Rock Picks: J. Tillman, Peaches, Japandroid
JAPANDROIDS, SURFER BLOOD AT THE ECHO
Guitar-and-drum combo Japandroids might appear to be two thin Canucks, but these fuckin’ dudes beat it down hard once they get going. Rumbling, stalking beginnings transition to thundering, occasionally ear-piercing endings, and great arcs of rhythmic details are explored in the spaces between. Hailing from Vancouver, Brian King and David Prowse fit together like musical puzzle pieces just as well as they thrash and pull at each other with their chops and beats. They’re definitely tough, and as capable of building up walls of sound as they are apt to craft speedy riffs. Much like a little Stevie Malkmus, guitarist-singer King shreds in a brainy, philosophy-student way that makes the girls sigh, while Prowse goes ape-shit on his drum set. From the completely opposite corner of the country, Florida’s Surfer Blood spills it in the form of hook-heavy power chords, tambourines, sleigh bells and synths — all coming together with a cool, gray, rainy day–nostalgic pop sound. (Wendy Gilmartin)
THE BUSINESS AT THE KEY CLUB
British punk hooligans the Business might be best known for their 1981 debut single, “Harry May,” a rambunctious tribute to a hit man who’s gone to seed. There’s no real deep meaning to it all, but it has explosive guitars and an insanely catchy shout-along chorus. Of course, the oi pioneers had other good songs, including “Do a Runner” and the always cheery-scary “Smash the Discos.” Later in life, they reinvented themselves as purveyors of fine drinking anthems and uplifting soccer odes on 2003’s Hardcore Hooligans, which featured such beery blasts as “Maradona,” “Terrace Lost Its Soul” and that cryptic exercise in mystical numerology, “England 5, Germany 1.” It hardly matters if such arcane references make little sense to Americans; even if you have no idea who singer Mickey Fitz is ranting about on “Viva Bobby Moore,” you’ll probably bang your head and raise your fist anyway. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
THE FADED at the Good Hurt; JULIAN CASABLANCAS at the Palace Theatre; ROONEY, CRASH KINGS, TALLY HALL at El Rey Theatre; DOKKEN, LYNCH MOBB at House of Blues; FEEL GOOD, VANAPRASTA at the Roxy; NASA SPACE UNIVERSE, TWIN LIONS, WHITE, DVA DAMAS at Pehrspace; SUPERTONE at the Troubadour; LAUDANUM, BLACK GANION at Relax Bar.
PEACHES, AMANDA BLANK AT THE WILTERN
Peaches (a.k.a. Merrill Nisker) shares L’Trimm’s preference for cars that go boom and Joan Jett’s love for rock & roll, and she has a fascination with Suicide’s proto-electro. She’s just as comfortable singing underground club music in hockey arenas as she is singing arena rock in underground clubs. One may have thought that the shock value of her gender-bending ways (strap-on swinging and beard wearing) would have faded by now, but after four albums she’s only expanded the curriculum of The Teaches of Peaches. Her latest, I Feel Cream (on XL Recordings), reveals how soft and luscious our Peach is on the inside — dare we suggest as sensual as Kylie Minogue? — but don’t push it, because you’ll find out on “Take You On” she’s not afraid of starting something. You also shouldn’t disrespect Amanda Blank, the Philly-born rapper who could titillate or emasculate, with a twist of the tongue. In 2006, Baltimore’s Spank Rock featured a nearly hard-core Blank on his YoYoYoYoYo track “Bump,” and now he’s a guest on her album, I Love You, as are Santigold and Diplo. (Daniel Siwek)
THE MOORE BROTHERS AT ECHO CURIO
Blood brothers Thom and Greg Moore grew up singing and playing music together, establishing an inherent understanding of the foundational aspects of rich harmonies and complex lyricism. But they use their powers for good, not evil. The Moore Brothers traffic in a sound so mellow, easy and effortless, it’s the musical equivalent to finishing each other’s sentences. After bouncing around the Golden State for most of the ’90s and ’00s, and playing together (and solo) with other bands like Chicken on a Raft, Sandycoates and Owl & the Pussycat, the Moore Brothers return to Echo Park (also a former neighborhood of theirs) for a few quiet shows. With songs about ivy, bloodbaths, stage fright and, of course, love and loss, Thom and Greg’s cozy melancholy — always bursting with warped imagery, and undeniably soft and cuddly — is definitely real enough and good enough to run with those other famous boy siblings they’re constantly compared to: the Davieses, the Everlys, and the Wilsons (of the Beach Boy variety). Yes, they’re all that. (Wendy Gilmartin)
