LAWeekly — January 30, 2013
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Music

OZ BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Laura Escude makes blockbuster tours pop

BY JEFF WEISS

Maybe you Watched The Throne, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s emperorrap extravaganza, which descended on Staples Center last year. It redefined concert spectacle for the Instagram age with leather kilts, oversized American flags, giant projections of swimming sharks and 20,000 enraptured fans. There was a live band, a DJ and a then-record number (10) of encores of “Niggas in Paris.”

Behind the Throne was Laura Escude, who was responsible for music programming and editing for both artists, including live vocal effects, Auto-Tune and delays.

If someone wanted to remove a verse, alter the chorus or add sound effects, the execution fell to Escude. It was even her job to count how many times Jay-Z and West performed their hit single about the best Parisian vacation ever.

“I’m somewhere between the band and the crew. I roll with the crew because I have to set up everything, but I want to be in the band,” Escude says with a laugh, in the living room of her tangerine Glendale townhouse on a recent sunny Friday. “One of my goals for 2013 is to change the way the live industry is doing things.” This isn’t idle ambition. After being hired by West and Jay-Z, Escude quickly revealed that her skill set went beyond technological mastery. Not only does she produce and DJ under the alias Alluxe, she’s a virtuosic violinist who wrote the violin intro to the Throne tour (which played when the shows started) and played strings on the Frank Ocean–featured “Made in America,” from Jay-Z and West’s Watch the Throne album.

So impressive were her contributions that Hit Boy, the producer of “Niggas in Paris,” asked her to play violin on his debut mixtape.

The balance between tech guru and artist is an uncommon but natural combination for Escude, the child of a naval officer who grew up in Guam and Pensacola, Fla.In high school, she was the captain of the track team, concertmaster in the orchestra and a straight-A math student. She received a violin scholarship to Vanderbilt and later FSU.

Listening to her lucidly explain the quirks of music production, electronic frequency signals and how to turn your Nintendo Wii into a sonic conduit will quickly make you recall why you got a C in high school trig.

During her third year of college, a rave converted her to the liturgy of electronic music. She soon started attempting to fuse her classical training with the Cinematic and glitchy beat canvasses released on seminal English imprints Warp and Ninja Tune.

“I figured out that, instead of playing violin for producers, I could just be a producer myself,” the blond, blue-eyed Escude says, sipping a cup of tea. “I got into very weird and obscure [intelligent dance music] and started learning to make beats at George Clinton’s studio.”

Her living room in Glendale doubles as an improvised home studio. Controllers light up in rainbow colors depending on the note. There are keyboards, samplers, a big-screen Mac and Escude’s violin. Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees” is playing, and a book of sheet music is open to Bach’s sonatas.

This is a rare moment at home for Escude, who spent a good portion of the last 18 months traveling Europe and America with Jay-Z and West’s royal caravan. After the summer tour ended, she split the rest of the season among London, Berlin and Prague. The itinerary included her own solo shows, a festival in London with Jay-Z, finger-drumming lessons, workshops at Ableton headquarters and the shoot for an upcoming video for one of her own songs, directed by Nika Offenbac, the choreographer for West’s “Runway.”

A week after this interview, she’ll be handling music programming and editing for West’s performance at the Hurricane Sandy fundraiser in Madison Square Garden.It caps a dizzying three years since Escude founded her company, Electronic Creatives.

“At first, I was doing workshops, private lessons and consulting for smaller companies who wanted help showcasing their products,” Escude says, wearing a blue T-shirt with the printed logo of her former employer, Ableton. While working there in 2007-08, Escude became the first certified trainer in the music-production computer program and even helped devise the company’s certification program.Simultaneously, she played violin and orchestrated music production for the electronic world music group Niyaz.

“I was on tour with Niyaz and got a call from Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas,” Escude says. “They were looking for someone who could read and play music in addition to the technology stuff. Ever since then, I’ve been juggling that and my own music.”

Despite being primarily employed by Jay-Z and West, Escude has collaborated on the live sets of Garbage, Herbie Hancock and M83. The latter even commissioned an official Alluxe remix of his hit “Steve McQueen.”

