THURSDAY, MAY 24
The Health Club at Mr. T’s Bowl
the very end of the recent DVD compilation 40 Bands/80 Minutes, after
80 minutes of arty-noisy combos and following 20 minutes of bonus
footage of similarly atonal cacophony, something resembling a melodic
song finally emerges from the post-punk wreckage like a flower rising
from the ashes of a brushfire. That song is by the Health Club, the
last (and arguably best) band on the whole megillah. The L.A. trio also
have post-punk influences in the way Katya’s bass lines and Gerard’s
guitar patterns intersect with an angular, Joy Division majesty, but
the songs on the Health Club’s Rarities & Outtakes
CD stand out with bright hooks that contrast their gray, minimalist
settings. “Summer Rolls” and “Calm Down” chug along with drummer
Gabriel’s sludgy tempos, a wall of fuzz and Gerard’s deadpan Jesus
& the Mary Chain–style vocal delivery. Gerard laments the
disappearance of beautiful inspiration on “The Muse From Venus,” and he
finds himself caught up in the intricate architecture of his
girlfriend’s fishnet stockings, reveling in their whispery, tactile
sensation on “Fragile.” The Health Club are bursting with potential,
and tonight you won’t have to wade through 39 other bands to hear them.
Also playing Thursday:
UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF GIANTS, YOUNG LOVE at El Rey Theatre; ERYKAH BADU at Grove of Anaheim; FUXEDOS, BANG SUGAR BANG at Alex’s Bar; PECULIAR PRETZELMEN, MELO-M at the Bordello; MACY GRAY at the Key Club; THE CLIENTELE at Knitting Factory; GO BETTY GO, GLASSELL PARK 3 at the Scene; DIVISION DAY, MAE SHI at Spaceland.
SATURDAY, MAY 26
Faun Fables, Secret Chiefs 3 at the Troubadour
Faun Fables’ The Transit Rider album on Drag City is a profoundly haunting and creepily alluring excursion into an arcane “dream within a dream,” as is the band itself, whose general effect is like that of stumbling upon a black-hooded ritual being observed in the back of a long-forgotten upstairs closet, behind your grannie’s gowns. Nils Frykdahl of Oakland’s Sleepytime Gorilla Museum partners with an extraordinary singer named Dawn McCarthy to proffer mostly acoustical tunes that seem rooted in English plainsong and such folk-art offspring as the Incredible String Band; McCarthy’s vast, old, dusty storehouse of self-invented dark dramas is a simply mesmerizing place to be, and the verite-enhanced production adds to the moody mystery. Indeed, once you’ve experienced these unsettling stories, you’ll find it exceedingly difficult to brush them from your memory . . . Also Secret Chiefs 3, San Francisco’s avant-rock cult of split personality formed by ex–Mr. Bungle/Faith No More guitarist Trey Spruance. (John Payne)
Fishbone at the Canyon
Feeling a bit peaked, knackered, jaded, bored and run down lately? Fishbone’s new CD, Still Stuck in Your Throat (Sound in Color) — the influential L.A. band’s first studio release in six years — is like a shot of instant adrenaline. The album’s crammed with throttling punk and rampaging hard rock diced up with soulful interludes and funky psychedelia. “Skank ’n Go Nuttz” is a jumping ska track riven with dizzying flurries of febrile guitar, hammering drums and crazed backup vocals punctuated with madcap horns. The CD’s centerpiece is Norwood Fisher’s nine-minute epic “We Just Lose Our Minds,” which moves from a swaying soul-ballad base into a heavier rock storminess — grooving hypnotically with a slowly building momentum, a distinct contrast with the rapid-fire punk of “Frey’d Fuckin’ Nerve Endingz” and “Premadawnutt.” Even lesser songs with disposable Zappa-tastic lyrics like “Jack Ass Brigade” and “Let Dem Ho’s Fight” are densely arranged with brilliantly layered P-Funky vocals. Despite its novelty title, “Party With Saddam” is simultaneously a sincere call for peace and an uplifting party-time anthem. As usual, leader Angelo Moore has assembled some of the city’s most dazzlingly dexterous players. Crazy. (Falling James)
