Rock Picks: Prefuse 73, the Gaslamp Killer, VoicesVoices, Beyond the Pale
TIMBALAND AT HOUSE OF BLUES
Shock Value II, Timbaland’s recently released sequel to his hit 2007 disc, is not without its share of bracingly inventive beats from the guy who more or less defined the sound of hip-hop and R&B in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Truth be told, though, the new album is more notable for its bizarro guest list than for its musical achievements: Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado you understand, but Australian garage rockers Jet? Namby-pamby piano popsters the Fray? Chad Kroeger of motherfucking Nickelback? It’s as though the man behind “Big Pimpin’” suddenly took a music-supervision gig at Grey’s Anatomy. (Stranger still: The Kroeger cut, “Tomorrow in the Bottle,” is one of Shock Value II’s best.) For his current tour, Timbo’s taking some of his guests on the road and having others join the proceedings via digital projection; at the House of Blues, we’re promised in-the-flesh appearances by Jay Sean (aka the dude who sings “Down”), the Fray (bummer) and Honor Society, sport coat–clad white-funk protégés of the Jonas Brothers. (Mikael Wood)
V.V. BROWN, LOVE GRENADES AT SPACELAND
The rarefied world of the Grammy Awards would seem to have little to do with the lives of relatively unknown musicians kicking around in small nightclubs, but that’s not stopping several intriguing performers from gathering tonight for “Superfraiche Pop Night: Celebrating the Grammys.” British singer V.V. Brown has a way with sunny pop songs like “Shark in the Water” and such retro girl group–style tunes as “Crying Blood,” on her new CD, Traveling Like the Light. Her originals are melodic and smart, and she’s persuasively soulful on blue-mood ballads like “I Love You.” The local band Love Grenades have an especially infectious dance-rock sound with slinky tracks like “Tigers in the Fire.” Singer Elizabeth Wight exudes oodles of charisma as she purrs seductively over her mates’ throbbing beats and electronics. Although it’s a long way from Spaceland to Staples Center, it’s not unreasonable to imagine the vibrantly poppy V.V. Brown and/or the dance-crazy Love Grenades achieving the kind of all-around popularity that even the folks behind the Grammys might recognize. With Reni Lane and Scott Simons. (Falling James)
JANIVA MAGNESS AT McCABE’S
Janiva Magness had the blues before she even knew about the blues. Born in Detroit, she ended up on the streets after both of her parents committed suicide. She was shuttled among a dozen foster homes and was a teenage mother who had to give her daughter up for adoption before finally finding the meaning of life at an Otis Rush concert. Discovering the blues gave Magness a means of expression, a way of channeling all that pain and loneliness. On her most recent album, 2008’s What Love Will Do (Alligator Records), she wails it all away with uncommon style, elegance and fire. She can be funky and feisty (and wisely resigned) on an up-tempo Chicago-style dance-floor workout like “That’s What Love Will Make You Do,” but Magness can also bring it down with heartbreaking loveliness on slow, sad ballads like “Sometimes You Got to Gamble.” The longtime L.A. resident, who has a new album coming out in April, celebrates her birthday tonight with a special set. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
2010 MUSICARES TRIBUTE TO NEIL YOUNG FEAT. CROSBY, STILLS & NASH, EMMYLOU HARRIS, ELTON JOHN, WILCO, OZOMATLI at Los Angeles Convention Center; BOWLING FOR SOUP, JUST SURRENDER, FIGHT FAIR at El Rey Theatre; TIM REYNOLDS & TR3 at the Mint; LL COOL J at the Key Club; THE TENDER BOX, SATELLITE CRUSH at the Echo; NICK JONAS & THE ADMINISTRATION, DIANE BIRCH at the Wiltern; AIR SUPPLY at the Canyon; MARIACHI JESUS DE LA PLAZA at Eastside Luv; SLANG CHICKENS, BOOMSNAKE, SUPERHUMANOIDS at the Echo Curio; PHILM (DAVE LOMBARDO), IT’S CASUAL at Relax Bar; POLYSICS, SABROSA PURR, NEW KINGDOM at the Roxy.
