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Rock Picks: Neil Young, the Pogues, Michelle Shocked

{mosimage}Thursday, October 25

Gogol Bordello
at the Mayan

“There was never any good old days,” Gogol Bordello madman Eugene Hütz declares at the outset of Gogol Bordello’s fifth CD, Super Taranta! (SideOneDummy). Maybe he’s saying that phony Gypsy-mania has bitten the dust; although his rambunctiously theatrical band draws on traditional folk and Eastern European influences, Hütz is more concerned with the here and now than kitschy Old World sentimentality. “I traveled the world... hunting and gathering first-hand information/challenging definitions of sin,” he declares on “Wonderlust King,” and his band mates do the same on festively eclectic tracks like “Zina-Marina,” where Oren Kaplan’s punk guitar bumps up against mariachi-like horns and Sergey Ryabtzev’s exotically serpentine violin. Science and religion collide with Yuri Lemeshev’s merry accordion on “Supertheory of Supereverything,” where Ukraine native Hütz declares in typically fractured English, “First time I had read the Bible/It had stroke me as unwitty... that the Lord ain’t got no humor.” Despite their worrisome recent collaborations with Madonna (!?), the Gogols reveal their own sense of humor on “Your Country” (where Hütz plays God and sends Stooges haters to hell) and the ambivalent ode “Alcohol,” which echoes the Kinks song. (Falling James)

The Sex Pistols at the Roxy

While this show would be more historically relevant if it were happening at the Roxy in London in 1977, it does mark the first time that the Sex Pistols have deigned to play a small club in Los Angeles. As such, the gig highlights all the messy contradictions surrounding the group’s ongoing reunion. There was a kind of nihilistic symmetry when the Pistols broke up following their short U.S. tour in January 1978 after releasing just one classic album and a handful of singles; it meant that they wouldn’t be lingering around for decades, clotting up the airwaves like the classic-rock careerists. (However, the romantic illusion that they were so perfectly self-destructive probably contributed to Sid Vicious’ tragic death and blinded the surviving members to manager Malcolm McLaren’s greedy machinations.) Is it really “better to burn out than fade away,” as Neil Young once clumsily put it? Isn’t punk nostalgia an oxymoron? While we’d rather see John Lydon doing something subversively creative with that restlessly churning mind of his (what ever happened to Public Image?), the Pistols still deliver the old hits with plenty of seedy menace. (Falling James)

Also playing Thursday:
BLONDE REDHEAD, AUTOLUX at the Wiltern; JOSH RITTER, ERIC BACHMANN at El Rey Theatre; AL DI MEOLA at the Canyon; SICK OF IT ALL at Key Club; JAMES WILSEY at Molly Malone’s; TWO TON BOA at Spaceland; GOOD LIFE, JOHNATHAN RICE at the Troubadour.


Friday, October 26

Goon Moon at the Echoplex

Goon Moon is a collaboration between Masters of Reality leader/all-around desert-rock impresario Chris Goss and multi-instrumentalist Jeordie White, who was last known as Twiggy Ramirez when he played guitar for Marilyn Manson. In many ways, their new project is more interesting, disciplined and multilayered than the work they’ve done in their previous, more infamous past lives. “Tip Toe,” from Goon Moon’s recent CD, Licker’s Last Leg, trundles along with boxy keyboards, wheezing accordion and electronic blips under hushed, intimate vocals and a spacy rock drive. “I’m losing my connection,” they croon as whooshing sounds surround and engulf them. “Apple Pie” disgorges itself with an intro of creaky string sounds that fade away into an austere, windswept alien landscape littered with Bowiesque lyrics and random sound effects. “Pin Eyed Boy” churns with big, sprawling rock guitars and serene, distant vocals, and it’s not so arty or experimental that it wouldn’t sound good on the radio. Melodic acoustic interludes like the unreleased “Sleep With a Gun” further hint at the potential of these stellar Goons. (Falling James)

