THE GLITCH MOB, FREE THE ROBOTS, DERU AT THE MUSIC BOX
The Blue Man Group of blap music? The Fatboy Slims of lazer-bass? The next generation of Dim Mak deejays fitted with better jackets? It's far too easy to poke fun at the Glitch Mob, a three-man synth-and-thump powerhouse that rose to moderate fame alongside the rest of Los Angeles' red-hot beat scene. Why? Well, while artists like Nosaj Thing and Flying Lotus infuse their instrumental odysseys with a great deal of grit and experimentation (and second-gen producers like Baths and Shlohmo bring melody and found sounds into the mix), these electro-mafiosos come across as unabashedly high-sheen and physically slick — as if they not only shop at, but also conceive their beats within the Zara men's department. But is that really a bad thing? The thing is, Ooah, Boreta and edIT know how to throw one helluva show, and their debut LP, Drink the Sea, is strong enough to amp even the snobbiest electronic aficionado for a night out under the strobes. (Chris Martins
DR. JOHN & THE LOWER 911 AT THE CANYON
With yet another unnatural disaster welling in the Gulf of Mexico and virtually knocking on New Orleans' door, that city's avenging angel gets ready once again to combat the forces of greed and technology, armed only with the ageless power of voodoo, the blues, and his own sly wit and wisdom. Unlike most tributes to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which tended to be somber and maudlin, Dr. John's 2008 CD, City That Care Forgot, was a fiery, funky dance party that celebrated the Crescent City's musical heritage and indomitable spirit just as much as it ruthlessly eviscerated the government “caretakers” who let the city d(r)own. Of course, the prescient Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. has been sensing danger ever since his 1959 instrumental “Storm Warning.” He's been through a lot of strange changes over the years, from his work as a Hollywood session musician and his garishly theatrical, over-the-top Night Tripper persona in the late 1960s to his mainstream funk-pop success with the hit single “Right Place Wrong Time” in 1973 and his multifarious collaborations with the late Doc Pomus, the Neville Brothers, Rickie Lee Jones, the Meters, the Rolling Stones, Carly Simon and, a few weeks ago on late-night TV, the Roots. Dr. John's upcoming album, Tribal (due in early August), revels in several of his trademark styles, including the swampy strut of “Feel Good Music,” the bittersweet soul blues of “Lissen at Our Prayer” and the freewheeling jazz of “Music Came.” He'll likely preview a few of the new tunes when he sits down for a chat at the Grammy Museum on Monday. (Falling James)
MERLE HAGGARD AT THE QUEEN MARY
“One Step Beyond” is a phrase that pretty much sums up Merle Haggard's entire career and offbeat modus operandi. The ornery iconoclast burst onto the country charts in the mid-'60s with a defiantly graphic, modern style that openly defied Nashville's strings-and-vocal chorus format — soon it blossomed into a jazz-informed type of honky-tonk expression that frequently probed social, cultural and political issues with a Libertarian blunt-force that remains Hag's alone. In that department, he's rarely slacked off: Within weeks of Hurricane Katrina's heinous landfall, he released the stinging parable “Rebuild America First” and, just last month, the opening track of his latest album contained the ominous lyric “I've seen it all completely fall apart/and I've seen our greatest leaders/break their peoples heart.” Timely, no? Now, we all know what Hag's been smoking but, somehow or other, in his case at least, it seems to instill a prophetic quality that, taken with his natural poetics and gimlet misfit perspective, ranks him as an artist to be ignored at one's peril. [Ink-N-Iron Festival] (Jonny Whiteside)
Also Playing Friday: HENRY ROLLINS at Largo; OJAI FESTIVAL (see music feature); DELOREAN at the Echo; GOOD OLD WAR, YUKON BLONDE, AUDRA MAE at the Troubadour; FORMER GHOSTS, BLESSURE GRAVE, DEATHDAY PARTY, BESTIAL MOUTHS at the Smell; CRANKY GEORGE at the Bootleg; AMEL LARRIEUX at Catalina Jazz Club; BASIA at Club Nokia; CRASH TEST DUMMIES at Coach House; WANG CHUNG, OLIO, SAINT JOHN AND THE REVELATIONS at Galaxy Concert Theatre; NAKED EYES at Hollywood Park; WONDER GIRLS at House of Blues Sunset Strip; EXODUS, HEATHEN at Key Club; JGB FEAT. MELVIN SEALS & STU ALLEN at The Mint; THE SPAZMATICS, BRASILIDADE, THE TOLEDO SHOW, THE SANTA MONICA JAZZ ENSEMBLE at Waterfront; OMAR AND THE STRING POPPERS at Weber's Place; THE DREAMING, ECHO LUSH, PSYCHO PLAGUE at Whisky A Go-Go.
