From garage punks L.A. Witch and O.C. hardcore band Skullcrack to Mike Patton’s reformed Mr. Bungle and alt- rockers The New Pornographers, here are 12 of the best music shows in Los Angeles this week.

fri 1/31

L.A. Witch


Halloween comes early to Long Beach when L.A. Witch take the stage at Alex’s Bar. But the garage-punk group’s sense of macabre menace isn’t derived from costumes or special effects. Instead, the local trio stir up a febrile feeling of dread with such aptly titled songs as “Haunting,” from their 2018 EP, Octubre. Bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English lay down compulsively driving grooves over which Sade Sanchez layers thick waves of shivering reverb guitar. Sanchez’s little-girl-lost vocals add an element of pop enchantment to such lonely garage-rock interludes as “Sleep.” Even a funereal ballad like “BB’s Momma” is steeped in bluesy shadows before vaulting into a psychedelic hard-rock frenzy. The doomy and atmospheric idyll “Heart of Darkness” is another quietly eerie contrast to the faster tunes from L.A. Witch’s self-titled 2017 full-length album. —Falling James

Skullcrack (Anthony Mehlhaff)



In a recent interview with Death By Stereo’s Efrem Schulz, the frontman was asked to highlight some contemporary punk rock bands in Orange County that are making some impressive noises, and the first name he came up with was Skullcrack. Little wonder — this lot has a S.O.D./Nuclear Assault/Municipal Waste hardcore/thrash crossover sound (and the sleeve art to match) — all rotting corpses and cartoony ultra-violence. The music is delicious; a high-energy boot in the face. The O.C. has a rich punk rock history, and the baton is in good hands. Nice and Cunts (two separate bands — hey, we don’t pick the names) also play on what will clearly be an intense night. —Brett Callwood

sat 2/1

Steve Soto with Manic Hispanic

Manic Hispanic (Jason Cook)

Manic Hispanic 


On the subject of Death By Stereo’s Efrem Schulz, he’s also the frontman with punk rock parody band Manic Hispanic, and the Chicano-themed band that formed in 1992 is on a superb double bill with Generacion Suicida. Manic Hispanic also includes members of The Adolescents, Agent Orange, The Grabbers, Final Conflict, 22 Jacks and The Cadillac Tramps, among others. It’s always been a bit of an oddball band, but the fact that the music is so good more than makes up for it. Their shirts have parodied the Dead Kennedys, Ramones and Social Distortion logos, and their album titles have played with the Descendents (Mijo Goes to Jr. College) and the Circle Jerks (Grupo Sexo). Sometimes, you’ve got to laugh. Blindhouse and Loose Trucks also play. —Brett Callwood

Terry Riley & Gyan Riley


Composer-pianist Terry Riley and his guitarist son Gyan Riley take seemingly simple musical patterns and repeat them while subtly expanding and changing them as they go. Terry’s influential 1964 work In C begins with a pulse-like piano figure over which a variety of short musical phrases are woven in and out. No two performances of In C are ever the same, as ensembles of widely varying sizes vamp on the repeating riff before stretching it out into a curiously hypnotic and swirling merry-go-round of sound. Terry’s experiments with electronics, minimalism, microtones and just intonation have influenced The Velvet Underground and Pete Townshend (who named The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” in part after Terry Riley). These days, much of the magic derives from the sometimes subtle interplay between father and son. —Falling James

sun 2/2

Tashaki Miyaki


“All I want is your praise/Oh, and I want fame,” Paige Stark confides on “Girls on T.V.,” from Tashaki Miyaki’s 2017 album, The Dream. She coos the lines with a dreamy delivery that disguises the lyrics’ inherent sarcasm. As with many of the local group’s songs, Stark’s melodic entreaties are buried in a fuzzy storm of Luke Paquin’s guitar. The combination of Stark’s yearning vocals with Paquin’s cloudy guitar often evokes Neil Young’s duality of folk-pop mixed with harder rock. Influences aside, such pretty pop confections “Anyone But You” exude their own distinctive allure, with Stark’s singing riding blearily above a slow breeze of guitar, keyboards and strings. There are also traces of The Jesus and Mary Chain/Velvet Underground–style contrast between soft pop and fuzzy noise on such tracks as “Somethin’ Is Better Than Nothin’.” —Falling James

mon 2/3

The New Pornographers (Ebru Yildiz)

