The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Week
Public Enemy -- See Thursday
Monday, December 10
Lamps are punk (like Chrome? Or Suicide?). They're from space (like Hawkwind?) but also from hell (like Electric Eels!), where everything melts together into a big hot white ball of confusion that's bright enough to give off some sick kind of light but which will turn you to ash in a second if you touch it. (Are the guitars on here being murdered? Or are they murdering something else?) Anybody who ever gritted their teeth in a traffic jam with one of the nastier Oh Sees albums jammed in the tape deck needs to buy Lamps' newest, Under the Water Under the Ground, and then break it into pieces and eat it to correctly absorb its primal power. Or, yes, you could listen to it in its entirety, but that's gonna do far stranger things to your system. A great band in a crazy way. --Chris Ziegler
Tuesday, December 11
It would be convenient to place John Cale into some nostalgic little box, given the massive impact he's had on underground and (once the rest of the world caught up with him) mainstream music during the past 50 years. He's most celebrated for his crucial contributions to the Velvet Underground, anointing Lou Reed's druggy tales of sin and no redemption with a classical veneer that made already strange songs like "Venus in Furs" and "Sister Ray" sound even more hazily exotic. He would be a legendary figure if only for the many important musicians he discovered and championed, producing, arranging and collaborating on classic works by The Stooges, Patti Smith, tTe Modern Lovers, Nico and Nick Drake. Cale is so avant-garde, he's held his own with the visionary likes of Terry Riley, John Cage and La Monte Young. His solo albums in the 1970s were impressively dark and literary but, with a creative mind this restless, he's continued to make interesting and unpredictable music all the way through this year's release, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, where he even collaborated with Danger Mouse. --Falling James
Thursday, December 13
Public Enemy, X-Clan, Schooly D, Monie Love
Characterized by Chuck D's penetrating delivery and unapologetic social commentary, Public Enemy is one of hip-hop's most important acts. Their avant-garde sonic milieu, saturated with black militancy and noise, took the world by storm in the late '80s and early '90s with the legendary releases Yo! Bum Rush the Show, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet. In 2012, Public Enemy released two thematically related LPs: Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything. The group has since embarked on a tour with the father of gangsta rap, Schooly D. This quasi-Native Tongues reunion also features X Clan and Monie Love. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
A Country Christmas
Holiday music can be so depressingly sappy, but the Satellite has rounded up an unusual bill of local musicians who ostensibly work within the confines of alt-country but also can take off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Former Rentals singer Sara Radle exudes an endearing sense of joy in her straightforward pop songs, while Jillinda Palmer wanders freely from New Orleans-style jazz to rustic country reveries with similarly appealing results. Dirt Bird's Claire McKeown, meanwhile, comes from a more classical-inspired formality. Leslie Stevens, from Leslie & the Badgers, might be the purest country singer in tonight's lineup. It's not just that Stevens often sounds like a young version of Dolly Parton; she is also a skillful songwriter who can twist your heart with little more than a few acoustic guitar chords and her sweetly personal, birdlike trilling on songs like "Los Angeles" (where she coos sadly about "so many nights in bars like these"). Plus Maria DeLuca, Brittney Westover, Adeline Dante, Angela Correa, Mary Verplank and others. --Falling James
Ferenc Nemeth (featuring Lionel Loueke)
His new album is called Triumph, which is risky because, well, what if it isn't? Fortunately for the Hungarian-born drummer, it cannot be considered anything but, thanks to the help of luminaries like Joshua Redman, Kenny Werner and the excellent Lionel Loueke on guitar. In fact, the record is so good Nemeth can ride into L.A. on the back of a donkey, all the way to the upper room at Vitello's, to have a last supper before tearing it up with Loueke, pianist Daniel Szabo and saxist Bob Sheppard. About Loueke, his other bandleader, Herbie Hancock, said, "I've never heard any guitar player play anything close to what I was hearing...." In other Triumphant news, Nemeth has made a drum instructional app for iPod/iPad, which means he can afford to play jazz now. --Gary Fukushima
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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