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Rock Picks: Fuck Buttons, Exene Cervenka, Imogen Heap, John Fogerty

Imogen Heap, just as the acid kicks in

Ryan ObermeyerImogen Heap, just as the acid kicks in

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Quintet, Madlib at the Echoplex
The eight brothers of Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are a very big, very ba-a-a-d gang of horns boasting a fine lineage, having been personally tutored from age 3 by their father, Phil Cochran, who played with Sun Ra’s legendary Arkestra. The brothers learned from an early age to play ferociously tight, hard-hip-hoppy jazzy-funk joy. A few months ago they released an absolutely ripping self-titled album on Damon Albarn’s label, Honest Jon’s, a high stamp of approval, but dig that they too claim Barack Obama, David Byrne, Q-Tip, Jay-Z and Erykah Badu among their big-time fans. The top news is that the HBE — along with Mos Def and Fela Kuti’s renowned drummer, Tony Allen — will compose the new Gorillaz band. What more do you need? Plus live sets by local composer-arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s quintet, and deejaying courtesy of Coleman, B+ and Madlib. (John Payne)

 

Múm, Sin Fang Bous, Hildur Guðnadóttir at El Rey Theatre
One likes to imagine that Iceland owes its strange charm in part to its uncanny lunar landscape, and perhaps to 900-odd years of isolation. Whatever, so much of the island’s music is essentially undefinable stuff characterized by an innocent oddity that invites the curious ear. Múm, originally comprising Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Smárason, has morphed ectoplasmically into a large-ish commune of like-minded seekers who tootle, twinkle, rumble and coo new arcane folktales strewn with rounded-edge electronics, ukuleles, cello, flickering percussive bits and parakeets. Their new Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know (Fatcat) is a fantastic dream, pretty but a tad melancholy, and even a trifle scary. The group’s cellist, Hildur Guðnadóttir, will do a probably darker, dronier solo set drawing from her excellent recent Second Childhood album (Touch Music), a collaboration with B.J. Nilsen and Stilluppsteypa. The gently experimental “pocket symphonies” of Reykjavík’s Sin Fang Bous round out the bill. (John Payne)

 

Leon Russell at Brixton South Bay
With his long, snow-white beard, the Oklahoma singer-pianist Leon Russell looks like Father Time, which is somewhat fitting, since he’s been involved, in one way or another, with some of the biggest names in rock, pop and blues over the past five decades. He’s written hits for Joe Cocker and the Carpenters, was a session musician for Phil Spector, and has recorded with everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and George Harrison to B.B. King, Glen Campbell, J.J. Cale and Badfinger. (The local band Concrete Blonde even got their start hanging out in Russell’s studio.) Russell’s own songs, especially on his classic 1972 album, Carney, are a rich blend of funky blues, old-timey serenades, fiery gospel and rambling rock & roll — all of it delivered via his rollicking piano riffs and topped off with his trademark sandpapery vocals. Far from an oldies act, he and his excellent longtime band pump out fat, juicy hunks of prime Americana with a heartfelt, down-home immediacy. Also at Pappy & Harriet’s, Sun., 4 p.m. (Falling James)

 

Also playing Friday:

JIM KWESKIN at Coffee Gallery Backstage; PIXIES, RAIN MACHINE at Hollywood Palladium; JULIAN CASABLANCAS at Palace Theatre; IAN ANDERSON at the Wiltern; YVONNE REYES & JOE HAJEK at Genghis Cohen; NEW MAXIMUM DONKEY at Labrie’s; JON BRION at Largo; RUPA & THE APRIL FISHES, OLLIN at the Mint; DUANE PETERS GUNFIGHT, A PRETTY MESS at the Redwood Bar & Grill; EEK-A-MOUSE at the Roxy; HAWNAY TROOF, PANTHER, DAVID SCOTT STONE at the Smell; KARMA TO BURN, TOTIMOSHI at Spaceland; JOE BAIZA, BLACK WIDOWS at Taix.

