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Music Picks: Prince, Amanda Jo Williams, Kendrick Lamar, Xzibit, Civet,

The Ditty Bops: See Wednesday.
PHOTO BY NORMAN JEAN ROY

fri 4/22

Prince

@ The Forum

We saw the first Inglewood show from Prince's 21-Nite Stand residency last week. Yup, it's obscenely good. Pro tip: DO NOT LEAVE THE VENUE unless security forcibly ejects you. Even if it looks like the show is over, it ain't. Prince's "encores" the first night turned into an extra 90 minutes of gems and obscure jams. Go. —Gustavo Turner

Lil Wayne & Nicki Minaj

@ Staples Center

Rescheduled from Thursday. It's Weezy and Pink Barbie. Go say hi. —Rebecca Haithcoat

Hirax

@ BLVD. CAFÉ

Long Beach's Hirax are one of those fascinating acts who are strictly underground at home but full-blown metal idols abroad. Hence, though they've recently headlined tours in Japan and Latin America, they find themselves at the modest (but devoted) BLVD. tonight. If Hirax sound like they could be sharing stages with the fledgling Metallica and Slayer (see this week's Music feature), that's because, having formed in 1984, they did exactly that. Reunited in 2000 (though only wonderfully Warriors-esque vocalist Katon W. De Pena is an original member), Hirax continue to do it proudly old-school, and their well-crafted, agile thrash is elevated by De Pena's heroic, Iron Maiden–indebted timbre. Hirax may have had 20 different members to date, but their punk-spirited, melodic metal mission remains defiantly undiluted. —Paul Rogers

Yefim Bronfman

@ WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL

The jaw-dropping technique and keen musical smarts of pianist Yefim Bronfman make this challenging program an intriguing prospect. He'll tackle Brahms' B-flat Concerto (1881), a thorny, multifarious and quite long work whose speckled (some might say schizoid) emotional turf shifts — from tranquil violin/horn delights to end-of-the-world piano crashing-bashing and back again — would seem to require a certain virtuosity just to tie it all together. Bronfman also addresses the somber reveries of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1, "Winter Daydreams," with acclaimed Slovakian conductor Juraj Valcuha leading the L.A. Phil. This is a midday event (11 a.m.) to start your weekend not with a whimper but a bang, and a sigh; an "Upbeat Live" event with composer-conductor-performer Russell Steinberg starts at 9:45 a.m. Also April 21 and 23 at 8 p.m. —John Payne

Also playing Friday: MIMOSA, PAPER DIAMOND at El Rey Theatre; IN THIS MOMENT at Galaxy Theatre (Santa Ana); EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS at the Echo; WOODS, NO JOY, WAMPIRE at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock; OTMARO RUIZ GROUP at Blue Whale; HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN at McCabe's; THE LOVELY BAD THINGS at the Smell; BLACK APPLES, TRMRS, AGENT ORANGE, LA GHOST at the Echoplex.

 

sat 4/23

Prince

@ The Forum

See Friday. Do whatever you have to do to score tix. Then go. For the love of God — GO! —Gustavo Turner

 

The Big Four

@ EMPIRE POLO CLUB (Coachella, Indio)

[See Music feature.]

 

Robert Plant & Band of Joy

@ THE GREEK THEATRE

We'd advise you to check out Robert Plant at the Greek this weekend even if he'd pledged only to play stuff from last year's Band of Joy, on which the former Led Zeppelin frontman offered up lovely-freaky goth-roots versions of tunes by Los Lobos, Richard Thompson and Low, among others, with crucial input from Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin — both of whom are out on the road with Plant. In fact, though, Plant is peppering his current shows with the overhauled likes of "Black Dog," "Ramble On" and "Houses of the Holy" — about as close to a Led Zep concert as you're likely to get at the moment. With the North Mississippi Allstars, paying tribute to their father, the late, great Jim Dickinson. –Mikael Wood

Kendrick Lamar

@ EL REY THEATRE

The Compton rapper seems to share Tupac's soul; better still, he seems an evolution of it. Candid vulnerability, and a voice that sounds as though he's just inhaled great mouthfuls of smoke (even though he abstains from weed), are why Lamar is on everybody's lips, from Dre and Snoop to the tastemakers at XXL magazine. For once, it's OK to believe the hype. –Rebecca Haithcoat

