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Music Picks: Growlers, Murs, Jessie Evans 

Thursday, Dec 26 2013
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fri 12/27

Murs

HOUSE OF BLUES

click to enlarge Ja Rule: See Saturday.
  • Ja Rule: See Saturday.

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There are living legends, and then there are Living Legends. Even among all the members of the celebrated Southland hip-hop supergroup, Murs stands out as an especially incisive and provocative rapper. His sharp words are put to good use in his newest project, The White Mandingos, wherein Murs collaborates with Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer and examines the contradictions of a black artist trying to succeed in the still-narrow confines of the rock scene. On their new album, The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me, Murs describes the Mandingos' sound as "hardcore hip-hop with some punk in it/Criss cross, bebop/Put some Monk in it" and points out that "artists one-dimensional will always be loneliest [and] ... need some evolution." Whether the former Nick Carter is performing solo or with his various projects (including The Invincibles, 3 Melancholy Gypsies and Felt), he is ever evolving. —Falling James

The Growlers, The Abigails, Mystic Braves

THE ECHO

It's almost a tradition now, the way The Growlers pull friends and family together for back-to-back local shows each winter. This makes sense, since this is also the band that used to load up all its most hard-core fans to tour with it in a partied-out former school bus. See, The Growlers like to bring everybody along for the ride, and these end-of-the-year shows make for some of the heaviest trips they take. Since they began in Orange County years ago, The Growlers have had plenty of genres attached to them — surf, garage, psych, rockabilly, pop, punk and more besides — and across this three-night stand in Echo Park, you'll be able to see them dismantle, absorb and mutate just about every type of guitar-ish music there is into something especially Growlified. With fellow travelers The Abigails and Mystic Braves. (Also Saturday, Dec. 28, at the Echo, and in the round Sunday, Dec. 29, at the Echoplex.) —Chris Ziegler

sat 12/28

Jessie Evans, Native Fauna

THE SMELL

As a member of The Vanishing and throughout her solo career, Jessie Evans has always been an especially captivating performer, slinking around the stage in vintage circus outfits and pumping up her exotic tunes with sunny blasts from her saxophone. On her new album, Glittermine, the Berlin-based chanteuse continues to fuse Afrobeat into her electro pop, crafting a sensual sound that's both danceable and evocatively mysterious. Setting the mood for Evans' appearance will be local shape-shifters Native Fauna. Decked out in swanlike robes and gauzy frocks, like a tripped-out Cleopatra, lead singer Cameron Murray conjures entrancing spells that range from dramatic Siouxsie Sioux–style grandeur to a candied Kate Bush melodicism, as her band pumps out music that's simultaneously propulsive, arty and airily magical. —Falling James

sun 12/29

Reverend Beat-Man, Becky Lee & Drunkfoot

ALEX'S BAR

At tonight's battle of one-person bands, Becky Lee puts her best and most drunken foot forward as she simultaneously strums guitar and stomps on her drums while chanting fiery, garage-rock opuses. While it's certainly diverting to watch the Tempe, Ariz., singer manipulate her drum kit and ax with various available limbs, what matters most is that raw, feral tunes like "Lies" and "Killer Mouse" are totally engrossing — regardless of how many humans are actually in her "band." Lee raises serious chills when she howls, "My love is creeping around your bed," in between searing chords of bluesy, fuzzed-out guitar. Headliner Reverend Beat-Man hails from Switzerland and has a rootsy, stripped-down sound, but he also moves away from kitsch with autobiographical rants such as "I See the Light," where he turns his incestuous family history into a surreally devilish fairy tale. Also at Cafe Nela on Saturday, Dec. 28. —Falling James

Fresh Fest

NOKIA THEATRE

KDAY's Fresh Fest 2013 features performances by storied rap acts, including Lil Kim, Scarface, Too $hort and E-40, along with a few surprise guests. The show also includes sets by Mystikal and Ja Rule, both Grammy-nominated rappers who attained major-label success in the mid- and late '90s during the apex of rap's bling era. Mystikal subsequently served a six-year sentence after pleading guilty to sexual battery. Ja Rule served a two-year sentence at a Brooklyn detention center after being found guilty of tax evasion and in possession of drugs and guns; he was released in May. According to a September interview with Hot 97's Angie Martinez, Ja plans to write a book about his highly publicized beef with rapper/mogul 50 Cent. In any case, with all of these artists under the same roof, tonight's show certainly will be interesting. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

mon 12/30

Blind Boy Paxton

JOE'S GREAT AMERICAN BAR & GRILL

At first glance, Blind Boy Paxton seems like he's all about shtick — clad in a bib and trucker overalls, ablaze with a zealot's fixation on the rural blues and rags of early–20th century America and performing with an eerie authenticity so acutely realized that one fairly expects to hear the pop and hiss of a beat-up Victrola disk whenever the cat opens his mouth. But the kid is no joke hokum merchant — he bears down on the music with admirable intensity, palpable involvement and so much sheer talent that it's downright flabbergasting. (Yes, he is legally blind.) Paxton not only transcends the stifling shackles of gee-whiz nostalgia that hobbles so many of his retro-recidivist colleagues, he operates at an artistic altitude that's simply out of this world. —Jonny Whiteside

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