The New York singer-songwriter really is so unusual, to paraphrase the name of her 1983 debut album. She is at a time in her life when she could simply coast by, endlessly trotting out early hits like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Time After Time” and “She Bop.” While Lauper continues to perform those charmingly effervescent pop tunes in concert, she reinvented herself as an earthy blues mama on last year's Memphis Blues, where she was joined by such luminaries as Ann Peebles and B.B. King. For those lingering few who are under the misguided impression that Lauper is merely a fluffy pop singer, she puts a persuasively soulful spin on bluesy covers like “Rollin' & Tumblin' ” and “Just Your Fool.” —Falling James
Though he's not a household name, John Acquaviva is one of the most influential figures in dance music. In 1989, he and pal Richie Hawtin founded the seminal techno label Plus 8. Later, he became an early adopter of computer-based DJ technology. He's also one of the people behind Beatport, the download site where DJs and hard-core electronic music fans go to get the latest tunes. Behind the decks, Acquaviva tends to favor a clean, occasionally minimal sound. He won't overwhelm the crowd with distorted bass lines. He will, however, gently work them into a frenzy of arms waving in the air with a set driven by clicks and claps. —Liz Ohanesian
L.A.'s Rob Barber and Mary Pearson make up this deceptively glitchy alterna-disco duo whose ambiguous, wispy female vocals, driving beats and tasteful electronic sounds are just so “contemporary.” Yes, that makes them sound nice, if a little boring, but check their new Original Colors. It's an almost peculiarly expansive work combined with some of the best melodies in modern rock. To add more dimensions to the experience, Barber and Pearson create video projections for their stage shows, so please grok it now while the feeling is fresh. This is part of the Smell's Post Present Medium 10th-anniversary celebration, also featuring Abe Vigoda and David Scott Stone. —John Payne
MIKE DOUGHTY at El Rey Theatre; NIPSEY HUSSLE at House of Blues; BOZZIO/MACHACEK/JOHNSON TRIO at the Baked Potato; VINNY GOLIA QUINTET at LACMA; GREG DULLI, MARK LANEGAN at the Echoplex; CONLON CONDUCTS PROKOFIEV & DVORÁK at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Curren$y, Method Man, Big K.R.I.T.
Call it the “Up in Smoke” tour for the new-school toker. Inspired by Dr. Dre and Snoop's legendary '90s jaunt, and sparked by a 2010 SXSW gig and a subsequent minitour last fall, this bud-friendly ball returns for a 35-city cruise, featuring some of hip-hop's most prominent blazers-cum–rhyme masters. True, being a rapper and proclaiming your love for weed is as overplayed as a Full House rerun, but Southern spitters Big K.R.I.T and Curren$y nonetheless lead a new crop of blunt-blowin' MCs clinging to the ganja shtick. If anything, they likely learned their craft from fellow tour member Method Man, who steps away from his perpetual bromance with Redman to mentor some munchie-prone new talent. —Dan Hyman
HOUSE OF BLUES
For the past five years Gallows has been Britain's greatest hardcore punk band, summoning vitriol seldom seen since the genre's turn-of-the-'80s first generation. But then the very focus of the band's uniquely ragged rage, impish ink-stained vocalist Frank Carter, departed the ranks this summer. Gallows wasted no time in naming as his replacement former Alexisonfire screecher Wade MacNeil. Oddly, the arrival of the burly Canadian has made this English band sound more American: still furious but with a denser metalcore maelstrom of guitars and MacNeil leaning forward on his phrasing like a true foot-on-the-monitors frontman. Early indications are Gallows is still a world-class outfit but maybe no longer in a class of one. —Paul Rogers
Backbiter, Motorcycle Black Madonnas, Biblical Proof of UFOs, Saccharine Trust, The Dagons
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
Has it already been 20 years since local hard-rock trio Backbiter played their first show at the long-gone Los Feliz club the Shamrock? Apparently so, and tonight the punk-infused guitar hero Jonathan Hall, fluidly rumbling bassist Heath Seifert and heavy-hitting drummer Bob Lee celebrate in high style with several of their best and most legendary pals. When he's not ravaging the frets with Backbiter, Hall also backs his singer-wife, Marea Hall, in Motorcycle Black Madonnas, who have more of a fuzz-pop melodicism in contrast to Backbiter's search-and-destroy attack. The latest incarnation of Biblical Proof of UFOs lowers the boom with a classic-rock sound that's recently expanded beyond the group's aggressive post-punk instrumental roots into a spacey Pink Floyd sprawl. South Bay jazz-punk vets Saccharine Trust chop up jaggedly funky riffs, leaving just enough space for Jack Brewer to rant his serpentine Beat poetry. The Dagons, meanwhile, let you know that fall is really here, with their witchy goth-punk chansons. —Falling James
Adam Rogers Trio
