaces between bassist Eugene Zvidionny’s and drummer Oleg Pungin’s jagged punk-funk rhythms. It’s all very weirdly exotic. Also Friday, March 6. (Falling James)
Lynda Carter at Catalina Bar & Grill
Back in the 1970s, it seemed like Lynda Carter could do anything. She saved the world at least once a week, flew through the air in an invisible jet and understood that the best way to get bad guys to confess their crimes was to encircle them with a magic golden lasso. (If only it were so simple nowadays.) Of course, she was Wonder Woman then, and her popularity even led to the release of an overlooked 1978 pop LP, Portrait. Despite a musical-theater background that predates the first time she donned Diana Prince’s shimmering satin tights, few people realize that her awesome superpowers include being a credible jazz chanteuse. Carter’s not the first actor to reinvent herself as a singer, but, unlike so many celebrity dilettantes, she actually has a beguiling voice, with a warm, velvety tone. Her version of jazz is fairly straightforward and mainstream rather than anything edgy or truly out there, but she’s nonetheless quite charismatic when delivering such standards as “God Bless the Child” and “Cry Me a River” with a rich, molasses purr. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
PHAROAH SANDERS QUARTET at the Jazz Bakery; THE KLEZMATICS at Royce Hall; JIMMY EAT WORLD at Club Nokia.
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