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Rock Picks: Steve Earle, Polvo, These Arms Are Snakes, Correatown

Kid Congo Powers delivers evil riffs with a big smile on his face.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9

Motorhead at Club Nokia
Lemmy Kilmister knows a thing or two about rock & roll. He used to roadie for Jimi Hendrix and was in the British psychedelic band Hawkwind for several years in the early 1970s. More recently, he’s fronted the unexpectedly groovy acoustic rockabilly trio the Head Cat, but he’s best known for combining the speed of punk rock with the power of heavy metal in Motörhead. Often dismissed as some barbarian biker-type thug, Mr. Kilmister is actually responsible for such surreally poetic flashes of insight as “We’re moving like a parallelogram” and “Ain’t felt this good for an hour” (which is surely one of the most succinctly accurate descriptions of being a speed freak ever). Unfortunately, Motörhead has never quite recovered from the loss of blazing guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, who quit over musical differences back in 1982. While the band’s most famous songs come from the Clarke era, Lemmy has soldiered on with ever-changing lineups and growled similarly fearsome anthems on the ensuing albums, such as “Killed by Death” (from No Remorse), “Eat the Rich” (from 1987’s Rock ’n’ Roll), and the murkily throbbing title track of 1986’s Orgasmatron. Motörhead’s most recent studio CD, 2008’s Motorizer, features trademark barnburners like “Buried Alive” and the bludgeoned sentimentality of “English Rose.” (Falling James)

 

John Doe & Exene Cervenka, Kid Congo Powers at the Echoplex
Kid Congo Powers has added his distinctive style to crucial albums by the Gun Club, the Cramps, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, but he’s not your typical guitar hero. For one thing, the former Brian Tristan is more interested in the spaces between sounds than in filling things up with flashy pyrotechnics. He plays minimalist chords in weird open tunings with swampy sound effects, avoiding the usual rock-guitar clichés. Backed by the Pink Monkey Birds (bassist Kiki Solis and drummer Ron Miller), Powers cobbles together an arty version of garage rock on his new solo album, Dracula Boots (In the Red Records). It’s filled with sotto-voce Beat imagery over fuzzed-out junkyard guitars, as well as the occasional noirish, shadowy instrumental. (The rusted-out echoes of “Kris Kringle Juju” and “Black Santa” aren’t exactly typical Xmas fare.) Headliners John Doe & Exene Cervenka of X are planning an acoustic set that will be even more stripped-down and elementally rootsy than their folkie side project the Knitters. Powers also performs at the Part Time Punks Festival on Sunday. (Falling James)

 

Also playing Friday:

CHROMEO, DESTRUCTO at Club 740; THE METERS EXPERIENCE at the Mint; LEDISI at El Rey Theatre; DARK STAR ORCHESTRA at Henry Fonda Theater; N’DAMBI at Amoeba Music; JANU & THE WHALESHARKS, RED ARROW MESSENGER at the Bootleg Theater; FRAN HEALY & ANDY DUNLOP (TRAVIS) at Largo at the Coronet; WILLY PORTER at McCabe’s; UNIVERSE, LACO$TE, GOOD LUCK AT THE GUNFIGHT, JOGGER, THE DELTA MIRROR at Mr. T’s Bowl; METRONOMY, DESTRUCTO, FOOL’S GOLD at the Roxy; BATTLE OF THE BANDS FEAT. KID INFINITY, ICY LITES, TPF, NARWHAL PARTY, OTHERS at the Smell; O’DEATH, SLANG CHICKENS, FRONTIER RUCKUS at Spaceland.

 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10

Polvo at Spaceland
On the just-released In Prism, their first studio disc since 1997, North Carolina’s Polvo come on like the math-rock sound they helped invent never went out of style (which of course it totally did): Though I didn’t dig these dudes as much as I did Drive Like Jehu (thanks to Jehu’s much higher hook-per-pound ratio), there’s no denying the undiminished majesty of Ash Bowie’s and Dave Brylawski’s guitars, which still ripple with a delicate musculature that none of their indie-scene successors seem capable of (or interested in) flexing. Polvo first got back together last year (with a new drummer) for All Tomorrow’s Parties, yet a solid live show is rarely a guarantee that a reformed band has anything left to say. On second thought, Polvo don’t really have anything left to say, either. But they do sound really good not saying it. (Mikael Wood)