New York native Adam Rogers studied classical guitar in college, effectively debunking the myth that classical musicians can't cross over to jazz, although those early lessons with John Scofield probably helped. Rogers is one of the good ones, having played with the best jazz musicians in the world, from Michael Brecker and Brian Blade to Chris Potter and John Zorn, crossing over the other way to work with pop stars Norah Jones, Paul Simon and Elvis Costello. Rogers brings with him to the Potato drummer Ben Perowsky, whose work with Scofield, Uri Caine and Dave Douglas cannot be overhyped, and L.A.'s newest bass sensation, Tim Lefebvre, who's done everything — his work with Wayne Krantz alone is remarkable. Despite all the shameless name-dropping, go anyway — they're good! —Gary Fukushima
Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble
Los Angeles–born composer and pianist Billy Childs was a traditionally trained jazz pianist but had an eye to expanding his repertoire to include elements of classical music. A decade ago, Childs founded a jazz chamber ensemble, including a harp, sometimes adding a string or woodwind quartet. Childs' composing prowess and willingness to push boundaries have so far garnered him 10 Grammy nominations with three awards, including a 2006 Grammy for his jazz chamber composition “Into the Light.” His two shows Saturday feature guitarist Larry Koonse, harpist Carol Robbins, bassist Hamilton Price, saxophonist Katisse Buckingham and former Tonight Show drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith. —Tom Meek
EARL SCRUGGS at Royce Hall; YOU ME AT SIX at House of Blues; KATE VOEGELE, PARACHUTE at El Rey Theatre; FRUIT BATS at Troubadour; DUNES, JON WIESE at the Smell.
When they played at Spaceland last year, British duo Slow Club pulled out all the stops to make the audience feel at home. Much of the time, singer-guitarist Charles Watson and singer-percussionist Rebecca Taylor eschewed microphones, standing at the lip of the stage or in the middle of the dance floor to give their cleverly romantic pop songs more of an intimate feel. Switching from typical drumsticks to bundles of long, tightly wrapped sticks to hammer down her exacting beats, Taylor was especially beguiling, fulfilling the titular prophecy of “Sorry About the Doom” when she apologized in advance because it was “a sad song.” On Slow Club's new album, Paradise, such sad songs, including the achingly wistful “Never Look Back,” are incredibly moving, but Watson and Taylor occasionally break the spell with grand pop-rock ebullience on “Where I'm Waking” and “Two Cousins.” Also Tues. at the Troubadour. —Falling James
House of Blues
At first glance, 19-year-old Mac Miller looks more like the kid who used to crack wise at the local skate park than hip-hop's newest phenom. But thanks to his familiar, comforting charm — not to mention an improving flow — countless teens and hip-hop purists alike now are riding for this Pittsburgh MC. Through social networking, extensive touring and a steady stream of mixtapes, Miller, signed to Rostrum Records (home of Wiz Khalifa), has slowly generated impressive numbers: His current tour has sold out nearly every date and his most recent EP, On and On and Beyond, topped the iTunes hip-hop charts this past March. Next month, Miller drops his debut LP, Blue Slide Park, for which pre-order numbers are already massive. Hardly what you'd expect from that one neighborhood smart-ass. —Dan Hyman
NO AGE at the Smell; LANG LANG at Walt Disney Concert Hall; BILL CUNLIFFE QUARTET at Vibrato; DON PRESTON at Alvas Showroom.
EL REY THEATRE
This Toronto-based electro-pop lass in 2009 released a major-label disc that seemed aimed at the lovesick kids who'd propelled Owl City to platinum sales earlier that year. Now, though, Lights is back with a new studio album, Siberia, on the hip Canadian indie Last Gang. She even recruited the self-consciously edgy dance-punk duo Holy Fuck to co-produce, and rocks a Skrillex-style side part on the record's cover. Yet Lights hasn't abandoned her wimp-attuned instincts entirely: In the best of her new songs, she's still giving voice to the romantic yearning burning inside North America's bookworms. The beats may be rougher, but she remains a softie at heart. —Mikael Wood
Hollywood homeboy Jesse Hughes fronts garage-art champs the Eagles of Death Metal, where Hughes makes ludicrous references to all things funk and dumbo rock & roll. A primo hook man, Hughes gives his glam dance-rock solo debut, Honkey Kong, a hectic stomp and a 1950s rock & roll melodicism: ELO and T. Rex hump Funkadelic, Ultravox and the Big Bopper. “Boots Electric Theme” and “Love You All the Thyme” have a new-wave synth sleaze, guitars, big, fat bump bells, steam organs, violin solos and warped special FX — and Jesse's lyrical purview? Why, that'd be baby-take-me-back, sexy trannies and running with the devil. —John Payne
LYKKE LI at Fox Theater (Pomona); V.V. BROWN at Bardot; JACQUES LESURE JAM SESSION at Nola's; GRAM PARSONS TRIBUTE at Joe's Great American.
