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Music Picks: Kitten, Janelle Monáe, Doug Paisley

Jaded Incorporated: See Monday.
Jaded Incorporated: See Monday.
PHOTO BY JEREMY DEPUTAT

fri 6/20

Jessica Lea Mayfield

THE ROXY

Jessica Lea Mayfield started singing at an early age, performing with her family in the bluegrass band One Way Rider when she was just 8 years old. On her third solo album, Make My Head Sing, the Ohio native dramatically shifts away from the folk and country influences of her early releases into a heavier, grungier sound. The opening track, "Oblivious," unwinds with woozy, bluesy chords and hard-rock thunder topped by Mayfield's sweetly serene vocals. "I Wanna Love You" and the eerie "Party Drugs" are contrastingly mellow, as she coos amid a tangle of restless guitars. "Standing in the Sun" burns with an ethereal glow, but the fuzz and distortion return with a somberly chilling vengeance on "Pure Stuff." —Falling James

Los Microwaves

THE SMELL

Los Microwaves took DNA from Devo and built a cheerfully bizarre '70s/'80s, synth-y, art-punk sound, which brought them collector acclaim if not quite international fame. Put it this way: They released more records than The Screamers, but they're in far fewer karaoke machines than The B-52's. Still, this was a band whose best songs were challenging, surreal and just bristling with future-primitive synthesizer riffs, like their 1981 almost-hit "Time to Get Up" — which helps you start your day the THX-1138 way! — or its bad-trip B-side, "TV in My Eye." (Famously covered in fast and nasty punk style by infamous locals Le Shok, by the way.) There couldn't possibly be a better warm-up (get it?) for the Hardcore Devo tour at the end of June than this Los Microwaves reunion. —Chris Ziegler

sat 6/21

Kitten

EL REY

With their debut album due next week, local throwback new-wavers Kitten have essentially become front gal Chloe Chaidez and a revolving door of bandmates. Which is predictable enough, considering it's Chaidez's breathy, melodramatic yelp that largely sets her band apart from any number of retro hipsters plundering Walkman-era staples from Berlin and Missing Persons. Indeed, what's most remarkable about Kitten is that, with most of its influences predating the still-teenage Chaidez entirely, she and mentor/manager/producer Chad Anderson have so deftly re-created the neon-flecked, futuristic aura of so many glossily produced '80s synth-guitar collisions. Whether Kitten is a band or a solo project, it offers tuneful escape for the kids and comforting familiarity for mom and pop. —Paul Rogers

Milk Carton Kids

JAPAN AMERICA THEATRE

When Eagle Rock natives Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan weave their voices together, the effect can silence the most restive crowd. Then one of them will crack a joke and leave that same crowd in stitches. With their vintage guitars and microphones, Milk Carton Kids often are labeled folk revivalists, especially since many audiences discover them through NPR's roots-leaning Mountain Stage or the HBO documentary Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis. While their approach can seem antiquated, the results often feel thrillingly original, and quickly put to rest any easy Simon and Garfunkel or Welch and Rawlings comparisons. They're promoting a new concert DVD, Live From Lincoln Theatre, but their haunting harmonies are best heard in a live setting. —Andy Hermann

Fu Manchu, The Freeks

TROUBADOUR

Longtime local stoner-rockers Fu Manchu have always had a mighty sound, so it's no surprise that their 11th album is titled Gigantoid. Tracks such as "Anxiety Reducer" unfold with massive, Tony Iommi–style riffs underneath Bob Balch's lead-guitar squalling. "Radio Source Sagittarius" is like an endless series of punches to the stomach, as singer-guitarist Scott Hill growls dour pronouncements. Fu Manchu's original drummer, Ruben Romano, paves the way tonight with his scuzzy-fuzzy outfit, The Freeks, whose 0x000A0x000Anew album, Full On, rumbles with skittering wah-wah-guitar workouts such as "Big Black Chunk" and the ominous psychedelic passages of "Vitamin D." The Freeks lower the volume for a brief spell amid the acoustic strumming of "Splitting Atoms," on which Romano's trippy vocals and Jonathan Hall's soaring lead guitar evoke the 13th Floor Elevators. —Falling James

sun 6/22

Janelle Monáe, 0x000ASeun Kuti & Egypt 80

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Janelle Monáe falls to her Earth tonight with freaky, funky tunes from her aptly titled second album, Electric Lady. "My spaceship leaves at 10," the self-proclaimed "electro-sophista-funky-lady" advises on the title track. "We the kind of girls who ain't afraid to get down." Dishing her glittery tales of interstellar romance, Monáe comes off as smart, sassy and more than a little spacey, abetted by such simpatico souls as Erykah Badu, Solange, Miguel, Esperanza Spalding and Prince. Tonight's aural universe expands further with an appearance by Seun Kuti, backed by his late father Fela Kuti's legendary Afropop band, Egypt 80. On their new Robert Glasper–produced album, A Long Way to the Beginning, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 come off as insanely funky under a hail of slip-sliding guitars and a fusillade of frenetic saxophone retorts from their bandleader. —Falling James

