Category: Hanni El Khatib

The bourbon-spiked rock of Hanni El Khatib

Hanni El Khatib in repose

Hanni El Khatib isn't a star yet, but it might just be inevitable. His album release show Monday night at the Echo was a gathering of L.A. power brokers, with a crowd that included Westside CAA agents, music supervisors and NPR DJs. What they saw was a young artist who set his amp on fire. The gesture was accidental, but it might have been a metaphor for his career trajectory. 

After all, it was only 18 months ago when Khatib decamped from his native San Francisco to take a post as creative director at a skate firm, HUF. He didn't last long in the L.A. working world. A pair of 45s released for local indie Innovative Leisure took hold among those who like their steaks bloody and their guitars deafening. KCRW quickly championed him. Florence and the Machine took him on a pair of tours. He even landed a song in a Nike Chosen commercial.

The ballyhoo preceded his full-length debut, "Will the Guns Come Out." Released Tuesday on Innovative Leisure, the record is a taut, muscular collection of rock 'n' roll. There are knife-wielding shadows of doo-wop and the Cramps, hip-hop bravado and punk puckishness. It's malt shop music for those who like their confections spiked with bourbon. There are gloom-riddled folk ballads and "Heartbreak Hotel" serves as an homage both to Elvis Presley and Tom Waits. The effect is a no-frills two-piece rock that bears a vague resemblance to the work of the White Stripes and the Black Keys.

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Lineup announced for Also I Like to Rock weekly KCRW concert series at Hammer Muesum

Summer is almost here. And with that comes another season of rock shows that will definitely inspire a few trips to the museum. Starting in  July, the concert series Also I Like to Rock, in the courtyard of the Hammer Museum, delivers a new round of free weekly concerts featuring Graffiti6, the Soft Pack, Grouplove, the Henry Clay People and other favorites on the L.A. music scene.

 Presented in partnership with KCRW FM (89.9)  and curated by Buzz Bands L.A., the evenings kick off every Thursday at 7 p.m. with DJ sets by KCRW selectors followed by two band performances. The shows start at 8 p.m. and admission is free on a first-come, first-serve basis. With a healthy focus on the surging L.A. scene, the concert series is known to tap into local talent that has graced the KCRW airwaves. Past acts have included the likes of Saint Motel, Fitz and the Tantrums and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

On July 7, soulful British electropop  duo Graffiti6 take the stage with support from the the Eastern Conference Champions, whose indie rock inclinations balance between ferocious  guitar power and tender balladry. Resident KCRW crate digger Dan Wilcox will spin earlier in the night. Subsequent lineups include the Soft Pack and Hanni El Khatib on July 14, Grouplove and Milo Greene on July 21 and the Henry Clay People with Lady Danville on July 28.

-- Nate Jackson

Photo: Joey Siara of the Henry Clay People performs during Day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival  in April. Credit: Charley Gallay /Getty Images

The many sides of Hanni El Khatib, who opens for Florence + the Machine tonight

Wilcox Sessions -- Hanni El Khatib ("You Rascal You") from Wilcox Sessions on Vimeo.

The singularity of Hanni-El Khatib reveals itself when you attempt to wedge his music into your iTunes playlist. His scraped and scarred guitar salvos are too pyrotechnic to fit into the ethereal folk-like float or world-music fixation of the NPR-friendly indie-rock wing. And his influences stretch further back than the lo-fi tinnitus titans that record for the rightfully acclaimed Woodsist and Siltbreeze imprints.

His copy of “A Change Is Gonna Come” is battered enough to consider him a disciple of classic soul. But no one will mistake his abrasive racket for the reverent worship of the Budos Band, Fitz & the Tantrums and the Mark Ronson mafia.  If he does have a contemporary cognate it might be the Dum Dum Girls or Best Coast, which fuse garage-rock rawness with the Cherry Coke pop of Phil Spector and the Shangri-Las.

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