Rock Picks: Scarcity of Tanks, the Walkmen, Chromeo
THURSDAY, JANUARY 15
BRIAN WILSON at the Grammy Museum; ALAN PARSONS LIVE PROJECT at Grove of Anaheim; THE CRYSTELLES at the Airliner; SEAN WHEELER & ZANDER SCHLOSS at Alex’s Bar; ERIC JOHNSON at Brixton South Bay; STANLEY CLARKE at the Canyon; LEILA BROUSSARD at the Hotel Café; THREE INCHES OF BLOOD at the Key Club; LA MATATENA ROYAL CLUB, LA BANDA SKALAVERA at the Knitting Factory; FIONA APPLE, NIKKA COSTA, BEN LEE at Largo; THE STUDIOFIX at Silverlake Lounge; ENTRANCE BAND, INDIAN JEWELRY at the Troubadour; JACK BREWER REUNION BAND, SCARCITY OF TANKS at Harold’s Place, San Pedro.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 16
Sound Tribe Sector 9, Prefuse 73 at the Wiltern
Did somebody say “jam band”? But wait, there’s no Hacky Sack, no tie-dye, and what’s with all those laptops (like four of ’em) onstage? If you haven’t figured it out by now, Sound Tribe Sector 9 are not your average jam band. Sure, they noodle on guitars, but the five-piece are more spacy than crunchy, and when they drop acid, it’s in their synth squelches (à la the Roland TB303) and not in a tab of LSD. Originally from Atlanta, they relocated to Northern California, putting out their first album as Sector 9 in 1999. While they have a sturdy drum-&-bass background, their last album, Artifact, had them venturing out, finding some neo-electro and techno friends in Richard Divine and Bassnectar. The mostly instrumental opus Peaceblaster is their first release on their new 1320 imprint. Glitch master Prefuse 73 is the opening act on Friday, and Glitch Mob opens Saturday night. (Daniel Siwek)
The Muffs, The Dollyrots at Spaceland
The long-running SoCal punk-pop trio the Muffs would be worth seeing live if only to marvel at former Redd Kross drummer Roy McDonald, who plays with the controlled chaos of the late-’60s Keith Moon, battering and rampaging his way through the songs like a stunt man falling down a staircase — always landing on his feet and in perfect time, snapping to attention with the crack of his snare drum. Bounding recklessly around the stage with a Great Dane’s nervous energy, bassist Ronnie Barnett is more than just the lead singer’s occasional punching bag; he’s a knowledgeable music fanatic who’s trapped halfway between being a rock star and a terminal fan-boy geek. But the real star of the Muffs is Kim Shattuck, the group’s main songwriter, lead singer and lead-and-only guitarist. It’s not just that she writes winsomely memorable pop songs; Shattuck underlines her madcap melodies with poison-pen lyrics and sarcastic social observations like an Orange County/Valley Girl mutation of the Kinks’ Ray Davies. Then she buries any trace of pop lightness with her completely pulverizing, fuzzed-out power chords. Hey, hey, they’re not the Monkees: Even with one guitar, the Muffs are loud. Meanwhile, former CSI: NY guest stars the Dollyrots toughened up their pop-punk sound considerably on their 2007 CD, Because I’m Awesome (on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records), coming much closer to the Muffs’ sublime sonic crunch with exuberant originals like the title track and a pumped-up version of Woodstock-era folkie Melanie’s “Brand New Key.” (Falling James)
Scarcity of Tanks at the Smell
You can never have enough tanks, which is why the Cleveland rocker/ranter/nihilist Matthew Wascovich is bringing out the big guns for his debut Southland shows. His ever-mutating Ohio collective Scarcity of Tanks is augmented tonight by several local heavy hitters, including the subtly sparkling Television-style guitarist Tom Watson (Slovenly, Overpass) and the fully raging bassist Mike Watt (the Minutemen, Firehose, Dos, the Madonnabees, Banyan, the Stooges, the Secondmen and seemingly every other group in the known rock-funk-jazz-punk universe). Cleveland wise guy John Petkovic (Cobra Verde, Death of Samantha) is also part of the gang, in a rare West Coast appearance, although he’s apparently just playing guitar and won’t be crooning any of his own morbidly cynical tunes, which is a pity. (Cobra Verde’s cheerfully titled recent album, Haven’t Slept All Year, is another decadently swanky set of glitter-pomp rockers.) Backed by such disparately cool musicians, Wascovich should provide plenty of anti-entertainment as he howls over free-noise interludes like “Hedge Over Height” and “Recalling Practice,” as well as sludgy post-punk blasts from the Tanks’ new CD, No Endowments (Textile Records), and a thunderously ragged sonic reduction of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My.” Also at Harold’s Place in San Pedro, Thurs., Jan. 15; and Dipiazza’s, Sat. (Falling James)
The Dogs, Wild Weekend at the Redwood Bar & Grill
