Music Picks: Bob Dylan, Azalia Snail, Makabert Fynd, Seun Kuti
His Bobness is back, kicking off his usual U.S. summer tour with a pair of shows in Santa Barbara and Costa Mesa. He may have just turned 70, but the bard is set on keeping things fresh — as only he can —on the coast-to-coast run, breaking from the tradition of his 2009 and 2010 ballpark tours in favor of bringing it all back home to classic venues. Rumors of his terminally ailing voice have abounded since his garbled Grammys telecast earlier this year, but the consistently effusive reviews of last month's European tour have proved otherwise: Dylan purists can expect a return to a classic hit-driven set, while hard-core devotees can look forward to just enough arrangement-tinkering to keep them on their toes. This may be dubbed the "Never Ending Tour," but Friday's show promises to be the one you don't want to miss. Just don't forget your leopardskin pillbox hat. —Andrea Domanick
Described by sometime collaborator Ariel Pink as a "tortured evangelist on a mercenary quest to rid our world of the villainous defilers of the Gospel of True Love," John Maus is a synth-pop deconstructionist who recently released his third full-length album, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, via Upset the Rhythm/Ribbon Music, a followup to understated gem Love Is Real. With We Must Become..., Maus sings about truth, love and eternity in a sea of reverb with baroque spirituality and the pulse of Italian producer-songwriter Giorgio Moroder. L.A.'s dreamy pop outfit Puro Instinct open, along with artist-singer Geneva Jacuzzi of Bubonic Plague fame. —Lainna Fader
Boyz II Men
All the hipsters are going crazy these days for Bon Iver's indie-soul take on Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me." But fans of that deathless slow jam should check out how much self-pitying pathos Boyz II Men wring from it on 2009's Love, a curious all-covers disc that also finds the veteran Philadelphia R&B group tackling the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" and "Back for Good" by the great English boy band Take That. Steered in part by American Idol's Randy Jackson, the Boyz have built much of their business of late on other folks' songs, which might come as a disappointment to fans waiting for another "End of the Road." Given the still-creamy quality of their harmonies, though, we'll endure yet another "Tracks of My Tears." —Mikael Wood
Break out your Casio keyboards — the Blow is back! It's been nearly five years since the Portland duo of Khaela Maricich and Jona Bechtolt tugged at our heartstrings with 2006's Paper Television, and the intervening years have seen only sporadic touring and empty promises of new material, as Bechtolt eventually left to captain side project YACHT full-time. But this time around, Maricich has enlisted the collaborative help of artist Melissa Dyne to showcase The Blow's swoon-inducing blip-pop on a substantial cross-country tour. While no formal announcements have been made about new material or recordings, Maricich has referred to new tunes on her blog, including an especially promising, earnest-sounding number called "YOU'RE MY LIGHT." Her delicate songbird voice and love-hurts-so-good lyrics are the perfect soundtrack to the sleepy potential of midsummer adventures. —Andrea Domanick
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
Many kids rebel against their fathers as part of growing up, but Seun Kuti rebelled with his father, fighting against oppression and government corruption in Nigeria. When the Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti died from AIDS in 1997, Seun stepped in at the tender age of 14 to lead his dad's old band Egypt 80. Like his father, Seun is a dazzling saxophonist and a charismatic singer, whipping his body sinuously around the stage like a restless panther. In addition to crafting his own infectiously percussive protest songs, Seun carries on the family tradition with performances of Fela's classic anthems. His new album, From Africa With Fury: Rise, is another inspired collection of fiery dance workouts, with Egypt 80's tight rhythms moving from James Brown–style funk to looser, jazzier and more free-flowing passages. —Falling James
AMERICAN IDOLS at Club Nokia; SARAH MCLACHLAN at Hollywood Bowl; KING KHAN, GRIS GRIS at the Echo; NEW WEST GUITAR TRIO at Blue Whale; WHITE FENCE, COLD SHOWERS at Blue Star; ABE VIGODA, KITTEN, POLLYN, ALLAH LAS, BIG SEARCH at the L.A. Zoo; N O W, KEVIN GREENSPON, ANCIENT CRUX, TES ELATIONS at the Smell.