“I always want to be surprised by a remix, and [Escude] brought originality and novelty to my song,” M83 says via email.(If that compliment sounds at all lukewarm, it is not; chalk it up to the artist’s first language being French.)

Electronic Creatives has become so in-demand that Escude created the music programming and tech design arrangements for recent treks from The Weeknd, Childish Gambino and Sleigh Bells and sent out artists from her company to implement the system on the road.

“There had previously been a guy on stage with ProTools who pressed play — it was linear, stagnant and took time to load,” Escude says. “But if bands want to change a song in a set list, they want to do it on a dime. I help artists control their vocal effects in real time and be more precise with them.”

During rare downtime , Escude channels the right side of her brain into the Alluxe project. Last year, she opened up for Garbage, spent time in the lab with Kid Cudi’s producer Dot Da Genius, and performed at celebrated beat-scene hub Low End Theory. Video from that evening shows her blending violin jags with bonebristling beats halfway between hip-hop and electronic dance music.

She expects to release her first Alluxe album in early spring.

But her goals exceed recorded music. She wants to revolutionize the way large-scale tours can be done, with a holistic integration of vocal effects, lighting and visual projections. At the moment, few if any companies are operating in this space, and with her unique combination of artistic and technical ability, Escude’s Electronic Creatives has essentially built a throne of its own.

“I’ve been learning what goes into a show for years, and I see where I can bring it. I want people to know they can come to my company and get artistic, creative programmers,” Escude says. “There are so many people designing big tours from the very first day, and I want to be there with the designer, brainstorming about how the light show, sound, controllers and visuals can all interact with each other. I’m trying to push this in a new direction.”

Gas Station Radio Plays While You’re at the Pump

WHERE DO THEY GET OFF CALLING THEMSELVES “RADIO”?

What’s your favorite radio station? More specifically: What’s your favorite radio station to listen to while you’re pumping gas? Admittedly, it’s a pretty stupid question, because, as L. A. folks undoubtedly are aware, you don’t have a choice. If you’re at one of 171 stations in the broader L.A. metro area, you’re getting something called Gas Station Radio. It’s a mix of commercials, weather, news, traffic and, oh, some music every now and then.

After being subjected to it for the umpteenth time, we got to wondering: What is Gas Station Radio? Do they have Djs? How do they pick their music? And where do they get off calling themselves a radio station?

So, seeing as we’re reporters, we did a little reporting. It turns out the company, based in San Francisco, is a collaboration between an advertising company, Brite Media Group, and a publishing company, Warner/Chappell Music. Synergistic!

Launched a little more than a year ago, Gas Station Radio can be heard at a shit ton of locations around the country — 1,300, making it the biggest of these types of “stations.”

Ryan Gerisch, Gas Station Radio’s advertising manager, says he understands that the company is dealing with a captive audience. “We don’t give the audience the luxury to change the channel,” he says.

“They have to listen.” The music is almost entirely emerging, unsigned artists — nothing we’ve ever heard of, to be honest — and it’s tailored to the demographics of the specific municipalities.“We don’t want to play classical music in an African neighborhood, or to a demographic of people who wouldn’t be interested in classical music,” he says.“For instance, in Texas we would focus on a more country sound, in Detroit we would have a hip-hop or rock sound, and in L.A. we would have an indie sound.”

Lovers of classical in African neighborhoods, you’re out of luck! But rather than simply annoying you, Gerisch insists that the point of Gas Station Radio (which can’t be heard on the Internet or traditional terrestrial stations) is to make for a better overall gas station “experience.” “Our goal is to create an entertainment vibe,” he says, though we have no idea what an “entertainment vibe” is.

The company’s research indicates that the average person spends six minutes at the gas pump, and so that’s about how long its programming cycles last.

Said programming comes courtesy of a DJ team comprising 63 people at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, who prerecord the snippets, which then are sent out to the gas stations via Internet feed. There are no announcers, however; Gerisch says about half the programming is music, while another quarter is news, weather, traffic and sports updates. The final quarter is ads.

