This young British folkie has been touring steadily for much of the year behind A Winter's Tale, the impressive debut he released in February after catching a spark with a song from the first Twilight soundtrack, "Let Me Sign." (Long co-wrote that tune, performed in the movie by his pal Robert Pattinson.) Now he's back in the United States playing shows and selling a limited-edition EP called The Backing Singer, which features appearances by the Secret Sisters and Catherine Pierce of the Pierces. Like A Winter's Tale, it's unapologetically old-timey stuff sure to appeal to fans of Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons. Unlike Mumford, though, Long brings some indie-scruffy sex appeal to his act. Blame Pattinson. —Mikael Wood
Bad Vibes is the debut LP this visual artist–turned-musician dropped out of college to make for the rapidly expanding electronic label Friends of Friends. Now at the forefront of a new generation of talented West Coast producers, Shlohmo's latest sounds are gentler and sleepier than his early tracks. Subtle bass lines, emotive melodies and hazy atmospherics indicate an exciting new direction for the young artist, whose roots are in dubstep. Tonight he plays Bad Vibes — one of the best beats albums of the year — live, in full, alongside some of L.A.'s top beat makers: Matthewdavid, Teebs, Groundislava and D33J. —Lainna Fader
This singer seems determined to reinvent herself with the release of her third album, Unbroken, moving away from the buoyant teen pop of her early releases and turning into a relatively mature dance-pop diva. With songs like "Mistake," "Fix a Broken Heart" and the title track, the former Camp Rock and Sonny With a Chance star appears to acknowledge the personal troubles that have brought her so much recent notoriety — from dealing with a short-lived romance with Joe Jonas and punching out a Jonas Brothers backup dancer to getting treatment for an eating disorder and self-mutilation issues. On Lovato's new single, a weepy piano ballad, she vows to rise again "like a skyscraper" from the wreckage of her life. If anything, her problems make her more interesting and human than other Disney Channel ingénues, and she's newly hip enough to pull off a convincing R&B jam with Missy Elliott and Timbaland. —Falling James
ASSEMBLAGE 23 at Das Bunker; CHEAP TRICK at Greek Theatre; INARA GEORGE at Bootleg Theater; BRIGHT EYES at Hollywood Forever Cemetery; HANK3 at the Roxy; LE BOEUF BROS. at Blue Whale; METRONOMY at Echoplex; JANIS SIEGEL at Vitello's.
KDAY Fresh Fest
Game has received some of the year's worst reviews for The R.E.D. Album, which finally came out last month following a series of delays. But it's hard to understand anyone who's enjoyed a Game record being disappointed. If anything, R.E.D. presents the rapper's frustrating contradictions with more energy and character than he's mustered in the past; it's dislikable, sure, but in the most compelling way. Tonight he headlines radio station KDAY's annual blowout, which was topped last year by another complicated hip-hop icon, Ice Cube. Also on the bill: Bay Area veteran E-40, fresh from a jocular appearance alongside Big Boi on Game's album; former G-Unit foot soldier Young Buck; speed-rap old-timer Twista; Mack 10 and WC of Westside Connection; and, according to KDAY's website, "surprise guests." Hazard a guess? —Mikael Wood
Burkina Electric, DJ Spooky
Burkina Electric is a collaboration of six performers and dancers from Burkina Faso (that landlocked West African nation formerly known as the Republic of Upper Volta), Germany and Austria. One of Africa's first electronic groups, they came together via Austrian composer and percussionist — and band linchpin — Lukas Ligeti, who linked up with singer Mai Lingani and guitarist Wende Blass from Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, and electronics wizard Pyrolator from Dusseldorf, Germany. On their truly international debut, Paspanga, Burkina Electric blend the rhythms and sounds of traditional West African music with 21st-century electronic dance grooves. Tonight they play with Washington, D.C.–born turntablist/producer DJ Spooky. —Lainna Fader
Juxtaposing a surreal Southwestern landscape with images of soaring seagulls and a fiery sunset, the design of Ladytron's latest album, Gravity the Seducer, resembles a 1970s prog-rock album cover. But the English band's sleek and shiny sound remains the same as ever, with leader Helen Marnie cooing her abstract, romantic pleas over endless waves of synthesizer. What sets Ladytron apart from other electropop acts is the way Marnie's occasionally poetic confessions lend warmth and personality to the sometimes icily robotic backing. While falling for the seduction of gravity, Marnie sees mirages, discovers an enchanted "Moon Palace" and finds herself walking in her sleep, moving from the extremes of "Melting Ice" to "Ninety Degrees." Earlier this afternoon, Ladytron perform a DJ set at Amoeba Music. —Falling James
DREAM THEATER at Nokia Theatre; WILLIAM ELLIOT WHITMORE, JAMES VINCENT McMORROW at Bootleg Bar; JUNIOR BOYS, YOUNG GALAXY at El Rey Theatre; EPICENTER FESTIVAL at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre; MARC ANTHONY at Gibson Amphitheatre; TONY BENNETT at Staples Center; LUCKMAN JAZZ ORCHESTRA TRIBUTE TO HORACE SILVER at Luckman Fine Arts Complex; MIKE MILLER TRIO at the Baked Potato; HAR MAR SUPERSTAR at Satellite.
