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Music Picks: Rhye, Papa and Motörhead

Youngblood Hawke: See Wednesday.
Youngblood Hawke: See Wednesday.
PHOTO BY SHAUGHN CRAWFORD

fri 5/10

Rhye

EL REY THEATRE

There are no women on Rhye's debut album, Woman. If you mistakenly took Michael Milosh's androgynous voice for that of a female, however, you would not be alone. The soul child of Milosh and Quadron's Robin Hannibal, Rhye has been dubbed the "electronic Sade." And like much of Sade's musical canon, Woman is a surefire pantydropper. Really, "seductive" is an understatement for the simmering, electro-laced R&B and overtly suggestive lyricism. The strings that usher in the stunning "Open" soon are knocked aside by Milosh's astonishing voice, the same instrument that brushes against the alluring horns of "One of Those Summer Days." It is not strictly temptation time on Woman, however; the disco-lite "Hunger" and "Last Dance" bump with gentle beats and keyboard stabs, while "3 Days" brings the dance party back to the bedroom with breathy anticipation. And speaking of anticipation, expect a packed crowd tonight, as Rhye have become a fan favorite and critical darling on the power of both Woman and their utterly captivating live performances. —Lily Moayeri

Okapi Sun

HOTEL CAFÉ

San Diego electronic-dance duo Okapi Sun describe their music as "a cut-and-paste of our past, our now, our culture, our soul. We decorate ourselves with sounds and let them form into songs." To put it more simply, guitarist Leo and keyboardist Dallas lay down catchy dance grooves and blend their vocals on deliriously giddy pop songs like "Sidewalk," coming off a little like a postmodern Bananarama. Dallas keeps things funky with her throbbing synth lines, while Leo's surging guitar chords prevent the tunes from sounding too poppy. Like its namesake animal, Okapi Sun "decorates itself with different stripes to become one with its surroundings and add to its great camouflage." What that means musically is that the duo isn't limited to the usual dance-music rules, preferring to branch out into stranger territory, like its mysteriously cool and groovy remake of "Hit the Road, Jack." —Falling James

Alan Ferber Expanded Ensemble

BLUE WHALE

Over the past two years, New York City–based trombonist Alan Ferber has presented some of Los Angeles' truly outstanding large-group jazz shows. Ferber's originals and arrangements are exciting enough to enlist the who's who of the area's best players, and they keep coming back for more. Tonight, pianist Josh Nelson and guitarist Anthony Wilson drive the rhythm section, while horn standouts include John Daversa, Katisse Buckingham, Walter Smith III, Jamie Hovorka and Phil O'Connor, among many others in this cast of West Coast ringers. Arrive early for a chance of getting a seat; this one will be out the door, for sure. Also Saturday, May 11. —Tom Meek

sat 5/11

Jim James

THE FONDA THEATRE

Best known as the frontman for My Morning Jacket, Jim James has gone solo for his recent LP, Regions of Light and Sound of God. Inspired by Lynd Ward's 1929 graphic novel, God's Man, James describes the album as a musical portrait of the novel, as well as the product of his own introspection. The diversity in songwriting and overall sound on Regions of Light ... is just as varied as with My Morning Jacket, but here James is singing of his own journey of personal change. The result is tangible and considerate music with an underlying message to build a life you are happy with. Onstage James is a force, a jam-rock shaman with a psychedelic, jazzified edge. He is still delightfully light at heart, however, channeling his love for the Muppets in the video for album single "A New Life," a song with a calm yet uplifting beat dressed in metaphors for, you got it, starting anew. —Britt Witt

Marina & the Diamonds

SHRINE AUDITORIUM

Considering that Marina Diamandis claims to be influenced by such adventurous musicians as Kate Bush, Patti Smith and Daniel Johnston, it's a little surprising that her own music is so slick and commercial. On shiny dance tracks like "Primadonna" and "How to Be a Heartbreaker," the Welsh singer comes off like any other ambitious synth-pop Material Girl, conflating love, lust, ambition and money as if they really are all the same thing. But there's clearly wit and intelligence bubbling under the sometimes-anonymous dance rhythms. "I guess you could say that my life's a mess, but I'm still looking pretty in this dress," Diamandis confesses amid the gaudy production adornments of "Homewrecker." One can only imagine the massive creative potential once this charismatic and smart diva breaks free from genre conventions and starts taking some real musical chances. —Falling James