mon 6/23

Jaded Incorporated

SCHOOL NIGHT AT BARDOT

Jaded Incorporated is Mayer Hawthorne and fellow Michigander 14KT, aka Kendall Tucker of the hip-hop collective Athletic Mic League. Although they're longtime collaborators, this is the duo's first project together. Coining the term "beat wave" on their debut, The Big Knock, they draw from synthesizer-based postpunk and new wave, with a nod to ghettotech and booty (see the title track for the latter). The Big Knock doesn't have Hawthorne's heartbreak or Tucker's soul-driven R&B — not even on "Monster," which includes a late-'90s J Dilla beat. Instead, it has a Thomas Dolby–like buzz and a metronome beat, exemplified by "Coconut Sofa." Still, Hawthorne's humor surfaces in the robotic honks of the storytelling "Half Moon Bar OK." It wouldn't be a huge stretch for these two to top off their sharp suits with robot helmets. —Lily Moayeri

tue 6/24

Doug Paisley

HOTEL CAFE

Low-key, straightforward and earnest are a few words that might describe Doug Paisley. On his latest record, Strong Feelings (No Quarter), the Toronto singer-songwriter presses the reset button on the country/folk-rock/roots thing with a burnished batch of heartfelt tunes that steers miraculously clear of the saccharine, relying instead on Paisley's fine instincts for the plainspoken powerful. A tad more ornately arranged than the minimalist glories of 2010's much-praised Constant Companion, the new album is a richly textured experience shaded with rolling, funky elegance by guest organ/piano man Garth Hudson of The Band. Paisley seemed to pop out of the box with startlingly assured songwriting and radio-ready singing chops, and he proves once again the timeless appeal of a well-crafted song sung and played as if it really means something. —John Payne

wed 6/25

Sly & Robbie

ECHOPLEX

Rarely has any rhythm section been blessed with the electrifying natural synchronicity that has always characterized drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare's ineffably appealing music. The dubwise duo first joined forces a lifetime ago in Kingston, Jamaica, and instantly began making significant contributions to dub and reggae during the idiom's feverish mid-1970s pinnacle. With an estimated 200,000 session and production jobs to their credit, they have never broken their momentous stride, continuing an extraordinary artistic crusade that has only increased the potency of their chronically mesmerizing skills. These critical dub spearheads have a profound, nigh on sacred dedication to the groove, and the other seven cats riding along in the Taxi Gang band are certifiable zealots with an equal measure of mysterioso dub power. Expect nothing less than an earful of downright alchemical prowess tonight. —Jonny Whiteside

Ian McLagan

THE MINT

Ian McLagan made his bones with the oft-underrated '60s rock band Small Faces and continued on with the more stylistically erratic Faces, laying down rollicking keyboard parts whose R&B authenticity counteracted bandmate Rod Stewart's more commercial instincts. The British piano man later was a part of The Rolling Stones, particularly on the Some Girls tour in 1978, where he occasionally traded licks with fellow keyboardists Nicky Hopkins and Ian Stewart. McLagan has since gone on to front his own group, The Bump Band, penning songs with former bandmate Ron Wood. On recent releases such as Live at the Lucky Lounge and United States, McLagan and pals disburse a merrily rocking sound that draws equally from blues, R&B, soul and classic rock. —Falling James

thu 6/26

Fuck Buttons

EL REY

U.K. electro duo Fuck Buttons met in art school and over the past decade, on only three albums, have created aural masterpieces. Using the simplest of instruments, such as children's toys and Casio keyboards, Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power build a mélange of rigorous and angular sounds that mesmerize. Unlike many of their electronic counterparts, Fuck Buttons need no antics or grand gesticulations to rev up their audience; the music speaks for itself. But they're not above enhancing the live experience, and this tour features a stimulating visual show that has already wowed at their European dates, with pulsing lights and projected images that throw the duo into mysterious silhouette. They're playful, they're aggressive, they'll have your aliens-do-exist imagination running wild. —Britt Witt

Kaveh Rastegar

BLUE WHALE

What could be better than touring the world alternately with a trendsetting jazz group (Kneebody) and an Italian pop star (Luciano Ligabue)? For bassist Kaveh Rastegar, what's better is to keep doing the former while spending more time in Los Angeles at the forefront of all things musically interesting and happening. His recent projects include writing for Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green, Meshell Ndegeocello and De La Soul, and he'll be performing with Sia (as musical director) and John Legend this summer. At Blue Whale, he's enlisted keyboardist Jeff Babko, drummer Louis Cole and guitarist Timothy Young, playing music from Rastegar's soon-to-be-released solo album and arrangements of his favorite songs, with maybe something by The Clash's Mick Jones, as it's his birthday. Yes, you should go. —Gary Fukushima

Jaded Incorporated: See Monday.
PHOTO BY JEREMY DEPUTAT

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