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Friday, August 23
EL REY THEATRE
It's hard to say which is more surprising, the news that the reunited Pixies have decided to carry on without crucial singer-bassist Kim Deal, or the recent announcement that another talented Kim -- The Muffs' Kim Shattuck -- is taking a hiatus from her own group to replace Deal. Of course, The Pixies have always been led by Black Francis, who wrote most of their best-known songs in the late '80s and early '90s, but Deal proved that she was far more than just a backing musician on the rare occasions she was allowed to sing lead, especially on such surging alt-rock gems as "Gigantic." Eventually, Deal blossomed fully when she fronted her own bands The Amps and, especially, The Breeders, who released a slew of coolly engrossing classics in the early '90s, such as "Lime House," "Cannonball" and "Hellbound." What many people don't realize is that The Breeders these days are less nostalgia-minded than The Pixies -- one of Deal's most memorable songs, the glassily shimmering idyll "We're Gonna Rise," came out just a few years ago on The Breeders' excellent comeback album, Mountain Battles. --Falling James
The metal sounds produced by San Francisco's Deafheaven are an incredible marriage of beauty and beast. Their newest album, Sunbather, tempers outbursts of blasting black metal with gorgeous post-rock atmospherics. The haunting shrieks of vocalist George Clarke would shine on any metal-oriented output, but when surrounded by the lush, shoegaze-inspired guitarwork of band co-founder Kerry McCoy, they are given an aura that makes them even more chilling. This groundwork was laid on their impressive 2011 debut, Roads to Judah, but new drummer Daniel Tracy's performance on Sunbather adds a layer of rhythmic hugeness that matches the grandiose beauty of the band's ambitions. The swarm of shoegaze around the group's music has endeared them to the Pitchfork Media crowd, but Clarke's screams and Tracy's blast-beat drumming are more than true enough to please hardened metal fans as well. --Jason Roche
Ximena Sariñana writes supremely assured songs with savvy piano-pop arrangements in the style of Carole King and Fiona Apple, but when it comes to romance, she's just as vulnerable as anyone else. The Guadalajara singer finds herself seduced by a lover from a hipster neighborhood who "liked to play guitar" and "was fond of Godard" before realizing she's been fooled. (The bittersweet anthem is called "Echo Park.") Sariñana belies the similarly mainstream-pop settings of tunes like "Different" and "Mediocre" with cleverly provocative, bilingual lyrics, and the former child star of Mexican telenovelas is free-spirited enough to occasionally venture into hard-rock experiments with her former boyfriend Omar Rodríguez-López (The Mars Volta). Tonight, she performs before a screening of Duncan Bridgeman's documentary Hecho en México, a film that attempts to capture the spirit of modern-day Mexico via a soundtrack that weaves together traditional music with more familiar sounds from Lila Downs, Kinky, Julieta Venegas, Natalia Lafourcade and Carla Morrison. --Falling James
Saturday, August 24
L.A. STATE HISTORIC PARK
After some early growing pains, the annual FYF Fest returns with its most action-packed and loaded lineup yet. Saturday bursts with starry-eyed mapmakers Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the cerebrally funky TV on the Radio, the hazy incantations of Atlanta's Deerhunter, psychedelic survivor Roky Erickson, the tripped-out folkie exotica of Devendra Banhart, blurrily aggressive San Diego thrashers The Locust, dream-laden S.F. wanderers Thee Oh Sees and -- for the many punk fans who were less than enchanted by Greg Ginn's recent theremin-addled Black Flag "reunion" -- a set by Flag, which features more of Black Flag's authentic early members. Sunday culminates in a rare local appearance by Irish shoegaze icons My Bloody Valentine, cranking up their swirling, mesmerizing and fully heavy dreamscapes, while the Baltimore duo Beach House spins its reveries in a gauzier fashion. Sunday also features the synth-driven Connecticut group MGMT, eternally childlike Jonathan Richman, the beautifully dark spells of Chelsea Wolfe, the charming garage-pop Willowz spinoff Guards, sludgy sonic terrorists Melvins and sleepy alt-rockers Yo La Tengo, along with a small army of comedians. Also Sun., Aug. 25. --Falling James
The music of King Conquer is that throbbing, feverish din flooding the skull during those first few bolt-upright moments following a night terror. These Floridians' dense and disturbing thickets of deathcore guitars shift uncomfortably around nailgun beats and James Mislow's trapped-in-a-meat grinder, rubbed-raw roar. Equal parts sport and art, athletics and expression, the grim quintet's music is disciplined to the point of distraction and at times impossibly dexterous, yet the aural acrobatics and almost unintelligible lyrics never lack implied meaning. King Conquer's malevolent message, on new LP 1776 and 2010 debut America's Most Haunted alike, appears to be that life's suffering and punishment will never, ever subside. --Paul Rogers
Open Gate Ensemble, Naama Kates
LIVE ARTS L.A.
"Mixed Metaphors" is the premiere event at Live Arts L.A., a new venue for local progressive arts in Eagle Rock. The venue will be the home of the venerable Open Gate music and performance ensemble, which tonight (and always) features a slew of the best forward-thinkers our city has to offer. This includes company founder Will Salmon on keyboard, vocals and flute, Open Gate stalwart super-drummer Alex Cline, sax/woodwinds master Vinny Golia, bassist Bill Casale, percussionist Brad Dutz, pipa player Jie Ma and singer/clarinetist Kira Vollman. The show opens with a performance piece called "The Tango Lesson," with voice/acting by Argenta Walther and acting by Rika Ohara. Also expect a set of poetical pop art by singer-composer Naama Kates and her excellent band. --John Payne
Sunday, August 25
Well, if you can't comprehend the complexity of "The Dan's" music and lyrics, then maybe you ought to stick to your Lady Gaga records. Thing about Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's brand of jazz-pop is that one never really needed the vaguest clue of what the hell they were driving at conceptually; the songs were so royally crafted and so melodically primo that your foot would be tapping and you'd be humming along while you checked your literary reference guide trying to figure out what the hell they were talking about. Steely Dan was and is cool, smart and funny, with a catalog of songs whose mysteries never grow old. Becker & Fagen bring their latest session aces, The Bipolar Allstars, to interpret the gold and also are joined by backup singers The Borderline Brats. These live dates across the States are entitled the Mood Swings: 8 Miles to Pancake Day Tour. We love that we have no idea what that means. (Also Sat., Aug. 24). --John Payne
See also: Steely Dan Fans Are Assholes
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