fri 1/4

Los Cincos, Silver Daggers, et al.


When a truly DIY, all-ages space lasts for 15 years, you don't celebrate a birthday — you celebrate a victory! So let's salute L.A.'s Smell, which has survived and even thrived to become a hometown institution. It's presenting a two-day “Quinceañera” blowout of reunion show after reunion show this weekend, featuring the bands that helped build it. Tonight, marvel at ahead-of-their-time '60s revivifiers Los Cincos (who probably would provoke a bidding war if they were reincarnated in 2012), as well as no-wave omnivores Silver Daggers, maximalists Godzik Pink and stripped-down, cranked-up riff-rawkers The Pope and Qui. Tomorrow, don't miss the intensely wild and weird Centimeters and Smell champions The Sharp Ease, as well as honorary out-of-town Smellers Get Hustle and the gloriously overstimulating Jesus Makes the Shotgun Sound, plus Pope and Godzik Pink redux and a DJ set by Allison Wolfe. —Chris Ziegler

Lord Huron


Transplanted-to-L.A. Michigander Lord Huron (aka Ben Schneider) makes indie pop to fit the line where the horizon hits the sky — big, beautifully endless songs that sunrise and sunset instead of just “starting” and “stopping.” His debut album, Lonesome Dreams (on L.A. label Iamsound), is full of what the world calls anthems (which means songs you save for either the perfect end or perfect beginning of your mixtape — and believe that if you're into Lord Huron, you still make mixtapes). These are world-pop guitar melodies that wrap around you like smoke, with an affection for the cinematic that makes this almost more a short film than an album. His set at the Natural History Museum will be like being inside the movie he's destined to one day make. —Chris Ziegler

Assuming We Survive


A bouncing synthesis of New Millennium middleweight rock influences, this Rancho Cucamonga crew sees no reason why metal's clanking guitars and pop-punk's sanguine melodies and sunny harmonies shouldn't seamlessly coexist. These stylistic bedfellows get it on with gusto on songs like “Yea, So What If I'm Sprung,” which is less frat-boy flippant than, say, Blink-182 but not as grudgingly burdened as full-bore “core” bands. It really helps that singer Adrian Estrella actually can (and shuns his peers' almost obligatory screaming), while his bandmates convincingly summon many a mood from their instruments. Tuneful, rhythmically captivating, sincere without sounding overly serious, if they can avoid lower-common-denominator sonic compromise, Assuming We Survive should downright thrive. —Paul Rogers



While other bands play doom-metal, San Francisco's Neurosis play apocalypse-metal. Band leaders Scott Kelly and Steve von Till have spent more than two decades crafting art-metal soundscapes that rely more on atmosphere than speed. There is little moshing to be found. Instead, a typical Neurosis song is a melancholy slow-burner that builds a sense of despair before morphing into a skyscraper of monstrous riffs and percussion, leaving listeners emotionally drained. Lyrically, Neurosis spin haunting tales of destruction, without falling into meathead bombs-and-bullets fetishization. They tell stories of biblical-level plagues and disasters from the perspective of a protagonist who has survived these things and lost all hope. The band's newest album is titled Honor Found in Decay, which sums up their approach to music and lyrics. —Jason Roche

sat 1/5

Psychedelic Furs


Anchored by brothers Richard and Tim Butler (vocals and bass, respectively), these majestic Brit new wavers remain instantly recognizable from their 1980s hit-machine heyday. Having not released a studio album since 1991's underwhelming World Outside, the Furs haven't even pretended to be a contemporary recording force — but they're all the more entertaining onstage for it. Ashen-voiced Richard still appears utterly, theatrically lost in sing-along–ready name-makers like “Pretty in Pink” (which both inspired and appeared in the 1986 John Waters film of the same name) and “Heaven,” but equally committed to more obscure and viscerally insistent numbers, such as frequent encores “India” and “President Gas.” Sadly, the Furs' glossy, post–”Pretty in Pink” makeover may have obscured one of punk rock's most singlemindedly fascinating by-products. —Paul Rogers

