Rock Picks: Rain Machine, Pearl Jam, Wallpaper, Bon Iver, Dodos
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Autolux at El Rey Theatre
L.A.’s Autolux play densely arty guitar rock that sounds like what you might hear in a bar scene in a futuristic movie version of a Cormac McCarthy novel — brutal but seductive, cold-eyed yet full of feeling. (I’m not strictly imagining here: The Coen Brothers released the band’s 2004 debut, Future Perfect, through DMZ Records, their Sony Music imprint with T Bone Burnett.) Autolux haven’t gotten around to releasing Future Perfect’s follow-up yet, at least in part because the band’s members keep doing other stuff; Carla Azar, for instance, played drums on Polly Jean Harvey and John Parish’s recent A Woman a Man Walked By. According to the band, the disc is done, is titled Transit Transit and will be released in January on a yet-to-be-announced label. This show comes near the end of a month-long U.S. tour; reports from the road promise a preview of new material. (Mikael Wood)
Brodinski, The Shoes, Poney Poney at the Henry Fonda Theater
The French cities of Lille and Reims are far more suburban, sprawling and industrial than the seemingly Bell jar-encased, museum quality of Paris’ urban environment. The music that comes from those Northern cities emanates a different quality as well, and, in terms of dance and electronica, it’s an approach that’s almost hyperactive and adolescent when it thumbs its nose at Paris style. So Francophiles looking for some chic dance-pop akin to Air or Phoenix tonight might be disappointed to hear France’s snot-nosed, bad boy DJs Brodinski and the Shoes with their sweaty concoctions of equal parts pure thumping disco and relentless ass-busting house. Brodinski has mixed it up with the likes of Soul Wax and Tiga, and has remixed everybody from the Klaxons to Das Pop. The Shoes spin a pop rendition more like dance kings Justice and slur on and on about cigarettes, cocaine and fast food. The only true band here, Poney Poney (a.k.a. Jamaica) — who happen to be produced by Xavier de Rosnay of Justice — throw down an infectious co-mingling of noisy new-wave and thundering dance rock on real instruments, including actual drums. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Friday:
DJ QUIK at House of Blues; BON IVER at the Wiltern; PORTUGAL THE MAN at the Troubadour; AHMAD JAMAL at the Nate Holden Performance Arts Center; JOGGER, JOHN RUF & THE TUFFINGTONS at the Bootleg Theater; MANIC STREET PREACHERS, NICO VEGA at Avalon; OM, LICHENS at the Echoplex; PAULINA RUBIO at Nokia Theatre; PITBULL at Club Nokia; RODRIGO Y GABRIELA at the Orpheum; TELEFON TEL AVIV, THE RACE at Spaceland; RAIN MACHINE at the Echo; AL JARREAU, BRIAN McKNIGHT, DAVID BENOIT, JAMES TORME at the Greek Theatre; JON BRION at Largo at the Coronet; PROTECT ME, SHARK TOYS, WOAH HUNX, PEARL HARBOUR at the Smell; IRIS DEMENT at McCabe’s.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
Rain Machine at the Getty Center
With the manically brilliant Brooklyn band TV on the Radio taking a yearlong hiatus, which officially started earlier this month, singer-guitarist Kyp Malone gets a chance to wave his own freak flag high. He’s got a new solo project, Rain Machine, with a self-titled CD that was just released on Anti- Records. He designed the cover art and played all of the instruments on the record, which ranges from the fuzzy punk-funk of “Give Blood” to the ethereal Americana of “Driftwood Heart,” where assorted stringed instruments and keyboards culminate in a wonderfully trippy coda. Surreal lyrics and shimmering coils of guitars float through the spaced-out ballads “New Last Name” and “Desperate Bitch” like an inspired pairing of Prince and the Clean. At times, Malone’s double-tracked vocals can get a bit claustrophobic, but his nonstop flow of ideas and inventive arrangements are nonetheless impressive. Also at the Echo, Fri. (Falling James)
Cotton Jones at Spaceland
