Ludicra-ous 

Morbid cynicism, anyone?

Sat 1/7

There's something about the appeal of black metal that no other musical genre can match. Its obscure practitioners often possess the cultlike obsession of record collectors, a trait usually only seen in rare jazz circles. But while both genres share mathematically intellectual musicianship, you don't have to be a snob to worship the gods of rock. Anyone with a head to bang and a tolerance for loud noise can get in on the groove and dig the morbid cynicism of death-transfixed black-metal bands.

In the '90s, all the cool Berkeley kids were toting Nordic black metal samplers, and even my secretary mom back in suburbia was rocking awake every morning to Cannibal Corpse -- something that drove me insane when her alarm went off across the hall and the house was filled with growling vocals and blitzkrieg percussion at 5 a.m. Some folks say the craze has since died down, but with stellar recordings by newer bands like Ludicra, we may be in store for a whole new wave of dark and unsettling rock.

Ludicra's newest album, Another Great Love Song, sees the band on San Francisco's eclectic Alternative Tentacles label, which heralds the coed five-piece as the latest big thing to come along in hard-rock circles since Neurosis or Dead and Gone. Like those other bands, Ludicra's mostly unintelligible lyrics also eschew the silliness of the standard magicians-and-zombies subject matter in favor of describing the brutality of modern reality. And seeing how the band's songwriting travels beyond the confines of genres to include intriguing psychedelic elements, solid beats, and heavy harmonies, such claims might very well be true.

See for yourself this Friday when Ludicra headlines 924 Gilman Street with Voetsek, John the Baker, and the Malnourished. Past flyers for the band's shows at Gilman have declared "no booze, drugs, or hipster crusties," so we suggest leaving your forty-ouncers, roaches, and white belts at home this time. -- Amrah Johnson

1/7-1/10

Lit Happens

All Teens Aloud

Santa didn't bring you that Borders gift certificate you wanted? Get thee hence, then, to the Friends of the Danville Library Book Sale, where dollars stretch like the elastic in Falstaff's pants. The sale runs throughout the weekend; Sunday is bargain day: three bucks for all the books you can fit into a bag (Fri., 10 a.m.-Sun., 3 p.m.). ... Calling all young hams and budding Toastmasters: Lafayette Library's Read Aloud Club meets today in the Teen Room and welcomes new teen members. No tryouts, no enrollments, no competition; just join the clan and belt it out (Fri., 3:30 p.m.). ... Assessing the Vietnam War's legacy through poetics, members of Maxine Hong Kingston's Veterans' Writers Group read their work at the Oakland Museum as do Rafael Jesús Gonzalez, Le Pham Le, and Lambda Award-winning activist Jewelle Gomez, author of The Lipstick Papers and Oral Tradition (Fri., 7 p.m.). ... Ring in the new year alliteratively and onomatopoeically at Cody's Telegraph, where Poetry Flash magazine presents a reading by freely versifying Parking Lot Mood Swing author Doren Robbins, Persian-born medical documentarist and The Scar Saloon author Sholeh Wolpe, and veteran LA wordsmith Cecilia Woloch, author of Late (Sun., 7:30 p.m.). ... In Mrs. Pargeter's Plot by Simon Brett, a corpse found during the construction of a wine cellar sparks a bit of sleuthing -- but in a bloodless, cozy way. Hash it out with the Concord Mystery Book Club at Concord Branch Library (Sun., 2:30 p.m.). ... Be among the last to tackle Berkeley Pulitzerian Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay at this month's meeting of the Pinole Library Book Club. Already read it? Then you're ahead of the game (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... Record-breaking musher and Alone Across the Arctic author Pam Flowers shares slides and stories from her 2,500-mile solo expedition from Barrow, Alaska to Repulse Bay, Canada -- the longest solo dogsled trek by a woman in recorded history, and the first solo by a woman and the first by an American over this route. Chill out with Flowers at the Pinole Library (Mon., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

Thu 1/6

Mr. & Mr. & Mr. Jordan

The band Frank Jordan -- comprised of three men named neither Frank nor Jordan -- first hooked up in 1994, and have been together ever since. That's ten years in one band, so if these guys act a little weird around each other when they play the Starry Plough this week, forgive them. Even if you're crafting the kind of dark, jangly pop Frank Jordan does so well -- think Squeeze with a fuzzy synth hangover and big boots -- being in a band is still like being in a polyamorous marriage, and these guys probably have some codependencies you don't even wanna know about. Still, the Sacramento outfit's third release -- on Modesto-based Devil in the Woods -- exhibits an ear for drone and jangle and a knack for a hook that can only come from finishing your bandmates' sentences and knowing his or her parents' first names. Appearing with Carter Tanton and the Proles. 9:30 show, $5 cover. 510-841-2082, StarryPloughPub.com -- Stefanie Kalem

Tue 1/11

London Bridges Oakland Town

Kicking off the Dream

La Toya London may have lost out to Fantasia Barrino in the final rounds of this year's American Idol, but she'll always be Oakland's own (and she's certainly better than Berkeley's own, William Hung). London, recently signed to Peak Records, will show off her civic pride when she helps kick off Oakland Celebrates the Dream, a week of historic tours, potluck parties, panel discussions, performances, and many other events presented by the city. Tuesday's opening event, in Frank Ogawa Plaza (14th Street at Broadway), will start at 11 a.m. and will feature a keynote address by retired Congressman Ronald V. Dellums and musical performances by London and Bishop Walter Hawkins, the Dove award-winning director of the Love Center Choir. While you're there, you can also check out a resource fair with information on volunteer opportunities, community events, and more. If it rains, the whole shebang will be moved to the Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St. Info and full schedule: 510-444-CITY or OaklandNet.com/celebrations. -- Stefanie Kalem

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