Viza's association with System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian (the band is signed to Tankian's management company, and he guested on Viza's Made in Chernobyl album) serves their visibility well but almost does their sound a disservice. See, while this nine-membered, multi-ethnic L.A. crew certainly intermingles rock and traditional Armenian influences a la SOAD, they shun that band's chunky metal chassis and plunder a broader stylistic palette, including fluttering Russian and Greek folk and dexterous Middle Eastern rhythms. As its name suggests, last year's Chernobyl is an Eastern Bloc party both lyrically and musically, and there's every hint that imminent newbie Carnivalia will continue Viza's rare ability to sound simultaneously knee-slappin' and hand-wringin', somber yet sanguine. —Paul Rogers
Big Sean, Cyhi The Prynce
As rappers continue flexing their label-owning guns, Kanye West has made a similarly palpable push behind his own imprint, G.O.O.D. Music, to which both these middle-of-the-road MCs are signed. Big Sean, a Detroit native who caught West's attention at a radio station back in 2005, and often sounds as if he's doing his best Kanye imitation, arrives behind a slew of mixtapes and this year's pop-centric debut, Finally Famous: The Album. His labelmate, Atlanta's Cyhi The Prynce, of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's "So Appalled" notoriety, is one step behind Sean, having released six mixtapes but no proper debut. Both rappers' overarching motto of mimicry is best summed up on the oft-repeated line in Kanye's "Blame Game": "Yeezy taught me." —Dan Hyman
Esa-Pekka Salonen Conducts Beethoven, Hillborg
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
The L.A. Phil, the Master Chorale and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen should prove a fittingly powerful alliance in these interpretations of new and old works, which expand the classical tradition in subtle and surprising ways. Soprano stars Anne Sofie von Otter and Hila Plitman join forces in Beethoven's bold "Leonore Overture No. 2" from his only opera, Fidelio, a knottily structured piece that brazenly broke with traditional symphonic forms of its time; so did Ludwig van's brashly drawn and very Mozartian Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring pianist Emanuel Ax. The world premiere of Swedish experimentalist-traditionalist Anders Hillborg's Sirens, inspired by Homer's The Odyssey, promises an eclectically orchestrated work by a master of orchestral color of tone. And who better to guide us through these finely shaded and (very important) rhythmically robust works than Salonen? Also Sat. and Sun. —John Payne
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE, BROWN BIRD at House of Blues; HIVE MIND at Vacation Vinyl; CHRIS ISAAK at Fred Kavli Theatre; MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER at Pantages; MARK SULTAN at Alex's Bar; FISHBONE at Brixton South Bay; THE AMADANS at the Redwood Bar & Grill.
Morrissey, Kristeen Young
Long before he was deified by his fans as an inapproachable and infallible rock god, Steven Patrick Morrissey was one of pop's more insightful poets. The dilemma for such a working poet is how to remain creative and relevant while defying the deification process and batting down the mundane expectations of people who want him to re-create the ephemeral glories of his old band, the Smiths. "I'm doing very well," Morrissey sang on his 2009 album, Years of Refusal. "I can black out the present and the past now." He acknowledged his past earlier this year with the release of Very Best of Morrissey, but he also hinted at the future, debuting three intriguing songs on the BBC: "Action Is My Middle Name," "The Kid's a Looker" and "People Are the Same Everywhere." Mentor/tormentor Morrissey likely will be challenged tonight by the presence of his provocative protégée, Kristeen Young, who contrasts the clockwork intensity of her madcap synth-pop fever dreams with a refreshingly self-deprecating and cheeky onstage persona. Also at the Fox Theater Pomona, Mon. —Falling James
Jim Wilson & Daniel Lanois
Longtime local musician Jim Wilson has been seen most recently playing bass in Daniel Lanois' crazy-great psych-soul outfit Black Dub. (Seriously, their El Rey gig earlier this year? One of the few times in my professional show-going life that I've ever wanted a band to jam some more.) Tonight Wilson celebrates the release of his self-titled solo album, and though it's rarely as thrilling as Black Dub's 2010 debut, Jim Wilson definitely has its moments: "Cry Now (Pay Later)" is a weirdly touching ballad with input by Ron and Russell Mael of L.A.'s Sparks, while "Honest Mistake" strikes a trippy cosmic-Americana note. The latter, FYI, features Lanois, who'll sit in with Wilson for this show. —Mikael Wood
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME at House of Blues; PLAID at El Rey Theatre; TERRY TROTTER TRIO at Vitello's.
The ultimate adrenaline band, the Tokyo-based noise rock trio has been specializing in full-on sonic floggings for nearly two decades. Melt-Banana is one of those bands that can't be captured fully on tape; you've got to see their insanity live. The unintelligible yelps of Yasuko Onuki (is that Japanese or gibberish?) will haunt your dreams and make your eardrums bleed, and you'll love every second of it, guaranteed. Brutal L.A. quartet Retox, who've been documenting their pathological optimism via a tour diary published to larecord.com, will perform with Melt Banana in support of their recently released debut album, Ugly Animals. —Lainna Fader