That music percentage seemed a bit high to us, after listening to it recently at the Mobil on Sepulveda and Green Valley, next to the Fox Hills Mall. The music we did hear was fairly bland, though certainly not vile; one song sounded like an Edward Sharpe instrumental, while another reeked of ’90s alt-rock, again without vocals. (Gerisch says that’s usually the case, and in general it doesn’t play songs by name artists because it mostly uses snippets.) All in all, something like elevator music, but aimed at a slightly younger demographic.

Still, the annoying thing about Gas Station Radio is not the music it plays but rather the rest of its “content,” the annoying chatter. We were subjected to it as we hung out there for about 20 minutes, i.e., as long as one can inconspicuously hang out at a gas station without actually getting gas. We only heard those two songs.

Say what you will about Clear Channel.At least its outlets have more music than advertising, and at least you can change the station! —Mary Carreon

Bizarre Ride
by Jeff Weiss

MATTHEWDAVID’S PSYCHEDELIC SOUL MUSIC IS NOT EXACTLY THAT

“All profoundly original art looks ugly at first,” opined art critic Clement Greenberg. He was alluding to the abstract expressionism that he helped to popularize, but his mantra describes much experimental music as well.

A thin membrane divides the beautiful, bizarre and bogus. One man’s Animal Collective is another’s yelp for institutionalization.

Over the last five years, few L.A. musicians have more artfully surveyed the oft-jagged creative frontier than Matthewdavid, whether through his solo work or via Leaving Records, the label he co-founded with visual director Jesselisa Moretti .

“Music should be a progressive thing, and that’s embodied in the label’s releases,” says the spliff -thin Matthew David McQueen, 28, in the living room of his Highland Park aerie. He’s wearing a Mountain Dew–green T-shirt, black cigarette pants, hair loosely swept from right to left and a light brown beard. Th ere are shelves of art books, Cds, vinyl and enough cassette tapes to open a 1980s car wash . Above a heating vent, a trumpet lies next to a cassingle of Outkast’s “Elevators (Me & You).” A guitar slouches in another corner.

“There’s a humanity and universal consciousness, a deeper spiritual, psychedelic awareness that we’re trying to convey to the world,” the Pensacola-via-Atlanta native says of his own music and that of his label, which recently raised its profile by signing a distribution and promotional pact with Stones Th row.

Overheard in a vacuum, these words could seem like hippie cliché. But Matthewdavid has an easy-natured humor and self-awareness that undercuts the seriousness.

He’s also exceptionally talented. Where much experimental music feels like formless splatter, his beats reveal sublime chaos. It’s psychedelic soul music that sounds nothing like psych-rock or soul music. Th e beats are carefully sculpted, codeine-slow and without formula. It’s as though he worked to build a safety net made of hemp, but then smoked it.

Th is is how you get someone who grew up a hip-hop DJ and producer obsessed with regional Southern rap, who got so into experimental beat, noise and folk music that he moved out to L.A. upon graduation from Florida State.

He interned for Dublab and came to underground attention with 2008’s Spills, a Plug Research–released album full of field recordings and tape manipulation.

“Flying Lotus sampled it and that’s how I got a co-production credit on Los Angeles. Hudson Mohawke and Ras G and other beat guys were listening to my weird, lo-fi , folk ambient album,” Matthewdavid says. “I was the hippie kid mingling with the hip-hop, Low End Th eory crowd.” He returned to beats with 2010’s scalloped and silvery Outmind, issued by Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. Since then, the prolific Matthewdavid has produced everything: bedroom R&B; avant-garde noise-hop with Chicago rapper Serengeti; dancehall with freak-out kings Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras.

Noise-influenced DJ shows have evolved into a live act incorporating singing, rapping and an electric bass player. Befitting the legit outré American artist, he’s acquired a loyal international cult.

With the largely cassette tape–only Leaving Records, Matthewdavid has pressed up limited runs from Ras G, Jonwayne and Knxwledge. Th e best-selling was Julia Holter’s debut, Tragedy.

The first product of the Leaving/Stone Throw union, Dual Form, came out recently. Recruiting Holter, Sun Araw, Serengeti and Dntel, among others, the two-disc (or cassette) compilation covers folk, rap, electronic and psychedelia yet smoothly distills the appeal of Matthewdavid’s diffuse but immaculate taste.

