Rock Picks: Stagecoach, Alicia Keys, Vetiver
THURSDAY, MAY 1
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Gretchen Wilson always wanted to be a Ramone.
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Nina Nastasia re-enacts Rodins The Thinker.
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Bostich + Fussible: Tijuana still makes them happy.
Yo Majesty, Does It Offend You Yeah? at El Rey Theatre
Three tuff-looking goils from Tampa got together with London neu-funk producers HardFeelingsUK and came up with this authentically crappy sounding (in a good way) EP of furiously fiving, snottily cool hip-hop à la the real, real old-school. It’s ingeniously booty-quaking stuff, all of it, though you really only need to hear their anthem “Club Action,” whose rinky-dink electro-beatbox and echoed-out speed raps frame a memorable chorus of “Fuck that shit!” Meanwhile, over in England, Does It Offend You, Yeah, have been busy barfing out their own early-’80s punky dance-rock tribute, all vocodered vocals, phat-ass synth bass coiling its merry way up your rump, further backdating the mishmash with a Hendrixian electric guitarist named Morgan Quaintance and loads of cowbell-rock swagger incorporated into their relatively artful mash-up of electro-funk ecstasy. They have a B+ album with several variations on this theme called You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Yourself Into. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
THE UGLY BEATS, VOODUO at Alex’s Bar; VOODOO GLOW SKULLS at Key Club; ZOMBIE BAZOOKA PATROL, COUSIN LOVERS at the Mint; THE KRIS SPECIAL at Mr. T’s Bowl; UNKNOWN HINSON, LONESOME SPURS at Safari Sam’s; THE URINALS at the Smell; MAKANA, ESTELLE at Temple Bar.
FRIDAY, MAY 2
Stagecoach at Empire Polo Field
Like, wow. The hyper-maxi-ultra country-music blowout Stagecoach returns with an impressive mix of big-time Nashvillians, more than a few of the idiom’s key surviving architects and a roiling third tier of intriguing comers. It’s a bittersweet proposition, though, with the contemptible pop pimps Rascal Flatts, a reunion that no one has been waiting for by the Judds and the overbearingly dull Tim McGraw (and who the fuck invited the Eagles and Mike Ness?). But there’s much to be thankful for — the greatest country singer of all time, George Jones, and one of the greatest songwriters ever, Billy Joe Shaver. Redneck wonder woman Gretchen Wilson serves as a beacon of hope and, with Earl Scruggs and Dr. Ralph Stanley, bluegrass is extraordinarily well represented. Despite so many lows — those American Idol shriekers, the horror of Dierks Bentley — it’s a mandatory event because, as Jones once said, “Country music has a strange power over everybody that loves it, and is about the only thing in the world that you can curse and still love at the same time.” Also Sat.-Sun. 81800 Avenue 51, Indio. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Friday:
THE DODOS, AKRON/FAMILY at Natural History Museum; DREAM THEATER at Gibson Amphitheatre; ASIA at the Canyon; VIRGINIA CITY REVIVAL, STAB CITY, PSYCHOSTAR at Charlie O’s Lounge; STIFF LITTLE FINGERS at House of Blues; JOHN DOE at McCabe’s; MONOLATORS at Mr. T’s Bowl; NINJA ACADEMY at the Smell.
