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Rock Picks: Pacha Massive, Calexico, Juliana Hatfield

Laibach: Slovenian rhapsody
Sabine Waltz

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

 
MISSION OF BURMA at the Echoplex

Tonight’s Mission of Burma set, in which the Boston post-punk band will perform their landmark 1982 album, Vs., in its entirety, presents a bit of an artistic conundrum. The album — which directly influenced Sonic Youth, R.E.M., Nirvana, Moby and even Pearl Jam (among many others) and was just reissued by Matador in a newly remastered “definitive” edition that includes bonus tracks and a DVD with a full concert performance from 1983 — encompasses such straight-ahead punk anthems as “The Ballad of Johnny Burma” and “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate,” as well as stranger explorations like the wiggly electric-eel guitar riffs of “Trem Two” and the haunting coda spirals of “Dead Pool.” MOB played only a couple of times in Los Angeles during their early-’80s heyday and then took a 19-year break before reuniting in 2002, so any chance to get sucked up again into the swirling, mesmerizing noise vortex of “Secrets” is worth reveling in. But it’s something of a paradox that such a forward-looking band of experimentalists are taking a nostalgic digression now, especially since their two magnificent comeback CDs, ONoffON (2004) and The Obliterati (2006), are equally deserving of the full-length live treatment. On the other hand, perhaps the arbitrary constraints of linear time are irrelevant because Vs. still sounds bracingly fresh today. (Falling James)

 
CHICHA LIBRE, ETRAN FINATAWA at the Japanese American National Museum

Down in Peru, you got two kinds of chicha, your corn liquor and your cumbiadelic music. The rich folks and pointy heads don’t cotton much to either, looking down their snoots at the working stiffs who tie one on with the Incan hooch while getting down to those wavery geetars, organ con queso and tipsy-tumbling timbales. The music first shook its syncretic bootie in the late 1960s on Amazonian oil-field dance floors and soon spread to the urban jungle of Lima, soaking in rock, Latin and indigenous influences as the revelers smiled. But chicha remained unheard by the planetary ear until Barbès Records’ maven Olivier Conan “discovered” the good stuff during a Peruvian jaunt, inspiring an inimitably wonderful compilation, The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbia. The French expat’s NYC-based Chicha Libre released Sonido Amazonico! earlier this year, a goofball-fanatique channeling and reinvention of the chichanista groove. Joining them this evening is Etran Finatawa, the Tuareg/Wodaabe purveyors of the Saharan nomad blues who had Temple Bar in glorious trance several months back. Starts at 6:30 p.m. 369 E. First St., Little Tokyo. Etran Finatawa also at Amoeba Music, Tues., 7 p.m. (Tom Cheyney)

 
TUSSLE, RA RA RIOT at the Echo

One has only to hear the superficial attempts by the many lesser-equipped young Krautrockian bands to re-create the mesmerizing autopilot grooves of Kraftwerk and Neu in order to appreciate Tussle’s state-of-the-art-and-beyond aesthetic. The trio’s new disc, Cream Cuts, on the primo Smalltown Supersound label mixes their funk-laden improvs and dubtronic whirlpools with a newfound harmonic and textural depth and, crucially, a more structured sense of purpose that gives their woolly maelstroms of drums, electronics, bass and more electronics a palpably cinematic effect — though one is welcome to drop a jaw at the rapidly developing power, versatility and un-clichéd imagination of their instrumental chops. But forget all the Krautrock references, because the most exciting thing about this stuff is that it sounds like, well, nothing quite like what has come before. And that’s where it’s at. In a jarringly different realm altogether, Ra Ra Riot will provide the emo-tive rock passion to the 10th power as delivered so unsparingly on their new The Rhumb Line album on Barsuk. (John Payne)

 
THE SHONDES at Silverlake Lounge

The Shondes are named after the Yiddish word for “shame,” and it sometimes seems like the coed Brooklyn quartet are not only taking on all of the problems of the modern world but also trying to resolve every past injustice on their new Tony Maimone–produced CD, The Red Sea. Clearly, this is a serious and ambitious band. Louisa Solomon belts out her thoughtfully passionate lyrics with a grand voice that draws on the mannered fierceness of riot-grrl icons like Bikini Kill. At times, her delivery has a heroic intensity. At others, there’s a strident sameness that makes one wish Solomon employed a little more dynamic variety in her vocals or relaxed occasionally and revealed something approaching a sense of humor. Still, Elijah Oberman’s violin balances Solomon’s fire with slithering melodies that give tracks like “At the Water” a stately kind of beauty. And while “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” rips off the name of Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s similarly titled classic, it’s an otherwise unrelated song whose breathtaking dramatics are made even more magical by Ian Brannigan’s hovering sheets of post-punk guitars. (Falling James)

