Music Picks: Digital Underground, Beady Eye, Erykah Badu
In the unlikely event that Mayer Hawthorne hasn't satisfied your current need for a nerdy white soul dude, consider checking out Allen Stone tonight. He's a scraggly-haired Seattleite who looks like he should be selling you comic books or telling you why Occupy Wall Street doesn't need a coherent set of demands. Stone's on tour in support of a new self-titled (and self-released) disc that he'll happily let you stream for free on his website. Like his look, it's looser and scrappier than Hawthorne's latest, with a bit more gospel in it. In fact, at certain points the record sounds like Robin Thicke jamming with the brothers of Hanson — a scenario I'm surely not alone in having imagined. Right? —Mikael Wood
In "Freaks of the Industry," these Bay Area funk-rap legends presented a series of multiple-choice queries for such common conundrums as where one should put "it" during stealthy coitus in a house full of guys who'd clown if they heard "that clappin' sound." Tough decisions. As to whether to attend a D.U. concert, there's but one logical answer: Dig out your Groucho nose-and-glasses combo, and practice your best Humpty Dance, because these dudes party like it's 1990. With costume changes, keyboard solos and outsize personalities, Shock G and his smooth-rapping crew resemble a pimped-out, posi-vibes P-Funk. They're the original hip-hop hippies and they stay true to the peace ("Dowutchyalike"), love ("Kiss You Back") and party ("Same Song") platform that made them a true classic in the genre. —Chris Martins
Girl in a Coma
Singer-guitarist Nina Diaz is modern girl-rock's take on Patsy Cline. Her eight-years-elder sister, drummer Stephanie "Phanie" Diaz, and Stephanie's BFF, bassist Jennifer Alva, discovered Nina on her own front porch in San Antonio at age 12, singing. After five years playing casual gigs on borrowed equipment and practicing in Grandfather Diaz's red-carpeted bedroom, the older girls, who had big dreams of becoming the next Babes in Toyland, gave Nina free range to write and compose 13 original tracks for their first album. They were signed by rock royalty Joan Jett to her label, Blackheart Records, that year, and the trio has been on an upswing ever since, becoming personal favorites of Amanda Palmer, Tegan and Sara and Morrissey. Girl in a Coma are swinging through L.A. to promote their fourth full-length album, with as much thumping bass, crashing cymbal and Texas twang as ever. —Erica E. Phillips
FOOL'S GOLD, MIA DOI TODD, WHITE DENIM at Orpheum Theatre; LORD HURON at Skybar; PRISCILLA AHN at El Rey Theatre; WARPAINT at Galaxy Theater (Santa Ana), JOSH NELSON'S "DISCOVERIES" at Vitello's.
Aug. 28, 2009: the day Oasis died — or, rather, the documented peak of the Gallagher brothers' endless bickering. Liam and Noel's storied history of disagreement made it hardly shocking when they announced they were through. Though, with their mammoth egos, it was only a matter of time before they started writing again, if for nothing else than to piss off one another. Liam, Oasis' primary singer, acted first by forming Beady Eye (he had contemplated retaining the Oasis name) with three former members of the band. Their debut, Different Gear, Still Speeding, is as close to a new Oasis record, in terms of sound and styling, as you're likely to hear. Noel followed suit with a solo release this fall, but for Oasis purists, Beady Eye are the way to go. —Dan Hyman
In the world of goth clubs, there are bands whose songs drive people to the dance floor and ones whose shows bring out the masses to the club. Human Drama fall into the latter category. Their sound — frequently a mix of acoustic guitar, strings and piano — was too fragile, too maudlin for the dance floor. But, topped by founder/frontman Johnny Indovina's heartfelt vocal delivery, it made for emotional concerts. For 20 years, the band was a staple in L.A.'s club scene, playing virtually every live-music club that catered to the corset-and-Docs crowd. Then, in 2005, they split. They return, for one night only, at Boardner's Saturday night goth haunt, Bar Sinister. The venue will mark a perfect, if only temporary, return for the group. —Liz Ohanesian
LUCKMAN FINE ARTS CENTER
Jane Birkin came out swinging in Swinging London in the 1960s with roles in films like Blow Up and Wonderwall, but what really vaulted the British actress into the limelight was her long musical and romantic relationship with French singer-songwriter/actor/gadfly Serge Gainsbourg. Their sensual 1969 single "Je t'aime ... moi non plus," which culminated in a series of Birkin's orgasmic sighs was, of course, banned in many countries but was also a huge hit. They continued with their playful provocations and collaborations (most notably, the birth of their daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, in 1971), but Birkin also busied herself with various film roles and solo albums. In more recent years, she's been a committed member of Amnesty International and has kept Serge's music alive in duets with such fans as Bryan Ferry, Beth Gibbons and Beck. —Falling James
KISS FM Jingle Ball
While attending this gathering of Top 40 behemoths, close your eyes and don't be surprised if you're transported back to the front seat of your car during one of those meditative moments of rocking out to your secretly adored pop-radio station. This is that kind of affair. Naturally, this KISS FM–sponsored megaconcert, featuring digital-single titans the likes of Lady Gaga, David Guetta, Flo Rida, Taio Cruz and Gym Class Heroes, won't throw too many surprises your way. You've heard these songs and, quite frankly, they may very well be lip-synched here. But, if nothing else, being referred to as a "Little Monster" and watching the goofy, shaggy-haired French presence that is Guetta fist-pump as Flo Rida brags about his new Bugatti are worth the price of admission. —Dan Hyman
KCRW Benefit "Are Friends Eclectic" Featuring Iron and Wine, Jimmy Cliff, White Denim, The Belle Brigade, Other Lives, et al.
