THURSDAY, FEB. 14
The Black Lips, Pierced Arrows at El Rey TheatreAtlanta's stage-shredding terrors the Black Lips have perfected an imperfectly raw, shambling garage-rock sound that's often just as primally driving as their '60s influences the Seeds and the 13th Floor Elevators. "O Katrina," from their 2007 CD, Good Bad Not Evil (Vice), is certainly the crudest, hardest-rocking and least-contemplative song yet about the disaster in New Orleans, and it's pretty damn catchy too. Another cool thing about the Lips is the way they've championed the Oregon trio Pierced Arrows, gazing worshipfully by the side of the stage when the latter made their local debut last October. Pierced Arrows have a direct connection to the '60s: Fred Cole, who howled the garage-rock nugget "You Must Be a Witch" in 1968 with the Lollipop Shoppe and later fronted the beloved '80s underground band Dead Moon with his bassist-wife, Toody Cole. The Coles' new project, Pierced Arrows, has much of Dead Moon's snarling savagery on their debut 7-inch single, contrasting the scabrous wailing and dirty AC/DC riffs of Fred's "In My Brain" with the fuzz-pop charms of "Caroline," which burns with a "Jolene"-style restlessness under Fred's jangle-mangling guitar as Toody sings about a long-lost mystic teenage muse. Classic stuff. (Falling James)
Aretha Franklin at Nokia Theatre
There are divas, and then there's Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul rarely performs in Los Angeles these days, making this little gig in the barnlike Nokia Theatre a virtual command performance. The Detroit singer-pianist has been lying low for much of this decade, issuing a collection of mostly previously released duets, Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets With the Queen, in 2007. Her most recent album of new material, So Damn Happy, came out in 2003, although she plans to release A Woman Falling Out of Love sometime this year. In an era with so many R&B singers indulging in gratuitous vocal acrobatics, Franklin still stands supreme, belting it out with full force and plenty of fiery charisma. Raised by her late, legendary Baptist-minister father Rev. C.L. Franklin, she draws upon the power and spirit of gospel music while incorporating elements of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco and even opera throughout her 50-year career. She's also a mighty pianist, anchoring her most dazzling vocal flights on such vintage hits as "Respect" and "Chain of Fools" with emphatically earthy and percussively bluesy keyboard accents. All hail the queen. (Falling James)
Was (Not Was) at the Orpheum Theatre
This long-running Detroit art-funk combo — led by brothers (not brothers) Don and David Was — is scheduled to release its first studio album since 1992 later this spring; it's called Boo!, and according to the Internet it'll feature new material alongside reworked stuff from the band's extensive catalog. Fans fearing a half-assed reunion show can rest easy: For one thing, the Wases are promising to preview stuff from Boo! tonight; for another, they've still got a good bit of what once propelled them to an odd brand of semifame. When I caught Was (Not Was) at B.B. King's in New York in 2005, they grooved harder (and funnier) than their time away might've suggested. At the Orpheum, Don and David will be flanked by a cast of players including old-timers Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens, as well as Brian Wilson and Kris Kristofferson, each of whom are set to play three songs with the band. Wackiness will ensue. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Thursday:
JILL SCOTT, RAHEEM DEVAUGHN at Gibson Amphitheatre; BARRY MANILOW, BRIAN CULBERTSON at Staples Center; FASTER PUSSYCAT, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES at Crash Mansion; VERY BE CAREFUL at the Echoplex; CHARLIE & THE VALENTINE KILLERS, KARLING ABBEYGATE, CHEATIN' KIND at Safari Sam's; ENTRANCE BAND at Silverlake Lounge; PENELOPE & DANNY B. HARVEY at Taix; ALO at the Troubadour.
