fri 8/31

Lera Lynn


“There's a bump on the hill, where your body lies/There's a stone in the ground that reads, 'This man did try,' ” Lera Lynn confides on her 2011 debut album, Have You Met Lera Lynn? The young Athens, Ga., singer-guitarist has wisdom and world-weariness that belie her years, as in her new austere, funereal rendition of the June Carter Cash/Merle Kilgore classic “Ring of Fire,” where her soul-wracked voice ascends dramatically through contrails of streaking slide guitar. Lynn's tragic ode “Bobby, Baby” further reveals her empathetic powers of observation, as she laments, “If you look to the east, you see your estate/Weathered and hollowed out by your mistakes,” before concluding, “I go to your grave, bottle in hand/And pour out your freedom right there in the sand.” —Falling James

Mark de Clive-Lowe


As one might expect from a hapa Japanese-New Zealander who arrived in L.A. via Boston, New York and London, this keyboardist/DJ/music producer is a complex synthesis of musical styles and cultures. Mark de Clive-Lowe honed his craft in the United Kingdom with the likes of all-star broken beat crew Bugz in the Attic and produced for both British soul sensation Omar and Grammy Award winner Jody Watley. What sets de Clive-Lowe apart from his contemporaries are his formidable keyboard chops and deep roots in jazz and classical music. His latest album, Renegades, is a tour de force, but he is best experienced live, where he effortlessly spins samples, drum beats, piano and keys and a live band into a tight aural choreography. With the right DJ, dancing and art music really do mix. —Gary Fukushima

Niki and the Dove


Among the many improvements that might have been made to Randall Poster's dodgy new Fleetwood Mac tribute album, none seems simpler than the addition of Niki and the Dove, a Swedish electro-pop outfit whose singer, Malin Dahlström, channels primo-era Stevie Nicks in all the right ways. On the band's just-released debut, Instinct, Dahlström softens a mystic imperiousness with disarming traces of theater-kid sensitivity; she also pulls off the sequins-and-feathers look more believably than anyone actually on Just Tell Me That You Want Me. Do Niki and the Dove's own tunes stand up to the Mac's best? Nah. But “In Our Eyes” and “The Drummer” — both of which you can expect to hear at the Echo, where the group will launch a North American tour — make a valiant effort. —Mikael Wood

sat 9/1

FYF Fest


There are so many bands and so many storylines running like mini soap operas through this two-day festival of punk, indie and alt-rock musicians. Day one, Saturday, features such headliners as Swedish hardcore brigade Refused and French electronic saboteurs M83, but the show could just as easily be stolen by the thrilling Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells, whose intense sonic upheavals are sweetened by charismatic frontwoman Alexis Krauss' serene vocals. Look for more sparks from Kurt Cobain's favorite Scottish group, The Vaselines, and a set from newly revitalized locals Redd Kross. Sunday is headlined by the world-beat dabbling of Beirut, as well as Omaha indie-rockers The Faint (whose pal Conor Oberst appears with Desaparecidos), but more intriguing plots involve punks Against Me!, whose lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, changed her gender from male to female earlier this year — a brave and truly punk-rock act that has only added more depth to the Florida group's music. And how will the newly revamped Norse death-punk jokesters Turbonegro fare without their seemingly irreplaceable singer Hank von Helvete? Inquiring minds need to know. —Falling James

The Last Bison


Considering the mainstream success of superficially similar indie folksters The Decemberists and Mumford & Sons, it's something of a surprise to find Virginia's The Last Bison at the compact Hotel Cafe. At once epic and intimate, great-outdoorsy and fireside cozy, the group sways between classical music's involved, aloof arrangements and folk's off-the-cuff vigor and strummy inclusiveness. Though the band is seven strong (featuring both traditional folk and classical instruments), instantly charming tunes like “Switzerland,” with its wonderfully music box–y backbone, would be lost without frontman Ben Hardesty's rumpled, mountain-top timbre — he's a sound eccentric and escapist, yet he's capable of chilling for-your-ears-only connection. With its sophomore album (including rerecorded cuts from last year's Quill) due early next year, this might be a final chance to get within petting distance of The Last Bison. —Paul Rogers

