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Giving thanks for the music that (almost) redeemed 2017

Given the nonstop turmoil of the past 11 months — from political upheaval to accusations of sexual harassment to gun violence to natural disasters — perhaps the thing to be grateful for as we celebrate Thanksgiving is that 2017 is almost over. Yet as tough as this year has been for so many, it...

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  • How the American Music Awards tried to combat toxic masculinity

    How the American Music Awards tried to combat toxic masculinity

    At least this thing had its heart in the right place. In an age of widespread awards-show overload, nobody looks to the annual American Music Awards — broadcast live Sunday night on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles — for an authoritative diagnosis of what matters in pop music,...

  • Longtime country singer, songwriter Mel Tillis dies  at 85

    Longtime country singer, songwriter Mel Tillis dies  at 85

    Mel Tillis, the longtime country star who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs and many others, and overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, has died. A spokesman for Tillis, Don Murry Grubbs, said Tillis died early Sunday at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla. He...

  • LCD Soundsystem is a blast from the dance-band past at the Palladium

    LCD Soundsystem is a blast from the dance-band past at the Palladium

    Instead of horns, they had synths. And rather than swing, they grooved. But in terms of the service they were providing their audience, James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem weren’t so different Friday evening at the Hollywood Palladium from the old big bands that performed there in the 1940s. Kicking...

  • AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dies at 64

    AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dies at 64

    Malcolm Young, the AC/DC co-founder whose brash guitar riffs, tight songwriting and live-wire personality defined an era of rock ’n’ roll, has died. He was 64. AC/DC announced his death on its official Facebook page on Saturday. The exact time, location and cause of his death were not immediately...

  • California Sounds: Miguel, Anna St. Louis and Lee Hazlewood

    California Sounds: Miguel, Anna St. Louis and Lee Hazlewood

    Miguel, “Told You So” (RCA). On this teaser from the San Pedro native’s forthcoming fourth album, “War and Leisure,” the rock ‘n’ soul artist born Miguel Jontel Pimentel rides a squiggly beat that recalls a Chicago acid-house track at half-speed. The song features a chorus so catchy it’s a wonder...

  • Eve officially joins 'The Talk' as new host

    Eve officially joins 'The Talk' as new host

    Grammy Award-winning rapper and actress Eve is adding talk show host to her resume by officially joining CBS’ daytime talk show “The Talk.” The performer made her official debut Tuesday, after previously appearing as guest co-host last month. The artist, whose real name is Eve Jeffers Cooper, is...

  • Taylor Swift's privacy is a public act on 'Reputation'

    Taylor Swift's privacy is a public act on 'Reputation'

    For Taylor Swift, love — or the idea of it — has always represented a refuge, an escape, a shelter in a storm. When she emerged, just over a decade ago, romance was a means of lifting herself out of the too-smallness of high school; later, its enduring promise cushioned her after any number of...

  • Goldenvoice splits with FYF Fest founder Sean Carlson

    Goldenvoice splits with FYF Fest founder Sean Carlson

    Los Angeles-based promoter Goldenvoice has severed its relationship with Sean Carlson, the founder of its popular FYF Fest. In an email sent to talent booking agents Monday and obtained by The Times, Goldenvoice head Paul Tollett said, "Effective immediately, Goldenvoice has ended its relationship...

  • Tropicália plays like a vibrant reflection of SoCal Latin culture

    Tropicália plays like a vibrant reflection of SoCal Latin culture

    There might not be a more modern music festival for L.A. than Tropicália, which debuted Saturday in Long Beach. That’s not to say that the sold-out show was exceptionally difficult — the headliners included popular acts like Chicano Batman, Kali Uchis and even the intergenerational norteño group...

  • How Morrissey made the most of Morrissey Day

    How Morrissey made the most of Morrissey Day

    “Top of the world, Ma!” That’s what Morrissey bellowed, paraphrasing James Cagney in “White Heat,” to open his sold-out concert Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl — and it was tempting to believe the famously grumpy British singer actually meant it. An hour or so before he turned up onstage, Morrissey...

