Mika Miko at the Smell
With tonight’s show, the third of a three-night stand, Mika Miko kick off the new decade — a fresh beginning that’s also an unexpected ending, since this is the L.A. band’s final performance. Just last month, Spin magazine called them a “must-hear act,” apparently forgetting to add the word immediately. In the past five years, Mika Miko have scratched and clawed their way through crude, frantically noisy bursts like “Forensic Scientist” and “On the Rise,” which have more in common with arty-goofy punk groups like Twisted Roots, the Urinals and (the early) Redd Kross than they do with slick, modern emo-punk professionals. Yet even as Mika Miko have occasionally expanded into jazz-funk experimentation and postpunk grooves, such as the recent “Sex Jazz” 7-inch on Sub Pop, they haven’t strayed far from the exhilarating giddiness and direct punk-rock simplicity of tracks like “I Got a Lot” and the defiantly silly “Turkey Sandwich,” both from their 2009 CD, We Be Xuxa. Tonight’s finale might already be sold out; check to see if tickets are still available for their New Year’s Eve set. (Falling James)
The Mystery Lights, Seasons, The Ignorant, Asa Random, Andy Clockwise at Echo Curio
It’s about time Salinas adds another merit badge to its Brownie vest. Not that giving us John Steinbeck and providing fresh produce to the Western United States are anything to scoff at, but the city has yet to distinguish itself in the new millennium. While the Mystery Lights aren’t exactly an example of musical futurism, the band’s country-fried take on surf-tinged garage rock is as fresh as Central California’s more famous wares. Songs like “2012” build on a backbone of British Invasion rock set to punk pacing, while others — “Big Black Eyes” for instance — ride forth on a roughshod jangle. Singer Mike Brandon isn’t yet of drinking age, but he can howl like the Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, and his band’s energetic act includes spry covers of Kinks classics and choice Nuggets bits. Word is the Mystery Lights’ van was impounded on a recent trip to play in our fair metropolis. Let’s give our country cousins a better reception this time around. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Friday:
SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS, STEVE SOTO & THE TWISTED HEARTS, THE GARBAGE GIRLS at El Rey Theatre; RESONANCE (DJ SET) at Amoeba Music; SWEET & TENDER HOOLIGANS, ANKHESENAMEN at House of Blues.
High Castle, Kit, Knight Rider, Protect Me at the Smell
Punk rock, sorta, dude, but all these bands tonight at the Smell play something that sounds and feels like the real anarchic, boundary-obliterating thing. San Francisco’s High Castle are Shaggy on drums/vox, Erin on guitar/vox and Wilson on bass/vox, and they make a viciously pumping and real hellish wall of sound — you don’t need to know more and it wouldn’t do you any good if you did. Oakland/L.A.’s Kit feature members of XBXRX and Hawnay Troof, and they’ve created this very fine EP with Mike Watt called “Dreams Are Burned” in which they’re actually sculpting a new shape of punk rock and funneling it into your mind via your loins (or something). It’s vicious, political and a big thrill, and it’s got horns on it, too. Knight Rider excel at a kind of sickly-green electro-sleaze music, and please enjoy the dancey, punky-pop electro-thump thrashin’ etc. from Protect Me, the Van Nuys duo formerly known as Ima Gymnast. (John Payne)
Jane Monheit at Catalina Bar & Grill
Jazz-pop singer Jane Monheit has a lovely voice, with an unerring tunefulness as she sends aloft delicately rippling sighs that blend seamlessly into the chords and the spaces they leave behind. It’s a flawlessly smooth instrument whose only drawback is that it’s too pretty — all of the time. For all its impressive beauty, there’s seldom contrast or anything truly bluesy, dark, unknown or scary. (Forget atonal.) Seldom is heard a discouraging word, and even the bluest ballad is rendered with a gossamer prettiness and sentimental obviousness that threaten to push the song right into the elevator. Monheit is certainly charming and nimbly playful on standards like “Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea” and “Stardust” on her recent album The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me, but the polite, restrained arrangements tend to lessen the chances of anything really fiery or soulfully eternal occurring. Like so many vocalists, she has perhaps a bit too much reverence for the Great American Songbook, but, on the other hand, she’s open-minded enough to break down material by Fiona Apple and Corinne Bailey Rae. Her remake of Rae’s “Like a Star” is initially treacly and laborious, but by song’s end, the syrupy arrangement drops away long enough to reveal how enchanting Monheit can be with just that fabulous voice and a little tasteful backing. Also Fri. and Sun. (Falling James)
Also playing Saturday:
CONNIE LIM, MASS FICTION, RAHEEM COHEN at the Mint; STAR PARTS, ONE TRICK PONY, CLOUDS at Echo Curio; NEKCROMANTIX, MAD MARGE & THE STONECUTTERS at House of Blues; MR. MIYAGI at Alex’s Bar; PARENTS, BLACK STAR HALO, THE LONELY DRUNKS CLUB at the Cat Club; NOBLE CREATURES, RAQUEL RAMOS, TOM VOLLMAN at the Dakota Music Lounge; BLACK ROBOT, THE ROYAL HIGHNESS at the Viper Room.