Thee Midniters, Tierra, Malo, War at the Greek Theatre
A most boss convergence of Latin rock & soul spearheads, this one is. With the incomparable strut and smolder of Thee Midnighters, the mid-’60s-era E.L.A. powerhouse prized for classic killers like “Whittier Blvd.” and “Jump, Jive & Harmonize” and who, dig it, still swing from blowtop garage rock to unspeakably passionate ballads with chilling ease (thanks to the presence of ferociously able vocalist Little Willie G and guitar wild man Jimmy Espinoza, co-founders both) and ’70s-era sensations Tierra, led by the critical duo of Eastside pioneers Rudy & Stevie Salas, this is a certified thriller, made all the more so by the fact that the Salas brothers have only recently reunited after years of bitter feuding. Pity that the formerly magnificent War cannot bury their own hatchet; with only one founder — keyboardist Lonnie Jordan — present, it’s a virtual ghost band, trading in assembly-line replication. Also Sun. (Jonny Whiteside)
Ladytron at Avalon
Don’t get too excited if you’re a fan of Ladytron’s chilly-sexy synth-punk robot rock. The Liverpool-based quartet aren’t hitting town this weekend to play live in support of 2005’s Witching Hour. Instead, half of the band — Reuben Wu and Mira Aroyo — are here on a DJ tour. But that should only be a disappointment if you hate fun (or the ’80s): As semi-celebrity party-starters, Wu and Aroyo have a great sense of what it takes to move a room filled with eyelined hipsters more fond of looking aloof than raising the roof; with cuts from My Bloody Valentine, !!! and Fannypack (not to mention Ladytron’s cover of Tweet’s “Oops [Oh My]”), 2003’s Softcore Jukebox is one of the more entertaining mix-CDs-by-a-band yet. They rock the terrace at Avalon tonight at midnight, just a few hours after appearing at the Love Festival 2007 at the L.A. Coliseum. www.thelovefestival.com. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Saturday:
VERUCA SALT, MINIBAR, CARINA ROUND, SPINDRIFT at Topanga Community House, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; CRYSTAL CASTLES at the Echo; BASECK, EUSTACHIAN, THIS SONG IS A MESS . . . at the Smell; CHEB I SABBAH, SATNAM RAMGOTRA SINGH at Temple Bar; PASTILLA, TV LIERS at the Westchester.
SUNDAY, MAY 27Jill Scott, Lupe Fiasco, Les Nubians, J*Davey at UCLA’s Intramural Field
Now that you’ve finally recovered from your bacchanalian Coachella weekend, here’s a far less strenuous day of good music under the sun surrounded by happily buzzed college students. “Jam Day” of the 21st annual Jazz Reggae Festival is headlined by socially conscious soul queen Jill Scott, still fresh from her recently released album, Collaborations, which finds her crooning alongside the likes of Mos Def, Common, and Chicago indie-rap prodigy Lupe Fiasco, who’ll open for Scott here with his signature geek-chic skate-hop. Tunes like “Cold Blooded” from Fiasco’s upcoming album The Cool were leaked recently, revealing a newfound Funkadelic influence and denser rhyme metaphors. New York trio Soulive bring their jam-band take on funky jazz, while French diva duo Les Nubians smooth it out with a quietly stormy flow. Definitely arrive early enough to catch L.A.’s “black Eurythmics,” the outstanding J*Davey, whose quirked-out punk-funk finds common ground between Grace Jones during her Sly & Robbie period, Missing Persons and early-’80s Prince. Starts at noon. Also Mon. www.jazzreggaefest.com. (Scott T. Sterling)
Also playing Sunday:
JOHN DOE, MIKE STINSON, PAMELA DES BARRES at Topanga Community House, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; TIERRA, MALO, THEE MIDNITERS at Greek Theatre; TUSSLE at the Echo; GO BETTY GO, STOIC FRAME at Mr. T’s Bowl; THE THINGZ, THE SHARDS at the Scene.