FRIDAY, FEB. 15
Siouxsie Sioux, Rasputina at Henry Fonda Theater
From her early days with the Banshees and the percussion-heavy Creatures to her recent solo projects, Siouxsie Sioux has always possessed a serenely foreboding voice that sweeps majestically through her disparate songs, lending everything an air of doom-ridden grandeur. On her 2007 CD, Mantaray, she's in fine shape-shifting form, ranging from the seedily heavy glam-fuzz rocker "Into a Swan" and the spacy stomp "Here Comes That Day" to the coolly lush and shimmering ballads "If It Doesn't Kill You" and "Heaven Alchemy." Ms. Sioux is properly given credit for instigating punk rock (with such jaggedly morbid early tracks as "Carcass" and a truly demonic version of "Helter Skelter"), art rock ("Jigsaw Feeling," "Metal Postcard") and goth ("Christine," "Spellbound"), but her music also encompasses seductive cabaret chansons and pure pop. Regardless of genre, the charismatic, visually striking wraith infuses her songs with a dreamy veneer of magic and fantasy that should fit in nicely with openers Rasputina. The cello-driven Brooklyn trio's 2007 CD, Oh Perilous World, is a playfully surreal and sometimes chilling fairy-tale odyssey that involves Mary Todd Lincoln, blimp armies, Fletcher Christian's son and the war in Iraq. What a weird and wonderful World. Also Sat. (Falling James)
Nikki Corvette, The Dazes, Wild Weekend at Mr. T's Bowl
Longtime Angeleno Nikki Corvette's relocation to her Detroit hometown last year was a major blow to this city's underground pop-punk scene, but at least she left us with some nice consolation prizes. Her exodus inspired the catchy title track of her Back to Detroit CD (Dollar Record Records), where she declares, "Hollywood dreams are making me sad," against Travis Ramin's joltin' Chuck Berry–style lead guitar and Miss Georgia Peach's soulfully groovy call-&-response backing vocals. Corvette — who got her start in the late '70s as an early rival to the Go-Go's and Blondie — juices up her classic girl-group hooks with more Ramones-y power than ever on Back to Detroit with such rocking tunes as "Tokyo Boy" and the orally fixated "Lipstick Letters" and "So Kiss Me." She'll helps us deal with our separation anxiety during this quick visit, headlining a bill of garage-pop acolytes including Osaka, Japan's Dazes, whose Just Dreamy CD (Popball) pairs Corvette's melodic charm with a Joan Jett drive. Coed San Diegans Wild Weekend — an endearing homage to the Zeros — are one of those rare tribute bands with their own style and have recently started writing original songs. (Falling James)
St. Vincent at the Echoplex
St. Vincent, a.k.a. Annie Clark, comes straight out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a new brand of torch song that daggers the heart while it tickles the brain. Her madly eclectic debut album, Marry Me (Beggars Banquet), is an oddly affecting mishmash of Clark's warmly inviting voice bursting out of piano-pumping torch tunes, strewn with glitchy electronics, nicely nimble acoustic-guitar plucking and some rather wicked electric-ax screamo. It's all about the deep, dark side of unrequited love, isn't it, how one shrieks the sentiment without soaking in saccharine? St. Vincent does that with her well-constructed songs, chock-full of complex and sophisticated ideas about arrangement and presentation. Onstage, she'll reproduce that sound with the aid of a full live band. (John Payne)
Also playing Friday:
DJ SHADOW, CUT CHEMIST, KID KOALA at the Wiltern (see Music feature); ARETHA FRANKLIN at Nokia Theatre; BRETT DENNEN at Skirball Cultural Center; 2 MEX, HUMAN BEINGS at the Airliner; SOUL OF JOHN BLACK at Cafe Boogaloo; FATLIP, BOOM BIP, STYLES OF BEYOND at Crash Mansion; CARINA ROUND at the Hotel Cafe; ANGRY SAMOANS, J.F.A. at the Knitting Factory; GEORGE CLINTON & P-FUNK at Malibu Inn; CHUCK PROPHET at the Mint; THE BINGES at Spaceland; VAN HUNT at Temple Bar; GENE LOVES JEZEBEL at Viper Room.