 

 
Also playing Thursday:

THE RACONTEURS, THE KILLS at Santa Barbara Bowl; THE HIVES, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL, THE WILLOWZ at the Mayan; RICKIE LEE JONES at Cerritos Center; ATMOSPHERE, ABSTRACT RUDE at the Wiltern; JUNO REACTOR at El Rey Theatre; KID ROCK at Gibson Amphitheatre; POP LEVI at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; AUTOMATIC MUSIC EXPLOSION at Crane’s; CARLOS GUITARLOS at Eastside Luv; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR, HONEYHONEY at Largo; JON WAHL at Taix; LION OF PANJSHIR, MIA DOI TODD at Tangier.

 
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26


Laibach at the Key Club

A state of time, a statement of art, an actual passport-issuing nation-state without boundaries and, most pertinently, a rigorous test of the relationship between Everyman’s totalitarian-worshipping impulse and the universal need to impose will on the receding-chinned weak of the world — Slovenia’s legendary Laibach make a very, very rare manifestation in Los Angeles. Perhaps you don’t need to be told how, in the words of their chief theoretician, “Our public appearance has a purifying, exorcistic and regenerative effect. With a ritualized demonstration of political force, and with other manipulative approaches, Laibach practices collective libido in the form of a systematic psycho-physical terror as a therapy and principle of social organization.” You will fetishize their fodder-stomping four-to-the-floor, airy Alpine horns and vainglorious Valhalla choirs, and feel the triumph of a will — though whose will, exactly, shall and should remain arcane. In essence, you will think about what’s happening, and perhaps why, and how Laibach again and again exploit an enormous, frightening aural power to address the ultimate negation of power . . . ours, and theirs. They will demonstrate, in part, with their cover versions of the national anthems of many countries, as heard to thrillingly evil effect on their latest Mute release, Volk. “Pop music is for sheep, and we are shepherds disguised as wolves.” (John Payne)

 
Silver Jews at the Echoplex

Silver Jews’ David Berman is one of the most compelling and engaging lyricists in music today, a stylist with dry wit and a drier voice whose output over the past two decades has been consistently inspiring. His turns of phrases are the stuff of legend: “If cars could run on teardrops, I’d be long, long gone,” for example, or “In twenty-seven years/I’ve drunk fifty-thousand beers/And they just wash against me/Like the sea into a pier.” Berman’s music sturdily carries these thoughts along, and the combination is simultaneously toe-tappable and rocking. On his newest album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City), Berman and his Jews weave the sound of Nashville (his home) through those words. Be forewarned: If you’re not a fan of 1970s-style country music sung by a man with a voice flatter than Johnny Cash’s, you will probably hate this music. But that’s silly talk. These musicians aren’t Sarah Palin rednecks; they’re outlaws harnessing language to create rhythm and soul. (Randall Roberts)

 
Pacha Massive, Federico Aubele at the Ford Amphitheatre

Mother Earth is pregnant for the fourth time, “for y’all have knocked her up again,” but this time it’s a good thing: We’re not talking about George Clinton’s social and environmental warnings; we’re talking about the Bronx collective Pacha Massive (“Pachamama” means Mother Earth), whose Nacional release Don’t Let Go has blown up globally but has found its most enthusiastic audience among Angelenos. Perhaps it’s because bassist-vocalist Maya and producer-guitarist DJ Nova’s proper fusion of everything Latin, everything electronic and everything groovy isn’t some bogus concoction of (fill-in here) electronica; their reggae has roots, their dub gets wicked, and their house shakes all night long. Argentine guitar magician Federico Aubele was last in Los Angeles when he played with Thievery Corporation at the Hollywood Bowl. While Pacha will dance right up to you singing the J.B.’s “I’ll House You,” Aubele is equally eclectic but more romantic in his approach. The evening is a true serving of Pan-Ameradelica, and the proceeds will go to the Ford Theatre Foundation’s Community Bridges Program. www.fordamphitheater.org. (Daniel Siwek)

 
Also playing Friday:

ALICIA KEYS at Santa Barbara Bowl; ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater; FILTHY THIEVING BASTARDS, LOS MYSTERIOSOS, OLLIN at Alex’s Bar; AMPS FOR CHRIST at Echo Curio; CARMEN CONSOLI at Hotel Café; COUNTRY JOE McDONALD at McCabe’s; WOOLLY BANDITS at Redwood Bar & Grill; DANNY B. HARVEY at Taix.