“A lot of people are afraid of the unknown, but we try to dive in headfirst. If you’re willing to trust the mystery of music, then you’re going to find a lot of soul, warmth and rewards,” Matthewdavid says. “Music should be sacred. It’s about trying to remove the veil of the unknown.”

Henry Rollins
The Column!

HERE COMES A REGULAR

I try to get myself up and moving as early as possible. Optimum is to be on the treadmill while it is still dark outside. As I plod away on my elliptical machine, I listen to music coming through two speakers, at high volume, which are aimed right at my face. I hope that this will wake me up. I cannot overstate to you how much of a morning person I am not. My incentive is that if I get to work early, I can get it all done early and be back in my own world.

In the evenings, I usually am pent up from a long day at the office. By the time the sun is setting, I want to get out and into the world. As it grows dark, I can feel setting in the melancholy that oft en accompanies the evening . I need noise, movement and light to stay on track and attempt to outrun my mind. I thought adulthood and middle age would greet me with a degree of calm. It didn’t happen.

Over the years, I have set up a coffee route. I go to different coffee places in L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. Starbucks is a usual stop. Th ey are plentiful and, at this point, I have developed a Pavlovian attraction to the amber lighting and interior design.

In an attempt to cover my man-withoutmuch- happening-in-the-evenings-ness, I go to different locations, trying never to frequent one too oft en. I do this in hopes that the friendly people behind the counter conclude, “Hey, it’s that ’80s rock guy again, so cool that he comes in here now and then ...,” rather than, “Damn, that guy is here all the time, what a fucking psycho.” There is a difference, you see. You see it, don’t you? Of course you do.

So, when I am off the road and living in our fair city, I am in some coffee place for at least an hour a few nights a week. I look forward to it all through the day.

There is an indescribable optimism I feel when I walk into these places. That initial blast of warmth and coffee-filled air makes me think that anything is possible.

Th is is akin to the feeling I get when I walk into an office supply store. When I see all those pens and paper, all the opportunities to organize and facilitate achievement, I can almost convince myself that, if I buy a notebook, I will somehow be able to come up with enough ideas to cover all the pages in record time, maybe before I even get out of the parking lot!

With the endless fluorescent lights above, all my thoughts become REALLY LOUD and I think I will, by sheer proximity to all the items, be transformed into a virtual Bulgakov with Lautréamonticidal tendencies!

Please don’t mistake this for naiveté or deeply embedded delusion — I am far too old and mean for any of that. It’s desperation, pure and simple.

When I enter the coffee place, I have the expectation of some, well, coffee and, optimistically, a cavalcade of cranial chaos, an unrelenting stream of information that is so damn powerful and important that I will be unable to stop the blur that is my left hand, as it goes manically from left to right and descends down the page.

This is when life truly hums. It vibrates through my system and I am unstoppable. I cannot attain this velocity sitting in my office.I just can’t. I have been writing in crowded, busy places for so long, I have co-joined environment and thought to where this is how I get it done. Being back at the office or at the house feels like motionless suspension in comparison. Like Congress.

I must say, I would rather be around caffeinated people than inebriated ones. I like seeing all those laptops open, all those devices being stared at with such concentration, all those people engaging in conversation that is not dulled by the effects of a depressant like alcohol. The bio-electricity and mechanical accoutrements is a turn-on. Seeing people engage in this way makes me think that we are going to be OK. I could be wrong about all of this in actual fact, but this is how it looks to me.

I have it in my mind that in the coffee place, there is an implied level of intellect amongst my co-caffeiniacs that would preclude violent behavior. And perhaps all those brains whirring at once will rub off on me. Valued reader, I need all the help I can get.

One of the odd enjoyments in life is to be alone in a room full of people. To have them there as unknowing human filler in your wide shot. This is where your personal listening system comes in handy. I don’t use just any earbuds. I rock Shure SE535s. Th ey are my ear bros. When the music is roaring down left and right canals, their mouths move, but I am not obligated to hear what they are talking about. The music is always good, as the visual is always trippy.

