Rock Picks: Rooney, Lili Haydn, Dizzee Rascal
THURSDAY, JULY 17
Courtesy Geffen Records
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Rooney: We are the world.
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Lili Haydn fiddles about.
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The Duke Spirit shakes a tail feather.
The Duke Spirit at the Hammer Museum
“No one wastes time quite like I do,” Liela Moss sings charmingly somber over Toby Butler’s lulling bass in a quiet interlude before the incoming fuzz storm of “Wooden Heart,” from the Duke Spirit’s recent album, Neptune. She’s a mesmerizing time waster, maintaining a cool Mariska Veres/Grace Slick serenity even when she’s banging sinuously against her tambourine, blowing occasional harmonica and stalking around the stage like a natural-born rock star. Guitarists Luke Ford and Daniel Higgins come up with some interesting sonic swells without noodling or resorting to typical solos, while Butler and drummer Olly Betts are strong and non-flashy, keeping everything moving with a compulsively throbbing drive on such midtempo rockers as “The Step and the Walk” and a lighter touch on more spectral pop tunes like “My Sunken Treasure.” There’s something unique and organic about this British band even as there’s something instantly classic and familiar about them. There’s something momentous about them as well — one gets the feeling they’ll be playing much bigger places very soon. 10899 Wilshire Blvd. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
GIRL IN A COMA at Alex’s Bar; RAUL MALO at the Canyon; BODIES OF WATER, HENRY CLAY PEOPLE at the Echo; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo at the Coronet; BUSHWALLA, ZACH BROOCKE at the Mint; MISS DERRINGER at Safari Sam’s; JASON FALKNER at Spaceland; HARRY & THE POTTERS at the Troubadour.
FRIDAY, JULY 18
Rooney at House of Blues
When Rooney’s self-titled debut appeared five years back, this young, well-connected (singer Robert Carmine is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola) and well-groomed (drummer Ned Brower is a former Gap model) L.A. quintet looked like a label-created, garage-rock boy band: a kind of Cobrasnake take on the guitar-driven “The” outfits then swaggering in from the East Coast and England. They’ve proved to be almost the opposite: a hard-touring group of musical mates who cared enough to scrap their crucial second album twice (it eventually appeared last year as Calling the World) while earnestly pursuing harmony-hooked Cali pop. The silver-spoon circumstances that hurt Rooney’s cred help their music, their dearth of desperation allowing them to patiently hew their Blur-y Beach Boys/Beatles/new wave brew into a focused guilty pleasure. While their “people” may be clueless — tour-pairing them with the likes of the Jonas Brothers, Kelly Clarkson and Fergie — Carmine & company know exactly what they’re doing. (Paul Rogers)
Wolf Parade at the Henry Fonda Theater
This Montreal-based indie-rock quartet just released its sophomore set, At Mount Zoomer, three years after Wolf Parade first caused an underground commotion with Apologies to the Queen Mary, its appealingly ramshackle debut. Three years is a fairly long wait by blog-scene standards, but you can understand the delay when you take into account the fact that these guys have spent that time playing in a panoply of well-regarded side projects, including Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown, Handsome Furs and Frog Eyes. Perhaps because the members’ attentions were divided during the run-up to its creation, Zoomer isn’t quite as bracing — or as tuneful — as Queen Mary (whose title is a nod to some damage Wolf Parade caused aboard the ocean liner during the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Long Beach a few years ago). But this is still one of indie’s most electrifying live acts; expect Zoomer’s boring bits to accrue some kick tonight. Also Sat. (Mikael Wood)
Powder at the Key Club
With onstage high jinks that include synchronized dance moves with blow-up dolls and impressively athletic aerialist feats, Powder are a fun group of goofy cutups who don’t claim to be making any profound musical statements. But it would be unwise to underestimate this popular local band or become distracted too much by the theatrics of singer Ninette Terhart and her high-flying dancers, because they put a lot of hard work and professionalism into their lively three-ring-circus spectacles. Powder’s humbly titled new CD, Nothing (which comes with an entertaining behind-the-scenes DVD), reveals the band’s commercial potential, thanks in part to the tastefully crazed embellishments of guitarist Phil X. Like a naughty Barbie doll come to life, Terhart coos energetic anthems that range from punky hard rockers like “Watch Me Fly” to such gauzy new-wave tunes as “Underneath Me” and the aptly titled “Funny Girl.” She’s a persuasive pop thrush on “Wonderful World,” which is colored by Phil X’s swirling, Hendrixy guitar, and the soulful ballad “I Don’t Believe in Your Smile,” which surprises with laid-back acoustic guitars and a stately string section. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
BITTER: SWEET at El Rey Theatre; DARKER MY LOVE, CRYSTAL ANTLERS at the Echo; WHITE RAINBOW, WHITE FANG, TOM WATSON, DAVID SCOTT STONE at Echo Curio; RHINO BUCKET, JETBOY, VAINS OF JENNA at FM Station; XU XU FANG at Mountain Bar; THE CONTROLLERS, THE DOGS at Relax Bar; VICTIMAS DEL DR. CEREBRO, SECTOR LIBERTAD at Safari Sam’s; EARLIMART, THE MOVIES at Spaceland; ADAM MARSLAND at Brennan’s Pub.