With 2005 opus Vheissu, Thrice became the post-hardcore U2: still somewhat screamy, yet forest-of-fists anthemic and a li'l bit Bible-thumpy to boot. But this P.C. O.C. quartet's subsequent, often experimental releases have bravely punched them out of that bag and bought them the luxury of just being a rock band again. Thrice's recent eighth album, Major/Minor, is a celebration of the sheer latitude of the previous seven, at once referencing the urgency and odd time signatures of their early output; a Vheissu-esque sense of scale; and a palette broadened by more recent acoustic and electronic adventures. But ultimately Major/Minor, and Thrice's 13-year career to date, succeed on single-minded musicality and the supple sincerity of Dustin Kensrue's soul-searching croon. —Paul Rogers
Sufjan Stevens and Raymond Raposa
Indie-rock troubadour Sufjan Stevens and Castanets' Raymond Raposa joined forces to write the score for the compelling documentary film Beyond This Place and will perform it live when the film has its L.A. premiere at the historic Vista Theatre. Stevens is a childhood friend of filmmaker Kaleo La Belle, whose moving documentary chronicles his attempts to connect with the free-loving, stoner father who abandoned him as a child. The music accompanies the duo on their epic bike ride across the scenic Pacific Northwest. Following on the heels of Stevens' ambitious tour supporting his acclaimed recent album, The Age of Adz, this performance will offer fans the rare chance to catch the singer in an intimate setting and hear the folksy, banjo-picking tunes unfettered. —Laura Ferreiro
FIRST AID KIT at Troubadour; MATES OF STATE at El Rey Theatre; GORDON LIGHTFOOT at Royce Hall; GALLOWS at Glass House (Pomona); THE JEZABELS at the Echo; PETER WOLF CRIER at Bootleg Theater; THOM ROTELLA at Vitello's.
One of R&B's most consistently underappreciated talents, Hamilton attracted a bit of overdue shine this summer when he opened a month of big-room shows for Jill Scott. With any luck, that attention will persist through Hamilton's headlining tour and the release next month of a new studio disc, Back to Love. The lead single, “Woo,” should help: It's a plush, Babyface-helmed jam that shows off the appealing grain in Hamilton's voice. According to his rep, the album also will include collaborations with Salaam Remi and “So in Love” producer Kelvin Wooten. Hook him up, dudes. —Mikael Wood
THE MUSIC BOX
French electronic composer Anthony Gonzalez — M83's sole permanent member — has long experimented with both meticulous sound sculpting and rock arena–worthy orchestrations, and continues to outdo himself with each new record. After the all-consuming beauty of 2008's Saturdays = Youth, Gonzalez, now an L.A. resident, follows with Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, his astounding new double LP, a 74-minute exploration of the possibilities of synth-pop. We hear washes of retro synths, saxophone solos and melancholic vocals on the album released a couple weeks ago. “Very, very, very epic” is how Gonzalez described Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, and as soon as the first track begins, you understand why. —Lainna Fader
MICHAEL SCHENKER, ULI JON ROTH at El Rey Theatre; THE BANGLES at House of Blues; YUKARI WATANABE GROUP at Blue Whale.
Tav Falco's Panther Burns
The underground-music icon Tav Falco is like a walking encyclopedia of American roots music, so it's no surprise that he recently co-authored (with journalist Erik Morse) a 450-page “psychogeography” about his adopted hometown of Memphis, called Mondo Memphis, redefining Bluff City as a near-mythic intersection of “urban legends and rural fables.” Earlier this evening (at 7:30 p.m.), he and Morse will discuss their wide-ranging tome at Stories Books & Café, ahead of Falco putting his revisionist historical theories into practice with a live concert. Over the years, Panther Burns (which Falco started with the late Alex Chilton in 1979) set the stage for better-known bands like the Cramps and brought attention to musical pioneers like R.L. Burnside and Charlie Feathers. Now based in Europe, Falco makes a fairly rare local visit. —Falling James
CROWNE PLAZA LAX
Bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin is a SoCal institution, having begun his professional career as a teen in the band of vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Over the past several decades Franklin has worked with jazz legends Count Basie, Milt Jackson and Sonny Rollins. His credits include gold records with Stevie Wonder's The Secret Life of Plants, but his own music invariably comes back to the bebop he grew up with. Franklin doesn't come into town as often these days from his base in Riverside, so tonight is a chance to sample all that his experience has to offer, with his crew of pianist Theo Saunders, trumpeter Nolan Shaheed, saxophonist Chuck Manning and drummer Ramon Banda. With no cover, validated parking and a low $15 minimum, it'd be hard to go wrong here. —Tom Meek
RA RA RIOT at El Rey Theatre; YELLE at the Wiltern; BRANDT BRAUER FRICK at Satellite; ALEJANDRA GUZMAN at Gibson Amphitheatre; BLESSTHEFALL at the Roxy; BLAZE BAYLEY at the Key Club.