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Music Picks: Neil Young, Aimee Mann, Low End Theory Anniversary

Amon Tobin's ISAM: See Friday.
Amon Tobin's ISAM: See Friday.
PHOTO BY CALDER WILSON

fri 10/12

Patti Smith

THE WILTERN

In the wake of her best-selling 2010 memoir, Just Kids, Patti Smith cracks open the universe a little further on her 11th album, Banga, covering a wide range of heavy subjects on her first album of new material in eight years. "This Is the Girl" is a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, while "Fuji-san" pays homage to victims of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. "We'll burn all of our poems/Add to God's debris," Smith declares on "April Fool," a gentle pop song in which the New York poet-singer sounds like The Motels' Martha Davis, of all people. She writes about writing ("We'll ride like writers ride/neither rich nor broke") and sees the world, and solar system, through the eyes of ancient explorers ("Amerigo") and Russian film directors ("Tarkovsky"). On the 10-minute epic "Constantine's Dream," Smith weaves a typically engrossing and slowly building incantation filled with rich historical and religious allusions, culminating in a mad flurry of violin and lead guitar. —Falling James

Busdriver

BOOTLEG THEATRE

Behold rapper Busdriver, the polysyllabic polymath who is truly, beautifully and persistently doing his own thing, including collabs with DIY experimental punk bands and the routine dispensation of Can references. He first blinded minds with a wordcram MC style closer to a fingertap guitar solo than what conventional science might consider rap, but in the decade or so since those first releases, he discovered a space all his own in between hip-hop, pop, electronica and experimental music of the most enthusiastic kind. Recent album Beaus$Eros and companion EP Arguments With Dreams (with guest spots from Nocando and Open Mike Eagle, also playing this show) put new satellites in the Busdriver sky — all the better to beam down his messages to this, his possibly adopted home planet. —Chris Ziegler

Amon Tobin

GREEK THEATRe

From his perch high inside a towering 3-D art installation, DJ/sound artist/avant-garde hip-hopper Amon Tobin controls the visual score to the music from his recent album ISAM. Tobin boldly goes where no man or dog has gone before, exploring an ever-morphing black hole of wickedly beautiful sounds that veer ever further from the hip-hop DNA of his earlier animations. The visuals are synced to the music from the album's nonlinear storylines, careening through hair-raisingly gorgeous and grandiloquent flights punctuated by shocks of mighty sonic boomery. Never much concerned with how he fits into the general scheme of things, Tobin and his thrilling new-things-are-possible vision obliterate stylistic boundaries with art for the body and the brain. —John Payne

The xx

HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM

This trio's eponymous 2009 debut, released when its members were just teenagers, triggered a buzz almost religious in its fervor. Follow-up album Coexist, released last month, continues where its predecessor left off both musically (harplike guitars; lonesome boy/girl vocals; bulbous chill-out grooves) and in critical response ("Intravenous and heavenly," gushed Drowned in Sound). Exquisite in execution and efficient of expression, these Brits squander neither a note nor a percussive event, embracing traditional structures and arrangements only when they speak to the song. Any writing template is camouflaged beneath the timbres of Romy Madley Croft (breathy, wounded, gently soulful) and Oliver Sim (lightly grained, conversationally sexy), and in-band producer Jamie Smith's artful training of club-born beats into messages more of the morning after than the night before. Also Saturday at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. —Paul Rogers

sat 10/13

Aimee Mann

WILSHIRE EBELL

When a slyly witty songwriter like Aimee Mann calls her new album Charmer, you can assume that at least a little bit of sarcasm lies just beneath the ostensibly sunny title. (Her previous album, after all, was cheerfully named @#%&*! Smilers.) "When you're a charmer, the world applauds," Mann confesses amid the deceptively perky New Wave keyboards of the title track. "They don't know that secretly charmers feel like they're frauds." Fraud or not, the former 'Til Tuesday singer has delivered an album that is indeed charming. She exchanges lovelorn advice with The Shins' James Mercer on the power-pop gem "Living a Lie," finds herself living in a "Crazytown" and even takes the time to laugh at her old image in footage for "Labrador," which parodies the video of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 hit, "Voices Carry." As usual, what brings it all home so effectively are Mann's melodic and distinctively rueful vocals. —Falling James

John Daversa Small Band

BLUE WHALE

Trumpet wiz John Daversa has been fronting his big band around SoCal for more than a decade, playing some of the most original and challenging arrangements anywhere. Over the last several years Daversa also has developed a small ensemble, allowing him more freedom to stretch, especially on the rarely heard EVI, a combination trumpet/synthesizer. Daversa has released his first CD with the small band, "Artful Joy," which also showcases Robby Marshall (sax), Jerry Watts Jr. (bass), Gene Coye (drums) and more. Tommy King will be handling keyboards this weekend, along with guests Renee Olstead and Katisse Buckingham. Expect a lively crowd, and even livelier music as Daversa trots out tunes like "Some Happy Shit." Also Sunday. —Tom Meek

