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Music Picks: Gary Clark Jr., Those Darlins, Wiz Khalifa

The Mynabirds
The Mynabirds
PHOTO BY DP MULLER

fri 11/9

Ute Lemper

SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Ute Lemper is already a masterful interpreter of sad/romantic/tragic balladry, whether she's bringing to life "Mack the Knife" and other cabaret chansons by Kurt Weill or transmuting the surly poetry of Charles Bukowski into song form. But tonight her wonderfully expressive pipes are supported by the full force of the Pacific Symphony and conductor Carl St. Clair. The German diva is often backed by smaller jazz-cabaret ensembles, so it should be some kind of an enchanted evening when she wends her way through a grand, string-laden orchestration of Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins" along with a trio of classic tunes by George Gershwin ("An American in Paris," "I Got Rhythm" and "Naughty Baby"). For all of her brassy declamations, Lemper will likely be at her most captivating when she brings it down and closes with a brace of intimate love songs by Edith Piaf. Also Saturday. —Falling James

Alphonso Johnson

BLUE WHALE

When the band Weather Report hired a young Philadelphia bassist who could be simultaneously free and funky, the resulting albums catapulted the group to international stardom in the '70s. That young man, Alphonso Johnson, eventually left the band, allowing a prodigy named Jaco Pastorius to rise to fame. But he kept close friendships with Weather Report founders Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. At age 61, he remains a compassionate powerhouse, teaching young musicians, maintaining an active performance career, and looking to revisit the music that changed his life. Johnson has arranged the music of Shorter and Zawinul for a larger ensemble, featuring horns alongside legendary percussionist Airto Moreira, who recorded on the very first album. The music remains visionary and fathomless, reinforcing its creators' reputation as two of the greatest jazz composers of all time. —Gary Fukushima

sat 11/10

Sera Cahoone

THE SATELLITE

Sera Cahoone's background as a drummer with Band of Horses, Patrick Park and Carissa's Wierd did little to prepare the world for what her music would sound like once she struck out on her own as a solo singer-guitarist. The Seattle resident returns to the fundamentals with little more than her own acoustic guitar and perhaps a starkly clucking banjo and weepy lap-steel guitar or an austere piano accompanying her on such folk-country laments as "Only As the Day Is Long," "Evita" and "Happy When I'm Gone." What sets Cahoone's music apart is the languidly rueful tone of her vocals, which imbues her ballads with a confessional warmth that helps to stave off those cold Pacific Northwest winters. —Falling James

Those Darlins

THE TROUBADOUR

Didn't they kinda used to be a country band? But Those Darlins aren't so darlin' no more. Instead, they're making born-to-be-on–Burger Records garage pop that plops the Leave Home–era Ramones down in Nashville with directions to the liquor store and Lover's Lane. Recent album Screws Loose is a second take on the punk greats of '78: crass like the Dictators, creepy like the Cramps and hilarious like the Dickies. The Southern drawl adds plenty of character, as on the let-'em-down-easy song "Be Your Bro": "I just wanna beat each other up on the playground/stay up till stupid late o' clock to see who can drink the most/... put a bunch of eggs in the microwave ..." Swap out "Hey! Ho!" for "Yee haw!," and you'll be ready to go. —Chris Ziegler

Mumford and Sons

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Mumford and Sons formed about six years ago, but it wasn't until 2010 that they took off. Now they're selling out multiple nights at the Hollywood Bowl. The new album, Babel, is a strong follow-up to Sigh No More and suggests that there's a long and robust career ahead of them. The band's four multi-instrumentalists craft exceptionally rich and varying songs that combine rock structure with folk techniques, using instruments common to both folk and pop. Sincere vocals blend seamlessly with powerful, rolling banjos, then layer delicately during sudden decrescendos and finger-style guitar parts. The lyrics often reference classic literature while beautifully telling a story. And if you think the albums kick ass, you're in for a treat with their live show. —Diamond Bodine-Fischer

sun 11/11

Jimmy Branly

VITELLO'S

Cuban-born drummer Jimmy Branly began studying music in Havana as a boy before being introduced to Deep Purple, Rush and Led Zeppelin — and then jazz. His first professional gigs were at age 15, and he moved through a variety of settings before meeting pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, with whom he honed his drumming skills before leaving for Los Angeles in 1996. Branly's joy over his drum kit is matched by the veteran bassist Abraham Laboriel Sr., who is part of every performance. He's also a great dancer. Venezuelan pianist Otmaro Ruiz is one of the finest jazz and Latin pianists on the West Coast — the three team tonight at Vitello's in Studio City to celebrate the release of Branly's first album as leader. —Tom Meek

