Rock Picks: Sunset Rubdown, Alela Diane, Pelican, Rose Melberg
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23
Yacht at 740 Club
YACHT’s new album, See Mystery Lights (DFA), is the oft-hilariously brilliant brainchild of Jona Bechtolt, formerly half of the Blow. YACHT (Young Americans Challenging High Technology) rose from the ashes as a duo, Bechtolt now joined with Claire L. Evans, a science writer, artist and noise-art specialist. Inspired by paranormal phenomena in the West Texas desert, the spookily cheery Mystery Lights is a glittering jewel bag of extremely catchy electro-pop delights stuffed with enough brain-warping new-digital sonic scrappage to keep you scratching your head for months to come — you can dance at the same time, can’t you? If these are club anthems, it’s a new kind of club for the curious only, and that, of course, ought to be all of us. (John Payne)
Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar, John Roderick (The Long Winters) at El Rey Theatre
As the story goes, Death Cab for Cutie main man Ben Gibbard and Son Volt singer Jay Farrar got together to bang out a couple of tunes for an upcoming Jack Kerouac documentary and wound up parting ways with an album between them. One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur is both the film and the record, and musically speaking, it’s hard to imagine a better way to pay tribute to the seminal Beat poet — this project, by nature, might just be the perfect mix of sensitivity, Americana and spontaneity. The Gibbard/Farrar LP comprises 12 minimal, mostly acoustic tunes whose lyrics are pulled directly from Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur. The two share vocal duty, and are accompanied live by players from each of their bands, as well as Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster (also, “other surprise material” has been promised). John Roderick opens, also performing without his usual outfit, the Long Winters. The Seattle indie rocker is adept on both guitar and piano, so expect a full night of intimate storytelling by way of song. (Chris Martins)
Kurt Vile and the Violators at Spaceland
Philadephia-based Vile is one of a handful of scrappy young garage-rock dudes with buzzy new records out on Matador; in his publicity photos he looks quite a bit like Jay Reatard, who himself could probably pass for the longhaired guy in Girls. Vile’s early stuff inspired lots of comparisons to the dad-approved likes of Tom Petty and Bob Seger, but that’s not really his vibe on Childish Prodigy, which goes artier and more textural, climaxing in a synth-soaked instrumental called “Goodbye, Freaks” that sounds like a dudes-in-a-room version of Kraftwerk. Elsewhere on Prodigy Vile drowns his slashing guitars in woozy reverb (“Hunchback”), layers on the AM-radio static (“Dead Alive”) and stretches his Krautrock approximation past the seven-minute mark (“Freak Train”). He’s playing here with his band; expect a good deal of noise. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Friday:
BEN GIBBARD & JAY FARRAR at El Rey Theatre; AFRIKA BAMBAATAA, PRINCE WHIPPER WHIP at Amoeba Music; JOAN OSBORNE, THE HOLMES BROTHERS, PAUL THORN at the Alex Theatre; SKILLET, THE LETTER BLACK, HAWK NELSON, DECYFER DOWN at Club Nokia; HEART, THE BANGLES at the Greek; MIKA, GARY GO at the Palladium; CYPRESS HILL SMOKE-OUT FEAT. GOODIE MOB, GETO BOYS, DEVIN THE DUDE, OTHERS at San Manuel Amphitheatre; TIGER ARMY, THE CREEPSHOW, COMBICHRIST at the Wiltern; DRAGONETTE at the Echo; JON BRION at Largo at the Coronet; DAIKAIJU at Relax Bar; JEREMY JAY, SEA LIONS at the Smell; SPINDRIFT at the Viper Room.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24
Gal Costa at UCLA Live at Royce Hall