Mitchel Forman


Keyboardist Mitchel Forman's career is marked by variety in both recordings and live appearances. On the live side, Forman's career has included stints with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Police guitarist Andy Summers and L.A. jazz legend Jack Sheldon, among many others. His own recorded work features original music ranging from hard-edged fusion to his latest album of vocalist duets (with the likes of multiple Grammy nominee Tierney Sutton) to a highly regarded tribute to piano giant Bill Evans. Forman's company tonight at Studio City's Baked Potato is a group of all-stars that includes Brandon Fields (Rippingtons) on saxophone, Walt Fowler (Frank Zappa) on trumpet and flugelhorn, Rufus Philpot (Planet X) on bass and Joel Taylor (Guitar Hero) on drums, plus a rare appearance from Headhunters percussionist Munyungo Jackson. —Tom Meek


sun 1/6

Saccharine Trust, The Deadbeats


Punk rock has become homogenized and increasingly irrelevant in recent years, with mainstream acts like Green Day and Blink-182 whining about insipid topics in fake English accents and churning out watered-down approximations of Johnny Ramone's mighty guitar sound. The funny thing is, the original punks were a far more diverse and intellectual lot than the campy, empty-headed characters trotted out in Billie Joe Armstrong's Broadway reduction of the punk movement. In the late 1970s, punk rock encompassed everything from The Germs and The Sex Pistols to Blondie, Devo, Television and The Slits. By the early '80s, the most adventurous punks were branching out into post-punk, art-rock, electronica, dub, reggae and jazz. The Deadbeats are most often remembered for their sarcastic 1978 attempt to start a cultural war, “Kill the Hippies” (“Send them back to San Francisco!” lead singer Scott Guerin cheekily suggested). But the oddball L.A. band took just as much delight in defying the expectations of early punks by blasting out art-jazz noise. Similarly, South Bay group Saccharine Trust fused a punk ethos with guitarist Joe Baiza's jaggedly funky jazz chords and singer Jack Brewer's Morrisonesque poetry. —Falling James

mon 1/7

Feeding People


Feeding People, who are in residency at the Echo this month, are barely weeks away from the February release of their second LP, Island Universe, and the few tracks out so far underscore exactly how cosmically one-of-a-kind this record will be. Universe so far sounds like Nikki Sudden and his freaky friends making their own version of 13th Floor Elevators' Bull of the Woods, with a girl who sings in one of those “trick voices” that Nick Tosches wrote a whole book about. (Out of breath? That's just one song!) They might not even all be 21 yet, but they've found a sound all their own, one somewhere between idiosyncrasy and schizophrenia. They use the studio (with help from producers Hanni El Khatib and Crystal Antlers' Jonny Bell) less as instrument than Ouija board. If any L.A. psych band proves we aren't alone in the universe, it'll be this one. (They're in residency at the Echo Mondays in January.) —Chris Ziegler

tue 1/8

27th Annual Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration


More like a stagger down a surrealistic carnival midway than a rock & roll show, the annual Elvis Presley birthday bash packs so much obsessive, fetishistic disorder that the cumulative effect is comparable to suffering a case of big-beat psychosis. This, the 27th edition, will be enlivened by a rare appearance from bubble-gum paragon Donna Loren, the former Reprise Records artist who was seen in no fewer than 27 episodes of swinging-'60s, small-screen staple Shindig (not to mention three of Frankie and Annette's AIP Beach Party movies), along with such reliable Presley acolytes as the startlingly superb Lisa Finnie, the mad-dog, mob-groomed teen idol Jimmy Angel, the incomparably bizarre South Bay Surfers, legendary Sunset Strip/Palomino taboo-smasher Troy Walker, honky-tonk demons Groovy Rednecks and an army of additional hip-swiveling, Presley-venerating miscreants. Long story short, they ain't never caught a rabbit, but they are still friends of his. —Jonny Whiteside