The Dogs were not only one of the earliest L.A. punk bands (predating even the Controllers and the Weirdos), but they were one of the first punk bands, period. They released their debut single, “John Rock and Roll Sinclair” (a cheeky, Chuck Berry–fueled shout-out to the former MC5 manager and White Panther Party activist) in 1976, but the trio’s roots actually stretch back to 1969, when they formed in Lansing, Michigan. After relocating to L.A. in the mid-’70s, the Dogs sped up their MC5 and Stooges influences and came up with a new sound that was even harder, meaner and ruder than their Motor City idols on such proto-punk ravers as “Slash Your Face” and “Fed Up.” They also revealed a restless, Who-like melodicism on more ambitions songs like “Younger Point of View” before breaking up in 1979. They reunited two decades later, releasing most of their early lost classics on the essential 2001 compilation Fed Up (Dionysus Records). Even better, singer-guitarist Loren Molinare (who also plays with hard-rockers Little Caesar) and founding bassist Mary Dryer proved their current relevance with an all-new 2003 CD, Suburban Nightmare, a typically fiery assortment of raw-power rockers like the autobiographical “Class of ’70” (when “Iggy was president” and “my big brother” was a “napalm baby ... heading off to Vietnam,” as Molinare sings). Much of the Dogs’ awesome live fury is captured on their new concert DVD, Purity Not Perfection. San Diego’s Wild Weekend started out as a mere tribute band, putting a femme-pop garage-rock twist to their Zeros covers, but their sound was so engagingly unique, they’ve finally started writing their own future classics. (Falling James)
Also playing Friday:
BOYZ II MEN at Club Nokia; DELTA SPIRIT, EVEREST at El Rey Theatre; EMILY WELLS, ELENI MANDELL, THERESA ANDERSSON at the Hotel Cafe; MARC BROUSSARD, JESSIE BAYLIN at House of Blues; BARRINGTON LEVY at Key Club; JON BRION at Largo; PETER ROWAN at McCabe’s; TALIB KWELI & IDLE WARSHIP at the Roxy.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 17
Fool’s Gold at the Troubadour
A perfect party band, Fool’s Gold finds local songsmith Luke Top and Foreign Born guitarist Lewis Pesacov backed by a changing cast of fellow travelers in rousing pursuit of communal revelry. Phalanxes of guitars chime and clang a mesh of crisp, clean melody. A drum kit locks on a syncopated shuffle, as countless extra limbs provide bongo thwacks, conga smacks and tambourine splashes. A lone bass, thick and deep amid the trebly latticework, kneads gelatinous orbs. Balmy synths hum in soothing billows. Top’s voice leads the charge, booming Hebrew verses, and the whole group responds en masse to his calls. The lilting guitar music of West Africa is an obvious touchstone. In fact, Fool’s Gold have already popped up on France’s radar — the arts program Tracks flew out to Echo Park to hold court with them. Then again, who else is weaving cantorial yearning through the tuneful electricity of Afro-Islamic jangle and the tribal antics of Adam & the Ants? (Bernardo Rondeau)
The Deadbeats, Ravens Moreland at Que Sera
Of all the Hollywood punks in the late ’70s, the Deadbeats were probably the weirdest and most openly unsettling, apart from Black Randy & the Metro Squad or maybe the Screamers. The Deadbeats had an abrasive jazz-noise delivery on such rabid bursts as “Hooked on Jailbait” and “What Would Happen if My Body Left Without Me?” that seriously tested the (presumably) open minds of the new punk generation. Scott Guerin hectored his audience as he took down cultural icons on “Let’s Shoot Maria” and “Kill the Hippies.” (Homicide has always been a favorite theme.) “Kill the Hippies” was the closest the Deadbeats ever came to a traditional punk (or pop) song, with deathless lyrics like “Kill them because their views were wrong” and “Send them back to San Francisco!” What elevates the recently reunited band from being a mere parody is that the current lineup’s players, including Sarah Tonin and former Screamers/45 Grave/Twisted Roots keyboardist Paul Roessler, are such subversively powerful musicians. They’re co-billed with Ravens Moreland, a.k.a. Bruce Moreland, a founding member of Wall of Voodoo who’s always worked with interesting folks ranging from Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano to synth-punks Nervous Gender. Creepily intriguing post-punk songs like “War Makes Great T.V.” and “Confused Gender” rumble atop sinister, throbbing bass lines. Mr. Ravens celebrates the release of his new solo album tonight. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
SOUND TRIBE SECTOR 9 at the Wiltern; AUTOLUX, WOODEN SHJIPS at Henry Fonda Theater; THE DITTY BOPS at McCabe’s; THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK at the Mint; MORMONS, THE STUDIOFIX at Pehrspace; LADY DOTTIE & THE DIAMONDS at the Redwood Bar & Grill; REBEL REBEL at Relax Bar; BILLY VERA at Rusty’s Surf Ranch; KINGSIZEMAYBE at Taix; L.A. GUNS at the Whisky; BACKBITER, CAROLYN EDWARDS, DAN CLUCAS, JOHN TALLEY-JONES at American Legion Post 206, Highland Park; THERESA ANDERSSON at Amoeba Music, 2 p.m.; SCARCITY OF TANKS at Dipiazza’s Lava Lounge; CHUPACOBRA at Old Towne Pub.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 18
THE DWARVES, LA RESISTENCIA at the Knitting Factory.