{mosimage}Caribou at the Troubadour

Caribou — a.k.a. Canadian electronic-acoustic alchemist Dan Snaith — has done a recent album on Merge called Andorra, the London-based artist’s latest in a series of works that, while traversing droney ambient chill-out and IDM-type pure-beat/texture/tonality, have gradually harkened back to the considered song forms and arrangement aesthetics of ’60s and ’70s psychedelia, progressive rock and even classic rock. That evolution bore tasty fruit on his excellent 2005 The Milk of Human Kindness album on Domino, where the visceral wham of electronic timbre and dynamic range resonated naturally atop songs that boasted baroque, complex vocal harmony and instrumental settings — and, yes, the bulk of the latter was artfully sampled off his crusty old record collection. Andorra comes replete with memorable songs, in other words, wide-screened in thrillingly crafted yet basically non-hi-tech palettes where the technology and songcraft sound like they came from the same musical womb. Onstage, Caribou is a band (with a real drummer, even) that brings this blurrily opulent sound to kicking life. (John Payne)

 

Also playing Friday:

BLUE OCTOBER, YELLOWCARD at Greek Theatre; MATCHBOX TWENTY at the Wiltern; EAGLES, DIXIE CHICKS at Nokia Theatre; MEDUSA at the Airliner; AMERICA at the Canyon; MONSTERS ARE WAITING at the Echo; BAVAB BAVAB at Il Corral; LOFTY CANAANITES at Mr. T’s Bowl; BABYLAND at Spaceland; NEW FIDELITY, PEACHFUZZ at the Palmer Room.


{mosimage}Saturday, October 27

David Kilgour & the Heavy 8’s at the Echo

Even in this digital age of instant communication/gratification, New Zealand is still far enough away to seem exotic — which makes this rare stateside tour by Dunedin’s David Kilgour a big deal. The singer-guitarist might be best known as a founding member of the brilliant Kiwi trio the Clean, whose mesmerizing blend of droning psychedelia, art-punk and lo-fi folk was an acknowledged direct influence on Pavement and Yo La Tengo. Although the Clean have managed to hit these shores a couple of times in their 29-year career, this is the first time Kilgour’s toured over here with his full backup band, the Heavy 8’s. His recent solo album, The Far Now (Merge), is a typically enchanting travelogue with such breezy acoustic tunes as “Wave of Love” and the breathily ethereal “Sun of God” giving way to trippier tracks like the epic “Out of the Moment,” which uncoils with weaving violin and radiant flecks of guitar. “Yenisei” is a jangly, laid-back pop song with Kilgour mumbling cryptically intriguing lyrics. He wraps himself in a gauzy haze of solemn piano and skittering electronics on “I’m Gonna Get Better Lately,” covering his tracks with spiraling echoes from his magic ax. This early show starts at 7 p.m. with an opening set from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci singer Euros Childs. (Falling James)

Backbiter at Mr. T’s Bowl

It’s been a while since we checked in on Backbiter, the punk-informed trio who are arguably L.A.’s best hard-rock band. Their monumental third CD, Time Again (which comes with an equally dazzling bonus EP, Magnet Heart Suite), made it clear that the longtime locals — who are recognized more for their faithful yet juiced-up remakes of classics by the Who, the Dictators, Roky Erickson and Syd Barrett — write their own excellent classic-rock songs (even if there’s no viable L.A. classic-rock station to play them). “Looking in the Mirror” sneers and snarls like an unholy combination of the Stooges and the Velvet Underground, “Strikes Like Lightning” strikes with serrated Jimmy Page riffs, and the band even gets uncharacteristically dreamy and arty on the lovely piano interlude “Dock Rats to Eternity.” They’ve since written a mess of cool new tunes, including “Blood Red,” a fuzzed-out folk anthem that sounds like an outtake from Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Tonight’s Blue Mask bill includes Backbiter spinoff Motorcycle Black Madonnas, the Beggars (with Chicken Hawks guitarist Sioux City Pete), Mad Lovers, and the Fleagles, the latest band from sardonic lo-fi tastemaker Edwin Letcher. (Falling James)

Also playing Saturday:

EAGLES, DIXIE CHICKS at Nokia Theatre; THROW RAG, BOLIDES, MORMONS at Alex’s Bar; DEADBOLT, GHASTLY ONES at the Echo, 10 p.m. (late show); SERJ TANKIAN at House of Blues; BATTALION OF SAINTS, DUANE PETERS GUNFIGHT at Malibu Inn; JOHN DOE at McCabe’s; DONNAS, DONITA SPARKS at the Roxy; 1990’s, AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT at the Troubadour; T.S.O.L., SMUT PEDDLERS, 45 GRAVE, THE DETOURS, THE CROWD at Vault 350.


