Memoryhouse, Sister Crayon
If Memoryhouse's music inspires words like cinematic and visual, that's probably not an accident. The Ontario, Canada–based duo combines a photographer, singer Denise Nouvion, and a classical composer, producer Evan Abeele, who start their songwriting process by gathering images for inspiration. The result is the kind of wistful, hazy, warm dream pop found on their recent LP, The Slideshow Effect. But the real treat is opener Sister Crayon, a Sacramento trio whose lushly melancholic, beat-buttressed noir-pop plays like a perfect storm of Warpaint and Portishead. When Terra Lopez started the project, it was just her ghostly pipes, a classical guitar and a looping pedal, but her electronic influences have come to the fore with the addition of keyboardist Jeffrey LaTour and programmer Dani Fernandez. Live, all that icy songcraft becomes an enveloping blanket. —Chris Martins
Michael Gira, Sir Richard Bishop
The great failure of reality television is that no one is following Michael Gira and Sir Richard Bishop around with a camera, a really good mic and a bunch of guitar picks — between the two of them, we'd already have learned the ins and outs of occult book–trading, stood ankle-deep in blood at an Aktionist performance, scouted unknown virtuoso street musicians across South Asia and unsuccessfully (so far) auctioned off a chance to sever Gira's pinkie. And of course we'd have seen and heard how far and in how many different directions each man can go with not much more than a guitar — the destination could be desolation, dissolution or maybe another dimension. They're two secret greats doing great secret things. —Chris Ziegler
Guitarist Chuck Loeb has been floating effortlessly between the worlds of jazz, fusion and smooth jazz for the last three decades. His considerable skills were affirmed most recently in 2010, when he was named the replacement for Larry Carlton in the hugely successful Fourplay, giving Loeb a more consistent chance to tour worldwide before larger audiences. Loeb opens a three-night weekend stint this evening, joined by his longtime bandmate in the group Metro, Mitchel Forman, one of L.A.'s most versatile and talented pianists. Also on tap are Chick Corea, Elektric Band saxophonist Eric Marienthal and drummer Lionel Cordew, who has the distinction of being a righty who plays the drums left-handed. Expect plenty of fireworks from this quartet all three nights. —Tom Meek
HOUSE OF BLUES
Throughout their 15-year career, Umphrey's McGee seemingly have fought with the perception of themselves as a jam band. With good reason: Few genres pigeonhole an artist quite so definitively. Yes, in concert the Chicago-based six-piece regularly unleash monumental, lengthy solos, and even dedicate an entire section to pure improvisation on a nightly basis. But they've also made a palpable effort to genre-dabble. Their tunes regularly touch on everything from prog to funk, and they've been known to cover everything from Snoop to Paul Simon. Last year's Death by Stereo furthers this mission of diversification. Perhaps most tellingly, the songs themselves — not the breakdowns — take center stage. But jam-band purists, worry not: Dudes still put on one helluva live show. —Dan Hyman
SAGE FRANCIS at Troubadour; GUSTER at Largo; MINGUS DYNASTY at Royce Hall; EL TRIO at the Baked Potato; KNEEBODY at Blue Whale.
