Category: Chris Barton

72 Hours: Eleanor Friedberger, Kurt Vile, Rage and more

The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.

Eleanor Friedberger

Friday

• Eleanor Friedberger @ Origami Vinyl. Friedberger's solo debut, "Last Summer," is a beautiful collection of pop oddities and forgotten comforts. Known best for work in pop experimentalists the Fiery Furnaces, Friedberger here sounds like she's canvassed a well-curated vinyl collection for inspiration and then tinkered with everything so it's just outside of the familiar. There's soulful piano-driven power pop, street-wise '70s funk, carnivalesque confessionals and everything in between. Yet it's always Friedberger who's out front, enunciating every syllable as if she's giving a reading rather than singing a song. Her level of storytelling, however, deserves such treatment. Something as simple as a failed attempt to visit Topanga's Inn of the Seventh Ray is a jumping-off point for melancholic nostalgia and summers laced with unfullfilled promises. This 7 p.m. show, in the loft at Origami, is free, so arrive as soon as your work schedule allows. Origami Vinyl, 1816 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Free. -- Todd Martens

• Kurt Vile & Thurston Moore @ the Troubadour. A pair of guitar aces grace the intimacy of the Troubadour, and expect them to play nice in the small venue. On leave from Sonic Youth, Moore will largely be in acoustic mode, showcasing for the strummy, violin-enhanced lushness of his recent "Demolished Thoughts." Prettiness rules over dissonance, and with hushed vocals residing over the proceedings, this is Moore defanged. The sold-out crowd would be wise to arrive early for Philadelphia's Vile. There's working-class venom in his lyrics, and each arrangement is carefully laid out with the most sharply intricate of electric guitar leads. Vile doesn't sing so much as slur, but the feel is one of effortlessness rather than laziness, as if this bitter slacker has no choice but to stand on stage with his guitar. The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Friday (Also Thursday). The show is sold out, and tickets on the secondary market are running $30-$50. -- TM

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72 Hours: Chelsea Wolfe, Dolly Parton, Soundgarden and more

The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.

Chelsea Wolfe traffics in music fit for a mood – a dark mood.

Most opt to open an album with a song. Some may go with a skit. Local singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, however, has opted for a scare tactic.

The opening track on her sophmore effort "Ἀποκάλυψις" (we'll get to the title in a moment) is a 24-second vocal attack. The screams and growls sound as if they belong to some heretofore unknown hellhound. Thankfully, at just the moment when any nonpossessed listener would shut the song off, Wolfe eases up.

That's not to say that there isn't any weirdness that follows, but what stands out on tracks such as "Mer" and "Tall Bodies" is a far more inviting sense of doom. Wolfe's voice is urgent, but with an old-fashioned classicism, and her guitar work is sparse, but more hypnotic than haunted.

So why put the listener on guard in the album's opening moments?

"I thought it was a good way to set the mood," Wofe said. "There’s something spiritual, but also something really grounded, about it. Those screams could be interpreted as something demonic, or something coming from Earth."

Lines and styles are walked carefully throughout "Ἀποκάλυψις," which takes its name from the Greek word for revelations and apocalypse. Wolfe, who opens for metal act Liturgy on Saturday at an early show at the Echo, grew up with music, although of a much lighter variety. Wolfe was raised in Sacramento, and her father played with a little-known western band. Don't press her for too many details on her father's music, however, as she admits she "didn't really know what they were doing."

She did, however, sneak into his studio, where she developed a loner's appreciation for songcraft. "I enjoy recording, especially alone," she said. "I like to feel totally free, create a soundscape around me and get lost in it. I’m not a gear person or anything like that. I like to work with whatever I have."

While much of her "Ἀποκάλυψις" is a mood piece, Wolfe finds plenty of room to roam in the shadows. A rhythmic stomp consumes the guitar horizons of "Demons," whereas "The Wasteland" is aural cataclysm, a rush of hiss and studio effects. Meanwhile, cuts such as "Moses" and "Pale on Pale" take more of an electric folk feel, although echo as if they were recorded in an abandoned church.

"I’m really inspired by visual art -- Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch -- and literature," Wolfe said. "So I’m trying to make something visual with sound. I want it to be visual in the listener’s head while they’re hearing it." -- Todd Martens

Chelsea Wofe with Liturgy at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Early show at 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 at the door.

