FOX THEATER (POMONA)
The mustachioed men of Opeth have long resembled your stoner uncle's college “prog project,” but with new album Heritage they've started sounding like 'em, too. That these Swedes have a Wikipedia page devoted to their former members (seriously) is perhaps testament to main man Mikael Åkerfeldt's rare single-mindedness. For years this was manifested by his successfully marrying deft death metal to bell-bottomed '70s rock adventurism, but on Heritage the latter finally prevails. Gone are the “death grunts” that littered Opeth's prior works, making way for Åkerfeldt's horizon-scanning croon. With sprawling sonic ambition and dark peripheral visions, Opeth have become Alice in Chains on (more) acid. —Paul Rogers
Plasma Centre, Blackstrap Molasses, Peter Pants, The Happy Hollows
Plasma Centre, a quintet with members from Palm Desert to Burbank, play far-off static pop, while Coachella's very own Blackstrap Molasses purvey their own brand of grubby soul with their hits “That Tight Squeeze” and “Shake” — if Fat Freddy Freekowtski runs in and asks you where the fuck music is, just point him their way. Peter Pants, a scrappy indie quartet from the Valley, came on strong this year with their genuinely funny video for “Hart” from their album Handsome Women. In it, masked thugs try to murder the band only to be met with laughter. Jangly trio the Happy Hollows tie the room together nicely by attacking their songs with great vengeance and furious anger, coloring the dreams you try to remember on Saturday morning. —David Cotner
SHELLAC at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts; TAMARYN, DEVON WILLIAMS, MELTED TOYS at the Echo; POMPLAMOOSE at Troubadour; EDDIE DANIELS at Vitello's; ANNA MJOLL at Vibrato; ADRIAN BELEW at Canyon Club; SKYLER STONESTREET at Hotel Café; TAYLOR LOCKE & THE ROUGHS at Bootleg Theater; MASON JENNINGS at El Rey Theatre.
HOUSE OF BLUES
In the infant weeks of 2005, after releasing his smash-mouth debut The Documentary, the Game, as he was known back then, was being touted as gangsta rap's second coming, a glorious return to big-ballsy boasting that'd been largely missing from the Cali hip-hop scene for nearly a decade. Yet, save his above-average sophomore effort, all we've really gotten since from Jayceon Taylor are beefs with his superiors, mediocre albums and some hit-and-miss mixtapes. His latest LP, The R.E.D. Album, is not much beyond an exercise in collaboration — all but five tracks on the 20-plus-cut full-length feature guest verses that outshine Game's. Nonetheless, this gig is a homecoming for the one rapper we're fearful would actually off someone for looking at him the wrong way. As such, the energy and guest list should be top-notch. —Dan Hyman
Much of the media coverage surrounding Robyn's 2010 Body Talk trilogy tended to dwell on this Swedish singer's confounding inability to break America à la Katy Perry, whose North American crowds she warmed up this summer. But with a headlining date Saturday night at the Hollywood Bowl, it's easy to see that Robyn has made an impact here, and for good reason: The Body Talk records feature some world-class electro-pop tunes in the form of “Dancing on My Own” and “Cry When You Get Older,” both of which could bring a tear to even the most jaded club kid's eye. (We saw it happen last year at the Music Box, people.) With Norway's appealingly whimsical Röyksopp, in the United States for this show alone. —Mikael Wood
In funk, it all starts with the beat, and no drummer is tighter or snappier than Ziggy Modeliste. The master traps man was a founding and longtime member of legendary New Orleans funk innovators the Meters and also has battened the musical hatches with Lee Dorsey, Dr. John, Labelle, Keith Richards, Bill Laswell, John Fogerty and the Wild Tchoupitoulas. On top of that, Modeliste laid down the literal rhythmic template for seemingly half of the hip-hop universe, with his smartly diced high-hat snips and exacting snare-drum smacks sampled liberally by Public Enemy, Salt-N-Pepa, N.W.A, LL Cool J, Naughty by Nature and Queen Latifah, among many others. He's been just as compulsively funky over the past decade, releasing a series of ever-grooving solo albums, including his latest, New Life. —Falling James
Aloe Blacc & the Grand Scheme
EL REY THEATRE
Even folks with zero investment in L.A.'s retro-soul scene have to have heard Aloe Blacc's “I Need a Dollar.” The piano-plinking single, spun off this Orange County native's Good Things album from 2010, is the theme song for HBO's How to Make It in America. (In Europe “Dollar” is a real-deal hit, having peaked at No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart, right behind Pitbull's “Give Me Everything.”) That said, there's more to Blacc than his brush with the mainstream. He's a remarkably open-eared dabbler who once told me he has records in the can that sound like the Postal Service and Nat King Cole. And his cover of the Velvet Underground's “Femme Fatale” is a slow-and-low stunner. —Mikael Wood
