Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Killers at Paramount Studios, New Years Eve 2006

Yeah, they went from Las Vegas’ answer to Duran Duran on the verge of making their Rio to earnest Americana-chasing banditos stranded somewhere out on Highway 9 in search of the last exit to Born to Run (with Earl J. Hickey on drums, no less). Still, Sam’s Town is no slouch, especially when soaring songs such as “When You Were Young” sound so sweet cranked up to 11 cruising down PCH like the last two seasons of The OC never happened. It’s only fitting that they headline this New Year’s Eve blowout on the “New York Street” lot of Paramount Studios, outfitted as “Times Square West,” complete with a midnight ball drop and the perpetually comely Carmen Electra serving as your hostess with the most. They don’t call it Hollywood for nothing. Cheers.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bright Light Fever at Safari Sam’s, December 26

Meet the latest contenders in the scruffy but pop-positive rock sweepstakes, NoCal’s Bright Light Fever. Their brief but bombastic tracks go straight to the heart of the matter, piling sticky melodies on top of hard-charging drums, reminiscent of what the little girls have been swooning over lately (Panic at the Barbershop, for one), minus that whole wuss factor. Their debut, The Evening Owl (Stolen Transmission), finds our young charges doing their best not to get lumped in with such pabulum by digging deeper into their bag of musical tricks, exemplified by the Radiohead-y guitars of “Good Day, Good Day” and the gleefully maudlin piano-powered ballad “Crowded Street in May.” (“A Deeper Blue” just rocks.) Singer Evan Ferro can over-emote with the best of them, so watch out. They’re a good Warped Tour away from being bigger than Fall Out Boy.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Quetzal at the Echo, December 23

This fiercely Chicano outfit from East Los Angeles have been honing their decidedly nontraditional mix of urgent cultural pride and political activism for more than a decade, but, four albums later, it still sounds brand new. The band’s latest, Die Cowboy Die (Quetzal Music), finds them in a transitional mode, from lineup changes (new vocalist-keyboardist Quincy McCrary brings a soulful edge) to vibrant vocalist Martha Gonzalez’s meditation on impending motherhood, “Breast Pump Waltz.” What hasn’t changed is their fiery political voice, be it the perpetual debate over the U.S./Mexican border on “Migra” or an unflinching shot at America’s colonization power trip on the simple but effective title track, which wears a strong Morrissey influence in both Gonzalez’s vocal inflection and the sardonic lyricism: “The killing of millions of people/Now you must die/Genocide missions no longer justified.” Ain’t that the truth.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Ozomatli at House of Blues Sunset, December 22

It’s always a celebration when this quintessentially Angeleno peace mob hits the stage with its multiculti mélange of everything intended to make you dance, from south of the border beats to the defiant stomp of inner-city streets. They never stop searching out more flavors for their uplifting polyglot, most recently getting with Middle Eastern melodies and reggaeton rhythms (and a take on the theme to Showtime’s pot-tastic series Weeds). It’s been a couple of years since they’ve produced a fresh full-length (although they did appease fans with last year’s Live at the Fillmore), but that’s about to change in the new year when they drop Don’t Mess With the Dragon in March, born from an installation at L.A.’s Tropico de Nopal gallery. Expect plenty of pre-release previews.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

West Indian Girl at the Troubadour, December 15

These high-flying L.A. love children are ready to ease you into the approaching season of stress with a soothing swirl of velveteen melodies and the power of positive thinking. West Indian Girl (WIG to their friends) is notoriously named after a particularly potent strain of acid in the early ’60s, and it shows. Evoking memories from both Summers of Love (’67 and ’88), the band marries Woodstock-era uplift with the anything-goes ethos of the underground rave scene to create electronic-tinged psychedelia somewhere between classic Pink Floyd and Primal Scream when they were still taking Ecstasy. It all comes together on their signature single, the dreamy, slow-motion anthem “What Are You Afraid Of?” (Other than tripping too hard on the visuals, not much, friend.) The War Tapes and Test Your Reflex open the show.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


After years of madly pogo-partying all over the local circuit, L.A. hipster faves Ima Robot have connected with the rest of the world big time on their second L.P. (and first for Virgin Records), the archly titled Monument to the Masses. Led by the anthemic Devo-goes-emo thrash of single “Creeps Me Out,” the band’s Technicolor splatter of skittish synths and Casio box-beats has even landed them an opening slot for by-the-numbers “modern” rockers All-American Rejects. All the easier for them to poach a new legion of slavishly devoted fans, I suppose. MTV and your kid sister’s bedroom wall can’t be far behind.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)


