Rock Picks: Winifred E. Eye, Stagecoach, Marianne Dissard, Thao
FRIDAY, APRIL 24
Winifred E. Eye at the Smell
Winifred E. Eye have been around for nearly a decade playing exactly the kind of crusty, creepy music that you’d expect to hear emanating from a rusted old Oakland warehouse in the dead of night. Consider them the Bay Area’s answer to Tom Waits — a comparison certainly heard in the wizened voice of singer Aaron Calvert — offset by the more traditional psych-blues of the Black Angels and the odd-duck pop construction Isaac Brock tapped into for Ugly Casanova. The band have kept relatively quiet since releasing their sadly slept-on 2002 album, The Dirt Tier (released by Luckyhorse Industries, which also put out music by Love As Laughter at the time), but a new album, Til I Prune (Antenna Farm) promises to get the motor oil flowing through those grit-caked veins again. The night’s bill leans slightly more country-fried, so expect to hear Calvert’s gruff grumble slightly smoothed out over some good, clean twang. (Chris Martins)
L.A. Weekend at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre
The first annual L.A. Weekly L.A. Weekend, a two-day cultural festival that celebrates the writers, musicians, filmmakers, icons, culinary geniuses and overall creative souls who make this city so vital, occurs Friday and Saturday in Hollywood. Friday’s musical offerings include: DJ sets by L.A. punk icons Henry Rollins and Keith Morris; a performance by the Human Ear Collective, which has released cutting-edge lo-fi syrup disco and pop by Nite Jewel, Geneva Jacuzzi and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti (Jacuzzi will perform); and a choreographed piece by dancer/Hysteria Dance Company co-founder/Sweaty Sunday instructor/We Are the World member Ryan Heffington. On Saturday, the Weekend will host the premiere of the documentary The Heart Is a Drum Machine, a film that seeks to better understand the relationship among music, body and life. A gig by Matt Sorum, who appears in the film, and “special guests” will follow the screening. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Friday:
AL STEWART at McCabe’s; QUEENSRYCHE at House of Blues; PIGEON JOHN, ROOTBEER, TENA JONES, MR. J. MEDEIROS at the Roxy; JON BRION AND FRIENDS at Largo at the Coronet; VOICE ON TAPE, GAMBLE HOUSE, BILLYGOAT, YELLOW RED SPARKS at Pehrspace; TYRONE WELLS at the Hotel Café; ANGIE MATSON at Home.
SATURDAY, APRIL 25
Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Club
With its mix of high-gloss chart toppers (Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Okie empress Reba McEntire) and some of bluegrass’ most distinguished tradition bearers (incomparable veterans Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs), annual megahoedown Stagecoach has made an admirable stab at spanning the country-music spectrum. While the bill is peppered with disposable curiosities like ’70s drek hounds Poco, and Lone Star psychoshtick meatheads Reverend Horton Heat, there’s more than enough additional legit talent to spark an exodus inland. Charlie Daniels, f’rinstance, rates as one of country and rock’s mightiest titans; the dude has done it all — a hardscrabble rockabilly start, had his songs covered by Elvis Presley, enjoyed a long alliance with Bob Dylan, helped cook up Southern rock. There’s a lot more than “Devil Went Down to Georgia” going on with Daniels, and the threat of a visit from Austin gonzo provocateur Jerry Jeff Walker, the wildman who assisted in the Outlaw movement’s ignition, guarantees a high and mighty earful. The Stagecoach clan also had the very good taste to include James Intveld, one of Southern California’s finest and criminally underappreciated stylists, nicely rounding out this formidable musical buffet. 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio. Also Sun. (Jonny Whiteside)
Ximena Sarinana at Avalon
Ximena Sariñana is the portrait of domestic bliss on the cover of her 2008 debut album, dutifully doing her stitching while gussied up like a repressed ’50s housewife in a navy-blue dress with white polka dots. Of course, the word she’s stitching, Mediocre, which also serves as the album’s blandly sarcastic title, indicates that we’re not dealing with some typical vapid Mexican pop princess. Instead, she’s closer in spirit to Julieta Venegas and Ceci Bastida in that she sings mellow, melodic songs that are much more intelligent and artfully crafted than mainstream pop. Sariñana differs from some of her peers, however, in that there are less traditional Mexican-folk influences. Soulful, sophisticated ballads like “Normal” sound more like a Spanish-language Carole King. The CD was nominated for several Grammys and Latin Grammys — pretty heady stuff for a performer who got her start as a child actor in telenovelas. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
THE GO-GO’S at House of Blues; LOS INQUIETOS DEL NORTE at the Nokia Theatre; EMITH at Genghis Cohen; CARNEY at the Troubadour; FASTBALL at the Mint; CELTIC WOMEN at the Greek Theatre; JOHN DOE at the Getty Center; YOU ME & IOWA, WE FLY BY NIGHT, THE HECTORS, AVI BUFFALO at Spaceland; GLEN PHILLIPS, GREG LASWELL, BRANDON MCCULLOCH & THE DEADBIRDS at the Hotel Café; LUCKY DRAGONS, STELLALUNA, NICOLE KIDMAN, CARDIAC PARTY, TREASURE MAMMAL at the Smell; BANG CAMARO at the Viper Room; DAVID WILCOX at McCabe’s.