As metalcore has exploded over the past decade, it seems that only luck has left the likes of Greeley Estates playing at (with all due respect) Cobalt Café, while genre peers such as As I Lay Dying and the Devil Wears Prada are on magazine covers. Having more exes than Casey Anthony hasn't helped, but despite being in an apparently constant state of lineup flux, these Arizonans consistently spew convincing, adventurous anthems defined by furiously militaristic kick drums, turbulent tangent guitars and the inner-demon singing/gurgling of Ryan Zimmermann (who actually sounds like two men). Greeley Estates' tireless conviction and trademark little surprises — samples, piano, psychedelic flirtations — mean these lads really deserve better. —Paul Rogers
Ximena Sariñana may come off at first like a mainstream pop singer with her radio-friendly piano ballads, but the Mexican chanteuse has a subversive side that sets her apart from other Latin-pop divas. A former child actor who starred in telenovelas when she was 11 years old, Sariñana slyly titled her 2008 debut album Mediocre even though it quickly became clear that the Guadalajara native was anything but ordinary. The album's sunny melodies belie the sometimes-bittersweet lyrics, and she's also musically adventurous enough to collaborate with her hard-rocking boyfriend, the Mars Volta's Omar Rodríguez-López. At tonight's set, she'll preview some of the new English-language tunes from her upcoming second album. —Falling James
Azalia Snail, Now, Psychic Friend
@321 LOUNGE AT TAIX
Love these way-outta-trendy-step nights at 321, the best place for music and vibes that are not about commerce, strange as that may sound. The surrealist folk rock proggy psychedelia-ist Azalia Snail is a veteran nonaligner who's been putting out records indie-wise for these 20-plus years, the latest being the sublimely quirky, dreamy, lovely and deep Celestial Respect on ace imprimatur Silber Records. Ms. Snail will be playing multiple odd instruments and crooning from that warmly entrancing record, possibly with the accompaniment of supreme multitalent Dan West. Now is 60 Watt Kid Kevin Litrow's one-man band in which hypnotic and strange dreamscapes can and do clash rudely with topical realities; Psychic Friend is represented tonight by Will, the ex-Imperial Teen man who will be whipping out some solo piano of the good-humored and heartbreaking variety. —John Payne
THE MONKEES at the Greek Theatre; J.D. SOUTHER at McCabe's; MATT MAYHALL QUARTET at Blue Whale; OSLO at the Satellite; MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY at Pehrspace.
While mainstream punk long ago became more bumper sticker than brutal, there are pockets of hard-core resistance to the genre's dumbing-down. Sweden's Makabert Fynd is one. Their urgent jackboot beats occasionally make way for midpaced breaks, and there's some supple musicality amidst the maelstrom, but MF's main message is one of functional garage guitars and arms-around, yell-along choruses. Though proudly delivered in their native tongue (cuz real punks don't, like, pander), Makabert Fynd's acute sense of injustice and seemingly insatiable discontent require no translation. Raging, belligerent music like this is becoming a rare beast, yet Makabert Fynd is not only surviving but defiantly thriving. —Paul Rogers
When one thinks about all of the hard times Evie Sands endured early in her career in the 1960s, it's somewhat amazing that she's still thriving and productive these days instead of permanently embittered. The Brooklyn-raised singer recorded radiant versions of "Take Me for a Little While," "I Can't Let Go" and "Angel of the Morning," but — thanks to bad timing and various music-industry shenanigans — could only watch helplessly as lesser performers scored hits that should have been hers. Sands had some success with a 1969 remake of "Any Way That You Want Me" and came into her own as a songwriter in the 1970s (penning tunes for Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield and, later on, Beth Orton and Beck), before dropping out of sight until a mid-'90s comeback. In recent years, she's appeared as a guitarist with local alt-pop maven Adam Marsland, but it's a rare thrill when she belts out a set of her own winsomely engaging tunes. —Falling James
NERVOUS GENDER, VIOLET TREMORS at the Echo; PUCCINI'S TURANDOT at Hollywood Bowl; HEROES & HEROINES, SODA JERKS, PUTNAM HALL, MOXY PHINX at the Satellite; THE CTHULUS at Origami.
The East Coast counterpart of L.A.'s own neo–new wave hip-hop scene, Theophilus London keeps running his fingers through genres, smearing all the colors together for a sound that references early Prince as easily as Morrissey — first track on his latest, "Why Even Try," sounds like the Purple One layered with the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. Yet even as each of his four mixtapes and just-released, major-label debut, Timez Is Weird These Days (tonight's the record release), have roots in the synth-driven dance-pop of the '80s, they all branch out and move hip-hop even further into the future. As the title of his DâM-FunK remix says, "Accept the New." —Rebecca Haithcoat
Long Beach's Crystal Antlers continue their Monday night Echo residency, this time with Tijuana Panthers, Jeffertitti's Nile and the Allah Las. Crystal Antlers' sophomore full-length album, Two-Way Mirror, which was released July 12 on their new imprint Recreation Ltd., marks a new direction for the psych-rock band. They've turned to new territory, both physically and sonically, to record the follow-up to 2009's Tentacles, the final LP released by famous independent label Touch and Go before they went out of business. Crystal Antlers wrote much of the material in a small town in Mexico before returning home to California to record with the help of producer Ikey Owns of the Mars Volta/Free Moral Agents, adding in more pop and post-punk echoes than ever before. —Lainna Fader
LA FONT, BLACK APPLES at Silverlake Lounge; MOSES CAMPBELL, RACES at Bootleg Theater.