Johnny Thunders Tribute Night

@ REDWOOD BAR & GRILL

"You can't put your arms 'round a memory," as Johnny Thunders once put it, but that shouldn't stop Kevin K and a horde of punk acolytes from paying tribute tonight to the late New York Dolls guitarist. The famously sarcastic Thunders likely would sneer and crack wise about such retro sentimentality: Although everyone from the Sex Pistols to Aerosmith has been lifting his licks and his image since the 1970s, no one comes close to capturing the insolent wit and cocky presence of the real John Genzale. Thunders also pointed out that "Singin' from your grave/It's so very hard to do," but the seedy tales in "Born to Lose" and "So Alone" will come back to life through sets by true believers like the Neurotics, Barrio Tiger and the Crazy Squeeze. —Falling James

 

Silver Lake Chorus, Big Moves, Light FM

@ BOOTLEG BAR

When they're not harmonizing with Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg, the sprawling Silver Lake Chorus put their 25-plus voices together to reinvent indie-rock songs by Beck, Of Montreal and The Bird & The Bee with sumptuous choral arrangements. One of the twists on their upcoming debut album (produced by Ben Lee) is that many of the songs were written specifically for the chorus by folks like Aimee Mann, Jon Brion and Zooey Deschanel and have never been previously heard. Big Moves celebrate the release of a new EP with cheerily perky and quirky dance-pop and art-funk tunes, while the coed quintet Light FM rock a little harder with glittery new-wave explorations. —Falling James

Civet

@ THE ECHO

The punk rock hellions Civet have undergone several lineup changes since emerging from the LBC earlier this decade, but singer Liza Graves and guitarist Suzi Homewrecker continue to crank out loud, hard and fast rants on their latest album, Love & War. The one-time all-femme quartet are heavily inspired by the Runaways, and even with new drummer Christian Riersgard and bassist Jonny Grill, they tend to come off in a rough-and-rowdy fashion like riot-grrl icons L7 and Betty Blowtorch. Civet's simple lyrics aren't their strongest suit, but the rousing choruses of barn burners like "Son of a Bitch" and "Summer of Hate" tend to overshadow such shortcomings. An occasionally poppy tune like "All I Want" helps to brighten things further. —Falling James

Mägo de Oz

@ HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM

Madrid's heavy metal scene isn't something you hear about often, and these DnD metallers may not be the most representative of it. But the appeal of hard-rocking longhairs Mägo de Oz isn't the nine-piece's ability to siphon modern strains of sludge into a palatable product — it's pure throwback to the days of dragons, druids and six-string drudgery. There's a reason the group's name translates (minus the umlaut) to "Wizard of Oz," and it probably has something to do with the fact that singer José Andrëa and his crew sound like Ronnie James Dio fronting a Riverdance troupe, but in Spanish (in a good way). The band have released a dozen records since forming in 1989, but they're best experienced live, where the full force of the Iberian-Gaelic-Anthraxian assault is brought to bear using an arsenal of instruments, from fiddle to accordion to flute. —Chris Martins

Buke & Gass

@ THE SATELLITE

A piquantly pointy-headed pop played on homemade hybrid instruments, spiced with loping African polyrhythms and other odd meters. B&G's happily lopsided "song" structures are custom-designed to encourage deep-in-thought chin-stroking even on the dance floor. —John Payne

 

Xzibit

@ KEY CLUB

[See Page Two.]

 

Also playing Saturday: JAMAICA at the Echoplex; BLAME SALLY at McCabe's; DAEDELUS, TOKIMONSTA at the Glass House (Pomona); GARFUNKEL AND OATES at Largo; CHRISTOPH BULL ORGAN RECITAL at Royce Hall; DUKES OF HAMBURG, THE OGRES, THE SWISS FAMILY SKIERS, THE HONDETTES at Mr. T's Bowl.

 

sun 4/24

Amon Amarth

@ HOUSE OF BLUES

A band named after a Lord of the Rings landmark (and in a fictional Tolkien tongue) had better deliver something pretty darn epic. Sho' nuff, Amon Amarth's down-tuned death metal is woven with grandiose mythical imagery, and their galloping double kick drums could be horses joining battle. These Swedes offer more musicality (and restraint) than many of their po-faced peers, keeping the tempos this side of blur-speed and including some juicy, downright melodic guitar adventures. Frontman Johan Hegg is no choirboy, but his ultra-earnest, guttural proclamations are actually intelligible (at least I caught something about "Vikings" and "runes"), and he sounds more like a coughdrop-ready cartoon character than a meth-fueled panty sniffer. –Paul Rogers

Nobunny's 10th Annual Easter Show

@ THE ECHO

Nobunny has been proudly wearing a bunny mask and making music for 10 years and now celebrates his first decade of life this Easter. Ten years of the Bunny means one night of the best punk and garage rock this city has to offer, so drink up and dive in. His classic LP Raw Romance has just been reissued — pink and purple limited-edition vinyl! Count on lots of messy, high-energy rock & roll songs about love and affection and close-to-naked people in bunny ears and whiskers. Also, Audacity, Clorox Girls, Wounded Lion, and King Tuff, for maximum partying potential. –Lainna Fader

Also playing Sunday: BRITPOP NITE at the Echo.