BOWERBIRDS, JULIE DOIRON AT THE ECHO
The North Carolina trio Bowerbirds make music that’s a little off the beaten track. There’s something rustic and traditional about the way Phil Moore’s driving acoustic guitar is pushed along further by Beth Tacular’s weaving accordion and Dan Westerlund’s unobtrusive drums and keyboards, but the band are not stuffy traditional folk revivalists. “We carry on like the storm, like we’ve no idea where we’re coming from,” Moore announces on “Beneath Your Tree,” from last year’s Upper Air. The hazily poetic lyrics and gentle pastoral arrangements do seem more inspired by the direction of the wind than any conscious nostalgia. Bowerbirds are touring with Canadian indie rocker Julie Doiron. Formerly with Eric’s Trip, she has also worked with Herman Dune and the Wooden Stars. The music on Doiron’s recent solo CD, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day (Jagjaguwar), ranges from fuzzy Breeders-style rockers like “Consolation Prize” to softly glowing embers like “When Brakes Get Wet.” (Falling James)
THE SOFT PACK AT 10 LOCATIONS ACROSS THE CITY
The Soft Pack’s 10-song debut long-player clocks in at a hair over half an hour total, which is actually way more than enough to get the point. Naw, they’re not boring or grating, just the opposite. The San Diego transplants’ The Soft Pack (Kemado) is chock-full of fast-fast-fast ’n’ loose-but-tight insta-hits that you want to hit the repeat on. That’s kinda surprising given the band’s fairly loony wiseassery lyric-wise, but makes sense given the truckload of steaming riffs and charming hooks that dazzle with wit, and the band’s undeniable zeal for the punkier-indier side of classic rock & roll. Let’s just call them “infectious,” as all the best rock critics used to say, and leave it at that. The Soft Pack will indeed play at 10 places around L.A. today, including people’s living rooms and backyards and record stores and down at the beach. For info on the schedule see thesoftpackofficial.com. (John Payne)
LOS LOBOS AT ROYCE HALL
Two shows here by these East L.A. legends, the first of which goes down at the family-friendly hour of 2 p.m. On the agenda for that one? Selections from the Walt Disney animated-feature catalog, as presented on last year’s Los Lobos Goes Disney, which features the Latin-rock outfit’s typically delightful takes on such gems as “I Wan’na Be Like You” (from The Jungle Book), “I Will Go Sailing No More” (from Toy Story) and “When You Wish Upon a Star” (to which they sweetly append a bit of “It’s a Small World”). For the grown-up-geared late show, at 8 p.m., expect material from throughout the band’s wildly expansive songbook — hands up for 2006’s well reviewed (if underpromoted) The Town and the City — as well as a possible preview or two from their upcoming debut for Shout! Factory. (Mikael Wood)
THE STAINS, LA BESTIA, CARA DE MIL PUTAZOS, AZTLAN
UNDERGROUND AT THE BOULEVARD
From the mid-1940s pachuco-boogie boom to the soul-garage glories of the mid-’60s and the following decade’s punk rock conflagration, East Los Angeles’ musicians have consistently set higher standards for America’s pop underworld. Theirs is an unrivaled and closely linked tribe, and with each generation informing and expanding upon the forebears’ achievements, the fast-moving Eastside scene always demands — yet is too rarely accorded — close attention. Between the tense, explosive punk of chronically superb hell-raisers the Stains, the intense sound of Rocio Ponce and Rudy Brat’s La Bestia and the fearsome, brain-pulping metallics of untamed duo Cara de Mil Putazos, expect a vortex of unimpinged creativity and old-school slam. Nicely tempered by the more pacific (but no less pointed) sociocultural observations of Aztlan Underground, not to mention screenings of several rare punk rock documentaries, this should be a swarming, sincere and altogether intoxicating affair. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Saturday:
THE RESIDENTS at the Henry Fonda Theater; I SEE HAWKS IN L.A., OLD CALIFORNIO at the Redwood Bar; PHILM (DAVE LOMBARDO), IT’S CASUAL, OTHERS at Relax Bar; STRUNG OUT, PULLEY, THE DARLINGS at El Rey Theatre; GRAMMY CHILDREN’S MUSIC CELEBRATION FEAT. ZIGGY MARLEY, MILKSHAKE, CATHY FINK & MARCY MARXER at the Grammy Museum; ONE TRICK PONY, GRAYDON, COBY BROWN, LELIA BROUSSARD at the Hotel Cafe; LOS ANGELES A CAPPELLA FESTIVAL at UCLA Ackerman Grand Ballroom; TIM REYNOLDS & TR3 at the Mint; ROCK HOLLYWOOD HELP HAITI BENEFIT FEAT. THE PITY PARTY, POCAHAUNTED at Cinespace; TREY SONGZ, MELANIE FIONA at House of Blues; DIGABLE PLANETS at the Key Club; DAVID LINDLEY at McCabe’s; TRAPS PS, KILL KILL KILL, MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, MEREDITH MYER at Pehrspace; GOWNS, FEEL FREE, TREASURE MAMMAL, NEON NAVAJO at the Smell.