SUNDAY, APRIL 26
Eulogies, One A.M. Radio at the Echo
If there’s one thing L.A. powerhouse Dangerbird Records excels at, it’s indie pop that effuses easy dreaminess and cool melancholy in equal turns. Eulogies has that in spades, which should come as no surprise considering the band is helmed by one of the label’s founders, Peter Walker. In the tradition of California greats like Grandaddy and Nada Surf, Eulogies deals in effortless guitar tunes counterbalanced by moody but optimistic ruminations on death, disconnect and generalized drear, sent through the speakers on the back of a whispery croon. Walker’s group appears here in support of its just-released second LP, Here Anonymous, which was produced by labelmate Hrishikesh Hirway. Also known as the One AM Radio, Hirway, who opens with his recently assembled five-piece band, paints the Dangerbird vision in broad electronic swaths, typically composing lush, ambient soundscapes that seethe blue tones and incorporate a variety of hushed instruments. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Sunday:
EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS at the Knitting Factory; KID KOALA at the Gallery Nucleus; CHRISTOPHER GUEST, MICHAEL MCKEAN, HARRY SHEARER at the Wiltern; EULOGIES, THE ONE AM RADIO at the Echo (day show, 1 p.m.); MR. LIF at the Echo; THE FAINT, LADYTRON at the Henry Fonda Theatre; NITE JEWEL, GROUPER at the Smell; MARY MARY at House of Blues; THE MAE SHI, WIDOW BABIES at the Echo; THE DITTY BOPS at McCabe’s; LITTLE BIG TOWN at Club Nokia.
MONDAY, APRIL 27
Zoe at Amoeba Music
It’s no big secret that some of the best outer-space sounds are coming from Mexico City, and Zoé are among the D.F.’s bravest astronauts (and not just because they named a 2002 album Asteroide). There are a lot of electronic elements swirling around in their galactic soup, as well as strands of Britpop, shoegazer and low-key psychedelia. Such older songs as “Paula” and “Corazón Atómico” sound like David Bowie falling to Earth and landing in a field of Stone Roses. Their most recent album, with the slitheringly cool title Reptilectric (2008), is given added layers of atmospherics by producer Phil Vinall (Pulp, Placebo). Despite some occasional louder, stormier passages, Zoé generally keep their freakier moments on the subtle side, with León Larregui crooning soothingly over his bandmates’ glowing soundscapes. “Poli” is a highlight, as spaghetti Western horns collide with stellar echoes over a sleepy folk-rock groove. Starts at 7 p.m. (Falling James)
Marianne Dissard at Echo Curio
The Martian-red expanses of Arizona are not the first place one would expect to come across intimate, romantic chansons sung in French. The dry, unforgiving desert landscape is too harsh for delicate life forms and sensitive sentiments — not to mention that many of the state’s conservative residents don’t cotton to folks speaking Spanish, much less anything more “exotic.” And yet, Marianne Dissard, who was born in France, has found her own unique place in the Tucson scene, alongside such simpatico allies as Naïm Amor, Nick Luca and Giant Sand. On her debut CD, L’Entredeux, she confides her folkie love songs in a breathy whisper, concocting gentle spells even as co-songwriter Joey Burns (Calexico) surrounds her with washes of guitar, organ, mandolin and violins that evoke the grandeur of the Sonoran Desert. The combination of Old World tradition and Wild West expansiveness is weirdly enchanting, whether Dissard is wallowing in solemn ballads like “Cayenne” and “Le Lendemain” or kicking up her heels on occasional uptempo rambles like “Les Draps Sourds.” Her soft vocal delivery can get a bit repetitive, but it blends marvelously with the hints of distant Navajo thunder, momentous violins, Velvet Underground throb, bubblegum fuzz-guitar break and general Forever Changes–style trippiness that come together on the album’s best track, the six-minute epic “Merci de Rien du Tout.” Tonight, she and her touring band (which apparently doesn’t include Burns) alight in this tiny shop of curiosities on a bill with local country revisionists I See Hawks in L.A. (Falling James)
Also playing Monday:
KID KOALA at the Bordello; THE FAINT, LADYTRON at the Henry Fonda Theatre; THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE, YOUNG LOVE, FLYING TOURBILLION ORCHESTRA, SWIM PARTY at Spaceland; FOOL’S GOLD, JOHN WEBSTER JOHNS, LEOPOLD AND HIS FICTION at the Echo.
