Rock Picks: Los Lobos, No Age, Los Abandoned, Slayer

{mosimage} THURSDAY, AUGUST 23

The Holmes Brothers at the Santa Monica Pier

Freethinking blues prophets the Holmes Brothers may cleave unto tradition with a zealot’s conviction, but they also refuse to recognize any musical limits, and that intersection of abiding tradition and untrammeled repertoire makes for damn engaging music. The Virgina-born cats came up in the classic pattern — singing in the church choir, then abandoning the spiritual to toil in the neon-lit secular — and formed their own combo the Sevilles in the early 1960s. Along the way they soaked up plenty of insight sharing stages with the likes of John Lee Hooker and Jerry Butler, soul-deep experiences that are still paying off: The Holmeses have eerily effective interpretive prowess, and each time they hit the bandstand, it’s a dazzling exercise in song-redefining performances and arrangements that combine their exquisite blooded harmonies with fiery gospel passion and hard-blues pathology. This free show starts at 7:30 p.m. (Jonny Whiteside)

Marissa Nadler at Spaceland

Upcoming Events

It is said that singer-guitarist Marissa Nadler’s predilection for the dark and melancholy owes to her having endured brutal winters while growing up in a small town in Massachusetts. Whatever the case may be, try not to shiver when you listen to her just-out Songs III: Bird on the Water (Kemado), where Nadler’s digital-reverbed songs of a life gone to dust hover in a ghostly, gothic air whose aim seems to be prickling the little hairs on the back of your neck. Richly orchestrated via droning 12-string guitars in alternate tunings, Nadler’s songs mine the tradition of folkie psychedelia circa the late ’60s and early ’70s (dearly departed Judee Sill springs to mind). Her hypnotic acoustic reveries, built on classical harmonic lines, and a startling crystal-clear voice bring all the old doomy blues back home — a little too close to home. She might be persuaded to perform her very fitting cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” (John Payne)

Also playing Thursday:

DANIEL JOHNSTON at Henry Fonda Theater; DWEEZIL ZAPPA at the Wiltern; PAULA COLE, MANDY MOORE at House of Blues; LOS ABANDONED, B-SIDE PLAYERS, AWOL ONE at Knitting Factory; AIMEE MANN at Largo; GUILTY HEARTS, JINXES, ROVER’S PINKY at Mr. T’s Bowl; VAN HUNT at Temple Bar; NO AGE, MORIS TEPPER, MAE SHI, MAGIC BULLETS at Troubadour; BRAVE COMBO at Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park, 7:30 p.m.


Slayer, Marilyn Manson at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

These days it’s easy to forget how much hard rock and heavy metal changed after it was put through Slayer’s meat grinder in the early ’80s. Just as Metallica transformed the way that guitars sound, Slayer helped redefine the boundaries of thrash metal with a dour, Satanic worldview that made Black Sabbath seem like the Monkees. (And, unlike Metallica, Slayer hasn’t gussied up their music with power ballads and orchestral affections, nor does their drummer care whether you share music files or not.) “I keep seeing mutilated faces even in my dreams,” Tom Araya growls on “Eyes of the Insane,” from their 2006 CD, Christ Illusion. It’s not clear what keeps Araya in such a state of perpetual torture, but it does make for some convulsively cathartic, morbidly unsettling and uneasy listening. Co-headliner Marilyn Manson seems content to serve as this generation’s cuddly-scary equivalent to Alice Cooper, but without the songwriting skill of the early Cooper lineups. Manson’s most memorable tunes are usually corny/ironic remakes of pop crap like the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Dream on. (Falling James)

{mosimage}Bert Jansch at the Troubadour

Scottish acoustic guitarist Bert Jansch’s current rise in profile among a young generation of folk-roots enthusiasts is a heartening thing. Jansch was a founding member of the legendary ’60s folk-jazz group Pentangle, along with another highly regarded guitarist, John Renbourn, plus singer Jacqui McShee, bassist Danny Thompson and percussionist Terry Cox. Jansch’s nimble yet hard-picked, deeply voiced and harmonically inventive guitar had long been a major impact on the likes of Jimmy Page, Neil Young and Johnny Mars; equally as distinctive is his naturally rustic, sharp-edged vocal style that perfectly captures the beguiling moods of the mostly traditional songs of the British Isles in which he’s staked his highest claims. Jansch has recently released a very fine disc of self-penned and trad folk tunes on Drag City, The Black Swan, with guests including Devendra Banhart and singer Beth Orton. Listen and learn. (John Payne)

