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Daniel Johnston, Jason Falkner
@EL REY THEATRE
“I am a child,” Neil Young once sang, but it's the music of unusual Texas troubadour Daniel Johnston that really embodies a state of natural, youthful innocence. Singing in a shaky voice that makes Young's tremulous pipes sound like Perry Como, Johnston weaves imagery about comic book superheroes and an obsession with the Beatles into his folk-pop tales of broken hearts and Frankenstein lovers. His lyrical preoccupations may seem naïve, and his lo-fi melodies deceptively simple, but songs like “Walking the Cow” and “Funeral Home” are both charmingly playful and deeply moving. The manic-depressive singer has been championed by Matt Groening, and his songs have been covered by everyone from the Butthole Surfers and Sparklehorse to Tom Waits and the Flaming Lips. Tonight he's joined by power-pop stylist Jason Falkner (the Three O'Clock, Jellyfish), who produced Johnston's 2009 album, Is and Always Was. —Falling James
@CENTER FOR THE ARTS EAGLE ROCK
Laguna Beach is not full of surprises, but it did produce young Ty Segall, a power-chording white bro straight outta the garage and right into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — stranger things have happened, true? The kid's got a tuff new-old take on the classic-rock history book that his just-out Goodbye Bread (Drag City) mélanges in magical ways, and if we do spot-the-reference here — he's all things Troggs to T. Rex, Beatles to bubblegum, White Stripes to, well, all of it —that's because at this point it's a bit too easy for a listener to do. Segall's a facile and fun tunesmith still knocking around one very large warehouse of rock-idol moves 'n' motifs; in the meantime, he delivers his stuff in a charismatic, carefree style that belies the obvious passion and brains behind it all. —John Payne
Fitz & the Tantrums
@THE MUSIC BOX
Fitz & the Tantrums play sweet old soul music that sounds like real old soul music, and they do it with such authenticity that when you leave their shows, you're not quite sure what decade you're living in. Singers Fitz and Noelle Scaggs are incredibly high-energy performers, and their complementary duality is what makes Fitz & the Tantrums a great live act. They feed on each other, daring each other to sing louder and dance harder before they turn on the audience. A lot of new bands claiming retro-soul/funk influences tend to be cheesy, but Fitz & the Tantrums manage to evade all the traps of hokeyness and make the sounds of the '60s — perhaps the greatest decade for songwriting ever — their own. —Lainna Fader
Dolly Parton recently told Billboard that she's playing only five new songs on the world tour that hits L.A. this weekend. Too bad: Given the excellence of Better Day, the legendary country star's just-released studio disc, we'd gladly show up to hear her do the entire thing. (At least she's singing “The Sacrifice,” which unsparingly depicts the difficult decisions faced by a female entertainer of a certain age.) Then again, who wants to miss out on vintage Dolly ditties like “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors” and “Here You Come Again”? Expect all of those tonight, along with a smattering of stuff from 9 to 5, the hit Broadway musical that seems to have revived Parton's mainstream currency. Also Sat. —Mikael Wood
Jessica Lea Mayfield
@PAPPY & HARRIET'S PIONEERTOWN PALACE
Beguiling Ohio singer Jessica Lea Mayfield brings welcome cool blue idylls from her excellent new folk-pop album, Tell Me, to this dusty desert outpost tonight. “I did not ask to be born with these eyes,” she declares. Her powers of observations are searing and unsparing, even as she confesses to being the other woman and causing heartbreak and tragedy in her late-night love songs. The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach produced the album and surrounds Mayfield with a diverting variety of musical settings, from chipper girl-group pop and roots-rock rambles to funereal country balladry. She's always articulate and intriguing, even as she questions her role as a spy in the house of love: “My brain is speeding faster than my mouth can move/I'll sit still and silently observe the room.” —Falling James
Soundgarden, The Mars Volta
Grunge's erstwhile arena-filling alchemy fused caffeinated punk irreverence to hard rock's drama and dynamics, yet returned scene shot-callers Soundgarden lean firmly toward the latter. Capable of earnest, ominous Zeppelin grooves (“Jesus Christ Pose,” “Spoonman”) and, like a true metal band, Zippo-ready slowies (“Black Hole Sun”), even these Seattleites' more mundane material is rendered magnificent by Chris Cornell's alternately simmering and orgasmic moan — a wonderfully controlled, Godlike sound that resonates across genres and generations. It says much for Soundgarden's self-confidence that they're prepared to follow The Mars Volta's impossibly convulsive, Latin- and jazz-tinged prog for a few nights. Factor in TMV frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala's otherworldly, androgynous wail and these become doubleheaders of rock's most remarkable and recognizable voices. —Paul Rogers
JIM WHITE at McCabe's; CARL STONE at the Wulf; WALLPAPER at Troubadour; THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, WHITECHAPEL at House of Blues; GABY MORENO at Bootleg Bar; YOUNG DUBLINERS at T Boyle's Tavern; HAR MAR SUPERSTAR at Viper Room; INXS at Wiltern; ELECTED at the Echo; TIM ROBBINS at Largo.
