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Rock Picks: Supersuckers, Bloc Party, Melvins

THURSDAY, Dec. 27

Are you ready for some Hank III? (Photo by Mike Boles)
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Not just your everyday ordinary Suckers... (PHOTO BY STEPHANIE NEAL)
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Jake Shimabukuro rocks his mighty uke.
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Reverend Horton Heat, Hank III, Nashville Pussy at the Wiltern

As every holiday-music expert knows, nothing says the day after the day after Christmas like a triple bill of redneck cowpunk. Reverend Horton Heat mastermind Jim Heath has an album coming out in January by his new side project, Reverend Organdrum, on which he tries his capable hand at old-school Hammond B-3–based soul-funk. Don’t be surprised if he throws in a tune or two from it tonight, but expect him to spend the majority of his set concentrating on his signature rockabilly rave-ups (request“Bales of Cocaine”), as well as stuff from We Three Kings, his spirited 2005 Yuletide set. Backstage at the Gibson before a tribute to Hank Williams Jr. a few weeks back, Shooter Jennings told me that Hank Jr.’s son Hank III probably wouldn’t be caught dead at a fete for his father. Sad, but true? Nashville Pussy are actually from Atlanta, which isn’t to say the handle’s inaccurate. (Mikael Wood)


Build an Ark at Temple Bar

The many different genres and subgenres that arrive during any given period of time — whether it be punk, fusion, drum & bass or bebop — tend to run their course and then vanish, to be sorted out later. L.A.-based Build an Ark exists outside this rat race of hits and misses, flavors and varietals, and the proof is Dawn, the 28-piece collective’s 2007 full-length. Moving from gentle piano compositions that recall the underrated South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim to the percussive expansiveness of Alice Coltrane’s mind-blowing free-jazz work, Build an Ark’s 10 compositions unroll like silken rugs, and, as the whole reveals itself in all its colorful glory, little patterns start to emerge, be it Joshua Spiegelman’s luxurious flute, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s viola, Dwight Trible’s vocals or Carlos Niño’s unobtrusive production. If you’d like to experience true spirit this season, Build an Ark will provide it. (Randall Roberts)


Kevin Shields at the Smell

Not the My Bloody Valentine guitarist — although with the prospect of a new MBV album, a name change may be in order — Kevin Shields tonight kicks off the Smell’s 10th-anniversary series, which stretches into January. Not a stretch: to say that Kevin Shields, a.k.a. Eva Aguila, is quite simply one of the most polymorphously creative women working in the Los Angeles music scene today. Not only does she tirelessly uphold the fine spazzy DIY standards of the Deathbomb Arc aesthetic on her latest CD,Death of Patience, she also knits and crochets CD and cassette cases for her label, Hate State. Her instrument is a table festooned with effects processors creating a hail of noise blossoming forth like the scent of new sex in the shower, mingling with the miasma of melody that splits the noise perplexingly in half and elevates the experience to another plane entirely. Also: Argumentix, Budweiser Sprite, I.E., Kyle H. Mabson, Teenage Zsa Zsa, Toxic Loincloth. (David Cotner)


Also playing Thursday:

CHRIS VALENTI, BRIAN TRAVIS BAND, THE DIRGES at Mollly Malone’s.


FRIDAY, Dec. 28

The Electric Prunes at the Knitting Factory

In the shimmering realm of mid-’60s psychedelic-garage rock, few songs have assumed such gravitas — or stood the test of the time — better than the Electric Prunes’ “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night).” With that song’s mixture of haunted imagery, taut musical dynamism and more hallucinogenic atmosphere than you could drop onto a jumbo-size sugar cube, the Prunes won an underworld immortality; while the band’s promise was ultimately squandered (on a couple of weirdly opaque Capitol albums that they hardly played on), their prowess was stunning — get an earful of the superlative Live in Stockholm ’67 set. And this here, kiddies, is the genuine article Electric Prunes, not some gaggle of creeps with the original bassist, but the entire classic-at-their-prime lineup, still bending heads with a perfectly executed bandstand purity that is far more rebel celebration than nostalgia-hobbled re-creation. Don’t miss it. (Jonny Whiteside)