TV on the Radio, Arctic Monkeys, Panda Bear, Warpaint, Smith Westerns
It's hard to believe that the Bowl season is already at an end, but what better way to close it out than a quintuple bill featuring some of the best indie rockers on both sides of the Atlantic? Topping tonight's lineup is TV on the Radio, whose stellar new album, Nine Types of Light, is one of the best of the Brooklyn band's distinguished career. Co-headliners Arctic Monkeys have been selling out shows all year behind their fourth consecutive No. 1 album in their native U.K., Suck It and See. Recorded in Los Angeles, it boasts upbeat, guitar-driven licks reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand and the Clash, with frontman Alex Turner's gift for a turn of phrase. Also on tonight's bill are L.A. indie darlings Warpaint, Animal Collective spinoff Panda Bear and promising young Chicago quartet Smith Westerns. —Laura Ferreiro
SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS at the Echo (Grand Ole Echo); THEO BLECKMANN, TODD SICKAFOOSE at REDCAT; NYAZ with AZAM ALI at El Rey Theatre; PAT METHENY at Santa Monica Performing Arts Center.
Emil Richards Big Band
Typhoon at the Santa Monica Airport has three things that make it fairly unusual: an Asian menu including insects (anyone for Taiwanese crickets?), easy, free parking and a Monday night big-band series that has quietly become a Westside jazz favorite. Tonight the stage is taken by vibraphonist and percussion wizard Emil Richards, who has been plying his trade since the 1950s. Richards' résumé includes playing with Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa, Don Ellis, George Harrison, Bing Crosby, Joni Mitchell, John Williams and Quincy Jones, plus nearly 2,000 recordings, movies and television shows. Richards' respect among fellow musicians surrounds him with many of L.A.'s other studio legends for his occasional 17-piece big-band shows, which feature easily more than 500 years' worth of collective musical genius. Consider yourself lucky if you can get a table. —Tom Meek
HANNI EL KHATIB, KISSING COUSINS, FEEDING PEOPLE at the Echo.
Duran Duran, Neon Trees
Discard Red Carpet Massacre, the thumping, beat-heavy 2007 disaster from suave '80s synth stars Duran Duran. That was a misguided attempt at relevancy that saw Simon Le Bon, Roger Taylor and co. pairing up with, of all people, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. Instead, focus on their newest Mark Ronson–produced effort, All You Need Is Now, a return to the iconic brand of crotch-thrusting cheese rock that once had women readily removing their La Blanca bikinis, and you'll instantly remember why you once told people you didn't like "the prettiest boys in rock," even though you clearly did. They're joined (rather oddly) by Mohawk-donning Tyler Glenn and Neon Trees, the Utah faux–new wave crew who've infiltrated mainstream consciousness thanks to their chart-topping single "Animal," from their 2010 debut LP, Habits. —Dan Hyman
Jazz piano ace Herbie Hancock is eminently qualified to do the interpretin' as he, conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Phil dig into a big, tasty platter of that most uniquely American composer, George Gershwin. They'll play the heart-thumping Rhapsody in Blue, of course, and the swinging An American in Paris, yes. But you also get the lesser-known Cuban Overture, an exuberant, to say the least, piece of fantastic rhythmic variation. Hancock got his start playing the classical stuff as a child prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. Like Gershwin, his head and heart are all over the musical map, equally at home in the trad and modern jazz contexts, right on up to hip-hoppy funk and pop-savvy fluff. Perhaps this former Miles Davis man can whip up a Rhapsody in Kind of Blue ... just a thought. —John Payne
Emmylou Harris & Her Red Dirt Boys
When Emmylou Harris headlined El Rey Theatre earlier this year, the Nashville country-folk chanteuse was hardly in a nostalgic mood, eschewing her many classics and early hits for a set of all-new songs from her latest album, Hard Bargain. It was a brave choice that emphasized the emotional intensity of such moving ballads as "My Name Is Emmett Till" and "Darlin' Kate" (an ode to the late Kate McGarrigle). The only problem was that, apart from a guest appearance by Ryan Adams, Harris was backed by just a guitarist and a keyboardist doubling on electric drums, and the songs felt thin and a little stiff. For tonight's set, she'll be joined by a larger band, the Red Dirt Boys, who should give those tunes some heft and personality. Her pals Patty Griffin & Buddy Miller open the show, adding to the down-home family vibe. —Falling James
After watching what George Lucas has done to Star Wars in his latest edits, you'll probably need to blow off some steam, maybe hang out with people just as upset by the plundering of their childhoods as you. Fortunately, MC Chris, the king of nerdcore (who prefers to not be married to that genre), will hang around to comfort you with his mad hip-hop skillz. To date, MC Chris has five albums, as well as a couple EPs and soundtrack contributions that focus on geek life and are filled with references to Star Wars, Serenity, video games and being picked on. This, along with his growing popularity in the comedy scene and assorted work with Adult Swim (most notably his role as MC Pee Pants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force), has MC Chris on his way to becoming a legend in the nerdverse. —Diamond Bodine-Fischer
Angela Gossow divides opinion among death metal's dark legions. The Arch Enemy vocalist brings fearsome intensity, an otherworldly growl and a welcome dash of glam to this male-dominated genre, but her romantic involvement with AE mastermind/guitarist Michael Amott and the manner in which she joined the band (after interviewing Amott as a journalist) have some fans sneering. Yet it's only Gossow's guttural contributions that set Arch Enemy's decidedly tempered newbie, Khaos Legions, apart from pure power metal, what with its polished production, anthemic ambitions and lashings of melody (albeit mostly from Amott's almost comically deft leads). More than ever, these Swedes are the Main Street face of death metal — and their German singer being the hesher heroine of her generation hasn't hurt them one little bit. —Paul Rogers
SLEEPER/AGENT at Bootleg Bar; STEVE EARLE, ALISON MOORER at House of Blues; THURSTON MOORE at Hollywood Forever Masonic Lodge.
