Friday, November 30

Nas, Lauryn Hill (also Dec 1)


On his new album, Nas insists that Life Is Good, even though he's been slammed with a massive tax bill from Uncle Sam and is still coming to terms with a painful divorce from soul-pop diva Kelis. The BrooklynQueens-bred rapper is being sarcastic; he's said in interviews that Life Is Good is the rap equivalent to Marvin Gaye's 1978 Here, My Dear, a bittersweet account of the soul icon's own failing marriage. “They say the coolest playas and foulest heartbreakers in the world/God gets us back/He makes us have precious little girls,” Nas declares, realizing that he hasn't been “the cleanest father figure” once he sees the effect his former thug lifestyle has had on his own daughter. The collision of early bravado with newfound emotional vulnerability elevates Nas' music to a much higher and more thoughtful level. Former Fugees rapper Lauryn Hill is facing her own serious tax problems this month, a mundane reality that contrasts with the spiritual and musical evolution she's undergone in recent years as she's moved away from the mainstream and gone searching for her own soul, literally and figuratively. –Falling James

See also: Lauryn Hill's Strangest Habits, According to Her Former Band Members

Bela Fleck and The Marcus Roberts Trio


There are things that just don't seem like they would work together, yet they do. Bacon on your sundae? Vampires and Abraham Lincoln? How about jazz and bluegrass? Although both genres can be traced to the roots of American music, the differences between the two are black and white, literally. Banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck has teamed up with jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and his trio to attempt a hybrid fusion experiment. Roberts came to fame in the 1980s as the accompanist for an ascendant Wynton Marsalis, later becoming an expert stride-piano player. He and Fleck complement each other with impeccable rhythm and elegant explosiveness. The music is unique, unusual and fun. They could be a latter-day Paul McCartney/Stevie Wonder — minus the singing and the No. 1 hit, of course. Tonight's performance is the last in a four-day set at the Catalina. –Gary Fukushima

The Zoo Foundation


Soulin', screamin' East L.A. combo the Zoo Foundation is one of the most fabulous recent additions to our oft-parched rock & roll scene. This youthful psych-soul garage-shock troupe consistently throws down a deep wall-to-wall carpet of plush, passionate back-alley testifying. It can be as head-spinning as an attack by rogue chimpanzees — if, that is, the group even shows up to the gig as announced. Yes, they can be flaky, but also as inspiringly frenzied and all-around fine as fresh-brewed prison pruno. Billed with a gaggle of fellow musical malefactors including Erroneous Monk and The Dharma Bums, expect a stomping, bawdy romp of a good time. –Jonny Whiteside

Saturday, December 1

Falling in Reverse, Enter Shikari


Melodrama has overshadowed music on this post-hardcore package tour — perhaps a welcome distraction from headliners' Falling in Reverse's petty, by-the-numbers petalcore, but a shame for brilliant Brit rabble-rousers Enter Shikari. The scuttlebutt goes like this: Adamantly sober (and formerly incarcerated) Falling in Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke had opening band I See Stars removed from the bill in October after learning of their pretour pot bust. He later reinstated the electronicore sextet (allegedly after they forfeited their pay), only to boot them once again before their hometown show in Detroit earlier this month — and, allegedly, verbally abused and ejected their outspoken fans. Such drama! Come anyway for Enter Shikari's thoughtful and inspired dubstep-via-metalcore mélange. –Paul Rogers

Bad Brains


So punk legends Bad Brains are back with their first album in five years, with every band member you'd want to be in Bad Brains — the “classic” lineup, some say — along with that trademark nasty/slick rev-you-up production. First thing you probably want to know? Yes, Into the Future is as punishing on the punk songs (“Yes I,” the title track) as you'd hope, with seesaw hardcore rhythm and H.R.'s world-class turbine-whine vocals on top. (Plus, is that “intergalactic” lyric a nod to departed Beastie Boy and onetime Bad Brains producer MCA? “MCA Dub” has to be, right?) But their trademark genre-bending — freak metal on “Popcorn,” punk-dub on “Rub-a-Dub Love” — is just as energetic. Even if you don't like it, it'll still get some hooks into you. It's not a return to form: It's a revival! –Chris Ziegler

See also: Bad Brains Continue Their Righteous Punk Voyage With 'Into the Future'

For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.

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