SATURDAY
, Dec. 29

Bavab Bavab, +dog+, Hop-Frog Kollectiv at Il Corral

It’s the final show at Il Corral, a place that has for three tumultuous years presented some of the most aggressively interesting — and occasionally just plain aggressive — new music in 21st century Los Angeles. Since January of 2005, all manner of noise has sandblasted the performance space, not to mention the rowdy neighbors, area muggings, assaults by key Satanists and the sweaty limitations of a confined venue. It’ll reincarnate in 2008, moving to a new space, Zero-Point, in SoDo (South Downtown). So enjoy the shrieking cacophonous bilge of +dog+; the minimalist noise pop of Bavab Bavab (the duo of Il Corral proprietress Christie Scott and Il Corral soundman Stane Hubert); and the mystical rhythms of postmodern primitives Hop-Frog Kollectiv. They wave goodbye as if in reply to Col. Troutman’s “It’s over, Johnny!” by channeling the spirit of John Rambo: “Nothing is over!” (David Cotner)


Supersuckers at the Viper Room

If the bubonic grunge from Seattle wreaked havoc on bands everywhere, there’s one group of shitkickers that had immunity. Originally from Tucson, the Supersuckers even found success in Seattle — and on Sub Pop, no less. Maybe it’s because Eddie Spaghetti and company take their cues from rockabilly, garage-punk and boogie; styles that can’t be smothered by the weight of flannel. Though they were embraced by the grunge movement (Eddie Vedder in particular), it’s people like Steve Earle and Willie Nelson that they really dig, and their move into country had them fitting in perfectly at this year’s Farm Aid. With a new album due in early 2008, the Supersuckers come to the Viper room for three nights starting tonight with a “rock” show, tomorrow night with a “country” show, and a “mixed” show on New Year’s Eve, where you just may walk away believing they’re the Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band in the World. (Daniel Siwek)

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SUNDAY, Dec. 30

Dirty white boys: Captain Ahab (PHOTO BY RENATA RAKSHA)
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The Psychedelic Furs at the Key Club

There’s nothing remotely furry or particularly psychedelic about ’80s college radio faves the Psychedelic Furs. In fact, despite John Ashton’s meteorite showers of effected guitar and some downright perky keys, these much-covered (by everyone from Korn to the Polyphonic Spree) Brits are among the most sonically lonesome of the mainstream post-punk pack. Bowie-indebted singer Richard Butler remains an all-eyes-on-me, shapes-pulling icon with a peerless nicotine timbre that has listeners clearing their throats, while his bro’ Tim long ago cornered the market in no-note-wasted bass functionality. Though best known for their 1986 rerecording of 1981’s “Pretty in Pink” (for the soundtrack of the John Hughes movie inspired by their original), that radio-friendly flirtation cost them: Donning leather pants and matching pink guitars, they briefly became an embarrassing sub–Duran Duran. Their core trio intact, the Furs are most effective when at their most desperate: “Only You and I” and “Sister Europe” can still stain the brain for hours. (Paul Rogers)


Lil’ Mama at Gibson Amphitheatre

Don’t front: The cool kids usually come from New York. And barring some essential pockets (Southern and Californian), so do the best rappers. Hip-hop demands contributions from people who grew up walking around the city, picking up the cadences and rhythms of borough-based vernaculars. Niatia Kirkland, a.k.a. Lil’ Mama, is a teenage product of NYC, and her giant hit “Lip Gloss” is a shivery bit of spit that suggests a relevant new player — anthemic and juvenile, sharp and spare, all pounded-out beats and unusually clever lyrics. Likewise, her remix for “Girlfriend” handily humiliates the undertalented Avril Lavigne. With her creative confidence and precocious sense of absurdity, Lil’ Mama may be the brightest hope for women in hip-hop (that non-heads will listen to). The force is strong in this one — and not hypersexualized, tacky or obvious. (Kate Carraway)


Jake Shimabukuro at the Knitting Factory

When all is seemingly lost, the sound of the itsy-bitsy ukulele can make everything somewhat bearable — in Jake Shimabukuro’s nimble hands, that is. The young uke virtuoso brings a dazzling, jazzy modernity to the tiny four-stringed instrument, often calling to mind the fleet-fingered jazz-rock ax greats in his superwide harmonic palette and daring melodic invention. He’s got a new EP out called My Life, on which he interprets and actually improves upon several songs he grew up with, by the Beatles, Cyndi Lauper, Sarah McLachlan and Led Zep — a staggeringly beautiful take on “Goin’ to California.” (Really.) Onstage, Shimabukuro is also known for ripping out one of the most heartrendingly hairy versions of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” His playing is just extraordinarily smart and sensitive, and he’s single-handedly (okay, he uses both hands) relaunching an instrument long consigned to the dustbin of sandy-beach tourist kitsch. (John Payne)