Smoky Altadena-born singer Marilyn Scott has been recording since 1979's Dreams of Tomorrow, which included the hit "God Only Knows," written by Brian Wilson. She's gone on to record more than a dozen albums for several major labels, but her latest album, Every Time We Say Goodbye, marks a turn toward acoustic jazz, as most of Scott's recordings of the past two decades were more pop-oriented. Her live local performances are rare, and tonight's gig features bassist Jimmy Haslip of Yellowjackets, a group with whom Scott recorded in the 1990s. The rest of her A-plus backing band includes Mitchel Forman (Stan Getz/Mahavishnu Orchestra) on piano, along with Chick Corea alumni/megaplayers Mike Miller on guitar and Gary Novak on drums. —Tom Meek
JENS LEKMAN at Hollywood Forever Masonic Lodge; JOE PURDY at Hotel Café; JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE at Music Box; AM & SHAWN LEE at Troubadour; VAHAGNI TURGUTYAN at Blue Whale; NEON INDIAN, COM TRUISE at Bootleg Bar.
If Wu Tang, Iggy Pop and the Flaming Lips threw a birthday party, it might approximate Odd Future's swag-as-hell live show. Love 'em or hate 'em — there ain't no in-between — there's no denying that their last concert in L.A., which included everything from backup dancers to balloon drops to broken bones, was nothing short of riveting. But the real reason we love OF is because there's a unique energy at Odd Future shows, a free-floating rage in the stage dives and obscenities that cements a bond and even affection between artists and audience. Their rage is unabashedly honest, and these days we could use a little more of that. Hey, if you don't like how this Wolf Gang is doing it, go start one of your own. —Andrea Domanick
Backed by her longtime guitarist Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch conjures an old-timey mood on her recent album, The Harrow & the Harvest. Stark roots-folk acoustic guitars and bluegrass banjos provide most of the accompaniment on this spare and lonesome set of songs, which evoke an almost mythically idealized version of the rural South. There may be nothing sonically new here, but such gentle, easygoing reveries as "Tennessee" and "Down Along the Dixie Line" are like musical comfort food, filling empty places in the heart with Welch's languidly dreamy vocals. She's even more stirring on songs like "Dark Turn of Mind" and "Scarlet Town," which have a piercing intimacy that makes them more than just retro workouts. —Falling James
In celebration of his 90th birthday, a rare appearance by the man who put Indian classical music on the map and transformed the Western musical landscape. He is his country's most renowned cultural figure, partly for having crossed numerous artistic boundaries — George Harrison regarded him as our greatest living composer. But on this night, witness the depth, clarity and imagination with which he now explores the ragas; it is an experience of enormous profundity. —John Payne
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EL REY THEATRE
Over three nights, the third annual fest brings us France's best new music, and you're free to celebrate or dispute that claim as you will. Nouvelle Vague perform Dawn of Innocence, a punky/new-wavey musical paying tribute to French pop of the '80s, and they'll include songs from their Couleurs sur Paris album. For some reason, English folk/soul balladeer Hugh Coltman also will play (he's big in Paris, they say). Friday night features Mali's ferocious desert guitar squawkers Tinariwen; Berber singer Hindi Zahra does Franco-folk-laced Moroccan trad and Gnawa trance magic. Saturday's your massive electronic dance freak-out with the sexy synth suavesters Chateau Marmont, DJ Feadz of the Ed Banger crew and ex-Air/–Daft Punk supastar DJ Cam of the revered French Touch scene, along with four-turntable genies Birdy Nam Nam. —John Payne
FOOL'S GOLD at the Troubadour; AA BONDY, NIK FREITAS at Bootleg Bar; DAN MANGEN at Satellite; JEROME SABBAGH QUARTET at Blue Whale; STEPHEN BROWER & THE SILENT MAJORITY at Silverlake Lounge; JIMMY EAT WORLD at the Wiltern. Ladytron: See Saturday.