Sister Nancy

ECHOPLEX

Often credited as the world's first female dancehall deejay, Sister Nancy (née Ophlin Russell-Myers) has been an integral and beloved part of Jamaica's dancehall scene for more than 20 years. Her 1982 single "Bam Bam," sampled by such American hip-hop heavyweights as Lauryn Hill and Too $hort, is an internationally revered classic. In 2007, Sister Nancy released her second album, Sister Nancy Meets Fireproof. Ever the businesswoman, she enjoys a full-time career as an accountant in New Jersey and continues to perform occasionally at venues all over the world. Tonight, the Kingston native will be featured at the Dub Club event Saturday Night Rub-a-Dub. The show also features dancehall veterans Tristan Palma and Tippa Lee. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

sun 5/12

Chrysta Bell

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

At her show last summer at the Bootleg Theater, Chrysta Bell conjured her dreamy incantations while a nonstop blur of lost highways, blue oceans and flickering Milky Ways of light was projected on the wall behind her. Cocking her head enigmatically as she caught the spotlight and twisting her arms languidly into serpentine shapes, the singer was a mesmerizing performer, often closing her eyes and appearing to be captivated and intoxicated by her own lulling words. If the combination of evocative imagery and Bell's softly febrile vocals sometimes seemed like something out of a David Lynch movie, it wasn't a surprise, as the famous filmmaker has championed the charismatic singer, as well as written songs for her. At one point in her performance, Bell reverentially intoned her romantic pleas as if they were prayers, casting them out into a sea of echoes and getting so worked up with passion that she artfully twisted a long silk scarf and twisted it around her head like a blindfold, becoming completely enshrouded by her own music. It was an enchanting state of being, to be sure. —Falling James

Tom Jones

TROUBADOUR

Always the butt of panty-flinging gags but rarely accorded the respect he has long since earned, Tom Jones' two-night stand at the tiny, venerable Troub is as exciting and unlikely an opportunity as the recent Stones show at the Echoplex. The leather-lunged lad from Pontypridd, Wales, is a deeply talented vocalist whose style remains a supercharged thunderball of charm, warmth and soulful, ass-shaking exuberance. From his romping mid-'60s monster hits to 1988's hot, taut cover of Prince's "Kiss" and on to his current mind-bending Spirit in the Room disc (which climaxes with an epic, four-minute-plus version of Mickey Newbury's psych-pop classic "Just Dropped In"), Jones unfailingly and unstintingly delivers the razzle-dazzling patented TJ ka-pow. The pipes are in great condition, and he always carries a breathtakingly tight band, meaning this club date is almost too good to be true. In a perfect world he'd play here nightly, for a month, so we could all go. Also Saturday, May 11. —Jonny Whiteside

mon 5/13

Torches

THE ECHO

Torches are an L.A. band (the band that was once Torches in Trees, if your indie-rock database needs an update) that has submerged itself completely in the same kind of anthemic, happy-sad music that puts The Shins and Yo La Tengo in permanent teenage-mixtape rotation. Oh, and in that category let's not forget Arcade Fire. In fact, what about booking a string section and devoting this particular night of Torches' May residency at the Echo to nothing but heart-on-sleeve Arcade Fire covers? That's the plan for this evening. It's a nice little gesture that's part acknowledgment of influence, part thankful tribute and, most of all, true band-on-band love. Be ready to sing along, or at the very least sway along. With openers Infantree, Radars to the Sky and the indefatigable Manhattan Murder Mystery. —Chris Ziegler

tue 5/14

The Egg, Sophie Barker

THE SATELLITE

The Egg crack open with chipper electronic dance music on new songs like "Catch," which fuses sotto voce singing, new-wave keyboards, funky guitars and techno rhythms into a brand-new form of catchy house music. On the title track of its recent album, Something to Do, the British band shift into a hypnotic idyll replete with laid-back crooning, sparkling alt-rock guitars and incandescent keyboard tones, a welcome respite from the hectic intensity of their more uptempo dance tracks. Former Zero 7 chanteuse Sophie Barker collaborated with The Egg on their 2005 "Walking Away," but she's recently moved away from her earlier downtempo style and opened up with a more lavish yet introspective pop grandeur on her fully captivating recent album, Seagull. —Falling James

