72 Hours: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Janelle Monae, Hard Haunted Mansion among the weekend's best concerts
The weekend's top shows.
Corinne Bailey Rae @ the Avalon. A Grammy darling after the bouncy coffeehouse soul single "Put Your Records On" introduced her to the world in 2006, Rae returned this year with a far deeper, complex and less comfortable album in "The Sea." Jazz and soul are a jumping off point, but Rae's exploring emotional torment here. Songs such as "Diving for Hearts" resist easy classification, packed with late night pianos, unexpected phrasing and jarring surges of guitars. The Avalon, 1735 N. Vine, Los Angeles. Tickets are $27.50, not including surcharges.
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan @ the El Rey. Those in need of a pre-Halloween night out can do far worse than this pairing. No costumes necessary, but these are songs that explore the shadows -- a soft, patient collaboration that works its way around moody soul and country crevices. Campbell's delicate voice is a thing of beauty, and Lanegan plays the role of the Beast. Together they're a modern Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. The El Rey, 515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $18, not including surcharges
Kate Nash @ the Fonda. The bratty young British pop star went a harsher route on her second album, "My Best Friend Is You," and the results were more winning than not -- at the very least it differentiated her from the loud-mouthed lyrics and cutesy melodies of a Lily Allen. Nash doesn't have the latter's songwriting chops, but songs such as "Kiss the Grrrl" are retro-spunk, and "I Just Love You More" surprises with its Sonic Youth-inspired base. The Music Box, 6126 Hollywood Blvd. Tickets are $20, not including service fees.
Janelle Monae @ the Hollywood Pallidium. She's the opening act, but Monae's sci-fi, psychedelic R&B-pop romp is a trip that's nearly impossible to follow. One doesn't need to know the details of Monae's outer-space storylines, although she may instruct audience members to leave their phasers at the door, to get down with her high-concept sound. There's a reason she's made cheerleaders out of Prince and Big Boi, as this is music that knows no bounds -- a musical escape that hits on classical, rock and funk with a time-traveling urgency. Live, she's an energetic force that demands attention, be it sharp dance moves or reach-for-the-stars ballads. Orchestral pop act Of Montreal will follow, and though the band has its supporters 'round these parts, this is a group blog, and the band's theatrics are a love-it or hate-it type affair. The band is all about the weirdness, but the songs are aren't always there. The Hollywood Pallidium, 6215 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are $25.50, not including surcharges.
Pelican @ the Troubadour. The place to see Pelican would have been in Chicago last week, where one could have also snared a pint of the Creeper Doppelbock, a Pelican-inspired beer concocted by Indiana's Three Floyd's Brewery. Alas, time machines are not yet commercially available, and L.A. fans will see Pelican sans Midwest beer, settling instead for the band's carefully crafted waves of noise dotted around some punishing metal riffs. Reunited purveyors of doom Goatsnake open. The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets are $15, not including surcharges.
Hard Haunted Mansion @ the Shrine. It's a two-day event, but Saturday is already sold out. Don't feel bad about that, as Saturday will be a traffic nightmare due to the USC Homecoming game, and Sunday's bill (though on a school night) is still relatively strong. Underworld's Karl Hyde and Rick Smith are long past their adventurous heyday, but are crowd-pleasers live, while Nero are dubstep heroes, A-Trak knows his house history and Flying Lotus is at the top of local electronic experimenters. The Shrine Expo Hall, 665 W. Jefferson Blvd. Non-VIP tickets start at $66, not including surcharges.
Images, from top: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan; credit: Lauren Dukoff. Janelle Monae; credit: Jennifer S. Altman.