{mosimage}Sunday, October 28

Roky Erickson & the Explosives at El Rey Theatre

Roky Erickson, one of the greatest rock & roll singers of all time, is a completely unparalleled figure. Talk about a pedigree: He fronted proto-punk Texas acid-garage outlaw visionaries 13th Floor Elevators, whose vastly influential, LSD-fueled mixture of raw, furious music and rebel spirituality stands unrivaled more than 40 years later. It was a task so demanding — and flat-out hazardous — that Erickson climaxed it with a long stretch in a maximum-security unit for the criminally insane. Despite profound damage, he re-emerged as the hard-shouting godfather of monster rock, anticipating (once again) and enhancing mid-’70s punk rock with sublimely savage classics like “Two Headed Dog” and “I Walked With a Zombie.” Forget the bewildered madman depicted in the recent documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me — Erickson, with a deceptively simple vocal style that employs both an incomparable raving tone and to-hell-and-back psychological weight, is assuredly ready, willing and able to melt your brain. In short, the significance of this long-overdue visit from the untamed, uncrowned prince cannot be overstated. (Jonny Whiteside)

 

Cadence Weapon, Final Fantasy at the Troubadour

While every kid in the Montreal and Toronto indiegentsia eye-rolled their way through the extended jerk-off that les Américains had over the Arcade Fire, other (and weirder) acts from the sticky web of Canada’s music scene were being groomed to fulfill the U.S. appetite for fresh cultural offerings. Among them, still semi-secrets, are Cadence Weapon and Final Fantasy. The former is Rollie Pemberton, a fluid and adroit music critic–cum–indie hip-hop idol, wanted everywhere for remixes. The latter is Owen Pallett, a roaming strings-for-hire reed of beautiful gay nerd. Pemberton is off-center and purposefully awkward, a chillingly dynamic rapper. Pallett essentially sings and plays violin, often bowing into a sampler and then singing and playing over the loop. The music is clever and morbid, but he inventively incorporates elements like projected shadows and Mariah Carey covers into his set. Both men are confrontationally singular and scarily cool. Can you handle it, America? (Kate Carraway)

Pinback at the Wiltern

“Beard-pop” and “dreamo” are kinda neat terms (and pretty funny), but you’ll struggle to genre-tag San Diego’s Pinback (Zach Smith and the mega-prolific Rob Crow), whose bass/guitar basket-weaves and wistfully distracted vocals are filling theaters precisely by being themselves. Like something that’s been on your mind all day, Pinback’s inevitably melodic mini (p)operas are drum-machine-insistent and ache for resolution: always comforting yet rarely conclusive (hence our hitting “repeat”, um, repeatedly). Last month’s fourth full-length, Autumn of the Seraphs, while a fine effort — particularly the opener, “From Nothing to Nowhere,” which marries the meshed propulsion of the Cure’s “Primary” to summery Breeders/Belly vocals — will always be viewed relative to its predecessor, the probably career-defining Summer in Abaddon: beautiful, brave and slightly uneasy in its breeziness. Fleshed-out to a full band live, Pinback’s shows re-conjure the brainy, occasionally otherworldly glacial harmony of their recordings. (Paul Rogers)

Also playing Sunday:

HOT HOT HEAT at Henry Fonda Theater; GLASSJAW at Avalon; FREE MORAL AGENTS at Alex’s Bar; MIKE STINSON at the Echo, 5 p.m.; JOSIE COTTON at Key Club; UNION 13, LA RESISTENCIA at Knitting Factory; NEIL HAMBURGER, HARVEY SID FISHER at Spaceland.