Daniel Johnston at the Henry Fonda Theater

The drinking water must be improving down there in Texas. Roky Erickson, who seemingly disappeared from this planet in a psychedelic fog, not to mention his tragic and apparently unnecessary incarceration in various mental hospitals, has suddenly re-emerged after several lost decades as a viable performer — the equivalent to Syd Barrett finally leaving his garden and stealing his band back from Roger Waters. Daniel Johnston, whose own mental problems once precluded the hope that he would ever tour, has performed several times in Los Angeles in the past decade, seemingly revitalized by the attention that came with the release of The Devil & Daniel Johnston, a documentary that charts his fascinating life, from selling his handmade cassettes at his old job at McDonald’s to having his crude, childlike tunes covered by almost every well-known Austin musician. Johnston is fascinated by God, the devil, the Beatles and that one girl who never returned his affection, and these themes intermingle in his music in unpredictable ways, ranging from the heartbreaking innocence of the sublime lo-fi classic “Walking the Cow” to his strangely compelling transformation of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” into a dark, plaintively yearning piano ballad. (Falling James)

Also playing Friday:

BURDEN OF PROOF, TRUTH I, LEON MOBLEY at the Derby; CARRIE RODRIGUEZ at Hotel Café; AIMEE MANN at Largo; UPSTART, GREASY BEATS at the Roxy; THE GEARS, THE BILLYBONES at the Scene; JANN ARDEN at Borders Westwood, 7:30 p.m.; ULI JON ROTH, DON DOKKEN at Musicians Institute (also Sat.).


{mosimage}Los Abandoned at Woodley Park

As long as there are testosterone-fueled gatherings like the Warped Tour (the equivalent of hanging a “No Girls Allowed” sign on a boys-only tree house), there will probably be a need for separate-but-equal festivals like Females on Fire, which gathers more than 50 gal-centric performers today in the park. Mainstream pop singer Sophie B. Hawkins (best known for her slick R&B-flavored plea “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover”) headlines, and there are sets by the funk-pop coven Klymaxx and dance-rockers Betty, but the most creatively thrilling and hardest-rocking sounds will come via Los Abandoned. The band show a sense of humor with the fannish frenzy of “Stalk U” and “Van Nuys” (from their 2006 CD, Mix Tape), where Lady P.’s vocals and catchy melodies are buttressed by Don Verde’s punk guitars. When they’re not cranking things up with such bilingual punk anthems as “Panic-Oh!,” Los Abandoned prove that they can be just as sweet and poppy as the other femme-tastic bands on this afternoon’s bill with sunny songs like “Heavy” and “Nada Mío Es Fake.” 6350 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Falling James)

John Doe, Dead Rock West at Safari Sam’s

John Doe’s biggest rival is a guy named . . . John Doe. It’s always been hard for John Doe, the solo performer, to steal attention away from his other self, the John Doe who sings and plays bass with Los Angeles punk mainstays X. Although he’s shown his non-punk persona with folk revivalists the Knitters, his well-crafted solo recordings have generally been too laid back to measure up to the supercharged frenzy of vintage X material. However, his new CD, A Year in the Wilderness, contains both of his split personalities, showcasing his warm, burnished vocals on acoustic ballads like “Golden State” and capturing his rock & roll side on such juiced-up stompers as the bluesy “There’s a Hole” and “Hotel Ghost,” which sounds like a lost track from X’s 1986 album, Ain’t Love Grand. Tonight, Doe’s backed by Dead Rock West, who’ll open with a set of tunes from their recent CD, Honey and Salt, which includes a decent remake of X’s “Burning House of Love” and country-rocking originals like “Rocket From the Crypt” and “Pretty Disaster,” which are distinguished by Cindy Wasserman’s and Frank Lee Drennen’s rueful harmonies. (Falling James)