SATURDAY, JULY 19
Lili Haydn at the Roxy
The dazzlingly talented singer-violinist Lili Haydn is at her best on her recent CD, Place Between Places, when she strays from standard song structures and wanders into stranger landscapes. “Can’t Give Everything” and “Satellites” are well-crafted but seemingly unremarkable tracks until they digress into wilder passages where her soaring violin slithers enchantingly into Martin Tillman’s guttural distorted cello. Like Kate Bush, she transcends her sometimes facile imagery by layering everything in grandly lavish arrangements, especially on “Memory One,” a poignant ode to her mom that fills in its sparse piano backing with waves of welling fuzz and backwards sound effects. Her violin swoops and dips through “Saddest Sunset” with a woozy exoticism à la John Lennon’s “#9 Dream” that’s undercut only by the clichéd words; lyrics are an instrument too, and the weaker ones here distract from the impressive musicianship. Haydn, who accompanied Roger Waters at Coachella this year, closes the album with a majestic Pink Floyd–style ramble through Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” which is inlaid with frantic curlicues of spacy wah-wah violin. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
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Summer Darling: Our bassist has fallen and cant get up.
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Baka Beyonds transglobal hoedown
WOLF PARADE at Henry Fonda Theater; THE ZOMBIES at the Canyon; DEVON WILLIAMS, SILVER DAGGERS at the Echo; GIRL IN A COMA, VON IVA, KILLOLA at Knitting Factory; JANEANE GAROFALO at Largo; TALL FIRS at Mountain Bar; BONEBRAKE SYNCOPATORS at Redwood Bar & Grill; KINGSIZEMAYBE at Taix; VERY BE CAREFUL, ERIC BACHMANN at Tangier.
SUNDAY, JULY 20
Download 2008 at Gibson Amphitheatre
Just as the once-disparate performers of the early punk explosion inevitably devolved into mere formula and codified styles, post-punk bands like Gang of Four were expanding sonic possibilities by making music that was more aggressively experimental and less retro. While it’s heartening to see Gang of Four finally get some long-overdue recognition for its sound — which takes massively jagged shards of maxi-funk and pairs them with catchy, propaganda-like slogans (“I Love a Man in Uniform”) — it’s worrisome that this forward-looking band might succumb to the fuzzy nostalgia that’s encompassed so many of their peers. But it’s encouraging that GoF are billed tonight not just with other blasts from the past — such as the Jesus & Mary Chain, whose influential, chocolate-&-poison-laced candied echoes sometimes reveal a hollow core — but with new musicians like the unpredictably arty guitarist Kaki King, Norse electro gods Datarock and the trippy New Orleans combo Mute Math. Keep an eye on that Love-lovin’ British combo the Duke Spirit, who have been hovering around L.A. for the past few weeks. The Dukies have a compelling heaviness and moody drive that’s softened by singer Liela Moss’ bewitching charisma and idealistically yearning lyrics, with memorable songs that end up somewhere between the Cult at their most magical and the Nymphs at their most melodic. (Falling James)
Pierced Arrows at Spaceland
Authenticity is a precious commodity in modern garage-rock, with many young bands today looking fairly silly in their grandparents’ hand-me-down psychedelic duds, but Fred “Deep Soul” Cole is as real as rock & roll gets. He got his start on the Sunset Strip in the ’60s with such bands as the Weeds and the Lollipop Shoppe (who released a classic garage-rock nugget of decidedly sinister paranoia, “You Must Be a Witch,” in 1968) before moving to Portland and launching an underrated Led Zep–style hard rock band, Zipper, in the early ’70s. (Cole’s distinctive howling vocal style was even praised by an early fan named Janis Joplin.) When punk rock hit the PacNorWest, Cole and his bassist-wife, Toody Cole, didn’t need to change their sound to fit in; if anything, punk rock belatedly caught up with the stripped-down, elemental and raucously raw music Fred had been making since his teens. More recently, the Coles have reconfigured their long-running band Dead Moon as Pierced Arrows, augmented by new drummer Kelly Halliburton on such quintessential ravers as “In My Brain” and the sublime pop-fuzz crush of “Caroline.” (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
