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Friday, October 10
Lily Allen has changed her sound somewhat on Sheezus, her first album in five years, moving away from the sunny ska and pop-reggae of her early days and delving deeper into electro-pop and hip-hop. The British singer still retains her lacerating sarcasm on the new album’s title song, where she cheerily name-drops presumed rivals such as Katy Perry, Lorde and Lady Gaga and wonders why female singers have to be ranked (“I’m ready for all the comparisons/I think it’s dumb, and it’s embarrassing”) before jokily throwing her hat in the ring (“Give me that crown, bitch, I wanna be Sheezus!”). Brimming with cleverness and a wit that’s often too quick for her own good, Allen still pumps out giddily uplifting tunes, leavened with saucy lyrics that elevate her far above her more plasticized pop peers. —Falling James
The Pretty Reckless
It’s easy to make fun of Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen — comedian Sandra Bernhard has made something of a cottage industry out of criticizing the actor for being too skinny. And the thought of yet another young actor dabbling in rock & roll is enough to stir up truckloads of critical cynicism. But Momsen’s band, The Pretty Reckless, are nonetheless the real thing. She’s changed the lineup of her New York quartet over the past few years, but the current group cranks out new anthems such as “Messed Up World” with the same hard-rocking power she stirred up on her 2010 debut, Light Me Up. Momsen’s themes still center on her fight against self-destruction and overcoming a Catholic upbringing (“Jamming Jesus down my throat/No, I don’t want to be saved”), driven home by catchy, head-banging, sing-along hooks. —Falling James
Like a lot of L.A. transplants, noise rockers Tennis System sound a little sun-drunk on the upcoming Technicolour Blind, their second album since relocating to the left coast from their native Washington, D.C. But as song titles such as “Suicide” and “Dead Honey” suggest, a bleak worldview lurks beneath the band’s shimmering guitars and beach-party beats. Leather-clad frontman Matty Taylor may call California home now, but he still has the disaffected stance and heavy strumming hand of an East Coast loner who grew up with a lot of angst and Dinosaur Jr. records. The combination of shoegaze melancholy and Wavves-like surf-punk racket makes Technicolour Blind an exciting next step for a band whose earlier DIY releases were already stacked with layers of psychedelic noise and effects-pedal heroics. —Andy Hermann
Saturday, October 11
SHRINE EXPO HALL AND GROUNDS
This new music festival blows up the myth that Latin musicians can be easily lumped into one convenient genre or category. Supersonico bursts with performers from a wide array of styles, from the electronic and techno-infused dance music of Nortec Collective’s Bostich + Fussible to the relatively traditional pop hybrids of Café Tacuba. The lineup is all over the map — literally — with sets from French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux, Colombia’s Bomba Estéreo and their juiced-up cumbia, Puerto Rican hip-hop rockers Calle 13, Japan’s Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and the Panamanian/Bay Area reggaeton artisans Los Rakas. Several notable local luminaries are in the house, including the madly eclectic La Santa Cecilia and former Tijuana No! chanteuse Ceci Bastida, who has evolved from a teenage punk-ska heroine into a fully grown, electronica-laced, contemplative pop diva. —Falling James
Ethan Johns, Sean Rowe
In a way, Ethan Johns is rock royalty. His father and uncle, Glyn and Andy Johns, produced, engineered and mixed classic albums by Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones and practically every other classic rock–era band you can think of. Ethan has stayed in the family business, playing studio wizard for everyone from Kaiser Chiefs to Ray LaMontagne. But he’s also an accomplished singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in his own right. He’s promoting his latest solo release, a sparse, rootsy concept album called The Reckoning, which tells the story of a man searching for his wayward older brother across the 19th-century American West. With his mountain-man beard and gruff delivery, opener Sean Rowe could pass for a character from Johns’ album. But Rowe’s brilliant new album, Madman, serves up distinctly 21st-century, groove-laden variations on vintage Americana sounds. —Andy Hermann
Sunday, October 12
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Fool’s Gold Day Off
SHRINE EXPO HALL AND GROUNDS
More flesh than at any Los Angeles poolside will be on display for Fool’s Gold Records’ daytime bash, Day Off. It returns to the Shrine, whose Academy Award red-carpet saunterers of yore are a far cry from the rave dollies swarming what used to be a free party but now is a paid event. Hosted by the label’s A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs, Day Off regulars Danny Brown (the new Ol’ Dirty Bastard) and Travi$ Scott (the new P. Diddy) are joined by hip-hop’s new darling, Vic Mensa, for his first Los Angeles show. Local boys gLAdiator bring the requisite trap to the party, and Dogg Pound rapper Kurupt adds a little old-school cred. Most exciting, however, is the reunion of A-Trak’s turntablist crew, the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, who are guaranteed to make you itch. —Lily Moayeri
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