Friday, December 7
The Black Mambas — along with The Neumans and The Hurricanes — are L.A. label Wild Records' newest signees. But instead of building into the label's Sun Records-style sound of '56, the Mambas stagger into 1976 with gutter-glam songs and dawn-of-punk velocity and attitude. Like the New York Dolls, you ask? Oh mais oui, as the Dolls' singer David Johansen must have once bellowed, but there's lots of Redd Kross and Real Kids roaring alongside, too. (The Mambas' “Teenage Letter” cover is just a few burst blood vessels away from the Count Bishops' bruising 1975 version.) L.A.'s 1980s glam punk legends The Joneses remain the once and future kings of this sound, but the Mambas are young and hungry. Well, actually, that probably should be “thirsty,” at least judging by the way they smash out these shot-of-whiskey hits. –Chris Ziegler
Esa-Pekka Salonen's Lutoslawski Centenary
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor laureate of the L.A. Phil, conceived and conducts this resonantly varied program, which is organized around contrasts and connections. Of primary interest will be the West Coast premiere of Salonen's own Nyx, inspired by that Greek goddess of the night. Scored for a large ensemble, it's an intuitively shaped work of complex emotion and sensual harmony, spilling tonal shadows and light that, like the ambiguous Nyx herself, are shrouded in mystery. Skillful and suitably youthful French pianist David Fray caresses Schumann's swoonily mood-swingish Piano Concerto, written for his great love, Clara; Canadian baritone Gerald Finley tosses and turns Lutoslawski's fascinating symphonic poem Les espaces du sommeil, a musical interpretation of disordered sleep set to surreal text by Robert Desnos, a protégé of André Breton. Tchaikovsky's tone poem Francesca da Rimini is a spectacularly orchestrated “tale of doomed love.” –John Payne
Saturday, December 8
The Shag Rats, Frantic Rockers, Hexxers, The Neumans, et al.
R BAR L.A.
Norton Records moguls Billy Miller and Miriam Linna have long (and impressively) devoted themselves to serving rock & roll's originators. As the source of many a rare and exotic 33 1/3 and 45 rpm disc, Norton has provided an invaluable service to low-life rockers around the globe (and they don't just reissue — they also cut hot and fresh sessions on underworld royals like Andre Williams and Hasil Adkins). But when Hurricane Sandy soaked Brooklyn last month, she swamped Norton's warehouse, badly damaging a trove of precious vinyl. The silver lining: a series of benefit shows all over the nation. Los Angeles' first such affair features fabulously frantic East L.A. garage-R&B kids The Shag Rats, plus Frantic Rockers, The Rip Em Ups, Hexxers, The Neumans and more. These mixed-up musical malefactors are certain to grind out an appropriately demented earful. Act accordingly. –Jonny Whiteside
KROQ Almost Acoustic Xmas with Jack White, the Killers, Passion Pit, et al.
Say what you will about the “artistic merits” of these Christmas blowouts, but you've got to admit that their hearts are in the right place: This 23rd edition of the annual event benefits worthy local charities Para Los Niños and the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center. So don't be a drag. Participate. Come on down to these two — yes, two — nights of an insanely varied musical grab-bag: The Saturday show includes Linkin Park, Rise Against, Bush, Garbage, Slightly Stoopid, AWOLNATION, The Lumineers, Walk the Moon, the Gaslight Anthem, Two Door Cinema Club and Youngblood Hawke. The Sunday, Dec. 9, bill throws down The Killers, Jack White, M83, Neon Trees, Of Monsters and Men, Alex Clare, Imagine Dragons and most likely many, many more. –John Payne
Sunday, December 9
Dirt Dress have been soldiering through L.A.'s DIY scene for some years now, but their new record — Donde la Vida No Vale Nada, out on Recess and Burger — is a helluva leap upward and forward, and who knows what other unexpected directions? Like The Fall's Mark E. Smith famously said, “If you're gonna play it out of tune, play it out of tune properly.” And so Dirt Dress delivers ferociously discordant post-punk-pounders, somewhat like The Fall, Swell Maps, The Adverts or the mighty Australian X. You'll even hear a bit of The Minutemen rattling around in here. (“Shit From an Old Notebook” spirit; “Political Song” intensity.) This is a band cut to its barest roots: guitar, drums, bass and a lot of sharp points. Would it be too much if we told you to dig it? –Chris Ziegler
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.