Bill Frisell

ROYCE HALL

The watery disasters of Katrina, Indonesia and Japan are recent reminders of nature's indiscriminate tyranny over our fragile humanity. One notable historical example is the Mississippi River flood of 1927, which devastated the South and caused another flood of people to migrate all the way to Chicago, among them Delta blues musicians whose exodus we have to thank for the evolution of blues, jazz, R&B and rock. The event is re-examined in a new film by Bill Morrison, set to live music by guitar legend Bill Frisell. Morrison specializes in displaying ancient, damaged film as a kind of found art, and for this Frisell is the perfect score writer: He's a master at excavating new conceptions in traditional roots. With trumpeter Ron Miles, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen. —Gary Fukushima

sun 10/14

Smashing Pumpkins

Gibson Amphitheatre

The Smashing Pumpkins are a rock band, make no mistake. Billy Corgan may write rich, artful music, but his songs have rock & roll heart. And that's true even in the Pumpkins' latest lineup, which features Corgan along with new members on bass, drums and guitar. Their album Oceania is true to the Pumpkins' classic sound, which isn't surprising, considering Corgan was long recognized as the band's songwriter — it's full of great tracks with no cutting-room-floor filler. The Smashing Pumpkins' live shows have always been driven by powerful sound rather than relying on things like pyrotechnics and lighting trickery. Sometimes there's flash and madness onstage; other times it's just musicians playing good music. From beginning to end, the show is never short of extraordinary. —Diamond Bodine-Fischer

mon 10/15

Joyce Manor

CENTER FOR THE ARTS, EAGLE ROCK

South Bay punk-pop band Joyce Manor have gone from house parties to festival shows pretty damn quick, but what can you do? They have charisma, hooks, the decorum you need to keep going even when your fans get obsessive, and of course they've got the songs, too. Recent album Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired is the kind of smart, suburban punk you'd be proud to rep with a sticker on the back window of your used hatchback — a little Descendents, a little less Smiths and a lot of heart and velocity. If you ever heard a little record by Lifetime called Jersey's Best Dancers, you'll get what this is instantly. If not, you'll wanna make sure to commit every lyric to instantly shoutable memory for the very next show. —Chris Ziegler

tue 10/16

Ellie Goulding

TROUBADOUR

Befitting its title, "Anything Could Happen," the new single from Ellie Goulding's upcoming album, Halcyon, practically exudes hope and wonder, as layers of exuberant Kate Bush–style vocals dance over waves of shiny synthesizer and chirpy beats. Yet, underneath all that gloss, the British singer allows that the world is full of darkness and that wars lurk just beyond her lover's embrace. But it takes the relatively harsh declamations of guest rapper Tinie Tempah to contrast Goulding's airy cooing on "Hanging On," giving the song's poppy dreaminess some unexpected and much-needed emotional heft. While Goulding's radio-friendly tunes will likely never be as inventively aggressive as her boyfriend Skrillex's jumbled sonic architecture, she's at her most interesting when she strays from the middle of the road and takes unexpected detours on shadowy side roads. —Falling James

Abandon All Ships

ROXY

If you thought Auto-Tune had been elevated to quasi-instrument status only by hip-hop and R&B artists, these young Canadians confirm that metalcore, too, has succumbed to the charms of pitch overcorrection. While Jersey Shore–esque lead growler Angelo Aita keeps his utterances organic, guitarist Martin Broda's "clean" interjections are vocodered into oblivion. And the quintet's odd urban obsession doesn't end there. The title track from this year's Infamous features, between brutal verses, a superprocessed "whoah-oah-oah" refrain just made for roof-raisin'; a cameo from Toronto rap duo A-Game; and a video full of blingy Escalades and fist-bumping homey togetherness. Though visually contrived, musically, Abandon All Ships offer one of the more interesting attempts at rap-metal marriage since Anthrax first proposed to Public Enemy back in '91. —Paul Rogers

wed 10/17

Low End Theory Six-Year Anniversary

THE AIRLINER

How young we was, right? Back in '06, the Airliner was unexplored territory and people used to say stuff like, "No one cares about hip-hop on the Eastside!" Well, Low End Theory cared about hip-hop and then some. From the very start, it was the spot where every forward-thinking music freak could find something to love, whether dub or homegrown L.A. beatmusic or psych or prog or hip-hop or who knows what else. Basically, it was all about the bass, uniter of all humans since music began. Now, after six years, godfather Daddy Kev and his superteam of residents (Nobody, Gaslamp, Nocando and D-Styles) have made this little Eastside club an international institution — incubator for such future legends as Flying Lotus and the scene of surprise sets by Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu. It's Low End's birthday, but we get the gift. —Chris Ziegler

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

At first glance, Neil Young's recent Americana album would appear to be his wackiest project yet — a set of covers of such hoary folk songs as "Clementine," "This Land Is Your Land" and "Oh Susannah," all bludgeoned into rock & roll submission by his long-missing-in-action band Crazy Horse. Yet the experiment actually works, in large part because Young reconnects with his own primal folk roots by finding the eternal verities hidden within these seemingly hokey tunes, utilizing rare arrangements, inventing new melodies and rediscovering lesser-known verses of these overplayed anthems. After ditching Crazy Horse for much of the past decade as he pursued other interests (including a brief reunion of his '60s country-rock combo, Buffalo Springfield), Young appears intent on making up for lost time with yet another new album, Psychedelic Pill, where he and the band break free from the constraints of Americana with rambling opuses like "Driftin' Back," which clocks in at the jukebox-bursting length of 27 minutes. —Falling James

thu 10/18

Neil Hamburger

THE SATELLITE

We have proudly proclaimed many times that Neil Hamburger is the Funniest Man in America, and we have received death threats. That's because, while Mr. Hamburger is indeed side-splittingly hilarious, he's not funny. Sure, it's a drag to see this greasy loser slumping onstage tiredly pooping out his stale, sexist, hopeless tropes about this, that and whatever. Unfortunately, he has a million of 'em, which he throws at the crowd like his dirty socks, hoping at least one will stick. It's rarely funny. But then something interesting happens. Our howls of derision begin to lose their steamy self-righteousness and become gales of appreciative laughter as we, yes, we begin to identify with this sad sack of shit fighting a losing battle with his life, his highball, his mustache and his wiener. —John Payne

Aimee Mann: See Saturday.
PHOTO BY SHERYL NIELDS