fri 12/7

Bloc Party, Dum Dum Girls


“Gonna show you how we get down in my hood,” Bloc Party's Kele Okereke declares on “Octopus,” a single from the group's latest album, Four. “Tripping and a-tripping, erase all tapes. … This is the point where you look the other way.” The album may be unimaginatively titled, but there's nothing plain about the way Russell Lissack's guitars ricochet off the wall of skittering synthesizers constructed by bassist-keyboardist Gordon Moakes. The British quartet draws upon the angular chords and herky-jerky rhythms of early post-punk bands, but Okereke frames it all with his passionately witty wordplay, and the rest of the group send his weirdest thoughts into a new version of outer space. Lissack's sirenlike guitar signals give way to surges of loud power chords on “Kettling,” with Okereke casting out lonely pleas from his own private lighthouse. Bloc Party are interestingly paired tonight with those slinky, feline, black-clad Dum Dum Girls, whose sugary love songs are drenched in jangling lo-fi guitars and cloaked in a fuzzy, minimalist garage-rock disguise that contrasts distinctly with the headliners' massive, propulsive sound. —Falling James

Kinky Friedman


When the reckless, brilliant Lone Star State iconoclast Kinky Friedman first burst into public view in the mid-'70s as leader of the savage, satirical Texas Jewboys, country music nearly choked to death on its own vomit. Since that first lurid round, Friedman has distinguished himself as a musician and composer (his Holocaust-themed masterpiece of metaphor “Ride 'Em Jewboy” stands yet unrivaled), a prolific author and as a credible 2006 Texas gubernatorial candidate. Here, surfing along on the second swell of his solo BiPolar Tour, Friedman will croon sweet Americana like “Asshole From El Paso,” doubtless roast a stampede's worth of sacred cultural and political cows, and perhaps even seriously discuss a possible second run for the Texas governor's seat. If ever there was a rugged all-American individualist, Friedman it is. —Jonny Whiteside

Black Mambas


The Black Mambas — along with The Neumans and The Hurricanes — are L.A. label Wild Records' newest signees. But instead of building into the label's Sun Records–style sound of '56, the Mambas stagger into 1976 with gutter-glam songs and dawn-of-punk velocity and attitude. Like the New York Dolls, you ask? Oh mais oui, as the Dolls' singer David Johansen must have once bellowed, but there's lots of Redd Kross and Real Kids roaring alongside, too. (The Mambas' “Teenage Letter” cover is just a few burst blood vessels away from the Count Bishops' bruising 1975 version.) L.A.'s 1980s glam punk legends The Joneses remain the once and future kings of this sound, but the Mambas are young and hungry. Well, actually, that probably should be “thirsty,” at least judging by the way they smash out these shot-of-whiskey hits. —Chris Ziegler

Esa-Pekka Salonen's Lutoslawski Centenary


Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor laureate of the L.A. Phil, conceived and conducts this resonantly varied program, which is organized around contrasts and connections. Of primary interest will be the West Coast premiere of Salonen's own Nyx, inspired by that Greek goddess of the night. Scored for a large ensemble, it's an intuitively shaped work of complex emotion and sensual harmony, spilling tonal shadows and light that, like the ambiguous Nyx herself, are shrouded in mystery. Skillful and suitably youthful French pianist David Fray caresses Schumann's swoonily mood-swingish Piano Concerto, written for his great love, Clara; Canadian baritone Gerald Finley tosses and turns Lutoslawski's fascinating symphonic poem Les espaces du sommeil, a musical interpretation of disordered sleep set to surreal text by Robert Desnos, a protégé of André Breton. Tchaikovsky's tone poem Francesca da Rimini is a spectacularly orchestrated “tale of doomed love.” —John Payne

sat 12/8



Though still best known for their mildly reimagined 1998 cover of New Order's “Blue Monday,” these local electro-rawkers really found their stylistic voice with sophomore album Vapor Transmission two years later. Bowie-edged meetings of miles-deep, supersaturated nü-metal guitars, quantized beats and synths of Wagnerian ambition, songs like “Eva” and “Opticon” hit home through founding frontman Jay Gordon's detached yet perpetually traumatized timbre. Only Gordon remains in the recently reactivated outfit (which irks some former band members, to the point of his dubbing its comeback run the “Bad Blood Tour”), but the first recorded offering from this incarnation, “Grime of the Century,” suggests that the Orgy brand continues to tunefully alt-metal artsy like it's 1999. —Paul Rogers

