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Friday, May 16
Connan Mockasin, ?Kirin J Callinan
While we'd love to believe the Syd Barrett comparisons Connan Mockasin is getting, we just don't hear it. (Maybe with the hair, though?) Instead, this New Zealander found his sound in Ariel Pink's bottomless discography and dug deeper from there, with unexpected nods at Ween, The Cure and Shuggie Otis - often simultaneously, like on the pitch-shifted pop of "I'm the Man That Will Find You." Mockasin is sharing this bill with Kirin J Callinan, a polysonic Australian auteur with music so happily, unpredictably diverse it makes Connan seem positively normal. Callinan's recent Embracism bounces between Nick Cave, The Triffids' David McComb, James Chance, Roxy Music, The Homosexuals and ... I don't know, but let's go look at my eBay saved searches and surely we'll find something else to reference. - Chris Ziegler
Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, Chantal Claret
Many people first became aware of Holly Golightly when she sang a charming duet, "It's True That We Love One Another," with Jack White on The White Stripes' 2003 Elephant. But the British songbird came to attention earlier as a member of one of Billy Childish's garage combos, Thee Headcoatees. Since then, she's moved away from garage rock into rootsy Americana, joined by her longtime accompanist, Lawyer Dave. The duo's latest album, All Her Fault, alternates between energetic barnburners like "Can't Pretend" and such country-blues laments as "SLC." At times, their roots digging and slide guitars are mighty pleasin', but elsewhere the pair's cornpone accents and stylized, down-home affectations come across as studiously mannered instead of truly authentic. Former Morningwood chanteuse Chantal Claret adds considerable energy with her newfound R&B-infused sizzle and quick-stepping choreography. - Falling James
Saturday, May 17
He hasn't released any new music since 1993, yet the Piano Man from Long Island remains a strong draw. For his first solo Los Angeles show in many years, Joel will rely on his catalog of endless hits, which made him one of the best-selling and most popular artists of the 1970s and '80s. Whether it's singing about characters like Brenda and Eddie or championing the cause of the longshoremen on "Downeaster Alexa," the 64-year-old singer's music has managed to become more popular as he heads into senior citizenship. Though he was dismissed by critics in his earlier years, many of Joel's most popular songs have become part of the Great American Songbook, proving that fans sometimes do know best. Also Thursday, May 22, and Tuesday, May 27. - Daniel Kohn
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
Perhaps someday John and Yoko's kid won't have to jump through hoops to prove he's got something of his own to say. In fact, Sean Lennon has been doing just that for several years now; his duo with longtime partner Charlotte Kemp Muhl as The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger proves again his well-versed individuality in the contemporary meltdown-rock stakes. The pair's just-out Midnight Sun on Lennon's own Chimera label is highly crafted, proggy psychedelia loaded to bursting with aurally surprising twists and turns, stamped heavily with the more arty rock of the '60 and '70s, among a kaleidoscope of other sources (including The Beatles, which makes sense, after all). Quite an accessibly hard-rocking affair, too, Midnight Sun at its best tells intriguing new stories and devises shining new shapes. - John Payne
Charles Bradley's tale is anything but an overnight-success story. Inspired by James Brown, the fiery young soul singer briefly had a band in the 1960s, but his backing musicians were pulled away by the draft for the Vietnam War; Bradley soon disappeared into the woodwork, toiling in anonymity for a decade as a cook in Maine, then becoming homeless and wandering aimlessly all over the continent. As recounted in the 2012 documentary Soul of America, Bradley nonetheless enjoyed an unexpected, late-career resurgence with the release of his long-overdue debut album, 2011's No Time for Dreaming. The story continues with last year's follow-up, Victim of Love, where Bradley belts out Stax-style soul ballads with the power of Otis Redding. - Falling James
Deserted at the Palms ?with Thee Oh Sees, Cate Le Bon, Nite Jewel
This year's edition of Coachella might already be a fading memory, but underground-music festivals keep popping up like tumbleweeds, even as the Mojave Desert starts to really bake. The Deserted at the Palms fest in Twentynine Palms is headlined by trippy San Francisco hard-rockers Thee Oh Sees, and an undercurrent of desert-fried psychedelia runs through many of the other performers on the bill. Ramona Gonzalez's Nite Jewel adds layers of bewitching electronica to her desolate soundscapes, while Brooklyn's Prince Rama exudes exotic swirls of melody that contrast with the delicately dreamy pop vocals of Cate Le Bon. White Fence proffers '60s-style revivalism, Chrome Canyon pumps up its '80s synths, and Amanda Jo Williams brings it all back home with her cutesy folk strumming. Also performing: Dream Boys, Bloody Death Skull, HOTT MT, Geneva Jacuzzi and many others. - Falling James
Sunday, May 18
London Grammar is eminently likable. The youthful British trio, whose album If You Wait was released last year, has won over a diverse audience with a combination of haunting vocals, dewdrop guitar plucks and multilayered, electronically driven keyboards and percussion. Comparisons to The xx run rampant, and that's not a bad thing. If You Wait's detached, understated tones are echo-y on album opener "Hey Now," trippy and pleading on "Strong," and strung through with sculpted breakbeats on "Metal & Dust." If you think London Grammar is all subdued melancholy, listen to their sublime, dancefloor-driving collaboration with Disclosure, "Help Me Lose My Mind," which will bring you close to doing just that. Also Monday, May 19, with Coldplay at Royce Hall. - Lily Moayeri
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