Music Picks: Growlers, Murs, Jessie Evans

Jessie Evans: See Saturday.
Jessie Evans: See Saturday.

fri 12/27



There are living legends, and then there are Living Legends. Even among all the members of the celebrated Southland hip-hop supergroup, Murs stands out as an especially incisive and provocative rapper. His sharp words are put to good use in his newest project, The White Mandingos, wherein Murs collaborates with Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer and examines the contradictions of a black artist trying to succeed in the still-narrow confines of the rock scene. On their new album, The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me, Murs describes the Mandingos' sound as "hardcore hip-hop with some punk in it/Criss cross, bebop/Put some Monk in it" and points out that "artists one-dimensional will always be loneliest [and] ... need some evolution." Whether the former Nick Carter is performing solo or with his various projects (including The Invincibles, 3 Melancholy Gypsies and Felt), he is ever evolving. —Falling James

The Growlers, The Abigails, Mystic Braves


It's almost a tradition now, the way The Growlers pull friends and family together for back-to-back local shows each winter. This makes sense, since this is also the band that used to load up all its most hard-core fans to tour with it in a partied-out former school bus. See, The Growlers like to bring everybody along for the ride, and these end-of-the-year shows make for some of the heaviest trips they take. Since they began in Orange County years ago, The Growlers have had plenty of genres attached to them — surf, garage, psych, rockabilly, pop, punk and more besides — and across this three-night stand in Echo Park, you'll be able to see them dismantle, absorb and mutate just about every type of guitar-ish music there is into something especially Growlified. With fellow travelers The Abigails and Mystic Braves. (Also Saturday, Dec. 28, at the Echo, and in the round Sunday, Dec. 29, at the Echoplex.) —Chris Ziegler

sat 12/28

Jessie Evans, Native Fauna


As a member of The Vanishing and throughout her solo career, Jessie Evans has always been an especially captivating performer, slinking around the stage in vintage circus outfits and pumping up her exotic tunes with sunny blasts from her saxophone. On her new album, Glittermine, the Berlin-based chanteuse continues to fuse Afrobeat into her electro pop, crafting a sensual sound that's both danceable and evocatively mysterious. Setting the mood for Evans' appearance will be local shape-shifters Native Fauna. Decked out in swanlike robes and gauzy frocks, like a tripped-out Cleopatra, lead singer Cameron Murray conjures entrancing spells that range from dramatic Siouxsie Sioux–style grandeur to a candied Kate Bush melodicism, as her band pumps out music that's simultaneously propulsive, arty and airily magical. —Falling James

sun 12/29

Reverend Beat-Man, Becky Lee & Drunkfoot


At tonight's battle of one-person bands, Becky Lee puts her best and most drunken foot forward as she simultaneously strums guitar and stomps on her drums while chanting fiery, garage-rock opuses. While it's certainly diverting to watch the Tempe, Ariz., singer manipulate her drum kit and ax with various available limbs, what matters most is that raw, feral tunes like "Lies" and "Killer Mouse" are totally engrossing — regardless of how many humans are actually in her "band." Lee raises serious chills when she howls, "My love is creeping around your bed," in between searing chords of bluesy, fuzzed-out guitar. Headliner Reverend Beat-Man hails from Switzerland and has a rootsy, stripped-down sound, but he also moves away from kitsch with autobiographical rants such as "I See the Light," where he turns his incestuous family history into a surreally devilish fairy tale. Also at Cafe Nela on Saturday, Dec. 28. —Falling James

Fresh Fest


KDAY's Fresh Fest 2013 features performances by storied rap acts, including Lil Kim, Scarface, Too $hort and E-40, along with a few surprise guests. The show also includes sets by Mystikal and Ja Rule, both Grammy-nominated rappers who attained major-label success in the mid- and late '90s during the apex of rap's bling era. Mystikal subsequently served a six-year sentence after pleading guilty to sexual battery. Ja Rule served a two-year sentence at a Brooklyn detention center after being found guilty of tax evasion and in possession of drugs and guns; he was released in May. According to a September interview with Hot 97's Angie Martinez, Ja plans to write a book about his highly publicized beef with rapper/mogul 50 Cent. In any case, with all of these artists under the same roof, tonight's show certainly will be interesting. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

mon 12/30

Blind Boy Paxton


At first glance, Blind Boy Paxton seems like he's all about shtick — clad in a bib and trucker overalls, ablaze with a zealot's fixation on the rural blues and rags of early–20th century America and performing with an eerie authenticity so acutely realized that one fairly expects to hear the pop and hiss of a beat-up Victrola disk whenever the cat opens his mouth. But the kid is no joke hokum merchant — he bears down on the music with admirable intensity, palpable involvement and so much sheer talent that it's downright flabbergasting. (Yes, he is legally blind.) Paxton not only transcends the stifling shackles of gee-whiz nostalgia that hobbles so many of his retro-recidivist colleagues, he operates at an artistic altitude that's simply out of this world. —Jonny Whiteside


