Monday, April 8
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down
Usually, when songwriters are as wickedly intelligent as Thao Nguyen, they tend to write morbidly gloomy and/or overly serious anthems of great meaning and purpose. That's not to say the Virginia native doesn't have her grand and heavy mood swings -- sometimes every few seconds in the same track -- but she and her San Francisco band usually construct sunny, ebullient indie-pop songs that are cleverly constructed and merrily arranged instead of merely insipid and escapist. On their new album, We the Common, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down start off with simple, rustic folk structures that suddenly burst into funky, horn-laden electropop interludes with strange chord changes and intimately arranged harmonies. Nguyen might claim that she has "Clouds for Brains," but those are some pretty smart cumulus she's accumulating. --Falling James
Rihanna w/ A$AP Rocky, Illy Da King, Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa
The Barbadian pop rebel joins forces with musical cohorts Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Illy Da King and A$AP Rocky for the Los Angeles stop of her Diamonds World Tour. Although recently panned by some critics and fans for a very public reunion with former abuser Chris Brown, she remains unapologetic. In a January interview with Rolling Stone, the free-spirited star explained: "We value each other. We know exactly what we have now, and we don't want to lose that. He doesn't have the luxury of f--ing up again." Her 2012 release, literally called Unapologetic, yielded the Billboard Hot 100 hits "Diamonds," "Stay" and "Pour It Up." --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Tuesday, March 9
Chick Corea/Stanley Clarke/Ronald Bruner, Jr.
Pianist and composer Chick Corea's 59 Grammy nominations are the third most of any artist in the history of the awards - his 20 wins tie him with guitarist Pat Metheny for the most by a jazz musician. Bassist Stanley Clarke has been with Corea off and on since Corea's first award for 1976's "No Mystery" from fusion supergroup Return To Forever. Clarke's own band won a 2011 Grammy for their album including young drumming lion Ronald Bruner, Jr., who joins the two veterans tonight for the beginning of a six-night run at Hollywood's Catalina Jazz Club. In addition to a lengthy jazz resume, Bruner's recent credits include Stevie Wonder and Prince. --Tom Meek
Wednesday, April 10
Austin's Megafauna make feral prog-punk with (of course) mega-intensity, the kind of thing that switches from heartbreak to mindmelt in the time it takes to touch toe to guitar pedal. Case in point: minute 2:44 on 2012 track "Love Project," where guitarist and singer Dani Neff steps back and lets her song crack wide open. "Keeping the peace made me weak on my feet," she sings, and maybe that's why this band loves to shred the human head whenever possible -- because these are definitely the kind of go-crazy riffs that must count as serious exercise. Prepare for ferociously dexterous rock & roll as white-hot ball of light -- as presented in the first half of the track "This Town" -- and wear something you don't mind having burst into flames. --Chris Ziegler
Thursday, April 11
Beatles Complete on Ukulele presents the 50 Greatest Hits, a Benefit for J/P HRO
An institution-in-the-making in New York City and at Austin's SXSW festival, Beatles Complete on Ukulele suggests that not only have the Fab Four's best-known songs withstood the tests of time and bastardization, but that all of them can still emote almost regardless of delivery. The brainchild of producer Roger McEvoy Greenawalt (Rufus Wainwright, Ben Kweller, Nellie McKay etc.), BCOU is a marathon charity concert at which all 185 original Beatles songs are performed in 24 hours by a uke-wielding Greenawalt with a rotating backing band and celebrity guests. For its L.A. debut at Los Globos, a three-hour version will tackle 50 Beatles ditties, with the likes of Circle Jerk Zander Schloss, Sound City Player Alain Johannes and Shannon Hurley taking turns at the mic. Proceeds go to J/P Haitian Relief Organization. --Paul Rogers
The London band Savages belie their name and their new album title, Silence Yourself, with thoughtful, elliptical broadsides that demand that listeners question everything they know while teaching "ourselves new ways of positive manipulations." Gemma Thompson's momentous, foreboding guitar chords hum over Ayse Hassan's intense, tunneling Joy Division bass lines as lead singer Jehnny Beth intones, "She will enter the bed/She will talk like a friend/She will kiss like a man." The savagery comes from the coldly furious way she declares, "She will forgive her pain/Get hooked on loving hard/Forcing the slut out. ... Yeah, you'll get to get used to it." It's been a long time since a post-punk group sounded this bracingly adventurous and capable of inciting such a cerebral riot. --Falling James
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