The Shag Rats, Frantic Rockers, Hexxers, The Neumans, et al.


Norton Records moguls Billy Miller and Miriam Linna have long (and impressively) devoted themselves to serving rock & roll's originators. As the source of many a rare and exotic 33 1/3 and 45 rpm disc, Norton has provided an invaluable service to lowlife rockers around the globe (and they don't just reissue — they also cut hot and fresh sessions on underworld royals like Andre Williams and Hasil Adkins). But when Hurricane Sandy soaked Brooklyn last month, she swamped Norton's warehouse, badly damaging a trove of precious vinyl. The silver lining: a series of benefit shows all over the nation. Los Angeles' first such affair features fabulously frantic East L.A. garage-R&B kids The Shag Rats, plus Frantic Rockers, The Rip Em Ups, Hexxers, The Neumans and more. These mixed-up musical malefactors are certain to grind out an appropriately demented earful. Act accordingly. —Jonny Whiteside


KROQ Almost Acoustic Xmas with Jack White, the Killers, Passion Pit, et al.


Say what you will about the “artistic merits” of these Christmas blowouts, but you've got to admit that their hearts are in the right place: This 23rd edition of the annual event benefits worthy local charities Para Los Niños and the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center. So don't be a drag. Participate. Come on down to these two — yes, two — nights of an insanely varied musical grab bag: The Saturday show includes Linkin Park, Rise Against, Bush, Garbage, Slightly Stoopid, AWOLNATION, The Lumineers, Walk the Moon, the Gaslight Anthem, Two Door Cinema Club and Youngblood Hawke. The Sunday, Dec. 9, bill throws down The Killers, Jack White, M83, Neon Trees, Of Monsters and Men, Alex Clare, Imagine Dragons and most likely many, many more. —John Payne

sun 12/9



“They were right when they said we should never meet our heroes,” Emily Haines admits on “Breathing Underwater,” from Metric's new album, Synthetica. Her vocals exude a wide-eyed wonder as James Shaw surrounds her with spinning synthesizer figures and swirling guitars, creating a magically cheery maze of sounds that masks Haines' hero-worshiping disappointment. Over the past decade, Metric have gone from looking up at the stars in such tales of fannish adoration as “Poster of a Girl” to becoming arena-filling stars in their own right. Perhaps we shouldn't meet our heroes, but Metric's fans in Pomona likely will realize tonight that, for all the group's growing popularity, the Canadian alt-rock quartet hasn't let fame go to its collective head. Haines still spins her poetic reveries with curiosity and invention rather than giving in to cynicism and musical repetition. —Falling James

Dirt Dress


Dirt Dress have been soldiering through L.A.'s DIY scene for some years now, but their new record — Donde la Vida No Vale Nada, out on Recess and Burger — is a helluva leap upward and forward, and who knows what other unexpected directions? Like The Fall's Mark E. Smith famously said, “If you're gonna play it out of tune, play it out of tune properly.” And so Dirt Dress deliver ferociously discordant post-punk-pounders, somewhat like The Fall, Swell Maps, The Adverts or the mighty Australian X. You'll even hear a bit of The Minutemen rattling around in here. (“Shit From an Old Notebook” spirit; “Political Song” intensity.) This is a band cut to its barest roots: guitar, drums, bass and a lot of sharp points. Would it be too much if we told you to dig it? —Chris Ziegler