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7

LMFAO, Shwayze, Space Cowboy at the Hollywood Palladium
Provided that CBS isn’t planning a Two and a Half Men marathon, you won’t find a dumber way to spend your Saturday night this weekend than at the hometown stop of LMFAO’s six-week Party Rock Tour. But you might not find a more enjoyable way, either: On their recent major-label debut, these local club-rap kings throw down a nonstop barrage of infectiously goofy rhymes over slick ’80s-inspired tracks that make even less use of nuance than the stuff on the Black Eyed Peas’ latest. Just as stupid but a bit more stoner-attuned, Shwayze have a new record out called Let It Beat, on which the Malibu duo join forces with the erudite likes of Snoop Dogg, Ric Ocasek and Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains. Of course, its cover still features a bikini-clad babe without a head. Hip-hop purists up in arms over the form’s transformation from socially conscious to social lubricant — this shit will infuriate you. With Space Cowboy, whose last gig was as Lady Gaga’s DJ. (Mikael Wood)

 

Ramayana performed by Gamelan Burat Wangi at REDCAT
An ensemble of 25 gamelan players and 14 dancers, the Balinese Gamelan Burat Wangi brings to life the story Ramayana, an ancient Hindu drama which came to Bali from India more than a thousand years ago. The tale involves all the things we like — love and lust, war and redemption — and the cast (dressed like birds, monkeys and warriors, who just might actually be kings and gods) features special guest artists from Bali, including drummer I Wayan Budha, dancers I Made Dwi Putra Yoga as Rama and Anak Agung Gede Rahma Putra as Hanoman. Ethnomusicologist Sue Carole DeVale gives a multimedia presentation on the aesthetics of Hindu-Balinese performing arts one hour before each show. Also Fri. and Sun. (John Payne)

 

Hanson, Hellogoodbye at Club Nokia
Haven’t heard from Hanson since the days of “MMMBop”? You’ve got some catching up to do. (Start with Snowed In, their excellent Christmas cash-in from 1997, which includes a version of “What Christmas Means to Me” more spirited than Stevie Wonder’s.) Like their successors the Jonas Brothers, the Hanson kids view crafty blue-eyed soul as the route to maturity, and if their records over the past decade or so have occasionally overdosed on an insistent we-play-real-instruments vibe, well, they really can play those real instruments. Earlier this year frontman Taylor Hanson released the supertuneful debut by his power-pop supergroup, Tinted Windows; the brothers’ rep says a new Hanson album is due out next spring. With Huntington Beach’s Hellogoodbye, who have yet to top the electro-emo majesty of their 2006 hit “Here (In Your Arms).” (Mikael Wood)

 

Also playing Saturday:

LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES at the Conga Room; RANDY WEEKS at Cinema Bar; LIZZ WRIGHT at Luckman Theatre; ANITA BAKER at Nokia Theatre; SERJ TANKIAN at Actors’ Gang at the Ivy Substation Theatre; CITIZEN FISH at the Echo; THE KRIS SPECIAL, OR THE WHALE at Echo Curio; CIRCE LINK at Genghis Cohen; OVER THE RHINE at Largo; JIM KWESKIN at McCabe’s; REPTET at Molly Malone’s; JASON FALKNER, NICO STAI, WAR CHILDREN at Spaceland; DIME BOX BAND at Taix.

 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8

Betty Bryant at Catalina Bar & Grill
Geography and jazz often intertwine with extraordinary benefits, and it’s a natural fact that musicians fortunate enough to have been born in New Orleans or Kansas City, Missouri, seem to hit the bandstand with an indefinable advantage, almost as if their artistic forebears had imparted some eerie quasihereditary aptitude. The K.C., MO–bred pianist-singer Betty Bryant brings that benefit to the keyboard every time she gets to work, and — despite having logged some five decades in the upholstered purgatory known as Los Angeles nightclubs — that rich jazz tradition still informs her style. Bryant’s steady rolling, soulful musical sprees are always textured with ideal measures of torchy passion, elegantly whimsical good humor and traces of KC’s uncut, communicative blues sensibility. These make for a potent musical cocktail, and it’s a mix that’s served her well for quite a spell. This particular matinee shindig, in fact, celebrates both Bryant’s 80th birthday and the release of her bewitching, new (and aptly titled) No Regrets CD. Should be downright dreamy. (Jonny Whiteside)

 

Also playing Sunday:

PAUL KREIBICH at the Lighthouse Café, 11 a.m.; THE CRYSTELLES at Cozy’s Bar & Grill; JAY-Z, N.E.R.D. at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA; EN VOGUE, GINUWINE at Club Nokia; UTE LEMPER at Wilshire Blvd. & Ogden Dr., 11 p.m.; SILVERSUN PICKUPS, HENRY CLAY PEOPLE at the Echo (1 p.m.); BAMBI SLAM at the Echo (10 p.m.); BILLY CORGAN & THE BACKWARD CLOCK SOCIETY, LIGHT FM, PITY PARTY, HAPPY STARS at the Echoplex, 5 p.m.; OVER THE RHINE at Largo; THE BIG MANNY BAND at Liquid Kitty; LEON RUSSELL at Pappy & Harriet’s, Pioneertown, 4 p.m.; LANGHORNE SLIM at the Troubadour; 8mm, AWESOME NEW REPUBLIC at the Viper Room.

