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Music Picks: Culture Collide, Nick Lowe, Screaming Females

Screaming Females: See Tuesday.
Screaming Females: See Tuesday.
PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER PATRICK ERNST

fri 9/28

Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble

BLUE WHALE

In baseball terminology, Ovsepian is a five-tool player. He is an adroit improviser, a prolific composer, a virtuoso pianist, an intellectual heavyweight and he can hit for power. He has become a sought-after commodity in L.A.'s jazz scene, most notably by drummer Peter Erskine, whose trio has featured some of the smartest, finest pianists in the world. V.O.C.E. is Ovsepian's personal pet project, featuring tightly orchestrated strings, woodwinds and even a French horn, balanced with piano, bass and two drummers. The young Armenian's writing is compelling, provocative and without peer in modern jazz composition. This show is to promote the Kickstarter campaign funding the ensemble's new recording. If you contribute, you might even get a Vardan Ovsepian bobblehead! —Gary Fukushima

Dudamel/Stravinsky

Walt DISNEY Concert HALL

When Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris in 1913, the audience was split in its reaction. There was punching, slapping, hair-yanking, and the hurling of epithets — so scandalized were the older fuddy-duddies at how Igor messed so recklessly with the musical order. Roughly half the crowd loved it, though, hailing the piece as a ground-breaking achievement. We contemporary types will watch Gustavo Dudamel's debut conducting job of Rite with curiosity and anticipation; L.A. Phil predecessor Esa-Pekka Salonen's interpretations of Rite, after all, have set the bar at awesome new highs. Dudamel also debuts his skills at probing the music of contemporary composer Steven Stucky, whose aptly titled Symphony has its world premiere; you might trace the evolution of Stucky's far-flung orchestrations out of tonight's third piece, Maurice Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte. —John Payne

Light in the Attic Records Event

EL REY theatre

Hats off to the ever-righteous reissue kings Light in the Attic, who celebrate their 10-year anniversary by digging in the vaults for the most supremely obscure golden nuggets we failed to appreciate sufficiently the first time around. This stalwart and way-eclectic crew has chosen its artists wisely and farsightedly; the label's discoveries include funk-rock queen Betty Davis, protopunk baldies The Monks, folk singer Karen Dalton, Serge Gainsbourg, Lee Hazlewood, Kris Kristofferson, the Louvin Brothers — it's all over the map, and it's all, with hindsight, real high-quality stuff. The El Rey lineup features a representative sampling of the label's vision and scope: veteran English fingerpicking demigod Michael Chapman, Korean rock star Shin Joong Hyun, Memphis soul greats Wendy Rene and Packy Axton, poet/Beach Boys lyricist Stephen John Kalinich and Rodriguez, the '70s rock star whose recent return from obscurity was the subject of this summer's excellent documentary Searching for Sugar Man. —John Payne

sat 9/29

Sea of Treachery

COBALT CAFÉ

A shotgun marriage of ultra-disciplined twin-guitar metalcore, boyish sing-along refrains and deathcore's diaphragm-defying gurgle, this Kentucky quintet apparently endorses any sound that makes mosh pits out of tatted teens. Just as they dodge between genres, Sea of Treachery flip through personalities like a tweaker in a Halloween store, traversing psychotic demon throat-ripper, militaristic post-metal shred-head and angelic voice of optimism — often all before the minute mark. They may have traded some of specialization's sheer quality for the comforting warmth of people-pleasing variety, but Sea of Treachery nonetheless make for an almost comically exhilarating crash course in all things -core. —Paul Rogers

Virgil Donati

BAKED POTATO

Australian-born Virgil Donati is one of the world's most technically accomplished drummers, with a legendary practice schedule that would exhaust most other musicians. Less known about Donati? His penchant for writing some of the most demanding music in the West, with difficult meters that change frequently in the course of a single song, yet somehow manage to also be musical. Add to that Donati's feet, which are considered by many drummers to be the best in the world. The group of international music stars on this show includes French bassist Bunny Brunel (Chick Corea), Austrian guitar wiz Alex Machacek and Southern California keyboardist Dennis Hamm. This is music you won't hear anywhere else anytime soon. —Tom Meek

