Rodrigo y Gabriela Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero are both of Mexican descent, but their rising international fame is emanating from their base in Ireland, where the duo’s self-titled album debuted at Number 1, besting both Arctic Monkeys and Johnny Cash. What makes that feat even more remarkable is that they’ve done so performing a brand of instrumental guitar music that mixes rhythmic flamenco and Latin folk styles with the nimble-fingered fret-climbing of metal and classic rock. Watching them perform — both seated in chairs, clutching classical acoustic guitars — is a jaw-dropping exercise in simplicity and virtuosity rolled together simultaneously. It’s no wonder they’ve been able to win over audiences across the globe, endearing themselves to hipsters and casual music listeners alike, while also attracting the attention of sonic luminaries such as producer John Leckie (Radiohead, My Morning Jacket) who anchored the boards on their first record. The up-and-coming pair perform at the Troubadour on Jan. 26, following an appearance on The Tonight Show.
~ WORTH THE DRIVE ~
Deerhoof Coming out of San Francisco, indie rock trio Deerhoof’s music is a challenging, hard-to-grasp but ultimately rewarding fusion of sweet melodies, bracing noise and oddball rhythms. Spawned from the minds of guitarist Rob Fisk and drummer Greg Saunier, the band formed in the mid-90s, brandishing a neo-no-wave sound. It wasn’t until singer-bassist Satomi Matsuzaki arrived, however, that the group’s signature style began to burble to the top. Fisk left in 1999 and was later replaced by John Dietrich, who performed on a 7-inch containing a cover of the Shaggs’ cult favorite “My Pal Foot Foot,” which perfectly sums up the band’s quirky aesthetic. With their full length releases Reveille, Apple O’, Milk Man and the most recent Runners Four, Deerhoof has ascended to the top ranks of the indie world. They perform at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on Jan. 24.
El Rey Theater, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 936-6400
WORTH THE DRIVE
Reverend Horton Heat At some point in the indeterminate past, James C. Heath witnessed a performance by shock-rockabilly provocateurs the Cramps. It was a revelatory moment for the young Texan, who up until then listened mainly to his parent’s Glenn Miller records. It made him realize that punk was essentially the original spirit of rock’n’roll reborn. With that epiphany, the seed was planted. Within the next few years, Heath transformed himself into Reverend Horton Heat, a man of the cloth — or rather, the deep red leisure suit — preaching the virtues of booze, women, drugs and, of course, rock’n’roll. Sermonizing his dogma of guilt-free excess through one of the most ferociously loud groups to ever bastardize American roots music, Heath, along with upright slap bassist Jimbo Wallace and a rotating cast of drummers has amassed a cult of tattooed, pompadour-sporting devotees. But the Rev has never been about simple revivalism: It’s about recasting mid-20th century Americana as the wildest music imaginable. And when Heath tears into the fretboard of his vintage Gretsch guitar, it’s difficult to conceive anything more unrestrained. See one of the best live bands on earth preach their stuff at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Jan. 17.
~WORTH THE DRIVE~
LADY SOVEREIGN Resist the temptation to call Lady Sovereign the female Eminem. If anything, she’s the white Bushwick Bill, a pocket-sized emcee who makes up for her diminutive stature with a large-scale personality. Already an underground star in the UK grime scene, the 19-year-old Londoner has arrived stateside bearing seals of approval from both Jay-Z and the Beastie Boys. She has the Bizarro World flow of M.I.A. and rhymes in a street patois that’s nearly as indecipherable. Over tweeter-frying booty bass, electro bloops and bleeps, the former Louise Harmon unleashes a whirlwind of smart-alecky wisecracks, clowning on everybody from J. Lo to Chingy to herself. What she’s saying, however, doesn’t matter as much as how she’s saying it. She has everything it takes to break through the mainstream glass ceiling, and with the recent success of her debut long-player Public Warning, she appears to have already done so. Catch the shards when the S-O-V performs at the El Rey Theater on Jan. 10.