Back before ScHoolboy Q, the third artist to be fired like a cannonball from the TopDawg Entertainment camp, captured the attention of the hip-hop world, we theorized that the local label was strategizing the rap game like a war. But there remained one rapper on its back lines: Carson's Ab-Soul. A member of the Black Hippy forces (a powerhouse group that includes Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Q), Ab-Soul didn't seem to be just playing a part. With his wild hair and preternatural calm, he actually might be the real-life hippie of the bunch — and songs like darkly mystical “Pineal Gland” from his recently released Control System give credence to that (“You got three eyes,” he chants hypnotically). His performance at Paid Dues, however, had real teeth, and his album reveals a beautifully complex mind. Dangerous combination, and TopDawg's secret weapon, indeed. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Does the world need another precocious, multitalented young pop singer? Sure, especially when she comes with as many contradictions as Analise Nelson. Hailing from Northern California and Colorado, the L.A.-based, singer-keyboardist calls herself Anabot because this “pop time machine with a rock engine” is simultaneously “a little analog” and “a bit digital.” Just when you have Nelson pegged as an electronic dance–pop diva on such glossy tracks as “I Am Not Afraid of the Dark,” she'll switch gears and rock it up like a glam-funky Debbie Harry on “Queen Blues.” She seems at first too nice to be singing lyrics like “I was smart, I made my ties/But the blood on my hands is saying otherwise,” but, the more you listen, you realize that this analog robot has a lot of unexpected tricks up her sleeves. —Falling James
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN at Betfair Hollywood Park; MAYER HAWTHORNE at Wiltern; HUMAN ELEMENT at Blue Whale; THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE at the Troubadour; LOVELY BAD THINGS at El Rey Theatre; THE CRIBS at El Rey Theatre; HERE WE GO MAGIC at the Echo; JAPANDROIDS at the Echoplex.
How to Dress Well
To enter the world of Tom Krell, the Chicagoan-by-way-of-Brooklyn who performs as ambient R&B shadow-dweller How to Dress Well, one must let go of the belief that songs need to have a sense of form; of the assumption that ethereal, dronelike blips and cold, eerie piano loops aren't sexy in their reserved distance; and of the frustration that a white philosophy student beat stylistically similar, buzzworthy acts like The Weeknd to the chase by more than a year yet garnered far less attention. HDTW's critically lauded 2010 debut, Love Remains, established Krell as a master of immersion, seamlessly able to transform even the most outré anti-melodies into earphone candy, but it appears there's an endless well of wild and weird still waiting to emerge. In September, HTDW's second release, Total Loss, will provide further clues. —Dan Hyman
Make Music Pasadena
You'll have to bop around among several of the festival's venues, but Make Music Pasadena has enough going on this year to merit even a drive from the Westside. Headlining the Old Pasadena Indie Rock Stage, L.A.'s Grouplove bring their appealingly doofy, indie-hippie jams to a bill that includes New York fuzz-pop duo Cults and local Danger Mouse associates Electric Guest. At the Levitt Pavilion, Dam-Funk will do his lovable electro-boogie thing (mere hours before jetting to New York for a Sunday-night gig) alongside roots-music sweethearts Honeyhoney. And on the Playhouse District Eclectic Stage? Canadian art-pop weirdo Grimes, L.A. Cambodian-rock revivalists Dengue Fever and a DJ set by KCRW's Jason Bentley. Plenty more, too. —Mikael Wood
Farewell tours can be more late-career cries for attention than true band suicides, but even if Irvine's Thrice are, in fact, just taking a hiatus (as frontman Dustin Kensrue has suggested), their thoughtful, post-hardcore adventurism will be much missed. Though initially lumped in with turn-of-the-millennium “emo,” these high school buddies confirmed themselves a single-minded genre-of-one with 2005's Vheissu — an epic, electronica- and keys-sprinkled outpouring of muscular, spiritual rock that made them a U2 for the Warped Tour generation. Subsequent albums have remained similarly ambitious, and after eight of 'em (and still barely into their 30s), Thrice have said all they have to collectively say, at least for now. Whether or not they return, this thoughtful foursome poured more breadth and bravery into single songs than most musicians summon in a lifetime. —Paul Rogers
Smegma, Color Bük, Actuary, Bacteria Cult, Pulsating Cyst
A night of noise music from a load of bands whose names alone merit high praise, you gotta admit. Smegma are the veteran, Portland-via-L.A art-“rock” nonmusicians ensemble usually featuring Ju Suk Reet Meate, ex–Human Hands drummer Dennis Duck, Ace Farren Ford, Victor Sparks, Nour Mobarak and Oblivia, most of whom have some connection with the LAFMS squads of the mid-'70s and early '80s. Smegma reside in a weird minefield between art-punk and sound art, but really, they're all and none of the above. Color Bük from NYC bring scary guitar drones rubbing with rough familiarity against skewed but hummable pop. Also L.A. arty grindcore specialists Actuary, the “Deep Space Audio Trip” that is Pulsating Cyst and live electronics by psych-meisters Bacteria Cult. 1336 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; enter on Grand, the show's upstairs and a measly five bucks gets you in. —John Payne
MATTHEW DEAR, GUI BORATTO at Avalon; SCISSOR SISTERS at Hollywood Palladium; SARAH JAFFE at the Satellite; WHITE ARROWS at the Troubadour; HI-STRUNG RAMBLERS, ALEX VARGAS at Viva Cantina; INDIGO GIRLS at Wiltern.