SATURDAY, MAY 3
Nina Nastasia at Spaceland
“I write down lists ... and keep things in their places/and leave things leaving traces,” Nina Nastasia sings enigmatically on her most recent album, You Follow Me (Fat Cat), a collaboration with Dirty Three drummer Jim White, whose nimble pattering and rhythmic shifts provide a febrile backing for her open-ended poetry. As much as she tries to keep the world ordered in perfectly strummed stanzas, life is too messy and complicated to be neatly summarized, as symbolized by White’s skittering drums and her own stormy swells of guitar, which sometimes evoke the majestically rambling folk of the late Tim Buckley. Her longtime producer, Steve Albini, stays out of the way by avoiding showy sound effects, preferring instead to let the running dialogue between White and Nastasia breathe and expand without heavy-handed interference. As inventive as it can be, White’s drum clutter sometimes distracts from Nastasia’s gently pretty anti-love songs, which makes this scheduled solo appearance even more compelling. (Falling James)
Bostich + Fussible at the Echo
San Franciscans may think they have a rivalry with Angelenos (even if most locals don’t spend any time worrying about it), but L.A.’s real competition in musical output and creativity comes from a city that’s much bigger and more diverse than old Baghdad by the Bay. This cultural superpower is just two hours south of here — and perhaps one state of mind away — and, no, we’re not talking about sleepy San Diego. Since 2001, the five guys in Nortec Collective have provided the definitive soundtrack to life in Tijuana, and, like that misunderstood and musically rampant city, their soundtrack bends and shifts to incorporate the changes sweeping through the region. The biggest collision is between traditional folk-music styles and shiny beat-heavy electronica, and Nortec Collective’s Bostich (a.k.a. Ramón Amezcua) and Fussible (Pepe Mogt) seamlessly weave the two together with some fascinating results on their new CD, Tijuana Sound Machine (Nacional). Percussive guitars and a huffing-and-puffing accordion on “The Clap” give way to the slinky spaciness of “Norteña del Sur,” while soothing English-language vocals drive the indie folk-pop of “Brown Bike,” “Playbox” and the ska-accented Kraftwerk robotics of “Shake It Up.” Mesmerizing and multilayered. (Falling James)
The Ugly Beats at the Bordello
The self-deprecatingly named Ugly Beats are on the garage-rock label Get Hip Recordings, and their music is heavily inspired by pre-psychedelic ’60s rock & roll, but they’re not your typical retro band. The Austin quintet trots out the obligatory jangly guitar and circusy keyboards on original tunes like “(I Don’t Wanna Be the One to) Bring Her Down” and “Light Comes On” and requisite covers of such obscure nuggets as the Remains’ “Let Me Through” on their 2007 CD, Take a Stand, but the Beats have a brooding tunefulness that stands apart from generic caveman howlers. A hazy-dreamy acoustic-guitar ballad like “Get in Line” sounds closer to the melodies of the Beau Brummels and the Beatles than it does to, say, the Seeds or the Music Machine. Singer-guitarist Joe Emery ruefully croons the moody-blue pop songs “Last Stop” and “Ain’t That Old” draped in sheets of Jeanine Attaway’s artfully groovy ballpark organ before rocking it up persuasively on “You’re the One,” a rare Nikki & the Corvettes cover sung from a male perspective. Ugly is the new beautiful. (Falling James)
Peter Morén, Tobias Froberg at the Troubadour
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Forever changing: The Ugly Beats.
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Two Sheds, four eyes
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Lemony snickers: Atmosphere
Swedish soulmates Peter Morén (of Peter, Bjorn and John) and Tobias Froberg have been helping each other out recently, what with Froberg producing singer-composer Morén’s upcoming solo debut, The Last Tycoon, and Morén guesting on multi-instrumentalist Froberg’s excellent third album, Turn Heads. Both Peter and Tobias favor a seemingly simple folk rock liberally sprinkled with a sparkling, yearning air, such as Froberg’s ace new single, “Slipping Under the Radar.” What they’ll bring onstage tonight will likely entail more of the genially melancholic melodic folk that they’ve pulled off in a recent collaborative single, “Just Behind a Brick Wall.” These two guys are remarkably sympathetic musicians, each particularly gifted in the melodic stakes, boasting tons of clever ideas about building a sweet modernity into the perfect new pop. (John Payne)
Also playing Saturday:
AGENT ORANGE, UNKNOWN HINSON at Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre, Montclair, noon; JAKE SHIMABUKURO at Marsee Auditorium; GUILTY HEARTS at the Airliner; PONCHO SANCHEZ at Harvelle’s (Redondo Beach); MANIC HISPANIC, THE JOHNS at Knitting Factory; JOHN DOE at McCabe’s; SQUIDDO at Mr. T’s Bowl; DIRTY SANCHEZ at Safari Sam’s; THE WARLOCKS, DAVID SCOTT STONE at the Smell.