Killer Mike

EL REY THEATRE

Rapper Killer Mike is, of course, just as killer as advertised. His recent R.A.P. Music — produced to the limit of ferocity by Def Jux main man El-P — is one of the heaviest, most powerful hip-hop albums of the year. Example: If you've got a song called "Reagan," you better start bombing in five minutes, and so Mike marches off to war on society's wrongs — drugs, lies, economic inequality, racism, etc. — and snaps it all in half at the line, "I'm glad Reagan dead." Every lyric here is bleeding reality, even the one about his wife being "pretty as a singer, fine as a stripper/when we in the strip club strippers try to tip her." Actually, especially that. There isn't a lie on this album. Like he says: "What my people need is the opposite of bullshit." —Chris Ziegler

Colleen Green

THE SMELL

Once there was a girl with a guitar who grew up on the East Coast and then moved to the West Coast. But to hear her songs, you'd think Colleen Green grew up in Ramonesland and moved to Jesus and Mary Chainifornia, where harmonies melt into tape hiss and every pop classic plays through a busted car stereo. On her lo-fi, hi-dorable album Milo Goes to Compton, she switches from extremely deliberate ("I Wanna Be Degraded") Ramones-isms to slo-mo drone-ups à la Spacemen 3 (stand-out "I Will Follow Him") and back with help from a jittery little drum machine. This is the exact kind of DIY that Helen Love sang about a generation ago, revved up to approximately 420 beats per minute — if you "green" what we mean. If Joey Ramone and his bros really got to control the airwaves, this is what we'd hear. —Chris Ziegler

sun 9/30

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson

MAYAN

Although he is not a household name himself, this violist is linked to many of them, recording and arranging for will.i.am, Erykah Badu, Dr. Dre, Flying Lotus and countless others. Artists are by definition creators, and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson has chosen to pour his life and considerable talent into the creation of good things. His five-year partnership with production house Mochilla and record producer ArtDontSleep has resulted in some outstanding shows dedicated to positive societal change through art that everyone can dig. Their latest show, "East Side Story," featuring such luminaries as Mayer Hawthorne, Bilal and legendary R&B drummer James Gadson, celebrates "low-rider" soul music from the 1960s, which was near and dear to the residents of East Los Angeles. Witness pop music transformed into high art, minus the highbrow. —Gary Fukushima

mon 10/1

Mary Gauthier

EL REY Theatre

John Prine could write a country song that could really make you laugh, and Loudon Wainwright could write a country song that could really make you cry. Or maybe it's the other way around? And country/folky smoky-voiced Mary Gauthier can do both and then some, with autobiographical songs about tragedy and strength and redemption, not uncommonly in that order. Her lyrics and life story both might seem too wild to be believable. She was the first openly gay artist to play the Grand Ole Opry, a milestone in a personal life with bruises to rival Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash, and she has songs like "I Drink" to prove it. When you hear her sing, you'll hear truth in every raspy line. —Chris Ziegler

tue 10/2

Garbage

Palladium

When they formed in 1994, future chart fixtures Garbage had the makings of a sterile vanity project. Created by veteran studio rats (including Butch Vig, producer of Nirvana's Nevermind), with a grafted-on, unknown vocalist, their formula appeared better suited to impersonal one-hit electro than enduring alt-rock. Yet, though quilted with samples and loops, Garbage's elegant pop still throbs and breathes, and selecting Shirley Manson as their feisty figurehead uncorked potent yin-yang magic. The kinda-goth Scot boasts an intriguing demeanor that's part bawdy barfly, part svelte temptress, while almost sighing a threateningly sexy contralto that casts welcome humanity over her bandmates' much-massaged instrumentation. Manson's unconventional beauty and disarming frankness (happily admitting to once defecating in a boyfriend's Corn Flakes) ably dispel any lingering air of manufacture. —Paul Rogers