In the battle of the new U.K. boy bands, One Direction haven't yet come up with a tune as good as The Wanted's “Glad You Came,” which sports an even perv-ier double entendre than the Backstreet Boys' “I Want It That Way.” (“Tell Me a Lie,” a zippy Kelly Clarkson co-write from 1D's Up All Night, comes the closest.) Still, judging by reports from the road, these fresh-faced, X Factor alums already know all about working a crowd, which might be more important than music when it comes to the kind of shriek-fest this show will most certainly turn out to be. Also Sat. at Gibson Amphitheatre and — get this — Aug. 7-8, 2013. —Mikael Wood
DEL MONTE SPEAKEASY
“Everybody loves House Shoes out here,” said House Shoes to one interviewer, and if that sounds bold, well, what can be said? He's right. This Detroit transplant is a producer of the highest order and a righteous philosophizer who tells it like it is regarding history, culture and, probably most importantly, music. Dilla famously taught him how to sample on an MPC 3000, and collectors of both the All City and Do-Over 10-inch series know well the earthquake rumble that comes when House Shoes walks across the turntable. Now he's following his recent (and punishing) EP The Time with a full-length called Let It Go on storied Los Angeles label Tres, also home to People Under the Stairs and the underrated Johnson&Jonson project. Prepare for a step forward. —Chris Ziegler
Michael Mull Octet, BlockRad
Alien music is being promulgated by the mad scientists at CalArts, from which scores of deviant agents have begun to infect the L.A. music-industry organism with a new strain of creativity. The new morphon is incubating, poised to gnaw through the host's fleshy abdomen and announce its birth with a primal scream of defiance and atonality. One such species would be reedman-composer Michael Mull (his analysis of Meshuggah guitar riffs is a must-read), whose octet explores everything from Balkan rhythms and electronica to metal. Blockrad is another breed, consisting of pianist Steve Blum, drummer Mike Lockwood and saxist Andrew Conrad, a strange and otherworldly trio. Both groups represent the evolution of jazz in L.A. to a higher life form. Audiences beware, for these monsters are killin'. —Gary Fukushima
With a name like Delta Rae, you expect some down-home, folksy Americana, and the North Carolina band (none of whose members are actually named Delta or Rae) indeed purveys tunes that sound like they were cooked up on a rural back porch. Actually the sextet — which divides the vocal chores among siblings Brittany Holljes, Ian Holljes and Eric Holljes and pal Elizabeth Hopkins — is at its best on new album Carry the Fire when it traffics in traditional styles like folk, country and gospel. The group is much less interesting on such tracks as “Holding on to Good,” which come off as generic pop-rock. With a soulful Greek chorus of haunted harmonies, eerily tinkling piano and foreboding percussion, “Bottom of the River” is by far the album's most beguiling and captivating song, even though it's also the most firmly rooted in ancient styles. —Falling James
KATE MILLER-HEIDKE at the Hotel Cafe.
