Music Picks: Tinariwen, Colbie Caillat, A.R. Rahman, Best Coast
Washed Out, Chain Gang of 1974, Class Actress
Mexican Summer first captured the one-man bedroom synthpop project Washed Out with 2009's Life of Leisure EP, recorded after singer Ernest Greene's return to the rural town of Perry, Ga. Handpicked by Battles to perform at the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas in December alongside heavyweights Flying Lotus, Four Tet and Junior Boys, Washed Out crafts gorgeous pop with shoegaze textures and woozy synths perfect for the warm summer days ahead. He'll release his debut full-length, Within & Without — recorded with Ben Allen, co-producer of Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion and Gnarls Barkley's St Elsewhere — on Sub Pop Records next month. Chain Gang of 1974 and Class Actress open. —Lainna Fader
@SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER
As part of the museum's ongoing exhibition "Houdini: Art and Magic," Autolux performs at a special event billed as "Into the Night: Music and Magic." The local trio's shadowy alt-rock songs should provide an appropriately enigmatic soundtrack to the festivities, which include a screening of Harry Houdini's 1920 serial Mastery Mystery, sleight-of-hand tricks by various magicians and additional music by Superhumanoids and DJ Anthony Valadez. In much the same way that the great Jewish magician was fascinated by the transition between confinement and freedom — and even between life and death — Autolux's recent album Transit Transit charts a course through the "golden age of feeling nothing." Whispery, shell-shocked vocals swim around dreamily in a sea of spare piano chords, evoking Syd Barrett, before floating into a "Headless Sky." —Falling James
John Doe & Jill Sobule
These two veteran singer-songwriters recently released a fan-funded live disc they made with a handful of A-list session pros at the Pass, the old-school L.A. recording studio on Cahuenga near Universal City. Now Doe (best known as the frontman of X) and Sobule (best known for having a hit called "I Kissed a Girl" before Katy Perry did) are out on a brief West Coast duo tour, playing songs from the record, such as Doe's Byrds-y "Walking Out the Door" and a cover of the Association's flowery mid-'60s hit "Never My Love." They've also worked up a scrappy new take on "I Kissed a Girl" that wisely dials down the original's considerable twee factor. Also Sat. —Mikael Wood
Sonny & the Sunsets, Wounded Lion
The easygoing San Francisco combo Sonny & the Sunsets amble amiably down a "trail leading back to a dream" in their bluesy country-folk tunes. The music to "E.S.P." may seem lifted straight from Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," but the lazy, hazy mood in the surreal walkabout "Death Cream" is distinctly the band's own. Wounded Lion have an even more unique sound, with jittery Velvet Underground riffs and No Wave attitude paired with a garage-rock immediacy on the local group's self-titled recent album. Fuzzed-out guitars squall like airplanes on "Degobah System," while "Carol Cloud" comes off like a bubblegum mutation of Richard Hell & the Voidoids. These earthbound Lions even get a little philosophical, looking to the sky for inspiration on "Hanging Ancient Circles," the euphoric pop jangle "Belt of Orion" and the kookily retro "Crünchy Stars." —Falling James
You either really like Steely Dan — or you really don't. They are Rock & Roll Hall of Famers — but they were inducted by Moby. They tried to mix the wit of Dylan with the slickness of jazz — but they ended up sounding like the Miami Vice soundtrack for math majors. They started off as the two biggest hipsters in the Brill Building — but they've always been championed by middle-management types with a PowerPoint fetish and Up in the Air–style wheelie suitcases. They've lusted after the forbidden underage fruit — but they ended up begging unreadable pseudopornographer Rikki Ducornet not to lose their numbers. They also gargle Seth Rogen's balls, and mine and yours, and everyone's you know. —Dave Parkman
VANESSA CARLTON at Largo; FUTURA at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock; DESTRUCTION OF A KING at Glass House (Pomona).