Anika's backstory is as interesting as her music. A former political journalist who split her time between Berlin and Bristol, England, she caught the ear of Portishead mastermind Geoff Barrow, who needed a female vocalist for his side project, Beak>.They ended up recording Anika's debut full-length album with Beak> as her backing band. The result is a sparse, intriguingly dark, retro collection of tracks. Although Anika's Nico-esque vocals don't have tremendous range, her straightforward delivery and rich timbre are the perfect focal point for the electronic bleeps and beats behind her. Although Barrow doesn't usually tour with her, he's in L.A. for a Portishead show this week, so one can only hope. —Laura Ferreiro
After reuniting recently with early drummer Jay Lane, the freaky Bay Area trio Primus just released Green Naugahyde, their first new album in more than 10 years. With leader Les Claypool's busy bass lines and cramped vocals and Larry LaLonde's whirling guitars, the record evokes the spastic art-rock of 1990's Frizzle Fry mingled with a newly toughened funk foundation. Tracks like “Extinction Burst” are inspired by the frenetic insect scratching of Captain Beefheart, while the rubber-limbed ode “Lee Van Cleef” sounds utterly uncategorizable. At times, Primus tries too hard to be weird, like the spacey goofiness of “Jilly's on Smack,” which makes it a relief when they downshift into the relatively dreamy idyll “Green Ranger.” —Falling James
THE VIBRATORS at the Redwood; SOCIAL DISTORTION at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater; ANTHRAX at Club Nokia; IDINA MENZEL at Greek Theatre; KATHLEEN GRACE GROUP at Blue Whale; RUFUS PHILPOT at Alvas Showroom; BLOOD FOR BLOOD at Glass House (Pomona); ANTHRAX at Club Nokia; THE WAR ON DRUGS at Satellite.
Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes
In this oversaturated media age, where something as simple as reppin' the wrong brand could discredit an artist, you'd think getting outed as a former corrections officer would have crippled the yayo-pushing, stripper-loving persona of Florida MC Rick Ross. But, if anything, the behemoth of a man only got stronger as a result: Ross simply kept on playing up his self-proclaimed title as the game's new “Bawse.” Of course, the fact that he's since dropped two killer albums — including last year's brilliantly produced Teflon Don — doesn't hurt, either. For his L.A. soiree, Mr. Rosay is joined by Busta Rhymes, who, thanks to his recent tsunami verse on Chris Brown's “Look at Me Now,” is proving that, even after two decades in the game, his whiplash rhymes still have the power to break ya neck. —Dan Hyman
Miles Davis Experience: 1949-1959 featuring Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet
VALLEY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Those looking for yet another Miles Davis tribute band should have gone to one of the hundreds of shows that took place two years ago for the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue. (If Miles weren't dead already, he would've shot himself rather than suffer through another rendition of “Freddie Freeloader.”) Trumpet phenom Ambrose Akinmusire has chosen not to fall into the trap of play-acting Miles. Sure, there is a multimedia overview of the zeitgeist of Miles' era, but at the end of the day it's about hearing some original music by a brilliant group of musicians, including saxophone powerhouse Walter Smith III, led by Akinmusire, whose unbounded creativity and sureness of sound sculpting make him a worthy choice to carry forward the spirit of the legend. —Gary Fukushima
THE MUSIC BOX
Shadow's '96 milestone Endtroducing was some real tour de force instrumental hip-hop that achieved epic sweep via his astounding thousands of edits of even more thousands of samples of seemingly every funky tune ever recorded. So much critical praise got heaped on Endtroducing that it figures Shadow's been trying to live up to it ever since. On his new The Less You Know, the Better, he paints his canvas from an even wider palette of metal bands, beatnik spoken-word performances, vintage folk reels and disco drum tracks, alongside guest voices such as Talib Kweli and Posdnuos of De La Soul. It's artfully crafted stuff, with a noticeably weighty, even ponderous tone. —John Payne
MAGIC CHRISTIAN at Alex's Bar; JEFF RICHMAN at the Baked Potato; LOUIE CRUZ BELTRAN at Vibrato; HIMALAYAN BEAR at Hotel Café.