 
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

 
Juliana Hatfield at Largo at the Coronet

Juliana Hatfield has come a long way since her days in the Blake Babies. The Boston band’s 1989 version of the Stooges’ “Loose” may not have been all that shocking to jaded punk rockers used to such gender role reversals, but meek indie-rock fans were stunned (and charmed) by the sweetly innocent way Hatfield sang, “I’ll stick it deep inside.” She’s since gone on to a creatively rewarding solo career (despite various predictable pitfalls in the mainstream music industry), taken musical side trips with Some Girls and Frank Smith, and collaborated with Giant Sand, Mary Lou Lord and her longtime pal Evan Dando’s Lemonheads. (She’s even written a memoir, When I Grow Up, which was published earlier this week.) There’s nothing remotely punk about Hatfield’s new CD, How to Walk Away, but it’s a pure-pop pleasure with such winsome tunes as “Remember November” and “This Lonely Love,” where her serenely melodic singing brushes against the low burr of the Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler. She coolly puts a drunken lover in his place on “Just Lust” (not the Buzzcocks song) and ruminates vulnerably on the pitfalls of romantic intimacy over the bubbling keyboard tones of “My Baby.” (Falling James)

 

 
We the People Festival at L.A. State Historic Park

The organizers of this ambitious daylong, all-ages festival are hoping to rally local music fans around the slogan “We the People” and the concept that citizens actually have a say in how this country is run — a rather quaint notion that probably became officially extinct sometime before the first George Bush’s presidential term. Among the army of performers hoping to import democracy to this freedom-starved nation are wacked-out Primus mastermind Les Claypool, the earnestly leftist (if terminally preachy and perhaps a bit smug) Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and an intriguing pairing of the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA with System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian for some “cosmic rap.” The lineup is deeply rooted in rap and hip-hop (including Dilated Peoples and the brainy Roadkill chef Busdriver), with uplifting digressions into reggae (Eek-a-Mouse, Barrington Levy, Quinto Sol), and funk and soul (Fishbone, B-Side Players). Even the once-misanthropic punk-metal survivors Suicidal Tendencies are showing they’re down with the cause. However, a distressing oversight is the scarcity of women on this testosterone-heavy bill — as with many of the “liberated” protest-rallies of the ’60s, it seems that “We the People” means “We Dudes.” Starts at 2 p.m. 1245 N. Spring St., dwntwn. www.wethepeoplefestival.com. (Falling James)

 
Also playing Saturday:

BLONDIE, DEVO, PSYCHEDELIC FURS at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre; AMY KUNEY at Virgina Avenue Park, 11:45 a.m.; WAILING SOULS at Blue Cafe; THAILAND at Echo Curio; THE STUDIOFIX at Fais Do-Do; DAN DRYERS, BACKBITER at Mr. T’s Bowl; THEE MIDNITERS at Safari Sam’s; JOE BAIZA, ATOMIC SHERPAS at Taix; MEDUSA, WEAPON OF CHOICE at Temple Bar; MORMONS, THINGZ at American Legion Post 206; AZTLAN UNDERGROUND at 18th Street Arts Center; SUKI EWERS at the Cocaine.

 

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

 
Lowrider Band at Temple Bar

Drummer Harold Brown and guitarist Howard Scott first met as teenagers at a Long Beach tavern — each wearing fake moustaches and their father’s clothes to pass as grown-ups — and immediately formed a band. After toiling in R&B clubs (and as the first all-black band on the Strip), they found themselves working for Eric Burdon as War. When Burdon bailed, they went on to become one of the best (and biggest-selling) acts of the 1970s, crafting a series of stunning soul-funk jams (“Slippin’ Into Darkness,” “Lowrider,” “Cisco Kid”) that remain inescapable today. Trouble is, they burned out on the road, drifted apart and soon found that their nefarious management had hijacked their name and songs (in fact, a nasty litigious, er, war yet rages), compelling them to now perform as the Lowrider Band (the current touring unit War has but one original member). Tonight, forget the backstabbing and simply gas on the music because, with fellow War founders B.B. Dickerson and Lee Oskar, Brown and Scott will conjure the genuine, magnificently funkenized goods. (Jonny Whiteside)