 

Steve Earle at the Troubadour
Rebel troubadour Steve Earle is a living testament to country music’s boundlessly accommodating nature. The singer-guitarist first inflamed mid-1980s Nashville with a growling, blue-collar brand of upstart hillbilly rock, and powerful statements like Guitar Town and Copperhead Road not only proved commercially successful, they also endeared him to such insurrectionary forebears as Waylon Jennings. But Earle hit it so hard and lived it up so vociferously that he nearly destroyed himself (dope, police pursuits, arrests, more dope), a period that led to a self-imposed exile of several years in the early ’90s. Earle’s re-emergence — and subsequent triumphs — as an artistic provocateur haven’t been limited to music: He’s served as an author, poet, playwright, actor and broadcaster, and has recorded with everyone from the Pogues and bluegrass kingpin Del McCoury to Patti Smith and Joan Baez. Such a dizzying resumé highlights both his raging creativity and his indomitable will, and provides a deep stash of material more than adequate enough to guarantee his avid cult of followers a satisfying three nights of revolutionary insight. Also Fri. and Sun. (Jonny Whiteside)

 

Also playing Saturday:

DENT MAY AND HIS MAGNIFICENT UKULELE at the Getty Center; MUTEMATH, AS TALL AS LIONS at Club Nokia; JASON MRAZ, G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE, BRETT DENNEN at the Hollywood Bowl; KARL DENISON’S TINY UNIVERSE at the Mint; BLINK 182, THE AQUABATS at the Palladium; MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD at the Wiltern; JFA, SHATTERED FAITH at Alex’s Bar; THE ROSEWOOD THIEVES, HENRY WOLFE, DEAD TREES at the Bootleg Theater; MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY at Echo Curio; THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES, DD/MM/YYYY at the Knitting Factory; FRAN HEALY & ANDY DUNLOP (TRAVIS) at Largo at the Coronet; ELIZA GILKYSON at McCabe’s.

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11

Sunny Day Real Estate at Henry Fonda Theater
These Seattle emo progenitors have reunited before, first for 1998’s How It Feels to Be Something On (minus original bassist Nate Mendel), and then again in 2001 as the Fire Theft, which included everyone in Sunny Day Real Estate except for guitarist Dan Hoerner. But Sunny Day’s current tour marks the first time that all four of the band’s founding members have played onstage together since 1995. To mark the occasion, Sub Pop last month released deluxe editions of their first two albums, Diary and LP2, both of which wielded as much influence on future Warped Tour denizens as Weezer’s Pinkerton did a few years later. Expect material from each record tonight, as well as a new song that, according to various set lists posted online, is being referred to by the band as “New Song.” (Mikael Wood)

 

Part Time Punks Festival feat. Raincoats, Section 25, Gang of Four (DJ Set), the Jazz Butcher, Kid Congo Powers at the Echoplex
It is time once again to don your long overcoat and pomade your pompadour, ’cause the old punks (it’s still their turn) are back to show the young upstarts what it was really all about. These Class of ’78 affairs can be incredibly sad, as you know, but this interesting lineup boasts some standouts who were in their day a bit forward-looking in their aesthetic, and who have continued to make worthy contributions down through the years. Highlights no doubt will be post-punk’s pre–riot grrrl heroines Raincoats, whose essential first album is being re-released on vinyl this month; Pat Fish resurrects himself as the Jazz Butcher; ex–Gun Club/ex–Bad Seed guitarist Kid Congo Powers brings the sleaze; and most likely non-nostalgic DJ sets by Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham of the one and only Gang of Four; representing Generation Z, local punk poopy-pantses Abe Vigoda will prove that you can’t go home no more but it’s nice to look at the old snapshots. (John Payne)

 

Also playing Sunday:

THE B-52s at the Canyon; PONCHO SANCHEZ at Amoeba Music; FEATS IN INCHES, DOM LIBERATI, SKETCHING IN STEREO at the Dakota Lounge; CAPTAIN BINGHAM’S STRIKE FORCE 7, JILL WEISER, JOHN MARS & THE STAR MAIDENS at the Good Hurt; PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS at the Key Club; FRAN HEALY & ANDY DUNLOP (TRAVIS) at Largo at the Coronet.

