Rock Picks: Leonard Cohen, Wavves, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Britney Spears
FRIDAY, APRIL 10
LOS FABULOSOS CADILLACS AT GIBSON AMPHITHEATRE
After a seven-year hiatus, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs are finally touring again, despite the loss of percussionist Gerardo “Toto” Rotblat, who died last year, shortly before rehearsals for the reunion. Their latest CD, La Luz del Ritmo, might at first seem like a tentative return, with only five new songs alongside two covers and six remakes of early classics, but it’s supertight and supergrooving, and ultimately emphasizes the Buenos Aires group’s ongoing importance in the rock en español (and plain old rock, for that matter) scene. As ever, Vicentico croons over Señor Flavio’s supple bass lines on a danceable-but-diverse set of moods, ranging from pop wistfulness (“Nosotros Egoístas” and “Hoy”) and sad ska (“Basta de Llamarme Así”) to slinky disco-funk (“El Genio del Dub”) and spaghetti Western rock grandeur (“El Fin del Amor”). Like many older Latin-rock bands, Los Fabs (who started in 1985) are heavily influenced by Two Tone ska and British new wave. While they’re not as politically and musically confrontational as countrymen Todos Tus Muertos or Mexican ska-punks Tijuana No, they still crank out some energetic Spanish-language reinterpretations of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and Ian Dury’s “Wake Up & Make Love With Me.” (Falling James)
MONOTONIX, THE MAE SHI, ANAVAN AT SPACELAND
The local sonic terrorists Anavan have come a long way since their early days as an abrasively noisy outfit. There are still suggestions of art-punk bands like the Screamers and the Deadbeats in such tracks as “Pregnancy Test” and “Queen,” from their new CD, Cover Story (Slanty Shanty Records), but there are also perky, shiny electro-pop workouts “Take It Back” and “The Perfect Sound,” which come off like ’80s-era Sparks. Transformation is a recurring theme on Cover Story, particularly the wonders of plastic surgery, as touted in the hyper new-wave anthem “Skin Like Heather,” whose lyrics promise a “better life when you go under the knife.” Some kind of surgical intervention — disastrous or otherwise — is hinted at in the post-punk interlude “Traumatology” with its cryptic refrains of “The mirror reminds me” and “Let me see what you have done.” As wild as Anavan are, they’re just the start of an evening that includes similarly bent locals the Mae Shi and the savage-rock Tel Aviv trio Monotonix, who literally climb the walls at their gigs. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
KODE 9, FLYING LOTUS at the Echoplex; TRAVIS, THE REPUBLIC TIGERS at the Wiltern; DARK STAR ORCHESTRA at El Rey Theatre; SEASONS, KARIN TATOYAN, THE HECTORS at the Echo; THE DISCO BISCUITS at House of Blues.
SATURDAY, APRIL 11
LEONARD COHEN AT NOKIA THEATER
A lot of ink has been spilled about Leonard Cohen and his classic songs over the years, but little of it has been dedicated to a stormy 1977 collaboration the singer, songwriter and poet had with producer/murder defendant Phil Spector. The push/pull between the two strongheaded auteurs has become the stuff of Hollywood legend. Cohen and Spector’s method of teamwork reportedly involved an armed and volatile Spector locking lyricist Cohen out of the studio while the producer crafted the music. The result, Death of a Ladies’ Man, is a wonderfully uneven eight-song album, which, in hindsight, could be seen as a portent re: the death of Lana Clarkson. Song titles include: “True Love Leaves No Traces,” “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” and “Fingerprints,” all key themes in the Spector murder trial. In fact, had the producer paid closer attention to Cohen’s refrain for “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On,” Spector may have avoided a whole heap of trouble. Sings Cohen (with Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg on backing vocals): “Don’t go home with your hard-on/It will only drive you insane/You can’t shake it (or break it) with your Motown/You can’t melt it down in the rain.” Also Fri. (Randall Roberts)
MARK OLSON, GARY LOURIS, TEDDY THOMPSON AT LARGO
Former Jayhawks bandmates Mark Olson and Gary Louris have been touring as a duo over the past couple of years, playing stuff from the Jayhawks songbook and from each of their solo records. This time through town, though, they’ve got something new in tow: Ready for the Flood, their first studio collaboration since the Jayhawks’ 1995 Tomorrow the Green Grass. (This summer the Green Grass lineup will reunite for a show in the band’s hometown of Minneapolis.) Produced by Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes (who also helmed Louris’ Vagabonds, from last year), Flood finds these alt-country journeymen operating right in their sweet spot, harmonizing handsomely over strummy roots-music arrangements long on dusty-window atmosphere. Opener Teddy Thompson (the son of English folkies Richard and Linda, of Shoot Out the Lights fame) has spent the past decade working as a sideman for the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Marianne Faithfull and recording a string of excellent but sadly underappreciated folk-rock discs. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Saturday:
DEVLIN & DARKO, VHS OR BETA at the Shrine Auditorium; MIKE VIOLA, TOM BROSSEAU at the Little Room at Largo; KCRW DJ SPIN at the Park Plaza Hotel; BLIND PILOT, LOCH LOMOND at Spaceland; DARK STAR ORCHESTRA at El Rey Theatre; THE DISCO BISCUITS at House of Blues; TRAVIS, THE REPUBLIC TIGERS at the Henry Fonda Theater; FIONN O’LOCHLAINN at the Troubadour; AN CAFE at Avalon.
