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Rock Picks: The Wailers, Thelonious Dub, Halfmonk, Mike Watt & the Secondmen

Straight, no chaser: Thelonious Dub

Straight, no chaser: Thelonious Dub

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 25

Good for the Jews at the Echoplex

There’s a debate going on today, and it’s not just about why we are celebrating the birth of Jesus on Christmas (the baby was a freaky Gemini). And it’s not even about the hypothetical question of whether he would come back as a Jew or a Christian. No, today the Jews have enough to argue about (and re-argue over a second helping of Chinese food): Like, is it the second, the fourth or fifth day of Hanukkah? Who knows if the music/comedy duo Good for the Jews will address those issues, but Rob Tannenbaum has another question to deal with: “Do Jews travel all the way from the Westside to Echo Park?” He and his partner, David Fagin, are hoping that hipster Heebs will come out since the price of gas is down; after all, they went down to Florida to get their grandparents to vote for Obama. Despite that win, GFTJ’s “Never Again” also means never forget, and their latest single, “Boca,” offers up the line “This is where the GOP stole an election, and half the population can’t get an erection.” Yes, it’s gonna be that kind of holiday! (Daniel Siwek)

Also playing Thursday:

CARL SAUNDERS & THE ALL-GRINCH BAND at Charlie O’s.

 

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 26

Thelonious Dub at Red White + Bluezz

Jazz, along with its younger and less-sophisticated sibling rock & roll, remains America’s greatest gift to the world. Yet, despite the best efforts of free jazzers and other experimentalists and visionaries, the genre is too often ossified by classical-jazz revivalists and, quite frankly, squares who seem to have lost the original premises of jazz — improvisation, playfulness, freedom. (Don’t get me started on rock.) Thelonious Dub are a Glendale-based trio (consisting of Joe Bartone on guitar, electric sitar and effects; John von Seggern on bass; and Sean Rainey on drums), who describe their music as “a complete misunderstanding of both jazz and reggae.” They play rhythmically Jamaica-fied and sonically trippy renditions of Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight” and “Straight, No Chaser” and Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” and they make Coldplay’s “Clocks” and Pink Floyd’s “Money” swing. T-Dub crack jazz over the head with a big club and impudently kick it swiftly into the 21st century. Alan Cook replaces Rainey for this Boxing Day gig, with sets at 7:30 & 10 p.m. 70 S. Raymond Ave., Old Pasadena. (626) 792-4441. (Michael Simmons)

Resistant Culture at the Key Club

The local outfit Resistant Culture are one of the weirdest grindcore/hardcore punk/metal bands of all time. They have the requisite superfast tempos and darkly growling vocals married with sinister guitars, but what sets them apart is the way they juxtapose classically trained guitarist Katina’s brutal, chord-shuffling attack with Native American musical influences, including tribal drums and indigenous flutes. You wouldn’t think that a gentle instrument like the flute could withstand the electric roar of such rampaging grindcore guitars, but it’s actually an intriguing combination. And singer Anthony Rezhawk’s lyrics about tribal injustices and environmental destruction demand such an appropriately fierce sonic crush. The band’s commitment goes far beyond their throttling music; since their start in the late-’80s (when they were called Resistant Militia), they’ve agitated for a variety of leftist and Native American causes, including the effort to free Leonard Peltier and the fight to stop the relocation of the Navajo people from Big Mountain, Arizona. Resistant Culture’s 2005 CD, Welcome to Reality, frothing with consciousness-raising anthems like “Ecocide,” was reissued this year, and the band recently finished recording their long-awaited follow-up, All One Struggle. (Falling James)

Also playing Friday:

KOTTONMOUTH KINGS at Grove of Anaheim; LOOK DAGGERS at Alex’s Bar; SHWAYZE, CISCO ADLER at the Canyon; RATT, THE DONNAS at House of Blues; THE POPRAVINAS at O’Brien’s Pub; LUCKY OTIS at Redwood Bar & Grill; CIPES & THE PEOPLE at Saint Rocke; TEDDY LEE HOOKER at Arcadia Blues Club; THE HOLLYWOOD COMBO at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill; CODY BRYANT at Viva Cantina.

