New York’s French Kicks formed in 1998 after three-fourths of its members left Washington, D.C. for Brooklyn. Upon departing the nation’s capitol, the trio of friends — singer-guitarist Matt Stinchcomb, bassist Jamie Krents and singer-drummer Nick Stumpf — also ditched the aggressive hardcore punk the city is famous for and that they played as teenagers. Hooking up with guitarist Josh Wise in the Big Apple, the band’s focus became Brit-influenced melodies with a dash of jagged post-punk tossed into the mix. The group attracted the attention of American indie label Startime International, as well as UK imprint Poptones, the latest venture for legendary Creation Records founder Alan McGhee. One Time Bells, their debut, dropped in 2002, with The Trial of the Century following two years later. With 2006’s Two Thousand, the band fine-tuned its sound into a more pop-oriented machine, developing a cult following that has already outlasted the garage rock revival of the early millennium. French Kicks perform at the Troubadour in Hollywood on Feb. 28.
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Los Amigos Invisibles To put it simply, Los Amigos Invisibles are a dance band. More accurately, though, they’re a space-age fusion of soul-raising grooves from across the globe. Formed in Venezuela, the sextet was deeply immersed in the club culture of their hometown of Caracas before being discovered by rhythm junkie David Byrne, who signed them to his Luaka Bop label in 1997. The group introduced themselves to a worldwide audience via their international debut, The New Sound of the Venezuelan Gozadera, a record that blended chilled-out lounge vibes with irresistibly funky tracks, a tinge of Latin flavor and not-so-subtle sexual come-ons. Over their next three albums, the band continued to expand its palette, exploring house, disco, salsa, funk, acid jazz and pop — anything that gets feet moving uncontrollably. Watch as the Houses of Blues in Hollywood and Anaheim both get transformed into the world’s hottest dance floors when Los Amigos Invisibles appear on Feb. 15 and 16, respectively.
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Miho Hatori Miho Hatoriâ€™s love of music began with the songs of the frogs and cicadas she heard in the rice fields and pear farms surrounding her childhood home in Tokyo. As she got older, Hatori absorbed everything from bossa nova to the noisy skronk of the Boredoms. Moving to New York in the early â€™90s, Hatori connected with East Village bohos and artists and eventually formed a punk band in which she was the lead screecher. But it wasnâ€™t until she met Yuka Honda and formed the group Cibo Matto that the music world truly began to pay attention to her. The band was one of the most hailed alternative acts of the 90s, but broke up not long after the dawn of the new millennium. Hatori has stayed busy, however, collaborating with guitarist Smokey Hormel as well as Gorillaz, and last year released her stateside solo debut Ecdysis. A vibrant potpourri of sounds, the record is a dreamy mishmash of pop, electronica and various international genres, all maintaining a quirky vibe that has become Hatoriâ€™s trademark. She performs at the Troubadour in Hollywood on Feb. 10.
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Peter Bjorn & John Indie anthems don’t come along as frequently as stadium or summer anthems, but Swedish trio Peter Bjorn & John scored one last year with “Young Folks,” a groovy, bongo-and-maracas infused gem driven by a whistled melody you cannot escape once it catches you. But the song is just one of 11 similarly infectious ditties featured on the group’s third album, Writer’s Block. In fact, the band has been churning out classic pop tunes ever since forming in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1999. Rather than indulge in the hyperactive garage rock of their fellow countrymen the Hives and the Hellacopters, the band is more interested in 1960s songcraft, getting lumped in with more refined Swedes such as the Shout Out Louds and the Concretes. But with more and more hipsters whistling along to “Young Folks,” the band is poised to transcend their peers altogether. Peter, Bjorn and John all perform at the Roxy in Hollywood on Feb. 1.