Bethany Cosentino, lead singer and guitar player of Best Coast, has become a fashion icon by keeping her style, much like her lyrics, simple and fun. Blending surf and indie rock over driving drumbeats, Best Coast's sound is a throwback to 1950s rock & roll dance halls and the sun-and-fun California of the early 1960s, while echoing Blue Album Weezer and tapping into the zeitgeist of indie-pop stars like Arcade Fire. Crazy for You, their debut full-length, is filled with songs like "Boyfriend" and "When I'm With You" that remind us it's OK to be happy when we listen to music. Relentlessly catchy and filled with simple and precise guitar riffs, Best Coast will force you to see the sun is still shining, the weather is free and you live in beautiful Southern California. Plus, this all will happen near the Magritte sculptures and the kaleidoscopic garden at the Getty. —Joe Lapin
Monopoly, Blu, Sun Araw, Jon Wayne, Dirty Bandits, DJ Garth Trinidad
Bakersfield-born producer Mono/Poly leads the latest incarnation of Hit + Run's Soundcrash party. His Manifestations EP debuted on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label earlier this year, with seven raw and powerful tracks of heavy synths, shifty beats and heavy-hitting bass lines that sometimes even get a little funky. Prolific L.A.-based rapper-producer and Exile collaborator Blu joins with young beatmaker/rapper talent from Low End Theory's second generation, along with Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw, who recently returned from recording an LP with roots-reggae legends the Congos in Jamaica. Locals Dirty Bandits also will play a set, as well as longtime KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad. —Lainna Fader
Though these local Lucifer lovers take Nordic black metal as their launch point, lately they're hinting at incorporating wafts of woodsy pagan folk and hair-flailing old-school thrash. Bizarrely begun in a U.S. Army barracks in Korea a few years back, Gravespawn somehow shut out the L.A. sunshine to produce a frosty, hopeless din. Whether by accident or design, a few elements set this increasingly competent quintet apart: actual discernable lyrics within Lord Malkuth's malevolent croak; bulbous, adventurous and audible bass playing; and a snare drum sufficiently dominant to give proceedings a welcome hardcore heft. The frantic chops, furious tempos and eye-bulging hatred are all in place, but Gravespawn's personality is so far only peeping through their corpse paint. —Paul Rogers
BULIMIA BANQUET, DUCHESS DE SADE at Mr. T's Bowl; NELLIE McKAY at Catalina Bar & Grill; VARIEDADES with EXENE CERVENKA, RICHARD MONTOYA, MARCUS KUILAND-NAZARIO at the Echo; WEIRD AL at Pacific Amphitheatre; KEVIN BLECHDOM at the Smell; ARMORED SAINT, HIRAX at the Key Club.
A.R. Rahman, Karsh Kale, Rhythms of Rajasthan
He is indeed a "global superstar," and that's mainly because composer A.R. Rahman launched the Indian film and music industry sky high with his kickass Oscar-winning soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire. But the eclectic maestro has done scores for more than 100 films, modernizing new Indian music (and the way it's perceived worldwide) with imaginative hybrid sounds that embrace the full spectrum of Indian classical modes, rock and electronic dance magic. He'll perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a career overview of many of his best and most outrageous Bollywood chart toppers, with montages from the films projected on the Bowl's big screens. Also: thumping Indian electronic stylee of DJ/tabla master Karsh Kale, traditional Indian folk sounds from Rhythms of Rajasthan, and Bollywood and Bhangradance from Bollywood Step Dance and Sher Foundation. —John Payne
You can tell that David Bazan realizes he's established his place in the indie-rock star system by the fact that he identifies himself using only his last name on the cover of Strange Negotiations, the former Pedro the Lion frontman's new solo album. And so he has: No one else (in indie rock or elsewhere) is writing more thoughtfully right now about navigating the kind of spiritual crisis most believers seem wary of owning up to. These days Bazan splits his live work between club dates with his two-man backing band and small-scale house shows he plays on his own; though obviously of the former variety, tonight's Troubadour gig is likely to feel as intimate as the latter. Also Sat. at Alex's Bar in Long Beach. —Mikael Wood
PART TIME PUNKS with SWAHILI BLONDE, MAUS HAUS, GANGI at the Echo; MATT ELLIS, THE SINGERS & PLAYERS SOCIETY, RUBY FRIEDMAN ORCHESTRA, THE COALS at the Echo.