 
Cheap Trick at the Greek Theatre

Whither Cheap Trick? The longtime rockers from Rockford can be quite confounding. On the one hand, they seem perfectly content to endlessly play their early hits on the oldies and county-fair circuit at shows like this, where they’re reduced to opening for Heart (who are at least undergoing somewhat of a resurgence after two decades of making sterile, anonymous music) and, worse, Journey (a mediocre band even in their heyday, now limping along with yet another faceless singer). On the other hand, Cheap Trick are still creatively thriving, even if you wouldn’t necessarily know it from their recent set lists. Their aptly titled 2003 CD, Special One, was their most consistently wonderful album since 1979’s Dream Police, and their 2006 follow-up, Rockford, has some mighty fine moments, such as the grandly uncoiling psychedelia of “If It Takes a Lifetime” and the delicately lovely pop jangle “Oh Claire.” Just a few years ago, these Tricksters were mixing up their set lists with rare obscurities, but nowadays they don’t seem to trust that their aging audience can handle exhilarating tunes like the swarming guitars of “Sorry Boy” and the glam-tastically spacy “Hummer” instead of yet another bellow through the bombastically hollow clichés of “The Flame.” C’mon, Cheap Trick: Take a chance on your own rock & roll. Also Tues. (Falling James)

 

 
Also playing Sunday:

SUGAR RAY, SMASHMOUTH, LIT, EVERCLEAR at Paramount Studios; GAVIN ROSSDALE at Fairplex, Pomona; PRIMA DONNA at Alex’s Bar; COUSIN LOVERS, HELLO DARLIN’S at the Echo, 5 p.m.; NEIL HAMBURGER, HARVEY SID FISHER at Spaceland; SARA LOV at Tangier; CARLOS GUITARLOS at Liquid Kitty.

 
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 

 
Calexico, The Cave Singers at the Henry Fonda Theater

Calexico’s cinematic Southwestern hymns have historically been just a tad too perfect — as though Joey Burns and John Convertino were in a Madison Avenue boardroom brainstorming the most effective way to score every kitschy context from spaghetti Westerns to Airstream diners along Route 66. On the new Carried to Dust, the Tucson duo have shaken off the “desert noir” languor for what are easily the most concise and catchy songs of their career. Assists from sundry indie-rock royalty might be partially responsible, such as the Jairo Zavala–penned opener, “Victor Hara’s Hands,” while you’ll swear “Writer’s Minor Holiday” is a long-lost Pixies track. Amazingly, the trumpet stabs, lapsteel, accordion, surf-guitar jangle, strings, vibraphone and assorted Ennio Morricone–isms never overwhelm the basic Calexico template: Convertino’s brushed shuffle beats and the breathy, distant croon of Burns. Seattle’s Cave Singers freak the folk with acoustic-guitar curlicues, spare percussion and Pete Quirk’s vocals, pinched in a creepy-cool sort of way. (Andrew Lentz)

 
Also playing Monday:

JAMIE LIDDELL at Avalon; DEATH TO ANDERS, FOL CHEN, DIE ROCKERS DIE, RADEMACHER at the Echo; LACOSTE at Pehrspace; MIKE STINSON at Redwood Bar & Grill; DIO MALOS, DEVON WILLIAMS at Spaceland; LIZ PAPPADEMAS at Tangier.

 

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30

 
Mr. Gnome at Silverlake Lounge

The Cleveland duo Mr. Gnome trade in fanciful lyrical imagery about pirates and rabbits and crickets, but they’re not a cute or childlike band. There are plenty of pretty moments scattered throughout their recent CD, Deliver This Creature, such as the hazy soundscape that sprawls over “Silhouette,” with Nicole Barille’s whispery vocals carried along the wind by shimmering keyboards, or the flickering echoes from her guitar that illuminate the spacy intro to “Rabbit.” But there are just as many moments where drummer-pianist Sam Meister crashes the party with jagged symphonies of sound, such as the fearsome collisions midway through the title track and the mountain-size art-noise explosions detonated throughout “The Machine.” Barille ties it all together with dark, enigmatic poetry and charismatic vocals that segue from icy Portishead/Cat Power–style dreaminess into feral howling with serrated juxtapositions that recall PJ Harvey. This uniquely twisted combination of sound and fury makes Mr. Gnome one of the most stunning discoveries of the year. (Falling James)

 
Temple Bar Farewell Party at Temple Bar

After a great decadelong run making Temple Bar one of L.A.’s crucial live-music venues, owners Louie and Netty Ryan have, as Louie says, decided it’s “time to let something beautiful go.” Since the couple put the club up for sale (it’s in escrow now), the native Dubliner has waxed nostalgic, remembering the palpable “magic of the room” and “what a great thing it was to be a part of,” but admits that he and Netty feel “liberated to move on.” For those who love the joint, Temple Bar’s transition (don’t call it a closure — the Wilshire location has been a music spot since its At My Place days) marks the end of what tonight’s host, Carlos Niño, calls a “community flow . . . something pure” and quite rare on the scene. What made Temple Bar special? Its welcoming vibe and respect for the musicians, regardless of their fame and caliber. Its broadened definition of what “world music” means to include hip-hop, jazz, R&B, electronica, folk and alt-rock, as well as the obvious Latin, African, Asian and Caribbean flavors. This farewell bash won’t be about performances (although there will be some special moments, no doubt) but offers the lovely losers and sexy cruisers, the lizard-eyed players and boogie-child movers a chance to pay their final respects to the Buddha behind the bar. (Tom Cheyney)