Gold Panda, Jonti
When Wichita Records found U.K. beatmaker Gold Panda on MySpace and offered him $500 to remix a Bloc Party song, he quit his sex-shop day job to focus on music, his dream since his uncle handed him a sampler at 15. He soon abandoned his youthful attempt to make sounds like Puff Daddy and took to producing gorgeous tracks steeped in nostalgia, which showcase his deep understanding of what came before him sonically, as well as his own past. On top of working remix magic on tracks from HEALTH and Lykke Li, to name a few, he's released a few records of his own, with his 2010 full-length debut, Lucky Shiner, ending up on countless year-end best-of lists. With African producer and Stones Throw signee Jonti and Anticon label head DJ Sodapop. —Lainna Fader
PATRICK STUMP at Viper Room; DWIGHT TRIBLE QUARTET at Blue Whale; RON KING BIG BAND at Typhoon.
The Rage Against the Machine guitarist is headed to England next month to open a string of shows for Chicago's Rise Against, with whom Morello shares a deep-seated love of the people and their power. (Brits in attendance should expect many a reference to Occupy Wall Street.) First, though, he's doing a quick West Coast headlining run in support of World Wide Rebel Songs, his latest solo album as the Nightwatchman. It's a rowdier effort than his previous releases under that name, with more electric guitar and even a danceable tempo or two. But dude's hardly gone Mötley Crüe: “History's not made by presidents or popes,” he declaims in the first song, “or kings or queens or generals or CIA kingpins running dope.” —Mikael Wood
PAULIE PESH at Silverlake Lounge; EVEREST, HANDS, DEATH TO ANDERS at the Echoplex; DWIGHT TRIBLE QUARTET at Blue Whale; JUDAS PRIEST at Gibson Amphitheatre.
Keith Jarrett Trio
UCLA ROYCE HALL
Keith Jarrett has been a seminal pianist in jazz for four decades, dating back to his contributions to Miles Davis' bands of the early 1970s, as well as his own early albums as a leader. In 1983 Jarrett began recording and touring with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, both of whom also had worked with Davis. Over the past three decades the group has established itself as the pre-eminent piano trio in jazz, succeeding those of the late Bill Evans. Jarrett's concerts include both extended soloing and intimate interactions from all the players, commanding attention and involvement from an audience almost unmatched in a jazz setting. In return, the trio offers interpretations of standards that are beyond equal anywhere in the genre. —Tom Meek
EL REY THEATRE
If L.A. is a city of transplants, then Grouplove are fine ambassadors. The eclectic pop quintet have spent time in Brooklyn, London and even Greece, where the gang met during a summer art residency. They eventually relocated to L.A. to make music together, and their sound — something between Arcade Fire and Architecture in Helsinki, with a healthy dose of funk — quickly caught on. Their Outside Lands gig in August was easily the most joy-filled set of the entire fest, and it was hard to tell who was having more fun, the band or the crowd. Grouplove just might represent the death of irony in L.A. music, and we couldn't be more ready for 'em. —Andrea Domanick
KINGS OF CONVENIENCE at the Music Box; THOM ROTELLA at Vibrato; GORAN BREGOVIC AND HIS WEDDING AND FUNERAL ORCHESTRA at Walt Disney Concert Hall; QUARTETTO FANTASTICO at the Blue Whale.