FEIST, SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS at Hollywood Bowl; MURPHY’S LAW, THE JOHNS, G.G. ELVIS at Alex’s Bar; AZALIA SNAIL at Echo Curio; EEK-A-MOUSE at Malibu Inn; THE BLASTERS, JON RAUHOUSE at Safari Sam’s, 12:30 p.m.; ELENI MANDELL at Tangier.
MONDAY, JULY 21
JAIL WEDDINGS, THE MOON UPSTAIRS, THE MAKEOUT PARTY at the Echo; TERRA NAOMI, LESLIE & THE BADGERS at the Hotel Café.
TUESDAY, JULY 22
Summer Darling at the Echo
“We eat our young to keep you guessing,” Ben Heywood sings intriguingly before the rousing hook of “Ride This Wave of Good Feelings,” from Summer Darling’s latest EP, Good Feeling (Origami Music). Bassist Heather Bray belies her last name by lending some coolly sleek harmonies as the song gathers momentum and crashes magnificently into shore. “I’ve decided that nothing is worth my time,” Heywood declares airily as he contemplates the cost of heavy partying on the rueful “Born Again,” buttressed by Bray’s soulfully probing bass and Dan Rossiter’s lovely overlapping guitars. Spokes of similarly glimmering guitars light up the indie-rock tune “The Zealot,” while the contrastingly downbeat “Young Forever” is a sparse piano ballad that feels forever (Neil) young. Whether he’s turning religion inside out or looking at life from within a bottle, Heywood is an interesting lyricist, and his band mates provide suitably sympathetic, low-key settings for him to launch his flights of fanciful wondering/wandering. (Falling James)
Peter Walker at the Echoplex
A looming figure on the Greenwich Village folk scene of the late ’60s, guitarist Peter Walker studied with Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan and was Timothy Leary’s musical director for the good doctor’s infamous LSD rituals. Walker more notably made two albums of a uniquely exploratory folk-raga for the Vanguard label that have in recent times elevated his status as a major influence on a modern-day bunch of avant-acoustic players, including Jack Rose, Thurston Moore and Six Organs of Admittance’s Ben Chasny. Their interest in Walker owes in large part to his crucial 1966 album, Rainy Day Raga, which many of this younger generation of guitarists paid tribute to on last year’s glorious A Raga for Peter Walker on the Tompkins Square label. Tompkins has additionally just released Walker’s first new record in 40 years, Echo of My Soul, wherein this wizardly plucker explores a newfound fascination with flamenco to extraordinarily fresh effect. This is a rare appearance by a deservedly legendary master. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday:
JAY BRANNAN at El Rey Theatre; RAY DAVIES at Grove of Anaheim; STRAY CATS, JOE ELY at Pacific Amphitheatre; BABYLAND at Spaceland; JAMES McMURTRY at the Troubadour.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23
Hercules & Love Affair at the Echo
Any moment now, it will be termed prog-disco or sexy-cheese-disco or even chamber-disco. Whatever the case, the “-disco” must be appended and heeded, for it is BACK. Hercules & Love Affair’s version of disco can make you wish it had never gone away — really. A former Denver leather-bar DJ named Andrew Butler is the producer behind Hercules & Love Affair, who have created a hugely trendy, self-titled new album on Mute/DFA. Butler and guests including idiosyncratic warblers Antony Hegarty (of “and the Johnsons” renown) and Kim Ann Foxman explore classic themes of Greco-Roman wrestling and bizarre sex under the moonlight over atmosphere-rich and gloriously melodic tracks that pay loving tribute to the electro-disco and Chicago house style that made them what they are today, which is somewhat messed-up and happy to be that way. H and L.A. are setting Europe, at least, on fire with their surreally smooth and simply sleazy disco seduction; open-minded sensualist young Americans are now invited to writhe into the orgy. (John Payne)
Also playing Wednesday:
STEELY DAN at Nokia Theatre; THE BOWMANS, JUDITH OWEN at the Hotel Café; INARA GEORGE & VAN DYKE PARKS at Tangier.
