From actor and singer Alison Sudol and indie-pop band Imperial Teen to L.A. metal band Holy Grail, here are 12 of the best music shows in Los Angeles this week.

fri 8/2

(After Music Recordings)

Boy Dirt Car 


The ’80s were a great time for just picking up trash and beating on it if you wanted to start a band. Because that tended to infuriate both instrumental virtuosos in the “straight” music world and just ordinary people who took pains to heap scorn on everything they condemned as “not art,” the practice carried with it a certain youthful allure. Decades later, most of those scandalized professionals and boojwah scolds have either died, retired or otherwise fucked off, and now Midwest metal murderers Boy Dirt Car plague Los Angeles for the first time in 33 years. Original member Darren Brown is here in full effect with his partner Julie; also on the bill is Richard Skott — no slouch himself when it comes to banging on shit — of ’80s Michigan noise merchants Hunting Lodge, and local noise chancer Nu Sire. —David Cotner

Alison Sudol


Alison Sudol is an actor and singer who has portrayed Queenie Goldstein in the Fantastic Beasts films. About a decade ago, she crafted intelligent, enchanting pop songs under the nom de plume A Fine Frenzy. But Sudol, who was born in Seattle and raised in Los Angeles, quietly drifted off the map a few years ago. “I’ve been disappearing for as long as I can remember,” the singer confesses on her website about her musical invisibility in recent years. “Since I was little, I’ve felt a vast, wordless sadness that I couldn’t explain.” And yet Sudol has finally re-emerged from the gloom with a 2018 EP, Moon, and a recent single, “The Runner,” in which her whispery vocals flicker enigmatically across a shadowy wilderness. —Falling James

sat 8/3

Imperial Teen 


Back when Imperial Teen formed in San Francisco in 1996, keyboardist Roddy Bottom’s other band Faith No More were headlining festivals around the globe, having just put out the incredible King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime album. But even then, this was no side project. Imperial Teen was and is a real band, a democracy consisting of four talented musicians, and they’ve put out six excellent indie-pop albums over the years, including this year’s Now We Are Timeless. The four members are now spread over four cities (including Will Schwartz, right here in L.A.), but it hasn’t dampened their ability to write catchy ditties with Mamas & Papas-esque male/female vocals. The Younger Lovers and DJ Javi En Rose also play. —Brett Callwood

Surf Guitar 101


With their towering beehive hairdos, go-go boots and matching vintage dresses, The Surfrajettes are one of the more visually stylish groups around — a surf-instrumental equivalent to Detroit garage-rockers Gore Gore Girls. But the Toronto quartet also play with more nuance, groove and musical inventiveness than more strictly retro surf combos. Guitarists Nicole Damoff’s and Shermy Freeman’s sparkling, intertwined tendrils of melody unlock the noir-ish and shadowy mystery lurking deep inside Britney Spears’ “Toxic” as bassist Sarah Butler and drummer Anna Liebel propel and transform the fizzy pop tune with an insidiously catchy beat. As part of their national tour, The Surfrajettes alight at the annual Surf Guitar 101 convention, which this year is stacked with such ace surf bands as Seattle’s Boss Martians and L.A.’s redoubtable Insect Surfers, a psychedelically tinged group celebrating their fourth decade in show business. The Surfrajettes also play at La Santa in Santa Ana, Friday, Aug. 2. —Falling James

sun 8/4

(Courtesy of Holy Grail)

Holy Grail 


Los Angeles rockers Holy Grail have flown the heavy metal flag proudly for a decade with a sound highlighted by nods to the early ’80s’ new wave of British heavy metal and the harder-edged bands of that era’s Sunset Strip scene. Eli Santana and Alex Lee sling dueling shred guitar riffs while vocalist John-Paul Luna shouts for the heavens with an air raid siren approach. It’s been a few years since their stellar 2016 release, Times of Pride and Peril, but a taste of new material from an upcoming EP release awaits the heavy metal devoted. Canada’s Striker will also provide sufficient riffage, as last year’s Play To Win was an infectious record striking the balance between furious dosages of speed and the pop sensibilities of power ballad–era Scorpions. —Jason Roche

Carla Olson & Todd Wolfe, The Cherry Bluestorms


The International Pop Overthrow festival culminates in dramatic fashion with a closing set by singer-guitarist-producer Carla Olson and Sheryl Crow guitarist Todd Wolfe. The duo ramble across a dusty landscape of blues, folk and classic rock on their recent album, The Hidden Hills Sessions, which includes a wearily heartfelt acoustic version of the Stones’ “Wild Horses” and a poignantly affecting remake of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home.” In the past, Olson has traded eloquently piercing licks with former Stones lead guitarist Mick Taylor and collaborated with The Byrds’ Gene Clark, and she was a founding member of The Textones, the late-1970s L.A. power-pop group who introduced the world to future Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine. The IPO bill is bolstered by a set from The Cherry Bluestorms, who alternate energetic Beatles makeovers with their own radiant garage-pop original songs. —Falling James

mon 8/5

(danielle St. Laurent)