 

mon 4/25

The Head and the Heart

@ THE TROUBADOUR

The principal members of this fast-rising folk sextet originally met at a Seattle open mic, and that says a lot about the band's core sound: an intimate and gruff-throated Americana that places them in the ranks of Elvis Perkins and the Avett Brothers. Co-frontmen Josiah Johnson and Jon Russell sing lovelorn confessionals, talk of old ghosts and plead forgiveness for their "rough and rowdy ways." But there's a certain piano-sourced delicateness in their songs and also a jangling ebullience that brings to mind, in turn, Rufus Wainwright and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. —Chris Martins

 

Del the Funky Homosapien

@ KEY CLUB

Del has always stepped to the beat of his own (funky) drummer. He began his career as a member of cousin Ice Cube's crew, and produced a commercially successful solo album with Cube's help. But afterward, he cut ties with the seminal gangsta rapper and headed in precisely the opposite direction: He opens the video for "Wrong Place," a track from his 1993 sophomore album, shaking a bullet at the camera and saying, "I don't wanna have to clown these gangsta rappers, BUT it's about skills. You know it ain't right — let's not have these flyin' around." He has collaborated with the Hieroglyphics, Deltron 3030 and Gorillaz, and Del's star just keeps rising, but he remains staunchly independent, doin' what he wants. This show, the release party for his new triple CD, is (no, really) FREE. What's your excuse? —Rebecca Haithcoat

Amanda Jo Williams

@ THE ECHO

This Georgia-bred former fashion model (who, though allegedly transient, seems to spend a lot of time in L.A.) sings and plays lovably clunky new/old country like the love child of Emmylou Harris and Jonathan Richman. [Ed.'s note: To us she sounds more like the love child of a lesbic menage à trois between Melanie Safka, Minnie Pearl and Jane Birkin, but what do we know?] She warbles like a flush-faced li'l kid going totally for broke as she bashes away at that poor old acoustic guitar. But Williams is chameleonic; dig a bit and you'll find a painful honesty in her dark, raw tales of life's woes and wonders. Onstage, she's prone to quirky chitchat and stretched-out instrumental jams, helped by a solid band that includes dancing sprite Feather on foot bells [L.A. Weekly Music lo-o-o-o-ves Feather!] and the great, versatile Alex Maslansky on guitar. This show also is FREE. —John Payne

Also playing Monday: CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD at the Echo; RUM­SPRINGA, MOSES CAMPBELL at Bootleg Theater.

 

tue 4/26

Carla Morrison

@ THE ECHO

Carla Morrison's pop songs are so delicate, they seem like they might float away in the ether the moment you hear them. The Tecate native coos with a soft, intimate voice that hovers like a hummingbird over gentle guitars and low-key keyboards. "Pajarito del Amor," a duet with fellow Mexican chanteuse Natalia Lafourcade, couldn't be any sweeter, as the pair's intertwined notes flutter like leaves between the strings of a slow acoustic guitar. Morrison builds on the momentum of her recent appearance at SXSW with this small club show, following a set by alt-son combo Las Cafeteras. —Falling James

Also playing Tuesday: ZION 1 & GROUCH at El Rey Theatre; PAPA ROACH at House of Blues.

 

wed 4/27

Dub Club + dublab

@ THE ECHOPLEX

Double (or should we say "dubble" — har har) treat for lovers of addictively repetitive Jamaican sounds. L.A. reggae institution Dub Club presents soundsystem legends, a Japanese crew and the mighty Shinehead (one of our favorite local reggae icons — great guy and performer) downstairs at the 'Plex, while upstairs Frosty and his dublab gang of merry pranksters feature Dub Club's Tom Chasteen, assorted Punky Reggae Partiers, plus Duppy Gun, which is Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras, who just returned from Jah-land after producing the Congos. (Yup, you heard that right: Sun Araw produced the m-f-ing CONGOS! Salivating ...) —Gustavo Turner

 

New Garage Explosion (film screening)

@ LANDMARK THEATRE

[See Page Two.]