mon 12/10



Lamps are punk (like Chrome? Or Suicide?). They're from space (like Hawkwind?) but also from hell (like Electric Eels!), where everything melts together into a big hot white ball of confusion that's bright enough to give off some sick kind of light but which will turn you to ash in a second if you touch it. (Are the guitars on here being murdered? Or are they murdering something else?) Anybody who ever gritted their teeth in a traffic jam with one of the nastier Oh Sees albums jammed in the tape deck needs to buy Lamps' newest, Under the Water Under the Ground, and then break it into pieces and eat it to correctly absorb its primal power. Or, yes, you could listen to it in its entirety, but that's gonna do far stranger things to your system. A great band in a crazy way. —Chris Ziegler

tue 12/11

John Cale


It would be convenient to place John Cale into some nostalgic little box, given the massive impact he's had on underground and (once the rest of the world caught up with him) mainstream music during the past 50 years. He's most celebrated for his crucial contributions to the Velvet Underground, anointing Lou Reed's druggy tales of sin and no redemption with a classical veneer that made already strange songs like “Venus in Furs” and “Sister Ray” sound even more hazily exotic. He would be a legendary figure if only for the many important musicians he's discovered and championed, producing, arranging and collaborating on classic works by The Stooges, Patti Smith, The Modern Lovers, Nico and Nick Drake. Cale is so avant-garde, he's held his own with the visionary likes of Terry Riley, John Cage and La Monte Young. His solo albums in the 1970s were impressively dark and literary but, with a creative mind this restless, he has continued to make interesting and unpredictable music all the way through this year's release, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, where he even collaborated with Danger Mouse. —Falling James


thu 12/13

Public Enemy, X-Clan, Schooly D, Monie Love


Characterized by Chuck D's penetrating delivery and unapologetic social commentary, Public Enemy are one of hip-hop's most important acts. Their avant-garde sonic milieu, saturated with black militancy and noise, took the world by storm in the late '80s and early '90s with the legendary releases Yo! Bum Rush the Show, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet. In 2012, Public Enemy released two thematically related LPs: Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything. The group has since embarked on a tour with the father of gangsta rap, Schooly D. This quasi–Native Tongues reunion also features X Clan and Monie Love. —Jacqueline Michael Whatley

A Country Christmas


Holiday music can be so depressingly sappy, but the Satellite has rounded up an unusual bill of local musicians who ostensibly work within the confines of alt-country but also can take off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Former Rentals singer Sara Radle exudes an endearing sense of joy in her straightforward pop songs, while Jillinda Palmer wanders freely from New Orleans–style jazz to rustic country reveries with similarly appealing results. Dirt Bird's Claire McKeown, meanwhile, comes from a more classically inspired formality. Leslie Stevens, from Leslie & the Badgers, might be the purest country singer in tonight's lineup. It's not just that Stevens often sounds like a young version of Dolly Parton; she is also a skillful songwriter who can twist your heart with little more than a few acoustic guitar chords and her sweetly personal, birdlike trilling on songs like “Los Angeles” (where she coos sadly about “so many nights in bars like these”). Plus Maria DeLuca, Brittney Westover, Adeline Dante, Angela Correa, Mary Verplank and others. —Falling James

Ferenc Nemeth (featuring Lionel Loueke)


His new album is called Triumph, which is risky because, well, what if it isn't? Fortunately for the Hungarian-born drummer, it cannot be considered anything but, thanks to the help of luminaries like Joshua Redman, Kenny Werner and the excellent Lionel Loueke on guitar. In fact, the record is so good Nemeth can ride into L.A. on the back of a donkey, all the way to the upper room at Vitello's, to have a last supper before tearing it up with Loueke, pianist Daniel Szabo and saxist Bob Sheppard. About Loueke, his other bandleader, Herbie Hancock, said, “I've never heard any guitar player play anything close to what I was hearing. …” In other Triumphant news, Nemeth has made a drum instructional app for iPod/iPad, which means he can afford to play jazz now. —Gary Fukushima

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