The Sea and Cake, Matthew Friedberger

BOOTLEG THEATeR

Chicago veterans The Sea and Cake are the Steely Dan of indie rock, crafting a breezy, clean-lined pop that follows its catchy muse onto edgier, jazzier turf. The Chicago crew's eighth album, Car Alarm, is another sweetly modernist set of deliciously dreamy auras interlaced with gently experimental electronics, Brazilian-tinged harmonies and muscular-but-unobtrusive playing chops, courtesy of Sam Prekop (guitar and vocals), Archer Prewitt (guitar), Tortoise's John McEntire (drums) and Eric Claridge (bass). Matthew Friedberger, the brother half of Fiery Furnaces, is a popcraft pointyhead with an unmatched gift for turning music inside out and tickling it on its chin. His just-out Matricidal Sons of Bitches — the nonexistent soundtrack for an unfilmed film — samples curious sounds from exotic locales for your head-skewing, toe-tapping pleasure. —John Payne

mon 11/12

The Abigails

THE ECHO

Ex-Growler Warren Thomas is a tattooed dude with a gleam in his eye and a guitar in his hand, who leads his band The Abigails out into the kind of dark, dark night that both Lee Hazlewood and Roky Erickson would have loved to sing about — where love and death are kind of the

same thing, and whiskey is the medicine for both. It's the kind of haunted, ramshackle country-punk that would have sounded real good between Tav Falco and Skip Spence or any of the other brave fools

who decided to make Americana sound as if it came from another planet. The band's recent LP, Songs of Love and Despair (on Burger/Mono), has a big black hole on the cover, just to remind you where they're coming from. —Chris Ziegler

In The Valley Below

BOOTLEG BAR

Looking like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman walk-ons, and with an eye-contact connection to rival Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in their good times, Echo Park hubby-and-wife Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob patchwork together love-in-ready bluesy rock, '80s synth 'n' beatbox pop, and aughties folk revivalism without showing the stitching. Mellow, dramatic and Manson Family–mesmerized, they spread word of their brave new world through singable storytelling that bares their souls while hinting at hidden meanings. "Palm Tree Fire," from their just-released namesake debut, is like the best of Phil Collins recorded against a Mojave sunrise, while coed timbres aid, abet and pirouette with gospel-tinted Laurel Canyon–scene nostalgia on "Take Me Back." Accessible yet arcane, and almost worryingly sincere. Also 11/19 and 11/26. —Paul Rogers

tue 11/13

Gary Clark Jr.

THE TROUBADOUR

"You're going to know my name by the end of the night," Gary Clark Jr. insists on his new album, Blak and Blu. The warning is far more than just an idle boast, as the Austin singer underscores his bluesy declaration with sizzling guitar riffs that literally embody the classic Jimmy Reed song title "Bright Lights." Plenty of other blues experts already know his name, including B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger, who jammed with the 28-year-old upstart at the White House earlier this year. Unlike so many blues revivalists, Clark doesn't play guitar with a timidly retro reverence; instead, he attacks his ax with a bloody, messy and loudly fuzzed-out fervor that's closer to Jimi Hendrix in spirit than to, say, Robert Cray. Also Wed. and Thurs. —Falling James

Wiz Khalifa & The Taylor Gang

Gibson Amphitheatre

Rhyming since elementary school age, the triple Grammy Award–nominated Wiz Khalifa first registered on the national hip-hop radar in 2005 with the release of his memorable mixtape Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania. One year later, his major label debut, Show and Prove, was considered "one of the best albums of the year" by OKAYPLAYER.COM. Several mixtapes and label migrations later, the world was forced to take notice in 2010, when infectious anthem "Black and Yellow" peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100. Khalifa is promoting the April release of his latest effort, O.N.I.F.C. This show features his posse of longtime collaborators, The Taylor Gang. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

wed 11/14

The Mynabirds

THE BOOTLEG THEATER

"When the music is on, I get my best blood drawn," Laura Burhenn confides on the Mynabirds' new album, Generals. The Omaha-based singer doesn't mind bleeding for her art, but she isn't exactly happy when assorted generals and politicians take her blood, sweat and tears and "keep putting all our cash into the next bloodbath." It's enough to make Burhenn slap on her war paint and beat her "marching drum," but the singer-keyboardist retains her sensitive side on introspective early ballads like "L.A. Rain," where she soulfully evokes the lonely corners of this old town: "Another heart attack today up on the 405/The sirens came, and they went away/They told me I'd be fine ... I got lost again today out on the 101/The exits came and they went away/But I kept driving on." —Falling James

Goldenboy

BOOTLEG THEATER

Diamond Bar natives Goldenboy rereleased their most identifiable work, Blue Swan Orchestra, on its 10th anniversary, immediately followed by a new full-length, The New Familiar. Although a decade apart, the proximity of these two albums shows how little the group has changed. With all the ingredients for a serviceable indie-pop group, Goldenboy fall just short of unforgettable. Their head-swaying melodies are always pretty, but that means they don't quite make it to gorgeous. The band's central figure, guitar aficionado Shon Sullivan (of Spain and Elliott Smith fame), adds a feminine touch to the dual vocals of "The Right Chemistry," giving it texture in the process. Strings and whistles give bite to the otherwise innocuous "Steal Your Face." Familiar remains, for the most part, indiscernible but safe in its simplicity. —Lily Moayeri

thu 11/15

Funkmosphere East

THE VIRGIL

Culver City's Funkmosphere is one of L.A.'s iconic club nights, thanks, in part to its founder, international sensation Dam-Funk, whose unflagging devotion not just to funk as music but funk as a way of life helped haul '70s and '80s funk and boogie from the fringe (where it was hiding) to the dance floor (where it deserved to be). After six years, the original Funkmosphere could no longer be contained by a single night on the Westside, so Dam and his unparalleled squad of residents — Billy Goods, Laroj, Matt Respect, Eddy Funkster and Randy Watson — set up the brand-new Funkmosphere East every Thursday at the recently redone Virgil. (They're perpetually filming a sequel to their famously cable-access-a-rific Funkmosphere commercial, available online to dazzle you.) If you ever need a reminder of why you're living in this city, glide on out to this. —Chris Ziegler