 

Heidecker and Wood

@ LARGO

It's tough to know what to make of Heidecker and Wood, a duo whose easy-breezy soft-rock style seems to suggest a contemporary redo of the hallowed Loggins and Messina team-up. This group's namesakes confound matters, though: Tim Heidecker of Adult Swim nutso comedy Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and Davin Wood, composer for that same series. They call their songs a "strange mix of dry humor and sincerity," but given their background, the "dry humor" part might mostly be a selling pitch. Instead, on their just-out debut, Starting From Nowhere, the two straight-facedly belt out groovy Doobies-esque jams like "Wedding Song" and '80s-checking Huey Lewis–isms like "Right or Wrong." It's enough to set one's irony meter on the fritz, but the sing-along factor is high indeed. —Chris Martins

The Ditty Bops

@ THE HOTEL CAFÉ

Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett may sing whimsically bopping ditties about summer rains and lazing under lemon trees, but their casually playful attitude belies their serious musicianship. The duo's folk-pop tunes seem drawn from an unspecified old-timey era, but their close harmonies are as fresh and immediate as morning dew. There's an inescapably enchanting dreaminess in the yearning melodies of "Heaven Isn't for the Angels" and "Moon Over the Freeway." Barrett's and DeWald's voices are so beguiling, both Bob Dylan and Natalie Merchant asked the Ditty Bops to accompany them on recent albums. The pair have written children's books, and their latest release, The Color Album, reflects their growing interest in making kids' music. —Falling James

 

Also playing Wednesday: DONALD GLOVER, CHILDISH GAMBINO at the Music Box; THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS at the Satellite.

 

thu 4/28

Dark Dark Dark

@ The Satellite

Some of us read "Minneapolis-based chamber pop sextet" and we start nightmaring visions of an army of self-righteous, college-educated North Midwestern + Canadians (the 49th parallel is a political fiction) terrifying us like entire arcades burning down in anthemic fires. Except Dark Dark Dark are way, way better than that, and their secret weapon is singer Nona Marie Invie, as good a soul singer as tUnE-YaRdS' Merrill Garbus. This sleeper is hands-down the best show of the evening (unless a certain purple imp announces another date at the Forum ...). —Gustavo Turner

Miguel

@ KEY CLUB

His sound dangerously bedroom-eyed R&B, this one-name wonder released his debut album just last November. He's been a low-key star for years, though, showing up on gifted lyricist Blu's classic Below the Heavens, and writing for both uber–pop star Usher and college rapper Asher Roth. But the minute his falsetto yearned over a distant, tangy guitar in last summer's steamiest song, "All I Want Is You," nobody could recall the last time Usher had made a song sweat with such raw sexiness. "Teach Me" is all Prince-dirty electric guitar riffs; "Quickie"recalls winding Caribbean hips. The L.A. native has boudoir tricks for days, and plenty of women are hoping he shows them all off tonight. —Rebecca Haithcoat

Spectrum, The Black Ryder

@ THE TROUBADOUR

If there's a true father of the chillwave movement, it's Peter "Sonic Boom" Kember, who initially rose to fame as one of the main brains behind the legendary minimalist space-rock outfit Spacemen 3. After that band's untimely demise he founded this project and took the comely drone and luminescent haze he was known for and saddled them to pop songs. The result has been a string of humbly catchy tunes with a bed-sit vibe, bathed in analog feedback and sung in an off-the-cuff, ennui-dripping style (so, basically, like Ariel Pink and Nite Jewel). This show should be a boon for both nostalgists and those looking for a crash course in Boom. —Chris Martins

L.A. Bluegrass Situation

@ LARGO

Largo is the supersecret headquarters of some of the best bluegrass nights in town, and now they welcome us into their gorgeous and intimate theater as they proudly present siblings Sean and Sara Watkins. Formerly of the much-loved, acoustic fiddle–driven Nickel Creek, Sean and Sara stretch the bounds of Americana and bluegrass with a whole host of musician friends guesting in their regular Largo show, the Watkins Family Hour — many of them Largo veterans themselves. Their shows are always packed with surprises, and given the unusually formal festival setting, you're likely to be in for something new and special at this second annual event. –Lainna Fader

Dirty Beaches

@ THE ECHO

Alex Zhang Hungtai was born in Taiwan and now lives in Montreal, but his sound is about as true-blue American as it gets. That's not some kind of backhanded xenophobe come-on, but a reference to the fact that the man makes music like Elvis Presley — that is, if the King had been into canned beats and home recording. Badlands is Hungtai's debut album after a handful of cassette and vinyl releases that steadily upped the indie clamor for his dark and swooning '50s-inspired minimal rock & roll, in debt as much to Suicide as to Jerry Lee. Opening is Bell Gardens, a different sort of throwback — '70s AM radio pop — that spun off of the revered cross-Atlantic ambient project Stars of the Lid. —Chris Martins

Also playing Thursday: RACHEL GOODRICH at Hotel Café.

Use Current Location

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