Brooklyn's Liturgy messes too much with the black metal “form,” according to a lotta BM aficionados hovering 'round their church with torches. Screw it, say Liturgy, we want to take you higher. While they strew a blast-beat bombasticity as grindingly gruesome as any of your black metal bonehedz, Liturgy, for one thing, do their feral speed-thrash grindcore Guignol totally sans lyrical references to the horns of the goat or the bony finger of doom. And though the band's new Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey) is hardcore at core, it's heavier in the theoretical sense, an assaultive, rhythmic trance music whose formal cues — from the new-music likes of Steve Reich, Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham and the mighty Lightning Bolt — wrench their metal into ecstatic domains with maddeningly repetitive riffs pummeled, flayed and moiré-patterned unto infinity. Cathartic! —John Payne
Whether they're giving the Germs' punk-rock snarl “Richie Dagger's Crime” a clever Who-style makeover or crafting their own melodic gems, the Posies have long been one of the smarter power-pop bands. Tonight, the Seattle group intends to perform their 1993 album, Frosting on the Beater, in its entirety. Although that record remains one of their most popular releases, it seems premature for singer-guitarists Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer to turn themselves into an oldies band. They recently released a strong new album, Blood/Candy, combining memorable hooks with thoughtful lyrics on such poppy tracks as “Cleopatra Street,” the breezily dreamy “So Caroline” and “Accidental Architecture.” The album features such simpatico guests as Letters From Cleo's Kay Hanley and Broken Social Scene's Lisa Lobsinger, as well as unexpected visitors like former Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell. —Falling James
Earth, Angelo Spencer
Dylan Carlson's Earth have been around since 1989, although it seems like a lot longer. Formed in the Seattle area's grunge scene, they're generally credited with creating the hair-splittingly specific genre (this is important) known as “drone doom,” an experimental branch of things not to be confused with mere doom metal. Carlson has evolved his band's distorted low frequencies and spare, cyclical structures with explorations in the melodic patterns of medieval English music, American country, desert blues à la Tinariwen and progressive jazz textures, the latter notably by the inclusion of trombone in the instrumental lineup. Brittany-born one-man band Angelo Spencer plays fast and loose with a bunch of American roots and other styles, like, say, an occasional foray into Egyptian reggae. His brash and brisk newest is Angelo Spencer et Hauts-Sommets (K Records). —John Payne
TONALISM with DAMION ROMERO at Center for the Arts Eagle Rock; CORREATOWN at Bootleg Bar; MEMORY TAPES at the Troubadour; WHITE FENCE at the Smell; CHELSEA WOLFE at the Echo.
Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire
Seethingly vengeful and perpetually wronged, Denver's Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire lend some contemporary clarity to Napalm Death's pioneering and primal, guttural grindcore. Though still ragged by today's polished ProTools standards, CTTTOAFF's production buttresses the genre's traditional tinny guitars and battering snare with industrial-strength bass and diaphragm-directed kick. Passages of funereal, introspective sludge serve chiefly as contrast to Clinging's sky-falling-in maelstrom of blasting beats, throbbing overdrive, and Ethan McCarthy's demonic and worryingly damaged screech. Masters of both brevity and variety, CTTTOAFF spew ADHD anthems for the angry, alienated and utterly alone. —Paul Rogers
Global Soul with Stevie Wonder, Sharon Jones, et al.
“A celebration of soul music from around the world,” as the L.A. Philharmonic describes it, this curious Hollywood Bowl bill pairs Stevie Wonder and Tonight Show music director Rickey Minor with a handful of fringe-dwellers more accustomed to cozier confines: retro-R&B doyenne Sharon Jones, soul-rock firecracker Grace Potter, Tijuana-born alt-popster Ceci Bastida and local psych-folk lady Mia Doi Todd, whose recent Cosmic Ocean Ship, by the way, hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves. (Bowl veteran Janelle Monáe also is slated to appear.) No word on what material this appealingly motley crew has in store, though they are promising a show-closing tribute to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, which earlier this year turned 40. —Mikael Wood
Iceage, Cult of Youth
Following in 2011's tradition of bile-spitting new artists are Denmark's Iceage, a gaggle of four teenage pals whose sub-25-minute punk debut, New Brigade, dropped last month on What's Your Rupture? Their sound is a welcome, long-awaited return to the genre, combining the best of post-punk, goth and hardcore into pure, unbridled energy. Their lyrics, slurred and sung in English, are largely anyone's guess, but that's not why we're listening: Pay attention to the brooding bass, jagged guitars and feral drums, all barely held together by the Elmer's glue of frontman Elias Rønnenfelt's voice. It's the kind of on-the-verge-of-collapse sound that gets us excited about new music today. And how does that translate live? Expect a feeding frenzy of angst and rage that's been known to leave audience members bloodied and grinning. —Andrea Domanick
SIN 34, DOGGY STYLE at Redwood Bar and Grill; RUTHANN FRIEDMAN, RUBY FRIEDMAN ORCHESTRA at the Echo; SELENA GOMEZ at Pacific Amphitheatre.