{mosimage}Monday, October 29

Ghostface Killah & the Rhythm Roots Allstars, Rakim, Brother Ali at House of Blues

Had Ghostface Killah grown up in a different time, he might have been an epic poet. But as a dude reared in Staten Island with his fellow members of the Wu-Tang Clan, rap was his vehicle. Killah has written some of the most dynamic, well-crafted tracks in the genre’s history. To wit: In “Shakey Dog,” from last year’s Fishscale, Ghostface’s alter ego, Tony Starks, is in the backseat of a car eating French fries with ketchup on the way to snuff an enemy. He spills tartar sauce on his new shoes. His partner is a stutterer known for his brutality (“some Curly, Moe, Larry shit”). They park, and pass an old lady, who “keep[s] a shottie cocked in the hallway.” They surprise their victim while he’s watching Sanford and Son and eating plantains and a T-bone steak. Gnarly death ensues. For this tour, Ghostface performs with a live band, the Rhythm Roots Allstars, alongside brilliant rappers Rakim and Brother Ali. Also at Vault 350, Wed. (Randall Roberts)

Also playing Monday:

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND at L.A. Sports Arena; TEGAN & SARA, NORTHERN STATE at Orpheum Theatre; QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE at Nokia Theatre; CASTLEDOOR at the Echo; WADDY WACHTEL at the Joint; ABE LINCOLN STORY, OLLIN at Mr. T’s Bowl; OLIVER FUTURE, STEVE BARTON & THE OBLIVION CLICK at Spaceland.


{mosimage}Tuesday, October 30

New Young Pony Club at the Echo

“Hey, my swan song sounds like a remedy,” Tahita Bulmer sings on “Grey,” from New Young Pony Club’s recent CD, Fantastic Playroom (Modular). While it seems a little early for a swan song considering that this is the London group’s debut album, her electronics-laced new-wave music is indeed an effective remedy for doom and gloom. The New Young Ponies crank up a series of deliciously fizzy dance-pop tracks such as “Ice Cream” (featured in a recently ubiquitous TV commercial), where Bulmer pouts with an appealingly robotic sultriness over Lou Hayter’s bubbling keyboards: “We could be a sweet team/melting in your vice dream... seasick like Sid & Nancy.” The quintet claim that they’re influenced by “vodka, cake and emotion,” and Bulmer’s lyrics betray more wit and insight than most dance-club machinists. “I make a mold of me to make a mockery... another scar to emphasize who you are/a second skin, the label I might have been,” she chants on the fashion dilemma “Tight Fit” amid Andy Spence’s funk guitar and Sarah Jones’ addictive grooves. (Falling James)

 

Neil Young, Pegi Young at Nokia Theatre

The open road stretches like a vein throughout Neil Young’s long-running career. This “Human Highway” is a way to get places, a chance to escape, a symbol of freedom and a white-line metaphor for uncovering one’s true self. “There’s a long highway in your mind/a spirit road that you must find,” Neil Young advises on “Spirit Road,” from his new album, Chrome Dreams II (Reprise). The track lopes along steadily and a little bleary-eyed like a classic Crazy Horse tune, crackling and popping with Young’s trademark firework sparkles of guitar and ghostly consoling harmonies. Chrome Dreams II encompasses several of the chameleonic Young’s personas, ranging from the sweet-and-steadfast optimism of the R&B-flavored “The Believer” and the piano hymn “The Way” (brightened with a children’s chorus) to the luridly lurching rocker “Dirty Old Man.” For this tour, Young’s backed by bassist Rick Rosas, Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina and pedal-steel whiz Ben Keith, giving him the flexibility to switch from fragile balladry to thundering rockers. Keeping it all down-home, Neil’s wife, Pegi Young, steps out of the shadows with a set of rueful and lovingly crafted country songs from her self-titled solo debut. (Falling James)

