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Friday, February 7
Crystal Antlers, De Lux
Crystal Antlers' newest album is called Nothing Is Real, and that's a zen kind of title from a band that's spent an entire career keeping it real - through the collapse of their first big indie label to the recent Tour That Ate Three Vans and across an ever-evolving discography, which spans everything from frothing-at-the-mouth psych rock to blown-out-but-beautiful noise pop and even a dub remix courtesy of the legendary Scientist. Nothing Is Real (on Innovative Leisure) finds Crystal Antlers redefining themselves yet again, with songs that find new life in the LOUDquietLOUD sound that the '90s about strangled to death. Your heart will swell; your ears will quiver. They're playing with fast-rising new labelmates De Lux, who match raw post-punk to '70s avant-disco like a rebooted LCD Soundsystem. - Chris Ziegler
Shearwater was formed in 1999 by longtime ringleader Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff. (The two musicians also played in Okkervil River together, with Sheff ultimately leaving Shearwater.) In the decade-plus since, the band's dynamic, dramatic folk rock has traveled quite a path: nine full-length albums, a handful of ex-members and a legacy of emotional, captivating live shows centered on Meiburg's sometimes lilting, sometimes shouting yowl. Shearwater's latest album, November's Fellow Travelers, is a strange and personal project, which emphasizes the "fellow" part of the title's Trotsky reference. Across 10 songs, Shearwater covers peers they've toured with (St. Vincent, Coldplay, Xiu Xiu, etc.) with the help of yet more bands they've toured with. (These musicians were invited to play on the record, but not on their own songs.) The result is an intriguing, if not always successful, look at their relationships on and beyond the road. - Kelsey Whipple
McCABE'S GUITAR SHOP
As the decades wind on, it becomes increasingly obvious that Big Star's influence on music is growing rather than waning. Of course, few people cared when the Memphis power-pop band existed in its original incarnation from 1971 to 1974, but former Box Tops singer Alex Chilton, Chris Bell and crew nonetheless cast the template for a certain kind of cynically intelligent yet supremely melodic rock & roll, which directly inspired The Replacements, Cheap Trick, The Bangles, R.E.M. and hundreds of other pop-rock acolytes, as well as members of The Posies, who took part in a revamped version of Big Star from 1993 to 2010. Last year's documentary film Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me further cemented the band's legacy, and tonight Jody Stephens - the group's drummer and only living original member - celebrates those ringing, chiming tunes one more time. - Falling James
Saturday, February 8
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, True Blues
ROYCE HALL, UCLA
The crossroads between blues and African traditional music has long been a fertile ground for sonic exploration. Even as the blues evolved separately from its African roots, it continued to echo and reflect the spirit of its prime inspiration, regardless of the instrumentation used to deliver those sounds. Mali musician Bassekou Kouyate plays ngoni, an African acoustic stringed instrument that's a precursor to the banjo. With his band Ngoni Ba, Kouyate weaves intricately plucked skeins of mesmerizing melodies, making his ngoni sound alternately like a guitar, banjo, Japanese lute and even a harpsichord. Emphasizing the connection between Africa and the blues, Corey Harris opens with his all-star group, True Blues, which also features Alvin Youngblood Hart and Guy Davis. - Falling James
The Warlocks, Raw Geronimo
The Warlocks celebrate the domestic release of their latest album, Skull Worship, presiding over a bill stacked with such trippy performers as Tashaki Miyaki, Von Haze, Cat Museum, Raw Geronimo and Drinking Flowers, along with projections by Miss Molly Rogers. The shambling, rambling local psychedelic band has had numerous personnel changes since starting out in 1998, and only guitarist Bobby Hecksher remains from the original lineup. With so much upheaval, the group has been frustratingly inconsistent over the years, but new songs like "Dead Generation" are more tightly focused than usual, evoking The Velvet Underground as seen through a Spiritualized haze. Don't miss Raw Geronimo, who will likely steal the show with lead chanteuse Laena Geronimo cooing artily melodic tunes like "Faustine" and the sumptuous ballad "Magnetic Love." - Falling James
Terra Naomi is a straightforward enough singer-songwriter, belting out simply tuneful songs in a clear, endearing voice. She first came to attention in 2006 with the acoustic-ballad YouTube sensation "Say It's Possible," which initially sounded like a love song but actually was inspired by the film An Inconvenient Truth and even led to an invitation to perform the track for former Vice President Al Gore. Although her piano- and guitar-based songs are fairly mainstream, Naomi reveals a slyly witty side on "The Vicodin Song," where she lures an object d'amour by crooning, "I've got Vicodin/Do you want to come over? ... I've got a pocketful of pills, and I want a lover." - Falling James
Sunday, February 9
If you ever watched Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny and enviously wondered what it would be like to get the D right up in your face in the kind of small-club setting they used to play before they defeated Satan (long story, see the movie), then here's something that's almost just like it! (No Satan, but that's usually a plus?) That's right: Jack Black and Kyle Gass will perform an acoustic set as a benefit for Temple Israel of Hollywood on the cozy little stage at the Echo. Most likely, they won't be able to deploy the giant inflatable (and unapologetically phallic) stage set that dominated their recent Rise of the Fenix tour, but if ever two guys could cram something like that into a place like this, it'd be these guys and this place and for this good cause, too. - Chris Ziegler
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