TORTOISE AT THE TROUBADOUR
Back in ye olde mid-1990s, these Chicago postrock pioneers seemed like the most visionary band in all of Indieland: No vocals! Two bass players! A 20-minute album opener! A decade and a half later, Tortoise's music feels somewhat less groundbreaking; compared with in-your-face new acts like Sleigh Bells, they even seem a bit old-fashioned. Still, as demonstrated on last year's tellingly titled Beacons of Ancestorship, the band's steadfast devotion to groove continues to yield rewards: “Northern Something” and “Monument Six One Thousand,” to cite two down-and-dirty examples, are among the funkiest space-prog jams they've laid down yet, while the punk-jazz fuzz bomb “Yinxianghechengqi” makes you wonder what might've happened had Pat Metheny ever sat in with Bad Brains. Onstage Tortoise tend to emphasize their jammy side; expect a number of lengthy trips tonight. (Mikael Wood)
ALEX CUBA AT The Mint
This Cuban-Canadian crooner got a high-profile boost last year when he collaborated with Nelly Furtado on her Spanish-language album, Mi Plan. Now Alex Cuba is touring the United States in support of a self-titled disc that recently won him a Juno Award back home. Listening to bright, polished tunes like “Tierra Colorá” and “Caballo,” you can hear why Furtado recruited Cuba: He's a popwise mix-and-match type who never lets his love of studio-nerd texture overpower his commitment to radio-hit melody (in other words: imagine Manu Chao minus the confrontational post-punk energy). “I send you this song that doesn't say a thing,” Cuba sings in Spanish right at the top of the album, “but goes directly to your heart.” Couldn't say it better myself. (Mikael Wood)
Also Playing Saturday: OJAI FESTIVAL (see music feature); MAYER HAWTHORNE & THE COUNTY at the Getty; MURS, SICK JACKEN, NOCANDO at House of Blues Sunset Strip; INK-N-IRON at the Queen Mary; HENRY ROLLINS at Largo; MIYAVI at Club Nokia; DR. JOHN & THE LOWER 911 at Coach House; TABACO Y RON at Conga Room; FITZ & THE TANTRUMS at Detroit Bar; CONJUNTO PRIMAVERA, LOS RIELEROS DEL NORTE at Gibson Amphitheatre; STYLISTICS, CHI-LITES, BLOODSTONE, RAY GOODMAN AND BROWN, HAROLD MELVIN'S BLUENOTES, NEW BIRTH, FRIENDS OF DISTINCTION, PERSUADERS at Greek Theatre; ELEVATERS, QUETZAL, SO & SO, GREG LASWELL, BRIAN WRIGHT, YELLOW RED SPARKS at Hotel Café; KASHMIR at Roxy Theatre; SUBLIME WITH ROME, IRATION at Santa Barbara Bowl.
ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
There are some estimable performers — some of them even jazz musicians — mixed in among the pop and mainstream acts at the Playboy Jazz Festival. Today's highlights include the bewitchingly soothing jazz bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, talented if frustratingly banal guitarist George Benson and the poppy Malian singer Salif Keita. But most of the festival's drive and power should come straight from Robert Randolph & the Family Band. They're really more rock — and soul, funk and gospel — than jazz, but it all comes together in an almost-psychedelic, spiritually uplifting fashion. The group would be worth checking out if only for the dazzling technical dexterity of pedal-steel guitarist/leader Robert Randolph, who waxes up wildly inventive solos that take rootsy archetypes into new directions. Yet the Family Band's interplay and songwriting are just as locked in. Don't be surprised if Randolph and crew steal the show. [See also Brick's Picks.] (Falling James)
Also Playing Sunday: OJAI FESTIVAL (see music feature); BETH HART at Echoplex; BEETHOVEN'S WIG (matinee kids' show), LESLIE & THE BADGERS at McCabe's Guitar Shop; NIC JACKSON, ADAM STERN, STEVEN WAYNE at The Mint; DRAKE BELL at Roxy Theatre; BOBBY FIELD, STEVIE STARLIGHT, SUPERUNLOADER at Viper Room; CABO VERDE CRETCHEU at Waterfront; TAPROOT, ANEW REVOLUTION at Whisky A Go-Go.