SATURDAY, FEB. 16
Zooey Deschanel at Largo
Chanteuse Deschanel plays this benefit for 826LA, the local arm of author Dave Eggers' nonprofit tutoring centers that help children develop their talents as creative writers. Today's lesson is "When Wallets Eat Words," in which students write stories printed on the inside of specially designed wallets — after which one empties said wallet and thereby enjoys Deschanel's grandiloquence while reading the story. Much as Karen Carpenter was a drummer who sang, Zooey Deschanel is a singer who acts, and it is her soulfully throaty lilt that does everything from show you the color of the sky in the world to make you forget the imperfect world in which we're currently living. Next month, her collaboration with musician M. Ward (under the name She and Him) is released on Merge, on which she plays piano and banjo and he strums while she lets the truth flow free from those golden pipes in excelsis. (David Cotner)
Drag the River at the Scene
Drag the River is either in the midst of a reunion tour or a farewell jaunt. The Colorado-based alt-country act, led by All singer Chad Price and Armchair Martian singer-guitarist Jon Snodgrass, formed more than a decade ago when Price's All bandmates reunited with vocalist Milo Aukerman for a Descendents reunion album and tour. Drag the River maintained a whiskey-soaked heavy regimen that included upward of 200 performances a year, but they split abruptly last summer while on tour with Rocky Votolato. But there was a problem: The band had an album (You Can't Live This Way, released in January) destined to hit shelves whether the group was active or not. This predicament led to a handful of Colorado shows to promote the disc, which snowballed into a string of dates on the East and West coasts. Whether they're saying hello or goodbye, it's country music — someone's crying in their beer. (Ryan Ritchie)
Also playing Saturday:
SIOUXSIE SIOUX, RASPUTINA at Henry Fonda Theater; JOEY ALTRUDA & CRUCIAL RIDDIMS at the Bordello; LOS SUPER ELEGANTES at the Echoplex; DEKE DICKERSON & HIS ALL-STAR FRAT BAND, SOUTH BAY SURFERS, JINXES at Mr. T's Bowl; YEAR LONG DISASTER at the Roxy; LIAM FINN at Spaceland; KINGSIZEMAYBE at Taix; PEACHES & HERB, BRENTON WOOD, TIERRA at Vault 350.
SUNDAY, FEB. 17
The A-Bones, Roy Loney at Mr. T's Bowl
New York's deep-inside hepsters Billy Miller and Miriam Linna have for decades gone to Olympian lengths to preserve and uphold the surviving vestiges of our big-beat underground. With their Kicks zine and frighteningly prolific indie Norton Records, the gruesome twosome's crusade has produced dazzling results, not only via a slew of choice reissues but also waxing new discs from bizarro thrillers like Hasil Adkins, the Mighty Hannibal and Andre Williams. The pair have curated some mind-bendingly great live shows, often featuring the durable services of their own band, the A-Bones. The 'Bones resolutely purvey low-down, primitivo garage trash, and, since they're working tonight with an assist from the Flamin' Groovies' Roy Loney, expect a cerebellum-shredding display of vernacular American stomp. The Groovies, after all, were one of a very few early-'70s voice-in-the-wilderness rock & roll faithful, and when Loney, Miller and Linna bring it full circle tonight, the results should be spectacular. (Jonny Whiteside)
Maceo Parker at the Roxy
Maceo Parker's place in music history is secure if only because he played saxophone on the studio recordings of the hits "I Feel Good," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "Cold Sweat" and other classics during several stints in James Brown's band. He went on to perform with Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band in the '70s and '80s before launching his own fertile solo career. Parker veers from melodic swoops and glides and then cuts back and switches directions with funkily precise rhythmic retorts — this man can play, and he's supertight. He's captured in full-flight on his ace new live double-CD, Roots & Grooves (Heads Up), recorded with the WDR Big Band Koln in Europe last year. On the "Back to Funk" disc, he rambles nimbly through his own compositions and a smoking 17-minute version of "Pass the Peas" that features dazzling interplay between Parker and guitarist Paul Shigihara. On the "Tribute to Ray Charles" disc, he expands upon several Charles standards, blowing up a storm on sax and convincingly mimicking Ray's vocals. Hot stuff. (Falling James)