 

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27

Bassnectar, Beats Antique at El Rey Theatre

Like the name says, Bassnectar is a steady flow of low-end ambrosia designed to make the most motley of gatherings pulsate like a loved-up amoeba. New single “Heads Up” from the forthcoming The Other Side possesses the wobble of dub-step, but the energy is higher and the palette busier, like the San Fran producer himself: He’s too busy tearing up tempos, styles and samples to be pigeonholed as any one kind of electronic-music artist. Whether tonight’s vibe is mash-up, freestyle, glitch or hip-hop (and it’s likely to be all of the above and more), democratic dance-party euphoria is the one constant. When the sun comes up and your pupils return to normal size, put on headphones to decompress with any of his excellent records, including Mesmerizing the Ultra and Underground Communication, where the edits are as subtle and witty as anything this side of the Orb. Opening is Oakland’s Beats Antique, working a more Balkan-klezmer-Armenian thing into their breaks, not to mention a belly dancer. (Andrew Lentz)

Mike Watt & the Secondmen, Listing Ship at Redwood Bar & Grill

The gently arty folk collective Listing Ship wouldn’t seem, at first glance, to be the most appropriate band to be paired on a bill with the aggro, bass-pounding Mike Watt, but the former Minuteman was a guest star on the Ship’s 2005 CD, Time to Dream. Although Watt might be best known for the punk-funk minimalism of the Minutemen and the funk-punk sprawl of the Stooges, he reveals his softer side with such side projects as the contemplative bass duo Dos. While Watt’s clench-throated huffing and puffing and indulgence in classic-rock noodling can occasionally get predictable in his countless other projects (which range from the L.A. supergroup Banyan and a non-ironic Madonna homage, the Madonnabes, to several Stooges tribute bands, in addition to the real article), he tends to play with more focus and creativity when doing his own material. Jamming on other folks’ songs must be a great release for Watt, but he’s much more interesting when he’s approximating the Minutemen’s forward-looking inventiveness with the Secondmen than when he’s dipping into someone else’s retro bag. Listing Ship followed the rustically charming Time to Dream with the restless sea chanteys and subversive folk-pop of A Hull Full of Oil and Bone, one of this year’s most quietly impressive local releases. The album encompasses Lyman Chaffee’s sarcastically chipper new-wave anthems (“Voice of the Future”) and such utterly spellbinding ballads as “Depression,” where Shawn Lockie sings with a funereal glow, adorned elegantly by her sister Heather’s sympathetic viola. (Falling James)

Legowelt at Mountain Bar

When Dutch musician Legowelt (a.k.a. Danny Wolfers) released his first album, Pimpshifter, in 1998, he looked to the EBM/Jack tracks from Chicago and the noisy techno-electro being made by Drexciya in Detroit. A few years later, Lego’s “Disco Route” had Kraftwerk and Moroder sharing a pair of skis on a Ghostly Records hit. Now he produces giallo-italo, meaning it’s no Fun Fun, and the dance is a sleazy, scary place (as directed by Argento, Bava or Lenzi) where the killer hooks may very well be a killer’s hook accented by a Goblin soundtrack. Legowelt will be playing cuts from his upcoming release, Vatos Locos, for the Crème Organization (though he runs his own Strange Life label), which was founded TLR, your opening DJ. TLR is also behind the Global Darkness headquarters, which hosts a loose conglomeration of labels (Bunker, Clone, Crème, Godspill, Viewlexx and others) located in the Hague. They’ve coined their sound “The West Coast of Holland,” and you can go to www.intergalacticfm.com to hear it (it’s where Legowelt deejays The Astro Unicorn Show, and TLR does the Back to Music show). (Daniel Siwek)

Also playing Saturday:

LUIS & THE WILDFIRES at the Derby; MARI IIJIMA at Genghis Cohen; STRUNG OUT, SUPERSUCKERS at House of Blues; ROSEMARY’S BILLYGOAT, SWORDS OF FATIMA at House of Blues; PRINCETON at Spaceland (see Music feature); JOE BAIZA’S UNIVERSAL CONGRESS OF . . ., BLACK WIDOWS at Taix; BIBLICAL PROOF OF UFOs at Buccaneer Lounge; CAFÉ R&B at Harvelle’s; ANDRE THIERRY & ZYDECO MAGIC at the Elks Lodge, Gardena; JAMES INTVELD at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill.