RAINBOW ARABIA, JAPANTHER, SECRET CIRCUIT, PIZZA!, DJ DAVID ORLANDO AT THE ECHO
Rainbow Arabia, the husband-and-wife team of Daniel and Tiffany Preston, purvey a colorfully tough dance-floor exotica that steers miraculously clear of the corny pitfalls that “fourth world” music often falls into. The pair's couple of EPs, The Basta and Kabukimono, took their nods from faraway locales, clashing bossa nova and electro-pop in freaky dance-groove miasmas ornately draped with Middle Eastern polyrhythms. There's also a kind of punky hash of ferocious deep-bass synths sync'd with a small army of drum machines, percussion and especially Daniel's Lebanese Casio playing microtonal scales and Arabic beats. Along with Tiffany's spidery guitar fuzz and obliquely Gothlike vocals, it all makes for a certifiably new sound. They're doing a Monday-night June residency at the Echo with a load of good stuff planned, including Gary Wilson, 60 Watt Kid and semi-secret guest headliners, plus DJ sets from Fool's Gold, ORO11 and Bauhaus/Love and Rockets man David. J. (John Payne)
THOU, GRAF ORLOCK, HARASSOR AT THE SMELL
Metal has died, all hail its putrescent corpse: Mainstay monsters of the Baton Rouge–New Orleans underground, Thou carve out epic core with titles like “By Endurance We Conquer” while globbling out verbal wisdom such as “Waves crash down, unrelenting, unending. We are stone shaped by the force of its abuse; colossal mountain ranges eroded to jagged shorelines; aged cliff tops, decrepit and helpless; earthen cadavers now ripe for mining to the very core of our souls.” On the other hand, they also say that “Self-knowledge is the key to the perfect control of the will.” L.A.'s very angry Graf Orlock thrash a cinema-grind social-commentary-metal, best heard on their Destination Time trilogy, “a new testament to nebulous ideas and bodily harm” examining in grisly detail “presidential assassination, robotic domination and the pitfalls of pre-historic survival.” Harassor plows the righteous path of self-cannibalization with a black metal/primitive black hate metal/experimental-metal straight outta Hollywood, USA. “We grimly demand the extermination of mankind,” they say, but attendees at this show are not required to do this. (John Payne)
Also Playing Monday: CHIEF, HAIM, GROUPLOVE at the Troubadour; JULIAN POLLACK TRIO, CASEY LIPKA, EMMA LASRY, RANDY TODD at the Mint; LINE AND CIRCLE at Silverlake Lounge; WE BARBARIANS at Spaceland; UNKLE MONKEY at the Waterfront.