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Blondie


Although Blondie tour these days without early members Jimmy Destri, Nigel Harrison, Frank Infante and Gary Valentine, the current lineup fronted by lead singer Debbie Harry, guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke still packs considerable punch onstage. Harry’s vocals remain lilting, Burke attacks his kit with a controlled chaos and visual flair that evoke Keith Moon, and Stein’s occasional solos exude a seedy Velvet Underground vibe that hearkens back to the group’s CBGB roots (one wishes that Stein did more of the soloing instead of the group’s generic metal guitarist, Tommy Kessler). Blondie’s better songs (“Dreaming,” “In the Sun”) remain timelessly engaging. However, Elvis Costello’s ongoing attempts to approximate the wit and sophistication of Broadway tunesmiths continue to feel mannered and stilted compared with the driving urgency of such early tracks as “Pump It Up.” —Falling James

Willow Smith 


Anyone in the Smith family is apparently destined for greatness, including Will and Jada Pinket Smith’s daughter, Willow Smith. The R&B singer-songwriter blew up with her debut single “Whip My Hair,” which was released in 2010. Fast forward to 2019, the 18-year-old has finally unleashed her third studio album, WILLOW. The project arrives a few weeks after her brother Jaden Smith’s ERYS (apparently they both like upper case). Aside from the quality in her sound and lyrics, it’s her eccentric, care-free energy and aura that fans can’t help but gravitate toward. If you’ve seen her perform before, you know she kills her live shows. —Shirley Ju

tue 8/6

Bush, Live 


This is a great week for gigs at the Greek, with this mega ’90s alt-rock fest the night after the Costello/Blondie show. With Our Lady Peace also on the bill, critics will point out that this lineup is made up of three bands that didn’t really date well. Separately, not very attractive, but put them together and you have a night of nostalgia for the 30-somethings. Bush have always been more fondly remembered here in the States than back in their home country of England, where they were kinda considered a Nirvana cash-in. Bit unfair — there are some fun tunes on their first two albums at least. Meanwhile, anyone alive in 1994 couldn’t avoid the Throwing Copper album. It all adds up to an enjoyable evening for a niche crowd. —Brett Callwood

wed 8/7

James, Psychedelic Furs 


Another night of nostalgia at the Greek. In fairness, every time British post-punk band The Psychedelic Furs tours, they put together an excellent package. Previous tour-mates in recent years have included the Happy Mondays and the Lemonheads. And sure, everyone wants to sing along to “Pretty in Pink” and “Love My Way.” But James is the really interesting element here. The Manchester indie rock band has a string of hits in the ’90s, and all of them stand up to the test of time: “Sit Down,” “Come Home,” “She’s a Star,” and of course, “Laid.” They’re a bit chirpier than the headliners but still, two wonderful bands. Dear Boy also play. —Brett Callwood

Buddy Guy


Although this triple-threat blues bill at the Bowl includes the estimable harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and former Fabulous Thunderbirds lead guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, the real thrills and chills will be stirred up by Buddy Guy. The Louisiana native declared in the title of his 1991 album, Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues, and he continues to ravage the politely retro modern-blues landscape with incendiary guitar playing that is overtly dazzling yet also infused with soulful force and a nimble-fingered dexterity. Beyond his guitar supremacy, Guy is a masterful showman who can invoke and salute his fellow blues legends with a piercing acuity, singing with a commanding charisma and wrestling with his guitar with an acrobatic flair. Damn right, he’s great — the 82-year-old legend plays with more energy and intensity than any other living blues guitarist. —Falling James

thu 8/8

The Original Wailers 


This can get confusing. There’s a band called The Wailers, currently on tour in Europe. Then there’s this band, The Original Wailers. That’s a bit Spinal Tap (The New Originals), and we’ll never know what Bob Marley would have made of it all. This version was formed by guitarists Al Anderson and Junior Marvin in 2008 after they left The Wailers. The name is a bit misleading too — there are no original Wailers in The Original Wailers. All of that said, this band put out the Miracle EP in 2012 and it was nominated for a Grammy for best reggae album. So forget the naming issues, don’t worry about who’s in the band, just dance. —Brett Callwood

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