The Best Concerts in L.A. This Week

Amadou & Mariam -- See Wednesday
Amadou & Mariam -- See Wednesday

Don't forget to check our constantly-updated Los Angeles Concert Calendar

Monday, July 8

Future Bible Heroes, et al.


Future Bible Heroes' new album, Partygoing, sounds a bit like Magnetic Fields. Well, probably because FBH are Magnetic Fields, or about 90 percent of them anyway. Let us explain: Future Bible Heroes is one of the musical projects from The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, the wittily literary and sagely musical main man who writes the tunes and words for the band. His buddy, Christopher Ewen, composes the instrumental backing tracks, and Claudia Gonson sings lead vocals. For this tour, the band will feature Gonson, Ewen and a couple of others, but Merritt has had to stay home and rest his ears, which are giving him problems. His trusty bandmates will give their all in their interpretations of the brazenly tuneful Partygoing songs, a somewhat schizoid batch of hyper-clubby disco-pop and morning-after ballads. --John Payne

Tuesday, July 9

Joe Santa Maria


The High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston has an impressive list of notable alumni, including Kendrick Scott, Walter Smith III, Helen Sung, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper and, for those who don't know who those people are, Beyoncé. Alto saxophonist Joe Santa Maria also went there, and though he is not as well-known as the others, his pedigree is apparent when sound comes out of his horn. Consider him one of the best saxophonists no one has heard about -- yet. He thinks music must be spiritually grounded, which makes sense when your last name is the same as Jesus' mom's. Santa Maria values trust, passion, beauty, freedom, excitement, joy, friendship and love. It's true, because he said so in an email. It's also true because that's how his music sounds. --Gary Fukushima

Wednesday, July 10

Queen Latifah, Roy Ayers


You might think you know Queen Latifah, but you really don't. The New Jersey native has moved far beyond her early days as a brassy, sassy, hip-hop diva and her later incarnation as a mainstream movie star, (stealing the spotlight in Chicago and carrying films like Bringing Down the House and Last Holiday). More recently, she has persuasively reinvented herself as a jazzy chanteuse on releases like The Dana Owens Album. Latifah's rich, warm voice is perfectly suited for such classic standards as "Lush Life" and "I Put a Spell on You" (which, coincidently, She & Him's Zooey Deschanel belted out two weeks ago at this same venue). Upping the ante tonight is an appearance by jazz-funk vibe legend Roy Ayers, best known for "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" and the slinky dance hit "Don't Stop the Feeling." --Falling James


Amadou & Mariam


Singer Mariam Doumbia and her husband, singer-guitarist Amadou Bagayoko, might both be blind but their music is unusually visual and colorful. Bagayoko plucks intricate riffs that sound like birds streaming against a sunny sky, as both he and Doumbia chant hypnotically ebullient melodies in Bambara, French and occasionally English. The Malian duo has worked with French world-music genius Manu Chao on their now-classic 2004 album, Dimanche à Bamako. On their latest release, Folila, they're joined by a small galaxy of indie-rock stars including Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, Theophilus London, TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone and Santigold. As enjoyable as those guest contributions are, Amadou & Mariam don't really need the help, as their blend of voices already sounds intoxicatingly magical when woven together with Bagayoko's funky guitar lines. --Falling James

See also: The Immense Sweetness of Amadou & Mariam

Thursday, July 11

Lazaro Galarraga & Sitara Son


Ah, yeah baby, that sultry, slinky Cubano sound -- all those luxurious undulating melodies and irresistible rhythms combine to achieve a particularly rich, smoky, languorous brand of musical atmosphere, which, if executed properly, is nothing less than transportive. When Havana born-and-bred vocalist-dancer-percussion veteran Lazaro Galarraga and his most able Sitara Son sextet take the bandstand, you can bet the cumulative effect of their sinuous groove-wrangling is enough to send you into orbit. Galarraga began his professional life in Cuba circa 1962 with the then-newly minted Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba, and the subsequent decades of nonstop experience have elevated his style to a masterly level. These cats deliver Cuba's influential, mesmerizing tradition Cuban Son style with an exotic African twist, and this just-inaugurated every-second-Thursday gig guarantees a long, deliciously hot summer. --Jonny Whiteside

Surfer Blood


There's a certain sound that's just perfect for spending a summer night by the sea, and Surfer Blood has found it between the spaces of Weezer's blue album and maybe the guitar solo from Teenage Fanclub's "The Concept." The group's new album, Pythons, is layer upon layer of fuzz and melody and then more fuzz, built from note one to make an appearance on a summer mixtape -- or mix ... zip? Mixvine? Snapmixogram? Whatever people do to obscurely suggest certain feelings with certain songs these days, Surfer Blood is ready to help. Tracks like "I Was Wrong" recall the other, darker and possibly best-of-all Weezer of the Pinkerton era, and there's a strange hint of darkness in the Vampire Weekend-y verses of "Squeezing Blood." Don't worry, though --the pop is always waiting to bubble up. --Chris Ziegler

See also: Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino Talks Surfer Blood, Upcoming Album, Seinfeld and Cats

Ólafur Arnalds


Icelandic composer/multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds tightropes an intriguing new-classical line, a blurred-influence place drawing on the interfacing of electronics with lush but minimal strings and piano-tinkling pop songsmithery. Arnalds' chillingly beautiful soundscapes offer a resonant ambience that has added savory layers to several TV and film productions, including The Hunger Games, Looper and even So You Think You Can Dance. Arnalds' growing mastery of the simple pop song is showcased to nice effect on his new album, For Now I Am Winter, which features a full orchestra in soaring string arrangements by Arnalds' sonic aesthetic soulmate Nico Muhly, along with vocals by Icelandic singer Arnór Dan. Arnalds performs tonight with a piano, laptop and small string section. Also appearing at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever on Friday, July 12. --John Payne

Don't forget to check our constantly-updated Los Angeles Concert Calendar

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