With the madness of the holidays quickly approaching, KCRW's holiday benefit might be just the chill pill you need. Acoustic indie-folk troubadour Iron & Wine will be joined by gentle indie-pop outfit Other Lives and gorgeous country-folk duo Secret Sisters for the "Are Friends Eclectic" evening at the opulent historic theater. Austin blues-rockers White Denim are sure to kick things up a notch with their raucous live performance style, and Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff likely will get folks out of their seats and grooving. The Belle Brigade, Brett Dennen, Zee Avi, Anna Calvi and Mia Doi Todd round out the bill, with proceeds going to support L.A.'s tastemaking flagship NPR station. —Laura Ferreiro
DUNES, JOHN WEISE at the Smell; THE BLACK HEART PROCESSION, CHELSEA WOLFE at the Satellite; 30th ANNIVERSARY OF LOS ANGELES FREE MUSIC SOCIETY at the Getty Center.
CATALINA BAR & GRILL
Guitarist Mike Stern first came to prominence as a member of the Miles Davis bands of the 1980s, followed by more than a dozen solo albums and six Grammy nominations. In the late '80s and early '90s, Stern partnered with fellow Miles alumnus Bob Berg, creating some of the most memorable jazz of that period. Stern also played with Billy Cobham, Michael Brecker and the Brecker Brothers Band, and in recent years he has recorded and toured with the L.A.-based Yellowjackets. Sunday marks the final night of four (beginning Thursday), with Stern backed by Bob Malach on saxophone, Cameroon bassist/vocalist extraordinaire Richard Bona and longtime Chick Corea Elektric Band drummer Dave Weckl. The abundance of talent on these gigs should provide some of the best shows of the year at Catalina. —Tom Meek
BOB REYNOLDS at Cafe Cordiale.
Big Jay McNeely
JOE'S GREAT AMERICAN BAR
Big Jay McNeely, the critical tenor-sax R&B innovator whose incendiary sound touched off the early 1950s "honking" craze, may be well up in his 80s, but don't think for one minute that his volcanic style has lost any of its impact. When his mind-bending 1949 instrumental "Deacon's Hop" first hit the airwaves, its mixture of primitive abandon and sinuous, teasing melody was nothing short of revolutionary and quickly established him as an outright phenomenon. McNeely drew huge, mixed-race crowds throughout L.A., a fact that ultimately led the Los Angeles police to ban him from every dance hall and nightclub in the county. Using his flabbergasting lung power, outrageous showmanship and shrewd, psychologically exploitative techniques, he routinely whipped his audiences to fever pitch: The kids were opening the flies on their trousers, jumping out of balconies and generally going batshit crazy. He's a rough-and-ready R&B rebel with a cool jazz head, and any chance to see this Boss of the Blues is not to be squandered. —Jonny Whiteside
It's not really an oxymoron to say Nicole "Coco" Morier is the brains behind the electro-pop duo Electrocute. Although there may not appear to be anything brainy about fizzy dance tracks like "Tube Top" and "Shag Ball," not to mention the lyrics to "On the Beat" ("If you want to make them dance/get your spray-on hot pants"), it's actually not easy to write songs that are this silly and catchy. And, make no mistake, Morier's tunes are inescapably catchy. She's written songs for Tom Jones and Junkie XL, and her contributions to Britney Spears' last three albums are the guiltiest of pop pleasures. Morier's own music ranges from sleek synth-pop to lo-fi garage-rock, but it's all suffused with giddy, mesmerizingly sugary melodies. Her yearning new songs "My Satellite" and "Journey to the Center of the World" submerge her deepening romanticism in a sea of swirling synthesizers and infectiously boxy rhythms. —Falling James
JACQUES LESURE at Nola's; SISSY SPACEK at the Smell.
