Friday, July 13
A heavy hitter in the early-aughts' onslaught of brainy indie-rap word-slingers, Aesop Rock now is 15 years into a nearly blemishless career. This New York native and San Fran transplant is celebrated for his nearly unmatched ability to braid colorful verbiage into delightfully euphonic lyrical daisy chains. He's an absolute master of alliteration and assonance blessed with Lewis Carroll's ability to turn nonsense phrases into poetic fodder. ("Who am I? Jabberwocky superfly," he declares on 2001's classic Labor Days.) Aes is also a moody, blessed beat-maker, and has spent the past five years lurking on collaborative projects (e.g., Hail Mary Mallon with tonight's support, Rob Sonic). Thankfully, his brand-new LP, Skelethon, makes up for lost time, delivering a full monty of noisy head-knockers, tastefully scrambled verse and, fans will be happy to hear, his most personal, poignant writing in a decade. --Chris Martins
Back in the '90s, NYC's Codeine fairly invented slo-core, a slow-moving, high-decibel genre that was solidified when bands like Low and Bedhead and others got a little more acclaim for it. Codeine's Sub-Pop records Frigid Stars, Barely Real and The White Birch were, actually, unclassifiable works of generally very spare and disciplined-sounding music, with an emphasis on space-between-notes and a masterful use of dynamics. With fuzz/distortion and a brutal drum thump, they made a supremely heavy impact not just for the sheer loudness but also for the towering majesty of it all. The trio is doing select dates to call attention to the three double-disc vinyl reissues and box set the Numero Group label is putting out. Check the merch table, cultists, it's beautiful stuff. --John Payne
Saturday, July 14
Mariachi El Bronx, L.A. Vampires, Peanut Butter Wolf
Highland Park's new vinyl-centric record shop is celebrating its opening with what essentially amounts to a festival: eight performances and at least as many DJ sets from an exciting lineup of local stars. Topping the live list are Mariachi El Bronx, the impassioned SoCal punks who traded their electric guitars (mostly) for the classical type -- plus horns, violins, accordions and congas -- in order to play their own roughed-up take on traditional Mexican music. Stones Throw CEO and long-revered rap producer Peanut Butter Wolf will contribute a beat-based set, while electronically inclined noiseniks David Scott Stone and John Wiese do their highly experimental thing. Pop psychonauts Peaking Lights are guaranteed to spin some rare left-field gems, but best of all might be LA Vampires, who play a goopy godsend of '80s etherea, crunchy bumps and opium-soaked vocals. Food trucks and free refreshments will be on hand. --Chris Martins
Pomona comes alive with a deep and diverse bill headlined by La Sera, aka Katy Goodman. As La Sera, she moves beyond the jangling girl-group garage rock of her old band, the Vivian Girls, into a more lavish and lush brand of elegantly bittersweet pop. In her recent double video for the songs "Real Boy" and "Drive On," Goodman morphs convincingly from a whip-cracking circus performer into a pulpy kidnap victim who's haunted by a scalpel-wielding evil twin. Whatever role she's playing, La Sera always comes off as a serenely charismatic singer who's just beginning to dig into her rich potential. This early-evening bill isn't just stacked with such adventurous new bands as Dirt Dress, So Many Wizards and, especially, Grass Widow, whose poppy femme harmonies are buttressed by swirling post-punk riffs; the night also includes a visit from art-rock legends the Urinals, who practically invented SoCal post-punk in the late '70s with their elliptical lyrics and unusual, lo-fi chord changes. --Falling James
See also: Katy Goodman: Ya Gotta Have Heartbreak
Sunday, July 15
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Toots & the Maytals, Ziggy Marley, Freddie McGregor, Maxi Priest
All year long, but especially in the summer, something much like reggae can be heard pumping out of various South Bay bars as various local pretenders attempt to evoke the hazy days of reggae's worldwide breakthrough in the mid-1970s. Of course, the only thing missing is authenticity, as well as the urgent desperation and spirituality that buoyed classics by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The cover bands' riddims might sound roughly the same, but there's something crucial missing from today's casual beachside troubadours. For one night at least, the Hollywood Bowl banishes all attempts at imitation by booking certified reggae legends Toots & the Maytals, whose influential tracks "Pressure Drop" and "Funky Kingston" are infused with just as much hard-won soul as lilting reggae. The bill comes fully loaded with sets by Bob's son Ziggy Marley; Jamaican veteran and eternal Big Ship captain Freddie McGregor; and British-Jamaican singer Maxi Priest, who judiciously mixes dancehall and R&B into his reggae. --Falling James