Cotton Jones have a sound that’s as simple and folksy as their name. Of course, things are never quite as simple as they might seem. The Cumberland, Maryland, duo of Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw started out as the Cotton Jones Basket Ride, a spinoff of Nau’s indie-folk group Page France, but now they’re his full-time project. And while Cotton Jones’ new full-length record, Paranoid Cocoon (Suicide Squeeze Records), has its straightforward down-home moments, such as the acoustic interlude “By Morning Light,” with its lulling strings, sleigh bells and whistling, it also has a few surprises. “Some Strange Rain” evokes its title via watery pings of guitar and Nau and McGraw’s weave of laid-back harmonies. “I was floating around in a sea of sound,” they chant on the urgently groovy ’60s soul-pop lament “Gotta Cheer Up,” which, indeed, floats around quite nicely in a sea of sound. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
ALTER EGO, MISS KITTIN at Avalon; STAN RIDGWAY, DOUG PAISLEY at McCabe’s; THE DEADLY SYNDROME, ESKIMO HUNTER, THE POLYAMOROUS AFFAIR at El Rey Theatre; SOJA, JOHN BROWN’S BODY at the Key Club; TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST, OF THE HORIZON at the Bootleg Theater; SUGAR RAY at House of Blues; COMMON, THE ROOTS, DE LA SOUL, NAS, LUDACRIS at the Palladium.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
Bon Iver at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Bon Iver’s stunning debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, is all about place and transcendence. It was famously written and recorded over a winter spent in a Wisconsin hunting shack — a result of Justin Vernon needing some time off from normalcy as well as looking for a new beginning. Imagine, then, that soulful set of songs being performed by Vernon and his band as the sun rises over a place where people typically go after they’ve already succumbed to the cold. If you can get past the creepiness of sleeping on cemetery grass, this might be one of the musical experiences of the year. Hollywood Forever’s gates open on Saturday night at midnight, and the show starts at 6 a.m. Sunday morning (though the sleepover isn’t mandatory). Entertainment will be provided at night; coffee and pastries will greet the faithful in the morning. Provided, of course, the zombies don’t get them first. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the Bon Iver song, “Creature Fear.” Also at the Wiltern, Fri. (Chris Martins)
Dodos at El Rey Theatre
In the gently experimental mode, a more über-pleasant indie rock than the Dodos’ would be hard to come by, and that’s no diss at all. The duo of singer/guitarist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber made good use of the inviting head room allowed via limited instrumentation on their 2008 Visiter album, where Long’s furiously strummed or finely spider-picked acoustic guitars and rich-toned voice spun so easily around Kroeber’s athletic and consistently surprising polyrhythms — an aggressively pastoral effect, let’s call it, not entirely unlike that of English Settlement-era XTC. The new Time to Die (Frenchkiss) adds vibes player Keaton Snyder, whose minimal enhancements heighten the mood-elevation several notches. All this pretty sound, best of all, acts to cloak some very well-written songs, whose complex hooks are well worth the patience it takes to hear them bubble to the surface. (John Payne)
Also playing Sunday:
ABBOT KINNEY FESTIVAL FEAT. EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS, JULIETTE COMMAGERE, ESKIMO HUNTER, DIOS, OTHERS at Abbot Kinney; REVOLTING COCKS, JIM ROSE CIRCUS, BLOWNLOAD at House of Blues; KOOL & THE GANG, NILE RODGERS & CHIC, MAXINE NIGHTINGALE, VILLAGE PEOPLE at the Hollywood Bowl; !!! at the Troubadour; BLU, EXILE at the Roxy; NIKKOLE, RAHSHAD at the Mint; DAVE ALVIN, THE FLATLANDERS at Kachina Express; TWEAK BIRD, 60 WATT KID, AUDITORY APHASIA at the Knitting Factory; DAN HICKS & HIS HOT LICKS at McCabe’s; KID KOALA at the Key Club.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
Blitzen, Trapper, Wye Oak at El Rey Theatre