This constitutes a good night out for me. I am perhaps what you would consider a lightweight.

I collect nights spent in cafés all over the world like charms on a bracelet. Saigon, Casablanca, Cairo and other destinations all have cool coffee hangouts aft er dark.

I listen to a lot of music in my room. However, without distraction, I am distracted, so out I go. Music for the simple joy of listening is one of life’s high points, but music as the propellant for work is tapping into the main line.

I have noticed on my coffee acquisition ops around here that I keep seeing the same people. It makes me wonder if they have these routes as well. Perhaps we silently scoff and regard each other as the losers with nowhere else to go. All I know is, as soon as you give someone the slight nod of recognition and they nod back, you are one of those people — a regular.

| Music //
| Picks //

fri 2/1

Vieux Farka Touré, Fool’s Gold @
ROYCE HALL

Music critics often describe Vieux Farka Touré as “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” but the Malian guitarist doesn’t really sound much like Jimi Hendrix. Instead, Touré has a distinctively exotic style that’s more similar to the music of his countrymen Tinariwen, the nomadic guitar army whose serpentine, side-winding riffs sizzle, sparkle and invert themselves in a mesmerizing, trance-like fashion. What Touré does have in common with Hendrix is the inexplicable ability to conjure shape-shifting patterns with his guitar, creating transcendent moods that take you to other worlds. There is much great music coming out of Mali today, even as the West African country is being torn apart by a vicious civil war.Tonight, Touré looks for guidance and comfort in the music of his late father, Ali Farka Touré, following a set by locals Fool’s Gold, whose sunny, indie-rock songs are infused with African influences. —Falling James

Mark de Clive-Lowe
@ BLUE WHALE

Keyboardist/DJ Mark de Clive-Lowe calls what he does CHURCH, which is fitting because it’s spurring a revivalist movement on both coasts. But this is no religious ritual; instead, it’s a new kind of jazz and improvised music that has captivated skilled musicians and dancing fools alike.His innovations fuse hip-hop, electronic music and jazz, which might be a trivial contrivance by someone less skilled, but he has the chops to pull it off. His big-band album, Take the Space Trane, drops Feb. 5, and could reintroduce big-band music to the dance halls where swing was once king.Featuring vocalist Nia Andrews and trumpeter Kamasi Washington. —Gary Fukushima

Cro-Mags
@ KEY CLUB

Thirty years before metalcore was even a ting, New York City’s Cro-Mags were fusing hardcore punk and heavy metal to crudely influential effect. A blizzard of band members and bastardized incarnations has come and gone since The Age of Quarrel (1986) and Best Wishes (1989) ; the band’s recent history has been as much about mudslinging as music. The trouble peaked with a backstage melee at New York’s Webster Hall in July, after which founding former bassist Harley Flanagan was charged with stabbing two current band members (the case was dismissed in December).Without an album since 2000’s Revenge and currently centered by longtime vocalist John Joseph McGowan, Cro-Mags are literally not the band they once were, but even echoes of their original brutal brilliance should keep Key Club’s stage-front security plenty busy. —Paul Rogers Sat 2/2

Shock, The Dogs
@ THE REDWOOD

A night when rare records come alive! This is a reunion show by Shock, the first-wave local punks (produced by Danny Holloway!) Whose “This Generation” is a Killed By Death Records classic and whose “I Wanna Be Spoiled” and “Overseas” did U. K.-style punk with L.A. vigor and velocity. Nerds will remember them being next to The Weirdos and Dickies on that famous flier to save the Masque, L.A.’s original punk club. Speaking of: Detroit-to-L.A. high-energy trio The Dogs were among the first Masque bands. They did then and do now some of the best Stooges-MC5 rock & roll ever committed to vinyl. They play slightly more often than Shock … once every decade, maybe? So let’s call this one a twicein- a-lifetime opportunity. —Chris Ziegler

Radar Bros.
@ THE ECHO

It’s rooted in bittersweet nostalgia, maybe, but there’s an undeniably puckish surrealism to the L.A. indie-rock veterans’ Eight. This psychedelic new Americana scales ambitious heights with Crazy Horse/ZZ Top guitars, analog synth ornaments, tack piano and a heavenly chorus. The songs’ resonant mix-and-match of nuanced instrumental textures, surprising chord progressions and veering-into-dissonance harmonies makes you feel like you’re witnessing a mountain levitate. Listening to these guys seems to reveal the future — or at least the inherent possibilities of sound mixage itself.