MONDAY, JANUARY 19
Harry Shearer at Largo at the Coronet
Plenty of creative types will be celebrating on Tuesday, but Harry Shearer — the writer-actor-musician best known for either his membership in Spinal Tap or his abundant voice work on The Simpsons — has different plans: He’s throwing a going-away party for George W. Bush at Largo the night before Barack Obama’s Inauguration. Shearer just earned a Grammy nomination for last year’s Songs of the Bushmen, on which he skewers various members of the Bush Administration with help from collaborators, including his wife, Judith Owen, fellow Spinal Tap alum C.J. Vanston and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers fame. (My favorite selection: “Smooth Moves,” a lite-jazz jam sung from the perspective of Colin Powell.) Tonight, Shearer will perform stuff from the album alongside his excellently named backing band, the High-Value Detainees. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Monday:
MAGICK ORDERS, THE HEALTH CLUB at Echo Curio; JAKE LA BOTZ at the Redwood Bar & Grill; ROCCO DELUCA, CORREATOWN, MUSEE MECANIQUE at Spaceland; THE CHELSEA SMILES at the Viper Room.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20
Ronnie Mack’s Barndance at El Cid
When Baltimore-born singer-guitarist Ronnie Mack started up his no-cover Barndance back in ’88, it seemed like a nice, low-key opportunity for midweek merrymaking — but, right out of the gate, it was one mother of a shebang. People like James Burton, the famed Ricky/Elvis/Jerry Lee ax-man, were jumping onstage, yet he was only the first in a long line of stellar visitors. Such rock and country kingpins as Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Owens, Mick Fleetwood and Del McCoury all made the scene, each magnetically drawn by Mack’s inexhaustible passion and kaleidoscopically inclusive booking policy (not to mention a crack house band, which has consistently featured the finest local players). Typically, this special 21st-anniversary edition gallops through the musical gamut, from Lightnin’ Willy’s blues to Big Manny’s Latin-tinged roots-rock, but maintains, as always, Mack’s devotion to country music, with tenured veterans like George Highfill, the superb Sad Cowboy from Oklahoma, and Bakersfield-schooled honky-tonk queen Kathy Robertson. Naturally, there’ll also be plenty of first-rate upstarts, poets and rebels and, inevitably, a whiz-bang jam with a few of those major-league drop-ins. Roll on, Ronnie. (Jonny Whiteside)
The Walkmen, Beach House at Henry Fonda Theater
You and Me (Gigantic Music) is the Walkmen’s latest, a precise and pointed rock & roll affair that finds the now-veteran New York/Philly band joyously fetishizing real and imagined retro roots, in both the boomy, live sound of the recording and in the songs’ timeless lyrical themes of breakup & makeup, keeping it real, growing up and movin’ on. Sizable loads of authentic, loose rock swagger — in recent times coupled with a sense of heightened purpose and happy drive — have from the start elevated the Walkmen above their Manhattan rock compatriots. Who knows where that comes from, but it’s a rare and great thing to witness any chance you get. Beach House is Baltimore duo Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, playing deeply moody shades of burnished-gold intimacy-pop, as heard so memorably on their shimmering Devotion album of about a year ago. This is deep-feeling stuff for triggering the memories — good ones and otherwise. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE MUTAYTOR at the Mayan; CASTLEDOOR, EARL GREYHOUND at the Echoplex; KING COTTON’S RUFF STOCK OUTFIT at Fais-Do; STAB CITY, PUSSYCOW at Juanita’s; REID PALEY at the Mint; MIKE STINSON at the Redwood Bar & Grill; BABYLAND at the Roxy; CRYSTAL ANTLERS, MAGIC LANTERN at the Smell; SARA LOV at Spaceland.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21
The Ettes at Spaceland