sun 9/2

Rebecca Pidgeon and Madeleine Peyroux


Madeleine Peyroux, a versatile vocalist of stunning chops and smart style, has a quiet fire, but she equally stands out for her intriguingly catholic taste. Peyroux always brings something definitive to her wide-ranging forays through the jazz, American roots and folk songbooks, all heard to inspiring effect on her recent Standing on the Rooftop album (Emarcy/Decca). Meanwhile, singer-songwriter-actress Rebecca Pidgeon's recent Slingshot (Decca/Universal) is another side of this same coin, making the year's best argument for “easy listening” music with complex, poignant songs of love, despair, hope and redemption. Pidgeon's songs are decidedly of the adult variety, offering depths to ponder even as you bathe in the revitalizing cool of her crystalline voice. —John Payne


mon 9/3



Local band Kitten are signed to a major label (Atlantic Records), have released a blog-hoggin' EP (Cut It Out), and have booked a monthlong residency at the Bootleg — and frontgal Chloe Chaidez is still only 17 years old. But much of the band's sonic stimuli way predate the glacially voiced Chaidez: Cut It Out's title track is Cocteau Twins gone Cranberries; “Sugar” is more like Sugarcubes than Ultravox; “Chinatown” could be Joy Division's rhythm section backing Dale Bozzio's yelpy star student. Yet Kitten, who must be channeling the 1980s (including a pretty faithful cover of The Smiths' “Panic”) almost as they discover them, are blissfully free of revivalism mustiness, and though using a musical language of their parents' generation, speak frankly to their peers. Electro-flecked guitar rock, just like the first time. —Paul Rogers

King Conquer


Though these Floridians are almost comically extreme in every facet of their music-making — absurdly blurred beats, guitars like poltergeist-possessed machinery, vocals that make Cookie Monster sound like an elocution instructor — there's nuance in their nastiness. Songs like “6 Gallon Gasoline Stomach” (from 2010 debut America's Most Haunted) and “Tyranny” (from imminent follow-up 1776), while blistered with kick drums and drowned in James Mislow's indecipherable retching, also embrace attention-holding shifts in groove and welcome moments of relative lyrical clarity (courtesy of drummer Chris Whited's yelled interjections). King Conquer find chinks of musicality within even their densest deathcore passages and, like all the best metal bands, refuse to see art and brute anger as mutually exclusive. —Paul Rogers

tue 9/4



Totally over “Somebody That I Used to Know”? Check out the brilliant Internet mash-up that crosses Gotye's inescapable quirk-pop hit with Aaliyah's groundbreaking late-'90s R&B jam “Are You That Somebody?”; it's as well done (and as revealing) as such early-bootleg specimens as “A Stroke of Genie-us” and “Smells Like Booty.” Then give a listen to the rest of Gotye's album, Making Mirrors, on which the Belgian-Australian studio hound exercises a stylistic palette far more expansive than his signature smash might suggest. Who knew this guy could do a pretty convincing blues number? The show also features Chairlift, a similarly adventurous Brooklyn duo best known for a single hook bomb — in its case “Bruises,” which was featured a couple of years ago in an iPod spot. —Mikael Wood

Krzysztof Urbanski conducts “Three Russian Masters”


