@ THE MUSIC BOX
With Depeche Mode on hiatus following 2009's Tour of the Universe and Pet Shop Boys concentrating on their new ballet, the synth-pop survivors in England's Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark must have figured the current moment was a good one to launch their first original-lineup tour of North America since 1988. They were right: This show has been sold out for weeks, while tickets for Tuesday's encore performance seem unlikely to stick around till then. OMD arrive on these shores in support of last year's History of Modern, which demonstrated how firm the band's grasp on their vintage sound remains. And if you think none of the new tunes stack up to "If You Leave" or Architecture & Morality — well, you can bet they'll play the oldies tonight. Also Tues. —Mikael Wood
The Tord Gustavsen Ensemble
@ SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER
Norwegian pianist-composer Tord Gustavsen represents the quintessence of his ECM label's sound and spirit, a jazz-inflected music that veers toward a kind of European contemporary chamber-group vibe. Gustavsen's own many-layered stance comes in richly textured blends of far-reaching melodies and darkly hued harmonic twists, dappled with shadows of Scandinavian folk, gospel, flamenco and "world" polyrhythms — and some very, very cool jazz. Gustavsen's highly refined compositional sense gives artful form to his partially improvised translucent ballads, ethereal tangos, occasional flickers into a sparkly kind of funk and, most interestingly, the sentimental tones of a lounge-pop standard turned inside out and head-over-foot. Gustavsen's bandmates for this outing are Mats Eilertsen (bass) and Jarle Vespestad (drums), big stars on the Euro circuit in their own right. —John Payne
Sharon Van Etten
@ THE SATELLITE
There's something so distinctly eerie about Sharon Van Etten's voice that she's attracted the attention of such recent collaborators as the Antlers and Anna Ternheim, and her songs have been covered by the National and Bon Iver. She lives in Brooklyn and was raised in New Jersey but didn't discover her true voice until after she attended college in Tennessee. An undercurrent of countrified melancholy adds soulful depth to the mellow folk-pop originals "Save Yourself" and "One Day," from her second album, Epic. Love and especially heartache are the singer-songwriter's major themes, with stark, rueful lyrics intoned solemnly and slowly over a restrained backing. "Love More" is considerably moving, a funereal hymn that quietly builds momentum via bell-like guitar tones and Van Etten's mournful entreaties. —Falling James
Adolescents, The Dickies
@ ALEX'S BAR
A lot of punk bands try to be funny, but few come off as simultaneously dangerous and even a little bit scary. At first glance, the Orange County wrecking crew Adolescents would seem to be ridiculously inane, with Tony Cadena ranting about the incomprehensible mating rituals of punk girls from L.A. and enthusiastically identifying with the deep feelings of amoebas. But bassist Steve Soto and guitarist Frank Agnew have always balanced Cadena's daft existentialism with supremely savage riffs and brutally efficient hooks. San Fernando Valley legends the Dickies are just as heavy and even more absurd, with deadpan frontman Leonard Graves Phillips paying relentlessly sarcastic homage to such precious cultural icons as Marlon Brando, Barney Rubble, Caligula, Courtney Love and Manny, Moe & Jack. —Falling James
Rainbow Arabia, Spoek Mathambo, Matthewdavid
@ THE ECHOPLEX
[See Page Two.]
Also playing Friday:
BLAIR, SAY HI, YELLOW OSTRICH at the Echo; ABIGAIL WASHBURN at McCabe's; THEE OH SEES at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock; AZALIA SNAIL at Taix; KURT MASUR, SARAH CHANG at Walt Disney Concert Hall; TOKYO POLICE CLUB at El Rey Theatre.
@ HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM
Girl Talk, aka Pittsburgh's Gregg Michael Gillis, may have racked up most of his accolades and controversy for his rather liberal on-record interpretation of copyright law, but he deserves more attention for his live show. It invariably becomes a full-blown rave, thanks not only to his mix mastery (the man never skips a beat) but also to the very fabric of his songs. Gillis is, by trade, a mash-up artist who mines the entire modern pop spectrum for familiar musical moments that go well together. —Chris Martins
@ KEY CLUB
Since the early '80s, Slick Rick has influenced countless rappers, even with just one song — "La Di Da Di" alone was the source of one of Snoop's biggest hits and the chorus of one of Biggie's. With his pride-of-the-English precise enunciation and penchant for weaving storytelling rhymes, he not only makes rap lyrics decipherable, he also makes them sound child-friendly — and they are, if you're not a believer in sugarcoating reality. He's performing his debut album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, Saturday — "Children's Story" is a fairy tale–free warning, and "Hey Young World" admonishes kids to do their chores right after issuing the very practical advice, "If you smoke crack, your kids'll smoke crack tomorrow." Hey, we'll take Slick Rick the Ruler over Dr. Drew any day. [Ed.'s note: Don't get us started on Dr. Drew ...] —Rebecca Haithcoat
The Aussie BBQ
@ THE ECHO
Australia's geographic isolation encourages a wild profusion of distinctly unusual musicians, and this daylong showcase has an interesting cross-section of performers you may never see in the flesh again. The lineup ranges from the seductively charming if mainstream femme pop of Dash & Will to the hard-rock explosiveness of the Novocaines, who sometimes sound like Wolfmother but are more compelling when they ramble off the retro grid. The Level Spirits also are retro, in a groovy, garage-rocking fashion, but lead singer Miss Molly Jean Morrison exudes tons of soul-pop charisma. Hungry Kids of Hungary are cheerily perky and poppy, while the Boat People are poppy in a dreamier, alt-new-wave way. Aussie expatriate Andy Clockwise (now based in L.A.) goes on early with his fuzzy, glammy, weary-voiced songs. —Falling James
@ El REY THEATRE
[See Page Two.]