Not unlike country star Blake Shelton, whose new Red River Blue is earning him loads of non-Nashville attention, Maroon 5 seem to be in for a popularity bump following frontman Adam Levine's recent stint as a celebrity coach (alongside Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green) on NBC's hit The Voice. They could use it: Last year's Hands All Over didn't do the blockbuster business the band's first two records did, which must have stung in light of the dough they surely spent hiring arena-pop godhead Mutt Lange to produce. Whatever the album's flaws, Levine and his bandmates boast one of Top 40's most durable songbooks. Even if you're dragged to the Bowl by the reality TV fan in your life, be prepared to recognize at least half a dozen hits tonight. —Mikael Wood
CRYSTAL ANTLERS residency at Echoplex; WEIRD AL at the Grammy Museum; SUGARLAND at Greek Theatre.
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@EL REY THEATRE
Next month these Canadian rabble-rousers are opening a pair of arena dates for the Foo Fighters, an unlikely pairing that speaks to the Foos' admirable musical taste but also to Fucked Up's increasingly expansive aesthetic. Though they certainly have touched on the epic before, the art-punk outfit's new one, David Comes to Life, feels like the first Fucked Up record with songs that might actually make the most sense in an arena; it's a full-blast if-you-say-so rock opera with raging guitars, galloping beats and soaring boy-girl vocals that suggest Arcade Fire covering Minor Threat. Here at El Rey, of course, the band will be forced to make do with somewhat smaller dimensions. Word to the venue's owners: Your roof may be in danger. —Mikael Wood
LANGHORNE SLIM, AMANDA JO WILLIAMS at Echoplex; GAVRYLYUK PLAYS TCHAIKOVSKY at Hollywood Bowl; WOOLEN at Lot 1; ELECTRIC DAISY at the Music Box.
@UKRAINIAN CULTURAL CENTER
Earlier this year Matador released Cold Cave's Cherish the Light, an album years-years-years in the making, the sum total of an immeasurable distance traveled — it took singer Wesley Eisold numerous bands and projects and collaborators to realize this was the record he'd always wanted to make. He started out as frontman of celebrated hardcore band Give Up the Ghost, but as Cold Cave he plays hard and dark electronic beats in synth-splashed pop songs. These songs constantly reference old new wave, post-punk, synth-pop and industrial records that Eisold probably grew up with, but here he manages to make them sound fresh decades past their heyday. —Lainna Fader
ELLEN FRIEDBERGER (FIERY FURNACES), CLOUD CONTROL at the Satellite; BOB MOULD at Largo (See GoLA); PARIS LOVES L.A., ADELE JACQUES at Bootleg Bar; PAUL RODGERS at Pacific Amphitheatre; GIN BLOSSOMS at Brixton; CULTS at the Echo; THE 88 at Grammy Museum; GLADYS KNIGHT at Hollywood Bowl.
A Perfect Circle
While A Perfect Circle will forever be tinted with Tool (the two bands share vocalist Maynard James Keenan, and APC guitarist/songwriter Billy Howerdel is a former Tool tech), the band's recent return to live action has served as a reminder of its unique sonic signature. Yes, Keenan's hypnotic, desperate timbre (with its distinctive studio processing) is unmistakable, but Howerdel's romantic, goth-stained compositions and tapestry arrangements put this into more intimate context and — though APC are no strangers to aggression — bring out a sensitive side. A Perfect Circle cajole rather than bludgeon the ear; with lurking melodies and swirling, saturated guitars feeding the imagination, they imply as much as they outright state. Escapist, oddly exotic and much more durable than the “side project” tags suggested. —Paul Rogers
The Henry Clay People
Henry Clay was a slave-owning Kentucky politician in the 19th century, but the Henry Clay People are another story altogether. Led by brothers Joey and Andy Siara, the pop-rockers combine energetic guitar riffs with slyly sarcastic lyrics as they debate their place in the music scene and the purpose of rock & roll in general. In their hands, rock isn't dead, and the restless intelligence and surging hooks on their 2008 album, For Cheap or for Free, came off like a modern equivalent to the Replacements. Their 2010 follow-up, Somewhere on the Golden Coast, made it clear that underneath the Siaras' cynical bravado beat some sincere (if wounded) hearts. “We were stuck inside for the better part of our lives,” Joey chants on the new tune “California Wildfire.” When he punches that line with, “I just want to watch something burn,” he could just as easily be describing the band's rapid rise to local prominence. —Falling James
UPSILON ACRUX at the Echo; PETRENKO CONDUCTS DVORAK at Hollywood Bowl; GIN BLOSSOMS at Brixton South Bay (Redondo Beach).