The classical canon today is both questioned for its relevance and pounced upon eagerly by a new generation of composers, performers and conductors of prodigious technical and scholarly gifts. The young firebrands are bringing deeply informed, interesting new insights to historical works, not to mention crowd-pleasing rock-star charisma. Nothing wrong with that! Such is the case with young Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski (now heading the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra) and Russian piano wiz Denis Matsuev. Together these creative upstarts will probe and prod the works of three Russian greats: Prokofiev's thrillingly athletic Piano Concerto No. 1; Stravinsky's Selections from Petrushka, performed as solo piano; and Shostakovich's insinuating stab at Stalin, the gargantuan Symphony No. 10. —John Payne

wed 9/5

Jillinda Palmer


Like Woody Allen's Zelig, singer-keyboardist Jillinda Palmer is everywhere. The Texas native has played with, or been a member of, practically every indie-rock band in Echo Park and Silver Lake, including sugary girl-group revivalists The Damselles & The TC4 and whimsical garage-pop rockers Monolators, as well as The Breakups, Hi Ho Silver Oh, The Henry Clay People, SpongeBob & the Hi-Seas, Le Switch, Correatown and many others. Palmer finally comes into her own with her new debut EP, Lazy Sun, and her recent album, Black El Camino. Her endearing vocals soar over a variety of styles, from the languidly dreamy country-pop of the album's title track to the sly and swanky, horn-laden New Orleans jazz of “Song for Kermit,” where she could be describing her own music when she declares, “Can't shake this feeling I get from a catchy melody.” —Falling James

The Vibrators


British punk band The Vibrators were one of those punk bands that were never quite standard-issue P-U-N-K — you know, with the 'hawks and the leathers and the bondage pants and the sneer — and that's one of the best reasons to love them. They came out in that golden year of 1976, rising from the wreckage of glam and pub rock with a debut single bristling with wit and even charm. S&M never sounded as romantic as in their classic “Whips and Furs,” and songs like “Into the Future” and “Judy Says” are short, sweet shocks that fit perfectly between, say, 999 and The Buzzcocks. Put it this way: Some bands just wanna stab something with a safety pin, but The Vibrators clearly prefer a catchy hook. —Chris Ziegler


Gaslamp Killer


As resident DJ and co-founder of the crucial Low End Theory club in downtown L.A., Gaslamp Killer has earned respect. And while he's a turntablist/sound theorist/producer of wicked and tasty skills, GK always gives you something exciting to look at, too: Dude is larger than life. He puts a lot of everything into his sound, which his imminent world-music/Cali psych-mutating full-length Breakthrough (on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label) proves with a vengeance. The album includes the heavy-duty likes of Gonjasufi, Dimlite, Daedelus, Samiyam and Computer Jay. Gaslamp Killer also applies electronic darkness to his just-out “Flange Face/Seven Years of Bad Luck” single, a scary new monster movie to further melt your little mind. His music is beautiful: vast in scope and unsettling — exactly what we need right now. —John Payne

thu 9/6

Best Coast


“Why would you live anywhere else?” Bethany Cosentino wonders on the literally sunny title track of Best Coast's new album, The Only Place. “We've got the ocean, got the babes/Got the sun, we've got the waves.” And what better place to see the Coast with the most than right here at the pier, overlooking her favorite ocean? Cosentino's unabashed love of all things California has led to much critical snickering and cynicism (perhaps from jealous haters who live in colder climates), but there's no denying that these ebullient pop songs are full of hooks and, refreshingly, nonsarcastic joy. The striking Cosentino naturally gets all the attention as the often-photographed lead singer, but don't overlook the contributions of guitarist Bobb Bruno. With a background in arty and freaky combos like Polar Goldie Cats, he imbues these pure-pop tunes with a bracing inventiveness. —Falling James

Ben Reddell Band


You may recall Ben Reddell from his place on the bass behind L.A.'s Leslie Stevens & The Badgers — he's the tall, mustachioed longhair who seems like he'd have been equally at home playing with Willie Nelson as with Roky Erickson. But Reddell has a guitar and a band of his own, too, and a voice that comes out as weatherbeaten and world-weary as any classic Texan troubadour. (Hey, Guy Clark? Townes Van Zandt? Is there room for one more to share that bottle of the strong stuff?) If you saw the film Heartworn Highways, and if you laughed and then tried not to cry at all the appropriately hilarious and heartbreaking moments, you're primed for Ben Reddell's band. They'll ready the beer if you've got the tears. —Chris Ziegler

LA Weekly