British producer Jon Gooch has long been known in the drum 'n' bass scene under his alias Spor, but it's his work under the alias Feed Me that's bound to hit big in 2012. Feed Me started creating a stir several years ago with a beautifully chopped-up remix of Muse's hit “Knights of Cyndonia.” Now, with multiple releases out on Deadmau5's label, mau5trap, he has the support of one of the biggest names on the North American party circuit behind him. His latest EP, Escape From Electric Mountain, is as club-friendly as it is introspective. “One Click Headshot” is the kind of banger that will get Skrillex fans jumpin', filled with electronic squeaks and quirky samples. “Relocation” has a gorgeous, synth-filled melody that could pass for a Depeche Mode instrumental. Feed Me's current tour might mark the moment when this producer becomes the next EDM artist to cross over into the semi-mainstream. Check him out now. —Liz Ohanesian
Hugh Cornwell, Glen Matlock
Hugh Cornwell was always the main voice of the Stranglers, even if the late-'70s punk-pub-prog outfit's other members carried on with the name long after he flew the coop in 1990. His cheerfully misanthropic (and, some would also say, misogynistic) worldview in leering songs like “Bring on the Nubiles” and the voyeuristic beach fantasy “Peaches” gave him a reputation as a bit of a punk Charles Bukowski, but the London native also had a contrastingly gentle and romantic side on such gorgeously melodic European hits as “Golden Brown” and “Always the Sun.” He continues to release dark and curious songs on recent albums like Hooverdam, and he was produced by alt-rock demigod Steve Albini on upcoming full-length Totem & Taboo. Tonight Cornwell's backed by Blondie drummer Clem Burke, who also will play in Glen Matlock's band. Matlock supposedly was kicked out of the Sex Pistols because he liked the Monkees (the horror!), but he stayed long enough to write the anthemic music to “Anarchy in the U.K.” Since then, he has fronted power-pop refugees the Rich Kids and was a key member of Iggy Pop's early-'80s crew. —Falling James
The Head Cat
The thought of big, bad Lemmy Kilmister crooning acoustic Buddy Holly pop songs evokes other unexpected images, like Godzilla getting a job in a china shop or Frankenstein having a tea party with stuffed animals. Most of Lemmy's fans are used to seeing him blow down the walls with his fearsome, longtime hard-rock trio Motorhead, but the English singer-bassist's gloriously ravaged pipes also work surprisingly well amid the stripped-down intimacy of his rockabilly side project, the Head Cat. There's a kind of raw Teddy Boy soul when he yowls his way through Holly's “Not Fade Away” and Carl Perkins' “Matchbox” with that distinctively husky voice. Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom and ace guitarist Danny B. Harvey keep things rocking, replacing Motorhead's hurricane force and volume with a low-key roots-rock savvy. —Falling James
JOVANOTTI at El Rey Theatre; JANIVA MAGNESS at McCabe's; JOHNNY MANDEL BIG BAND at Vitello's; HOWARD ALDEN at Alvas Showroom.
EL REY THEATRE
Pretty much everything you need to know about this Norwegian disco revivalist's dedication to old-school tunecraft is contained in the fact that dude got Todd Rundgren to remix a cut from his just-released album, Six Cups of Rebel. (Who knew Rundgren was even taking submissions for remix work!?) On Six Cups, his solo follow-up to 2010's excellent Real Life Is No Cool collab with singer Christabelle, Lindstrøm stretches out his Laffy Taffy electro-pop grooves to newly ecstatic extremes without sacrificing the supersticky hooks that distinguish him from so many of his peers. Expect that he'll stretch them even further tonight, and that he'll throw in some material he has created since finishing Six Cups. —Mikael Wood
If you're going to name yourself Carlos Guitarlos, you'd better make sure you're a damned good guitarist. So good, in fact, that you can play anywhere, out on the streets or in a fancy concert hall, with the uncanny ability to pull from memory just about any blues-rock classic and, on top of that, play it in a style that's uniquely your own. And then, somehow, you should also be so good that you can write and sing dozens of your own originals, in all manner of genres, from bewitchingly sad ballads and deft Beatles-like pop structures to ragingly dirty blues and Latin soul. You'd better be so good that you can become a waste case midway through your long career and piss off all of your remaining friends and end up living on the street, and — when you finally stagger back to your feet like a punch-drunk boxer — still play like a mother and earn the plaudits of a new generation of loyal fans. —Falling James
DIA FRAMPTON at Troubadour; SIR RICHARD BISHOP at Museum of Jurassic Technology; WEILERSTEIN PLAYS TCHAIKOVSKY at Disney Concert Hall.
