Before highlighting shows from the final full week of August, I wanted to talk about the bands I saw this past Tuesday at Room 5. The local outfit Loch & Key opened the show with a short but alluring set drawn from their debut Jupiter’s Guide For Submariners. Frontwoman Leyla Akdogan has a very cool, somewhat Deborah Harry-gone-Euro chanteuse quality to her. Most of their songs project an interesting SoCal “chanson” quality sparked by the interplay between Akdogan singing and guitarist Sean Hoffman’s quiet but nimble playing. A little stiff as a performer, Akdogan acknowledged that she does need to work on her stage presence.
I wasn’t familiar with the local band The Minor Canon, who played next, but came away impressed with their enthusiastic performance. They reminded me of one of those bands you’d see in a ‘60s “youth movie” with their soul-fueled rock ‘n’ roll, only a step or two up in quality.
The headliner was the Grownup Noise and they definitely have stepped things up.
Their set displayed a tougher, rockier sound that they have shown on disc, which is undoubtedly due to the unavailability of their cellist Katie French for this tour. As a compact unit of guitar, bass, keys and drums, they churned out an invigorating 9 song set plus an encore that slightly rearranged their terrific tune, Grey Skies. Frontman Paul Hansen has a warmer, softer voice than you’d expect from his lumberjack size. It’s sorta like a young James Taylor fronting an indie rock outfit like a stripped down Arcade Fire. This Massachusetts-based band serves up melancholic tunes with just enough edge and hooks to make for compelling music.
This week’s recommend shows start off Monday with Austin singer/songwriter Bettysoo (www.myspace.com/bettysoo) at Genghis Cohen. I’m rather smitten with her new disc Heat Sin Water Skin, which serves up Lucinda-style, gritty Texas tunes.
Another tough, twangy lady, Manda Mosher (www.myspace.com/myspacemanda) has a show on Tuesday night at the Hotel Café where she is celebrating the release of her new EP City of Clowns. I reviewed her impressive debut Everything You Need for All Music Guide a year or so ago.
On Wednesday night, you can squeeze into Amoeba to catch a free set for local heroes Los Lobos, who have another fine release Tin Can Trust now out on Shout! Factory.
Then you have either try to see the legendary Jimmy Webb at Largo or Oscar winning upstart Ryan Bingham (www.myspace.com/ryanbingham) at the Bootleg Theatre. I’ll be reviewing Bingham’s new disc Junky Star for Country Standard Time.
Thursday night you can head down to Long Beach’s Queen Mary Park for a “sounds-too-good-to-be-true” pairing of Lucinda Williams with Chrissie Hynde, who is on tour with her new project, JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys.
Also, on the 26th, the marvelous guitarist John Jorgenson (www.johnjorgenson.com) will be doing a free performance in front of the Culver City City Hall. He also has a show on the 28th at Boulevard Music. The one-time Desert Rose Band member recently released a pair of terrific Django Reinhardt-inspired disc.
McCabe’s offers a pair of excellent shows this week featuring musicians who came to prominence in the ‘90s. Mark Olson (www.myspace.com/markolsonmusic) helped to usher in the alt.country scene as co-leader of the Jayhawks. Still making vital music as his 2010 disc Many Colored Kite reveals, Olson will be playing McCabe’s on Friday night. The following night Matthew Sweet has a show there. His 1991 album Girlfriend remains one of the decade’s best disc. Over the last few years, he has been collaborating with Susannah Hoffs on covers discs, so it will be interesting to see what he offers up tonight.
Also on Saturday, Cyndi Lauper will be at the Greek. While she has a new blues-based disc, this show is notable because New Orleans icon Allen Toussaint is sharing the stage with her.