 

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28

Halfmonk, Jen Hung at Mandrake Bar

Here we have another one of these most immaculately hip new-music-type events promoted for the sheer crazy belief in it by one true local hero, the electric-ax-god-and-so-much-more known as G.E. Stinson. He has undertaken the tireless promotion of these super-high-quality electronic/new-jazz/nongenre bills around town for the past several years, to partially fill the void left by the demise of Nels Cline’s great New Music Mondays at the old Alligator in Santa Monica. Anyway, tonight’s bill features Stinson himself under his Halfmonk appellation, doing a solo bit on various laptop and “x tech” guitar configurations; Jen Hung contributes vocals and sundry oral and digital effects, and one B.K. Bynum provides the piquant video abstruseness. These events you need to know about and attend, the next time you catch yourself saying there’s nothing going on in this town. Please note the early time slot, 7-9 p.m. 2692 S. La Cienega Blvd. (310) 837-3297. www.mandrakebar.com. (John Payne)

Also playing Sunday:

THE SPINNERS at Grove of Anaheim; STRUNG OUT, SUPERSUCKERS at House of Blues; KARLING ABBEYGATE, AMBER FOXX, MEMPHIS KINGS at Redwood Bar & Grill, noon; NEIL HAMBURGER at Spaceland.

 

MONDAY, DECEMBER 29

Robin Thicke, Chrisette Michele at Club Nokia

His wildly eclectic (and wildly underrated) 2003 debut, A Beautiful World, suggested the arrival of a brash R&B envelope-pusher, but Robin Thicke has since evolved into one of the genre’s most traditionally minded talents. (Not for nothing did the son of sitcom star Alan Thicke call his 2006 sophomore set The Evolution of Robin Thicke.) Thanks, no doubt, to the success of the mellow Evolution hit “Lost Without U,” this year’s Something Else is perhaps a little too cool for school — all those slow-burning odes to true-blue romance can blur together, no matter how well sung. That said, Thicke is a straight-up charmer onstage; at House of Blues back in August, he flexed his falsetto for the females and did appealingly goofy dances for . . . well, those were probably for the females too. Opener Chrisette Michele’s 2007 debut, I Am, didn’t receive as much attention as it should have, which is why a recent post on her MySpace page describes a studio session with Ne-Yo. (Mikael Wood)

Also playing Monday:

AMANDA JO WILLIAMS, RIO EN MEDIO at the Echo; THE MOVIES, EVEREST, LOVE LIES SLEEPING at Spaceland; THE DUANE PETERS GUNFIGHT at the Viper Room.

 

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30

The Marshall Tucker Band at House of Blues

While 90 percent of working rock & roll bands were, as the Rolling Stones so aptly put it, “Sucking in the Seventies,” the good ole boys below the Mason-Dixon line were strapping on their balls, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and cooking up a rad, bad, trad-based sound that we came to know as Southern rock — and God bless ’em for it. Chief among this insurgent rabble were Spartanburg, North Carolina’s Marshall Tucker Band, a collection of ragtag, jam-happy misfits with established big-beat cred (various members had started with evocatively monikered groups like the Rants and New Generation), who plunged into the brawny new musical style by combining elements of the mythic Old South and frontier West with an aggressively amplified squall and a boozy honky-tonk soul. The results were as convincing as they were successful, and, despite losing several key members to both the Grim Reaper and classic road burnout, they’re still banging it out today with their original vocalist and a clutch of long-running members — and all of their Dixie-fried appeal fully intact. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Tuesday:

AKON, SHONTELLE at Club Nokia; SNOOP DOGG at Ventura Theatre; THE NIGHT MARCHERS at Brixton South Bay; THE EVANGENITALS, LEGS ON SALE at Mr. T’s Bowl; ABE VIGODA, BOBB BRUNO at the Smell; MEDICAL CARD at Cozy’s Bar & Grill.