The Baltimore duo Wye Oak have an interesting way of making music. Jenn Wasner sings and strums guitar, while Andy Stack manages to play drums with his feet and one hand while simultaneously pumping keyboard bass lines with his other hand. Lest you think that they’re just some lo-fi novelty act, Wye Oak actually have a big, full sound that matches the expansive moodiness of their songwriting. On their recent CD, The Knot (Merge Records), Wasner churns out towering grunge riffs that crumble into vast sonic canyons, which seem empty at first, until Stack’s production reveals wisps of psychedelic pedal steel and violin wending their way through the crashing silence. Such cloudy epics as “Mary Is Mary” and “Take It In” come off like Jesse Sykes backed by a Pink Floyd–inspired one-man band. Whether she’s tugging mountainous seas of feedback from her amp or keeping her hazy country idylls at a low jangle, Wasner generally sings with an unforced and coolly dreamy melodicism. Close your eyes, and she and Stack will sound much grander than they might appear onstage, opening tonight for arty Portland folkies Blitzen Trapper. (Falling James)
Also playing Monday:
DAVY KNOWLES at the Mint; LESLIE & THE BADGERS, SIAN ALICE GROUP, BEST COAST, PAPERPLANES at the Echo; SAINT MOTEL, GANGI, MISSISSIPPI MAN, LINKS at Spaceland; THE ICARUS LINE, BROKEN MIRRORS, NOMAN at the Silverlake Lounge.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Wallpaper at Cinespace
They’re the new Michael Jacksons: Keeping their noses to the grindstone, Bay Area dudes Eric Frederic and beatkeeper Arjun Singh produced and recorded the wonderwall of danceable sonic rubbish unfortunately called Doodoo Face (Eeenie Meenie). This is a very funny thang, greasy glittery funk liberally drizzled with monster beats, aerified ’80s polysynth chord garbage, supa-bowel-cleansing bass and, you were asking, heavy loads of Vocoder (thank you, Roger Troutman). Check their track “I Got Soul, I’m So Wasted,” where it’s like irony to the 90th power but it just doesn’t matter; singer Ricky Reed creepy-croons it all out with genuine charisma, like he believes in himself (very important). The duo’s P-Funk-Arabian Prince-Debarge whatever-type party sleaze simply sounds real good right now. You may know Wallpaper, as well, from Frederic’s recent renegade remix/mashup of Jay-Z’s “Death of Autotune” and “99 Problems,” in which the producer feeds Jay-Z’s rap through ... you guessed it, Autotune. (He also rewrites the chorus of “99 Problems” to include the line, “I got 99 problems but my pitch ain’t one.”) (John Payne)
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
At last, Hope Sandoval has found the appropriate setting to unveil her funereal, languidly enchanting songs. The trees, tombs and ghosts at Hollywood Forever Cemetery will bear solemn witness as she coos the darkly romantic ballads from her latest CD, Through the Devil Softly (Nettwerk). Although she’s best known for her time in Mazzy Star, Sandoval has been singing to half-hidden spirits for much of her life, starting with the obscure mid-’80s Alhambra teenage acoustic duo Going Home, where she set the template for such sweetly morbid spellbinding long before Chan Marshall discovered her own catlike powers. (Some enterprising label should put out Going Home’s unreleased recordings, which blend childlike innocence and eerie obsession in a way that’s starker and more chilling than her later work with Mazzy Star.) With the Warm Inventions, Sandoval heats up — a little — raking together muted strains of piano, guitar and cello to cobble up a gently mesmerizing glow at the heart of a glassy, icy world. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW, DIRT BLUE GENE at the John Anson Ford Theater; STEEP CANYON RANGERS at Largo; BEN HARPER, BENJI MADDEN, JOEL MADDEN, JONNY LANG, SHERYL CROW at Club Nokia; TIM EXILE, WE ARE THE WORLD at the Echo; THE 88, QUAZAR AND THE BAMBOOZLED, PIERRE DE REEDER, OH DARLING at Spaceland; FOOL’S GOLD at Amoeba Music.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
Pearl Jam, Ben Harper & Relentless7 at the Gibson Amphitheatre