BIG JAY McNEELY AT JOE’S GREAT AMERICAN BAR & GRILL
The incomparable R&B tenor saxist Big Jay McNeely may have scored his first No. 1 hit back in 1949, yet when you hear him blow today, his tone, technique and sheer, gale-force lung power stand undiminished. While the South Central–born legend — who got his start playing jazz with Sonny Criss — almost single-handedly ignited the early-’50s “honking sax” craze, his bag of tricks has a far more profound depth, and no one explains it better than McNeely: “When I play a note, you hear all the overtones, you hear the full value of the note. That’s the difference, the quality — and you’ve got the whole range of the saxophone. A-flat has the groove; it brings out the darker side, you get to the bottom, then go to the high note, and it creates all this excitement. To me, it’s soul, that’s what it is. It’s more than what they call honking.” McNeely’s high-voltage sound is a painstakingly crafted mix of base primitivism and unspeakably sophisticated musicality, and it’s without equal. “People recognize the difference. They don’t know what it is,” he says, “but, when they hear it, they know.” (Jonny Whiteside)
DUM DUM GIRLS AT SPACELAND
When Iggy Pop sang about the “Dum Dum Boys” on his 1977 album The Idiot, it was a harrowing, sullen elegy to his former musical partners in crime who’d died, disappeared from the scene or moved back in with their moms. The local band Dum Dum Girls don’t use funereal synthesizers or evoke old, gray Berlin, but there is a certain shadowiness on their scattered singles and Sub Pop album Jail La La. Covers of the Rolling Stones’ sinister “Play With Fire” and G.G. Allin’s “Don’t Talk to Me” are drenched in reverb and fuzz much like the Jesus & Mary Chain. Vocals swim in thick seas of echo, and the guitars are so tinny, all the bottom end and warmth have been sucked out. The dehydrated sound that remains gives these girl-group garage-rock melodies an icy, brittle allure. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
JOKER, NOMAD, NOSAJ THING at Lot 613; PILAR DIAZ, WAIT. THINK. FAST. at the Echoplex; THE BLACK CROWES, TRUTH & SALVAGE CO. at Club Nokia; KITTEN, FORT WIFE, TORCHES IN TREES, PLG/VNDR at the Smell; THE ENGLISH BEAT at the Troubadour; CARNEY, JOEY RYAN at El Rey Theatre; PLACIDO DOMINGO at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; TIESTO, DADA LIFE at Shrine Auditorium.
CANDYE KANE AT THE REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
The San Diego blues belter Candye Kane easily lives up to the title of her ninth album, Superhero (Delta Groove Music). Not only has she recovered from pancreatic cancer, she’s used the stuff of that awful experience to infuse the lyrics of original songs like “Hey! Toughen Up!” and “Don’t Cry for Me New Jersey” with a shot of positive energy, wicked humor and soulful defiance. “I’m going to be just fine,” Kane declares. “I’m going to live ’til a hundred and nine ... a white-haired lady with a lot of soul.” She’s actually more obsessed about a different, more incurable disease — doctors refer to it as a broken heart — in such tunes as “I Didn’t Listen to My Heart.” This wondrous woman even uses all of her superpowers to rescue Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love” from memories of Led Zeppelin’s plagiarized desecration “Whole Lotta Love,” giving it a primal, seductively funky blues beat. Kane’s guitarist/co-songwriter Laura Chavez and guests like the Hacienda Brothers’ Dave Gonzales, Tom Waits sideman Stephen Hodges and the Fabulocos’ Kid Ramos lay down a variety of swinging and jazzy blues for the kittenish Ms. Kane to roll around and revel in. Also at Cozy’s, Sat. (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
LIGHTNIN’ WOODCOCK at the Unknown Theater; STRAIGHT NO CHASER at the Wiltern; NEIL HAMBURGER at Spaceland.
