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Friday, August 22
Slint’s sound has been variously described as math rock, hardcore and post-rock, as the Louisville, Kentucky, quartet lays down spiny, postpunk grooves under angular guitars that occasionally swell outward into stormy waves of distortion. The band just reissued an expanded version of their influential, Steve Albini–produced 1991 album, Spiderland, newly remastered by Mission of Burma’s Bob Weston and augmented by Breadcrumb Trail, a documentary by filmmaker Lance Bangs . If you follow the breadcrumbs over the years, you’ll see how these former members of the rabid mid-’80s punk band Squirrel Bait took the intensity of hardcore but suffused it with intricate rhythms, Brian McMahan’s often laconic vocals and David Pajo’s cleverly interlocking guitar riffs. Slint broke up in 1992 but in 2005 began playing occasional reunions. Also at FYF Fest at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Saturday, Aug. 23. —Falling James
Lila Downs, Kinky
Although Lila Downs draws upon traditional Mexican folk-music styles and sings in such languages as Mayan, Zapotec, Nahuatl and Mixtec (as well as Spanish and occasionally English), her music is too restlessly diverse to be summarized as world music. On her 2011 album, Pecados y Milagros, the Oaxacan singer mixes reggae, rap and rock into a set of diversely enchanting tracks, many co-written by Downs’ saxophonist-husband, Paul Cohen. On recent tours, she has even surprised purists with imaginative rearrangements of songs by Lucinda Williams and early Fleetwood Mac. Whether Downs is unfurling her majestic voice against a simple backdrop of accordion or kicking up her heels in an uptempo frenzy, she’s always a fierce defender of struggling migrant exiles. Monterrey’s Kinky contrasts with shiny, electronic-pumped dance rock. —Falling James
The Belle Brigade
FIG AT 7TH
The fun-loving doesn’t stop at just living life for siblings Barbara and Ethan Gruska. Their musical partnership as The Belle Brigade since 2008 has been a flourishing one, garnering critical acclaim for their self-titled debut in 2011 and their most recent release, Just Because. No strangers to creating music, the siblings come from a long lineage of musical masters, including composer John Williams. While they have evolved with the times to transform their folk rock with synths and samples, the duo still retains its classically rooted compositions and hooking harmonies. Fresh off a tour with Ray LaMontagne, The Belle Brigade’s easygoing nature is an experience fueled by enthusiastic energy, which will certainly make this downtown location rumble. —Britt Witt
Saturday, August 23
LOS ANGELES SPORTS ARENA &?EXPOSITION PARK
Entering its second decade, FYF Fest moves to a new indoor/outdoor location at the L.A. Sports Arena and Exposition Park. With more stages and more food options, the not-so-little-festival-that-could rivals Coachella at the local level. The indie-centric FYF is where newly reformed shoegaze pioneers Slowdive are making their dreamy SoCal appearance. The Strokes headline the second day and appear as Julian Casablancas + The Voidz on the first day. Also appearing twice is Dan Snaith, better known in his electro-experimental guise Caribou on Saturday and his dark, after-hours guise Daphni on Sunday. Hipster favorite DJ Harvey’s eclectic, disco-driven selections on day one will be contending with Jamie xx’s futuristic set on day two. More Los Angeles than Paris, Phoenix take their usual festival-headlining spot with post-punkers Interpol and the dynamic Little Dragon on Saturday. On Sunday, homegrown folk-pop sisters Haim and the multidimensional Flying Lotus round out the sold-out weekend. —Lily Moayeri
Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive come to town, transforming the elegant and venerable Wiltern into their own smoky roadhouse. The Boston band stirs up retro soul, with lead singer Rachael Price belting things out with R&B force and a jazzy grace. “I could have been a painter or president,” Price declares on the title track of their second album, Bad Self Portraits. “I’m taking night classes … I’m painting bad self-portraits of a lonely woman.” In reality, her “bad” self-portraits are supremely engaging, as the rest of the group pushes her through pop interludes such as “Rabid Animal” and the comparatively heavy rock-soul of “Bobby Tanqueray.” Even when Price feels “Used Up,” she dusts herself off and gets back up with fervent determination, her heart — and sweetly assured vocals — seemingly as pure as ever. —Falling James
Sunday, August 24
The myriad personnel lineups representing Yes likely will never be deemed fully acceptable to the band’s hordes of purist fans, who’ve seen the progressive-rock icons morph from a quirkily magnificent symphonic/art-rock ensemble to a more streamlined and pop-accessible unit. Yet time marches on, and even hardcore “progressive” nerds might check the dreamy whimsy of Yes’ lovely, tough-enough new album Heaven & Earth, which features bassist Chris Squire and guitarist Steve Howe from the original lineup and drummer Alan White and keyboardist Geoff Downes (from the “middle period”), along with a singer named Jon Davison who sounds remarkably like the other Jon (Anderson). Tonight it’s a tribute to their own legacy, with songs from the new album along with a trove of their hits, including performances of the entire Fragile and Close to the Edge albums. —John Payne
Like fellow genre pioneers The Ruts and The Slits, The Weirdos delighted in defying even what was socially mandated as constituting first-wave punk. Formed in 1976 and currently enjoying the latest in a string of sporadic reunions, these Angelenos shun the gritty, often confrontational imagery of their East Coast and British punk peers in favor of a more colorful, satirical aesthetic. The Weirdos’ essentially garage-rock sonic signature is distinguished on tracks such as “Destroy All Music” and “We Got the Neutron Bomb” by unusually melodic guitars, absurdly exaggerated drum fills, sardonic hooks and songwriting that comfortably transcends three-chord tricks. Since they’re both remembered and revered as West Coast punk godfathers, expect The Weirdos’ crowd at the all-ages Cobalt to be, literally, all ages. —Paul Rogers
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