Is there a word for “diva” in Portuguese? Maybe not, but there are definitely two words for the term in Brazil: Gal Costa. The hands-down mother of modern Brazilian music drifts into town for a very rare performance tonight, and after last year’s canceled-and-never-rescheduled shows at Walt Disney Concert Hall, that’s great news. Ms. Costa’s gorgeous voice has sung it all: counterculture protest rock, clubby disco, hippie funk, roots rock, basic bossa nova and Tropicalismo (the political movement manifested not only in music but in literature, painting and activism), which wouldn’t have happened without her — along with dear pals Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes and Gilberto Gil. Costa continued to record their songs and served as the movement’s PR machine while Veloso and Gil were exiled to England for their politically rabble-rousing lyrics in the ’70s. David Byrne can also thank her for turning everyone on to world music in the ’80s, with her contributions to his Brazil Classics compilations. Imagine a handful of our own American female cultural icons — Joan Baez, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand — rolled into one and you get a better idea about Gal Costa’s all-encompassing effect on Brazilian music. Her show tonight features a quiet, intimate performance with virtuoso guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Weezer, Wax at the Hollywood Palladium
Opening for Blink-182 last month at the Verizon Wireless Theater in Irvine, Weezer were as appealingly weird as they’ve ever been: Rivers Cuomo did his self-loathing/self-aggrandizing rock-star thing; drummer Pat Wilson played guitar instead of drums; the whole band took the stage wearing white Adidas tracksuits. In short, they totally ruled. Next month Weezer are set to release Raditude, which from all available appearances promises to take the weirdness to an even higher level. In addition to a cameo from Lil Wayne, who, Cuomo recently told Pitchfork, earned the singer’s admiration after he rapped about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in his song “Kush,” Raditude also features a track co-written by Jermaine Dupri, and a version of “Love Is the Answer,” which first appeared on this year’s Sugar Ray reunion album. Can’t wait. With Wax, a blast from the SoCal alt-rock past. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Saturday:
JACKSON BROWNE, TIM ROBBINS, RYAN BROWNE, MILES ROBBINS at the Ivy Substation Theater; KID SISTER, FLOSSTRADAMUS, THE VERY BEST, TOTALLY MICHAEL at the Echoplex; ABE VIGODA, THESE ARE POWERS, MI AMI, MOSES CAMPBELL at the Smell; FRANK FAIRFIELD at Amoeba Music (2 p.m.); DANIEL JOHNSTON, HYMNS at the Henry Fonda Theater; BARRY MANILOW at the Hollywood Bowl; ANDY at the Kodak Theatre; ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, SHE WANTS REVENGE at the Nokia Theatre; CYPRESS HILL SMOKE-OUT FEAT. GOODIE MOB, GETO BOYS, DEVIN THE DUDE, OTHERS at San Manuel Amphitheatre; CATIE CURTIS at McCabe’s; CRAIG ROBINSON & THE NASTY DELICIOUS at the Mint; MONSTERS ARE REAL, THE VOODOO FIX, OTHERS at Relax Bar.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25
Linda Ronstadt & Mariachi Los Camperos De Nati Cano at Gibson Amphitheatre
Some of Linda Ronstadt’s old fans can’t get into the various musical styles she’s essayed over the past 20 years. Such folks only want to hear the old country-rock tunes from her 1970s heyday, such as “When Will I Be Loved” and “You’re No Good.” Others prefer her pop-rock hits like “Just One Look” and “Ooh Baby Baby.” And some people can only get behind her ’80s jazz-pop phase, where she reveled in covers by Billy Strayhorn and Rodgers & Hart. But it doesn’t really matter which genre the Arizona singer essays; she’s become masterful at all of them, and her legendarily powerful vocals have only become more soulful and intuitive in recent years. Tonight, she’s paired with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, who are impressive performers in their own right. Violinists march into the audience, drawing rich, shimmering tones from their strings, while the group’s singers trade off on lead vocals on a series of supremely romantic ballads. Unlike so many mariachi bands, these guys avoid the usual clichés. With only two trumpets, they’re less brassy than most groups, preferring a richer and subtler blend of violins, acoustic guitars, guitarrón and even harp. When Ronstadt comes onstage and twines her gorgeously honeyed vocals with Los Camperos’ warm strings, the results can be spellbinding. (Falling James)
Also playing Sunday:
