This Week’s L.A. Happenings: Crossroads Opens, Black Lips, AdultCon

NOW: Crossroads Opens On Melrose
Located in the space that once housed Dolce and Philippe Chow, the highbrow restaurant Crossroads woos the entertainment industry pack, so bring your headshot. Crossroads is designed by award-winning Studio Collective, so don’t be surprised to find a refined and inclusive space with luxury furnishings. Handcrafted chandeliers and an antique glasswork bar are highlights. Mediterranean small plates are complemented by chef-driven libations.

Crossroads (8284 Melrose Ave., W. Hollywood) is now open. For more information, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Black Lips At El Rey Theatre
A little bit of garage band, part punk rock, and something White Stripes-ish, the Black Lips are on the road with Beach Party and Night Beats. You may remember when Val Kilmer joined them onstage and did some crazy shit. In any case, their shows have a reputation to be wild, and they’ll be at El Ray Theatre.

Black Lips, Beach Party, and Night Beats perform at El Rey Theatre (5515 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown) on Thursday the 21st, 8pm. Tickets are $22. To find out more about El Rey, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

ALL WEEKEND: AdultCon At L.A. Convention Center
Get your frisky fix at AdultCon, happening all weekend long at the L.A. Convention Center. Tons of porn stars and exhibitors will be present to show their products and videos. Make room on your camera memory bank: people wait an entire year for this moment, but of course you and I are attending because we like the intelligent keynote speakers. Right.

AdultCon takes place Friday through Sunday, the 22nd to the 24th. For more information on the L.A. Convention Center (1201 S. Figueroa St., Downtown), visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

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Your Weekend Lounging Soundtrack: Ghetto Cross, ‘Still’

Atlanta indie-rock mainstays Deerhunter and Black Lips have toured together, made music together and even shared a social media space, as Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox occasionally guest tweets from Black Lips’ account (whose name is listed as "BlackLips+cox"). Now, Cox and Black Lips singer and guitarist Cole Alexander have revived their loud an’ fuzzy an’ psyched-out side project, Ghetto Cross, first heard in 2008 with the freaky "Dog Years." Ghetto Cross also features bassist Asha Lakra and drummer Frankie Broyles, formerly of another Atlanta band, Balkans. 

New Ghetto Cross track "Still" is a bit more relaxed and melodic than "Dog Years," a good track for lounging around to during these last few nice summer weekends. Even the weird spoken interlude in the middle — punctuated with an "I ain’t never comin’ home, motherfucker!" — just feels right. The band will perform live for the first time at Atlanta’s Club 529 on August 21st, a free show that will also feature appearances from Alexander and Cox’s other enterprises, Old King Cole Younger and Atlas Sound, respectively. 

Summer Music Reviews: Yacht, Bon Iver, Black Lips

Eleanor Friedberger, Last Summer (Merge) As the Fiery Furnaces, siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger have released nine albums of paranoid, scattershot rock. On the heels of their most recent LP, Take Me Round Again—in which they each separately covered songs they’d originally recorded together—Friedberger steps further into her own spotlight with an astounding solo debut.

Her pinpoint enunciation is immediately recognizable, yet dutifully enhanced with layered sonic arrangements. On the album’s lead single, “My Mistakes,” which features the sultriest sax solo since Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” Friedberger chants, “I’ve gotta live with my mistakes.” Going solo is not one of them. —Nadeska Alexis

Little Dragon, Ritual Union (Peacefrog/EMI) There are exactly two types of songs that play over every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The first: a soggy dirge that usually indicates death or a Seattle rainstorm. The second: a happier tune, willfully ignorant of the inevitable bus crash; Meredith is almost always simultaneously eating a bagel. Little Dragon, an electronic four-piece led by Swedish-Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano, used to rely on the former (“Twice,” which appeared on their self-titled debut album, was actually featured in an episode), but they now trade in the latter—and that’s a good thing. Although there’s no shortage of distortion on Ritual Union, the band’s third studio album, cacophony has been eschewed in favor of unabashed, R&B-tinged pop. Drop your hipster posturing, and you might actually hear a bit of Des’ree—yes, that Des’ree—in “Please Turn” and “Little Man.” (That’s also a good thing.) —Nick Haramis

John Maus, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (Ribbon) If electronica’s godmother Wendy Carlos and the Cure’s Robert Smith gave birth to their own music prodigy (we can dream, can’t we?), it would sound like John Maus. The Minnesota-based singer-songwriter has mastered the art of bizarro astropop, a style he revisits on his third album, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. Maus, an eccentric of the highest order, has built the perfect dichotomy between light-speed sound beams and gothic vocals, which he soaks in his preferred method of distortion: reverb. “Streetlight” is an airy ditty made for sun-baked afternoons, while “Cop Killer” might be something you’d find Travis Bickle listening to while dreaming up his next hit. —Hillary Weston

Liam Finn, FOMO (Yep Roc) After spending nearly three years on the road opening for acts like the Black Keys, Liam Finn returned to his native New Zealand in 2010, where he holed up in a secluded cottage and began crafting the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2008 debut, I’ll Be Lightning. Isolated, Finn took to social networking sites so that he could keep tabs on his friends—thus the album’s title, an acronym for Fear of Missing Out. The result is a breezy, bare-bones indie-rock compendium on which the singer-songwriter handles most of the instruments. Finn’s laid-back melodies are fairly uniform throughout the album, but there are exceptions: “The Struggle” quickens the pulse with metal basslines, while the brash “Don’t Even Know Your Name” crosses over into post-punk territory. —NA Yacht, Shangri-La (DFA) For Yacht’s second album with DFA Records, Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans fled to the Texan desert to record, for the first time, in a studio. While that meant ditching a sound engineer, the Portland-based disco-punk outfit managed to experiment with live instrumentation and hazy theories about Utopia, mysticism, and Yeasayer-style apoca-environmentalism. The result is Shangri-La, a pop record thrumming with clubby energy and underscored by some seriously keyed-up lyrics: “I’m here to tell you that the world’s last unpleasant experience will be a precisely datable event.”Signs might be pointing to the end of days, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t haul our butts onto the dancefloor. —Megan Conway