Also playing: Young Unknowns, Babies on Acid. This is an early show: Doors open at 5 p.m.; all ages. —John Payne

Testament
@ HOUSE OF BLUES HOLLYWOOD

Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax are known as thrash metal’s “Big Four.” But some aficionados will make a case for Testament being part of that group. The band was sidelined by vocalist Chuck Billy’s battle with cancer, but his victory over the disease and the return of original guitarist Alex Skolnick in 2005 reignited the group and brought it back to matching its past glories. 2012’s Dark Roots of Earth — the second album since those two key events — is a furious thrasher full of contenders for the angriest vocal performances of Billy’s career. Skolnick and second guitarist Eric Peterson contribute their trademark solos, which hit high marks for ferocity and virtuosity.We foresee the pit for a new song like “True American Hate” being just as vicious as in the band’s early days. —Jason Roche

Sun 2/3

D.O.A.
@ WEBER’S PLACE

It’s hard to believe that Canadian punk legends D. O.A. are finally calling it quits after a 35-year career in hell-raising and musical subversion. What’s lead singer/guitarist Joey Shithead going to do now? There are only so many careers one can have with a surname like Shithead. He’s already run for office twice in his native British Columbia, and in 2004 penned his memoir, the eloquently titled I, Shithead: A Life in Punk .Many punks assume D.O.A. peaked in its early-’80s heyday, when Shithead’s ragged, blue-collar broadsides were powered at a then-astonishing, breakneck pace, but the band’s ever-evolving lineups continue to pump out riotous anthems about beer, hockey and saving (what’s left of) the environment.Say it ain’t so, Joe! —Falling James

mon 2/4

Gliss
@ LOS GLOBOS

Gliss’ three members — Martin Klingman, Victoria Cecilia and David Reiss — switch offon instruments and vocals. Yet no matter who’s on the mic, their sound is always dreamy, packed in cottony layers of shoegazer guitars and keyboards. The trio’s latest, Langson Dans, is their best yet, fully realizing the potential sparked by earlier releases . On Gliss’ new video, “Weight of Love,” Cecilia’s languid voice floats like a ghost over Klingman’s and Reiss’ hazy wash of keyboards; it’s delicately haunting.Cecilia imbues “Blur” with a girl-group sheen, deepened by echoing Raveonettes/ Dum Dum Girls–style reverb, even as her low vocals turn somber and sad, belying the poppy setting. With Gliss launching a weekly residency at Los Globos, now is the time to catch up to them before the great wide world steals them away. —Falling James

Ron King Big Band
@ TYPHOON

Typhoon at the Santa Monica Airport offers a unique combination of food and music, with scorpions and crickets are on the menu. Mondays at the Typhoon have long been a regular gig for big bands; tonight trumpeter Ron King steps out as a leader fronting a 17-piece band. A Grammy nominee as a soloist, King’s orchestra, which has played the highly regarded Java Jazz Festival, moves freely from jazz standards and Latin to contemporary styles. Come back Tuesday for the silkworm larvae and catch the 2012 Grammy-nominated Clare Fischer Latin Band while you’re at it. —Tom Meek

tue 2/5

Hot 8 Brass Band
@ BOOTLEG THEATER

The Hot 8 Brass Band could only come out of N’awlins — a second-line marching band that makes The Specials’ “Ghost Town” into something almost spiritual, that matches rapped verses to fiery horn lines. Spike Lee put the band in his Katrina doc, When the Levees Broke, and David Simon used it for both a plot point and a soundtrack in Treme — you’ll see Hot 8 leading a call-andresponse of “New Orleans, that’s where I wanna be/that’s the place for me.” This is strong and revitalizing stuff — in the human spirit way, and in the stiff drink way, too.With local polymath Oliwa and his Pleasure Circus. —Chris Ziegler