SUNDAY, MAY 4
Two Sheds at Spaceland
The name Two Sheds reminds me of the Monty Python sketch about the fictional composer Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson (who, it turns out, owned only one shed). The Sacramento band Two Sheds are no joke, however. Guitarist Caitlin Shed sings with a languidly moody delivery that’s somewhere between Jesse Sykes and Cat Power, while drummer Rusty Miller and bassist John Gutenberger kick out a subdued backing that’s quietly engrossing. “I move through a different sort of space,” Caitlin discloses on “You,” from Two Shed’s self-titled CD EP, which comes out on iTunes this week. “A day takes years for me to trace, while age redecorates my face.” Each slowly, achingly delivered word is framed with Caitlin’s sparkling guitar plucking and some eerie spectral keyboard chimes. A weeping violin consoles her on the waltzing reverie “Perfect,” and the acoustic version of their previously hard-rocking “Undertow” effectively reduces the song to its bare-bones melody. The EP’s one rocker — “WTF?” — chugs along with a surging guitar while Caitlin sings “What the fuck?” with a sweetly charming directness. (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
DURAN DURAN at Nokia Theatre; MARTHA DAVIS & THE MOTELS at Crash Mansion; PO’ GIRL at Hotel Café; LYRICS BORN, CASXIO at the Key Club; VIERNES 13, UNION 13 at the Knitting Factory; GIRLYMAN at McCabe’s.
MONDAY, MAY 5
Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Jordin Sparks at Staples Center
The spring’s biggest R&B tour has gotten off to a rocky start, with American Idol champ Jordin Sparks sitting out the first run of dates thanks to a vocal hemorrhage and Alicia Keys canceling two shows last week as a result of swollen vocal cords. That said, these kids are total pros: Provided the tour rights itself by the time it reaches Southern California, you probably won’t even detect the trouble they’ve seen. Keys is out in support of last year’s triple-platinum As I Am, one of the record industry’s few full-on success stories at the moment; heard as a whole, the CD can drag a bit, but tonight its hits (including the deathless “No One”) will no doubt delight. Ne-Yo’s promising a change in direction on his upcoming Year of the Gentleman, a claim backed up by the house-tastic lead single, “Closer.” Sparks’ record is a hell of a lot better than Taylor Hicks’. Also at the Honda Center, Sun. (Mikael Wood)
Los Mysteriosos at Alex’s Bar
They rock and they sing in Spanish, but Los Mysteriosos are not rock en español. In fact, the Long Beach/Orange County quartet don’t fit into any category, which explains their appeal. They’re led by singer-guitarist Gus “El Mysterioso” Contreras and feature bassist Alex Hernandez, owner of Long Beach’s Alex’s Bar, and their oompah rhythms attract a crowd who fit in with the bar’s tattooed constituents as well as regular types who look out of place among greasers and punks. As at a wedding, the band mix something old and something new for a sound that owes as much to Mexican rancheras as it does modern rock. Contreras’ sings in a passionate manner that even gringos can appreciate, while guitarist Dan Saifer adds a splash of romanticism to the soulful tunes. Cinco de Mayo marks the band’s fourth anniversary, and to celebrate the group purchased new mariachi suits to create the proper party atmosphere. (Ryan Ritchie)
Also playing Monday:
K.T. TUNSTALL at the Wiltern; THRONES, BOBB BRUNO at the Smell; GO BETTY GO at the Troubadour.
TUESDAY, MAY 6
Atmosphere at the Henry Fonda Theater
To prevent leaks of their new Rhymesayers release, the indie-rap superstars Atmosphere (Slug and Ant, better known as Sean Daley and Anthony Davis), kept When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold out of the potential bootlegging hands of music journalists until the very last second. Now a couple weeks after the album’s official release, the act comes to Hollywood for two sold-out nights, starting this evening. The duo have officially outlived the lame label “emo-rap” and continue to rap about women, the devil and devil women, but you can add the discoveries of fatherhood to the list of topics in the mix. And where Slug is the tongue twister, Ant’s skills as producer/DJ keeps the new album bouncing. If you have a little extra coin, seek out the limited-edition version of the record that contains a 36-page illustrated children’s story and a bonus live DVD. Also Wed. (Daniel Siwek)
Also playing Tuesday:
RUSH at Nokia Theatre; LAURA VEIRS, LIAM FINN at the Echo; TYLER RAMSEY, C.W. STONEKINGat Hotel Café; JANELLE MONAE at the Key Club.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 7 Vetiver at the Troubadour
Vetiver main man Andy Cabic is at the nexus of a lot of interesting activities and musical scenes. He enlisted Joanna Newsom and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval to play on his first album, and Vetiver recently toured as the backing group for the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris. Cabic is part of his pal Devendra Banhart’s band, and the two run the Gnomonsong label, which just released Vetiver’s third full-length CD, Thing of the Past. The album is a labor of love, a collection of Cabic’s favorite tunes that differs from many covers projects because the song selection encompasses such unexpected sources as Garland Jeffreys (“Lon Chaney”), Michael Hurley (“Blue Driver”) and Hawkwind (“Hurry on Sundown”). Even with such a variety songs, Thing of the Past has a unified feel with Cabic’s intimate vocal delivery buttressed by minimal pianos and unplugged guitars. As with his own material, Cabic succeeds in making these songs dreamy and pastoral yet also folksy and personal. (Falling James)
Also playing Wednesday:
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Chana: Who wants yesterdays papers?