 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 12

Correatown at the Echo
Correatown is a place where cool breezes waft over sun-dappled gardens. It’s not out in the country, although songs like “Green Cotton Dress” have a nicely rustic feel, unwinding with streaks of lazy pedal-steel guitar and swells of churchy organ. It’s not quite in the city, whose busy sounds would drown out gentle piano-pop reveries like “All the World I Tell Myself,” which seems to float by on a cloud of cotton candy. Actually, Correatown is a person, not a place. Singer-guitarist Angela Correa often performs solo when she’s not backed by a full band, and on her latest CD, Spark Burn Fade, she coos sugary pop songs à la Feist and K.T. Tunstall. Like so many mainstream pop singers, she risks coming off as cloying, but airy songs like “Fascination” are thoughtful enough to avoid the usual pitfalls of cutesiness and narcissism. Correa continues her free residency every Monday night through the end of the month. (Falling James)

 

These Arms Are Snakes, DD/MM/YYYY, Signals at the Smell
Seattle-by-way-of-Minnesota quartet These Arms Are Snakes has earned its slightly menacing and equally meandering name by making proggy post-hardcore for the better part of five years and three albums. The group’s artfully aggressive songs — which sport titles like “Prince Squid” and, on occasion, a lyric along the lines of “I want to be able to stick my fist in your mouth/And feel all 32” — have gotten tighter with time (as a serpentine embrace probably would), making them a sort of Bixler-Zavala/Rodriguez-Lopez combo in reverse. At the Drive-In, in fact, frequently comes to mind whilst one is listening to TAAS’ most recent full-length, 2008’s Tail Swallower and Dove (Suicide Squeeze), and this is a good thing — these guys are veterans with an impressive ear for detail and mastery of the form. Toronto’s DD/MM/YYYY roves a bit farther from the reservation, specializing in bizarro choruses, spiky guitar-play, strangely layered vocals and 8-bit explosions. All of which makes the band a good pairing with other opener Signals, whose members broke off from the Mae Shi in July. (Chris Martins)

 

Also playing Monday:

MARIANNE DISSARD at the Hotel Cafe; GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, THE WOODEN BIRDS, LAURA GIBSON at El Rey Theatre; FISHTANK ENSEMBLE, BRASS MENAZARI, THE SHPIL, MADCAP GYPSIES at the Echoplex; FRAN HEALY & ANDY DUNLOP (TRAVIS) at Largo at the Coronet; JONNEINE ZAPATA at Silverlake Lounge; LIGHT FM, KAV, WRONG WAY DRIVER, OBI BEST at Spaceland; BELL X1, FAMILY OF THE YEAR at the Troubadour.

 

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13

Bob Dylan & His Band at the Hollywood Palladium
“This place ain’t doing me any good/I’m in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood,” Bob Dylan sang on his fiery 2000 single “Things Have Changed,” but tonight he’ll be in the right place at the right time, for the first of three shows in his longtime adopted hometown. He was last seen in the vicinity in August, when he headlined a package bill with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson in Lake Elsinore, but he’s bound to play much longer sets this week. Time and, especially, place have always been central to Dylan’s storytelling, whether he’s evoking Delacroix and New Orleans in the acutely bittersweet love song “Tangled Up in Blue” or slamming the Bible and the blues together on “Highway 61 Revisited.” Unlike most classic-rock legends, he still has a lot to say and has been especially fertile in the past decade. He’ll likely draw heavily from his excellent 2006 album, Modern Times, and the playfully lusty, old-timey blues rambles on Together Through Life (which went to No. 1 in the U.S. earlier this year), and perhaps even holiday tunes like “Little Drummer Boy” (!) and “Winter Wonderland,” from Christmas in the Heart, which comes out today and benefits Feeding America and other charity organizations. Over the past few years, Dylan and his flexible, somewhat underrated band have essayed such unexpected covers as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Brown Sugar” and “London Calling,” so it’s impossible to predict which surprises might occur during this three-night stand. Here’s hoping for dark-horse candidates like Dylan’s recent “dream” songs (both from the 2008 rarities collection, Tell Tale Signs): “Dreamin’ of You,” an utterly hypnotizing ballad of romantic obsession that finds him crooning craggily under a light rainfall of tinkling piano, and “Series of Dreams,” which sounds almost like the Velvet Underground with its glow of jangling guitars and the gently rolling thunder of distant tom-toms. Also Wed.-Thurs. (Falling James)