 

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9

Imogen Heap at the Henry Fonda Theater
It’s a bit too easy to write off Britain’s Imogen Heap. Catch her latest single, “First Train Home,” on the radio, and you might assume she’s just another in a long line of wispy, throaty singers with a secret yearning for some far-off place, dulcet words echoing over top-of-the-line electronic production provided by somebody else entirely. Not so. As fans know, Heap has been doing her thing for more than a decade, and it truly is her thing. The classically trained pianist counts among her influences Annie Lennox, Kate Bush and Björk, and a little bit of each (well, a lot of Lennox) appears on her latest album, Ellipse. What’s more, witness Heap perform live and you’ll see the skill and originality she brings to her medium. With a Monome in her lap (the open-source beat machine pioneered by Daedelus), she loops keys, voice and digitalia into glitchy soundscapes on par with Dntel’s poppier output. It’s a stretch to imagine Heap playing Low End Theory, but not to think that club’s regulars would be impressed. (Chris Martins)

 

Also playing Monday:

BAND OF HORSES at Club Nokia; DAVID GRAY at Orpheum Theatre; GIRLYMAN at Bootleg Theater; JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT, CHUCK PROPHET at the Echoplex; THE CRIBS, THE BLOOD ARM at the Roxy; MAKE MOON, MISSISSIPPI MAN at Silverlake Lounge; THE HAPPY HOLLOWS, THE SOFT HANDS, THE WIDOW BABIES at Spaceland.

 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10

Exene Cervenka at Largo at the Coronet
It may seem like Exene Cervenka is everywhere lately. Recently relocated to Los Angeles after living for several years in rural Missouri, she duetted with her X partner (as well as her ex-partner) John Doe recently at the Echoplex, and X are planning another big tour in December. Such a renewal of creative activity is especially heartening following the recent announcement that Cervenka’s suffering from multiple sclerosis. Seemingly undeterred, she just released another fine solo album, Somewhere Gone (Bloodshot Records), which is in more of a wistful folk-pop vein than her punk-oriented projects like Auntie Christ, the Original Sinners and, of course, X. Her lilting vocals have never sounded as pure and melodic as they do on such breezy acoustic tunes as “Fevered Paper” and “Surface of the Sun.” Cervenka’s backed by her guitarist-husband, Jason Edge, and such guests as Flat Duo Jets’ Dexter Romweber and Dead Rock West’s Cindy Wasserman. The late Amy Farris adds another layer of melancholy and heartbreak with her bittersweet harmonies and violin parts, underscoring just how temporary and fragile this thing called life really is. Also at Alex’s Bar, Wed. (Falling James)

 

Also playing Tuesday:

THE USED, THE ALMOST at the Wiltern; MAT KEARNEY at Henry Fonda Theater; INARA GEORGE, ELENI MANDELL, FERRABY LIONHEART, DANIEL MARTIN MOORE at Bootleg Theater; VIA TANIA, RACHAEL CANTU at the Bordello; AWESOME NEW REPUBLIC at Cinespace; 60 WATT KID at the Echo; STAB CITY at the Redwood Bar & Grill; CAPTAIN AHAB at the Smell.

 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11

HEALTH, Abe Vigoda, Tearist, Man’s Assassination, Man at the Smell
A place can only give so much to the community before asking for a little something in return. Downtown DIY mecca the Smell has given us No Age, Mika Miko (RIP) and even Nosaj Thing, to name but a few — the all-ages club couldn’t get much hotter, and so it’s asking for air conditioning. Rather than wait for a fortuitous holiday delivery from a fat, bearded man (what, you don’t know Ed from Sears?), the Smell is throwing a benefit show featuring a couple of its biggest stars, digi-noise masters HEALTH and ebullient punksters Abe Vigoda. Also performing are the quite promising TEARIST — a boy-girl duo specializing in dark strains of experimental disco — and Man’s Assassination, Man, a spazzy outfit starring Bill and John Gray, survivors from the brutal Mae Shi breakup that went down this past summer. Even with that weighty bill (and the one to come for the cooling system), tickets are only seven bucks a pop. (Chris Martins)

 