These San Francisco boys made a splash with their 2009 debut, thanks as much to their songs as to frontman Christopher Owens' purported history in the Children of God cult. Yet that lurid backstory seems to have played a smaller role in the warm reception given Girls' recent follow-up, and for good reason: Father, Son, Holy Ghost contains some of the sweetest, most tuneful indie pop you're likely to hear this year, and Owens' solid songcraft here transcends his damaged-innocent vibe. Which isn't to say it won't figure heavily into tonight's show, Girls' final scheduled date for 2011. Owens has been known to rock a flower-festooned mic stand onstage. With local surf-rock revivalists the Tyde. —Mikael Wood
The Sea and Cake
The Sea and Cake aren't concerned with doing anything new. Rather, all they want to do is be themselves and try out new sounds of interest while playing unapologetically contented music, and that's why we love them. On record, the long-standing Chicago indie band has traveled from pop to jazz, rock, electronica, lounge and even dance without ever completely settling on one style or another. Coasting along for nearly 20 years, The Sea and Cake have earned their title of masters of subtlety for their seemingly effortless ability to master the serene art of flow. Their latest experiment in tranquil pop, The Moonlight Butterfly, was released this year on Thrill Jockey. —Lainna Fader
KORN at Hollywood Palladium; PUSCIFER at Orpheum Theatre.
Lana Del Rey
At first glance, Lana Del Rey might seem like any vapid, young pop singer, with her sullen-model pout and glamorous press photos. But when she opens her mouth, her voice sounds soulfully ageless, communicating a bottomless sadness in just a few world-weary phrases. Her new single may be called "Video Games," but there's nothing fun or playful in the way she intones her solemn lyrics, as a harp rustles restlessly like a bird opening its wings. It's sad, it's grand, and it's compellingly moody. The only time Del Rey allows herself to smile in the accompanying video is when she muses, "I heard that you like the bad girls." Just a few years ago, this bad girl was known by her birth name, Lizzy Grant, but in reinventing herself, Del Rey has imbued herself with a fascinating new persona that somehow feels truer, even as she gets farther away from who she used to be. —Falling James
Peter Murphy, She Wants Revenge
If the past 70 years have taught us anything, it's that people will boil in flames for something they believe in. Cue Peter Murphy and his grueling, yearlong tour in support of his ninth solo studio album, titled, uh, Ninth. His latest live actions involve mostly songs from Ninth, hits like "Cuts You Up" and "A Strange Kind of Love," and Bauhaus songs with which for years he'd tease audiences by playing a few bars and then no more. It's a singularly weird experience watching the goths grind to a conflicted halt when "She's in Parties" turns on a shilling into that sleek, dubby masterpiece ebbing away. With the sterling pop of She Wants Revenge. —David Cotner
Critics widely despise The Kooks, apparently for the lack of a single original musical or lyrical thought in their shaggy heads. Well, geez, guilty as charged and an all-the-better indie-pop band for it. Never stuck for a melody, harmony or lilting groove, and tackling universal themes of lust and longing with a wry wink and grin, they share more than just letters with The Kinks. Like all great pop groups, these winsome Brits can imbue well-worn progressions and potentially stale sentiments with deep, if fleeting, meaning. Luke Pritchard's cursory flicks through loneliness and nostalgia offer opiate escapes that, quite consciously, change absolutely nothing. A musical make-out session, The Kooks are a visceral blast that neither invites nor rewards over-analysis. —Paul Rogers
Devon Williams is a talented singer-guitarist who most recently was spotted in the blissful pure-pop combo Lavender Diamond. He got his start in the late 1990s with the contrarian Epitaph Records punk band Osker, but the music on his new solo album, Euphoria, is light-years from that kind of sound and fury. His new power-pop songs sound stubbornly out of time — not just because they evoke the distant past of Brian Wilson's lightly psychedelic late-'60s and Robyn Hitchcock's revisionist '80s pop — but because his cheery melodies and rainbows-and-unicorns arrangements seem so oblivious to the New World Depression that we all live in. Perhaps Williams' love songs are from a lost place in time, or perhaps they work as a euphoric (so to speak) escape from the dreary drudgery that surrounds us. Either way, you won't find new pop songs that are any dreamier. —Falling James
TENNIS at the Satellite; PISTOL ANNIES at House of Blues; TEETH, BRANNIGAN'S LAW at the Smell; DANIEL ROSENBLUM SEPTET at Blue Whale.
At this summer's Rock the Bells, the inimitable neo-soul singer from Dallas strolled out and immediately showed why she's become a hip-hop muse (she's been romantically attached to Andre 3000, Common, The D.O.C. and Jay Electronica). Cutting her catlike eyes from side to side and swiveling her hips languorously, she flirted easily, tongue-in-cheek, just like all good Southern girls are taught from the time they toddle. And then those famously warm, honeyed vocals flowed over the crowd and chilled it out so much there wasn't much need for the weed they were packing. Incredibly comfortable and charming onstage, not only does she demand your attention but you just can't help but heap it on her. Hey, if some of the best rappers are mesmerized, how could you expect to tear your eyes away? —Rebecca Haithcoat
SISTER CRAYON, TYCHO at the Echoplex; FREDDIE GIBBS, FASHAWN, EXILE at the Roxy; JOHN DAVERSA BIG BAND at Catalina; JONATHAN WILSON, JENNY O at the Troubadour.
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