TUESDAY, APRIL 28
Tinted Windows at the Troubadour
Wanna start an all-star power-pop band like Tinted Windows? Well, you’ve gotta have some power in that pop, so you have to get someone reliable and hard like Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. And you need a bassist who’s solid without being too flashy, like Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger. And, yeah, it might be too much to hope for, but at least try to get a living legend, such as Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos, to sit behind the drums. What’s that? You want a singer who sounds like Taylor Hanson, the dude from that sappy boy band Hanson? Oh, geez. Now why would you want to ruin a good idea like that? Such a combination could only be awful ... except the truth is that Taylor doesn’t sound half bad on Tinted Windows’ debut CD, Kind of a Girl (S-Curve Records). While Hanson may not be as technically dazzling as Robin Zander, his yearning vocals still have a certain tuneful appeal. The lyrics to Real Kids–influenced songs like “Messing With My Head” are simple and effective, albeit without the wit, ambition and depth of power-pop masters like the Kinks’ Ray Davies and the Quick’s Steven Hufsteter. If the supergroup ends up becoming massively popular — a distinct possibility — it could prove interesting to see if Mr. Bun has time for both Tinted Windows and the constantly touring Cheap Trick. (Falling James)
Also playing Tuesday:
THE PINKER TONES, GEORGE SARAH AND THE STRING TRIO at the Knitting Factory; BOB LOG III, WILLEM MAKER, STEPHEN BROWER & THE SILENT MAJORITY at Spaceland; CASTLEDOOR, PARSON RED HEADS, PRINCETON at the Echo; RAILROAD EARTH at the Roxy; POMPOIR, STAMINA MANTIS, BLESSED GRAVE, BIRTH! at the Smell; ALPHA BLONDY at the Key Club.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29
Franz Nicolay, Moneybrother at Spaceland
The Hold Steady’s got a secret weapon in keyboardist Franz Nicolay, whose retro whorehouse piano rollin’ and way-overenthusiastic background singing (and hair-flinging) give that eclectic nuevo bar band a lot of its fresh artistic chutzpah. The chameleonic, boldly mustachioed Nicolay — also currently coloring World/Inferno Friendship Society and Anti-Social Music — has his own new solo thingie out called Major General (Fistolo Records), a charisma-dripping identity crisis in which the multi-instrumentalist (and very suave individual) makes the best of his time with a cinematically scaled opera of open-heartedly big ballads, wayward Gypsy troubadour tales and hilariously scabrous sermons about the importance of living large in these crampingly caution-strewn times. Nicolay will perform, in a tad less wide-screen mode, the album’s thrilling hodgepodge of howlers; he’s invited Grammy-winning Swedes Moneybrother along, since he could relate to their weird new Scandinavian stew of reggae, disco and roots-rocking thrash. (John Payne)
Thao Nguyen at the Hotel Cafe
Her most recent album came out on Kill Rock Stars, but San Francisco–based Thao Nguyen doesn’t sound like one of the venerable Seattle indie’s noisy love-punk bands: On last year’s We Brave Bee Stings and All, Nguyen convincingly refreshes the sort of strummy, acoustic singer-songwriter music that lately has seemed like the exclusive province of earnest Grey’s Anatomy types, outfitting her tunes with a rhythmic complexity and a textural fleet-footedness that keep you guessing as to what’s coming next. Here she’ll perform with her curiously named backing band, the Get Down Stay Down, whose members Nguyen hooked up with during her days in Virginia. Opener Samantha Crain, from Oklahoma, plays a whimsical brand of melancholy folk-rock distinguished mostly by Crain’s handsomely husky vocals. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Wednesday:
SO MANY WIZARDS, FURCAST, INTRICATE MACHINES at the Bordello; THE ANSWER at the Troubadour.
THURSDAY, APRIL 30
Sweet at House of Blues
While scoring hits in the ’70s with classic rock staples “Ballroom Blitz,” “Little Willy” and “Fox on the Run,” Sweet never garnered the hip cachet of its British rock brethren. T.Rex and Mott the Hoople were cooler; Queen and ELO were more extravagant, and Bowie was Bowie. Sweet’s glam-pop sound came off, well, a little too sweet — and the name undoubtedly fed bubblegum comparisons. However, listening to Sweet’s new Shout! Factory anthology, Action, isn’t an empty-calorie experience. Besides their well-known singles, the fun-packed double-disc set revives big riff rockers like “Action,” “Teenage Rampage” and “The Lies in Your Eyes,” along with curios like “Alexander Graham Bell” and the Caribbean-flavored “Poppa Joe.” With bassist Steve Priest (immortalized in the “Are you ready, Steve?” line from “Ballroom Blitz”) the only remaining original member, there’s always the question of how, exactly, this incarnation will recreate the Sweet sound (and whether they’ll wear those silly knickers), but, still, it should make for a jolly night of “Wig-Wam Bam” rock & roll. (Michael Berick)
Also playing Thursday:
IAN MCLAGEN & THE BUMP BAND at the Mint; BEN LEE, LOW VS. DIAMOND at the Troubadour; XU XU FANG, DOWNTOWN UNION, THE VOYEURS, VOICES VOICES at the Echo; THE FINCHES, CHEN SANTA MARIA, DAN FRIEL, SOME DARK HOLLER, LUCKY DRAGONS at the Smell; WYE OAK, POMEGRANATES, BUDDY at the Silverlake Lounge; THE BLOOD ARM; SWEATERS, KNOMI at the Bordello.
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