These long-running Chicago goth-punk guys are out on the road in support of Damnesia, a new set of acoustic remakes of tunes from throughout their death-haunted songbook. (The album, like the tour, marks the band's 15th anniversary together.) Despite a brief major-label stint a few years ago, Alkaline Trio never quite managed the mainstream breakthrough some of their Warped Tour cohorts did; that's probably why they returned to Indieland in 2010, partnering with Epitaph to form their own label, Heart & Skull. Still, their cult remains remarkably devoted, especially in the band's second home of Southern California. Their two Troubadour gigs are sold out. With the Smoking Popes, another hardy Windy City pop-punk act. Also Thurs. —Mikael Wood
Her fine new Mayhem record hits the streets come July 19, so grab it while you can and race on down to El Rey to see her holler it live onstage. The Dublin-born May has that rarest thing, charisma, and her band gets a tricky sound so right, a beauteous fusion of twangin' surf guitars, swing, rockabilly, blues and May's own 1920s flapper-girl scat-style brazenness. It's an oomph-packed formula that made her debut, Love Tattoo, such a huge gonzo triple platinum–type smasheroo last year, here and abroad and elsewhere. The new album only adds further power and confidence to the sound, if such a thing is possible, and boasts an odd highlight in a wicked take on Soft Cell's "Tainted Love." Big party tonight: Imelda and her boys'll be dressed to the nines, believe it. —John Payne
NIK FREITAS, JEREMY MESSERSMITH at the Satellite; DUDAMEL/MOZART at Hollywood Bowl; THE REMAINERS at Bootleg Bar; WOOLEN at Lot 1.
Guitar wiz Gary Lucas is an arty octopus string superstar who first made his name as a young member of the Magic Band figuring out and actually playing the rhythms and rocky landscapes of Captain Beefheart, and later on performing and composing (and being Grammy-nominated) with the late Jeff Buckley. He's lately brought back his long-running Gods and Monsters project with a new album, The Ordeal of Civility, produced by the Talking Heads' Jerry Harrison and masterfully rocked by Television's Billy Ficca on drums and the Modern Lovers' Ernie Brooks on bass. Lucas has shown a voracious appetite and instrumental facility for a jaw-droppingly wide variety of musics old and new and exotic and familiar, including Chinese pop songs from the 1930s and '40s, avant-ish scores for silent films and intelligent rethinks on the deepest of Delta blues. He brings an enormous breadth of vision to his music, in other words — as well as some really astounding chops. Guitar players or the merely curious, there's a lot to dig here. —John Payne
BIG YOUTH, KHAIRY ARBY at the Echo; WOLFGANG SCHALK QUARTET at Blue Whale; PEK PEK at Silverlake Lounge; SATURN NEVER SLEEPS at the Airliner.
@LEVITT PAVILION AT MACARTHUR PARK
Summer's here, and the time is right for dancing in the streets ... and in public parks and other outdoor spaces. Usually, such open-air shows tend to be nostalgia fests aimed at aging baby boomers who want to relive their classic-rock past, but this evening's booking is bracingly adventurous. No Age might be more associated with dank and dark nightclubs like the Smell, where the local post-punk duo got their start, but there's something wickedly exciting about the thought of Randy Randall and Dean Spunt ruffling the feathers of MacArthur Park's pigeons with their yearning blasts of fuzzed-out noise. No Age's new Sub Pop album, Everything in Between, doesn't follow any particular formula, ranging from atmospheric post-punk soundscapes ("Positive Amputation," "Life Prowler") to straight-up punk barnburners ("Fever Dreaming") and even an atypical lo-fi aside ("Common Heat"). —Falling James
DâM-FunK, The Coathangers
A lot of parties promise that they can't, they won't and they don't stop — but we're puttin' our get-down-and-dirty money on this one. L.A.'s own DâM-FunK, who time-travels with a grab-bag of funkdified goodies, ranging from his own sophisticated G-shit to boogie to modern soul to Italo-disco, headlines. But listen up if you like hot girls playing punk really rambunctiously as much for themselves as for you: Atlanta quartet the Coathangers drop in to tear up the stage, shake the room into a seething mass, and maybe scare you a little bit (that's where their guns are aimed, we think). Nocando and Salva round out the helluva night. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Last year this small-town Minnesota synth-pop whiz played Club Nokia behind the smash-hit success of "Fireflies," Owl City's blippy 2009 tribute to the Postal Service (the band, not the mailmen). At that time Adam Young seemed more interested in taking Owl City in a boring indie-drone direction than in duplicating the appealing electro-emo whimsy of "Fireflies." So give it up for the guy because on All Things Bright and Beautiful, the new follow-up to his million-selling Ocean Eyes, Young resists the urge to go chillwave and sticks instead to what he does best — even if the radio is no longer listening. With earnest singer-songwriter dude Mat Kearney and Breanne Düren, who also plays in the Owl City live band. —Mikael Wood
BEN FOLDS at the Wiltern; FOOL'S GOLD, ICEAGE at Amoeba; RESBOX at Steve Allen Theater; ABE VIGODA, PARENTHETICAL GIRLS, EXTRA LIFE at the Echo; TRIO SANGHA at Blue Whale; DUDAMEL/STRAUSS at Hollywood Bowl; HEAVY at Echoplex; TIM ROBBINS & THE ROGUES GALLERY BAND at Largo.
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