THURSDAY, JULY 24
The Rescues at the Hotel Café
Singer-songwriters Kyler England, Gabriel Mann and Adrianne became familiar with one another in the Hotel Café scene, where each achieved some individual, if limited, success (all made Music Connection’s 2007 Hot 100 Unsigned list). Last year, a fan hired the three to play at his wedding, and they struck such a musical spark that they decided to band together as the Rescues. Each brings a different quality — Adrianne has a feisty, punkish energy, Kyler projects a more angelic presence, and keyboardist Gabriel holds down the middle — but they blend marvelously. Listening to their harmonizing on their upcoming disc, Crazy Ever After, it’s hard to believe they’ve only been playing together for about a year. Their voices take flight on the soaring opener, “Lost Along the Way,” and rarely land again. Their music, however, isn’t all soft edges. The gorgeously crafted rocker “Break Me Out” has already found music-supervisor love (getting showcased on Army Wives) and seems destined to break out big. (Michael Berick)
Baka Beyond at Skirball Cultural Center
Not all musical hybrids are as organic as those in the botanical realm, but Baka Beyond’s Afro-Celtic graftings have flourished better than most. Maybe it’s the forest connection. Martin Cradick and Su Hart first lived with the Baka people in the Cameroonian deep green in the early 1990s, developing lasting friendships, as well as an abiding love of the bird-song hocketing of yelli music, which first bloomed with Baka Beyond’s debut, Spirit of the Forest. The band have garnered a global fan base since then, but their friends back in the emerald canopy have never been far from Cradick’s and Hart’s thoughts. They have visited as often as possible, recording there and starting the Global Music Exchange to funnel royalties back to the Baka, culminating in the construction of a traditional-style music house. The current Baka Beyond — pan-African and pan-Celtic in membership and songcraft — strikes chords celebratory and mystic, jaunty and melancholy, a testament to the planetary potential for vibrational positivity. (Tom Cheyney)
Dizzee Rascal at the Echoplex
“Let’s take it back to that old-school storytelling shit,” Dizzee Rascal raps in “Sirens,” from last year’s Maths + English, the third record by the U.K.’s premier grime export. Rascal’s story (raised in a contemporary nonfiction version of Oliver Twist; sorting out a new direction for hip-hop on his 2003 debut, Boy in da Corner; winning Britan’s coveted Mercury Prize at 19 years old) has been told over Corner, 2004’s half-hearted Showtime and the excellent, charged Maths + English. Grime, an aggressive pastiche that includes Jamaican dancehall, British garage rock and American rap, only took hold in the U.S. insofar as Dizzee’s moderate, if emblematic stateside success. His pained squawk delivers stories worth the telling, mostly through heightened and artful literalism and a less-cartoonish version of the gangsta-rap tradition, backed by awkward, often grinding, DIY beats that render the music as a bottom-up social broadcast rather than headphone entertainment. (Kate Carraway)
Also playing Thursday:
TOKYO POLICE CLUB, AFTERNOONS at the Hammer Museum; YAZ, PSYCHEDELIC FURS at Pacific Amphitheatre; THE HEALTH CLUB at Mr. T’s Bowl; BURNING BRIDES, NEBULA at Safari Sam’s; ANAVAN at the Smell; RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS at the Viper Room.
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