wed 2/6

ZZ Ward, Delta Rae
@ THE TROUBADOUR

These co-headliners are both on the rise, and at this point they’re so evenly matched that tomorrow, when the bill continues at this club, they’ll switch places, with Delta Rae headlining. Tonight, local singer ZZ Ward gets top billing, crooning easygoing, rootsy tunes like “Charlie Ain’t Home” and darker, bluesy plaints such as “Put the Gun Down.” For all of her down-home soul, Ward is funky enough to collaborate with rappers like Freddie Gibbs. North Carolina’s Delta Rae is the latest in a long line of stellar signings by Sire Records’ Seymour Stein, who discovered the Ramones and Madonna. The coed band features four singers — three of them siblings — and while the songwriting on their debut album, Carry the Fire, is uneven, the singing is always impressive .

Also Thursday. —Falling James

Holly Williams
@ HOTEL CAFE

Holly Williams (yes, granddaughter of hillbilly Shakespeare Hank Sr.) Doesn’t pussyfoot around when it comes to her own music. On her new CD, The Highway, she opens with a drinking song, addresses the harrowing experience of a near-fatal 2006 auto wreck, calls out to her mama’s spectral ancestors and generally lets her hair down.Being born into this famous family can lead to agonizing attempts to rectify individual aesthetics with an inescapable musical legacy — it’s just about driven Hank III completely mad, and as for Junior — hell, look at the mess he’s in. But this Williams, with her straightforward, inescapably Southern brand of soulful expression, makes a convincing case for herself. —Jonny Whiteside

Emeli Sandé
@ EL REY THEATRE

Emeli Sandé’s debut, Our Version of Events, opens with one of her standout numbers: “Heaven.” Its beat pattern is lifted directly from another standout number: Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy.” Rather than working against “Heaven,” this larceny triggers a familiarity in the listener that makes the song an instant winner. Breakbeats line most of the album, giving it a modern, British street flavor. Sandé, however, takes her vocal cues from classic — and contemporary — R&B singers. The soul-fused “My Kind of Love” crunches with emotional intensity, and her voice on the chorus of “Next to Me” will grab you by the shoulders and shake you, hard. —Lily Moayeri

thu 2/7

Solange with Jhene Aiko
@ HOUSE OF BLUES

It can be difficult for musicians with uberfamous musician siblings to step out of familial shadows and have their art judged on its own terms. In fact, Solange, she of the famous Knowles family, is one of the few artists who has managed to accomplish the former. Her 2008 sophomore release, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, showcased her talent as a songwriter and vocalist, forcing the music world to acknowledge the brand she created sans papa or big sis. Her more recent True EP, released in 2012, found critical acclaim. Not just musician but trendsetter, Solange’s change of hairstyle in 2009 unintentionally made her a figure of the natural-hair movement. Opening tonight is lauded L.A. underground songwriter-vocalist Jhene Aiko. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Lina In L.A.
by Lina Lecaro

FUNK THE HOUSE AND EVITA

Hollywood continues to be the epicenter of the city’s dance music and nightlife scenes. While new hot spots like the Sound and the Emerson have been getting most of the attention lately, some mainstays continue to shine. Th e King King has become one of the boulevard’s best spaces to enjoy electronic music and turntable talents. DJ Dan is one of the best, and the local beatsmith, along with Adam Auburn, should attract a serious dance crowd at Funk the House on Saturday.

A few nights later, Eden, the space newly acquired by club superpower SBE when it purchased rival Syndicate Hospitality, promises drama, fashion and fi erceness. Andres Rigal and Luke Nero, who recently shut down their successful mixed/gay soiree, Mr. Black, at Bardot, are back with something grand and new: Evita. With a slew of fabulous co-hosts and DJ Josh Peace commanding the fl oor, this one promises to rule Tuesday nights in Hollywood.

KING KING | 6555 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. | Sat., Feb. 2., 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m. | facebook.com/events/560189894005131

EDEN | 1650 Schrader Ave., Hlywd. | Tues., Feb. 5, 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. | facebook.com/events/325808830871525
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