With the possible exception of Fucked Up, Pearl Jam are probably the last band in the world you’d expect to pair with a big-box retailer to distribute a new studio album. As of this past Tuesday, though — provided you’re among the great number of Americans who live without the Internet in a city without a mom-and-pop record store — the only place to buy PJ’s Backspacer is Target. (While you’re there you can pick up Christina Aguilera’s Target-only Keeps Gettin’ Better: A Decade of Hits.) Backspacer is a back-to-basics blast of post-grunge rock that feels as vital as anything they’ve done before; it should silence skeptics who think these indie-minded Seattlites have gone (or stayed) corporate in more than a technical sense. Folk-rock fave Ben Harper released his first album with Relentless7 (instead of the Innocent Criminals) earlier this year; like much of his work, it’s a little dull but certainly means well. Also Thurs. (Mikael Wood)
Seasons at the Silverlake Lounge
Highland Park’s Seasons really pile on the shimmering keyboards, fuzz-heavy guitars, saturated synths, loads of effects pedals and an occasional beating laptop, accordion or harmonica riffing in the background. It’s a messy place to start, but the pieces always fall together to form a dreamy emo-pop concoction. Needless to say, Seasons’ sound is full and showy, building up to great heights then lilting low into soft, cuddly breakdowns. These guys are true sentimentalists, with their Christmas lights strewn on the stage and “I Heart Highland Park” stickers on their gear, hints of late nights listening to the Cure and the Beatles’ love songs over and over again are evident in the their work. But these six Eastside bros (plus other musical pals who get thrown into the mix from time to time) aren’t all goo on the inside. They’re not afraid to show their man feelings because they can shred too — especially when they channel their inner jam band. After releasing their EP Summer in August — with help from the Movies’ Timothy James — they’ve played around town a ton (at L’Keg, Mr. T’s and Echo Curio) and made a place for themselves on several “band to watch” lists. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Wednesday:
ALICE IN CHAINS at Avalon; DATAROCK, ESSER, KAV at El Rey Theatre; EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, VOXHAUL BROADCAST, SAMUEL STEWART, RADIO FREQ at the Echo; PAPER ROUTE, TOY HORSES at Spaceland; STEEP CANYON RANGERS at Largo at the Coronet; SOULS OF MISCHIEF at the Troubadour.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1
Pocahaunted, Experimental Dental School, Foot Village, Railcars at The Smell
As far as pun-y portmanteaus go, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more aptly conceived than this Eagle Rock band’s name. Pocahaunted — helmed by Amanda and Britt Brown of Not Not Fun Records — sounds quite literally like the halfway point between a rain dance and a séance. The band’s dubby, trance-inducing tribal jams bring New York’s Gang Gang Dance to mind, but in a heavier, more analog way. Portland’s Experimental Dental School (or PDX’s XDS if you’re into that whole brevity thing) combines complex pop arrangements with post-punk’s perfectly tinned melodic ear to create a rainy but cheerful sound not unlike Deerhoof’s. Foot Village is a different beast entirely — a “drum-n-shout” ensemble from Hollywood whose co-ed membership crowds around four kits worth of drums, and pounds the shit out of them while barking out lyrics hailing from “the first nation built after the foreseeable apocalypse.” They even made an album of the stuff, Anti-Magic, and its cover is bedecked with the collective’s naked bodies as they wage war against a strange wizard. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Thursday:
WARREN G at the Roxy; SONUS QUARTET at the Bootleg Theater; DWIGHT YOAKAM, EMMYLOU HARRIS, MELISSA ETHERIDGE, VINCE GILL at Club Nokia; THE HORRORS, JAPANESE MOTORS at El Rey Theatre; LIGHTNING DUST, CAVE SINGERS at the Echo; DESOLATION WILDERNESS, DEVON WILLIAMS, INFINITE BODY, CHRISTMAS at the Silverlake Lounge.
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