Monday, March 4
Jenny O's just-out new album, Automechanic (on Holy Trinity/Thirty Tigers), is another strong contribution to L.A.'s new-school canyon-country scene. Produced by the supremely versatile Jonathan Wilson, it fits perfectly alongside Father John Misty's recent Fear Fun and Leslie Stevens' coming The Donkey and the Rose. Jenny has an acrobatic voice and just a bit of a rasp in her throat, which makes her sad songs even sadder and the rousers even more rebel-rousing. Her "Come Get Me" and "Good Love" are valentines to the underappreciated J.J. Cale, but there's something of John Prine's craft and sense of humanity at work here, too. If dreams were lightning and thunder were desire ... well, that might be why this album sounds the way it does. The Living Sisters also perform.--Chris Ziegler
Tuesday, March 5
The fast-paced groove of Maserati's instrumental goodness is the perfect fusion of guitar-driven Krautrock and early-'80s synth-rock. The guitar work of Coley Dennis and Matt Cherry is technical enough to dazzle the Musicians Institute crowd but also groovy enough to keep club kids dancing along with the beats. There was a big hole left by the untimely death of drummer Jerry Fuchs in 2009, as he was crucial in helping Maserati transition from being a sleepier, post-rock group to a hard-driving, dance-rock machine. But on the group's 2012 album, Maserati VII, new drummer Mike Albanese keeps the block-rocking beats coming. The tracks on display here could play just as well in a dance club as they could on the soundtrack of a creepy Dario Argento flick. --Jason Roche
Alpine, Sea Lions
Way down under, much-raved-about Aussie crew Alpine's debut album, A Is for Alpine, recently won The Age EG Award for Album of the Year. The album, which comes out May 21 in the United States, is indeed a gloriously fresh blast of your basic, happy-pop bubblemania, all freshly coated, waxed and buffed to a squinty, dancey gleam via some of the most engaging female/male dual harmonizing heard in recent epochs. Add a nicely skewed taste in extraneous sound effects and textures and you get Alpine's fun and life-affirming sonic wares. Oxnard's Sea Lions pervert your essential garage/pop parade with a grace, cool, style and wit. Check out their Slumberland-released album Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask. --John Payne
Austin singer-fiddler Carrie Rodriguez first was brought to the attention of the great wide world by legendary songwriter Chip Taylor ("Wild Thing," "Any Way You Want Me"). Not only did Taylor take her on tour in 2001, he also continued to co-write songs with Rodriguez for her latest album, Give Me All You Got. In the past decade, the honey-voiced Rodriguez has established herself as a memorable songwriter in her own right, and her artfully merry violin has adorned rootsy music by Alejandro Escovedo, Los Lobos, Patty Griffin and Los Lonely Boys. On her new LP, she romps easily over loping country-rock trails including "Lake Harriet" and "Whiskey Runs Thicker Than Blood" and collaborates with Taylor on such tangled and bittersweet tales of Americana as "Devil in Mind" and "Sad Joy." --Falling James
Wednesday, March 6
Deep Sea Diver
In 2007, guitarist-singer Jessica Dobson made a New Year's resolution to get on Letterman, and she actually pulled it off. Well, she was six months late, but still there she was, backing Beck on "Gamma Ray." After that, she moved to Seattle and joined The Shins, and right now is when your indie-rocked-out brain just went, "Oh, I know her!" And if it didn't, it needs to, because Dobson is a true force of nature. Through everything, and there has been plenty of trying, music-industry "everything" to get through, she's kept her own band, Deep Sea Diver, going, making fiercely idiosyncratic music that zig-zags between Kate Bush, Olivia Tremor Control, Psychedelic Furs, Magazine and more. Her recent History Speaks is a gem, but the kind of gem that cuts glass. --Chris Ziegler
Thursday, March 8
Paul D. Hudson, also known as Human Rights, or H.R. for short, is one of the most astonishingly intense, athletically agile, rabidly energetic hardcore-punk singers of all time. He's also one of the most sweetly melodic American reggae vocalists ever. How does the London-born singer manage to balance both personae? The contrast between brutal punk noise and languidly intoxicating reggae shouldn't really be such a shock to the system. For H.R., they are both sides of the same coin, different means of expression as the devout Rastafarian continues his lifelong spiritual quest. His ongoing band, Bad Brains, reconciled the contradictions between punk rock and reggae back in the early '80s, when H.R. memorably phoned in his vocals to a Bad Brains recording session while he was in jail. He doesn't get as physically crazy onstage as he used to get with the Brains; now he's merely channeling his intensity into subtler expressions. --Falling James
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