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72 Hours: Brave the dreaded 'Carmageddon' for some music

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  • Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80 @ California Plaza. The youngest son of revolutionary Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti, the twentysomething Seun has taken the reins of his father's powerhouse band and set the controls for the same politically and rhythmically charged realm. On the Brian Eno-produced new album "From Africa With Fury: Rise," Seun and his charges sound both like an extension of Fela's legacy and its next logical progression. Grand Performances at California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. Friday at 8 p.m. Free. -- Chris Barton 
     
  • The Blow & He's My Brother She's My Sister @ the Troubadour. Skepticism can be expected when it comes to He's My Brother She's My Sister, as any band that has a tendency to perform with a tap dancer should be used to being greeted with a roll of the eyes. But a sigh of relief is in order, as the group, led by Lemon Sun's Rob Kolar and his sis Rachel, has been increasingly transcending its vaudeville touches. Backyard-party hooks abound, but an Old West bite gives the folksy pop a welcome sting. As for the Blow, that's essentially the moniker of Khaela Maricich, and she treats electro-pop as performance art. All the feather-light touches are gussied with an approach to songwriting that's borderline conversational and often confessional. She has a tendency to perform in a character, but all the oddities have only one goal in mind: to get the audience dancing. The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Friday. Tickets are $14. -- Todd Martens
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    72 Hours: A look at the top shows for the Fourth of July weekend

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    So Many Wizards @ the Smell. These locals have been developing quite nicely, as is apparent on new 7" single "Inner City/Best Friends," for which this gig at the Smell will celebrate. While the voice of singer Nima Kazerouni may be increasingly becoming a love-it-or-hate-it thing for some listeners, the adoption of a scratched-record falsetto suits the band's shambly upbeat indie pop just fine. Kazerouni doesn't overdo it, and his backing mates on "Inner City" tackle the melody as if their job is to answer each of Kazerouni's lines. Rhythms never stop running uphill, and the slender guitar leads briskly decorate each vocal pause as if they're toying with Kazerouni. It all foretells good things to come for the band's delightfully wacky pop confectioneries. The Smell, 247 S. Main St., Los Angeles. Friday. Admission is $5. -- Todd Martens

    Hall & Oates @ the Hollywood Bowl. The resurgence of the fluffy Philly soul of Hall & Oates at first felt like a punch line that had gone on too long. Embraced by tastemakers such as Danger Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie and the Bird and the Bee, and also mocked memorably on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," it was hard to discern whether the act's catalog was being re-evaluated or simply championed by the fashionable because the pair were out of fashion. Yet credit Hall & Oates for riding the yacht rock wave with pride and fervor, and becoming a potent touring act out to prove that its bevy of hits were timeless rather than dated. The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles. Saturday- Monday. Tickets range from  $12-$158, not including surcharges. -- TM

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    Album review: Gillian Welch's 'The Harrow & the Harvest'

    Gillianwelch Does the world still remember Gillian Welch? Maybe best known among mainstream listeners for her entanglement with the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack back in 2000, it’s been eight long years since Welch released an album.

    But questions about timeliness lose meaning pretty fast when listening to Welch teamed with her nearly symbiotic collaborator David Rawlings. Long trafficking in a sometimes spare yet intricately drawn sort of Americana that could fit just as comfortably at the turn of the 20th century, their latest delivers the same deceptively simple alchemy of dustily lilting voices, vivid lyrical twists and crisp acoustic flourishes.

    While previous albums could flirt with rambunctious elements — for a folk duo, anyway (drums! electric guitars!) — “The Harrow & the Harvest” generally sticks to Welch and Rawlings’ quiet, almost achingly intimate wheelhouse. “The Way It Will Be” finds the duo’s voices merged to otherworldly effect amid haunting admissions like “I can’t say your name without a crow flying by.” On “Six White Horses,” the banjo, handclaps and harmonica cradle their voices so cozily that a twilit front porch practically appears wherever you might be listening. With “Tennessee” casting a sideways glance at the grim classic “Moonshiner,” and “Scarlet Town” carrying a similar drive as Welch’s “Rock of Ages” from 1998, the duo aren’t necessarily taking listeners anywhere new. But considering how beautifully they’ve constructed their rustic world, it’s just a rare treat to have them take us back again.

    — Chris Barton

    Gillian Welch
    “The Harrow & the Harvest”
    Acony
    Three and a half stars (out of four)

    72 Hours: Sleep, Yellow Magic Orchestra and more

    The weekly Pop & Hiss rundown of the weekend's top concerts.

    Sleep_6_

    Sleep @ the Wiltern. This is a relatively rare appearance by the Bay Area's metal forebears and somewhat of a surprisingly large venue for the underground act. The Wiltern, however, will offer plenty of room for guitar wizard Matt Pike to explore, but while the tone is dark and deep, this is an aural assault that seems hellbent on annihilation. Bring earplugs, and expect crushes of lumbering, layered noise. So we've established that Sleep is a monolith of sound, but it's also a mind-blowing proficient one. Turn the songs into data, and you'd be left with something that looks ripped from a calculus textbook. Pike went on to form the equally excellent High On Fire, but Sleep's witch's brew of psychadelic mysticism and slogging, drawn-out grooves are the template for stoner metal. And there's no excuse for, well, sleeping on this one, because plenty of tickets are available. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd. Tickets range from $25 to $35, not including surcharges. — Todd Martens

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    72 Hours: Catwalk, the Playboy Jazz Fest, La Sera and more

    A weekly Pop & Hiss look at some of the weekend's top shows.