WOODSIST FESTIVAL AT ECHOPLEX AND THE ECHO
New York's Woodsist label has been a wonderfully consistent source for lo-fi badassery over the last four years, counting among its roster such venerable garage rock/punk names as Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, Blank Dogs and Wavves. Thus, it should come as no surprise that when Woodsist comes to town, Woodsist comes hard, commandeering both floors of the greater Echo complex and stuffing it full of incredible talent. A quick review of the art-grunge revue: New Jersey's Real Estate offers up jangly, reverbed beach pop; Woods (founders of Woodsist) bring a country-kissed, full-band psychedelic folk; Philadelphia's Kurt Vile channels Lou Reed through a Sebadoh filter; L.A.'s own Abe Vigoda returns with its trademark tropical punk; the San Fran-based Art Museums plays minimal proto garage with a drum machine beat; their neighbors in the Mantles and Nodzzz play louder and punker; two local audio collagists, the funk-steeped Sun Araw [see music feature] and beat-based Baths, appear as well; and a special appearance from All Saints Day — the new project from Vivian Girls' Kickball Katy and Cat Power keyboardist Gregg Foreman — rounds out this exceptional bill. (Chris Martins)
LEGAL WEAPON AT THE REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
You can see why major labels were once smitten by Legal Weapon singer Kat Arthur. Although she and founding guitarist Brian Hansen were better known for throttling punk songs like the early-'80s classics “Equalizer” and “Daddy's Gone Mad,” they also crafted occasional pure-pop surprises like the jangling potential hit “Too High.” The charismatic Arthur could sing practically anything, with far more verve and personality than the other local punk divas. (She certainly predates such simpatico soul-punk singers as the BellRays' Lisa Kekaula.) Legal Weapon were even signed to MCA in the late '80s, but their best work came out on underground labels, including their underrated self-released and self-titled 2002 CD. What makes the ongoing L.A. band's career so exciting is that they have a lot of great new songs and don't need to look backward for kicks. (Falling James)
JUSTIN CURRIE AT THE TROUBADOUR
Del Amitri's official MySpace page sports the self-deprecating descriptor “sickeningly mainstream pop/rock from Glasgow,” but that's not too far off — minus the “sickeningly” part, perhaps. Justin Currie is the singer of the band, whose largely unchallenging mash-up of FM pop and light country did score Del Amitri a handful of hits (remember 1995's “Roll to Me”?) and countless tours since the late 80s. As a solo artist, Currie's ear for easy-to-swallow hooks and knack for somewhat poetic lyrics about modern life and love casts him as a Richard Ashcroft-type – mainstream, sure, but not without distinct character. His latest album, The Great War, ditches the sobriety of his 2007 solo debut for more of the upbeat jangle that his band was famous for. The supporting acts are an odd but talented bunch: Jaymes Reunion is a Christian band with a Maroon 5-like flavor, and Jane Carrey is, in fact, the blues-singing, dulcet-voiced daughter of actor Jim Carrey. (Chris Martins)
MELODY GARDOT, FEDERICO AUBELE AT THE EL REY
Funk-phobic Norah Jones fans turned off by last year's groove-heavy The Fall should lend an ear to Melody Gardot: On her latest disc, My One and Only Thrill, this young Philadelphia-based singer hits a folk-jazzy sweet spot not far removed from the one Jones zeroed in on her smash Come Away With Me —the album even includes several handsome ballads cowritten by Jesse Harris, who penned “Don't Know Why.” Gardot occasionally allows Larry Klein's sumptuous wine-bar production to overpower her expertly underplayed vocals, but tonight that's unlikely to be a problem (if indeed you consider sumptuous wine-bar production a problem in the first place). Argentinean opener Federico Aubele looks more or less exactly like Andy Samberg, but there's nothing remotely Lonely Island-ish about his mellow pan-American soul. (Mikael Wood)
Also Playing Tuesday: MY EDUCATION, NOHOW ON at Bootleg Theater; JIM VAN SLYKE at Catalina Jazz Club; ANDY McKEE, JOHNNY DICKINSON at the Mint; PURPLE MELON at the Viper Room; THE RICHARD GLASER BAND at the Waterfront; STING W/ THE ROYAL PHILHARMONIC CONCERT ORCHESTRA at the Hollywood Bowl.
JUNIP ROSE AT EAGLE ROCK CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Swedish-Argentinean singer/songwriter José Gonzalez has a nice way with color and temperature, you might say, flowing as he does with a burnished-gold indie-pop that soothes the nerves in an unruffled, unhurried way. While his solo albums have highlighted a particularly elegant songwriting, usually adorned only by his own nimbly picked nylon-string guitar, Gonzalez gives his lighter-than-air tunes substantial weight and heft on the rare occasions when he widens his instrumental palette. His longstanding and unfairly obscure band Junip Rose — Gonzalez on guitar and vocals, drummer Elias Araya and keyboards/Moog man Tobias Winterkorn — flesh out his new songs with a wondrous, resonant economy on their recent The Rope & the Summit EP (Mute). A full-length album is promised for 2010. (John Payne)
Also Playing Wednesday: STRANGELOOP, SHLOHMO, TEEBS, TIMEBOY at Low End Theory; CHICAGO, THE DOOBIE BROTHERS at Gibson Amphitheatre; LOCAL H, LEFT BRAIN HEART at the Troubadour; HOT HOT HEAT, EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, THE JANKS at Bootleg Theater; GEORGE KAHN at Catalina Jazz Club; CHIDDY BANG, THE PACK, 2AM CLUB, XV at Glass House; PEDESTRIAN, MATT ELLIS at Hotel Café; ANDY McKEE, JOHNNY DICKINSON at the Mint; SKINNY WARPED TOUR at Roxy Theatre; ACTRESS, THE IVY WALLS, LUNAR YOUTH at Silverlake Lounge; ASHES DIVIDE, RAINING AND OK at the Viper Room; STING at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.