SUNDAY, APRIL 12
VETIVER AT EAGLE ROCK CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Vetiver’s fourth album is called Tight Knit (Sub Pop), and is the SF band’s first collection of new stuff in three years. Visionary Andy Cabic and crew bring a laid-back soft-rock sound soaked in some strangely wise shades of classic folk and ’60s rock, softly dappled with the orange glow of the ’60s West Coast and, mostly, a whole lotta Poco/Burrito Bros.–style country & roll. Each tune is something of a minor variation on another, and far from being a deficiency, this gives the album a wholeness that’s revealed to be sagely drawn streaks of hazy psychedelia and some of your more captivatingly harmonized pop. A lot of these intricate shades are provided by label mate Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats, who contributes substantial portions of the album’s glorious melodies. Vetiver are capable of some very fine rocking straight-up, too, but Cabic’s heart isn’t in blowing us away; he’d rather daydream down by the river, watching the fish go by. File under Deceptively Pleasant, give it a quick half-dozen plays. Then you’ll swear it’s in your DNA. (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday:
HEADLIGHTS, THE LOVE LANGUAGE at Spaceland; LE ROUX, EL TEN ELEVEN, XANIMO at the Roxy; K-PAZ Y DAREYES DE LA SIERRA at the Conga Room.
MONDAY, APRIL 13
THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE AT SPACELAND
It’s hard to be a guitar-rock band in 2009, what with so much history, so many and ventured and abandoned cul de sacs. You’ve got your verses, and your choruses, and your guitar, bass, drum and singing, your dramatic solos and sing-along refrains. How can anyone add to the conversation anything else that hasn’t already been uttered over and over and over and over and over again? “This ain’t a scene, it’s just a generation caught in between,” sings Joey Siara, the Henry Clay People’s singer and guitarist, and somehow, with verses, choruses, sing-along refrains and tangled guitar solos, he and fellow guitarist/harmonizer/brother Andy Siara create a big, catchy, smart rock sound. It draws on the biggies of ’90s post-punk, most notably Pavement, Uncle Tupelo, the Replacements, but never mimics. The band is one of the great L.A. hopes of 2009, and just signed an ace management deal on the strength of its blistering live shows and Autumn Tone Records debut, For Cheap or for Free. This is week No. 2 two of the band’s Monday-night residency, and also features the Broken West, the World Record and Writer. By week four, you probably won’t be able to squeeze into Spaceland, so best catch the Clay People now. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Monday:
DUSTY RHODES & THE RIVER BAND, WAKE UP LUCID, WENDY DARLING at the Silverlake Lounge; FOOL’S GOLD, GLASSER, EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS, SWEATERS at the Echo; ELIZA MOORE at Home; FRIENDLY FIRES at the Troubadour.