@ THE TROUBADOUR
Voxhaul Broadcast's strength is pushing multiple stylistic and emotional buttons without succumbing to lowest-common-denominator anonymity. Though the Silver Lake (via Orange County) quartet indulge in everything from twinkly goth guitars and a Morrissey-esque sense of classic storytelling to Lennon-McCartney melodic instincts and loose-hipped soul, they still sound coherent of vision and mission. It really helps that, whatever genre alley VB may wander, frontfella David Dennis always sounds like a strutting, rather poetic dandy who, however self-aware, is consistently sincere. This is never more evident than in Voxhaul Broadcast's celebratory, in-the-moment live sets. —Paul Rogers
@ THE ECHOPLEX
Two and a half years after their tentative first gigs, Le Tigre's JD Samson and guitarists Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Michael O'Neill have tightened their repertoire into a solid set. Onstage and in their new record, Talk About Body, Samson has graduated to the dynamic frontwoman of her own kick-ass dance/punk outfit. Agit-pop, if you will. They call it visibility. —Gustavo Turner
Also playing Saturday:
HABIB KOITÉ, OLIVER MTUKUDZI at UCLA; LENI STERN GROUP at Blue Whale; GOOD CHARLOTTE at House of Blues.
@ THE ECHOPLEX
The celebrated writer Rubén Martínez hosts the debut of this monthly variety show in the spirit of his grandparents, who were vaudeville performers in L.A. in the early 20th century. Each show has a theme, with this one titled "The Road to Los Angeles," inspired by the John Fante novel. While it's not clear yet how much Variedades will involve old vaudeville standbys like slapstick and jugglers, Martínez intends to bridge the city's cultural divide by bringing together diverse literary, musical and theatrical artists. He's off to a good start, with scheduled participants like La Santa Maria's Marisoul, Son Jarocho's César Castro, KPFK's Betto Arcos and musicologist/author Josh Kun. It's rumored that Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano might drop by to lend a spoken word or two. —Falling James
@ THE SATELLITE
Comedian Neil Hamburger will entertain the hipsterati at the former location of Spaceland. Will Britney Spears show up? Cross your (middle) fingers. —Dave Parkman
Also playing Sunday:
HUGH CORNWELL at Alex's Bar.
@ STAPLES CENTER
The Illuminati continue their campaign of indoctrination of Generations XYZ with their latest puppet. It doesn't matter if you love him, Him or legendary emo band HIM — in fact, when it comes to pop's latest queen, nothing really matters, as Freddie Mercury once said, way before he tuned in to "Radio Gaga." —Dave Parkman
Also playing Monday:
ART VS. SCIENCE at Bootleg Theater; BOWERY BEASTS at Silverlake Lounge.