THE HOTEL CAFÉ
Charlene Soraia coos mellow pop songs with gentle acoustic backing and occasional orchestral washes of strings, but there's nothing wimpy about the music on the 23-year-old English singer's debut, Moonchild. Whether she's tripping about in ethereal spaces with gauzy spells like “Lightyears” and the quietly urgent “Postcards From Io” or falling back to Earth with pastoral reveries like “Daffodils,” Soraia layers her chansons with soulfully sumptuous harmonies. A former classmate of Kate Nash and Adele, she even shows her “bad” side on the slyly charming confessional “Almost Stole a Book.” Even more impressive is Soraia's masterful dexterity on guitar; she underscores her dreamy tunes with subtly pulsing chords and jazzy inflections. —Falling James
Useless Keys' stoned, zoned and sometimes droning indie psychedelia is deceptively purposeful. The beats are basic yet make significant shifts of venom and velocity; the artfully strangulated guitars tune in, drop out and knowingly lurk to maximum effect; and Michael Bauer's vocals are airily vacant as if, as much as anything, to add weight to their sonic surroundings. Set stalwarts “White Noise” and “Down Threw” make pretty bitchin' bong songs, but these well-liked locals also offer a gentle poetry and cultured grasp of arrangement that distance them from so many acts exploring ostensibly similar sensibilities. —Paul Rogers
TEMPER TRAP, PAPA at El Rey Theatre; LONEY DEAR at Bootleg Theater; VOXHAUL BROADCAST at the Satellite; ED SCHRADER'S MUSIC BEAT at Pehrspace; BLACK TUSK at Whisky A Go Go.
These New York stalwarts have done the near impossible, scoring a massive summer anthem with 1996's “Popular,” from their major-label debut High/Low, and subsequently winning a dedicated cult following with a string of rock-solid indie releases. Hence, the earnest alt-rockers live out their latter days as both one-hit wonders and critical darlings. Their just-out seventh LP, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, is nearly perfect, with its careening guitars, soothing jangle, downturned melodies and warming backups. Though Matthew Caws is now 44, his lyrics about “trying to figure it all out” are as poignant and hope-soaked as ever, while his longtime compatriots, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot, complement every emotion, making a real case for the oft-forgotten might of the power trio. Twenty years into their career, Nada Surf are that rarest of bands that only seem to get better with age. —Chris Martins
OF MONTREAL, DEERHOOF at the Wiltern; HUNX & HIS PUNX, NOBUNNY at the Echoplex [See Music feature]; MILAGRES, HANDS, 1,2,3 at Bootleg Bar; SHARON VAN ETTEN at Avalon; BRENNA WHITAKER at Vibrato; JESSICA VAUTOR at Blue Whale; KIRK FLETCHER at the Baked Potato; NEEDTOBREATHE at Club Nokia; BAHAMAS at the Satellite.
One day they'll probably just call 'em “Grail,” the same way nobody bothers saying “Judas” or “Iron” when they talk about the baddest beasts of the new wave of British heavy metal — all that energy wasted on extra words could be used to wail, right? That's just simple thermodynamics, although if you listen carefully to the shred tornado that starts “My Last Attack,” you may wonder if some universal law of guitar velocity is being violated. Last album Crisis of Utopia is hooky, heavy and absolutely dedicated to the genre: “Run your sword/through the enemy!” howls singer Luna, and suddenly you ARE the last space barbarian left standing between chaos and order. So killer they're actually good for you. —Chris Ziegler
Not long ago, a young blues guitarist from Buenos Aires saw the Woody Allen flick Sweet and Lowdown and was inspired by the guitar work of the character Emmet Ray. Within a few years of that fateful viewing, Gonzalo Bergara was headlining Gypsy jazz festivals, drawing worthy comparisons to Stochelo Rosenberg, Biréli Lagrène and, of course, Django Reinhardt. Now a worldwide guitar sensation, Bergara keeps his chops sharp by playing gigs in his current hometown of L.A. With all due respect to Sean Penn, were Allen to recast the character of the confident and virtuosic Emmet Ray, he might have picked Gonzalo instead, for the young man certainly can play the part. With Brian Netzley (bass), Jeff Radaich (rhythm guitar) and the charmingly talented Leah Zeger (violin). —Gary Fukushima
