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Tuesday, September 2
Stiff Little Fingers The Observatory Stiff Little Fingers roared out of the gate with 1979's Inflammable Material, a must-have punk album and the record they would be measured against for decades to come. The group's calling cards were Jake Burns' sharp bark of a singing voice, raw-sounding instrumentals that were dangerous as dynamite and taut as hell, and biting, sardonic lyrics about the world directly surrounding SLF. In the years since, the band's history has grown increasingly vast and complicated, involving a breakup, a reunion, lineup overhauls, sound shifts toward reggae and ska and records trickling out at an increasingly slow pace. This year's No Going Back, their tenth album, is heavier on the rock than the punk, but SLF continue to address the same fundamental subjects as they have in decades past: political charlatans, oppression, social injustice. See them perform this week at the Observatory (Reyan Ali)
Wednesday, September 3
Shiny Toy Guns The Observatory L.A.-via-Oklahoma electro-pop outfit Shiny Toy Guns own a very specific slice of electro-pop-induced euphoria--they even got a Grammy nomination for writing the kind of songs specifically designed to make you feel like you're about to overcome something in your own personal feel-good summer movie. After some recent internal tumult that saw them replace the singer that replaced their original singer with, well, their original singer--in other words, something of a return to their "classic" line-up--they put out an energetic third full-length, III, in 2012, which ably balanced high-energy pop anthems like "Speaking Japanese" with tragidorable slo-mo ballads like "Wait For Me." So get ready to return to two years ago with this tour--it's too soon for full-on nostalgia, but it'll still feel familiar and fun. (Chris Ziegler)
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The Vespertines The Federal Bar Long Beach's Vespertines do prickly prog-psych in a way that teaches you to expect the unexpected--and to expect the introspective, the contemplative and the explosive, too. (Plus, expect a trumpet--sure, it might startle you when it blooms out of the silence on a song like "Prime Meridian," but that's why its singer Vanessa Acosta's secret weapon.) This week, the band are releasing their new album Arete, a complex and carefully debut album recorded in Joshua Tree. See them breathe some life into the new album on stage at the Federal Bar in Long Beach this week. (Chris Ziegler) Thursday, September 4 Phantogram Fox Theater Pomona New York duo Phantogram are a revelation, mixing in ecstatic hip-hop beats with soft synthesizer and hypnotizing psychedelic pop guitar riffs. Sara Barthel and Josh Carter both provide vocals on their tracks, which anchor all the sounds together with romantic, yet melancholy lyrics. Their first full length album Eyelid Movies best exemplifies this, putting on full display the depth of Phantogram's eclectic range of musical influences. Their follow up Nightlife continues in the same ecstasy-laden vein, with reflections of shoegaze. Fall in a trance tonight with Phantogram at the Fox Theater in Pomona. (Aimee Murillo)
Friday, September 5 Shlohmo The Observatory Bouncing between three different cities over the past couple years, Shlohmo has had a crash course in everything from Low End Theory-inspired hip-hop to house music and New York DJ culture. Born Henry Laufer in LA's Fairfax District, the lanky 23-year-old producer, affectionately known to friends as "Hank", dropped out of art school in San Francisco to concentrate on his first full-length album. Released in 2011, the album, titled Bad Vibes, cut across a wide swath of critics and fans with its progressive, multidimensional style. Since then he's produced a handful of EP's, including this year's offering No More, a collaboration with Jeramih. Catch him in OC this Friday at the Observatory. (Aaron Frank)