Also playing Saturday:

PSYCHIC TV at Henry Fonda Theater (see Music feature); DICKIES, AGENT ORANGE, ADOLESCENTS, FISHBONE, REAL McKENZIES, MANIC HISPANIC, BAD RELIGION, TIGER ARMY at Home Depot Center, 11 a.m.; FUCK YEAH FEST IV at the Echo, 5 p.m. (see Music feature); JESSICA FICHOT at Hotel Café; REYES BROS. at Key Club; GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS at Largo; FATSO JETSON, PAT TODD, BACKBITER, CHIP KINMAN, CHAIRS OF PERCEPTION, AMADANS, FREDA RENTÉ at Mr. T’s Bowl, 2 p.m.-2 a.m.; THE TYDE at Spaceland; CHEB I SABBAH at Temple Bar.


{mosimage}Rod Poole Memorial Concert at Dangerous Curve

A most distinguished artist, microtonal guitarist/composer Rod Poole was stabbed to death in May by an “irate” motorist after Poole had objected to being nearly run over by the driver’s wife (see LA Weekly's story by Matthew Fleischer). Poole, originally from England, was a beloved longtime resident of L.A. who’d made valuable contributions to our new-music scene with his extraordinarily complex and subtle recordings and performances of modern acoustic-guitar experimentalism. Kraig Grady has organized this event in tribute to Poole, which will include three versions of Rod’s “Voice of the Bowed Guitar” piece, each in a different tuning according to Poole’s notes. Trio one is performed by Jessica Catron, Jeremy Drake and Cat Lamb; trio two features Erin Barnes, Heather Lockie and Michael Whitmore; James Grigsby, Joseph Hammer, Doug Williford present trio three. There will also be a solo improvisation by Jim McAuley on Poole’s just-intoned acoustic guitar. Performances start at 4 p.m.; free. 1020 E. Fourth Pl., dwntwn. (213) 617-8483. (John Payne)

Macy Gray, Zap Mama, Brazilian Girls at the Hollywood Bowl

Open with a leggy, multilingual smart-ass whose fashion sense borders on performance art and whose talk-sung vocals skewer love and lust in a narcissistic world skittering toward the brink. Follow with a honey-voiced poet-queen of Afropean identity who undulates earthy sensuality and universal spirituality as she straddles the syncretic threads intertwining hip-hop, Europop and motherland groove. Close with a squeaky-raspy-stoney soul-sister survivor celebrating the slick-’n’-stringy new-millennium R&B of a comeback album three years in the making. Brazilian Girls’ Sabina Sciubba, Zap Mama’s Marie Daulne and Macy Gray may have come by dissimilar paths to divaliciousness, but each combines the requisite sophisticated fashionista style and empowered music-making substance needed to lay claim to the “d” word and find her place of honor in the global feminine-imperative parade. (Tom Cheyney)

No Age at the Echoplex

There’s plenty worth taking in at this year’s two-day Fuck Yeah Fest — I recommend in particular art-folk locals Lavender Diamond on Saturday and Portland-based power-popsters the Nice Boys on Sunday (see Music feature) — but make a special effort to catch this young, buzzed-about L.A. duo, who play the Echoplex Sunday night at around 10:15. On their excellent debut, Weirdo Rippers, No Age cull tracks from five different EPs they released simultaneously on five different labels earlier this year — a pretty good indicator of their deep entrenchment in the act-local/think-global art/film/skate/punk underground. Weirdo Rippers’ noise-pop collision should be familiar to fans of fellow DIY two-pieces such as Lightning Bolt and Japanther, but No Age also harbor an interest in pretty, almost-ambient bits that gives their stuff an uncommon thoughtfulness. Also at Amoeba Music, Tues., 7 p.m. (Mikael Wood)