The New Pornographers


The New Pornographers are an alt-rock supergroup from Vancouver, Canada, composed of bandleader A.C. Newman, Neko Case, John Collins, Blaine Thurier, Todd Fancey and Kathryn Calder, among others. On the band’s latest album, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights, Newman’s voice and songs are predominant, which is a shame for Case fans hoping for more of her songwriting input. That said, Morse Code is another gently engaging collection of power-pop songs such as “The Surprise Knock” and “You’ll Need a New Backseat Driver” (which is highlighted by Case’s radiant vocals). Other tracks, such as “Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile” and “Dreamlike and on the Rush” are more memorable for their titles than their melodies, while lesser numbers like “Opening Ceremony” veer too close to anonymous yacht rock. —Falling James

tue 2/4

Xavier Omar


San Antonio R&B singer Xavier Omar has a voice like hot butter. Take a listen to songs such as “Deep End,” “Just Get Here” (featuring female duo VanJess plus Wale)  and “Struck!” from his 2019 album Moments Spent Loving You, and it’s immediately clear why his star is currently on the rapid rise. Like the greats of the genre, Omar has the ability to tap into the emotions of his listener, composing lyrics that are relatable to the everyman. He cites John Legend as an influence, which makes sense. But he also throws in names like Chris Martin and Marcus Mumford, proving that he’s no one-dimensional R&B artist. You’ll hear it all at the Fonda; and Parisalexa plays too. —Brett Callwood

Gigi Rich

Gigi Rich 


This New Jersey pop and soul artist has a touch of the Amy Winehouse about her sassy, semi-jazzy vocal stylings. “For one night won’t be myself, for one night I’ll never tell — for one night I’ll be bad, ’cause one night that’s all we have,” she cheekily plots on the songs “One Night.” Elsewhere, on a cover of Sabrina Claudio’s “Problem With You,” her voice is sultry, sweet and understated. She pulls out names like Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani on the “influences” section of her Facebook page, and No Doubt (pun intended) there’s a pop princess in there somewhere. But the vibe Rich is giving off right now is that of a chanteuse, which is way cooler. She’s performing as part of the Hotel Cafe’s Writer’s Block series. —Brett Callwood

wed 2/5

Silversun Pickups


Los Angeles pop-alt-rockers the Silversun Pickups released their fifth studio album, Widow’s Weeds in June 2019 through their own New Machine Recordings label, and it’s a typically infectious, emotive and filled-out piece of work. The exemplary production is no surprise considering the fact that Butch Vig was behind the desk. “It Doesn’t Matter Why” was the first single, swiftly followed by “Freakazoid.” Both are indicative of the album as a whole; incisive, honest and raw lyrics over beautifully melancholy yet anthemic melodies. Brian Aubert’s voice has never sounded better, ably backed by a stellar group of musicians. At the Observatory, they’ll be joined by Eliza & the Delusionals and Cuffed Up. —Brett Callwood

Mr. Bungle 


It’s long been an accepted fact with the rock and metal communities that Mike Patton, best known as the wild yet soulful vocalist with Faith No More, can do no wrong. His inclusion on the Fantomas, Tomahawk and Dead Cross projects, not to mention his collaborations with The Dillinger Escape Plan, Jean-Claude Vannier and beatboxer Rahzel, all resulted in pure gold. He’s always been one to look forwards and come up with something nobody was expecting. However, he’s going right back to the beginning this year for a series of shows with his first band, Mr. Bungle. Patton is joined by fellow original members Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, plus Slayer/Dead Cross drummer Dave Lombardo and Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian. Expect mayhem. Ho99o9 and Hirax opens on Wednesday, with Cattle Decapitation and Neil Hamburger playing on Thursday, and Melvins and Cunts joining them on Friday. —Brett Callwood

thu 2/6

Mondo Cozmo, Poppy Jean Crawford


“I wanna be your Elvis/I wanna be your Jagger,” Josh Ostrander boldly declares on “Your Motherfucker,” a song under his identity as Mondo Cozmo. “I wanna be that love song that you can’t handle.” Now based in Los Angeles, the Philadelphia native aspires to a kind of Bob Dylan/Bruce Springsteen–style populism with such anthems as “Shine.” While Ostrander isn’t always convincing in that role, he’s no more inauthentic as a blue-collar man of the people than Springsteen, and his better songs have a mainstream-rock appeal that overrides the sometimes self-conscious mannerisms. Poppy Jean Crawford is an intriguing 20-year-old vocalist with a more unusual style. “I’m still a child in most people’s eyes,” she confesses amid the dark shadows of “Evelyn.” Crawford peels back the sonic layers further on the atmospheric psychedelic gem “Jonsies Gonesies.” —Falling James

Danko Jones

Danko Jones, Junkyard 

The Viper Room

This is an excellent double bill for a Thursday night on the Sunset Strip. Canadian rock & roll trio Danko Jones, led by Danko Jones, have been active since ’96 and have released a string of awesome albums, the most recent being last year’s appropriately titled A Rock Supreme. There’s a touch of the Reverend Horton Heat about Jones’ evangelical frontman style — the guy can hold a crowd in his palm and have them obeying his every command. In a good way. Meanwhile, L.A. rockers Junkyard are often associated with the ’80s hair metal scene — indeed, they often perform on that sort of bill — but they were always a bit rougher and tougher than the spandex-clad boys. They put out a new album, Old Habits Die Hard, at the end of last year and it’s a beast. Put them together and you have a great night of music ahead. —Brett Callwood

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