tue 12/31



As the pagans gather to celebrate the dawn of 2014, Tel Aviv–based DJ Borgore will provide the soundtrack, at least in this corner of Hollywood. The 26-year-old DJ, born Asaf Borger, will get bodies moving, in fact flailing, to his trademark Gore­step, an ear-pummeling blend of triplet drum patterns and heavy metal. Though he got his start playing drums for death-metal outfit Shabira, the DJ has become better known for his work with Tomba in dubstep duo Alphamale Primates. As a solo performer, he has won the approval of musicians from Miley Cyrus to Waka Flocka Flame, both of whom appear on his tracks. With Borgore's appeal stretching beyond the world of EDM, his ticket to international superstardom seems to be a sure thing in 2014. —Daniel Kohn

Boys Noize with Madeon, DJ Snake, GTA, Feed Me, Brazzabell


The curators of L.A.'s OMFG! New Year's Eve party have selected a lineup so destined for the dance floor and so dangerous on the eardrums as to live up to their audacious exclamation point. British dubstep king Feed Me will officially count down to 2014, but German electro-maestro (and skillful remixer) Boys Noize will kick it off when he takes the stage just after midnight. In June, 31-year-old Alexander Ridha released Go Hard, his latest effort on Boysnoize Records, a label he founded in 2005 to take full control of his sound before bringing in Spank Rock, The Faint and more than a dozen other acts. Along the way, he has not blurred genre lines as much as demolished them — incorporating acid, techno and house along with the sounds of every artist he's broken down and rebuilt. In a party that goes until 2 a.m., French soundsmiths Madeon and DJ Snake, Miami duo GTA and L.A.'s own Brazzabelle will join Boys Noize to ring in the New Year in a way that will leave your ears ringing. —Kelsey Whipple

Sérgio Mendes, Sheila E.


After 70-odd years and 50-plus albums, Sérgio Mendes still has it. The Brazilian boss o' bossa nova, who brought his sound to a whole new audience by collaborating with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Black Thought on 2006's Timeless, is playing not one but two "Carnival at the Hall" concerts to welcome 2014 (at 7 and 10:30 p.m.). The singer-pianist's performances, propelled by an animated band, inevitably culminate with a now rap–injected version of his 1966 breakthrough tune, "Mas Que Nada" (actually a Jorge Ben cover), which he recently rerecorded with The Black Eyed Peas. Still perhaps best known for her 1980s work with Prince, the ever-glamorous Sheila E. is an instinctively flamboyant, party-starting percussionist who's no slouch as a singer and bandleader, either. —Paul Rogers

The Entrance Band


It's like a magic serum, the way ax-slinger-singer Guy Blakeslee draws revelation from his raw electric blues–cum–Coltrane raga flights, flying fearless to ecstatic elsewheres. Charismatic bassist Paz Lenchantin and drummer Derek James form a rock-solid monolith from which Blakeslee takes his wild leaps of faith. The band's new Face the Sun was the result of some trying times in the last year or so, painful, sad stuff, which they've put to good use in songs that illuminate the cathartic power of confronting the darkness on the other side of the trance. These days, you don't get this level of commitment to sonic truth from much rock or any other kind of music, so to have Blakeslee and crew put their hearts, souls and considerable artistry on the rack and stretch it soooo long is a privilege to hear. —John Payne

wed 1/1

Shafiq Husayn


Producer and polymath Shafiq Husayn has been building something big for a long time — namely, the torturously anticipated album The LooP, which just came into focus a little bit more with the recent release of The Alignment: Beats Tru Mentals Vol. 2, 25 instrumental and vocal tracks that point to something that's well worth the wait. Since his days in Sa-Ra, Husayn has been working toward an ever deeper, dynamic and more detailed sound — something that flows and refines itself to fit in some natural space between hip-hop, R&B, jazz and the spheres beyond jazz, as most deftly charted by artists like Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. (Or "universal classical music," as the snippet of dialogue on The Alignment explains.) For now, he'll be playing Low End on the first day of the new year, hopefully revealing a little more of The LooP and offering a nice reminder of how much might be possible in all our futures. —Chris Ziegler


thu 1/2



The Haden family has been popping up all over our collective consciousness lately. Jazz bass legend and patriarch Charlie Haden just made a rare appearance at REDCAT, while daughters Rachel (The Rentals), Petra (That Dog) and Tanya (Silversun Pickups) are reuniting their beloved roots-pop band, The Haden Triplets. Not to be outdone, their brother, Josh, brings his old band, Spain, out from the shadows. Whereas his dad was famous for intuitive bass runs under Ornette Coleman's sax patterns, and his sisters harmonize so dreamily together, Josh Haden specializes in a more contemplative and sonically spacious form of balladry, such as the funereally glassy "Spiritual." —Falling James

Ja Rule: See Saturday.

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