Wooden Shjips at McCabe's
Arthur magazine blissfully concludes its residency at McCabe's Guitar Shop. San Francisco's Wooden Shjips practice the old weird minimalism of droning organs, looping bass bobs, echo-dissolved voice and lysergic washes of prickly distortion. Their self-titled debut for Holy Mountain, released last year, runs just over a half-hour but it's a dizzy one. There is an intimacy to the quartet's approach, a communal pursuit of harmonious lock grooves, that should fit nicely with the close, cozy setup of tonight's venue. The Shjips don't skyscrape or break through. There's a stoned calm, a methodical monotony as they churn a tremulous slush with a fluid pulse powering the spiraling motion. Erik "Ripley" Johnson's vocals are slight and noncommittal, sketches of melody fed into FX boxes that transform them into dot-matrix trails. There's definitely much of Spacemen 3's basement pyro here, though without the paranoia and heartbreak. Minus the blues, I guess. All warm flares instead of white-hot bulb blasts, Wooden Shjips should make for a sublime Sunday night. (Bernardo Rondeau)
Electrocute at Spaceland
Since we wrote about Electrocute in these pages last summer, the electro-punk duo have expanded into a full live band with a drummer and two synthesizer players making "crazy sounds." Singer-guitarist Nicole Morier's sassy and sometimes silly songs are still augmented with her partner in crime Legs Le Brock's exuberant vocals, but the band now has more power onstage. "Bikini Bottom" is a sexy romp through new-wavey B-52's territory, while "Bad Legs" combines garage-rock guitars and pop-synth bleeps with Morier's inviting sugary-icy cooing. "If you wanna make 'em dance/You just spray on hot pants," they advise on the dance-instruction workout "On the Beat," which is inescapably catchy despite (or because of) its simple-minded lyrics. So is "Shag Ball," where Morier (who co-wrote "Heaven on Earth" on Britney Spears' Blackout CD) insinuates herself sinuously within a jumble of whooshing, zipping synths. She and Le Brock may be cute, but don't underestimate the savvy way they blend goofy lyrics and pop simplicity with mesmerizing grooves. With Har Mar Superstar. (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
TEENA MARIA, KEITH SWEAT at Nokia Theatre; DEKE DICKERSON, KARLING ABBEYGATE at Blue Cafe; MIKE STINSON, BABS McDONALD, DAN JANISCH at the Echo, 5 p.m.; PAUL BARRERE & FRED TACKETT at Malibu Inn; NAKED AGGRESSION at Safari Sam's; IAN WHITCOMB & FRED SOKOLOW at Cantalini's Salerno Beach, 6:30 p.m.
MONDAY, FEB. 18
SMASH FASHION at Crash Mansion; RICKIE LEE JONES at the Echoplex; CLIFF WILLIAMS, MICKEY DOLENZ at House of Blues; THE PITY PARTY, FILM SCHOOL, WHAT MADE MILWAUKEE FAMOUS at Spaceland; DENGUE FEVER, CORAL SEA, BLACK PINE at Viper Room.
TUESDAY, FEB. 19
Keren Ann, Dean & Britta, Sara Lov at El Rey Theatre
Here's an enchanting bill of sleepy, laid-back performers who are more likely to inspire the audience to sit cross-legged on El Rey's ballroom floor than stand up and pump their fists. And you can forget about dancing. Keren Ann's lyrics get a little precious and narcissistic at times on her 2007 self-titled CD (Metro Blue), but the French-Israeli chanteuse is more about creating a gentle, lulling atmosphere with such glassy-eyed ballads as "Where No Endings End" and "In Your Back" She's relatively peppy on the Velvet Underground-inspired jangle of "Lay Your Head Down," but Keren Ann generally prefers to sing in whispery shadows. Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, formerly of Luna, also draw upon the hazy pop of the Velvets on their 2007 CD, Back Numbers, as they trade off on lead vocals. She's positively glowing on ethereal idylls like "Wait for Me," although his wispy crooning and the overall bland lyrics occasionally undercut the intended dreamy mood. Devics singer Sara Lov has expanded marvelously on her own sense of dreaminess with well-crafted, carefully orchestrated pop songs such as the still-unreleased "A Thousand Bees" and languorous wallowing like "New York" from her 2007 EP, Three Songs. (Falling James)
Iron Maiden at the Forum
