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

July 21, 2011 |  4:59 pm

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.


 Soundgarden @ The Forum. Of the many '90s-era reunions that have come rolling down the pike in recent years, the reconvening of Soundgarden feels like one of the rare returns where a band still has something to say. Since the group parted ways abruptly in 1996, Soundgarden's albums have aged better than many of their grunge contemporaries, with a sound that mixed the intricate with the crushingly heavy, and the whole infernal mix was anchored by one of the best voices in rock. Reviews of recent shows have been positive, offering flashes of hope that this Forum date could wipe away fuzzy memories of Audioslave and ill-advised "Billie Jean" covers. The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. Friday. Tickets range from $39.50-$69.50, not including surcharges. -- Chris Barton

• Jimmy Scott @ The Echoplex. Back after a richly deserved mini-revival that culminated with Scott stealing Jeff Tweedy's soundtrack for the indie film "Chelsea Walls" with a sumptuous take on John Lennon's "Jealous Guy," the 86-year-old jazz vocalist's uniquely expressive way with a song will melt the hardest of hipster-hardened hearts with this show. Nonbelievers should consult the achingly soulful compilation "All or Nothing at All" and thank us later. The Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd.  Los Angeles. Friiday. Tickets are $22, not including surcharges. -- CB

• Dolly Parton @ The Hollywood Bowl. Perhaps Los Angeles should apologize for our poor manners: Forty-five years after Dolly Parton first went pro, the legendary country singer makes her Hollywood Bowl debut with two shows in the open air. Her Tennessee-lonesome weepers (“Jolene,” “Down From Dover”) and devoted odes to true love (“I Will Always Love You”) will no doubt charm the dickens out of the Hollywood -– or Dollywood? -– Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles. Friday. Also Saturday. Tickets range from $12-$134, not including surcharges. -- Randall Roberts

• Big Talk @ the Satellite. Led by Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr., Big Talk on its surface doesn't deviate too far from the synth-infused anthems of the name brand act. Thankfully, however, Big Talk lacks the Killers' sanctimony, and instead does its best to deliver a dozen or so hand-clap-worthy rockers that owe a heavy debt to Cheap Trick and the Cars. Of course, Vannucci Jr. wouldn't be a Killers member without a penchant for missteps, so use the cringe-inducing blues of "No Whiskey" to stroll to the bar. The Satellite, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles. Friday. Tickets are $15, not including surcharges. -- TM 


• Earth @ The Echoplex. In an earlier incarnation, this band led by guitarist Dylan Carlson helped give birth to a whole different sort of musical heft with 1993's drone-metal masterpiece "Earth 2." Eased back into musical life by followers Sunn0))), Carlson has revealed an atmospheric and Ennio Morricone-adjacent sense of nuance, most notably with 2008's "The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull," which featured additional guitar flourishes from the ever-unpredictable Bill Frisell. The Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd. Saturday. Tickets are $14, not including surcharges. -- CB


• Stevie Wonder, Rickey Minor, others @ The Hollywood Bowl. Space is too tight to fully expound on the potential for this uniquely American stew of sounds, but the imagination can fill in the blanks for this KCRW World Festival event: Stevie Wonder and "American Idol" musical director Rickey Minor host a “global soul” night featuring guests including Sharon Jones, Janelle Monáe, Mia Doi Todd, Grace Potter, Ceci Bastida and others. The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles. Tickets range from $12-$134. -- RR

Simply not enough weekend tips for you? There's more.


Dolly Parton follows her instinct to 'Better Day'

L.A. Unheard: Chelsea Wolfe's revelatory dirges

Brainfeeder's Strangeloop opens gallery show Saturday [Video]

Photo: Chelsea Wolfe. Credit: Force Field PR.