Pop & Hiss

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72 Hours: Dirty Ghosts, Grimes among the weekend's top gigs

February 23, 2012 |  9:27 am

Pop & Hiss takes a look at some of the weekend's top concerts.

Dirty Ghosts


• Dirty Ghosts @ the Bootleg Bar. There appears, at first, to be an ingredient missing from San Francisco's Dirty Ghosts. When Allyson Baker sings, she attacks as though she's leading a pack of slovenly aggressive rock 'n' rollers. Yet the spacious arrangements on the band's debut, "Metal Moon," largely feel as if the sonic incursion has been ripped out from under her, leaving Baker in a more isolated place. There are guitars, of course, and they're all hardcore and mangy, as if they stumbled out of bed in 1983, but the feel here is punk rock at its more deconstructed. Like the Kills and Sleigh Bells before them, the rhythms are often born in a computer, yet with a little help from underground rapper/producer Aesop Rock, also Baker's husband, beats and programs that are alternately bluesy and funky are continually thrown in Baker's path. Each song unfolds like a challenge: Here, try to riff over this. The Bootleg Bar, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $12 at the door. -- Todd Martens

• Grimes @ the Echo. The musical alter-ego of Canadian artist Claire Boucher, Grimes trafficks in the sort of '80s-informed electro-pop that makes indie rock bloggers' hearts go pitter-pat. The difference between Grimes and the rest of the Pitchfork-endorsed flavors of the minute, however, is that Boucher backs up her dark synth textures lifted from the first Depeche Mode album with lighter-than-air vocal acrobatics and sweet, swooning melodies as sticky as vintage doo-wop. The Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd. The show is sold out and tickets are going for about $65 on the secondary market. -- Chris Barton


• Tim Berne @ The Blue Whale. A fiery saxophonist who came to prominence in the unhinged downtown New York City scene in the '80s, Tim Berne performs from his latest album "Snakeoil." A richly rewarding listen that balances lush composition and free expression, the recording should take on a new life onstage with the help of bandmates Oscar Noriega on clarinet, Matt Mitchell on piano and drummer Ches Smith. The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E.S. Onizuka St., Suite 301, L.A. Admission is $10. -- CB

• Veronica Falls @ the Bootleg Bar. London-based Veronica Falls don’t dilly-dally. The music is lean and spotless-clean, and the lyrics curt. The trot-like jangle of “The Box,” for instance, sounds as if it were written for sharing a malt at the soda fountain. Yet singer Roxanne Clifford will make her company think twice. “I know you’re old,” she sings, “but you’re a hand to hold,” and before the weight of her words hit, she gets back to the song’s two-minute burst of shimmying grooves and effervescent guitars. Consider it hazy-voiced sweetness accompanied with a dead-eyed stare. The Bootleg Bar, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $12 at the door. -- TM


Cate Le Bon @ McCabe's. Welsh songwriter Cate Le Bon crafts little magical nuggets of folk-pop. There's references to all things mythical -- a character named "Greta" can live in one of her songs, after all -- yet Le Bon seems most interested when finding little twists, melodical and lyrical, on the familiar. She'll tear into a hymn with a wayward guitar, and an affectionate ballad will soon disappear into snyths and atmospheres. Despite Le Bon's penchant for sounding as if she is serenading pretty woodland creatures, sophomore album "CYRK" is an enchanting collection of cool, Velvet Underground-inspired psychedelic pop. McCabe's Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Tickets are $12.50. -- TM


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Photo: Allyson Baker of Dirty Ghosts. Credit: Tell All Your Friends