The week ahead in music: July 16 - July 22
Here's our look at some of the most noteworthy music events scheduled for the coming week.
July 16 Jens Lekman's Summer Playlist
No need to leave the house for this one. Jens Lekman does not start his European tour until Aug. 1, freeing him up to create a summertime playlist. He started with his remix of Au Revoir Simone's "Shadows," in which he turned to songs in 3/4 and 6/8 time. The results can be found at his website, where he writes: "I started looking around for tracks in that time signature to make a mix, I wasn't intending to but I couldn't help it. It was all a big swirl. After a while I heard it everywhere. In soul ballads, in poly-rhythmical African pop, in old movies. In the ocean waves tumbling in against the shore, in the beat of a lovers heart. One two three, one two three...." The playlist includes Barbara Mason's "Oh How It Hurts," Thomas Mapfumo's "Madiro," Chad & Jeremy's "Everyone's Gone To The Moon," music and dialogue from "Day Of The Locust" and Jane Morgan & the Troubadours' "Fascination."
John Doe's and Exene Cervenka, the Living Sisters at the Autry Museum, Los Angeles
New mother Inara George appears with two of her bands this weekend in Los Angeles (see July 18), and for her first night out she's joined by Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Eleni Mandell for the gentler of the two acts. Their innocent, harmony-laden material and simple rhythm guitar accompaniment has a storybook quality in which good things happen to all; it's sweet and delicious. The flipside of their serene, nursery-room songs will come from John Doe and Exene Cervenka, the former husband-and-wife that lead the storied L.A. punk band X. As a solo act in a Western museum, they'll roll out the country tunes that the Knitters perform so well. The two acts could not be more different, but presenting them as a whole may well answer a question X posed a few decades ago: Ain't life grand?
Shelby Lynne, McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, CA
After making an expertly recorded tribute to Dusty Springfield, Shelby Lynne returned with a laid back collection of country-tinged originals with equally sparse backing, "Tears, Lies & Alibis." The new album boasts a piece of truly classic country ("Old #7"), a tune that Whitney Houston would have belted the living daylight out of back in the day ("Alibi") and a simply beautiful number that's among the best she has ever done ("Loser Dreamer"). Lynne said in an interview when the album came out that she'd put people to sleep if she just did the new songs, so expect her to reach back through her impressive catalog. She next plays dates in the Northeast in August.
Robyn, the Crofoot, Pontiac, MI
The first headlining night on her U.S. tour, the Swedish electro-pop singer brings a taste of the hardcore Stockholm dance scene to the U.S. Her music may not seem that different from many of the artists who populate the dance charts, but she has significant indie cred on her side. A teen singer with hits back home in the 1990s, she stepped away from the mania and returned in the '00s as an indie artist with ambitious plans, including an attempt to release three albums in one year. "Body Talk Pt. 1" was released in June; "Body Talk Pt. 2" has a release date of Sept. 6 in the U.K., and she has started writing for part three. Her tour, which has a number of sold out shows, comes to L.A. July 23 at the Music Box Theater.
It's the year of the boy-girl band. Codeine Velvet Club tops my list of folks embracing the Nancy Sinatra-Lee Hazelwood model and mingling it with either Doe & Cervenka, the Mamas & Papas or Phil Spector's Teddy Bears. (Could a faux Marvin & Tammi be in the works somewhere?) The Hollywood Bowl is the one place where the dynamic duo concept is at its fullest, with the "Once" non-couple, the Swell Season, headlining with She & Him (Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward) and the Bird & the Bee (Inara George & Greg Kurstin) opening. Live, the Swell Season actually put some oomph in their material; She & Him generally come off more folky than arty, and have wisely upped the pace on NRBQ's "Ridin' in My Car"; and B&B is currently reminding us about the greatness of Hall & Oates with their covers album.
New Pornographers, Music Box Theater, Los Angeles
With positive notices from the East Coast and Pacific Northwest, A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Blaine Thurier, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kurt Dahleand and Kathryn Calder continue to prove that they are more a band than a "supergroup." As in Washington, D.C., New Pornographers will play two nights in L.A. and do different sets. Newman told the Washington Post: "Even when you're writing two nights of set lists, you ask yourself, 'What are the songs that we have to play?' You make a list of songs we have to play and it's 15 or 16 songs. And then it only leaves us five or so variables. If you're a really big fan and you want to hear your favorite song. you might have to go to both shows." They also perform on the 20th at the Music Box.
Justin Beiber, Nokia Theater, Los Angeles
In the teen-pop world, everyone associated with a star is looking to grab as much cash as possible within a window that is rarely open for more than three years. It was as true for the Partridge Family as it was 'NSync. So as his high school years play out, will Bieber take a clue from Miley Cyrus, whose adult act has confused certain media outlets, or will he attempt to live life as a singing Canadian Urkel? Cyrus and her handlers realize a need to accelerate the aging process even if it does shock some moms and newspaper reporters, and it won't be surprising if Usher is soon taking Justin to da clubs. But first, the cash flow. Based on his tour schedule, it looks like there's a fear money will be left on the table if he takes a day off. The Nokia Theater, with 7,100 seats, is one of his last small shows before he makes the leap to arenas, a process that usually includes a break for a performer so a new stage set can be built and a new show assembled. Bieber's run across North America in arenas starts days after the theater run ends, returning to Los Angeles at Staples Center on Oct. 25. Between July 25 and Dec. 23 -- with a break between Sept. 21 and Oct. 19 -- Bieber will play 57 concerts across North America, some of which are at state fairs.
The Gaslight Anthem, Wiltern, Los Angeles
This may be the most conflicted night of the year on the concert calendar. The Dead Weather pull into the Palladium with an album of material far superior to the debut disc they showcased at the Roxy last year. (Even as a drummer you can't keep your eyes off Jack White). Jamie Cullum, who continues to charmingly merge jazz piano, indie rock and hip-hop, will appear at the John Anson Ford Theater. Keane, with an underrated pop EP in "Night Train," headlines a triple bill at the Greek with Travis' Fran Healy and Ingrid Michaelson. And Rihanna and Ke$ha bring their visual spectaculars to Staples Center. But it's summer, and that means music that reminds you of the beach. Bring on the Gaslight Anthem, whose sound is a throwback to the Jersey Shore when Patti Scialfa was in Cats, guys could get an audience at the Stone Pony just by saying they once jammed with Southside Johnny and Robert Gordon could pack a bar in the hopes the Boss would make an appearance. It's basic, blue collar rock & roll informed with just enough punk attitude in the delivery to demonstrate this is not a Beaver Brown Band revival.
Jovanotti, Jace Everett, Anita Tijoux, Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA
Here's a quirky triple bill. Jovanotti, a superstar Italian singer, songwriter and rapper from Tuscany, makes his West Coast debut after spending the summer of 2009 working in New York's downtown clubs and touring the Northeast and Midwest earlier this year, making a name -- in some circles -- for his Bee Gees and Michael Jackson covers. His first American release, the live album "O Yeah," came out in December. Anita Tijoux, born to a French mother and a Chilean father, raps in French and Spanish over jazzy instrumentals, film scores and syncopated beats. On her debut album, "1977," she displays an old-school sing-song style that;'s more entertaining than subversive. Jace Everett will have "True Blood" appear in parentheses after his name until he becomes known for something other than the vampire show's gripping theme song. Fortunately he has plenty more twangy rockers in his arsenal than "Bad Things."