Zakir Hussain's Masters of Percussion
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
Tabla maestro Hussain gathers many of the greatest artists from India's classical and folk traditions to explore the broad and deep reach of Indian music. Hussain himself is a player of nimble-fingered fire whose improvisational gifts have graced collaborations with a wide swath of rock, jazz and Western classical artists, including George Harrison, Yo-Yo Ma and his own Shakti band with guitarist John McLaughlin and L. Shankar. His 1992 album, Planet Drum, won a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Tonight the masters traverse the melodic (raga) and rhythmic (tala) elements, bridging divides between the traditional and contemporary, the folk and classical. The program includes the dancing drummers of Manipur, dance-drumming martial arts by Meitei Pung Cholom Performing Troupe and kathak dancer Antonia Minnecola. —John Payne
THE NAKED & FAMOUS at the Wiltern; TING TINGS, MNDR at El Rey Theatre; GRAHAM DECHTER at Lighthouse Café; JEFF COLELLA at Vibrato; THE BLACK RYDER, YOUNG PRISMS at the Echo; AUSTIN PERALTA, STRANGELOOP at Low End Theory; ROMEO SANTOS at Staples Center; TIM FINN at Largo; ORGY at Key Club; DEICIDE at House of Blues.
Quantic and Alice Russell
With her rich and breathy coo, U.K. soul singer Alice Russell would have sounded perfect fronting a psych-tinged R&B act from the '70s. Thankfully, she's found a time machine in Colombia-based producer Will Holland, aka Quantic, the highly prolific underground answer to Mark Ronson. The man himself plays a veritable arsenal of instruments (guitars, bass, keys, horns, drums), and he specializes in the funkiest strains of music from around the world: jazz, soul, salsa, bossa and various Afro-sourced beats. They have collaborated in the past, but the just-out Look Around the Corner is their first full-length together and it features Holland's cumbia-steeped Combo Bárbaro outfit. Swimming in rolling rhythms, swooning strings, acrobatic harmonies and warm atmosphere, songs like “Here Again” and “Boogaloo 33” sound beamed in from an era where AutoTune and the iPod would seem like sci-fi. —Chris Martins
New York's Cults are certainly less mysterious today than they were when they emerged in 2010 with the instant Internet semihit “Go Outside.” For one thing, we now know who's in the band, including Madeline Follin, whose brother Richie fronts (or maybe used to front?) Orange County's Willowz. But this sly little fuzz-pop outfit still feels like some kind of art-school project about the reality-gobbling nature of retro culture; Cults' self-titled 2011 debut is almost entirely devoid of any discernible personality, which I take to be precisely the point. They play here with San Diego's Mrs. Magician and Spectrals, a redheaded English dude who looks like King Krule and sounds like Best Coast. —Mikael Wood
Perfume Genius, Parenthetical Girls
It initially seems strange to refer to the arrival of Perfume Genius as “jarring,” which the Seattle-based musician's label does. But even though Mike Hadreas' songs are taut, piano-based works of impossibly fragile beauty, the impression they make is one of significant shock. Certainly his subject matter is partly responsible — 2009 single “Mr. Peterson” was a believably firsthand account of a pedophiliac teacher's eventual suicide — but while Hadreas has kin in arty dramatists like Xiu Xiu and Antony Hegarty, his shaky-voiced, confessional delivery is instantly relatable and endlessly compelling. On this year's Put Your Back N 2 It, he swoons and sways like a soul singer, but never at the expense of intimacy. His neighbors in Parenthetical Girls are similarly emotive but aim for the orchestral, led by the arresting Zac Pennington, a vamping frontman with an operatic set of pipes. —Chris Martins
LOST IN THE TREES, POOR MOON at the Echo; JOE LA BARBERA at Vitello's; RACHELLE FERRELL at Catalina; KATIA MORAES at Zanzibar; YOUNG JEEZY at House of Blues; TOTIMOSHI at the Satellite; ONSLAUGHT at the Echoplex.