New Buffalo at the Orpheum Theatre

If you’re going to the Orpheum tonight to catch Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, make sure to arrive in time for the opening set by Australian singer Sally Seltmann, who performs under the name New Buffalo. Her new album, Somewhere, Anywhere (Arts & Crafts), is a charming collection of airy piano ballads and sugary melodies. “I love the piano,” she says. “It’s a solitary instrument where you can turn your back on the world.” She’s bright and cheery, facing the world, on the romantic reverie “City and Sea (Lady Nameless),” where she finds herself “mapping out the stars inside your brain.” She contrasts that joy with the glassy breakup song “It’s True,” confessing that “I got myself into this mess/I chose to wear this stupid dress” as stormy sonic waves swell and crash around her. Lavish piano curlicues adorn the soft cooing of “Emotional Champ,” and she’s soothingly reassuring on “I’m the Drunk and You’re the Star.” Seltmann, who got some attention when Feist covered her song “1234,” is quite talented, although the unvarying feeling of wispiness can get a bit twee in the long run. (Falling James)

Also playing Tuesday:

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND at L.A. Sports Arena; REGINA SPEKTOR at the Wiltern (see Music feature); BATTLES, NO AGE at Henry Fonda Theater; TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS, QUASI at El Rey Theatre; STATIC-X, SHADOWS FALL at Avalon; THURSTON MOORE, SCORES at the Echoplex, 8:30 p.m.; FATLIP & TRE HARDSON at Knitting Factory; CRANKY GEORGE at Molly Malone’s; THE OOHLAS at Safari Sam’s; FEDERICO AUBELE, MEXICAN DUBWISER at the Troubadour; SONDRE LERCHE at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.


{mosimage}Wednesday, October 31

The Pogues, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists at the Wiltern

It’s never a bright idea to pass up an opportunity to see the Pogues, especially now that the legendarily hard-living Irish folk-punk band is entering the middle-age phase often unkind to touring musicians (guitarist Philip Chevron, sidelined by throat cancer, is sitting out this trek) and especially now that we’re entering the home stretch toward Christmas (which means Shane MacGowan can probably be convinced to slur his way through “Fairytale of New York,” the Pogues’ beloved holiday classic). Show up early tonight to catch an opening set by Ted Leo, one of MacGowan’s most committed successors. Living With the Living, Leo’s latest album with his crackerjack backing band the Pharmacists, features another generous batch of his tuneful ruminations on work, family, war and justice. Provided you’re sloshed, you might even take one of Living’s highlights, “A Bottle of Buckie,” for a lost Pogues gem. Also Thurs. (without Ted Leo). (Mikael Wood)

 

Also playing Wednesday:

DANZIG at Greek Theatre; HORRORPOPS at Natural History Museum; THEMSELVES, DAEDELUS at the Airliner; RADARS TO THE SKY, FRESAS, MONOLATORS at All Star Lanes; CYPRESS HILL at House of Blues; THE BINGES, SASQUATCH, JESSIE DELUXE at King King; ATOMIC SHERPAS at Taix; MEDUSA, ZANE ONE at Temple Bar; GHOSTFACE KILLAH, RAKIM, BROTHER ALI at Vault 350.


{mosimage}Thursday, November 1

Michelle Shocked at Temple Bar

Michelle Shocked has always marched to her own beat. After starting out as a fiery folkie back in the late ’80s, she has taken an eclectic journey across the American musical landscape: visiting rock, swing, blues, soul and other genres in between. Shocked’s latest disc, the live ToHeavenURide, finds her exploring her spiritual side. Since this is Shocked, we’re naturally not talking genteel music. Rather, it’s the foot-stomping gospel sounds of the South Central church she frequents. The music not only nicely captures her religious passions and societal concerns but also provides a fine showcase for her strong, soulful singing. Besides testifying in song to her love for the Staples Singers and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Shocked is also performing new originals and old favorites. And is it purely coincidental that she chose Temple Bar to perform this inspirational music? (Michael Berick)

Also playing Thursday:

THE POGUES at the Wiltern; DIOS MALOS at Rio Hondo College; BRYONY ATKINSON, BLACK OLIVE at the Bordello; YOU ME & IOWA, COCO B’s, SAINT MOTEL at the Echo; THE AGGROLITES, BREAKESTRA at the Key Club; JON BRION at Largo; LONESOME SPURS at Taix.


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