The Brand New Heavies at House of Blues

While most band reunions return a 404 error in the excitement department, British jazz-funk greats the Brand New Heavies were the best thing about the recent Chris Rock comedy, I Think I Love My Wife, with their muted, impassioned version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Don’t Know Why (I Love You).” Free of the mustard gas of bad feelings between musicians, they’re back on the scene with their Big and Heavy Tour to promote Get Used to It (Delicious Vinyl), marking the return of singer N’Dea Davenport for the first time in over a decade. Stylish, soulful and graceful like the lines on an Aston Martin, the Brand New Heavies are purveyors of what lazier schism-ists call acid jazz, although the only acid here is that which etches these grooves into your muscles and sinews such that if you stepped in paint, the dance floor would look more like modern art than a house of blues. (David Cotner)

The Real McKenzies at El Rey Theatre

When we last met up with the Real McKenzies, they were making quite a ruckus at a Silver Lake leather bar’s Sunday-afternoon beer bash. The lead singer was kicking up his kilts onstage with nary a care that everybody could see his little McKenzie, while bagpipes gave the furious punk beat a grizzled and ethereal backbone. They may sing about the Highlands and thistles and lassies, but these lovable clowns are really from Canada, though one can easily imagine they speak in Scottish brogues 24/7. Word is the band’s gone through some lineup changes of late, but front man Scott McKenzie is still the main focus, and on their new album, 10,000 Hits, the band are now eight men strong. Yeah, that’s pretty manly. Also at Home Depot Center, Sat. (Libby Molyneaux)

Also playing Sunday:



Playing Monday:



Playing Tuesday:

GOGOL BORDELLO at Henry Fonda Theater (see Music feature); CROWDED HOUSE, PETE YORN, LIAM FINN at Greek Theatre; STEVIE WONDER at Santa Barbara Bowl; I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. at the Echo; IAN BALL at Hotel Café; KENNY “BABYFACE” EDMONDS at House of Blues; MORMONS at Mr. T’s Bowl; NO AGE at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.


Playing Wednesday:

WILCO, RICHARD SWIFT at Greek Theatre; THE LIKE at Spaceland; LES YEUX NOIRS at Temple Bar.


{mosimage}Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders at the Scene

Long before Axl Rose hitched a ride on a Greyhound to make it as a star in Hollywood, Pat Todd brought his punk rocking band of Hoosiers, the Lazy Cowgirls, out west. Throughout various fads in the scene during the past two decades, Todd has consistently stuck to a meat-&-potatoes, stripped-down, no-nonsense approach to rock & roll. The later versions of the long-running, hard-working, all-male (and inaccurately named) Lazy Cowgirls didn’t have as much punch as the classic early lineup, so Todd reinvented himself a few years ago as a solo acoustic balladeer, and that was apparently all it took to recharge his creative batteries. Now he’s back with a new band, the Rankoutsiders (whose name was lifted from the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice”), who blend the Cowgirls’ punk power with the occasional country-flavored acoustic lament like “Your Heart, Your Soul & Your Ass.” The new band has been so prolific, in fact, that their 2006 debut, The Outskirts of Your Heart, is a double CD cram-packed with nearly 30 rootsy, rocking songs. Also at Mr. T’s Bowl, Sat. (Falling James)

Los Lobos at the Santa Monica Pier

I know I am not the only one who’s drifted away from Los Lobos over the past several years. Frankly, their material after Kiko went from blah to blasé, especially when compared to some of the more exciting young Latin rock bands like El Gran Silencio and Tijuana No. Reacquainting myself with 1993’s two-disc Just Another Band From East L.A.: A Collection has been an eye re-opener. And their newest album, The Town and the City, finds the band in a comfortable place, with full-bodied cumbias and sweet, melodious laments inspired by the stinkin’ town we call home. Without getting all mushy here, if they play their glorious version of “Bella Maria de Mi Alma” — bring the flute! — I will probably cry in the sandy beer I snuck in. In February ’08, Los Lobos will play the staid Royce Hall. This show is all about the sunset, the beach, and some local boys we can all be proud of. Starts at 7:30 p.m.; free. (Libby Molyneaux)

Also playing Thursday:

LOS LOBOS at Santa Monica Pier, 7:30 p.m.; OLD TIME RELIJUN, JAIL WEDDINGS at the Echo; THE DICKIES, D.I. at House of Blues; DEADLY SYNDROME, LET’S GO SAILING at the Roxy.

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