Bon Iver, Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar) Far from the fortress of solitude where Justin Vernon recorded his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver’s follow-up does what follow-ups should: it evolves. Bon Iver was recorded in an animal clinic Vernon turned into a studio in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, three miles from where he was raised. Vernon, who made a name for himself with his voice and a guitar (and, thanks to Kanye West, a vocoder), expands his repertoire to include a steel guitar, a saxophone, horns, and drums. The lyrics are lucid, and the imagery swells. In “Beth/Rest,” Vernon’s voice echoes with promise: “Said your love is known/ I’m standing up on it/ I ain’t living in the dark no more.” On Bon Iver, one thing is clear: this ain’t just for Emma anymore. —Eiseley Tauginas

Black Lips, Arabia Mountain (Vice) The Lips’ sixth studio album sounds like a bank heist. Produced by wunderkind Mark Ronson, Arabia Mountain’s genius is its simplicity; like getting robbed, the listener is slow to understand the gravity of what’s really going on. 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil was equally smash-and-grab, but their undiluted fuzzy doo-wop has been given the Ronson sheen this time out. “Modern Art” could be the soundtrack to an apocalyptic beach party, while “Go Out and Get it” is a raucous ode to summer, framed by the carefree lyrics: “Ice cream at the corner store/ You get two for just a dollar more.” We’re sold. —Ned Hepburn

Honolulu Guide: Top Chinatown Bars for Hipsters

Chinatown has always been the best place in Oahu to find trouble. In the 1940’s, when prostitution was legal in Honolulu, the majority of working girls resided in Chinatown, attracting hoards of soldiers in search of last-ditch diversions before shipping out. Aiding their search for companion vices, tattoo parlors and bars flourished in the area. After a recent neighborhood rejuvenation project, Chinatown has become the epicenter of Honolulu’s art scene, hosting “First Friday” art walks every month in the hopes of attracting the tourist population. Luckily, the neighborhood still has an undone feeling that attracts a younger crowd—Hawaiian hipsters, music lovers—that enjoys the seedy historic bars and crumbling warehouses. The locals liken it to NYC’s East Village in the 70’s and the 80’s, and while I say not quite, it’s still pretty great.

The promoter trend is big here. Hotspots change nightly and theme nights are big. Chinatown gets relatively packed during the monthly “First Friday” events, and promoters work overtime to lure newbies to their respective bars, plying them with drink specials and performances. Any other night can be hit or miss, but since nearly every bar has a story, there will always be a local bar fly or indulgent bartender around to share some local lore. Here are a few of my favorite Chinatown bars, which I stumbled upon while wandering through Chinatown with our Sailor Jerry crew and Atlanta rockers the Black Lips.

The Mercury Bar 1154 Fort Street Mall This swanky dive bar is a inconspicuous gem located in a back alley. It has a 70’s lounge vibe that’s punked up with local art hanging on the walls, a regular DJ, a small stage, and an equally intimate dance floor dotted with arty hipsters. It’s where we celebrated Sailor Jerry’s 100th Birthday, outfitted with an open bar of Sailor Jerry rum, a tight door, and a secret performance by the Black Lips. It was also where I found out that Honolulu kids don’t just stand around at shows, bopping their heads to the beat. They dance, jump around, throw beer, and crash into each other. Sounds scary, but it’s actually awesome. image The Mercury Bar in the middle of the Black Lips show. image Alley signage.

Smith’s Union Bar 19 N. Hotel St. Smith’s has been serving up cocktails since 1935 and is still a kitschy hit in town. Fat old men in Hawaiian shirts slump over the green bar during the early hours, and there’s a classic bartender that begrudgingly serves up beer, whiskey, and a can of pork and beans if you so please. Later on in the night a younger crowd swarms the place, favoring the classic rock juke and Hawaiin decor. It reminded our crew of Holiday Cocktail Lounge dressed in luau drag. image Ultra-modern sign for Smith’s. image At Smith’s, L to R: Inked Magazine‘s Rocky Rakovic, Ian Saint Pé and Cole Alexander from the Black Lips, and myself.

Thirtyninehotel 39 N. Hotel St. When it’s empty, this place is a Stanley Kubrick brand of odd. Inside it’s all club: white walls, sparse decor, red disco lights moving to the beat of weird trance music. Outside there’s a lovely rooftop terrace, where insider-y nightlife folk begin their night out. Later, when the place packs it in, the Kubrick-ness is diminished and dancing ensues. I was told that the space was the site for live sex shows back in the ’40’s, and they found an old archived permit dating back to the ’30’s for a carousel bar that oscillated while patrons sat drinking their mai tais. image

Indigo 1121 Nu’uanu Ave. Located next to the historical Hawaii Theater, this bar puts on the Ritz and somehow still manages to draw the hipsters. Swank martinis are served up with small plates like goat cheese wontons in a glowing green atmosphere. The secret lies within the stage: if you build it, they (the hipsters) will come. Apparently the music booker is great, curating shows with cutting edge local bands. image

Bar 35 35 N Hotel St. While Indigo lured hipsters with the stage, Bar 35 hooks them with their vast beer selection. With 100+ items on the brew menu, there are more specialty beers and micro-brews in this place than one little island can handle. Throw in comfy counches, organic pizza, and jazz-themed bar, and you’ve got Alligator Lounge for sunnier days. image

Main Photo: The Black Lips at Mercury Bar by Tracy Chan