Mary Anne Hobbs
Back when random so-and-so's would dismiss the now-legendary Low End Theory — “Nobody cares about hip-hop on the Eastside,” went one memorable blow-off — there was always someone who believed, and luckily she had the might of the entire BBC behind her. Once, she was a bikini-sporting, motorcycle-riding, “fully paid-up rock chick” covering Mötley Crüe and Jane's Addiction in L.A., but a generation later Mary Anne Hobbs' Radio 1 show beamed key L.A. beatmakers like Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, Teebs, Take and more to the whole wide world. Now TED taps her for insight and instruction and Low End Theory is known worldwide as one of the most dynamic intersections of beats, rhymes (sometimes) and life. And when Mary Anne comes to visit for a mind-rattling deejay set, it's like a long-lost family member coming home. —Chris Ziegler
Vinny Golia Sextet, Daniel Rosenboom Septet
Multi-instrumentalist-composer-bandleader Vinny Golia is a priceless presence on the West Coast new jazz/other-music scene. Performing on a variety of woodwinds and saxes, Golia treks a wide expanse of that strange new terrain where progressive/avant jazz spills into contemporary classical, improvised music and world-music hybrids/meltdowns. His critically hailed solo and sideman work with Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, John Carter, Horace Tapscott and others has earned him copious honors internationally, including Jazziz magazine's proclamation that Golia is one of the 100 people who have influenced the course of jazz in our century. Golia's own Nine Winds' catalog is a reflection of his prophetic taste in things, pushing heavy hitters like pianists Richard Grossman and Wayne Peet, percussionists Brad Dutz and Alex Cline, guitarist Nels Cline and eclectic electric groups like Quartetto Stig, the New Klezmer Trio and Wadada Leo Smith's ensembles. —John Payne
LARGO AT THE CORONET
As Jenny Lewis' star continues to rise — with the cumulative momentum from her band, Rilo Kiley, her charmingly romantic side project Jenny & Johnny and her ongoing solo career — the onetime Valley girl needs to play increasingly large venues. So it's a wonderful thing that she's stopping by Largo for two nights on her short I Heart Cali tour. The former child actor easily could sell out a much larger theater, but her smart-ass sarcasm and heart-catching melodies will feel so much more intimate and personal in Largo's homey confines, where's she likely to be joined by any number of the venue's celebrity residents. Intriguingly, Lewis won't say much about what she has in store, but she promises, “The set list will run as deep as the bloodline of our special guests.” Also Thurs. —Falling James
Glen Hansard, Kelly Hogan
Glen Hansard first came to attention with Irish pop-rock band The Frames (along with a role in the schlocky, guilty-pleasure rock film The Commitments), but his music took on much greater depth when he formed folk duo The Swell Season with the Czech pianist Markéta Irglová. Their real-life romance, which was echoed in the popular film Once, seemed to inspire Hansard to dig deeper than he had with The Frames, with his previously dozy and facile tunes evolving in a much more vulnerably compelling fashion. Give Hansard credit for sharing the stage tonight with another fascinating singer, Kelly Hogan, who's best known for singing powerfully soulful backup vocals behind Neko Case. Hogan flashes her infamous wit on the title of her new solo album, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, but — all masochistic sarcasm aside — it's her languidly bewitching voice that carries her through such inviting ballads as “Dusty Groove” and “Daddy's Little Girl,” where she's joined by the legendary keyboardist Booker T. Jones. —Falling James
EL REY THEATRE
Brazilian singer Céu dials down the digital tricknology on Caravana Sereia Bloom, her recent follow-up to 2009's exquisitely produced Vagarosa. It's a more raw, organic-sounding record rich with echoes of the late-'60s Tropicália movement, which gave us such lovable oddballs as Os Mutantes and Tom Zé; there's also stuff that sounds beamed in from whatever universe Devendra Banhart calls home. Should be interesting to see how the new textures manifest in Céu's live show — and if she's retrofitted her old tunes to match. São Paulo–based opener Curumin has a new one out as well, called Arrocha, his first since leaving Blackalicious's Quannum Projects label for Six Degrees. Trust us when we tell you it's no less funky for that. —Mikael Wood
ORANGE COUNTY GREAT PARK
A nationwide youth calendar fixture for more than 15 years, Warped Tour retains a special resonance in Orange County, historic home of its primary components, skateboard culture and American punk rock. Over recent years, reflecting the changing tastes of its fresh-faced crowds, Warped has increasingly sprinkled metal-inspired acts amidst the almost event-synonymous peppy punk bands bouncing around on its multiple stages. Accordingly, this Irvine stop plonks the seasoned pop-punk of New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday's earnest, melodic angst next to Pierce the Veil's gateway post-hardcore and the cruelly disciplined, full-bore metalcore of likely highlight Miss May I. But, with all due respect to Warped Tour's traveling horde of worthy artists, it's equally a daylong, parent-free chance to catch the eye of that aloof cutey from math class. —Paul Rogers
AMANDA JO WILLIAMS at the Echo.