Music Picks: Mad Decent Block Party, Weeknd, Cold War Kids 

Thursday, Sep 12 2013

fri 9/13



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Monophonics are like a whole section of the record store come to life — especially that wall above the register, where they keep the serious stuff. The Bay Area band does acrobatic songs that loop the loop from classic funk-soul inspiration to even-more-classic funk-soul inspiration. These are the deep cuts that never quite existed during the '60s and '70s, though you'd be forgiven if you were fooled into thinking you were hearing some instrumental outtake by Sly Stone or The Meters or Mulatu Astatke or Jackie Mittoo or sci-fi library musicians like Cecil Leuter. You'd be even more forgiven if you weren't thinking about any of that because you were too busy dancing. Their last full-length, In Your Brain, came out last year and is still reverberating. —Chris Ziegler

Local Natives


L.A.'s own Local Natives have played festivals around the world, but the four-piece is especially thrilled about this hometown show. Fulfilling a longtime dream of playing the Greek, the indie-rock outfit will fill the amphitheater with its polyphonous rhythms and melodic melancholy during summer's final stretch. With the release earlier this year of its sophomore album, Hummingbird, the quartet expressed a gentler and more ruminative side than previous high-energy singles such as "Sun Hands" would have indicated it was capable of. Local Natives have proven themselves dynamic, sonically paralleling influences like The National and Grizzly Bear and weaving jubilant harmonies with layers of methodical instrumentation. With support from Wild Nothing, this one is not to be missed. —Britt Witt

The Battle of San Bernardino featuring Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Sabaton


Spanning multiple eras of heavy metal, the cumulative effect of this epic bill should prove suitably sinister for a Friday the 13th. Formed in 1975, Iron Maiden are masters of heroic, mildly progressive hard rock personified by galloping grooves and Bruce Dickinson's much-imitated "air raid siren" wail. Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and Overkill all were pivotal forces in the partially Maiden-inspired thrash-metal explosion of the late 1980s but have since experienced wildly divergent degrees of success (Megadeth managed six consecutive U.S. platinum albums between '86 and '97, while Overkill's 16 albums combined have yet to hit a million stateside sales.) Ostensibly this battle's odd band out, Sweden's bombastic Sabaton are a New Millennium creation, yet flaunt a Wagnerian war obsession and urgent rhythmic adventurism that trace directly back to its headliner. —Paul Rogers 

Cosmic Psychos, Claw Hammer


Ross Knight is a simple, self-described "ugly-lookin'" farmer whose love of big, loud things like bulldozers, barbells and fuzzed-out bass guitars fuels the relentless intensity of his slobbering yob-rock band, Cosmic Psychos. The long-running Melbourne, Australia, trio still plays as fast as its mid-'80s peers G.B.H., Motörhead and the Too Tough to Die–era Ramones, but also likes to alternate the pummeling with midtempo fusillades of string-bending, head-pounding, Stooges-style trippiness. In the early days, Knight's raw-throated take on punk and biker rock was so distinctively elemental that it directly inspired much of the Seattle grunge scene, as detailed by Eddie Vedder, members of Mudhoney, The Melvins and producer Butch Vig in Matt Weston's new documentary about The Psychos, Blokes You Can Trust. These beer-swilling Aussies come to pillage our shores only every decade or so, which is about how often we see locals Claw Hammer, who — to put it in annoying critic-speak shorthand — are like a harder-rocking version of the Stones fronted by Captain Beefheart doing jazzy, spazzy Devo covers. —Falling James

sat 9/14

Sheryl Crow


You could say that Sheryl Crow's career, to borrow her words, has been a winding road. The superstar sweetheart got her start singing commercial jingles and backing up Michael Jackson before her clear, stirring voice and Everywoman lyrics hit breakthrough success — and then mainstream worship — in the early '90s. The last two decades have included seven albums and nine Grammys, and throughout Crow has cleverly capitalized on doing what she wants — tackling fun and sun right alongside personal mistakes via an easy-to-like, hard-to-resist blend of pop, folk and rock. With her eighth album, Feels Like Home, Crow's winding road has taken her down a new path altogether: straight, unadulterated country. On the LP, Crow partners with a cadre of collaborators, including dreamy drawler Brad Paisley, on songs like "Shotgun," "We Oughta Be Drinkin'" and "Stay at Home Mother," all recorded in Nashville. —Kelsey Whipple

Mad Decent Block Party


Marking the end of summer is Mad Decent's Block Party. Headed up by label boss Diplo's Major Lazer — an act that brings enough twerk-inducing good times to power the party on its own — the daytime event has been crossing the country all summer long. Diversity abounds with this national/international collection of party-rocking artists. From Matt and Kim's lively hip-hop pastiche to Big Gigantic's saxophone-and-drum funky dubs, the techtronica of Mexico's 3Ball MTY, the aptly named posturing rapper Riff Raff, Diplo protégés Dutch Partysquad and their flatulent bass drops, the crunked-out Samo Sound Boy, the ballsy rhymes of rap's pretty girl, Sasha Go Hard, and local boy Clockwork, the Block Party hits the mark no matter what you need to get your party started and to keep it going nonstop. —Lily Moayeri


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