 

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31

The Wailers at the Roxy

Recorded while Bob Marley was recovering from an attempt on his life, 1977’s Exodus re-engineered the reggae blueprint by embracing pop, funk and R&B, and by teasing out multiple layers of riffs, melodies and harmonies on each song — and they still get more airplay today than they did 20 years ago. From the blissed-out “Waiting in Vain” to the Jamaican-tourism-board-appropriated “One Love,” the Wailers intend to perform Exodus in its entirety, with a stage full of friends and family. Following Marley’s death, the band continued in various forms over the years, with bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett anchoring the group. These post–Marley Wailers have occasionally been written off as a novelty act, but this song-for-song commemoration promises to be a finely crafted celebration of the album’s transcendent music. The Family Man and crew will light up this New Year’s Eve with a grip of special guests, including the Itals’ Everald Gayle and King Tubby’s keys man, Keith Sterling, to name a few. (Wendy Gilmartin)

The Gears, The Controllers, Paging Beto at Mr. T’s Bowl

If you’re looking for a low-cost, down-&-dirty, authentic punk rock alternative to the glitzy, upper-crust New Year’s Eve bashes elsewhere in town tonight, with their plastic party favors and even-more-plastic piped-in DJ music, you won’t find any cheaper (in every sense of the word) and skuzzier entertainment than tonight’s bill at this rundown former bowling alley. The Controllers would be legendary if only for their shadowy update of Ricky Ricardo’s version of “Jezebel,” which is still the most searing of the tune’s many punk makeovers. But the ongoing trio, who were the first band to play at Hollywood’s historic Masque club in the late ’70s, also slug out such amorally rocking classics as the Stooges-style grinder “Suburban Suicide” (one of the greatest songs ever about wasting away in Van Nuys), the anti–Anita Bryant broadside (and newly timely, with the passage of Proposition 8) “Killer Queers” and the original “Neutron Bomb.” Controllers guitarist Kidd Spike also brings in his early-’80s surf-punk spinoff the Gears, who combine singer Axxel G. Reese’s terminally juvenile lyrical preoccupations (high school girls, smoking dope) with rootsy rockabilly twists and a Ramones-y pop-punk drive (not to mention Dave Drive, the band’s master of deftly thunderous tom-tom fills). Speaking of spinoffs, the rocking, stomping, Stones-y and hard-bluesy Paging Beto are the latest incarnation of harmonica boss Pat French’s Purple Gang, with stellar sidemen including the Blaster’s Bill Bateman and former Top Jimmy bassist Gil T. The cats can play. (Falling James)

Also playing Wednesday:

KATY PERRY, GUNS N BOMBS, LMFAO at Paramount Studios; INFECTED MUSHROOM, FLOSSTRADAMUS at Hollywood Palladium; STONE TEMPLE PILOTS at Club Nokia; MARTINI KINGS at the Bordello; TOAD THE WET SPROCKET at the Canyon; THE BLOOD ARM at the Echo; RANKING JOE at the Echoplex; SNOOP DOGG at House of Blues; MIKE STINSON at Redwood Bar & Grill; YOUNG DUBLINERS at Saint Rocke; WAYNE HANCOCK, BIG SANDY at Sam’s at the Regent; THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE, PITY PARTY, HAPPY HOLLOWS at Spaceland; CANNED HEAT at the Blue Dog; CAFÉ R&B at the Cellar.

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 1

Playing Thursday:

FREE MORAL AGENTS at Alex’s Bar; SHOOTER JENNINGS, EARL GREYHOUND at El Cid, 4-9 p.m.