Silver Pines, Pure Ecstasy, Angela Correa, M. Geddes Gengras at Echo Curio
The Echo Curio saves the night on this, one of the slowest concert evenings of the year. For five days straight, you’ve been out drinking, stumbling around and embarrassing yourself. Time to mosey over to Echo Park with Silver Pines and Pure Ecstasy, of Texas, and Angelenos Angela Correa and M. Geddes Gengras. The members of these four acts should more than fill the Curio’s little space, but why not continue your string of nights out and expand your mind for 2010? (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Sunday:
BRASS KNUCKLE VOODOO, BOOBIE TRAP, SWITCHBLADE 77 at Alex’s Bar; TRIBAL SEEDS, FORTUNATE YOUTH at the Good Hurt.
New Music Monday with David Scott Stone and guests at Echo Curio
David Scott Stone is a noisemaker of the highest ilk, having been not only a regular at the Smell since the club’s inception (the North Hollywood days), but an on-again, off-again member of The Melvins — more or less responsible for the texture and creep factor of four of that legendary band’s albums. His repertoire includes guitars, oscillators, cymbals and synths, not to mention an array of homemade doodads, but of late, he’s been embracing a curatorial role. “New Music Monday” is Sir DSS’ biweekly showcase at Echo Curio, promising to deliver “astounding and challenging new sounds.” Past performers include Nick Dewitt — a Spike Jonze–touted solo player and the former drummer of Pretty Girls Make Graves — and Yutaka Makino, an artist who specializes in “spatial sound installations that utilize spatial projection processes such as Wave Field Synthesis to achieve total physical immersivity.” The details of this lineup should soon emerge, but expect an evening tailor-made to open eyes and blow minds. (Chris Martins)
Tim Eriksen at the Coffee Gallery Backstage
Back in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s, Cordelia’s Dad were an alternative band who really were an alternative to most of the bands at the time. They had a power-popping rock side with songs like “Jersey City” and “Camille’s Not Afraid,” but the Massachusetts group were also obsessed with exploring Civil War–era folk-music styles. After Cordelia’s Dad went on hiatus in 1999, singer Tim Eriksen seemingly went off the deep end, plunging into the folkie mystic, using more banjos and violins, getting into Southern shape-note gospel and singing in the weirdly mesmerizing sacred-harp style — all of which led to his performance on the Cold Mountain soundtrack and collaborations with Ralph Stanley and Jack White. The North and the South, Ireland and Appalachia, the past and the present collide even further on Eriksen’s latest solo release, Northern Roots Live in Namest (Indies Scope). (Falling James)
Ronnie Mack Barndance 22nd Anniversary at Joe’s Great American Bar
Singer-guitarist Ronnie Mack is a hopeless romantic. His torrid affair with American vernacular music has compelled him to serve for the past 22 years as ringleader of the no-cover roots-music Barndance showcase, and this relentless pursuit has paid off with a trove of memorable hit-and-run incidents. Everyone from the Coasters to Bruce Springsteen (not to mention Del McCoury, Rose Maddox, James Burton, Bonnie Owens) has staggered in, and along the way Mack has both fanned the career flames of innumerable local aspirants and supplied his audiences with an exhilarating diet of thrills. He has also assembled one of the tightest, mightiest house bands on the Western Seaboard, boasting superb players like bassist Paul Marshall, steel kingpin Marty Rifkin and guitar paragon Harry Orlov, and the sheer consistency and involvement these cats bring is perpetually flabbergasting. Tonight’s anniversary blowout boasts hard country exciters Kathy Robertson, Patty Booker, hot-roasted Latin rockers Big Manny, rockabilly overlord Ray Campi, steamy torch chanteuse Lisa Finnie, reckless misfits the Groovy Rednecks, those inescapable big-name drop-ins and, on top of all, the noble Mack himself, still riding a tide of nonstop musical kicks. (Jonny Whiteside)
Also playing Monday:
THE BLIND BOY PAXTON & FRANK FAIRFIELD VARIETY SHOW at the Redwood Bar & Grill; THE FRENCH SEMESTER at the Echo; YEAR LONG DISASTER, OPEN HAND, TOTIMOSHI at Spaceland; THE FLYING TOURBILLON ORCHESTRA at the Viper Room.
