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The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Week

Free the Robots -- See Wednesday
Free the Robots -- See Wednesday

Monday, September 10

Katisse Buckingham Oddsemble

SEVEN GRAND

Trendy downtown whiskey bar Seven Grand has quietly become a late-night, early-week music hang over the last couple of years under the direction of booker/trombonist Justin Kirk. While seating is at a premium, the jazz and blues offered usually are first-rate. Tonight sax/flute wiz Katisse Buckingham leads his aptly named Oddsemble, where Buckingham offers jazz standards in unique and difficult musical time signatures. Katisse reinvents the work of masters including Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and more, backed here by Wahid Music partners Jimmy Mahlis on guitar and Chris Wabich on drums, along with Jerry Watts Jr. on bass. When Buckingham pulls out one of his signature flutes, hang on for one of the wilder musical rides you'll take this year. --Tom Meek

Tuesday, September 11

Swans

FONDA THEATER

In the early '80s, no one cranked up a more fearsome and awe-inspiring hunk of noise than Swans. The New York City outfit's massive slabs of sound on albums like Filth were terrifying -- more like elemental, thunderous forces of nature than simple music -- making peers such as Sonic Youth come off like Justin Bieber in comparison. But, as so often happens to young rebels, bandleader Michael Gira and his ever-changing lineups evolved into mellower, prettier and presumably more "mature" directions. By the end of the decade, Gira was crooning more and shouting less, using acoustic guitars to create often-beautiful soundscapes even as Swans' sound became less distinctive. With the group's latest album, The Seer, Gira combines the best of both worlds, building gradual momentum on the propulsive, apocalyptic title track, which sounds like an avalanche in slow motion, while also layering in subtler elements that take the noise into a truly brave new world. --Falling James

Wednesday, September 12

Free the Robots

THE AIRLINER

Free the Robots is a beast when it comes to making beats. Founder/solo member Chris Alfaro helped run what was basically Low End Theory's little-brother night at his bar, the Crosby in Santa Ana, and his back-snapping instrumentals are the kind of thing Gaslamp Killer calls in as reinforcements when there are a few too many dismembered body parts left twitching in the crowd. The influences at work here are beyond all-encompassing -- Can, Dilla, Ethio-jazz godfather Mulatu Astatke and Os Mutantes, together at last and forever -- and the 2010 full-length Ctrl Alt Delete was one of the most vital beat releases that year. Follow-up EP The Mind's Eye was dirty, weird and beautiful, which are the three words you'll find in your own mind when you hear this yourself. --Chris Ziegler

 

Korpiklaani

WHISKY A GO GO

When it comes to instruments used in heavy metal, accordions and violins are normally not the first choices that come to mind. But when a band like Korpiklaani integrates them so expertly into a heavy-metal framework, it doesn't seem alien at all. On their new album, Manala, the mighty Finnish pack continues to bring the party with folk-tinted songs about drinking and partying amidst adventures in Scandinavian forests. The group sings all of its songs in its native Finnish language, but when music this fun and upbeat is blended with catchy metallic riffs, it is hard not to shout along merrily with songs such as "Karhunkaatolaulu" (translation: "Bear Hunt Song") and "Vodka" (translation: "Vodka"). At the end of the night, you'll likely crave beer served from an ale horn. --Jason Roche

Thursday, September 13

Brother Ali

THE OBSERVATORY

Often during an election season, the wisest words come not from politicians and their spin doctors but from rappers and other street soothsayers who are generally ignored by the pundits in power. "When innocent people perish, it's a thin line between a soldier and a terrorist," Brother Ali warns on his upcoming album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. Speaking of colors, the Minneapolis rapper is a fascinating study in contrasts. Not only is former Jason Newman white, he's albino. But don't judge this longtime convert to Islam by his looks. "They ask me if I'm black or white/I'm neither/Race is a made-up thing/I don't believe in it," he once declared. Instead, inspired by a recent trip to Mecca, Brother Ali celebrates humanity while simultaneously decrying the political corruption and lust for war that hold back all poor people, regardless of their skin color. --Falling James

For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.

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