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Friday, October 17
The New Pornographers, ?The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
A.C. Newman is in an ebullient mood on The New Pornographers’ sixth album, Brill Bruisers. Even when he declares a “War on the East Coast,” he’s really more interested in “blondes, brunettes, paper jets” and dreaming such surreal things as “Vancouver dressed up in the ocean” as new-wave keyboards whirl merrily around him. The title track is both an allusion to New York songwriting factory the Brill Building and an homage to those “brilliant bruisers” who love to take the wheel and go on adventures. Newman’s Canadian collective features not one but two madly charismatic backup singers who usually front their own bands — Neko Case and The Ettes’ Coco Hames — the equivalent to Patsy Cline and Dusty Springfield chiming in with Cheap Trick. New York indie-popsters The Pains of Being Pure at Heart open with their softer, Smiths-style jangle. —Falling James
Lana del Rey
HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY
Maybe Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey really does want to die. In a June interview with The Guardian, the forlorn pop star and recovered alcoholic proclaimed, “I wish I was dead already.” (She later claimed the quote was taken out of context.) Del Rey’s quick ascent following the release of her 2012 major-label debut, Born to Die, garnered multiple award nominations, as well as flack by some critics who accused her of donning a “fraudulent,” trendier stage persona in order to achieve commercial success. Her tragedy-tinged latest, Ultraviolence, has received mostly positive reviews and is her first to land a No. 1 slot on the Billboard album charts. As irony would have it, tonight’s show will take place at the cemetery where Jayne Mansfield and other entertainment icons are buried. Lana, is this goodbye? —Jacqueline Michael Whatley
She has the goods required of every aspiring Hollywood starlet: talent, charisma, youth, country girl charm, a who’s-who contact list and an unforgettable name. But this Grace Kelly is attempting to achieve her stardom as a jazz musician. The 21-year-old Korean-American (her last name was Chung before her mom remarried) has unlimited creativity, an earthy groove, a singing voice of green fire and alto saxophone chops so athletic that she can seem more like Michelle Wie than Madeleine Peyroux. Though she’s no Princess of Monaco, Kelly has enthralled and performed with music’s high society, including A-listers Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan and Questlove. All this nary 14 hours before high noon of her career. Kelly is racing to fame as if to catch a thief, waving to her colleagues from the rear window as she outpaces them.—Gary Fukushima
Saturday, October 18
THE ORPHEUM THEATRE
To many hip-hop fans, Nas’ Illmatic remains one of the high-water moments when the genre was at its creative peak. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the landmark album, Nas is performing Illmatic in its entirety. For fans curious about the making of the record, the rapper is screening a documentary about Illmatic’s genesis before he hits the stage. Giving fans a glimpse behind the scenes, the emcee shares stories from his upbringing that created the stories behind the songs. Although this tour may appear to be a victory lap, don’t expect Nas to slow down anytime soon. His last album, Life Is Good, demonstrated that, when he’s focused, the 40-year-old is still at the top of his game. Also Wednesday, Oct. 22. —Daniel Kohn
Moon Block Party
The flagship event of Moon Block, an L.A.-based organization of artists and musicians stemming from acts such as Deap Vally and Mystic Braves, this year’s Moon Block Party boasts its biggest — and most diverse, with acts coming from everywhere from Mali to Mexico — bill to date. With local psych rockers Corners, Wax Children and Cosmonauts sprinkled in the mix with Topanga Canyon crooner Morgan Delt, “cosmic sound explorers” Orchestra of Spheres (who play homemade instruments such as a biscuit-tin guitar), New Zealand fuzz-rock phenomenon Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Black Angels, Band of Skulls and many more, all leading up to headliners Black Lips, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Spoon, this fest takes about every angle of alternative rock and throws it into a blender for a sweetly satisfying musical milkshake. Astronaut gear and alien costumes are encouraged.
Sunday, October 19
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Bass Drum of Death
His last album cover was a simple photo of his face, and his new album cover is a simple photo of his back. But don’t worry — that doesn’t mean John Barrett of Bass Drum of Death is looking to pull a 180 with his music. If anything, he has doubled down on the rock part of his garage-rock sound on Rip This, a new release that’s equal parts Adolescents-style punk and gigantic, arena-ready riffs. There’s Stooges-y plink-plonk piano on a few tracks, and references musical and otherwise to Radio Birdman (“Burn’s My Eye”) and The Ramones (“Everything’s the Same”). But songs such as “Sin Is in 10” recall In Utero Nirvana … and there’s more than a little of the spirit of KISS at work here, too. Call it a party album, for the kind of parties that end when the cops knock on the door. —Chris Ziegler
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