A few facts about MICKEY AVALON: He’s been a drug addict. He Lived on the streets. He may have prostituted himself. Now he raps, hangs out with Simon Rex and calls himself “the kosher salami.” It may seem like self-mythology, but as far as anyone can tell, Avalon’s lyrics about bisexual street hustling are autobiographical. And they’re pretty funny, too. But not because the dude is white and tattooed and stringy-haired and looks nothing like any rapper whose ever dared pick up a mic. If you laugh at him, it’s intentional. Otherwise, the dude has skills. Well, for a skinny tattooed stringy-haired white dude, at least. And hey, he got Wayne Kramer of the MC5 to drop some guitar on his album. That counts for something. Label it ironic hipster camp if you must — chances are you’re just a hater. And if you hate enough not to spend New Year’s Eve at Avalon’s Roxy performance, then you’re just plain stupid. It’s gonna be the party of the year, biotch.
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QUETZAL Since 1994, Los Angeles-based ensemble Quetzal has been carrying the torch of boundless Chicano-American fusion. Taking the traditional — son jarocho, cumbia, other variations of Latin American folk — and grafting it to the modern — rock, R&B, soul, jazz — the group is following in the great lineage of fellow L.A. mavericks Los Lobos, but leaping a step even further. The band is named after its talented founder Quetzal Flores, but its heart is singer Martha Gonzales, whose voice translates all the joy and pain of the working class citizens they represent. But Quetzal isn’t just about potent political and social messages: Above all, they’re about the groove, and few groups in the SoCal scene can bring it as deep and undeniably funky. Quetzal performs at the Echo on Dec. 23.
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THE BLOOD ARM Rumor (and the band’s bio) has it that Blood Arm singer Nathaniel Fregoso discovered his voice as a child after climbing the flagpole outside his elementary school and yelling, “Do I have your attention now?” The bio also says he is a triplet and that his mother took to wearing hoop skirts made of chicken wire to keep him from climbing up her body for feeding as an infant, so take that with a grain of salt. But that story, true or not, does give an idea of where these L.A. undergrounders are coming from. Twenty years after the alleged flagpole incident, Fregoso met guitarist Zebastian Carlisle, and the two decided to combine their talents. Inspired by the likes of Love, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones, the Blood Arm leapt into the Los Angeles club circuit and immediately caught the attention of area tastemakers. The band has since toured with Franz Ferdinand and the Killers, earned kudos from Entertainment Weekly and nailed a radio hit in the UK with 2005’s “Do I Have Your Attention?” — no doubt a reference to the phrase that started it all. Supposedly. With their new album Lie Lover Lie making waves locally and abroad, it won’t be long before they climb out of the SoCal scene for good, so catch ’em while you can, at the Echo on Dec. 15.
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PEACHES Everyone’s favorite electroclash nymphomaniac is back! Peaches, the alter-ego of Canadian elementary school teacher Merrill Nisker, spouts heavily sexed-up, gender-bending pseudo-raps over equally nasty beats. Over the course of three thumping albums — The Teaches of Peaches, Fatherfucker and this year’s Impeach My Bush — the woman has turned nastiness into an artform while altering the discussion of sexual politics in the underground music world. She’s commandeered Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” had a back-and-forth with Iggy Pop and reclaimed frank talk about bedroom boogieing from R&B lovermen and crass metalhead cheeseballs — proving, if nothing else, that women can be just as crass (and funky) as dudes. Peaches sleazes up the Avalon in Hollywood on Dec. 13.