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NICOLE SIMONE AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
Nicole Simone is a promising local singer whose mellow cabaret tunes are infused with traces of Tom Waits' junkyard artiness. While there are so many other modern divas who also attempt to incorporate Waits' bohemian affectations into their pure-pop songs — Eleni Mandell and Jesca Hoop readily come to mind — Simone manages to retain enough of her own personality to make things interesting. On her new self-titled EP, she coos lightly jazzy ballads in an intimate whisper. "I've got to save the world," she announces in a fragile voice, pausing dramatically before adding, "from loving you." While her breathy delivery can get repetitive, Simone really does sound haunting on "Haunt You," where she slyly wraps her vocals around Stewart Cole's languid trumpet line. Members of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and John Cale's and Dwight Yoakam's groups, as well as guest drummer/actor Jason Schwartzman, provide sympathetic support without overpowering the singer's delicate phrasing. (Falling James)
DARK DARK DARK AT ORIGAMI VINYL
For all of its amassed instrumental might, the Minneapolis sextet known as Dark Dark Dark would be plenty formidable were it merely the alias of lead singer and pianist Nona Marie Invie. Her voice — rich, with just a dash of quaver — sounds like it was crafted by divine means in order to sing the kind of blues that Woodie Guthrie once did so well. That's not to say the band's name should be taken entirely literally (they have a song titled "Bright Bright Bright," after all). Though their music tends toward a more melancholy tone, its lushness connotes the sort of organic beauty that instantly dispels the maudlin in favor of something living and vibrant. So while a chorus of troubled voices wail under Invie's mournful croon, accordion, banjo, cello, bass and trumpet twist their brambles around the entire funeral march and push a song like "Something for Myself" into the heavens. A new album, Wild Go, is due out in October. (Chris Martins)
Also playing Monday: TWILIGHT SLEEP at Silverlake Lounge; WHITE ARROWS at Spaceland; TIM FINN at the Troubadour; UNKLE MONKEY at the Waterfront.
CIRCA SURVIVE AT THE BOOTLEG THEATER
These Pennsylvania emo-prog dudes recently completed a stint as Coheed and Cambria's opening act and will hook up with Deftones for a run following this headlining L.A. date. But Circa Survive definitely deserve their own look: On Blue Sky Noise, the band's major-label debut (which came out in April), frontman Anthony Green layers his yearning little-boy vocals over knotty, complex arrangements that inspire equal parts headbanging and fist-pumping. Like Coheed and Deftones (and Tool, whose sometime-producer David Bottrill helmed Blue Sky Noise), Circa Survive exist within a complicated world of their own devising: It's probably worth noting that the new album's cover, for instance, depicts a Pegasus with a rainbow where its head should be. Yet Green's singing provides a route into the music that personalizes it in an uncommon way. Good stuff. (Mikael Wood)
Also playing Tuesday: MICHAEL MCDONALD at Coach House; TUESDAY CLASSICS: LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC WITH GUSTAVO DUDAMEL, GABRIELA MONTERO at the Hollywood Bowl; THE RICHARD GLASER JAZZ BAND at the Waterfront.
EL-P AT THE AIRLINER
As indie-rap's resident eardrum-smasher, Brooklyn producer El-P, aka Jaime Meline, has carved out a musical corner all his own by reinventing the explosive boom-bap of Public Enemy for the digital age. Though he's an excellent rapper as well — with a frantic, word-crammed style that relies less upon rhyme than it does the brute force of consonance — El's greatest gifts to music may wind up being his inimitable soundscapes. Early indie-rap adopters were first wowed by his work with '90s crew Company Flow, but his flair for the dense and dramatic evolved into something far more dangerous just as the record label that he founded in 1999, Definitive Jux, came into its own. He produced the entirety of Cannibal Ox's revered 2001 album The Cold Vein, and followed that up with a solo debut, Fantastic Damage, that was everything its name suggests. I'll Sleep When You're Dead (2007) found him diving deeper into Orwellian imagery and self-loathing — an intense experience for the artist, presumably, as his last two releases have been heavy-duty instrumental mixes (the Weareallgoingtoburninhellseries) — which he'll be re-creating live here at Low End. (Chris Martins)