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Friday, December 12

My Brightest Diamond
Shara Worden’s voice shows up in so many places, from her recordings and tours with The Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens to her collaborations with the disparate likes of Laurie Anderson, Jedi Mind Tricks and opera composer David Lang. The Michigan native is even the secret singing voice of Jane Lynch’s character on Glee. But Worden makes her biggest impact with her own group, My Brightest Diamond. “I can dream my future,” Worden discloses on “Lover Killer,” from MBD’s latest album, This Is My Hand. That bright future includes dance-floor beats mixed with a colorful art-rock inventiveness, segueing occasionally into cabaret intimacy and dream-pop balladry. She wraps herself in a cloak of exotic Eastern chimes on “Looking at the Sun” as her supple vocals spiral upward ethereally. — Falling James


La Santa Cecilia
To many fans in the local scene, it was no surprise that La Santa Cecilia won a Grammy Award this year for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for their fourth full-length release, Treinta Días. The award’s clunky name barely hints at the many genres the L.A. band freely traverses, including cumbia, tango, rock, rumba, jazz and even klezmer. No matter which style the band cooks up behind her, vocalist Marisol Hernandez always belts out her fiery pleas with a radiant charisma. Most of the group’s tunes are pumped up by Jose Carlos’ accordion and Miguel Ramirez’s clattering percussion and spiced with judicious amounts of Marco Sandoval’s slinky guitar. Even with so many mesmerizing originals, La Santa Cecilia continue to surprise with imaginative covers, such as their languidly tropical makeover of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” — Falling James

Jail Weddings
Jail Weddings is an L.A. band, but L.A. is also a Jail Weddings city — the mist, the ghosts, the haunted houses on streets without streetlights and the way desperation and beauty become one single thing. Led by indefatigable, surface-street noirist Gabriel Hart, Jail Weddings have spent seven lucky years telling a story all their own, catapulting through as many lineup changes as Black Flag on their way to inevitable legendry. Latest LP Meltdown nods at fellow travelers such as the countrified Mekons, the Brian Jones–era Stones and melodramatic Shangri-Las producer Shadow Morton, delivering poisonous joy (“Why Is It So Hard to Be Good?”) and joyful poison (“You Are Never Going to Find Me”) with equal wit and enthusiasm. As the song asks: Do you ever get tired of keeping the faith? — Chris Ziegler


Gardens & Villa play the Echoplex on Saturday.; Credit: Photo by Neil Favila

Gardens & Villa play the Echoplex on Saturday.; Credit: Photo by Neil Favila

Saturday, December 13

KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas
An annual sampler of so-called alt-rock, Almost Acoustic Christmas squeezes into two nights more than three decades’ worth of bands that have all but defined the genre, alongside half a dozen relative newcomers vying for similar status. Night one brings together Pixies-aping 1990s Brit radio staple Bush; 2000s guitar-based juggernauts Incubus, Linkin Park, System of a Down and Fall Out Boy; and more recent KROQ constants Rise Against, New Politics, Walk the Moon and Royal Blood. Night two’s big coup was supposed to be U2, but they’ve been forced to cancel as Bono recovers from a bad cycling accident. New wave–y peers Tears for Fears will have to pick up the slack, along with late addition No Doubt; 120 Minutes mainstays Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer; new millennium breakouts Interpol and Modest Mouse; and contemporary “alternative” torch-bearers Alt-J, Imagine Dragons and Vance Joy. Also Sunday, Dec. 14. — Paul Rogers

Haunted Garage
The holiday season can be deadly dull, with so much bland holiday music oozing out of every mall. But Haunted Garage defiantly sets the clock back two months with a night of musical carnage that’s closer in spirit to Halloween than to Christmas. Lead singer Dukey Flyswatter knows a thing or two about horror, having appeared in such deathless B-movie flicks as Surf Nazis Must Die and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. As the lead singer of Haunted Garage, Flyswatter has been growling cheerfully gory punk-metal anthems such as “Brain in a Jar” since 1985, augmented by sadistically sexy onstage dancers and a seemingly endless series of cheesy horror-movie props. Although longtime lead-guitar demon Gaby Godhead isn’t part of the current lineup, Haunted Garage still sounds powerfully sinister. — Falling James

Gardens & Villa
This Santa Barbara-based quintet has been elusive but not absent since the release of their second full-length, Dunes, in February. Lyrically, they ride a thin line between introspection and madness, extending their spiritual awakening to anyone listening. Inspired by psychological experiments, recording on Lake Michigan and working with Richard Swift (The Shins) and Tim Goldsworthy (DFA Records), they retain the original neofunk style of their earlier work, but with added sonic depth and psychedelia. They even ditched the synths for Chris Lynch’s real bamboo flute and Dustin Ineman’s frolicking keyboards, making for a unique and unpredictable live show. L.A.’s own analog addicts TV Girl and Geneva Jacuzzi will round out the night. — Britt Witt

Sunday, December 14

The Mighty Met Acoustic Flashback Benefit for Paraquat Kelley
Believe it or not, there once was a time when rock & roll radio stations actually played an aggressive cultural role, and here in Los Angeles KMET 94.7 (“a little bit of heaven”) was among the last of them. When the station went belly up on Valentine’s Day 1987, it ended two decades of vastly influential, freewheeling, progressive broadcasting. One of KMET’s mainstay platter jockeys was Pat “Paraquat” Kelley, nicknamed for a ’70s-era marijuana pesticide the feds employed. He is now fighting multiple sclerosis, so this mad little shebang, featuring the stellar likes of Waddy Wachtel, George Thorogood and Janiva Magness, is a much-needed fundraiser that’s sure to conjure some spectral remnants of long-gone, old-school decadence and plenty of right-now, first-rate rock & roll. — Jonny Whiteside

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