ENNIO MORRICONE at the Hollywood Bowl; U2, BLACK EYED PEAS at the Rose Bowl; JELLO BIAFRA & THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, MIA, TRICLOPS at El Rey Theatre; CHRIS SMITHER at McCabe’s; TEGAN AND SARA at the Orpheum Theatre; RATS, DOMINIQUE LEON, LEARNING MUSIC at Echo Curio; GREG LASWELL at the Hotel Cafe.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 26
TEGAN AND SARA at the Orpheum Theatre; MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTS, V.V. BROWN at the Roxy; CORREATOWN, FIRST AID KIT, JOAHNIE MENDENHALL at the Echo; OLIN & THE MOON, MICHAEL RUNYAN at the Echoplex; EMM GRYNER, MARIE DIGBY, CAITLIN KRISKO & THE BROADCAST, HOLLY COLE at the Hotel Cafe; MARC BROUSSARD, MATT HIRES at the Mint; LIGHT FM, NIGHTMARE AIR, MODERN TIME MACHINES at Spaceland.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27
Rose Melberg at Echo Curio
Based now in Vancouver, Canada, singer Rose Melberg originally came out of Sacramento and was a part of such low-key twee-pop bands as the Softies and Tiger Trap. Her new solo CD, Homemade Ship (K Records), is a carefully crafted set of introspective, mellow folk-pop ballads with spare acoustic-guitar backing. Tracks like “Old Days” ride along the cool breeze of Melberg’s glassy vocals. “I know it’s been a while, but give me a chance,” she coos gently on “Things That We Do,” before adding, “It doesn’t have to be romance.” Her airy songs work best as conversations in intimate settings, although the white-bread harmonies and easy-listening settings can get a bit claustrophobic and, yes, twee after awhile without enough musical variety to break things up. (Falling James)
Sunset Rubdown at the Troubadour
It’s kinda hard to believe that vocalist/keyboardist Spencer Krug’s Sunset Rubdown was originally intended to be a poppier catchall for his more radically noisy side project Wolf Parade. Krug’s personal brand of shambolic yet precision-hewn melodic marvels has developed apace; his second and third releases, Shut Up I Am Dreaming (2006) and Random Spirit Lover (2007), were case studies in impure pop hysteria, given to maniacally mangled mash-ups dripping with “classic” ’70s more-more-more production aesthetics. Krug has a way of injecting real excitement into pallid old pop, and his brand-new Dragonslayer (Jagjaguwar) finds him further pushing the palette while homing in on the essence of what might make us (or him) jump for joy — or shed a tiny tear. A joltingly fresh ear for what makes pop go ’round and ’round and ’round. (John Payne)
Also playing Tuesday:
BOYS LIKE GIRLS, COBRA STARSHIP, A ROCKET TO THE MOON, OTHERS at Club Nokia; DAN BLACK, WE HAVE BAND, SPEECH DEBELLE at Cinespace; THE VOYEURS, FLYING TOURBILLON ORCHESTRA, THE MONOLATORS at the Echo; MARC BROUSSARD, MATT HIRES at the Mint.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28
Pelican, Black Cobra, Sweet Cobra at the Troubadour
No one really knows how these things happen. One day, you and your metalhead buddies decide to start a thrashing band, and you want to give it a name — something that conveys a certain amount of sweetness (like, “fucking sweet, bro”) but also the requisite level of menace. You settle on Sweet Cobra, and get to work on crafting some riff-forward hardcore tunes. One day, your big break arrives: Sweet Cobra will open an entire tour for fellow Chicagoans and all-around heavy-rocking godheads Pelican. Except, wait, what’s that? The sludge band that plays right before Pelican is called Black Cobra? Fucking faux pas, bro! The Sweet snake isn’t bad, but the Black one is far deadlier. That San Francisco band is, like the quite excellent Pelican, signed to L.A.’s own Southern Lord Records, but while Pelican’s heaving, wordless soundscapes hew closer to post-rock, Black Cobra specializes in gnarly, dooming metal which is, incidentally, totally sweet. (Chris Martins)
Le Loup, Nurses at the Echo
