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Now that power metal is cool, veterans of the scene get to play decent-sized L.A. clubs — places that allow this pseudo-symphonic stuff to fully expand. Sonata Arctica consistently balance Homeric majesty with precise ax-ecution — it’s for the dudes who care more about melody than the tablatures in Guitar World. These fight-the-good-fight Finns have cranked out their brand of superpretty metal for nearly 10 years, but with their live CD/DVD For the Sake of Revenge you get the choicest anthems and better-than-average fantasy cover art. Nightwish, who a decade ago were playing Finnish folk abetted with synths, get even further from fret-board virtuosity by centering goth-pop bombast around operatic female vocals. Longtime fans consider the 2005 departure of original singer Tarja Turunen a lethal blow, but her less-song-bird-y replacement, Anette Olzon, probably better serves the music. If Nightwish doesn’t convince you the world has become a pagan idyll, they sure got the soundtrack down. (Andrew Lentz)
The Juan Maclean at El Rey Theatre
As the years slip by and their catalog fattens, DFA now signifies the appreciation and reinvention of dance music beyond the label/producers’ presumed sole stock in trade: disco. Sure, the late-’70s strut and clatter is their jump-off point and occasional default, but, as the recent effort from Hercules & Love Affair makes evident, DFA is just as keen on the throb, squiggle and clank of early techno and its manifold permutations. In this regard, the Juan Maclean is perhaps the DFA artist par excellence. Shifting shapes across his booming 2006 debut, Less Than Human, the former Six Finger Satellite guitarist proffered a crunchy blend of scrambled data, stenciled slogans, sour frequencies, gummy bass, clanging metals and squelched arpeggios. Synths squealed, cowbells thwacked and genre molds cracked. The sprawling new A-side “Happy House” finds him laying out an album’s worth of ideas and tonalities on a single track that proudly sways to the once verboten trope of piano stabs. In support of this delectable slab of cheese and in anticipation of sophomore release The Future Will Come, Maclean is touring with a four-piece band, so borrow a welder’s mask: Sparks will fly. (Bernardo Rondeau)
Also playing Saturday:
BRIAN WILSON at Hollywood Bowl; GO BETTY GO at Alex’s Bar; INARA GEORGE & VAN DYKE PARKS at Largo; KRISTIN HERSH’S SHADY CIRCLE at McCabe’s; CHUPACOBRA, LE SURGE,COSMETICATORS, THE CRYSTELLES, DONOVAN’S FAIRIES at Mr. T’s Bowl; VAINS OF JENNA at Paladino’s; MOTORCYCLE BOY at Redwood Bar & Grill; KOMMUNITY FK, FANGS ON FUR at the Roxy; AESOP ROCK, MIGHTY UNDERDOGS at the Troubadour; TOKIO HOTEL at Hollywood & Highland, 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
Common, N.E.R.D. at the Wiltern
Earlier this year, Common announced that he was set to release a new album called Invincible Summer — a club-based collaboration with the Neptunes and Mr. DJ (of OutKast’s crew) — in July. Then the record was pushed to the end of September. Now a rep from Common’s label, Geffen, says the album probably won’t be out till November or December, and it’ll arrive with a different title (Invincible Autumn, perhaps?). Not one to sit around and wait for the action to start — dude’s released two albums and appeared in four movies since 2005 — Common’s spending the next month touring North America with the Neptunes’ rock-band side project, N.E.R.D., softening the ground ahead of the CD’s eventual release. Tonight expect a set heavy on material from 2005’s Be and 2007’s Finding Forever, as well as “Announcement” and “Universal Mind Control,” new tracks currently available on iTunes. N.E.R.D.’s recent Seeing Sounds deserves an instrumentals-only edition. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Sunday:
JUDY COLLINS at Cerritos Center, 3 p.m.; OLMECA, EL VUH, SKOOL 77 at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 5 p.m.; MILEY CYRUS, JONAS BROTHERS at Gibson Amphitheatre, 5 p.m.; BRIAN WILSON at Hollywood Bowl, 7:30 p.m.; LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM at Royce Hall, UCLA; WILLIE HERRON, EDDIE AYALA, SID MEDINA at Eastside Luv; VAN HUNT at Temple Bar; AESOP ROCK, MIGHTY UNDERDOGS, YAK BALLZ at the Troubadour.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
Joan as Police Woman at Largo at the Coronet
For many years, Joan Wasser played second fiddle while playing her magic fiddle behind the stellar likes of Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and the Dambuilders, but she finally emerged from the shadows to reveal her long-simmering talents as a singer and songwriter on her excellent 2006 solo CD, Real Life. Her duets with Antony Hegarty and Joseph Arthur were soulfully moving, and her songs betrayed both an artful intelligence and a populist potential, so it was surprising that Wasser seemed so neurotic and uptight when she performed at Spaceland last year in September. Like a condescending substitute teacher, she criticized her initially worshipful fans for making too much noise, then complained later on that they were too quiet. Her vocals were brittle and erratic at first, but most of the crowd stuck by her until she eventually relaxed enough to wrap us foolish schoolchildren up in her nurturing, motherly wings. While her 2008 follow-up CD, To Survive, doesn’t quite match the dramatic peaks of Real Life, it’s still an engaging collection of thoughtful, soothingly mellow jazz-inflected ballads. This time around, let’s hope Wasser is more comfortable onstage. We want her to lead us, to tell us what to do — all she has to do is act like she’s been there before. (Falling James)