THE GRAMMY AWARDS AT THE STAPLES CENTER
The annual music-industry awards show doles out trophies to the Chosen Few who have climbed the mountain and seen the promised land — the inside of Jimmy Iovine’s office. But, then, dip down below all the Gaga stuff, all the embarrassingly out-of-touch rock, metal and alt-rock nominees (the baby boomers don’t control the charts anymore, but they still control the ballots) and the major label–owned hip-hop categories, and you’ll find a host of little-engines-that-could stories: The Best Historical Reissue category pits record labels Hip-O against Rhino against Dust-to-Digital against Rounder against Archeophone; the Best Electronic/Dance Album is total weirdness (LMFAO, Lady Gaga, David Guetta, Crystal Method, Pet Shop Boys); the Best Regional Mexican Album isn’t going to make any of the headlines on Monday morning, but it means the world to the bands. So: There are worse things to do than celebrate musicians for doing a good job reaching the people. But it’d be nice if the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which administers the awards, would adjust the nomination process to better reflect the music that people are listening to today, whether it’s on a major label or not, whether it’s a chart hit or a YouTube hit, whether the artist is 25 or 65 — which is the average age of the singers in the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance category. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Sunday:
LIVE FOOTAGE, KNIFEANDFORK, TANGUO NUEVO at the Echo Curio; NINJA ACADEMY at the Echo Park Film Center; DAVID LINDLEY at McCabe’s.
DO MAKE SAY THINK, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, YEARS AT THE TROUBADOUR
It’s been several years since the Broken Social Scene diaspora became large enough to completely fill its own tour bills, but at this point, the various offshoots of the Canadian indie crew could probably populate a three-ring circus. For what it’s worth, post-rock sextet Do Make Say Think has actually been around since 1995, when the project was founded — in an elementary schoolroom whose walls sported those titular verbs — in order to score a play put on by Toronto youth. The dramatic background befits the band’s epic compositions, which are equal parts cerebral and moving, the product of studied players who also know how to ride a groove. DMST’s sixth album, Other Truths, features only four songs, three of which break the 10-minute mark, but even the longest skips lithely around stagnation. Also appearing are two solo-ish endeavors from the group’s founders, Charles Spearin and Ohad Benchetrit (members of Broken Social Scene), the Happiness Project, which converts Spearin’s interviews with his neighbors into strange jazz, and Years, a catchall instrumental feast. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday:
RED ARROW MESSENGER, LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO at the Bootleg Theater; DAVID SCOTT STONE, MIKKI & THE MAUSES, RANDY RANDALL at the Echo Curio; LEAH-CARLA GORDONE at El Cid; ABE VIGODA, SIGNALS, LIZZ KING at Pehrspace; SPIDER PROBLEM, GAMBLE HOUSE, WHITE ARROWS, ANIMAL STYLE at the Silverlake Lounge; PRINCETON, 60 WATT KID, ACTIVE CHILD at Spaceland.