@ THE WILTERN
You don't need us to convince you of the quality of Röyksopp's beats — just peep the guest vocalists this Norwegian duo has attracted over the years: Robyn, Lykke Li, Erlend Øye and Karin Dreijer Andersson of the Knife have all collaborated with Röyksopp, whose cuddly 2001 debut, Melody A.M., deserves a spot on any list of the best down-tempo albums of all time. (We'll admit that's not a list many people seem to be in a rush to make.) Last year's Senior found the group in singer-free ambient-wallpaper mode; it's a grown-up sequel of sorts to 2009's popwise Junior, which you're likely to hear more from at the Wiltern. [Ed.'s note: Next up, MFA?] With Jon Hopkins, the Eno-endorsed English electronic-music dude best known for having been sampled by Coldplay on their Viva la Vida. —Mikael Wood
@ CINEFAMILY at SILENT MOVIE THEATRE
Nilbog is the horror-film-score tribute band to end all horror-film-score tribute bands ... although, come to think of it, the competition's probably not that fierce. Featuring members of Captain Ahab, Anavan, Monsturo and the Black Apples, Nilbog rip out amazingly accurate takes on scary shock-shlock themes by the likes of John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, Ennio Morricone and, yup, Goblin (Geddit? Backwards writing — how satanic!). Armed with a nifty array of vintage synths, analog spooky-sounds gear and an uncanny gift for the flavor and feel of the original scores, Nilbog get it right. Tonight hear the six-piece unit tackle tunes from semilegendary jewels of the genre such as Deep Red, Escape From New York and Friday the 13th Part III, followed by a 35 mm screening of director Giulio Paradisi's 1979 sci-fi "classic" The Visitor. —John Payne
@ THE MUSIC BOX
@ THE ECHOPLEX
Much-hyped Michigan/Chicago crew Salem are, like, very fashionable, which ain't as bad as it sounds. Their King Night album of last year brought a wild hodgepodge of just about every trendy sound making the rounds, from gritty grime to semiwicked dub, rubbing lewdly against nasty Southern-style hip-hop, boom-bass moderne electronique, gothy druggy witch house (boo!) — cue fog machines and strobes and a little heroin chic. In between the pastiched bits of borrowed personality and style, the band leaked something that obliterated their obvious reference points and the sheer grasping trendiness of it all, and that was their persuasive sound of pure young ambition. In other words, they couldn't give a toss how contrived this thing is, and they're gonna do it anyway. File under Beautiful Mess. —John Payne
Also playing Tuesday:
THE SOUNDS at Avalon; ROTTING CHRIST at Key Club; SLOW POISONER at the Pike.
@ CLUB NOKIA
To hear KEM's pebble-smooth voice draped over gently jazzy, groovy love songs, you'd have no idea that he hadn't been groomed by some soft-jazz A&R. But he wrote, produced and financed his 2003 self-released debut, Kemistry, with a credit card and odd jobs as a waiter and wedding singer. Those days are long gone, as both that album and his 2005 follow-up went gold, and "Why Would You Stay," a single from his latest, 2010's Intimacy Album III, is perfect for the "Quiet Storm" dedication set. KEM has no interest in crossing over to croon for the hip-hop crowd; he makes music strictly for the grown-n-sexy. Candlelit dinner followed by this concert is the way to your woman's heart, fellas. —Rebecca Haithcoat
@ THE MUSIC BOX
Ice Cube hopped into hot water last year around this time, declaring on his blog and subsequent album, "I am the West." He has a valid point: As an original member of N.W.A, he penned most of Straight Outta Compton, the album that thrust L.A. onto a stage New York thought it owned. But after the controversial, acclaimed AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, he tasted Hollywood for the first time with a role in Boyz n the Hood, and he liked it. Though Cube continues to make albums, and his gruff, no-nonsense delivery hasn't lost its menace, his focus now is on television and film. Still, during his headlining show at last year's Paid Dues Festival, he proved he can not only pack a house but also turn it into one head-bobbing, steady-mobbing gangsta nation. [Ed.'s note: He's also down with the Juggalos — see last week's interview with ICP.] —Rebecca Haithcoat
@ EL REY THEATRE
The Gym Class Heroes frontman is calling his current North American trek the Sgt. Schlepper's Who Needs Hearts Band Tour, and though that name definitely gives us pause, we advise showing up early if only to catch Black Cards, the new project from Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. (They've yet to release an album, but songs posted online betray the influence of Rock Steady–era No Doubt.) The bill includes rappers Donnis and XV, as well as Boston-based synth-rockers Bad Rabbits, who are at work on their debut with New Jack Swing pioneer Teddy Riley. As for McCoy himself? Last year's Lazarus is a lot more fun than "Billionaire," its hit lead single, might suggest. Dude covers a Supergrass song! —Mikael Wood
Also playing Wednesday:
EARLY WINTERS, LAURA JANSEN at Hotel Cafe; CLUBFOOT ORCHESTRA at Cinefamily.
The Entrance Band
@ THE SATELLITE
A fantastic idea for one of the Satellite's inaugural residencies: L.A.'s unique wild jammers the Entrance Band. Every Entrance Band show is a physical workout for the psyche. Go. [Check out our interview with force-of-nature bassist Paz Lenchantin at laweekly.com.] —Gustavo Turner
She Wants Revenge
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@ GLASS HOUSE
When She Wants Revenge first shimmied out of the Valley with their detached, almost android new-wave tales of highly charged late-night lust, it was hard to believe that half of the duo, frontman Justin Warfield, once had a trippy hip-hop hit (1991's "Season of the Vic") and sang for the decidedly dancey Bomb the Bass. Their sophomore album, 2007's This Is Forever, was a listless parody of their quite wonderful Joy Division/Sisters of Mercy–indebted debut, released just the previous year, and the band subsequently parted company with their major label. Lately, apparently freed from stylistic expectations, their dance roots are delightfully re-emerging. Tracks like "All Wound Up," while still achingly '80s, suggest that their imminent third album should include some squelchy, synthy fun. —Paul Rogers
Also playing Thursday:
TRASHCAN SINATRAS at Bootleg Theater.