The Five Best Concerts in L.A. This Weekend
Fiona Apple -- see Saturday
Saturday, July 28
Dirty Projectors, Wye Oak
What few critics there were of Dirty Projectors' 2009 magnum opus, Bitte Orca, took issue with the LP's idiosyncrasies. As thrilling as those songs were, they clearly weren't written for anyone other than main brain David Longstreth. But on new album Swing Lo Magellan, that same savant-like genius lifts up his voice to sing, without any irony, "There is an answer, I haven't found it, but I will keep dancing till I do." Fitting that the track is called "Dance for You," because this new set plies more traditional songcraft in a brutally successful stab at accessibility. The herky-jerky editing of the past has given way to fluidity, the flurries of Afro-inspired guitar plucking replaced by emotive electric squall, the Reichian choir vocals ditched for soothing harmonies and soaring leads. Finally, art-pop that actually makes good on the second part of that handle. --Chris Martins
Computer Jay was the guy stage left in Master Blazter with DâM-FunK, J-1 and an entire Mercury space capsule's worth of old-school technology stacked around him, as well as onetime keyboardist for the Pharcyde and one of the earliest 8-bit beatmakers in L.A. But you can't talk about the man without talking about the machine -- you know, the Computer. Built by hand just like Anakin did C-3PO, Jay's partner is a talking, rapping, futuretronic disco machine with an Atari 2600 for a brain and an MPC for a heart, installed next to him onstage to deliver inhumanly precise beats and rhymes. HAL 9000 plus Deltron 3030? It'd take the entire processing power of the American space program to solve that equation. Hip-hop at the sci-fi limit, with a series of new EPs coming this summer. --Chris Ziegler
The bands with which The Ettes have toured (The Black Keys, The Dead Weather) and their long relationship with producer Liam Watson (best known for engineering/mixing The White Stripes) imply their analog revival-pop silhouette without sketching in details. For while the Nashville trio gets plenty garage-y, with a penchant for pouring fuzz onto just about everything but Lindsay "Coco" Hames' wonderfully tremulous vocals, last year's Wicked Will offers more. Album opener "Teeth" is a slow-smoldering ballad built of sparse yet cinematic guitars and funereal kick drum; closer "The Worst There Is" is a Saturday morning spaghetti Western with beehive-d vocals. In between, The Ettes get fresh with the serrated, finger-in-your-face "Excuse" and the loud bit/quiet bit bluntness of "You Never Say." Certainly of a type, just not quite ready to be typecast. --Paul Rogers
Sunday, July 29
After all the record-company meddling and controversy surrounding the different versions of her convulsively romantic 2005 album, Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple didn't even tell her label that she was recording again until she'd finished her latest, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. The local singer-pianist is apparently wiser, too, observing life from the periphery ("They throw good parties there") and allowing that "I was still a dewy petal/rather than a moribund slut." Apart from the percussive throb of "Hot Knife," where Apple nimbly exchanges a feverishly hypnotic blur of sighs with her sister, Maude Maggart, the new album is a little starker than Extraordinary Machine, with Apple dividing the lonely spaces with flecks of searchlight piano and confiding her romantic travails via a rueful wit: "I made it to a dinner date/My teardrops seasoned every plate." --Falling James
Forget about all the Latino-themed parties you've been to in your life, because this one is guaranteed to blow them all out of the water. Colombian cumbia supergroup Ondatrópica comes to L.A. for one night only. The group, founded by Mario Galeano of Frente Cumbiero and producer Will "Quantic" Holland, brings together numerous veterans of Colombia's cumbia scene with younger cumbia all-stars such as Pedro "Ramaya" Beltran and Juan Carlos "Chongo" Puello. Opening the night will be a trio of local artists who are reinventing old-school Latin sounds: vallenato veterans Very Be Careful, merengue/cumbia champions Buyepongo and psychedelic surf-cumbia group Chicano Batman. Throw in a few DJ sets from Sloe Poke, Canyon Cody, Panamami and Ganas, and you've got the best cumbia party L.A. will ever see. --Ivan Fernandez
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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