Melvins at the Echoplex

“The Melvins are awesome. Their stories write themselves.” So says my pal Chris, a music editor/committed metalhead, when I’m hit with a temporary, hangover-induced creative block. Truly, there’s a lot to say about a band whose (barely recognized) significance in rock music — Pacific Northwest grunge in particular — can’t be overstated. Led by the notoriously crotchety Buzz Osborne, the Melvins are both an established rock band doing the thick metal with raging punk streaks that they’ve done really well since the ’80s, and an inventive and open-minded outfit that indulges in extramusical efforts on the regular. Last year they hooked up with the two members of Big Business and put out (A) Senile Animal, a butchy, rigorous exercise in thoughtful metal, on home-base label Ipecac. Ultimately the Melvins now are as worthwhile as the Melvins then. Which is as rare a sentiment as the band that deserves it. (Kate Carraway)


MONDAY, Dec. 31

Bloc Party, Talib Kweli at the Hollywood Roosevelt

Just when you were going to give unconscious rappers another chance, your New Year’s resolution is annihilated by the higher counsel of “conscious” rapper Talib Kweli. This year, Kweli launched his record label, Blacksmith; partnered with Mos Def to buy the oldest black-owned bookstore in Brooklyn and reshape it into the Nkiru Center for Education and Culture; and put out an album, Eardrum, that made last summer that much sunnier for its existence (especially the affectionate and lusty jam “Hot Thing”). Also in ’07, Essex, U.K., quartet Bloc Party unleashed the ass-shaking codex of their sophomore album, A Weekend in the City. If you missed the stellar, shimmering video for the single “Flux,” find it on MySpace — it features giant Japanese monsters in love and battling for each other’s affections, even while they battle squid-monster hybrids. Just like life! (David Cotner)


Belinda Carlisle, Rufus Wainwright at Disney Hall

Belinda Carlisle used to be in the Go-Go’s, and tonight she and Rufus Wainwright will ring in 2008 with two sets of French-cabaret-inspired singing-dancing-and-more. Ergo: “Paris à Go-Go: New Year’s Eve in Paris.” Clever (and cute), right? Wainwright you know can handle the material: He’s been dropping bits of French chanson into his act for years as a sort of tribute to his folky-utopian upbringing in Montreal; plus, as his new Rufus-as-Judy live album demonstrates, dude’s as much an actor as a singer (even if he was born to play himself). Surprisingly, though, Carlisle is actually Wainwright’s equal when it comes to putting across stuff from the baguette-and-brie book. On Voilà, her recent all-French CD, she affects an appealing (and appropriate) mix of sly and sexy without sacrificing the spunk that once enabled her to convince us she had the beat. At 7 and 10:30 p.m. (Mikael Wood)


TUESDAY, Jan. 1

Playing Tuesday:

HAPPY NEW YEAR! You're on your own.


WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2

Playing Wednesday:

JIMMY GNECCO, APRIL BAUER, STATIC at the Hotel Cafe


THURSDAY, Jan 3

Babyland, Captain Ahab, The Mae Shi at the Smell

The Smell’s Ten Year Anniversary Series barrels into 2008 like a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory with the stomach-bashing pulsebeat of Los Angeles’ electro elite. Babyland, edging into their second decade of danceable punk junk funk, roll out their oil drums and computers to create the kind of musical voice that power lines would have if they could be shocked themselves. On the other hook, Captain Ahab created tracks for the soundtrack to the impressively violent Wrong Turn 2, starring Henry Rollins, delivering their filthy disco with a beat that urges even Templar bankers to shake their moneymakers. Longtime Smell stalwarts the Mae Shi play tonight before going on tour with the Germs and Adolescents, unveiling tracks from their upcoming HLLLYH LP, early samples of which promise a triumphal, advanced level of hi-hatted body-moving. Also: Electrocute, Dommm, Lucky Dragons. (David Cotner)