Grant Hart at the Viper Room
People sometimes forget that there were two great songwriters in Hüsker Dü. Bob Mould, whose scabrous vocals and distortion-saturated guitar distinguished the influential Minneapolis trio’s sound, got most of the attention and has since gone on to a critically lauded solo career. But drummer Grant Hart actually wrote and sang many of the band’s best songs, even if his own solo work has been largely overlooked in the years since Hüsker Dü’s breakup in 1988. It probably didn’t help that he battled drug addiction, but he eventually got himself cleaned up and released several underrated albums under his own name and with Nova Mob. There’s a certain irony that Mould still performs in large concert halls while Hart is playing bars like the Viper Room, because the latter is the much more interesting songwriter these days. Hart’s latest CD, Hot Wax (Condor/MVD Audio), was recently released with little fanfare, but it’s stacked with a pleasing variety of catchy hooks that range from the Elvis Costello–style piano ballad “School Buses Are for Children” to the trumpet-laced ’60s pure pop of “Barbara” and the exhilarating garage-punk rush of “You’re the Reflection of the Moon on the Water.” As Hart sings, “He’s a silver nitrate shadow,” but perhaps it’s finally time to let him come back into the spotlight. (Falling James)

 

Also playing Wednesday:

MARC ANTHONY at Gibson Amphitheatre; PARAMORE at Hollywood Palladium; GLASSJAW at the Mayan; EXENE CERVENKA, STEVE SOTO & THE TWISTED HEARTS at Alex’s Bar; BUTCH WALKER at the Hotel Café; ELECTRIC SIX at Key Club; SWITCHFOOT at the Roxy; THE DUCHESS & THE DUKE, GREG ASHLEY at Spaceland; BLUES CONTROL, 60 WATT KID, POCAHAUNTED at Synchronicity Space; DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR at Taix; FU MANCHU at the Troubadour; SHRINEBUILDER at the Viper Room, 10 p.m.

 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12

Fuck Buttons, Growing at the Echo
In 2008, Fuck Buttons emerged from the Bristol fog with an excellent album that was impossible to describe in simple terms. Street Horrrsing stacked eerie fuzz over experimental skronk over post-rock majesty over muffled black metal screams (in that order), kowtowing to no aural throne in particular. The duo’s M.O. seemed as brazen as its name: “Fuck what you heard, we’re calling this music.” Only a year and a half later, Fuck Buttons is touring behind a sophomore release, Tarot Sport, which actually manages to improve on that original nigh-formless stew by doing the wholly unexpected: adding form. Fear not, the new record still finds Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power stretching out over 10-minute ethereal epics, but all that noise is mitigated by a focused feel that harks back to M83’s debut, or Eno before that. Electronic beats abound, but only as a hidden, oft-interrupted pulse to a more honed and occasionally mellifluous haze. (Chris Martins)

 

John Fogerty at the Kodak Theater
When John Fogerty released his first solo album in 1973, he was coming off the bitter breakup of Creedence Clearwater Revival, a tumultuous event that alienated him not only from his old label Fantasy Records but also from his former band mates, including his rhythm guitarist/brother, Tom Fogerty. Curiously, the solo debut was a self-titled LP under the name the Blue Ridge Rangers. Although the cover art depicted five men in cowboy hats standing in silhouette at the top of a hill, it turned out that John Fogerty was the only person in the band. He played all of the instruments, sang all the harmonies and produced the album, which was a mix of purist country and gospel covers. Such a hands-on approach shouldn’t have been totally surprising, considering that Fogerty did all of the songwriting and producing in CCR, including playing all of the overdubbed instruments, such as saxophone and keyboards. After some 30-odd years, he’s finally patched things up with Fantasy Records and issued a Blue Ridge Rangers sequel, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again. This time around, he’s not exactly all by his lonesome, since he’s backed by a full band and joined by such guests as Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles’ Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit, who duet with Fogerty on easygoing covers of Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” and the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved.” (Falling James)

 

Also playing Thursday:

McCOY TYNER, BUILD AN ARK at Royce Hall; BURAKA SOM SISTEMA at the Mayan; GREAT BIG SEA, THE DUHKS at El Rey Theatre; JAIL WEDDINGS at Alex’s Bar; THE ELENI MANDELL JAZZ COMBO at Bootleg Theater; DEAD MEADOW, IMAAD WASIF, USELESS KEYS at the Echoplex; TOO SHORT at the Key Club; EVERCLEAR at the Roxy; RAINBOW ARABIA, PIT ER PAT at the Smell.