In a spin with Ima Robot, the Gray Kid, ?Pigeon John & Busdriver!

The Gray Kid. Just what them cool kids have been waiting for: the hipster Justin Timberlake you don’t have to feel guilty for loving. Like a prettier Mickey Avalon run through Girl Talk’s posteverything sonic blender, he’s already paid homage to Timberlake with his heavily YouTubed parody “Paxilback,” but this ain’t just fun and games. Kid can get all earnest with that falsetto, as evidenced on the Interpol-gone-pop strum of “Lonely Love,” found on his surprisingly solid debut 5, 6, 7, 8. Check his hip-hop heart on the free mixtape The Pilgrimage, which finds him graying up the Clipse and Jay-Z. Stardom’s inevitable. Jan. 13 at the Echo, with Girl Talk. (Scott T. Sterling)

Busdriver. Hip-hop doesn’t get much more indie than this. Project Blowed alum Busdriver is as likely to kick it with Pitchfork-approved acts like Islands and Coco Rosie as he is alongside fellow nonfigurative word manipulators such as Subtitle and Abstract Rude. But really it’s a jazz thing, as Busdriver jump-cuts across genres (and thesauri) with a quickness, making sure that even the kids way in the back understand that this is not your daddy’s boom-bap (in case the inside-out productions from folks like Thavius Beck and Daedelus didn’t make it clear enough). Oh, and naming his new album Roadkillovercoat. Party time! (Scott T. Sterling)

Pigeon John. Does anybody remember laughter? Exhibit A: Pigeon John. He makes hip-hop that’s fun (and funny) but full of substance, a gentle juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy that would make Wes Anderson proud. His 2006 album Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party was just that, a sunny amalgam of easy beats and everyman witticisms that cross-pollinated the Pixies with thoughtful raps without missing a step. He beat Jay-Z to the hip-hop–for-adults punch (“Growin’ Old”), proving that rocking the mike can be grown folks’ business too. More Beck than Lloyd Banks, Pigeon John is the Fresh Prince of L.A. Dec. 29 at the El Rey, with Blackalicious, Tre and Phatlip. (Scott T. Sterling)

Ima Robot. After years of madly pogo-partying all over the local circuit, L.A. hipster faves Ima Robot have connected with the rest of the world big time on their second L.P. (and first for Virgin Records), the archly titled Monument to the Masses. Led by the anthemic Devo-goes-emo thrash of single “Creeps Me Out,” the band’s Technicolor splatter of skittish synths and Casio box-beats has even landed them an opening slot for by-the-numbers “modern” rockers All-American Rejects. All the easier for them to poach a new legion of slavishly devoted fans, I suppose. MTV and your kid sister’s bedroom wall can’t be far behind. (Scott T. Sterling)

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