Music Picks: Andrea Bocelli, Carina Round, A Hero A Fake
This L.A.-based duo, featured on the cover of L.A. Weekly earlier this year, have every bit of the raw energy that marked groups like Einstürzende Neubauten, so it's only fitting they play L.A.'s longest-running home for industrial music. The band is the new wave for fans of the style: They aren't starting a revival or reinventing a genre; they're a product of their own era, passionately experimenting with their own noisy, electronic sounds. Yasmine Kittles, who recently played cymbals for Das Racist on Conan, has emerged as the most compelling frontperson L.A. has seen in a long time. Her physically demanding, visceral performances and husky, gut-wrenching voice will make the audience quiver. —Liz Ohanesian
Garfunkel & Oates
When Aimee Mann's holiday variety show grew too big for its britches and moved to the Wiltern this year, a sweet, guitar-toting pair of ladies stepped in to welcome the Christmas season at Largo in song — dirty, sexy song, that is. Comedy music duo Riki "Garfunkel" Lindhome and Kate "Oates" Micucci have been gleefully shocking audiences since 2007, when they first started performing their hilariously bawdy tunes for comedy audiences around town. Classics include "This Party Took a Turn for the Douche" and the characteristically blunt "Pregnant Women Are Smug." True to form, Largo promises plenty of surprise guests at the show, and if the video for G&O's holiday hit "Present Face" is any indication, that could mean Taran Killam, Autumn Reeser, Samm Levine or even Dave "Mr. Rosso" Allen. —Erica E. Phillips
Kenny Werner All-Star Band
CATALINA BAR AND GRILL
This awesome band lives up to its audacious billing, but this is jazz, not basketball, and jazz All-Stars typically don't fly to gigs in private jets or do cameos in rap videos. They still have to find ways to make ends meet, which might be why pianist Kenny Werner decided to write a book (Effortless Mastery) that would become one of the all-time best-selling self-help books for jazz musicians. Of course, it might be the only one, but kudos to Werner for admitting that jazz musicians are generally pretty fucked up in their brilliant minds. The author won a Guggenheim Fellowship last year, so he knows what he's talking about, and if you see the show, you will see him practice what he preaches — an effortless master he is. Also Sat. and Sun. —Gary Fukushima
Straight No Chaser
Nobody in this Indiana a cappella group is likely to deny the supercharging effect Glee has had on Straight No Chaser's career. But it's worth noting that these suited singers were doing their thing well before the kids in New Directions. SNC's buzz-making "12 Days of Christmas" video was posted on YouTube in 2006, back when Mr. Schuester was still doing time on As the World Turns. (It has since racked up more than 13 million views — a pittance, we'll admit, compared to the 58 million Justin Bieber's "Mistletoe" had scored at press time.) You're sure to hear "12 Days" and plenty of other holiday fare tonight, along with tunes from the group's new Six Pack Volume 2 EP, on which they somehow find room for extra nerdiness in Weezer's "Buddy Holly." —Mikael Wood
The idiosyncratic tunesmith earned venerable cult-hero status beginning with his frontman stint in Modern Lovers, whose "Road Runner" semihit of '76 presaged the ever-popular "punk-rock" style. Richman's subsequent solo career has earned him loyal affection from fans of his ingenuous sparkle and crackling wit on steadfastly untrendy records. But his onstage appearances are another level of loopy bliss altogether, simply happy affairs of pithy-sweet songs about this and that. Richman radiates an elflike, almost alien optimism and an often hilarious but somehow moving tone, which strike a deeply personal chord with his intensely loyal flock. Tonight he'll collaborate with drummer Tommy Larkins, mishmashing doo-wop, country, folk and softly rocking pop. —John Payne
AVEY TARE at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock; SOFT PACK, ABE VIGODA, DEVON WILLIAMS, SLANG CHICKENS at the Echo; TRAMPLED BY TURTLES, WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE at the Troubadour; OZOMATLI at Club Nokia; CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD at El Rey Theatre; OCOTE SOUL SOUNDS at the Satellite; ARRICA ROSE at Hotel Café; JON MCLAUGHLIN at Key Club.
