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Monday, June 17

Alice Smith


Grammy-nominated songstress Alice Smith acquired massive buzz with her 2006 BBE release, For Lovers, Dreamers & Me. Smith soon inked a deal with Epic Records, where she became a victim of nasty major-label politics. In a May interview with Vogue, the gutsy chanteuse explains: “The label used to say, 'You have to choose a genre or listeners literally won't get it; they don't have the capacity.' But that's ridiculous.” She also explains that for the first two years of the partnership, the label refused to let her record and tour. Smith refused right back. The proud mother continued to tour, performing material of her own choosing at intimate venues all over New York. Via a successful Kickstarter campaign, the resilient Smith released She in 2013. It was worth the wait. –Jacqueline Michael Whatley

Tuesday, June 18

Camera Obscura


After the restrained, bookish, almost shy pop of Camera Obscura's early albums, you can't really blame lead singer Tracyanne Campbell if she wants to let loose exultantly once in a while on an uptempo and electrically rocking tune like “Do It Again,” from the Scottish group's fifth album, Desire Lines. As a serpentine fuzz guitar unwinds behind her, she sounds serenely joyful, riding a wave of delirious harmonies, a welcome contrast from her usual carefully rendered and delicately fragile tales of heartbreak. With its glassy guitars and Campbell's languid vocals, “Fifth in Line to the Throne” is a more typically dreamy ballad, as the singer ruefully recognizes that her lover treats her “like a queen,” even as she isn't sure if she even wants a throne. –Falling James

Pitbull, Ke$ha


Summer's start is officially three days away, but Pitbull and Ke$ha get an early start tonight at the Bowl. At the outset of Pitbull's 2012 album, Global Warning, it sounds like the Florida rapper is about to weigh in heavily on the state of the universe, as he disses rappers who falsely brag about selling drugs and announces that he's “Mr. Worldwide.” But within a few moments, on the aptly titled “Don't Stop the Party,” he's more socially concerned about “running through the world like a running back” and bragging about the big crowds he attracts everywhere he goes. And, as at any large, out-of-control party, faces come and go. This rager includes Christina Aguilera, Sensato, Enrique Iglesias and J.Lo, making for a blurry montage of glitzy, high-energy randomness, with a long sample of Mickey & Sylvia making more of an impact than most of the original tunes. Ke$ha certainly knows how to party, but she's far from some brainless escapist. Her songs range from brassily mournful dance-pop (“Last Goodbye”) and sleekly spacey pop (“Love Into the Light”) to much more bizarre experiments, such as her collaborations with Iggy Pop and her upcoming album with The Flaming Lips. –Falling James

See also: Kesha's 'Tik Tok' Is the Soundtrack of American Conservatism

Eleanor Friedberger


Eleanor Friedberger's second solo album is indeed a Personal Record. The Fiery Furnaces singer sets new high marks for catchy melodies even as she reveals more of herself and her romantic relationships through a rich accumulation of small but intimate details. The album's first two songs, “I Don't Want to Bother You” and “When I Knew,” bounce along on cheery, poppy guitars that mask Friedberger's occasionally bittersweet lyrics. She switches gears dramatically on “I'll Never Be Happy Again,” cooing somberly over a lulling bass and a grand latticework of slowly glimmering guitars. It's a simply beautiful, soothing idyll, right before Friedberger gets back to perkily driving tunes like “Stare at the Sun.” –Falling James

Wednesday, June 19

Free Moral Agents


Long Beach's Free Moral Agents make records that'll be worth a thousand bucks in 15 years, so why not take a lesson from the wise audiences of the future and get into this group now? Starting as something closer to a solo project by ex-Mars Volta (and current Jack White) keyboardist and producer Ikey Owens, Free Moral Agents have evolved into an endlessly complex full band that explores the unknown spaces between Can, Sonic Youth, Art Ensemble of Chicago and let's say … Fela Kuti, especially when the rhythm section starts racing toward infinity. Their newest EP, Chaine Infinie, celebrates its release at Low End Theory, where Free Moral Agents will bring their own set of impossible beats and 21st-century psychedelia to full and vivid life. –Chris Ziegler



There's something a bit deceptive about Kisses. While the L.A. duo, featuring ex-Princeton man Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson, make no apologies for the glossy glitterings of their über-stylish pop/disco sounds, neither do they neglect to address the sort of troubling decadence at its core. Their new album, Kids in L.A., revels in the airy, twinkling textures of classic '70s instrumental disco like Cerrone and producer Alec Costandinos while compacting a corollary melancholy inside tight songcraft. Lyrical imagery touchingly details the aren't-we-happy lives of the privileged class when the party's over and it's time to be human again. Kisses pull this off with a shrewd sincerity and an especially sublime instrumental flair that makes it danceable and think-aboutable, and that is quite an achievement. –John Payne

Thursday, June 20

Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton Stones Throw Documentary Premiere


It's a blow-out year for music documentaries — Joe Meek, Danny Fields and Big Star all are headed for the multiplex — and now L.A.'s own Stones Throw gets onscreen with the crushing Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton. Crowd funded to completion late last year, Our Vinyl follows Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf from inspiration to tragedy — the death of MC Charizma, still an influence on the Stones Throw vibe — to today's international triumph. By now, Stones Throw is pretty much synonymous with independent hip-hop and its finer related genres, as well as home to at least two for-the-ages geniuses. (And you know it's currently incubating more.) So this premiere party rolls out the monsters on the roster — Madlib, Dam-Funk, J Rocc, Egyptian Lover, PBW and on and on — for a show that screams, “We made it!” –Chris Ziegler

See also: Peanut Butter Wolf's 5 Fave Stones Throw LPs

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