Vocalist Sara Serpa shares her last name with a tiny municipality in her native Portugal, in a region famous for cheese, a trait that, thankfully, this evocative singer does not share. Possessing an extensive range and pitch-perfect control, she spins off difficult melodies (of her own composition and improvisation) with the grace and ease of an Audrey Hepburn character, attracting the attention of jazz luminaries such as Danilo Perez, Greg Osby and Ran Blake. Eschewing standards for vehicles with more gravitas, she delivers her pieces with great emotional focus and élan. Her career already in flight, Serpa makes her L.A. debut with her husband, outstanding guitarist André Matos, and old Boston colleague and current L.A. piano genius Vardan Ovsepian, whose talent cannot be overstated. —Gary Fukushima
THE MUSIC BOX
As far as career arcs go, Danish musician-producer Anders Trentemøller's is an unusual one. Although he released several singles and remixes in the early 1990s, he didn't make his first full-length album until 2006. Now he's touring behind his recent sophomore album, Into the Great Wide Yonder, a stellar collection of layered, cinematic pieces that explore various moods and motifs, as well as an upcoming remix album. Trentemøller, who plays keyboards, will be accompanied by a full band and guest vocalists; they'll illustrate why their performance at Coachella earlier this year was widely considered one of the festival's surprise breakouts. While his early work filled dance floors, tonight's show likely will be a more cerebral affair, filled with uplifting beauty in unexpected places. —Laura Ferreiro
Hans-Joachim Roedelius has loomed large on Germany's electronic-music scene since the late '60s. As the founder of Cluster with Dieter Moebius and of Harmonia with Moebius and ex–Kraftwerk guitarist Michael Rother, he's set the tone with his quirkily pastoral keyboard explorations, which blueprinted the ambient and new age genres. Cluster's 1974 Zuckerzeit and Harmonia's 1975 Deluxe, as well as their collaborations with Brian Eno, are landmarks bearing major influence on contemporary electronic music. —John Payne
The Black Ryder
The Black Ryder are a wondrously strange group whose dusty, windswept songs evoke the Wild West, but not in a corny, cornpone way. Led by singer-guitarists Aimee Nash and Scott Von Ryper, the band hail from Australia, where the sprawling Outback inspires many of the same deep emotions about love and death and permanence as the American Southwest. Foreboding spaghetti Western guitars hang like thunderclouds over the funereal spectacle of “Burn & Fade,” where Nash's and Ryper's singing blends together with a hushed intimacy that recalls the Velvet Underground and the Jesus & Mary Chain. Ryper's vocals crack like an old cowboy bluesman on the aptly titled “Sweet Comedown,” while Nash's soothing harmonies ease his worries like a stray summer breeze. —Falling James
Legal Weapon, Ravens Moreland
MR. T'S BOWL
Tonight's show is a direct blast from the early punk-rock past, led by the soulfully fiery exhortations of Kat Arthur and her hard-rocking Legal Weapon. There was a time when her passionate vocalizing attracted major-label interest, but luckily the band survived such outside attempts to water down their iconic sound into something more safely commercial. Though Legal Weapon are best remembered by punk historians for churning out such rabidly engaging early tunes as “Equalizer” and “Daddy's Gone Mad,” they have a ton of equally driving recent songs that have somehow escaped critical attention. They're aptly billed with Bruce “Ravens” Moreland, a crucial member of the early Wall of Voodoo lineup, who later collaborated with Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano. His recent solo songs have a darkly glittery allure, as he draws from his seedy junkie past and reinvents himself as a morbidly wise post-punk sage. —Falling James
CAB at the Baked Potato; THE LEMONHEADS at El Rey Theatre; JASON ALDEAN at Gibson Amphitheatre.