Does anybody remember laughter? Exhibit A: Pigeon John. He makes hip-hop that’s fun (and funny) but full of substance, a gentle juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy that would make Wes Anderson proud. His 2006 album Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party was just that, a sunny amalgam of easy beats and everyman witticisms that cross-pollinated the Pixies with thoughtful raps without missing a step. He beat Jay-Z to the hip-hop–for-adults punch (“Growin’ Old”), proving that rocking the mike can be grown folks’ business too. More Beck than Lloyd Banks, Pigeon John is the Fresh Prince of L.A. Dec. 29 at the El Rey, with Blackalicious, Tre and Phatlip.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Friday, December 08, 2006


Hip-hop doesn’t get much more indie than this. Project Blowed alum Busdriver is as likely to kick it with Pitchfork approved acts like Islands and Coco Rosie as he is alongside fellow nonfigurative word manipulators such as Subtitle and Abstract Rude. But really it’s a jazz thing, as Busdriver jump-cuts across genres (and thesauri) with a quickness, making sure that even the kids way in the back understand that this is not your daddy’s boom-bap (in case the inside-out productions from folks like Thavius Beck and Daedelus didn’t make it clear enough). Oh, and naming his new album Roadkillovercoat. Party time!

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)


Just what them cool kids have been waiting for: the hipster Justin Timberlake you don’t have to feel guilty for loving. Like a prettier Mickey Avalon run through Girl Talk’s post-everything sonic blender, he’s already paid homage to Timberlake with his heavily YouTubed parody “Paxilback,” but this ain’t just fun and games. Kid can get all earnest with that falsetto, as evidenced on the Interpol-gone-pop strum of “Lonely Love,” found on his surprisingly solid debut 5, 6, 7, 8. Check his hip-hop heart on the free mixtape The Pilgrimage, which finds him greying up the Clipse and Jay-Z. Stardom’s inevitable. Jan. 13 at the Echo, with Girl Talk.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)


Yeah, Franz Ferdinand loves ’em. But why wouldn’t they? The Blood Arm’s no frills lotsa thrills brand of catchy classic rawk shoots right between the eyes with sticky melodies and dramatic delivery. Live, they take audience participation to a whole other level, with singer Nathaniel Fregoso spending as much time climbing on the crowd’s heads as he does flinging himself spastically across the stage. Strokes comparisons are close but no cigar, evidenced by TBA’s recently released Lie Lover Lie (City Rockers), a grimy collection of inner-city blues that digs much deeper than that to reveal big, bleeding hearts that are pure Los Angeles.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Peaches @ Avalon, December 13-14

Peaches is a lot like George Clinton reimagined as a sexually charged extreme feminist from planet Amazon: Free your vagina, and your mind will follow. She espouses that liberation of all kinds can be found between the legs, exemplified in orgiastic anthems like “Fuck the Pain Away” set to her signature electro-metal maelstrom. She’s downright civic-minded on her latest CD, Impeach My Bush, using sex as a political weapon (“I’d rather fuck who I want/than kill who I am told to”), bolstered by even brasher beats and new buds like Joan Jett and Josh Homme. Live, she’s backed by her new band, the Herms (as in Peaches & Herms — cute, right?), which boasts Le Tigre’s JD Samson and former Hole tub-thumper Samantha Maloney. Electro-shocked U.K. indie act Whitey and local glam-slammed tranny Jeffree Starr set it off.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)

Spank Rock, Debonair Samir @ Safari Sam's, December 12

It’s hip-hop on 45, rapid-fire raps over aggressively futuristic beats and pieces as equally informed by videogame soundtracks as they are by U.K. garage. Spank Rock are on some other shit — all jittery, coked-up dance tracks superglued to casually misogynistic lyrics that scream “Look at me!” while swinging a private-school tie overhead. It’s a Philly by way of Baltimore party thing, finding common ground between Hollertronix’s dance-or-die ethos, Too Short and your nephew’s PSP. These junior-mint pimps are showing indie bed-heads how to live, talking trash, clocking cash and slapping ho’s like nobody’s business. Don’t think, just shake that ass. Do your drugs early enough to arrive in time to get an education in Baltimore club music from opener Debonair Samir. Hollywood’s DJ C_Town will make sure the hipsters are in check. Somebody say hi to Cory Kennedy for me.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 12/06)