  • Compton-raised artist Problem looks inward on 'Selfish'

    Compton-raised artist Problem looks inward on 'Selfish'

    On a breezy fall night in North Hollywood, Problem and his friends stood in the parking lot outside a studio, sipping wine. They were locked out, but Problem, wearing sweats and a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, was laughing and smiling. One could barely tell that he was about to share his most serious,...

  • Country music used to tackle the issues. The CMA Awards can’t shy away from them now

    Country music used to tackle the issues. The CMA Awards can’t shy away from them now

    There are plenty of questions the Country Music Assn. would like viewers to have on their minds Wednesday night as they tune in to the Nashville trade group’s annual televised awards show on ABC. For instance: Who will be named entertainer of the year? What type of gown will Carrie Underwood wear...

  • Van Morrison mixes pop standards, originals on 'Versatile' album due Dec. 1

    Van Morrison mixes pop standards, originals on 'Versatile' album due Dec. 1

    Promptly on the heels of his latest album, “Roll With the Punches,” released in September, Irish rocker-poet Van Morrison will release yet another studio collection, his 38th, on Dec. 1, when he issues “Versatile,” a session combining material from the Great American Songbook with a half dozen...

  • California Sounds: New music from Rhye, Gun Outfit and Josiah Steinbrick

    California Sounds: New music from Rhye, Gun Outfit and Josiah Steinbrick

    Rhye, “Taste” (Loma Vista). The new song by a pair of L.A.-based expats shimmers like candlelight reflected through a three-carat diamond. With a natural glow that belies its meticulously crafted nature, “Taste” is the newest tease from Canadian-in-L.A. vocalist Milosh’s eagerly anticipated second...

  • Why N.E.R.D.'s return felt like a cynical bait-and-switch

    Why N.E.R.D.'s return felt like a cynical bait-and-switch

    First, the good news: N.E.R.D. reunited to make an album, and the result is ferocious. Unfortunately, the only reason I know this is because I was hoodwinked, along with thousands of others, into schlepping to Long Beach on Saturday night to hear it. As much an idea (or a series of them) as a band,...

  • Can the music world learn from Hollywood?

    Can the music world learn from Hollywood?

    Last month, before stories of Harvey Weinstein’s long history of alleged sexual misconduct triggered an unprecedented outpouring in Hollywood, the disgraced movie mogul responded to accusations against him by invoking the words of Jay-Z. “‘I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man...

  • Premiere: Blues musicians ZZ Ward, Fantastic Negrito team for 'Cannonball'

    Premiere: Blues musicians ZZ Ward, Fantastic Negrito team for 'Cannonball'

    Singer, songwriter and guitarist ZZ Ward has managed to find a connective thread that runs from traditional blues and R&B to contemporary hip-hop. See her bluesy versions of songs from Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator and other rap word figures. She exploited that ability...

  • Lawrence Rothman's genre-hopping 'The Book of Law' explores many personalities

    Lawrence Rothman's genre-hopping 'The Book of Law' explores many personalities

    When you walk into Lawrence Rothman’s house, the place just keeps on going. Rothman — a gender-fluid, genre-agnostic L.A. singer-songwriter who uses neutral pronouns — lives deep in the Cahuenga Pass, in a three-story Midcentury stunner filled with metal skulls under glass, floor-length fur coats...

  • Bob Dylan's 'Trouble No More' examines the gospel years, 1979-81

    Bob Dylan's 'Trouble No More' examines the gospel years, 1979-81

    On one hand, it’s no great mystery that when Bob Dylan seemed to find new faith around 1979, a lot of fans and Dylanologists lost theirs — in him. On the other, Dylan’s track record for musical revelation was so firmly established by that time that he could have put out an album of songs about...

  • What happened when Sophie brought her depersonalized pop to the stage

    What happened when Sophie brought her depersonalized pop to the stage

    Can we love a pop star we know virtually nothing about? That’s the question posed by Sophie, the willfully mysterious British musician who performed Monday night at the Teragram Ballroom to close out the month-long Red Bull Music Academy festival. A gadget-obsessed producer and songwriter, Sophie...

