Sarah Jarosz -- See Wednesday
Sarah Jarosz -- See Wednesday
Photo courtesy of Sarah Jarosz

The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Week

Sarah Jarosz -- See Wednesday
Sarah Jarosz -- See Wednesday
Photo courtesy of Sarah Jarosz

Don't forget to check our constantly-updated Los Angeles Concert Calendar

Tuesday, January 21

Islands, Haunted Summer
"I was a question mark," Nicholas Thorburn declares with a moody croon on "Becoming the Gunship," from Islands' latest album, Ski Mask. Now relocated to Los Angeles after forming in Montreal in 2005, his band answers him with a series of low-key pop settings and hazy soundscapes. "No wave forms out here, adrift amidst an endless sea/And there's nothing to return to/You'll find me floating endlessly," Thorburn aptly confides among solemn piano chords - a blurry absence inside of a mystery. Haunted Summer, meanwhile, lives up to its name with an even more enchanting series of dream-pop shimmers, as Bridgette Eliza Moody's vocals trail off languidly in the jet stream of husband John Seasons' majestic emissions. - Falling James

Wednesday, January 22

Sarah Jarosz
Texas folksinger Sarah Jarosz has a lovely voice, but she doesn't use her beguiling pipes to paint pretty wallpaper. Instead, she digs deep and serves up starkly moving, deceptively simple love songs, which often are bound in intricate weavings of acoustic bluegrass guitars and countrified violins. "Build me up from bones/Wrap me up in skin," Jarosz begs. "I need to show you how/I can love you better than before," she adds, as a mournful fiddle swoops low and picks her up perfectly at the dip in her voice. Jarosz also has a gift for occasionally reinterpreting Bob Dylan songs, but she has so much to say on her own. - Falling James

Pure Bathing Culture
Layers of dreamily echoed pop compose the work of the group known as Pure Bathing Culture. Singer Sarah Versprille - whose emotional vocals resonate in ears and hearts - also plays keyboards in the Portland, Ore. - based duo, which includes guitarist Daniel Hindman. Their latest release, Moon Tides, was recorded in the small town of Cottage Grove on Interstate 5, about 120 miles south of Portland. The album captures that woodsy, small town and the fairly isolated feel of that place, playing like the soundtrack to a long hike down a rural road after a rainstorm. For their live gigs, Pure Bathing Culture usually bring along a bass player and a drum machine to fill out the sound; tonight, they may even do their shimmery cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams." - Tony DuShane
Thursday, January 23

Jimmy Gnecco
If there's ever a Jimmy Gnecco biopic - and his 40 years to date would already make for compelling viewing - he'll surely be portrayed on the streets of his native New Jersey as "Jimmy the Voice," so remarkable is the emotionally elastic sound emanating from his incongruously slight frame. Having fronted perennial big-name opening act Ours for 20 years, Gnecco released his stripped-down solo debut, The Heart, in 2010. That album was followed a year later by a full-band version of the similarly titled The Heart: X Edition. Whatever the instrumental accompaniment, delicately acoustic or bombastically electric, it's the man's Jeff Buckley - esque, compellingly textured murmurs and falsetto-flecked, visceral howl that lend even the most ambiguous of lyrics a lived-in sense of import, which continues to command cult-level reverence. - Paul Rogers

A Song Is Born
While it's almost one's duty to view the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences as the Scientology of pop music - a pompous, destructive, self-serving oligarchy of soulless, money-worshipping squares whose ceaseless effort to elevate the mediocre and flummox the worthwhile rates as a cultural holocaust - this Grammy adjunct event almost redeems the sinister corporate cabal. Featuring such critical American musical architects as Stax soul sideman Steve Cropper, country provocateur Kris Kristofferson, and bubblegum swami Paul Williams, it's framed as an exploration of the history and evolution of songwriting, but it's sure to offer far more. Expect plenty of spontaneous combustion, anecdotal revelation and insider perspective, along with bales of first-rate modern minstrelsy, major-league drop-in guest talent and that greatest of thrills, some wholly unanticipatable, and meaningful, musical action. - Jonny Whiteside

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