VIDEO GAMES LIVE AT NOKIA THEATRE L.A. LIVE
Ever find yourself hankering to hear a symphonic rendition of the Zelda theme? Well, forget the fact that a quick YouTube search will reveal just that, along with versions performed on guitar, Theremin, piano and just about anything else imaginable. (Dueling musical Tesla coils? You betcha.) Video Games Live offers an experience like no other: orchestra, choir, lights and lasers, plus footage of those classic RPGs and MMOGs in action and, of course, the music that has sound-tracked so many hours of time well-wasted. An international extravaganza founded by a pair of video game music composers, VGL actually debuted at the Hollywood Bowl in 2005. Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall have since brought their act to lands as far-flung as Brazil, France and Kuala Lumpur, covering iconic songs from the Mario, Myst, Metroid, Warcraft, and Contra franchises to name but a few. In fact, rumor has it Metal Gear Solid composer Norihiko Hibino will be in the house, saxophone in hand, to perform the MGS3 song “Snake Eater.” No joke. (Chris Martins)
G.B.H. AT THE MUSIC BOX
Are longtime British hardcore thugs G.B.H. still relevant in the year 2010? Punk is dead and everything, but, on the other hand, aren't the sentiments behind such brutally unsentimental early-'80s G.B.H. ditties as “City Baby Attacked by Rats” and “Prayer of a Realist” just as universally primal as ever? It's not like we live in a rat-free world, you know. What it really comes down to, for some reason, is the music, and the Birmingham quartet manage to raise a properly fearsome ruckus on their latest CD, Perfume and Piss (Hellcat Records), produced by one of their acolytes, Rancid's Lars Frederiksen. Songs like “Kids Get Down” boil over with all of the old reckless speed and momentum, while the nuclear-doomsday scenario “Cadillac One” rumbles to a souped-up rockabilly groove. Colin, Jock, Ross and Scott may appear to be dimwitted punks interested only in sick and stupid subjects, but they are in on their own joke, which makes all the difference. (Falling James)
FITZ & THE TANTRUMS AT SPACELAND
Last year Mayer Hawthorne demonstrated the vitality of L.A.'s retro-soul scene with his widely celebrated debut, A Strange Arrangement. Might Fitz & the Tantrums repeat the trick in 2010? This local sextet has been buzzing big lately on the strength of a five-song EP, Songs for a Break Up, Volume 1, that attracted praise from tastemakers like Adam Levine of Maroon 5. Now they've just completed a string of shows with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, they're halfway through this month's Thursday-night residency at Spaceland, and they're preparing for the August 24 release of their first full-length on L.A.'s Dangerbird Records. In other words, these '60s-obsessed dudes (and dudette) are teed up for some serious breakout success. If you're the type who relishes being ahead of the game, get in on Fitz's neo-Motown action now. (Mikael Wood)
Also Playing Thursday: SUN ARAW (see music feature), GOLDEN RETRIEVER, BROTHER RAVEN at Synchronicity Space; LOCH LOMOND, HEY MARSEILLES at Bootleg Theater; THE SPAZMATICS at Canyon Club; KEIKO MATSUI at Catalina Jazz Club; MATT POND PA, WINTERSLEEP, LUNAR YOUTH at the Troubadour; WILLIE K at Coach House; MARIO MALDEF at Conga Room; SILVIO RODRIGUEZ at Gibson Amphitheatre; AUDIAFAUNA, JENNY OWEN YOUNGS at Hotel Café; MATT SCHOFIELD at the Mint; RUN RUN RUN, HOLY ROLLING EMPIRE, KOZMONAUT, WHITMAN at Silverlake Lounge; THE RINGERS at the Viper Room; CROP CIRCLES, DELINQUENT HABITS at Whisky A Go-Go.