  • Robert Plant's new 'Carry Fire' keeps his focus fully forward

    Robert Plant's new 'Carry Fire' keeps his focus fully forward

    Robert Plant insists he hasn’t devoted his life to music for the money or the awards. So it’s with a detached sense of humor that the celebrated singer and songwriter remembers being overlooked by the Recording Academy’s Grammy Awards for his critically acclaimed 2014 album, “Lullaby and…the Ceaseless...

  • 'Stranger Things' composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein on the series' increasingly intense score

    'Stranger Things' composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein on the series' increasingly intense score

    Last year the musicians Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, who scored the music for the second season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” added a relatively unorthodox weapon to their instrumental arsenal. A piano. “A real, physical piano,” Stein clarifies. “With keys and strings, which is something we...

  • Camp Flog Gnaw celebrates weirdness, individuality and branding

    Camp Flog Gnaw celebrates weirdness, individuality and branding

    When Tyler, the Creator launched the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in 2012, it was a way to put his Odd Future collective’s raucous approach to hip-hop on full display while marking the close of the group’s tour that year. L.A. Live’s Club Nokia (now the Novo) anchored the daylong event that paired performances...

  • Jay-Z goes to war with himself on tour behind '4:44'

    Jay-Z goes to war with himself on tour behind '4:44'

    Jay-Z put considerable effort Friday night into trying to erase himself. The first date of a North American tour behind his acclaimed “4:44” album, the rapper’s concert at Anaheim’s Honda Center began with images of flames slowly burning his eyes into nothingness. Screens displayed eerie scenes...

  • A moving tribute to Linkin Park's late singer Chester Bennington at the Hollywood Bowl

    A moving tribute to Linkin Park's late singer Chester Bennington at the Hollywood Bowl

    There was a silent microphone at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday night. As the surviving members of Linkin Park took the stage, the spotlight fixed on a wreath-dressed mic stand, where singer Chester Bennington should have been. As the band played the churning, pleading single “Numb,” the five Linkin...

  • Hip-hop collective Brockhampton puts a new spin on the 'boy band' concept

    Hip-hop collective Brockhampton puts a new spin on the 'boy band' concept

    The house on a quiet South L.A. street would almost have been inconspicuous if it weren’t for the annihilated piano lying outside the front steps. Inside on this late summer day, booming beats filled the home, the sounds coming from the back room, which had been turned into a makeshift studio. ...

  • How rocker and film score composer Tyler Bates went from Marilyn Manson to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    How rocker and film score composer Tyler Bates went from Marilyn Manson to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    Aliens, witches, demons and ghouls: Tyler Bates has written music for the best (and worst) of them. If you shuddered during “Dawn of the Dead” or “Halloween II,” felt a chill watching the TV series “Salem” or listened to anything from the last two Marilyn Manson records, Bates is partly to blame...

  • Has Kelly Clarkson found the 'Meaning of Life'?

    Has Kelly Clarkson found the 'Meaning of Life'?

    Many veterans of “American Idol” use words like “freedom” and “liberation” to describe the albums they make after exiting the tightly managed singing competition, which will return to television next year on ABC after its cancellation by Fox in 2016. But Kelly Clarkson, who won the show’s first...

  • The Player: 'Cuphead' gives new life to hand-drawn animation and big band jazz

    The Player: 'Cuphead' gives new life to hand-drawn animation and big band jazz

    Video games often help define new entertainment frontiers, be they interactive, immersive or centered on virtual or augmented realities. Yet “Cuphead” resurrects a few nearly forgotten advances — namely the lost art of hand-drawn animation and the abandoned joy of big band jazz. Though the fast-paced...

  • Michael Jackson, Halloween icon? His estate seems to think so

    Michael Jackson, Halloween icon? His estate seems to think so

    Since its premiere in 1983, it’s hard to think about Halloween without Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The creepy send-up of 1950s B-movie horror films, in which the singer morphs into a werecat and a zombie, has long been a fixture this time of year. It’s likely that your local costume store carries...

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