Thorcraft Cobra


Thorcraft Cobra is an unabashed power-pop band that has perfected the seemingly lost art of combining big, radio-friendly hooks with big, classic-rock guitars. Actually, Thorcraft Cobra is more a duo than a band, but it still has a full sound, as singer-guitarist Billy Zimmer harmonizes with singer-drummer Tammy Glover on such catchy tunes as “True Love.” Zimmer downshifts occasionally into more reflectively spacey, Beatles/Big Star–style tracks like the hazy “Another Day,” but most of the time he belts out such harder and heavier anthems as “Count Me Out,” riding the waves of Glover's stormy cymbal-bashing. Glover's serenely sweet vocals frost Zimmer's gruffer delivery with an icing of sugary melodicism that distinguishes Thorcraft Cobra from most rock bashers. On the pair's upcoming full-length album, Count It In, they're joined by guest stars including Sabrosa Purr's Will Love and even the fairly reclusive Russell Mael, Glover's former bandmate in Sparks. —Falling James

wed 1/9

Trophy Wife, Whore Paint, Bastidas


There's another, more popular group called Trophy Wife that hails from England, but the band in question tonight is a guitar-drums duo from Philadelphia with the same name. While the British Trophy Wife purveys sleepy, mellow ballads that kind of fade anonymously into the wallpaper, the Philadelphia version slams out hard, aggressive, post-punk rants that are anything but background music. The two women in Philly's Trophy Wife — guitarist Diane Foglizzo and drummer Katy Otto — exchange brutal riffs that come off like hardcore punk rock before switching into more moodily melodic passages. They're on tour with their pals Whore Paint, a Providence, R.I., trio that cranks out caustically feral and noisy No Wave soundscapes of “political discontent, borderline social anxiety [and] occasional violent outbursts.” Both touring interlopers are well matched by the dour and seedy sonic eviscerations of L.A.'s Bastidas. —Falling James


thu 1/10

Lucy Michelle


Lucy Michelle and her backing band, the Velvet Lapelles, kick up infectiously engaging roots-rock rambles on their latest album, Heat. Although the band draws from such traditional music genres as country and Americana, the Minneapolis singer imbues her songs with a poetic immediacy that distances it from more retro-minded outfits. Much of the appeal lies in Michelle's soulfully lulling vocals and her intelligently romantic lyrics. “Throw my heart out there,” she confides. “It's burning hot and flying through the atmosphere.” Tonight, Michelle flies solo, but her heart will burn so bright that it will fill up this chilly desert outpost with a campfire intimacy. —Falling James



Matthewdavid is a producer, a beatmaker and co-founder of the esteemed Leaving Records — which recently teamed up with L.A. titan Stones Throw, a group that knows an awesome thing when they hear it beeping and burbling through a blown-out woofer. He's also a regular ol' velociraptor onstage, moving in a way more animal than man as he triggers sound after sample after exhilarating wave of manipulated noise. If you've come into contact with L.A. psychonauts dublab, Brainfeeder, Poo-Bah Records or Sun Araw, you'll recognize and welcome Matthewdavid's head-swirling sci-fi futuremusic. And if you haven't, then this guy is gonna reach out across a thick tangle of cables and turn your mind inside out. —Chris Ziegler


El Rey Theatre

Triple platinum–selling R&B artist Avant knew from a young age that he was destined for music stardom. A native of Cleveland, the veteran R&B star honed his skills early in life as a junior member of the local church choir. Soon after matriculating from high school at the Cleveland School of the Arts, the crooner secured a deal with now-defunct MJM (Magic Johnson Music). His smooth, melodic style, a cross between contemporary and modern R&B, achieved mainstream success in 2000, when his brutally honest ballad “Separated” reached No. 1 on Billboard charts and quickly became an urban classic. His seventh studio effort, Face the Music, which he describes as “a taste of new and old school,” is slated for release in February. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Amadeus Leopold


The violin virtuoso formerly known as Hahn-Bin cuts quite the flashy figure, taking his cues as much from Freddie Mercury, Donna Summer and Judy Garland as from Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Mozart. His performances are part “serious” classical music recital — the eminently qualified musician made his debut at age 10 with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and studied for a decade under Itzhak Perlman — and part dramatically staged theater. The 25-year-old artiste bounds the boards in animal-skin tights and Kabuki-style makeup while essaying Till Dawn Sunday, his survey on “The Renaissance of Classical Music” featuring 20 composers in the classical, film soundtrack and pop genres. The program includes Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre, Sarasate's “Gypsy Airs,” Khachaturian's “Sabre Dance” and selections from the scores of Schindler's List, The Wizard of Oz and Young Frankenstein. —John Payne

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