FRANKLIN BRUNO AT ECHO CURIO
Can smart people play rock & roll? So much great music has been made in the past by barely articulate idiot savants, but songwriter Franklin Bruno has proved that musical knowledge and intelligence are no impediment to creating witty pop songs. (In fact, one could argue that they even help.) A visiting professor at Bard College, Bruno has been a music critic for the Village Voice and (many years ago) L.A. Weekly, and has collaborated with the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle. Whether he’s performing solo or with such projects as Nothing Painted Blue and the Human Hearts, his power-pop melodies and jangling guitars are draped over incessantly clever lyrics in songs like “(Jessica’s Got a) Ropeburn,” “The Death of Vaudeville” and “A Whole Art” (which involves head-spinning wordplay about a “counter-counter-counter-revolution”). Some of Bruno’s scattered ’90s solo singles were recently released on the Local Currency compilation on Fayettenam Records. (Falling James)
Also playing Monday:
THE HAPPY HOLLOWS, THE PITY PARTY, TWILIGHT SLEEP, TRAPPS at Spaceland; THE GROWLERS at Origami Records; SEASONS, DOWNTOWN UNION, JACK WILSON JR., REGRETS AND BRUNETTES at the Echo; IMAAD WASIF, TINY TELEVISION at the Hotel Café; THE CHOKE, ARISTIDES, TRUDGERS at Pehrspace; MISSISSIPPI MAN, LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO, WHAT LAURA SAYS, SLIPPING INTO THE DARKNESS at the Silverlake Lounge; DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL, NEW FOUND GLORY (acoustic sets) at the Troubadour.
TEN OUT OF TENN AT THE TROUBADOUR
The Ten Out of Tenn troupe basically equals Nashville’s Hotel Café scene. This talented 10-pack (Katie Herzig, Andy Davis, Tyler James, Trent Dabbs, Andrew Belle, K.S. Rhoads, Matthew Perryman Jones, Butterfly Boucher, Jeremy Lister and Erin McCarley) isn’t a bunch of big-hat country wannabes trying to be the next Nashville Star or retro hillbillies looking to re-create Depression-era music. Rather, they are a collective of bright singer-songwriters exploring the various realms of pop, folk and rock. While none of the performers is a household name, some are familiar to the KCRW crowd (Boucher, Belle), and most have fans among the music-supervisor set (Jones, James, McCarley). Each artist brings something unique to the stage, whether it’s Herzig’s quirky pop or Dabbs’ soulful stylings (his impressive upcoming disc, Your Side Now, should raise his profile). There’s also something fun about having a stage full of singer-songwriters bouncing tunes off one another. This time around, they will be sprinkling some seasonal selections from their second Christmas compilation into the song rotation. (Michael Berick)
THE VIC CHESNUTT BAND AT THE ECHOPLEX
Vic Chesnutt is a true legend, a real lifer who wrote his first song at the age of 5, was playing trumpet in a cover band with people twice his age at 16, and didn’t let a tragic car wreck — and his resulting paraplegic status — derail him from an incredible career in music. In just less than two decades, the Athens, Georgia, singer-songwriter has made 17 albums, each defined by its dark and gritty poetry, and each varying in Americana-tinged texture depending on who Chesnutt wrangles as his backing band. Michael Stipe produced his first two records, and he’s since enlisted Lambchop, Elf Power, Widespread Panic, Bill Frisell and Van Dyke Parks for his on-album supergroups. His latest, At the Cut, and its acclaimed 2008 predecessor, Dark Developments, skews toward spare post-punk at times — no doubt a result of having Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto onboard, alongside members of Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Incredibly, Chesnutt has brought this burly crew on the road with him, making this show a bona fide historic event. Warpaint opens. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE JAKES at Kaufman Hall; SWORDS OF FATIMA, NEW ROME QUARTET, LIGHTNIN’ WOODCOCK at the Echo; THE SECTION QUARTET HOLIDAY SHOW at Largo at the Coronet; VISE VIRSA, LONDON TO TOKYO, AM VS. FM at the Silverlake Lounge; FURCAST, BEAR FACE at the Bootleg Theater; SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD, WHISKY CHIMP at the Viper Room.