Olin & the Moon, Marnie Herald at the Echo
L.A.-based Idaho transplants Olin & the Moon begin their January residency by filling the room with twang-infused country rock that draws on the Flying Burrito Brothers, Son Volt and Ryan Adams. Pure music for pure (and not so pure) hearts. Also on the bill is L.A. singer Marnie Herald. (Randall Roberts)
Also playing Tuesday:
HORSE STORIES at Bar Lubitsch; THE WEBB SISTERS at the Hotel Café; FORMER GHOSTS, RAILCARS, MOTHER MCKENZIE, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN at the Smell; FUNERAL PARTY, CASXIO, HOTSTREETS, ODD MODERN at the Viper Room.
Spaceland On Ice with Twilight Sleep, Kissing Cousins at Pershing Square
Echo Park record shop Origami Vinyl curates this installment of Spaceland’s concert series at Pershing Square, choosing two lady-led local bands to soundtrack a night of ice skating and (we hope) eating fair food ’neath the twinkling lights of the downtown skyline. Twilight Sleep specializes in a sultry style of synth-heavy shoegaze made hypnotic by the husky vocals of singer Tracy Marcellino. When the project was a solo act, Marcellino found occasional collaborators in folks like Silversun Pickups singer Brian Aubert, but now she has an all-star indie cast to back her full-time: guitarist Nicole Gehweiler (The Comas), bassist Nicole Fiorentino (Radio Vago, Veruca Salt) and drummer Davey Latter (Earlimart, Great Northern). Kissing Cousins’ recently released debut LP, Pillar of Salt, was produced by Richard Swift, but more interesting still is the backstory of front woman Heather B. Heywood. The daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, she relocated to L.A. from Alabama in order to make her distinct music: a mix of Spectoresque harmonies and Sabbath-inspired rock. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Wednesday:
SUKI EWERS, TONY GILKYSON at Taix; JOE SIB at Largo at the Coronet; SWEET, KEITH EMERSON at Avalon; CHRIS PUREKA at the Hotel Café; PEARL HARBOUR, YOUNGS PRISMS, WOODSMAN, ALLAH LAS at the Smell; WET & RECKLESS, BUTTERFLY CHILD, TIGERS CAN BITE YOU, RHONE OCCUPATION at Spaceland.
Living Things at the Viper Room
Last October this band of St. Louis brothers had their van and all their equipment stolen from a hotel parking lot outside Philadelphia, an infuriating experience that few bands need less than Living Things did. Led by a dude with the awesomely undudelike name of Lillian Berlin, they kick out superangry psych-garage jams streaked with smash-the-state political rage and turbo-charged ’60s-pop melody. Songs as undeniably catchy as “Brass Knuckles” and “The Kingdom Will Fall,” both from 2009’s Habeas Corpus, rarely come with titles like “Brass Knuckles” and “The Kingdom Will Fall.” Thanks to a variety of factors — including the shuttering of DreamWorks Records, which was to have released the band’s fierce major-label debut, Black Skies in Broad Daylight — Living Things haven’t built the widespread audience they deserve. Perhaps 2010 will deliver change they can believe in. (Mikael Wood)
Stevenson Ranch Davidians, The Quarter After, Miranda Lee Richards at Spaceland
Varied takes on the new-old psychedelia for Thursday night out: The hazy, exploratory Quarter After combo offers a satisfying, realistic late-’60s Byrds/Buffalo Springfield/Love vibe. In fact the band’s Campanella brothers were chosen by Love’s Arthur Lee to be the opening band for his first show in seven years after his release from prison. Singer-composer Miranda Lee Richards brings her smart brand of chamber-folk-rock, the roots of which she soaked up in ’70s S.F. as the child of underground-comics icon Ted (The 40 Year Old Hippie) Richards. Her 2009 Light of X album (Nettwerk) is a Baroque, Cali-country semimasterpiece. Adrift in a sea of reverb, the Stevenson Ranch Davidians’ pop-psych twangs while it surfs, as heard on their new and purposefully retro Life & Death record. Also Kathleen Balloon with Crooked Cowboy. (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
THE HAPPY HOLLOWS, GEORGE GLASS, ONE TRICK PONY, DIRT DRESS at the Mint; MISSISSIPPI MAN, RUMSPRINGA, LINKS, THE SILENT COMEDY at the Echo; MARIANNE KEITH, DAVE SCHULZ, KAYLAH MARIN, NATALIE CLOSNER at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel; SUN ARAW, JAMES FERRARO, SEAN MCCANN, THE URXED, GARDEN STATE at the Smell.