Usually, bands come to Los Angeles to make it in show biz, but former Angelenos the Ettes have seemingly flown much higher since relocating to Florida a few years ago. Living well — elsewhere — is apparently the best revenge, and the garage-punk trio’s new CD, Look at Life Again Soon (Take Root Records), is another fabulous assortment of ’60s big-beat pop and fuzzily slinky ’70s punk rock, produced once again with shadowy allure by Liam Watson (the White Stripes) at his infamous Toe Rag Studios in London. Singer-guitarist Coco Hames seems at first like a sweetly demure thrush on such girl-pop chansons as “Two Shakes,” but when she stomps on her fuzz box on harder tracks like “I Get Mine” and “Girls Are Mad,” she transforms herself into a spitfire avenger. Hames is simultaneously coolly serene and bewitchingly mysterious on the bluesy ramble “Chilled Hidebound Hearts,” as bassist Jem Cohen and drummer Poni Silver stir up a wicked lo-fi racket behind her. Songs like “I Heard Tell” may be rooted in retro grooves, but there’s something curiously timeless and immediate about the way the Ettes wrap themselves up in these old echoes. (Falling James)
Also playing Wednesday:
METRONOMY, THE MAE SHI at El Rey Theatre; SWORDS OF FATIMA, FARFLUNG, LILY MARLENE at the Bordello; CURUMIN, GUNS ’N BOMBS at the Echo; YAMI BOLO at the Echoplex; FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE at Largo; CAPTAIN SEAN WHEELER & ZANDER SCHLOSS at the Redwood Bar & Grill; 60 WATT KID, VOICES VOICES at Silverlake Lounge; BOLL WEEVIL at Taix.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 22
Chromeo at the Key Club
Chromeo robo-walk down the mothership’s ramp, chanting “Take me to your dealer!” through pawnshop vocoders before re-materializing at some word-of-mouth loft party full of American Apparel models. The Montreal-based pair produce electro-funk laced with dangerous doses of irony, introducing the club-staple synths of New Order and Human League to karaoke-evoking early Madonna disco-lite, the brittle guitars and optimistic keys of Billy Ocean and even that chummily vomit-inducing Ghost Busters theme. It’s a tired, oversaturated genre but, as ever, it’ll be the strong left standing, and Chromeo — alongside their Aussie cuzzes Cut Copy and the Presets — are rippling with DJ instincts. They grasp that those of a certain age want to be transported back to responsibility-free high school/college days and that, dammit, no one wants to be “challenged” by music all the time. Anyone on a stage has an ego, but Chromeo’s music is an escapist dance-floor soundtrack, not some self-pitying/-important window into their oh-so-fascinating souls. (Paul Rogers)
George Jones at San Manuel Indian Bingo
George Jones, the undisputed king of country music, has always been a weird, enigmatic character. Capable of the most intensely moving song interpretations known to man, he seems, offstage, a near-inarticulate, withdrawn character (remember his painfully wooden “interview” style on TNN’s early-’90s gab fest The George Jones Show?). Jones’ proclivity for mixing genius with self-destruction is unrivaled — his greatest artistic success was achieved at a point in his life when whiskey and cocaine use had so badly ravaged the singer, he was missing many of his bookings and his weight had dropped below 100 pounds. He’s still barnstorming the hinterlands in his mid-70s (this date was only confirmed within the last two weeks). Jones’ pipes may be somewhat diminished, but he remains the same purely aesthetic force he was as a 10-year-old street singer in Beaumont, Texas; Jones was stunned when people began pitching coins at him because, as he said, “I would’ve been happy to do it for free.” (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Thursday:
SHITN A, KEVIN LITROW, HALLOWEEN SWIM TEAM at the Airliner; WILLIE NELSON at the Canyon; AMEBIX at the Echoplex; THE RESCUES, JOSH KELLEY, AM at the Hotel Cafe; DUANE PETERS GUNFIGHT, PRIMA DONNA at the Knitting Factory; FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE at Largo; LOVE GRENADES, WAR TAPES at the Roxy; NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS at the Troubadour.
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