Screaming Females

PALLADIUM

They're called Screaming Females, but that primal, cuts-you-in-half sound you hear comes from Marissa Paternoster's guitar, which she uses to speak the language of Neil Young and Greg Ginn both — actually, both at once — in a new album of punk built from nothing but sharp edges. Screaming Females have been DIY since day one, rising from the all-ages basement shows of New Jersey to finish their recent record Ugly with Steve Albini and build themselves a band that's gonna be as indestructible as the Wipers, P.J. Harvey, Sleater-Kinney or Dinosaur Jr. (You know the deal: shreds up front, rhythms in the back.) When old people wonder about the kids being alright, what they're really hoping for is to get a chance to see this band. Proof that punk is still live and loud. —Chris Ziegler

Emmylou Harris

ROYCE HALL

"Honky-tonk angel" used to mean something not very nice — the kind of girl who'd never make a wife, if you get what Hank Thompson was trying to say in an age when you couldn't use certain words on an album. But let's reclaim it for what it should mean, because Harris is an angel of the honky-tonks if there ever was one, with a voice so pure and sad and true that it couldn't possibly come from this dirty old earth. (Besides, she's got that silver hair — you know they all look like that up in honky-tonk heaven.) She's somewhere between archetype and myth, a woman who glided beside and between country and rock & roll's absolute greats to become one of country and rock & roll's greats herself. —Chris Ziegler

wed 10/3

Nick Lowe

TROUBADOUR

When he produced that album for The Damned — expertly, by the way — he got the nickname "Basher," but what Nick Lowe really turned out to be was a heartbreaker extraordinaire. Forgive the backhand to pop history, but it always seemed to us that Lowe was what everyone said Elvis Costello was supposed to be. Which was: brilliant but not frigid, literate but not pompous, sarcastic but not poisonously bitter, and hilariously and honestly human through every minute of it. Oh, and a superb writer and absolute fiend with the hooks and tricks and surprises that have powered pop songs since the first-ever "1, 2, 3, 4 ..." This acoustic tour pairs him with L.A.'s Eleni Mandell, a treasure on several levels and (happily!) Lowe's new labelmate. —Chris Ziegler

thu 10/4

Scott Kinsey

BAKED POTATO

Keyboardist Scott Kinsey is the only real disciple of longtime Cannonball Adderley/Weather Report legend Joe Zawinul. Zawinul was notorious for being difficult to please, but he thought enough of Kinsey to serve as executive producer on Kinsey's 2007 solo album, Kinesthetics. Since then Kinsey has split his recording output between his own Human Element project and a new studio project for fusion supergroup Tribal Tech, released earlier this year after more than a decade since their last release. Kinsey's use of vocal and computer effects takes Zawinul's electronic approach to a new level in blending jazz, fusion and world music. He's joined here by a superb cast, including Jimmy Kimmel Live bassist Jimmy Earl, superdrummer Gary Novak and the terrific Steve Tavaglione on saxes, flutes and EWI in one of his rare public live appearances. —Tom Meek

Culture Collide

VARIOUS VENUES

Filter magazine presents a four-day international festival featuring artists from 25 countries, on the assumption that these artists will provide enlightenment on what we call music and culture in Los Angeles. Along with tons of live performances, there will be film screenings, happy hours, a two-day conference panel Oct. 4-5, and a culminating, free, all-day block party in Echo Park on Oct. 7. Music events happen at various venues, including the Echo, the Echoplex, Origami Vinyl and Taix. The heavy-duty lineup includes American bands Montreal, Zola Jesus, Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500, DIIV and Penguin Prison, plus The Wombats (U.K.), The Big Pink (U.K.), Niki and the Dove (Sweden), Patrick Wolf unplugged (U.K.), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (New Zealand/U.S.), Bonde do Role (Brazil), Laetitia Sadier (France) and many, many, many more. —John Payne

Virgil Donati: See Saturday.

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