 

Also playing Tuesday:

SEAN KINGSTON, FLO RIDA, NEW BOYZ at Club Nokia; MONO, MASERATI at El Rey Theatre; BOB DYLAN & HIS BAND at the Hollywood Palladium; PAT FISH & MAX EIDER (JAZZ BUTCHER), DOWNEY MILDEW; CAITLIN CROSBY, ELLIOT BROOD, BRIAN WRIGHT & WOODEN SKY at the Hotel Cafe.

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14

Passion Pit at the Henry Fonda Theater
Passion Pit coasted for a while with their one EP (2008’s Chunk of Change) through radio stations, festivals and music blogs, but they really came out swinging on this year’s album, Manners —­ which ushered in their full-throttle hype assault on America. Against all odds, they’ve managed to deliver an infectious indie/electro populism that veers close to disco’s routine, crowd-pleasing shtick — but somehow retains its respectability. That’s because Passion Pit is fueled by earnest, anticynical, high-powered bliss. In fact, Michael Angelakos and company are known for pumping up a crowd to such frenzies that complete strangers huddle into group hugs and give high fives as they exit the venue. Folks have tried to dismiss the tightest quintet on the scene (not just because they make effortless pop hooks, but also because the quintet seemingly sprang from nowhere after Angelakos decided against playing as a solo act), but no one can find a reason to steer audiences away from the sheer joy of Passion Pit. Angelakos’ high notes (the ones he hits miraculously on Manners) get lost in the fuzz and wall of keyboards live, but he makes up for it with his ecstatic moves and constant egging-on of the audience to get down. (Wendy Gilmartin)

 

Also playing Wednesday:

JULIAN CASABLANCAS at the Palace Theatre; HARPER SIMON at the Echo; MAYDAY PARADE, THE ACADEMY IS, THE SECRET HANDSHAKE, SET YOUR GOALS at Avalon; JUNIOR BOYS, CIRCLESQUARE at El Rey Theatre; PASSION PIT at the Henry Fonda Theater; BOB DYLAN & HIS BAND at the Hollywood Palladium; RANDOM PATTERNS, DEARLING PHYSIQUE, IAN COOKE at the Bootleg Theater; NOMEANSNO at the Knitting Factory.

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15

Daniel Lanois and Black Dub at the Troubadour
Renowned producer/guitarist/pedal-steel whiz Daniel Lanois has his fingers in a lotta pots, and hot on the heels of his sound-helming of the latest U2 smasheroo comes the restless (but relaxed) polytalent’s dive into the warming waters of Black Dub. Lanois proposes a sort of experimental bar band whose deceptively slack ’n’ swampy rock & roll celebration features his own personal brand of bluesy guitar sling spruced up with the youthful vocals of the late Chris Whitley’s daughter Trixie. Lanois’ longtime bandmates Daryl “Da Bird” Johnson on bass and Brian Blade on deeply funky tub-whacking hold down the hefty back line. This is the high-steppin’, good-timey vibe you need, and meanwhile all you musos looking to catch some of Lanois’ famous space-between-notes will enjoy how he’ll slyly strew the whole mess around via some secret, special miking magic. (John Payne)

 

Also playing Thursday:

YO LA TENGO at Avalon; DAN DEACON, NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS at the Echo; THE STREETS, GIFT OF GAB at Club Nokia; BAND OF ANNUALS, LESLIE & THE BADGERS, JOEY RYAN & KATIE COSTELLO, ASTRELLA CELESTE at the Hotel Cafe; SOLE at the Knitting Factory; DAVID GARRETT at El Rey Theatre; THE JESUS LIZARD, MODEL/ACTRESS at the Henry Fonda Theater; BOB DYLAN & HIS BAND at the Hollywood Palladium; WHODINI, NAUGHTY BY NATURE at the Nokia Theatre; RICHIE FURAY BAND at the Canyon; THE DEVIL MAKES THREE, OLD MAN MALARKY, HE’S MY BROTHER SHE’S MY SISTER at the Echoplex.


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