J. TILLMAN AT THE TROUBADOUR
Thanks to the antics of Keith Moon and John Bonham, drummers have the reputation for being rowdy gonzo types. J. Tillman, the drummer for the Seattle band the Fleet Foxes, definitely counters that stereotype — at least musically. Tillman, who was releasing solo albums before signing up with the Foxes, crafts quiet, spare music that suggests a Nick Drake raised in the Mojave or a Neil Young who never saddled up with Crazy Horse. His captivating new disc, Year in the Kingdom, casts a haunting, almost mystical aura. Tillman sings with a hushed intensity that conveys the solemnity of prayer, and there’s also an elliptically biblical quality to his lyrics in songs like “Age of Man” and the title track. However, it seems less religious proselytizing than spiritually confessional. Tillman’s languid, fragile music stands as more emotionally direct than the freak folkies but also more off-center than your strummy hippie singer-songwriter. However, the hirsute Tillman does fit in with the other cosmic mountain men of the Northwest neo-folk-rock scene. (Michael Berick)
Also playing Wednesday:
GRAMMY NOMINATIONS LIVE feat. BLACK EYED PEAS, MAXWELL, SUGARLAND at Club Nokia; SONUS QUARTET at the Bootleg Theater; LITTLE GIRLS at Bordello; ROYAL CROWN REVUE at the Mint; HELEN STELLAR, KAV, SQUARE ON SQUARE, NIGHTMARE AIR at the Echo; USELESS KEYS, SAMUEL STEWART, TWIN FIGHT at Spaceland; CORINNE BAILEY RAE at the Hotel Café.
BARONESS, EARTHLESS, IRON AGE AT THE TROUBADOUR
Following up last year’s acclaimed Red Record (Relapse), Georgia kingpins Baroness’ Blue Record (Relapse) proffers your de rigueur colossal, steaming piles of proggy power-sludge along with low-key respites of moody ambience. They chug most ferociously and funkily when called upon to do so, and their doom-laden lyrics waft windward atop foreboding-mode riffs lavishly ladled with, get this, melody! Baroness have the distinct healthy stink of a classic-rock band that’s gone real, real bad, and that’s good. San Diego’s ruthlessly psychedelic Earthless are players, featuring as they do human-octopus drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket From the Crypt, Hot Snakes, the Blackheart Procession, Clickatat Ikatowi), guitarist Isaiah Mitchell (Nebula, Drunk Horse) and bassist Mike Eginton (Electric Nazarene). Their trance-inducing brand of deepest drone-pummel psychedelia is heard to hellishly righteous effect on their recent album, Live From Roadburn (Tee Pee Records). Your Texas-style metal moshing comes courtesy of openers Iron Age, whose thrashy new The Sleeping Eye (Tee Pee) will kick your can sideways, and you’ll thank them for it. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
DIGABLE PLANETS at the Key Club; BOBBY LONG, JER COONS at the Mint; MOUNT ST. HELENS VIETNAM BAND, DIRT DRESS, SPIRIT VINE, ALLAH LAS at the Echo; ANDY CLOCKWISE, TRIXIE WHITLEY at Spaceland; BARONESS at the Troubadour.
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