Often identified as an L.A. hipster, singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell, an actual protégée of Chuck E. Weiss (of "Chuck E's in Love" fame), has spent the past decade plying a curious blend of noir, pop, cool jazz, and alt-rock, along with the odd foray into classic country of the Loretta Lynn ilk. Armed with a supple voice that can languorously peel through layers of sultriness set adrift in ice fog, Mandell has tended toward sparse arrangements rife with dark portent, lyrics full of poetic irony as if scrawled with lipstick on a broken mirror. All of that is intact on her new album, Artificial Fire, but the torch she usually wields burns with far greater intensity, the flame periodically fueled by careening rock 'n' roll ignited by the ferocious, ringing licks of guitarist Jeremy Drake. Mandell's songs are all about lust, love, and dissolution, coyly working the angles, while she sidles through a Bacharach-like perfect pop pastiche on "Right Side" or dangles from a jagged precipice etched by Drake's raging, off-kilter guitar on the title track. With Daniel Martin Moore. All ages.
Fri., March 27, 7 p.m., 2009