    Catwalk @ the Smell. There hasn't been a shortage of scruffy garage-pop bands 'round these parts of late, but Oxnard act Catwalk has, in a limited output, shown enough style to earn a spot near the front of the litter. Credit, in part, the act's way with a ballad. "This Is Goodbye" isn't a kiss-off and it isn't steeped in regret, but as it gradually shimmies to a grand finale of boy-girl harmonies, its melancholic tones feel as if they're anticipating a future nostalgia. 

    Nick Hessler isn't a flamboyant singer, taking a tentatively-direct approach as if he's fronting the "Shake Some Action"-era Flamin' Groovies. Encouragingly, the band's 2011 singles have shown a grand leap forward when it comes to melodic confidence and pacing, as evidenced by the '60s rhythmic strut that opens "One By Words." It isn't long before an array of guitars gets caught in a tug-of-war, with moments of noise and restrained clarity at near constant odds. The Smell. 247 S. Main St., Los AngelesSaturday. Admission is $5. -- Todd Martens

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    72 Hours: Joan of Arc strip out the oddness and Man Man make the experimental focused

    A look at some of the weekend's top concerts...

    MAN_MAN_6

    Man Man @ the El Rey
    . A curious yet curiously irresistible mix of Tom Waits' carnival barker blues and the lushly twisted pop of late-period Mr. Bungle, this Philadelphia band specializes in unleashing a wildly creative mania in concert. The group's latest album, "Life Fantastic," may be its most focused yet, with a mix of surreal lyrics, clattering percussion and surprisingly sharp melodies. El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los AngelesFriday. Tickets are $17.50, not including surcharges and are still available via Ticketmaster at the time of writing. -- Chris Barton

    Joan of Arc @ the Smell. Chicago's long-runnging art-rock project from Tim Kinsella -- a name that will mean the world to those who have at least three emo albums in their collection -- is well entrenched in the world of unpredictability. Loose song structures, some of which build to the shaky, full-scream vocals of Kinsella's Cap'n Jazz, and many others of which rely on samples, loops and jazz-like improvisation, have flirted with the more melodic of late.

    Released in 2008, "Boo! Human" is intricate and made by a rotating cast, but songs are fleshed-out with unexpected harmonies and softer tones to balance the angular guitars. Released just this week, "Life Like" is Joan of Arc at its most stripped down. The album was recorded as a four-piece, and songs were written on the road. If not a straightforward rock record, it's one that captures experimental arrangements before all the tinkering has set in. The Smell, 247 S. Main St., Los Angeles, Saturday. Admission is $8. -- Todd Martens

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    72 Hours: Ezra Furman and the art of crabbiness, Dessa, Fleet Foxes and more

    A look at some of the weekend's top concerts, starting TONIGHT. 

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    Ezra Furman & the Harpoons @ the Satellite.
    There's a glorious moment of pure frustration near the end of "Mysterious Power," the latest from Ezra Furman & the Harpoons. "Too Strung Out" is less than two minutes, and it's faster and cruder than much of the album, but it's the feeling of annoyance at its most distilled. "I'm not like the guy you see in most bands," Furman wails over an outburst of scrappy, punk rock guitars, and then declares he doesn't want any fans, he doesn't want a girlfriend, he doesn't want to bother looking pretty and he is just plain "done." Consider it crabbiness for the sake of crabbiness, but there's plenty more colorful sides to Furman's personality. Throughout "Mysterious Power," one will find vampires in love, magical flowers and false threats of self-destructing. Arrangements are bright, the hooks are a-plenty and Furman is comfortable as a balladeer, a bluesman and a rioter. The Satellite, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles. Friday. $10. -- Todd Martens

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    72 Hours: Sean Rowe's stark storytelling, Beaches bring the noise and more

    A look at some of the weekend's top concerts, with one Thursday night gig added as well (96 hours?).

    Sean_rowe_6_

    Don't be fooled by the quiet nature of Sean Rowe's music. These are songs that are unexpectedly disarming. First, Rowe's baritone commands attention -- a deep, lived-in, worn-out and seen-it-all voice, one belonging to a barroom storyteller with a slyly understated grasp of melodic twists and turns. Then, his lyrics don't leave much room for a listener to turn away.

    The bluesy highway haunt of "Jonathan" makes for a gripping landscape, and the memoir -- seemingly from the point of view of the victim of a tragic car wreck -- is full of tension. Details come quick, a curdling snapshot of the visions that make a lasting impression. "Remember Megan with her makeup off," Rowe sings, a moment of nostalgia amid the wreckage.

    "That story was a lot longer than the final product," Rowe said. "It’s a real challenge to edit without losing the original intent in the songs, and that was really tough to record. I still don’t feel like it’s totally right. I don’t like to go into details on it, but that song was based on a true story. It was a car accident, and the people involved were people I was close to, and the song is taken from different perspectives."

    Rowe's debut, released earlier this year on local indie Anti-, was recorded back in 2009. But Rowe wasn't necessarily an easy artist for a label to track down, living in upstate New York and scraping a living by playing to disinterested crowds and foraging for food in the wilderness. When Rowe appears at the Bootleg Theater on Friday night, opening for the folksy Olin & the Moon, it will be a long way removed from his marathon sets loaded with soul and R&B covers. 

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