MONDAY, MAY 28
Sofa-sticates GlissGliss at Spaceland
A Monday Spaceland residency is de rigueur for acts whose star is rising, and Gliss are doing the lineage proud. Martin Klingman, David Reiss and Victoria Cecilia bring a raw, fuzzy power-trio blast, along with a vocal style popular with a lot of groups these days (see the Strokes, etc.). Gliss would have fit in just as easily in the ’80s Madchester scene as New York’s indie-rock cabal of a couple years ago. They’re even skinny and pasty enough to pass for Swedes (multi-instrumentalist Cecilia is from Denmark). Fact is, Gliss are an L.A. band who made medium waves in Europe opening for Billy Corgan, Secret Machines and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, among others. “Blue Sky” is the band at their creepy, sweaty best. With a snaky guitar line, it’s the perfect soundtrack for looking over your shoulder while running down Vermont at 4 in the morning. (Libby Molyneaux)
Also playing Monday:
LUCIANO, CHAM, TURBULENCE, GENERAL DEGREE at UCLA’s Intramural Field, noon-7 p.m.; BODIES OF WATER at the Echo; WADDY WACHTEL at the Joint; EDWARD “TEX” MILLER, MELO-M at the Mint; LOS DESNUDOS, SEMI PRECIOUS, NORA KEYES at Mr. T’s Bowl; PHANTOM PLANET at the Roxy; SQUIDDO at the Scene; HIGH SOCIETY at Silverlake Lounge.
THURSDAY, MAY 31
The Hold Steady, Illinois at El Rey Theatre
With their rousing, ragged anthems about sex, drugs and 20-something confusion, the Hold Steady suggest a Let It Be–era Paul Westerberg fronting the E-Street Band. The Westerberg/E-Street analogy also makes sense since front man Craig Finn hails from Minneapolis but is now Brooklyn based. However, neither Springsteen nor Westerberg ever sang about an elite East Coast college coed having a rock-fest fling with a guy who’s “been to jail but never prison” like Finn does in “Chillout Tent” from last year’s highly praised Boys and Girls in America. Finn is part bar-stool poet and part English MFA — effortlessly name-dropping Izzy Stradlin and Alfred Lord Tennyson within a single couplet. But his beer-soaked tales never sound like New Yorker short-story submissions, and the band, led by guitarist Tad Kubler, bash out wonderfully raucous, Bic-flicking rock & roll that has gotten them tagged “America’s best bar band.” (Michael Berick)
H.R. at the Viper Room
In the new Bad Brains DVD, Live at CBGB 1982 — a fascinating document of the Washington, D.C., band in their hardcore-punk phase, when they were one of this planet’s fiercest and fastest live combos — singer H.R. is shown onstage surrounded by a whirlwind of thrashing limbs belonging to assorted beefy stage-divers. Even though he’s dancing just as frantically to the Brains’ intense fusillade of muscular punk rock and lilting reggae, H.R. somehow seems calm at the center of the storm. Unlike many hardcore punks, the Bad Brains were superior musicians, expanding into heavy metal on 1986’s classic I Against I, which featured melodically yearning tunes like “Sacred Love” (whose vocals were recorded over the phone while H.R. was in jail). The original lineup has only performed sporadically in the past decade, but they’re about to release a comeback CD, Build a Nation, produced by the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch. Tonight, a solo H.R. (which stands for “Human Rights”) will dig deeply into his spiritually heartfelt reggae roots for some transcendent magic. (Falling James)
Also playing Thursday:
BLACK PINE, XU XU FANG, PITY PARTY at the Echo; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo; ELECTRELANE, TENDER FOREVER at the Troubadour.