Tuesday, October 2
When they formed in 1994, future chart fixtures Garbage had the makings of a sterile vanity project. Created by veteran studio rats (including Butch Vig, producer of Nirvana's Nevermind), with a grafted-on unknown vocalist, their formula appeared better suited to impersonal one-hit electro than enduring alt-rock. Yet, though quilted with samples and loops, Garbage's elegant pop still throbs and breathes, and selecting Shirley Manson as their feisty figurehead uncorked potent yin-yang magic. The kinda-goth Scot boasts an intriguing demeanor that's part bawdy barfly, part svelte temptress, while almost sighing a threateningly sexy contralto that casts welcome humanity over her bandmates' much-massaged instrumentation. Manson's unconventional beauty and disarming frankness (happily admitting to once defecating in a boyfriend's Corn Flakes) ably dispel any lingering air of manufacture. --Paul Rogers
They're called Screaming Females, but that primal cuts-you-in-half sound you're hearing is coming from Marissa Paternoster's guitar, which she uses to speak the language of Neil Young and Greg Ginn both -- actually, both at once -- in a new album of punk built from nothing but sharp edges. Screaming Females have been DIY since day one, rising from the all-ages basement shows of New Jersey to finish their recent record Ugly with Steve Albini and build themselves a band that's gonna be as indestructible as the Wipers, P.J. Harvey, Sleater-Kinney or Dinosaur Jr. (You know the deal: shreds up front, rhythms in the back.) When old people wonder about the kids being alright, what they're really hoping for is to get a chance to see this band. Proof that punk is still live and loud. --Chris Ziegler
"Honky-tonk angel" used to mean something not very nice -- the kind of girl who'd never make a wife, if you get what Hank Thompson was trying to say in an age when you couldn't use certain words on your album. But let's reclaim it for what it really should mean, because Emmylou Harris is an angel of the honky-tonks if there ever was one, with a voice so pure and sad and clear and true that it couldn't possibly come from this dirty old earth. (And besides, she's got that silver hair -- you know they all look like that up in honky-tonk heaven.) By now, she's somewhere between archetype and myth, a woman who glided beside and between country and rock & roll's absolute greats to become one of country and rock & roll's greats herself. --Chris Ziegler
Wednesday, October 3
When he produced that album for The Damned -- expertly, by the way -- he got the nickname "Basher," but what Nick Lowe really turned out to be was a heartbreaker extraordinaire. Forgive the backhand to pop history, but it always seemed to us that Lowe was what everyone said Elvis Costello was supposed to be. Which was: brilliant but not frigid, literate but not pompous, sarcastic but not poisonously bitter, and hilariously and honestly human through every minute of it. Oh, and a superb writer and absolute fiend with the hooks and tricks and surprises that have powered pop songs since the first-ever "1, 2, 3, 4 ..." This acoustic tour pairs him with L.A.'s Eleni Mandell, a treasure on several levels and (happily!) Lowe's new labelmate. --Chris Ziegler
Thursday, October 4
Filter magazine presents a four-day international festival featuring artists from 25 countries, on the assumption that these artists will provide enlightenment on what we call music and culture in Los Angeles. Along with tons of live performances, there will be film screenings, happy hours, a two-day conference panel Oct. 4-5, and a culminating, free, all-day block party in Echo Park on Oct. 7. Music events happen at various venues, including the Echo, Echoplex, Origami Vinyl and Taix. The heavy-duty lineup includes American bands Montreal, Zola Jesus, Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500, DIIV and Penguin Prison, plus The Wombats (U.K.), The Big Pink (U.K.), Niki and the Dove (Sweden), Patrick Wolf unplugged (U.K.), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (New Zealand/U.S.), Bonde do Role (Brazil), Laetitia Sadier (France) and many, many, many more. --John Payne
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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