This is what acid rock means in the late ’00s — an orgiastic decadence in sound, zillions of notes shimmering around all at once, instruments covering the stage, tribal beats and rhythms, and a cultish, “family” vibe à la Animal Collective, High Places, Holy Fuck, the Octopus Project (and, locally, Foot Village). D.C.’s seven-piece Le Loup offer their translation on the experimental and noisy world of down-at-the-compound rock here tonight, and they have much to contribute: three-part harmonies and a keenly developed understanding of finger work (on banjos and mandolins), not to mention fully fleshed-out songs with beginnings, middles and clarifying ends that take the audience on a roller-coaster ride of emotion and sonic bliss. Informed by the long, reclusive time spent crafting their second album, titled — wait for it — Family (Hardly Art), Le Loup are experts at their brand of banging, honking, plucking cacophony. Nurses, on the other hand, play it subtle. This scruffy three-piece’s ghostly, atonal melodies and slight harmonies spill out from their fair share of ramshackle instruments and stage gadgetry too, but Nurses would rather have the audience mull over three or four abstract sounds hanging in the air, as opposed to Le Loup’s aural onslaught. (Wendy Gilmartin)
Also playing Wednesday:
THE SWELL SEASON at Amoeba Music; RHYMEFEST at El Rey Theatre; REGINA SPEKTOR, JUPITER ONE at the Greek; SOULICO at Spaceland; JOSHUA RADIN, THE WATSON TWINS, EMILY WELLS at the Henry Fonda Theater; ALICE COOPER at the Nokia Theatre; JASON DIAZ, TONY LUCCA, BOBBY LONG at the Hotel Cafe; INNER CIRCLE, TRIBAL SEEDS, HOOLIGANZ, THE HOLD UP at the Roxy; THE BINGES, BADLUCK BANDITS, DASH RIP ROCK at the Viper Room.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29
Alela Diane, Marissa Nadler at the Echo
“Our lives are buried in snow,” Alela Diane cries on “White Diamonds,” from her second album, To Be Still (Rough Trade). Her rustic folk tunes are often as magical as the natural wonders she evokes, with her lilting vocals and stark acoustic guitar threaded with mystically exotic strains of violin. She hails from the small town of Nevada City, California, which must be located in some kind of enchanted musical vortex, since it’s home to more weirdly wonderful psych-folkies (including Diane’s pal Mariee Sioux) per capita than anywhere else in America. Brooklyn singer Marissa Nadler’s new CD, Little Hells (Kemado Records), is also rooted in folk, but such songs as “Rosary” and “Diamond Heart” are wrapped up in a shoegazer haze of spacy echoes and gossamer sound effects that make her chillingly beautiful vocals feel otherworldly and positively dreamy. (Falling James)
The Woolly Bandits at the Roxy
It’s tough to be in a garage-rock band these days. The concept of dorky bowl haircuts paired with intentionally crappy-sounding guitars is getting kind of ancient. Most “modern” garage-rock combos are so crippled by nostalgia and the inherent artifice in their wimpy attempts to mimic the Sonics that they come across as laughably outdated rather than genuinely rocking. What it really comes down to is songwriting, and local band the Woolly Bandits do a credible job of evoking ’60s big-beat energy by juicing it up with good ol’ punk-rock guitars and tempos on lively tracks like “Just Jealous” and “Gonna Make It Right,” from their new CD, Woman of Mass Destruction (Citation Records). Lyrically, the Bandits are a mess, with nothing new to say with such ungrammatical titles as “Your So Cute” [sic] and the semi-punky “I’m a Bug” (which is fairly pedestrian compared to the Urinals art-punk classic of the same name). But musically they’re similar to Arizona’s wonderful Love Me Nots, with singer Christa Collins alternately purring and spitting out her retro garage melodies (including a winsome ska-pop remake of the Specials’ “Gangster”) over groovy Farfisa and Hammond B3 organs. Guitarist-songwriter Rik Collins, who used to play with Sky Saxon & the Seeds and in Miss Derringer singer Liz McGrath’s old punk band Tongue, keeps things from getting too mired in the past with his distorted punk riffs. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
THE ANTLERS at the Bootleg Theatre; THE NIGHT MARCHERS, NIGHT HORSE at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts; FLYLEAF, PAPER TONGUES at El Rey Theatre; BUILT TO SPILL at the Echoplex; THE TRAGICALLY HIP at Club Nokia; SLIPKNOT at Hollywood Palladium; VOODOO GLOW SKULLS, CELLPHISH, ASSORTED JELLYBEANS, OTHERS, at Alex’s Bar; LENKA, JOEY RYAN & KATIE COSTELLO at the Hotel Cafe.
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