Keeping up with Madlib has always been a fool's errand. Even before the revered hip-hop producer blew minds with his fabricated jazz band Yesterdays New Quintet, blew chronic smoke with his MF Doom collaboration Madvillain, and blew past the atmosphere with his rapping alter ego Quasimoto, Otis Jackson Jr. was light-years ahead of his peers. The man's astounding prolificacy since has made it harder still to clock his every move, but a nearly unprecedented consistency in quality means we've no choice but to try. He just wrapped the 12-album Madlib Medicine Show series (started in 2010) exploring rap, jazz, soul, funk, dub, psych rock and more, all presented through this auteur's trademark dust-caked, beat-cracked lens. It's a hometown show, so expect the Stones Throw Records family to be well represented. —Chris Martins
Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter
"It's always winter inside every heart of gold," Jesse Sykes murmurs on her latest album, Marble Son. "It's hard to love/harder not to love/everything that's ever come before/as the universe exhales just once more." The Seattle chanteuse exhales with a distinctively lulling moody-blue voice that evokes winter, birds, lakes and deep, dark woods, but she and the Sweet Hereafter aren't just in love with everything that's already come before. Although the new album includes tranquil ballads like "Wooden Roses" and the title track, which echo the haunting Americana of the band's earlier releases, Sykes and guitarist Phil Wandscher take some bold, new risks, venturing into sprawling epics like the psychedelic hard-rocker "Hushed by Devotion" and the Doors-y exotica of "Weight of Cancer." The way they blend their voices together on the glassy idyll "Come to Mary" is positively enchanting. —Falling James
Aimee Mann's Christmas Show
Aimee Mann's Christmas show has become a staple of the season — sort of like fruitcake, only much tastier. The gifted singer-songwriter has invited a bunch of talented friends, including hubby Michael Penn, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, actor-comedian Tim Heidecker (half of the Tim and Eric duo) and Nellie McKay, to perform with her. In addition to playing tunes from her winning holiday album, One More Drifter in the Snow, Mann intends to preview a song or two from her eighth solo album, Charmer, which is due out next spring. There are also some comedy performances and general yuletide cheer thrown in for good measure, which surely will make it a much more festive affair than the dry turkey dinner at Aunt Betty's. —Laura Ferreiro
A Hero A Fake
Juxtaposing melodic singing and malicious screaming is intrinsic to the metalcore genre, but this North Carolina band takes it to extremes. Borderline sappy choruses butt up against Justin Brown's pissed-off, raspy roar. This can make for an almost signature, attention-keeping contrast, or just sound like two unrelated songs (or even bands). And while AHAF's twin guitars have become increasingly fluid and technical over their seven years as a band, and their song structures more elaborate and exotic, the vocals still seem kinda left back in the generic garage. Their bouncing live shows are hard to resist, and their palpable progress toward personality is charming, but they still veer between something greater than the sum of their parts and just some great parts. —Paul Rogers
CAVE SINGERS, BUILDERS & THE BUTCHERS at the Troubadour; THE BLACK PACIFIC at Malibu Inn; LUCKY DRAGONS at the Smell; BENJI HUGHES at the Satellite; DICK HALLIGAN at Alvas Showroom; KROQ ALMOST ACOUSTIC XMAS at Gibson Amphitheatre.