 
Also playing Tuesday:

JOURNEY, HEART, CHEAP TRICK at Greek Theatre; RANCID, ADOLESCENTS, LEFT ALONE at Henry Fonda Theater; MURS at Amoeba Music, 6 p.m.; AUTOMATIC MUSIC EXPLOSION at Canter’s; DAN LE SAC VS. SCROOBIUS PIP at the Echo; VIENNA TENG, MIKAL BLUE at Hotel Café; TALIB KWELI, DAVID BANNER at House of Blues; THENEWNO2 at Key Club; SOULFEGE at the Roxy.

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1

 
My Bloody Valentine at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

In case you’re tired of weak leads or the satanic majesty of Neil Diamond at the Hollywood Bowl over these same two nights, come have your powers of hearing phoenicized by My Bloody Valentine’s 130 decibels of distortion and eternal reverb. In this, their first U.S. tour in 16 years, they make up for the massive “sike!” of this year’s Coachella rumors with an action echoing through the cavernous hall of the Civic, playing tracks from an unfinished 1996 album, Isn’t Anything, and Loveless, the album that reportedly nearly bankrupt Creation Records and certainly annihilated many minds in its wake. The ’90s were plagued by navel-gazing, apathy and cynicism, and yet despite the obvious “shoegazing” tag, My Bloody Valentine have always promised an expansive world of lush sonic imagination and flat-out good dreams. Bread and circuses still cost the same as last year, but My Bloody Valentine offer a view of the spectacle from the skies far above it, soaring in the sunshine, in love with this world and the next. Also Thurs. (David Cotner)

 

 
Also playing Wednesday:

RANCID, T.S.O.L. at Henry Fonda Theater; STARS at Avalon; NEIL DIAMOND at Hollywood Bowl; SPINDRIFT at the Echo; OVERKILL at Key Club; LOVED ONES, JACKSON UNITED at Knitting Factory; JOE FRANK at Largo; NEVA DINOVA at Silverlake Lounge; SLOAN at the Troubadour.

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2

 
Mad Juana at the Viper Room

“You take the world for granted as you float up on your cake,” Karmen Guy purrs with a deceptive sugariness on Mad Juana’s new album, Bruja on the Corner (Acetate Records), before digging in the knife. “You think you’re some kind of a dignitary, but you’re nothing more than a fake,” she declares while accordionist Marni Rice, saxist Danny Ray and trumpeter Nico Camargo serenade her with merrily bittersweet, soused and swanky rejoinders straight out of old-time New Orleans. So many musicians invoke witchcraft and voodoo without ever sounding magical, but the New York group are indeed bewitching, with a timelessly exotic blur of Gypsy-punk influences akin to Manu Chao and Gogol Bordello that’s taken to another level of enchantment altogether by Guy’s sultry chanteuse persona. Her songwriting partner in crime, guitarist-bassist Sami Yaffa, lays down some considerable groovy grooves that go far beyond his previous contributions to Hanoi Rocks and the reconstituted New York Dolls, such as the dreamy dub interlude in the otherwise madcap “Strangers in Paradise” and the stormy acoustic guitars and haunting melodica-flecked sadness of “Circus Downtown.” It all culminates most impressively in the sinuously mesmerizing “Revolution Avenue,” whose dueling horns, loping dub bass, psychedelic sound effects and Guy’s border-dissolving imagery echo the febrile moods of Tijuana No’s classic album Contra-Revolucion Avenue. (Falling James)

 
Also playing Thursday:

RANCID, DR. KNOW at Henry Fonda Theater; MY BLOODY VALENTINE at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium; NEIL DIAMOND at Hollywood Bowl; GOGOL BORDELLO at Grove of Anaheim; JAMES at El Rey Theatre; SIGUR RÓS at Greek Theatre; SANTANA, SALVADOR SANTANA BAND at Nokia Theatre; DARKER MY LOVE at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.; JOHNNY WINTER at the Canyon; JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, CHAPIN SISTERS at the Echo; TERMANOLOGY, EVIDENCE at Knitting Factory.

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