Spring pop music preview: Lambchop, Tyga, Alabama Shakes
In Sunday's Calendar section, Times pop music critic Randall Roberts highlights some of the spring's most anticipated concerts and releases. They are listed below.
Sharon Van Etten, the War on Drugs
New Jersey by way of Brooklyn, singer Sharon Van Etten has delivered one of 2012’s best albums. “Tramp” is a moody, smart folk rock release recorded with members of the band the National and released on Jagjaguwar, the label best known for bringing Bon Iver to the public. On this tour, Van Etten will be joined by Philadelphia guitar band the War on Drugs, whose “Slave Ambient” was one of the best rock records of 2011.
Avalon Hollywood, 1735 N. Vine, L.A. 8:30 p.m. March 20. $17.50.
Magnetic Fields kingpin Stephin Merritt likes a good theme, be it challenging himself to write and record 69 love songs for his album “69 Love Songs” or beginning all songs with the letter “i” for his album “I.” Merritt, whose witty, droll, utterly beguiling work is as structurally sound as it is dynamic, travels underwater for his new album, “Love at the Bottom of the Sea,” luckily resurfacing to perform songs at the Orpheum.
Orpheum Theatre, 842 S. Broadway, L.A. 7 p.m. March 23. $30.
On Tyga’s major label debut, “Careless World: Rise of the Last King,” the Compton-born rapper leans on pretty impressive peers for help, including labelmates Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, along with rapper-lyricists Nas, Wale and Busta Rhymes. The fluid young emcee, who released an avalanche of mixtapes beginning in 2007, nearly keeps pace with them, though he’s still got a ways to go before assuming the throne. Tyga performs with YG and Lil Twist.
Club Nokia, 800 W. Olympic, L.A. 7 p.m. April 1. $26.50-$49.50.
April 13-15, 20-22
Coachella, featuring Dr. Dre, Black Keys, Radiohead, others
If you haven’t the money, time, energy or inclination to spend days baking in the desert for this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — it’s sold out, and scalpers are asking four figures — this year’s two-concurrent-weekends event offers much untapped (and at this point purely speculative) potential in the week between the April 13-15 and 20-22 lineups. To wit: Many bands will be hanging in and around Palm Springs and nearby Joshua Tree and Pioneertown during that week. Fans seeking solace or a surprise hootenanny would be advised to look to the desert — and the fancy Palm Springs hipster hotels — for potential parties.
Nashville country band Lambchop is the brainchild of a cigarette-smoking, non-ironic-trucker-hat-wearing grump named Kurt Wagner, whose dozen or so twang heavy albums feature some of the city’s best session players. The new album, “Mr. M,” is a stunning late-night work, dark like Leonard Cohen but thick like a Curtis Mayfield soul-funk jam, where strings let loose, choruses fly, and songs meander and roam for six or seven minutes at a time. The band makes a rare West Coast appearance at McCabe’s.
McCabe’s Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico, Santa Monica. 8 p.m. May 5. $24.50.
Bruce Springsteen, “Wrecking Ball”
Bruce Springsteen’s new album sees the New Jersey rocker pushing forth some of the most solid, propellent rock songs in years, songs that he’s said were inspired by “critical, questioning and often angry patriotism.” This year the Boss has some competition in the blue-collar rock division: young whippersnapper Jack White, having shed (at least for now) the White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather monikers, is threatening a little youthful comeuppance with his new solo album, “Blunderbuss” (April 23).
Daniel Rossen, “Silent Hour/Golden Mile”
Singer and Los Angeles native Daniel Rossen is best known as one of the golden voices behind Brooklyn indie vocal group Grizzly Bear, where his tenor is the best of an amazing group of throats. On his solo debut, Rossen crafts similarly beautiful folk-pop music, bringing the deep Brian Wilson-inspired production sound to thoroughly contemporary music.
Alabama Shakes, “Boys & Girls”
A raucous Southern bar band that captures the spirit of not only rock ’n’ roll but back-alley blues, rockabilly, lusty R&B and every other kind of pre-hip-hop music of sex and rebellion, the Alabama Shakes’ highly anticipated debut for ATO Records, “Boys & Girls,” is as combustible as it is nuanced — and destined to be one of the albums of the summer.
Rufus Wainwright, “Out of the Game.”
Canadian singer Rufus Wainwright has been silent for the past few years, having endured the death of his mother, Kate McGarrigle, celebrated the birth of a daughter, and doing whatever else genius singer-pianist-entertainers do when not making pop albums. Wainwright returns with his highly anticipated new album, “Out of the Game,” produced by Mark Ronson, best known for his work with Amy Winehouse; Wainwright has teased the release by saying it’s one of the most danceable albums of his career.
Santigold, “Master of My Make Believe”
Brooklyn polymath Santigold dips her toes in many genres, from hip-hop and dance to rock, new wave and funk, and combines it all to create an absolutely magnetic mishmash. For her highly anticipated sophomore album, the erstwhile Santi White turned to TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek to help produce, and the results, at least on the first two singles, bode well for the album’s success.
-- Randall Roberts
Updated: The original version of this post misidentified the label releasing the Alabama Shakes' new album. It is ATO Records, not, as we wrote, Nonesuch.
Top photo: Sharon Van Etten. Credit: Dusdin Condrin. Middle photo: Lambchop. Credit: Bill Steber. Bottom photo: Alabama Shakes. Credit: Courtesy Alabama Shakes.