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Rock Picks

THURSDAY, November 16

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars at the Malibu Performing Arts Center

Thrown together by Sierra Leone’s apocalyptic decade-plus civil war, the Refugee All-Stars have one of a hell a story to tell, and while the group has been heralded here with a load of effusive bullshit (coming as it does from a horde of overpaid rock-crit blowhards) that invariably speaks of “redemptive power” and “healing,” it’s always best to let the music do the talking, and, believe it, these cats won’t let your attention stray. Their high-stepping Afro-reggae grooves are put over with a natural-fact expertise, and the bare-bones lyrics are framed as a series of marvelously simple, effective metaphors that combine for an emphatically arresting earful, one providing the ideal way to convey these bruised, defiant messages. (Jonny Whiteside)

Also playing Thursday:

ROONEY, BEN LEE at Avalon; JOLIE HOLLAND, VETIVER at the Jensen Rec Center; JOHN LEGEND at the Wiltern; HOWARD TATE at Amoeba Music; ARIEL PINK, BEACH HOUSE at the Echo; RACHAEL YAMAGATA at the Hotel Café; JAMES BLUNT, STARSAILOR at House of Blues; LAS 15 LETRAS, CHENCHA BERRINCHES, KEVIN K at the Knitting Factory; DOLLYROTS, RANDIES at the Scene; HELLO STRANGER, SOMETHING FOR ROCKETS, EMILIE SIMON at the Troubadour; CUT CHEMIST at the Viper Room.

WEDNESDAY, November 22

Kevin Federline at House of Blues

I imagine Britney buzzed on Red Bull and licking Cheetos dust off her fingers, furiously flipping through an Us Weekly story about Whitney leaving Bobby. Suddenly, she has a moment of clarity. “Hey!” Britney exclaims to her ever-expanding brood and the day’s random manny. “Replace the crack with Starbucks, and that’s me and Kevin in 15 years. That’s not cool, y’all!” It’s hard not to appreciate Kevin Federline’s relentless opportunism just a little. From Britney to CSI to sucker-punching wrestler John Cena on WWE Raw, Homes is repping Fresno pretty hard. Then there’s the music. From the faux Brazilian favela funk of “Popozao” to the equally facetious gangster rap of the wryly titled “America’s Most Hated,” this is about as ridiculous as it gets. Which, of course, is the point. (Scott T. Sterling)

The Rolling Stones at Dodger Stadium

Tonight, the Rolling Stones probably won’t perform a tribute to the late Love singer Arthur Lee, whose shimmering “She Comes in Colors” lyrically inspired the Stones’ equally lovely “She’s a Rainbow.” Nor are they likely to whip out a performance of the complete Their Satanic Majesties Request album à la Brian Wilson’s recent run through Pet Sounds. It’s doubtful that the great lead-guitar stylist Mick Taylor will ever uncoil those wickedly liquid solos onstage with the Stones on “Love in Vain” ever again — and you can probably forget about Brian Jones jumping out of a cake as a surprise special guest on “Sympathy for the Devil.” And yet, on the band’s third swing through town on their apparently never-ending Bigger Bang Tour, Mick and Keith still have some tricks up their sleeves. Our spies tell us that Sir Mick was in excellent voice at last week’s gig in Las Vegas despite the death of his father, Joe Jagger, and the throat problems that led to the rescheduling of this Dodger Stadium show. That tree-climbing daredevil Keef Riffhard has been mixing it up with oldies like “Connection” and the rarely performed “You Got the Silver,” and — most encouragingly — the Stones have been spotlighting in concert the better tunes (“Rain Fall Down,” “Rough Justice”) from their latest CD, the generally strong A Bigger Bang. (Falling James)

Also playing Wednesday:

BEN VAUGHN at Cinema Bar; PERNICE BROTHERS at Spaceland; LEMONHEADS, VIETNAM at the Troubadour.


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