WALE AT THE ROXY
It’s no secret that rap moves fast, but it’s a bit shocking to see the words “post-Kanye, post–Lil Wayne” ascribed to D.C. up-and-comer Wale. Still, it’s not hard to understand where critics are coming from — the 25-year-old MC straddles pop and hip-hop like a pro, adopting odd but catchy cadences in order to run down his list of sorta-heavy urban concerns. For instance, on the song “Shades,” he addresses black-on-black racism — weighty. On the other hand, his name typically appears on record covers as a glowing neon shoelace — fluffy. What’s more, the guest list on Wale’s debut full-length, Attention Deficit, points to an appetite that’s even more omnivorous than his alt-mainstream predecessors. Vocal spots are given to Lady Gaga and Gucci Mane, and production duty is split between names as diverse as Mark Ronson, the Neptunes and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek. A couple names, however, are noticeably absent. Says Wale: “I asked Mr. West for a little bit of help/Realized us new niggas gotta get it ourselves.” (Chris Martins)
THE LIVING SISTERS AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
If the Living Sisters’ whole isn’t necessarily greater than the sum of its parts, that’s only because each part of the local trio is already such a firmly established and distinctive vocalist in her own right. Becky Stark is the pure-hearted and pure-voiced leader of the Lavender Diamond. Eleni Mandell specializes in languid, glassy balladry on her nine solo albums, which encompass pop, country and jazz, but she also rocks out at times with projects like the Grabs. Inara George, the daughter of Little Feat’s Lowell George, has recorded with Van Dyke Parks and is one half of retro-pop confectioners the Bird & the Bee. Put them all together, and you have the possibility for some wonderful vocal interplay. On the Living Sisters’ upcoming full-length debut, Love to Live (Vanguard), they sing sweetly and seamlessly, whether they’re trading individual lines or combining in sumptuous harmonies. They’re too sugary on the opening song, “How Are You Doing,” but almost everything else is enchanting, especially “Hold Back,” “Ferris Wheel,” “The Mountain Has Skies,” “You Make Me Blue” and Bessie Smith’s “Good Ole Wagon.” The Living Sisters might be that rare supergroup that actually turns out to be super. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
MIA DOI TODD, ASKA, ADANOWSKY at Spaceland; NILE, IMMOLATION, KRISIUN, ROSE FUNERAL at House of Blues; NERVOUS WRECKORDS, THE LOST CHORUS, THEFT at the Bordello; FICTIONIST, MICHAEL VIDAL, FRANK TURNER at the Hotel Cafe; DANNY MALONE at the Mint.
PREFUSE 73, THE GASLAMP KILLER, VOICESVOICES AT THE TROUBADOUR
First things first: The Gaslamp Killer will leave you wounded — ears damaged, limbs wobbly, eyes crossed. The Mount Washington–based artist/DJ is a Low End Theory resident, which makes him part of a tribe whose love for bass is as enabling to them as it is gloriously crippling to audiences. The GK’s particular flavor is heavy, beat-driven psych scrambled by dubstep doom. Headliner Prefuse 73 rose to prominence in the early aughts for virtually reinventing instrumental hip-hop via cut-to-pieces vocal samples and polyrhythmic percussive bits. He’s since initiated a spate of diverse projects — the bossa-tinged Savath and Savalas, the minimally inclined Piano Overlord, the melodic and groove-steeped Delarosa and Asora — and collaborated with audio collagists the Books and drum destroyer Zach Hill. On this tour, Prefuse 73 performs as a full band, filled out by L.A.’s own Jenean Farris and Nico Turner, also known as VOICEsVOICEs. That duo is touring in support of a just-released Manimal Vinyl EP, Origins, which happens to be produced by — naturally — Prefuse 73. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday:
BALANCE & THE TRAVELING SOUND at the Dakota Music Lounge; GOD EQUALS GENOCIDE, THE ANCHOR, ROUGH KIDS at Mr. T’s Bowl; KISSING COUSINS, MAKE MOON, DIAMONDS UNDER FIRE at the Silverlake Lounge; NOMO, ORGONE at Spaceland; L.A. GUNS at the Whisky A Go-Go.
BEYOND THE PALE AT SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER
“We have our roots in a lot of folk traditions, but we try not to fetishize authenticity,” says Beyond the Pale’s founder and mandolin master Eric Stein. Even in a musical world where the boundaries between traditional ethnic styles are being poked at, rethunk and smeared beyond recognition, the probing invention of Toronto’s Beyond the Pale really is shocking. Out of spontaneous group compositions and its repertoire of refreshingly odd-mixed American jazz/rock/bluegrass/funk, the band forges something unusual by stirring in Jewish and Romanian folk tunes, new Yiddish poetry set to Roma melodies, spiky-funky Serbian rhythms and an often darkly melancholic sentimentality. Much of this derives from the band’s scholarly research into obscure musical manuscripts collected a century ago by Eastern European ethnographers, and a whole bunch of scratchy 78s of ancient, obscure klezmer bands. Beyond the Pale’s new Postcards (Borealis Records) is a bracingly modern, mind-blowing flight into a very new Jewish-Balkan sonic atmosphere. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
LAURA MARLING, NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE WHEEL at Largo at the Coronet; THELONIOUS MONSTER at the Echo; OZOMATLI at the Canyon; DAVE RAWLINGS MACHINE at the Troubadour; REDEMPTION at the Whisky A Go-Go.
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