TUESDAY, APRIL 14
MAD PROFESSOR AT HOUSE OF BLUES
The dub imperative requires deep technical facility and a one-step-ahead, almost editorial mind characterized by heaping helpings of intuitive, impulsive spontaneity and an ear for the bizarre. Mad Professor, the insanely prolific Guyana-born, U.K.-bred acrobat of the mixing board, is loaded with that stuff, and he’s parlayed a natural-fact gift for reductive exploitation into a calling that’s reached far beyond reggae’s familiar boundaries. His ear for splendidly spindled and mutilated aural contours has enhanced efforts by an army of disparate pop adventurers — Perry Farrell, Sade, the Orb and, most notably, Massive Attack — but he has also delved into resolutely old-school reggae via collaborations with Lee “Scratch” Perry, the mighty U Roy and the Professor’s own Black Liberation Dub albums. Joined here by Warchurch, the DJ Greyboy–mentored “turntable band” (that is, four DJs with bass, guitar and keys), the Mad one shall doubtless instill a sweet, shadowy, hard-socking mass hysteria, the succulent fruit of his altogether extraordinary rhythm-wrangling career. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Tuesday:
BECKY STARK & FRIENDS at the Little Room at Largo; KIMYA DAWSON, ANDY MILONAKIS at the Troubadour; CRAIG DAVID, THE JANKS at the Mint; TOADIES at El Rey Theatre; COLLIE BUDDZ, PEP LOVE, DJ PEE WEE & THE PYRX BAND at the Roxy; PULSE OUT, ATOMS, FORMER GHOSTS at the Silverlake Lounge; THE POLYAMOROUS AFFAIR at the Echo; ANDY CLOCKWISE, TYLER STEELE, BROKEN METERS, JACK ADAMS at Spaceland.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15
WAVVES, FOL CHEN AT THE ECHO
Twenty-two-year-old Nathan Williams’ generation may be the last to have grown up shopping and working in record stores now that they’re an endangered species (Williams worked at the Music Trader in San Diego), but it’s this sad-but-true consequence that makes Williams’ (a.k.a. Wavves) two new albums exceptional nuggets of power pop. Like the Ramones, who were more a Ronettes cover band than a punk outfit, Williams is really doing Lesley Gore, with a heap of Bad Brains and sprinkles of Sonic Youth thrown in. He conjures soaring power chords, fuzzy riffs, hissing production value and Frank Black/Kim Deal verbal back and forth with himself to create an encyclopedic mess of joyous, unpretentious pop references. Fol Chen, on the other hand, keep a masterful control over their addictive rhythms, which have proven to be hugely accessible — they’ve recently graced Morning Becomes Eclectic and All Things Considered. Fol Chen’s black, grease-painted Hamburglar eye makeup went over smashingly well at SXSW, where their fluttering, detailed soundscapes and boisterous energy proved to be a crowd-pleaser. (Wendy Gilmartin)
ATERCIOPELADOS AT THE CONGA ROOM
Aterciopelados may not rock as hard as when they started in Bogatá, Colombia, in 1992, but more expansive musical maturity and melodicism infuse their latest album, Río (Nacional Records). Singer Andrea Echeverri explored the concept of being a new mother on her self-titled 2005 solo album and brings a parental concern to Río about the world we’re living in. The title track and “Aguita” allude to the band’s activism on behalf of a constitutional referendum to ensure equal access to clean water in Colombia. (Last summer, they journeyed along Bogatá River to gather signatures for the referendum, which ultimately passed.) Echeverri and bassist-arranger Hector Buitrago prefer to approach social issues through a contemplative, personal perspective rather than rabble-rousing stridency. Songs like “Madre” and “Vals” have a gently lulling intensity, blending a soft litany of chanting voices and percussive accents with swirling flutes and sunny guitars. (Falling James)
Also playing Wednesday:
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E ST. BAND at the L.A. Sports Arena; BLOC PARTY at the Palladium; INDIA.ARIE, LAURA IZIBOR at Club Nokia; DAN BERN at the Little Room at Largo; FINGER ON THE PULSE, CAGE & AVIARY at the Echoplex; JUNIOR BROWN at the Key Club.
THURSDAY, APRIL 16
BRITNEY SPEARS AT STAPLES CENTER
Britney Spears has seemingly turned her life around, now that the courts have grounded her and placed her under the supervision of her dad, and her recovery has apparently progressed well enough for her to undertake an extensive tour of the States and Britain. We say “seemingly” and “apparently,” because it’s hard to predict anything with certainty involving a pop career that has already been this volatile and episodic. Spears’ misadventures in love, marriage, lip-synching, nightclubbing, driving and raising children have been noted once or twice in the press, and she was obviously a bit of a train wreck there for a while. But at least she’s trying to get it together these days, so what does it say about the rest of us who pry into her life with a paternalistic concern that’s morphed into a voyeuristic obsession? There aren’t a lot of answers on Spears’ new album, Circus, whose title alludes to the media frenzy that surrounds her every trip to Starbucks. Songs like “Out From Under” and “Mannequin” offer tantalizing, if rarely explored, suggestions of her inner conflicts and true feelings. More often, both the singer and the music come off as robotic, protected by a wall of slick production, yet it’s that very artifice that makes tunes like “Womanizer” and the title track such insidiously hooky guilty pleasures. Also Fri., April 17. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
THE DEREK TRUCKS BAND at the Wiltern; BUDOS BAND, BOOGALOO ASSASSINS at the Echo; BUDDY GUY at the L.A. Forum; GAVIN CASTLETON at the Mint; AVENGED SEVENFOLD, BUCKCHERRY, REV THEORY at the Nokia Theatre; CRYSTAL ANTLERS at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts; BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E ST. BAND at the L.A. Sports Arena; BORN RUFFIANS at Spaceland; THE MIMS at the Key Club.
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