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Monday, September 15
Mia Doi Todd
Calling her an “L.A. singer-songwriter” doesn’t quite do the job when it comes to describing this local jewel. Mia Doi Todd is a valuable presence for her gracefully conceived, wonderfully intimate songcraft, often in the art-folk mold, gingerly plucked on acoustic guitar and sung crystalline, like a dewy flower petal reflecting sunlight. Yet it’s her sonic point of view over several solo albums that reveals Todd’s intriguing range and depth, from Chilean folk tunes to gentle variations on Afro samba to rather radical remixes in collaboration with electronic/DJ artists. She’s just released the album Floresta (City Zen), a miraculously spare and pure collection of classic Brazilian songs by Caetano Veloso, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Tom Zé and other greats. Todd doesn’t just sing these songs, she confesses them, and it’s a thing of beauty. —John Payne
Tuesday, September 16
While hardly making them the new Crass, Rise Against’s pro-Democrat and human/animal/LGBT rights mutterings sound bold indeed in an era all but devoid of mainstream “political” music. The quartet’s serrated yet ultra-anthemic punk-lite, distinguished by reckless groove shifts and Tim McIlrath’s earnest, raw-throated roar, is lyrically sincere and musically challenging enough to bear repeated spins, yet sufficiently sing-along and rhythmically insistent to survive even the puniest of smartphone speakers. Though more inward-looking than most of its predecessors, Rage Against’s seventh studio album, this year’s The Black Market, is yet another well-produced wake-up call, which, even during its instrumental passages, can somehow sound life-changing. Rise Against is one of very few new-millennium bands that can claim more than just lust for adulation and accumulation behind its many platinum discs. Also Wednesday, Sept. 17. —Paul Rogers
Wednesday, September 17
The Buzzcocks are back again and maybe you helped, since the famous very-first-wave British punk band decided to crowd-fund their ninth and newest studio album, The Way. It’s also up to you whether you file that as a symptom of a collapsing music industry (who doesn’t wanna put out a Buzzcocks LP?) or as a long-awaited opportunity for a band to put the art back in their pop without fussery from supervisors. So far The Way is winning positive press mostly for being so damn Buzzcock-y, balancing the melodic, Singles Going Steady side of the band with the more experimental ideas co-founder Pete Shelley always liked to play with. Expect the hits, but expect some trick shots, too. With kindred spirits The Images, pop-but-mostly-punk rockers from the South Bay. —Chris Ziegler
Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton
CATALINA JAZZ CLUB
There are many nights when Lisa Fischer finds herself onstage in a sold-out arena or stadium, ruthlessly stealing the spotlight as she sings circles around the leader of what is reportedly the world’s greatest rock & roll band. But such is the life of a skilled backup vocalist — one moment you’re dueting with Mick Jagger on a scathingly fiery version of “Gimme Shelter,” the next you’re back to chiming harmonies on “You Got Me Rocking.” Fischer was one of the leading figures in 2013 documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, which examined the contradictions of being a backup singer to more famous personalities, but tonight she takes charge and leads her own group, Grand Baton, belting out passionate R&B originals mixed with the occasional soulfully reinvented Stones cover. Also Thursday, Sept. 18. —Falling James
Thursday, September 18
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Neutral Milk Hotel, ?The Breeders, Daniel Johnston
Some of the most weirdly endearing moments on this loaded bill occur early, so make sure to arrive in time for Daniel Johnston. The schizophrenic Austin bard has come a long way since he sold his handmade music cassettes at McDonald’s in the mid-1980s. He’s such a Texas tradition now that his songs have been covered by Tom Waits, Butthole Surfers and TV on the Radio, but no one else can duplicate Johnston’s oddly childlike takes on The Beatles, broken hearts, Captain America and punch-drunk boxers. The Breeders take a look back at 1993’s Last Splash, although one hopes leader Kim Deal also will find time for the underrated songs on more recent releases such as Mountain Battles and Fate to Fatal. Neutral Milk Hotel set aloft their evocatively trippy sea chanteys for the first time locally in eons. —Falling James
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