The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Week
Dirt Bird -- See Tuesday
Monday, September 17
Josh Nelson looks much younger than his 34 years but has already become a seasoned veteran and one of the most respected pianists on the L.A. music scene. Nelson's talents are strong enough to have won him a job as Natalie Cole's primary touring pianist worldwide for the last several years, while he's continued to compose and record his own material, a practice dating back to his first album, at age 19. Vitello's in Studio City is home to a semi-regular Monday "Discoveries" series featuring Nelson, which allows him to add guest players to augment his regular trio. Tonight Nelson features NYC-based Philip Dizack, regarded there as one of the hottest young trumpeters on the East Coast. Nelson's musical knowledge has won him praise and fans both young and old, and tonight should serve as another example of exactly why. --Tom Meek
Tuesday, September 18
With their ethereal, operatic harmonies and their semi-classical blend of harmonium and piano, local duo Dirt Bird conjure dreamy idylls that sound like they could be from another time. But Claire McKeown and Athena LeGrand's songs aren't linked to any one specific era, nor do they belong to a distinctly predictable retro genre. Instead, their "classical experimental folk gothic minimalist skiffle" reveries are drawn just as much from the modern pop world as they are from proper choral tradition. "How will we survive on Spaceship Earth?" they wonder on the icy-beautiful ballad "Buckminster Fuller," their shimmering harmonies trailing behind them like gauzy white clouds. --Falling James
As you might have seen at his debut appearance at the Hollywood Bowl last summer, Tuareg guitarist-songwriter Omara "Bombino" Moctar is an ax shredder of quite unusual chops and point of view. He's earned critical raves all over the Sahara and recently in the West for his singing and playing, an acoustically lyrical but electrically badass mastery of the guitar -- a cross between fellow Africans Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré, laced with rocky blues à la John Lee Hooker and Jimi Hendrix. Given extra heft by the socially conscious themes rooted in his people's armed struggles for independence from the brutal tyranny of government forces, Bombino slays on his 2011 Agadez (Cumbancha), his scorching jams blended with traditional Tuareg song forms and toughed-up trance grooves. --John Payne
Wednesday, September 19
People now might think first of Ariel Pink, but the squiggly zigzag that leads to the band Foxygen goes way, way back, through British art-weirdos like Nikki Sudden and The Jacobites to the Television Personalities to the New York Dolls to Bowie and finally the Rolling Stones, who'd probably look at Foxygen like a dinosaur looks at a hummingbird -- "So you say we're related?" But under beautifully lo-fi production by Richard Swift are glammed-up songs detailed to the last dot, like the Spiders From Mars if they'd actually been recorded on Mars, or the New York Dolls if they'd actually been stranded in the jungle. (There are plenty of space noises and animal yelps to reinforce the point.) To some people, this probably seems like a big mess. But if you listen closely, you'll realize it's more like a message. --Chris Ziegler
Thursday, September 20
The Soft Pack
Although born as a band in San Diego, The Soft Pack found a welcoming new home here in Los Angeles, where they could indulge their twin loves of local boys Warren Zevon and Steve Martin -- two hilariously erudite ass-kickers who obviously inspired this band of hilariously erudite ass-kickers -- and work on building a sound that found still-unexplored territory within good ol' self-taught guitar-guitar-bass-and-drums indie rock & roll. Their debut LP was delivered with the same unpretentious dedication to form as classics by The Feelies or The Clean, bands that turned "simple" into timeless. Their newest LP, Strapped, finds them on the same path but just on the edge of unexplored territory. (Keys and horns? You bet!) This is a band that went back to basics already, and is now building up something new. --Chris Ziegler
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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