tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus has always seemed outright phobic of sounding like anyone else, mangling her elastic voice, drums loops and kitchen-sink instrumentation into a cartoonish assembling of sounds that only slightly resembles other indie pop of its ilk. “On the one hand, there is what sounds good, on the other there is what’s true,” she sings on the relatively low-key “Look Around,” as if addressing any criticisms of her music head-on. However, Nikki Nack's strength comes from Garbus' ability to wrangle her wild ideas into instantly memorable pop songs that are still nonetheless really effing strange. Whether she’s inventing new hopscotch cheers with Busta Rhymes references on “Water Fountain,” skipping along cabaret-jazz vibes on “Real Thing” or creating alien freestyle jams like “Sink-O” and “Wait for a Minute,” Garbus remains definitely tuned to her own frequency. However, these songs are as rife with hooks as they are loaded with tangents and unstoppable energy. The songs that aren’t as concerned with rule-breaking on Nikki Nack are almost more striking in that they reveal the power of Garbus’ incredible voice and her ability to make even a seemingly straightforward song hauntingly unusual, as on songs like “Time of Dark,” which reveal themselves to be highlights upon repeated listens. tUnE-yArDs still isn’t for everyone—there’s a childlike reading called “Why Do We Dine on the Tots?” that’s a bit of groan-worthy performance art—but listeners who may have shied away from tUnE-yArDs bizzaro pop in the past will find lots to feast on here, as Nikki Nack is always more intriguing than off-putting in its otherness. Listening requires plenty of trust, but Garbus makes falling down the rabbit hole with her well worth it on Nikki Nack.
Festival season continues with a new one called Deserted At The Palms, happening at The Palms bar May 17 out in Wonder Valley.
Where's that, you might ask? You may have heard of Pappy and Harriet's over in Pioneertown and the suddenly hip town of Joshua Tree, but just past those places, off Highway 62, is the even more remote Wonder Valley, home to the surreal Palms bar. It's a dusty, friendly saloon with an outdoor stage owned and run by the band The Sibleys, who also play at every show at the bar.
|Thee Oh Sees|
Sound cool? You haven't even heard what bands will be playing yet. It's a doozy of a lineup—prolific Bay Area garage rockers Thee Oh Sees; Welsh songstress Cate le Bon, who just graced our own little stage; lo-fi greats White Fence; surrealist pop duo Prince Rama; dark disco diva Nite Jewel; jangle-pop maestros Dream Boys; minimal wave lady Geneva Jacuzzi, who will DJ at Amoeba Hollywood May 30 at 8 p.m.; wild folk band Bloody Death Skull; and so much more, including Chrome Canyon, Rainbow Arabia, Amanda Jo Williams, Hott MT, Alex Lilly, Gun Outfit, Sex Stains and, of course, The Sibleys. The show is put on by L.A. Record's Daiana Feuer and Jessica Espeleta, the latter of whom will be DJing here Friday May 23 at 8 p.m.
Cate le Bon’s songs have a ragged glory, spare, yet intricate and propulsive like Television and Patti Smith Group before her, with a world-weary soul cutting through via le Bon’s swooping vocals. Backed by her sturdy, three-piece band, they launched into the clockwork shuffle of “No God,” from her most recent release, 2013’s excellent Mug Museum, at Amoeba Hollywood April 30.
Le Bon shifted gears from icy to sultry for single “Are You With Me Now,” which has the feel of a classic reggae ballad covered by a CBGBs band. The set picked up for album opener “I Can’t Help You,” its interlocking post-punk guitars and le Bon's sultry voice moving into a snarling chorus while le Bon's nimble-fingered guitarist doubled as keyboardist, playing jaunty synth organ to balance the songs jagged edges. They got playful for “Duke,” a song whose singsongy melody ends in a banshee wail from le Bon.
Her set moved from le Bon’s most immediate songs to some of her most challenging ones. “Sisters” started harmlessly enough with an upbeat jangle but ended in atonal guitar jabs and a ping-ponging bassline. “Wild,” Mug Museum’s heaviest rocker, saw some of le Bon’s wildest guitar playing as the song ended in a krautrock freakout. And for anyone not new to the le Bon fold, she pulled out Cyrk’s “Fold the Cloth,” its ornate arrangement balancing Mug Museum’s directness and ending things with eerie harmonies and spurts of carefully orchestrated guitar noise.
Amoeba Hollywood is holding its next Sidewalk Sale May 10 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Just outside the store on Sunset Blvd., we’ll have deals including:
-Comic books at four for $1
-DVDs for $3, or buy three get one free (excluding DVD box sets)
-DVD box sets at $7, or two for $10
-Blu-ray Discs at three for $12
-Classical CD bargains
We know its already getting hot out there. That's why we've partnered with Hubert's Lemonade to keep you hydrated while you're outside.
See y’all there!
Thee Tee Pees – “Indian Bingo”
Thee Tee Pees don’t have time for your fancy studios and multitracking. But they do have time to record “Indian Bingo” 20 times (if you believe the guy shouting “take 20!”) at the beginning of “Indian Bingo” just to get that perfect balance of slop and fury. The L.A. garage-punk band releases its self-titled debut in late May via Manglor, and it’s already sounding like the party rock record of the summer.
Pillar Point – “Cherry” (Music Go Music remix)
How did I miss fawning over the Bay Area’s Pillar Point (aka Scott Reitherman) and his excellent, recently released self-titled dream-R&B album? I’m a dum dum. At least I had the wherewithal to be on it for this remix of “Cherry,” which strips some of the gauzy texture from the original and adds a funk shuffle that makes it into an absolute jam. Known mainly for his work with Throw Me the Statue, Pillar Point is someone we’re gonna have to watch from here on out. He’s at L.A.’s Echoplex May 5 and S.F.’s Elbo Room May 6. Listen to the original “Cherry” here; watch the video for the gorgeous “Dreamin’” here.