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Music Picks: Sinead O'Connor, Ryan Adams, Busdriver, Matthew Dear 

Also, Wye Oak, Jeff Lorber Band, Hiromi and others

Thursday, Feb 16 2012
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fri 2/17

Ryan Adams

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL

click to flip through (2) PHOTO BY NEIL GAVIN - Sinead O'Connor: See Monday.
  • PHOTO BY NEIL GAVIN
  • Sinead O'Connor: See Monday.
 
 

Location Info

Some things are just meant to be. Ryan Adams may have the soul of a punk rocker, and he certainly has an impressively encyclopedic knowledge of obscure hardcore bands from the early '80s, but he also has the voice of an angel — grievous or otherwise. For all his mainstream popularity, the North Carolina native is still in the process of discovering himself. His new album, Ashes & Fire, isn't just his first full-length release since he disbanded the Cardinals several years ago; it also maps out how he moved to L.A. and reinvented himself as a still-vital creative force. "I'm just looking through the rubble, trying to find out who we were," he confesses on "Dirty Rain." Like so many exiles here, Adams has become someone new again, and it should be a heavenly combination when his beautiful voice rings out in this intimate cathedral of sound. Also Sat. —Falling James

Trey Songz, Big Sean

NOKIA THEATRE

Tonight Trey Songz arrives in L.A. not long into what the R&B star is rather unfortunately calling the Anticipation 2our. The clunky name derives from a pair of Songz mixtapes (including Anticipation 2, released late last year), not to mention the notion that we're all awaiting Songz' upcoming studio disc, Chapter V. We're not in a position — missionary or otherwise — to contest the latter claim: With a killer closer in which he proclaims that "sex ain't better than love," November's five-song Inevitable EP certainly has us wondering where this formerly guilt-free lothario is headed next. Opener Big Sean, a member of Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music crew, used his 2011 debut to portray himself as a kind of guilt-free Drake: all of the fame, none of the shame. —Mikael Wood

Nick Waterhouse

DEL MONTE SPEAKEASY

Nick Waterhouse has been documented nicely in this very paper, but that was before anyone heard his new Time's All Gone LP, which we can joyfully report is bolted-down original R&B just as it came out of the machine at Sun, Chess or Checker Records. This album is all about tension and release — the uneasy balance between Waterhouse's dots-and-details genre expertise and his uncontrollable urge to tear a song to shreds with a sax solo, guitar break or drawn-out ragged animal call. (Will you see a man in a Brooks Brothers suit bend backward and screeeeeeeeam tonight? Yes, you will.) The two-part title track catches it all: the discipline, the drive and the high-octane personality that power the whole thing. As he explains on track four, he can only give you everything. —Chris Ziegler

Don Juan y Los Blancos

REDWOOD BAR & GRILL

Billy Childish should marry Alice Bag and adopt Don Juan y Los Blancos, the punk kids who love rock & roll as it was in the old wild world — or maybe they're rock & rollers who like punk as it was when it left big, nasty marks on everything. They're locally famous-ish already for their reckless take on Huey Smith's "Don't You Just Know It?" and co-singer Becky Blanca's combustible charisma. But now they got a brand-new one, Poder Blanco! (ha ha) and ... yow, I think it just burned me. It's smashing (but secretly really nicely written and arranged) soul & roll like they make in places where fluorescent colors never existed. Mickey and Sylvia, meet Mark Sultan and Greg Cartwright, and don't stop rockin' till the firefighters call the cops. —Chris Ziegler

Also playing:

TAMMY FAYE STARLITE AS NICO at Bootleg Bar; FALLING IN REVERSE at House of Blues; MACHINE HEAD at Avalon; EXENE CERVENKA at Harvelle's; NEUTRAL UKE HOTEL at the Echo.

 

sat 2/18

Retox

THE SMELL

Formed around former Locust members Gabe Serbian and Justin Pearson (latter also fronts and/or plays bass for a bevy of other provocative acts on his Three One G label), San Diego's Retox are equally welcome for their supersuccinct freak hardcore and for how flabby and overblown they make almost all other guitar bands sound by comparison. Dropping the Locust's synth-y (and rather self-aware) new-wave wackiness, the quartet goes at it with an organic tension that's more garage than grindcore, with almost recognizably poppy song structures and actual guitar solos framing Pearson's frustrated, swallowed-a-bullhorn rants. Fast, frantic and oddly fun, Retox's music is seldom simple, yet they never seem to try too hard. —Paul Rogers

Hiromi

THE BROAD STAGE

If some conjurer combined the solo piano virtuosity of Art Tatum with the modernist innovations of Chick Corea, and then injected the potion into a schoolgirl superheroine from a Japanese comic book, the result would be Hiromi Uehara. One can say without hyperbole that this wunderkind is capable of doing things on the piano that no one else in the world can. Granted, her playing can get a little cute, but it's cute like a little girl taking on Godzilla and kicking serious ass, as she did recently with jazz behemoths Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. Still touring with Clarke, Hiromi finds time to play solo and promote her latest album, Place to Be, a breathtaking display of her unmatched talent. It wouldn't be surprising if she literally blew the roof off this gorgeous Santa Monica stage. —Gary Fukushima

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