Thao & Mirah
It's no secret we love tUnE-yArDs (aka Merrill Garbus), because w h o k i l l is obviously one of the best albums we've heard in a while. But while Garbus readied her astonishing second album (which you should own), she also took time to produce the self-titled debut by Thao & Mirah, two like-minded singer-songwriters from the righteous Pacific Northwest (Washington-Oregon-SF) axis. Both singers are known quantities in the indie world: Mirah has been a K Records mainstay and Thao has led the Get Down Stay Down (Kill Rock Stars). But the combination brings unexpected results, a chameleonic set that can sound like anything from Donovan to Captain Beefheart and, in standout track "Rubies and Rocks" (unmistakably tinkered with by the fascinating Garbus), like a feminist disco anthem reinterpreted by an African high-life combo. —Gustavo Turner
CRYSTAL ANTLERS, CLOROX GIRLS, COLD SHOWERS at the Echo; ANDY CLOCKWISE at Satellite; SO MANY WIZARDS, POLLS, RACES at Bootleg Theater; LA FONT, ROSS SEA PARTY at Silverlake Lounge.
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Limp Wrist, Big Freedia
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The Russians are coming in this opening night of the Hollywood Bowl's summertime classical season. Gustavo Dudamel leads the orchestra in a performance of Borodin's exotically dazzling Polovtsian Dances. China-born piano superstar (and unofficial cultural ambassador) Lang Lang joins in with a run through the airy delights of Prokofiev's popular Piano Concerto No. 3. And then the assembled forces tackle Ravel's version of Mussorgsky's wicked thriller Pictures at an Exhibition. There will be no fireworks display at this event, but you won't miss it — Lang Lang and Dudamel together on one stage promises pyrotechnics. Also Thurs. —John Payne
There's so much great music coming out of Mali these days, but it's the nomadic Saharan collective Tinariwen who conjure the most inexorably compelling spells. The music of these Tuareg warriors (literally, as several of them fought as rebel soldiers) came to wide attention with their 2009 album Imidiwan: Companions and an accompanying documentary with the same title, which explained how the members transitioned from making war to making music. Their upcoming album, Tassili, is just as engrossing, as soulful chanting blends with the group's trademark weave of guitars. The acoustic guitars on "Ya Messinagh" may seem as earthy and fundamental as traditional blues licks, but the riffs start to twist and spin and undulate exotically on the soul-music mélange "Tenere Taqqim Tossam," sounding like nothing you've ever heard before. —Falling James
PAC DIV , XV, CASEY VEGGIES at Key Club.
Aterciopelados' recent albums Rio (2008) and Oye (2006) are mellower and more slickly produced than their early records from the mid-1990s, but the Colombian band is still fairly energetic onstage. Singer Andrea Echeverri is a charismatic performer, blowing into an extended, narrow black flute, as long as a walking stick, and exhaling quick, curt, feverish puffs of sonic clouds. Her bassist-partner, Hector Buitrago, helps to craft protest songs that draw about equally from traditional folk music and more modern electronic-pop grooves. Even as the duo get passionate about immigration and environmental causes, they wed their concerns to music that's contrastingly mellow and sunny. —Falling James
Not unlike a female Jack Johnson, this low-key Malibu native has strummed her way to stardom with a string of surf-chick folk-pop ditties so elemental that they preempt aesthetic offense: A few years ago at a bar on the Thai island of Ko Samui, we heard a Vietnamese duo do a rendition of "Realize" more or less indistinguishable from Caillat's own. The singer gets ever so slightly adventurous on her new one, All of You, which came out earlier this week; "Brighter Than the Sun" rides a bass-heavy beach-funk groove (produced by Ryan Tedder), while "Favorite Song" features a cameo by the Republican Party's most-feared rapper, Common. That said, don't expect to end up quaking in your Steve Maddens tonight — Caillat's still about as harmless as they come. —Mikael Wood
JACK LITTMAN at Silverlake Lounge; RADARS TO THE SKY, RADEMACHER at Bootleg Theater; GARDENS AND VILLA at the Echo.
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