Iron Maiden emerged from East London in the mid-1970s, and their defiantly metal middle finger to that city's punk explosion was, intentionally or otherwise, punk as fuck. Main-man/bassist Steve Harris had a vision of something timeless; 20-plus arena-filling years later, it seems he had a point. Sidestepping the obvious head-bangin' influences of their era — Led Zeppelin's blues-based swagger and Black Sabbath's lurching doom — Maiden instead took cues from Thin Lizzy and UFO, developing an almost militaristic, galloping twin-guitar (now triple-guitar) trademark capped with Bruce Dickinson's alternately street-level/quasi-operatic vocals and lyrics that were more War and Peace than sex and sleaze. Iron Maiden are debatably the biggest cult band in America — they've never enjoyed substantial airplay or an "MTV heyday" here — this kinda-sorta-comeback tour promises to focus on the band's '80s classics ("Run to the Hills," "2 Minutes to Midnight," etc.) amid a stage set based on their epic 1984-'85 Powerslave trek: Think middle-aged hesher guitarists scampering about the Luxor Hotel — with a giant robotic zombie. (Paul Rogers)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE HIVES, THE DONNAS at the Wiltern; THE KRIS SPECIAL, THE HARPETH TRACE at the Echo; MEIKO, BASIA BULAT at the Hotel Cafe (see Music feature); CHRIS MURRAY COMBO at Knitting Factory; JAMES WILSEY at Safari Sam's; VAN HUNT, JESCA HOOP at Temple Bar.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20
TARA JANE O'NEIL at REDCAT; GILLI MOON at Wray Theatre, Rio Hondo College; THE CLICK FIVE, BIG CITY ROCK at the Roxy; DAN JANISCH at Taix; DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN, ACEYALONE at Vault 350; LIAM FINN at Amoeba Music, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, FEB. 21
Girl in a Coma at the Knitting Factory
Joan Jett knows a thing or two about rock & roll, and her latest protegees, Girl in a Coma, on her Blackheart label are one of the best and most interesting bands to come out of Texas in a long time. Although they're named after a Smiths song, Girl in a Coma are no mere tribute or revival act. Singer-guitarist Nina Diaz is a thoughtful lyricist who has a mighty voice that's in a league with Siouxsie Sioux and the HorrorPops' Patricia Day. And while many of the songs on their 2007 CD, Both Before I'm Gone, have a punk rock base, the group also have the ambition and reach to create epic ballads like "Road to Home," which has a fuller, deeper sound than you might expect from a trio. Diaz is properly enigmatic on "Sybil Vane Was Ill," as her guitar style moves from jangly and jumpy to punky and searing. Phanie D. keeps up a fierce racket on drums, supported by Jenn Alva's restlessly wandering bass. GIAC are actually stranger and more expansive than their influences and can't be neatly pigeonholed or relegated to some convenient genre basement. Don't miss 'em. Also at Alex's Bar, Fri., Feb. 22. (Falling James)
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Pinback at Avalon
Those kings of modern-day jingle-jangle Pinback are back with more ethereal-pop bliss than ever. Despite a title that evokes a Finnish black-metal album, Autumn of the Seraphs is full of the arpeggiating guitars and intricate coils of plucked bass the San Diego duo are known for. Not only that, Zach Smith and Rob Crow's feathery crisscrossing vocals fuel the sort of personal musings that make you think, but — thank god — not too much. Their previous album, 2004's Summer in Abaddon, is considered their commercial breakthrough, but for this fan Seraphs is the melodic, more upbeat return to form that sees them focusing on gooseflesh-inducing songs, reining in the side projects and saving the good stuff for, well, Pinback. (Even so, Crow's 2003 solo disc, My Room Is a Mess, is a delightful one-off totally worth checking out.) These mild-mannered guys don't seem like they'd have a sense of humor, but when they do crack wise, it's always a zinger. (Andrew Lentz)
Also playing Thursday:
BLACK DIAMOND LOVE, THE FRESAS at the Bordello; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; HEALTH CLUB at Mr. T's Bowl; AFRIKA BAMBAATAA at the Roxy; UNIDA at Safari Sam's; THE MONOLATORS at the Scene; ENTRANCE BAND, CRYSTAL ANTLERS, WHAT MADE MILWAUKEE FAMOUS at Silverlake Lounge; HECTORS, EJECT, RADARS TO THE SKY at Spaceland; WEST INDIAN GIRL, DIOS MALOS at the Troubadour.