Motörhead

CLUB NOKIA

When U.K. hard-rock paragons Motörhead released their first single (titled, believe it or not, "Motörhead") in the spring of 1977, it was a sheer, devastating blast of untamed rock & roll epiphany. Go back and drop the needle on that one — it's a bone-rattling, mad dog–howling slab of high, amphetamine sulphate–fueled adventure that is still nothing less than flabbergasting, and so damn loud as to almost reach the point of overmodulated distortion. Almost four decades years later, this terrible threesome (dang it, but we do still miss Philthy Animal) roars on with unstoppable zeal, displaying the unflagging, momentous drive that has rightfully installed the mighty Lemmy as one of the most influential, celebrated and singular beasts in rock & roll demonology. Chronically gleeful, slightly demented, loaded with menacing appeal and unerringly louder than any other band anywhere, every Motörhead performance is a rich, ritualistic exercise in transcendent musical hell-raising. —Jonny Whiteside

wed 5/15

Duniven, Youngblood Hawke, The Bixby Knolls, The Chevin

THE SATELLITE

Eastside singer-songwriter Duniven boasts at least two things that set him apart in that overpopulated field: an authentically roots-rusty voice box and bona fide songwriting skills. His folky pop-rock resides firmly in a roots-Americana mold, recalling most obviously the hooky rock & roll of Tom Petty. Better yet is that he serves it all up with a Dylanesque style of taking folk-based forms down more poetically adventurous paths. Meanwhile, Youngblood Hawke's pop-rock-indie-dance-hip-hop hypermash makes them sound like future arena-rockers, and their anthem-loaded debut, Wake Up, might just take them there. Long Beach's The Bixby Knolls do choice classic soul–infused garage/post-punk. Oh, and get there early to catch Leeds lads The Chevin, as they are indie acousta-pop melodicists par excellence. —John Payne

thu 5/16

Devendra Banhart

THE FONDA THEATRE

Devendra Banhart's new album, Mala, is his Nonesuch label debut, which might suggest his entry into a, well, "respectable" world of arty mainstream pop. But while the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist's eighth studio album is on the surface less blatantly unconventional than much of his past work, it's really more a focusing and refining of the eclectic states of mind he's always traversed. Banhart has a way of making airy ballads, sunny pop rock and gently experimental sound ornaments twist as if attuned to a musical zeitgeist where almost anything goes. (Mala does that partly by its having been recorded on a crappy old Tascam four-track cassette machine, which funks up the music quite tastily.) He also has become a singer of considerable gifts, especially with the handful of tunes he performs en español. Devendra Banhart 2013: Still full of surprises, and never boring, not for a moment. —John Payne

Papa

TROUBADOUR

Much should be said about a band that maintains a strong hold on its audience despite vanishing between shows. This disappearing act didn't mute Papa's impact during their over-capacity residency at the Bootleg in January or prevent their inclusion in many a SXSW top 10 list. The duo's rise to popularity is one part former Girls member (singer-drummer Darren Weiss), two parts boyhood friendship and all parts rock. Papa is the kind of soulful band that will cover a Patti Smith song and then turn the crowd into a swoonfest with Weiss' demands to "make you [his] woman." Given the friendly demeanor of Weiss and bassist Daniel Peasant, it's no surprise that they get away with songs like "Let's Make You Pregnant." Vocals have an exuberance like Springsteen's and charms like Dean Martin's, all laid on top of exhilarating beats and elegant piano. While balancing gentle crooning with captivating melodies, Papa remain robust. Fingers crossed for new songs at this show. —Britt Witt