For any show in town see our regularly-updated concert calendar.
Friday, May 3
The Rolling Stones
It's easy to make fun of The Rolling Stones -- a karaoke-addled Mick Jagger even got in on the act last season on Saturday Night Live -- but the not-always-convenient truth is that Jagger and Keith Richards continue to write great songs, including the punchy new stiff-upper-lipper "Doom & Gloom." They may not always know the difference between a generic piece of fluff like "Streets of Love" and sublimely groovy slabs of rock like the 2005 obscurity "Under the Radar" and the surreally poetic blues wallow "Back of My Hand," but at least they're still taking chances, which is more than you can say about most indie-rock bands struggling to fill their sophomore albums. As great as the Stones can still be, however, they've never been quite as eloquently lyrical after wunderkind lead guitarist Mick Taylor impetuously quit the band in 1974 in a haze of drugs and a reported huff over songwriting credits. For a certain kind of Stones fan, the news that prodigal son Taylor is finally returning to the fold is much bigger than The Beatles ever getting back together. With his distinctively florid and fluid style, Taylor eviscerated "Midnight Rambler" at the Stones' 50th-anniversary shows in Europe and back East late last year. Let's hope that Jagger and Richards let Taylor ramble on much more lavishly at the L.A. kickoff of what might be the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band's final tour. --Falling James
"Think of the moment you hear something real that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, or the lyric that makes you feel awake for the first time in a day full of hamster-wheel repetitions," Circe Link wrote a while back on her website. The local "cowboy jazz" chanteuse was mulling over the general music scene, where adventurous new groups often are drowned out by the "back-wash bliss" of tribute bands, but she could have been describing her own music. Joined by her partner in crime, guitarist Christian Nesmith, Link traipses freely through a variety of styles, from roots and country rock to power pop and jazz, without confining herself to the limitations of any particular genre. She purrs invitingly on deliriously harmony-laden, jazzy idylls like "Gettin' to Me," from the pair's upcoming new album, but she also can belt out such hard blues-rockers as "Salvation" and trip out psychedelically on the swirling, mesmerizing intro to "Tiger Swami," from her 2010 album, California Kid. --Falling James
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Helado Negro mastermind Roberto Lange just told one interviewer that Tim Maia's Existential Soul (recently reissued by Luaka Bop) is one of his favorite records. Of course it is. Although Brazil's Maia made much of his best and most forward-thinking soul music long before samplers and loops, he had the kind of heart and humanity that transcended categories like "analog" and "digital." That's Helado Negro, too. While Helado Negro's first album, Awe Owe, was firmly and gloriously reminiscent of tropicalia stalwarts like Tom Ze and Caetano Veloso, his newest, Invisible Life, uses stand-out tracks like "Junes" and "Dance Ghost" and the lovely, laid-back "Arboles" (with Devendra Banhart on guitar) to mix Latin and hip-hop and ambient soundscapes into gentle maximalist pop. Call it soul music for -- or from? -- the near future. --Chris Ziegler
Lisa Germano, Dorian Wood
Known best as a multi-instrumentalist to the stars (Eels, David Bowie, Crowded House, John Mellencamp and Giant Sand), Lisa Germano also is hailed for her series of brutally honest solo albums, which explore the farther reaches of pop music as mental/emotional catharsis. Her recent No Elephants is another intriguing set of evocatively orchestrated piano ballads whose lovely but strange charms seem to throb and glow in a resonantly oblique time and place. Germano's ostensible subject matter is our cruelty to animals, our indifference to our Earth, our technology-impaired attempts to communicate with others, ourselves and our lives. Both simple and arcane, her songs offer chillingly beautiful states of being, evoking subtle intensities of feeling with their knotty views of humanity. Also playing is Echo Park-born singer-artist Dorian Wood, an adventurous vocal stylist and intrepid musical tinkerer. --John Payne
See also: Lisa Germano's Dark Magic
Saturday, May 4
FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH
Citing jazz and soul music greats like Minnie Ripperton, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan as influences, Suffolk County native Alice Russell has been crafting a rich vocal tapestry since age 9. Her stellar range and soul-stirring delivery commanded our ears in 2005 with her Tru Thoughts debut, My Favourite Letters. Throughout the late 2000s, the British soul-singer, now in her late 30s, toured the United Kingdom extensively with labelmate and longtime collaborator Quantic and quickly became a salient part of the underground U.K. music scene. Internationally renowned for her penetrating live performances, Russell released her fifth studio effort, To Dust, in February. Tonight's performance features the respected Plug Research multi-instrumentalist and producer Shafiq Husayn and his Dove Society. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Brad Mehldau Trio, The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman
Brad Mehldau has simply redefined jazz pianism for the ages. The Bad Plus' Ethan Iverson is an exceptional pianist whose music and must-read blog, Do the Math, makes him an au courant jazz authority. They both have world-famous piano trios! They play songs that people younger than 90 know the words to! Mehldau's treatments of Radiohead and Nick Drake are austere and profound, while The Bad Plus' versions of Queen, Blondie and Nirvana are crazy and ironic. Both treatments kick ass and have earned their arrangers legions of fans from outside the jazz-nerd network. Covers aside, their masterful innovations were crucial to the rejuvenation of the piano trio, ensuring its continued contribution to the ongoing development of modern jazz. Oh, and Joshua Redman is one of the best saxophonists alive. --Gary Fukushima
Sunday, May 5
Los Lobos' Cinco de Mayo Festival
THE GREEK THEATRE
You're not likely to find a better place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than Los Lobos' annual mini-festival at the Greek. The diverse, jam-packed bill ranges from early-'70s soul-rock legends El Chicano and Thee Midniters' Willy G to the all-star combo Los Super Seven and the more modern electronic dance pop of Monterrey, Mexico's Kinky. Pedal-steel maestro Robert Randolph juices up gospel and funk workouts with dazzling aplomb and will likely tear it up with his intense soloing. If that weren't enough, the Greek's adjoining Plaza Stage brims over with the breezy and dreamy folk-cumbia-klezmer-tango tangling of La Santa Cecilia (which occasionally branch out with unusual covers by everyone from Soft Cell to Caifanes), along with Los Fabulocos and Making Movies. Meanwhile, musical patriarchs Los Lobos are simultaneously looking forward with their recent release, Tin Can Trust, while also celebrating the 20th-anniversary expanded edition of their landmark 1992 album, Kiko. --Falling James
EL REY THEATRE
British producer and Ninja Tune stalwart Bonobo creates a balanced combination of low-key, downtempo tones and bass-flecked movements that shimmer on his recently released LP, The North Borders. On this, his fifth album, Bonobo hits his songwriting stride. While his sonic playground is still an electronic one, Bonobo's inclusion of crooner Grey Reverend on album opener "First Fires" puts a folk tint on that number. Erykah Badu's recognizable pipes dribble on the unassuming "Heaven for the Sinner," and Szjerdene flutters on "Towers" and "Transits." In contrast, the standout shuffler "Emkay" harkens back to classic '90s house, while the sweet-sounding "Sapphire" is a soother. The North Borders is at its prettiest when it is understated and unfussy, which is most of the time. Also at the Fonda Theatre on Sat., May 4. --Lily Moayeri
For any show in town see our regularly-updated concert calendar.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!