ATMOSPHERE at Henry Fonda Theater; KIND HEARTS & CORONETS at Mr. T’s Bowl; THE OOHLAS at Spaceland; MARY ONETTES, POP NOIR at Vertigo’s.
THURSDAY, MAY 8 Chana at Temple Bar
Who says music has to be full of doom and gloom all the time? The local singer Chana’s new debut EP, Manos Arriba, is an ebullient assortment of dance tracks that are enlivened by a variety of inescapably catchy beats and clever production touches from co-songwriter and Volumen Cero producer Marthin Chan. “La Duda” and “A Veces” sound a little like Julieta Venegas’ airy pop as Chana coos engagingly sunny melodies, but the songs are pumped up with a harder, funkier and more readily danceable ska backing. She calls her music “trop-electro-hip-pop,” and you can hear traces of the New York/Miami native’s dance and art-school background in the way she refuses to dumb down her electrically eclectic dance music. (Chana recently used her terpsichorean skills to choreograph a video for folk-pop singer Mia Doi Todd.) She’s similarly charming when she trades lyrics with guest rapper Malverde amid the bouncing dub echoes of the intoxicating song “The Whistler.” (Falling James)
Rolling Blackouts at Charlie O’s Lounge
Rolling Blackouts have finally got the Led out of their system and seem to have settled on a sound that’s closer to that of their Hawthorne brothers the Beach Boys. And while their new music isn’t exactly “Good Vibrations” or “California Girls,” there are definitely traces of a warm, summertime sound — veering off into ’70s Camaro-rock territory. After nearly six years together, the Rolling Blackouts still thrill with their soaring harmonies and solid musicianship, peppered with just the right amount of hand claps and tambourines, making each show an air-guitar/sing-along party. Even though stardom of epic proportions still (shockingly) eludes them, they’re always plugging away and keeping it fuzzy and wild. An EP is in the works, but until then check out one of their upcoming shows at Charlie O’s, where you can catch a hook and cozy up to an endless supply of riffs. Also May 22 and June 5. 501 S. Spring St., dwntwn. (Kat Jetson)
The Deadbirds at the Bordello
Since he moved into the now-gentrified Villa Elaine a decade ago, Brandon McCulloch’s world on Vine Street has become something of a legend. The entrepreneurial busker first founded Substance Records and released a haunting compilation called California from the arty derelicts who hung about/squatted there (Remy Zero, Spacetwins, Aaron Embry, et al.), before releasing his ex-band Silver’s elegiac Red City in 2002 — an album that solidified him further as an artist’s artist rather than a household name. Even still, McCulloch helped make the Hotel Café a recognizable venue with his early residencies there, and whenever he straps on the acoustic at the Three Clubs, he’s received like Lou Reed. After taking some time off to help produce tracks for the likes of Nancy Sinatra and Rachael Yamagata, McCulloch returns with a gentler power yearn in his new band, he Deadbirds, who replace Silver’s coked-up keys-and-guitar arrangements with violins and sedatives. (Chuck Mindenhall)
Also playing Thursday:
RUSH at Nokia Theatre; YEAR LONG DISASTER at Alex’s Bar; HAWNAY TROOF at the Smell.
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