Holiday Recital & Toy Drive
The holiday season brings out the best and the worst in humanity. It's a time of peace and goodwill, of course, but for some reason it also encourages a surfeit of saccharine sentimentality, especially when it comes to music. With all of the sappy, crappy carols and Muzak-y Christmas music out there, December can be a bleak and depressing month. There likely will be some overly cheery standards performed at the Satellite's holiday party, but that grim horror will at least be mitigated by the bluesy ruminations of Rocco DeLuca and the "Healthy Geometry" of Vanaprasta's hazily scattershot indie rock, as well as the presence of such local worthies as Imaginary Bear & Barney and the Honorary Title's Jared Gorbel. Best of all, Nicole Simone will purr her intimate, languidly intoxicating cabaret chansons. —Falling James
Norma Jean spews a dense, outraged noise: thickets of gurgling guitar, regurgitated grooves and Cory Brandan Putman's utterly earnest strep-throat vocals. Their arrangements are less up/down and stop/start than the majority of their metal-core peers', instead slinking in and out of emotional story lines almost unnoticed. But be patient with the militaristic verses, and succulent, melodic hooks emerge, displaying the (relative) versatility of Putman's pipes and a deft respect for harmony. These Georgians don't feel obliged to go at it hammer-and-tongs at all times, either, even allowing themselves a sensitive (and triple-guitar) side on the likes of "Falling From the Sky: Day Seven." Post-hardcore has hit a plateau from which many soon will fall — Norma Jean can at least stumble away with heads held high. —Paul Rogers
Scott Kinsey Group
THE BAKED POTATO
The late music legend Joe Zawinul (Weather Report) had only one protégé, Scott Kinsey, longtime keyboard wiz of supergroup Tribal Tech. Zawinul was impressed enough with Kinsey to serve as executive producer for his 2007 solo work, Kinesthetics, widely regarded as one of the best fusion efforts of the past decade. Tonight, Kinsey is backed by an uber-supporting cast of Jimmy Earl on bass and the wonderful Mike Miller on guitar; the drum chair belongs to gifted local phenom Ronald Bruner Jr., who most recently toured with Stevie Wonder and Stanley Clarke. Kinsey's compositions are individual and inventive, fused with sounds and voices from across the world emanating from his MacBook and vocoder. Expect an evening of genuinely unique world-class music. —Tom Meek
The pop-operatic crooner gets a predictably bad rap from classical purists, who can't stand his use of amplification and his addiction to sentiment. And, for sure, you won't get out of Anaheim before being showered with saccharine. But what Bocelli's naysayers seem to miss is the singer's sense of humor. How else to explain 2009's My Christmas, on which he does "Jingle Bells" with the Muppets and offers up a version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" so stiff it simply has to be intentional? Last month Bocelli released the guest-heavy Concerto: One Night in Central Park, and given that this show concludes his current U.S. tour, some kind of surprise appearance may well be in the offing tonight. Stevie Wonder would be sweet. —Mikael Wood
WHITE WIVES, KOJI at the Echo; BRANDI CARLILE at Broad Stage.
Jay-Z and Kanye West
In describing Jay-Z and Kanye West's collaborative album, Watch the Throne, as grandiose, one makes the assumption that anything else was ever possible. Moderation is preposterous. From the product-touting lyrics to the Givenchy-designed cover, this grand experiment of egos reeks of excess. (Case in point: Several tracks were recorded in a $4,600-per-night suite at Paris' Le Meurice.) How could one expect anything less over-the-top from their stage show? For three nights, Hov and Ye' shall emerge atop bespeckled platforms, glancing down at their humble kingdom. Watch the throne, and for a day you, too, can feel like a serf. Also Sun. and Tues. —Dan Hyman
NEVEREVER, RESIDUAL ECHOS at the Echo; KATISSE BUCKINGHAM ODDSEMBLE at Seven Grand.
Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa
From his chilled-out flow and well-publicized affection for life's greener side, down to his gangly frame, Pittsburgh's Wiz Khalifa immediately drew comparisons to hip-hop's resident blunt-blower extraordinaire, Snoop Dogg. So naturally, it only makes sense that the two blissed-out MCs would eventually join forces. Their first official collaboration came via "This Weed Iz Mine," a run-of-the-mill cut off Snoop's latest LP, Doggumentary. Now that Khalifa has officially gone mainstream —thanks to his overproduced debut, Rolling Papers — they've also shot a movie together. Kicking off the promotional blitzkrieg for the duo's straight-to-DVD flick, Mac and Devin Go to High School, Snoop and Wiz have embarked on a minitour. Just don't expect to hear from the Wiltern's resident fumigator for a few days post-show. This promises to be a cloudy affair. —Dan Hyman
SERENADES, RACES, NO at Bootleg Bar; SCRATCH ACID, 400 BLOWS at El Rey Theatre; DIGITALISM at the Music Box; NICHOLAS MCGEGAN CONDUCTS HANDEL'S MESSIAH at Walt Disney Concert Hall; BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA at Smothers Theatre.
Dinosaur Jr., Pierced Arrows
THE MUSIC BOX
Fans of these indie-rock icons will be in for a treat at this intimate show. Not only will the band perform their seminal 1988 album, Bug, in its entirety but in front of the audience before the show, they'll also be interviewed by another iconic figure in rock, Henry Rollins. Rumor has it they'll chat about the '80s underground music scene, in which they played a prominent role, as well as their escapades in the City of Angels — but with such distinctive personalities, expect anything to happen. They'll then get down to the business of churning out their unique brand of brooding, scuzzy guitar rock. Veteran garage rockers Pierced Arrows open. —Laura Ferreiro
NEON HYMNS at Silverlake Lounge; LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE at Gibson Amphitheatre; JEFF COLELLA TRIO at Vibrato; DAVID ARCHULETA at Club Nokia.
Having just gotten back from their first tour of South America, where they opened for Pearl Jam and were stunned by the size and intensity of the fervent crowds in Argentina, local punk stalwarts X continue their national tour tonight with a full-length rendition of their 1980 debut album, Los Angeles. The quartet will perform following a screening of the newly reissued 1985 documentary X: The Unheard Music. All this nostalgia would kill a lesser band, but X — featuring the classic original lineup of singer Exene Cervenka, singer-bassist John Doe, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake — still pound out fiery versions of luridly seedy anthems like "Sugarlight" and "Nausea." The nimble-fingered Zoom is smooth without being slick, while Bonebrake remains a force of nature behind the kit. Even X's X-mess carols are delivered with nonstop Ramones-esque energy. Also at the Music Box, Fri., Dec. 16. —Falling James
Even when Bryan Hollon was best known as a beatsmith for left-field rappers like Anticon's Doseone, his proclivity for outré genre exploration inspired the late, great BBC DJ John Peel to dub him a "modern-day Captain Beefheart." Like that psychedelic godhead before him, Hollon has freely bounced from one inspired collaboration to the next over the years, while nurturing an electronically fed, pop-damaged progginess that's all his own. The guest list on his new album, Zig Zaj, speaks volumes: Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Josh Klinghoffer and Beastie Boys producer Money Mark. The latter appeared at a November show also at the Satellite, adding analog synth skronk to Hollon's already improv-adept live band. Expect special guests, deep Krautrock and ebullient electronica. —Chris Martins
British singer Carina Round can't be tied down to any one particular style or genre. Just when you think you have her pegged as a smart, sensitive and tuneful singer-songwriter type, she'll break into some freaky art-rock experimentation that raises goose bumps on your arms. A couple of her personalities were on view in Early Winters, her recent collaboration with Justin Rutledge, where her songs ranged from ebullient mainstream pop to confessional piano ballads. The point is, you never know exactly what Round will do, and she's equally dangerous whether she's backed by a full band or performing solo with an acoustic guitar. "Gravity lies," she confided on the title track of her 2007 album, Slow Motion Addict. It's hard to imagine how mere gravitational force can hold back this oft-brilliant free spirit. —Falling James
BLACK STAR at Club Nokia; WHITE ARROWS, YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE, POLLYN at the Echo; TOO SHORT at the Viper Room; DEE DEE MCNEIL at Crowne Plaza LAX.
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