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Björk's 'Utopia' is a forbidding album about self-care

For Björk, and for her listeners, Utopia is not easily reached. On her new album by that optimistic title, the adventurous Icelandic singer envisions a realm of romantic promise and civic cooperation — an untainted land with “bird species never seen or heard before” and with “the first flute carved...

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  • 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...

  • Diana Ross on longevity and life off the stage

    Diana Ross on longevity and life off the stage

    Between rehearsals for the American Music Awards, where she will be feted with the Lifetime Achievement award and perform, Diana Ross discussed her career, longevity and life off the stage.

  • At the Latin Grammy Awards: 'Despacito' takes home 4 trophies; a performance in honor of 'Dreamers'

    At the Latin Grammy Awards: 'Despacito' takes home 4 trophies; a performance in honor of 'Dreamers'

    The show began with Puerto Rico and it ended with Puerto Rico. The Latin Grammy Awards, held on Thursday evening at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, started with a moment of silence in honor of the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September. And the show’s opening and...

  • 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...

  • The CMA Awards played it safe at precisely the wrong moment

    The CMA Awards played it safe at precisely the wrong moment

    Donald Trump is “a fascist.” “Nobody needs a machine gun.” “Gay people should have a right to be happy … without fear of getting drug down the road behind a pickup truck.” Even viewers hoping for talk of politics at Wednesday night’s 51st Country Music Assn. Awards couldn’t have expected to hear...

  • 'It's all gone haywire': Mavis Staples on her 'angry' new album

    'It's all gone haywire': Mavis Staples on her 'angry' new album

    At 78 years old, Mavis Staples has lived through — and sung about — as much American turmoil as any working artist. In the 1960s she provided a crucial voice in the fight for civil rights as a member of the Staple Singers, the Chicago-based family band founded by her father, the late Roebuck Staples,...

  • Bruno Mars wasn’t perfect at the Forum — which may have been his point

    Bruno Mars wasn’t perfect at the Forum — which may have been his point

    Nobody opens a concert with a song called “Finesse” unless he’s confident he can deliver proof of concept. And, sure enough, that’s what Bruno Mars did Tuesday night at the Forum in Inglewood, where the pop-soul superstar played the first of four gigs behind his most recent album, last year’s double-platinum...

  • Katy Perry sheds the 'purposeful pop' thesis for a much-needed dose of optimism

    Katy Perry sheds the 'purposeful pop' thesis for a much-needed dose of optimism

    What is the purpose of “purposeful pop” today? That phrase was Katy Perry’s go-to as she rolled out her latest album, “Witness,” in June. It tried to sum up the tough job she’d given herself — to advocate for liberal causes and newer, deeper sounds, while still hitting the beats of her hugely successful...

  • Michael Nesmith to revisit post-Monkees country rock work in First National Band shows

    Michael Nesmith to revisit post-Monkees country rock work in First National Band shows

    Country-rock pioneer Michael Nesmith will revisit the critically acclaimed solo albums he made after his exit from the Monkees in 1969 with a pair of Southern California shows in January. The shows are themed Michael Nesmith & the First National Band, the name of the group he assembled for the...

  • 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...

  • Beatles' Christmas fan club recordings, 'Sgt. Pepper' on tap for holiday release

    Beatles' Christmas fan club recordings, 'Sgt. Pepper' on tap for holiday release

    Christmastime is (almost) here again, and in recent years that’s meant something new from the Fab Four. This year, it’s the first official collection of the Beatles’ annual Christmas recordings made for their fan club members in the 1960s. The group issued recorded messages and special music each...

  • Kesha's powerful Rainbow tour celebrated a pop survivor

    Kesha's powerful Rainbow tour celebrated a pop survivor

    The roar of support from a sold-out crowd at the Hollywood Palladium was proof enough: The past year of reckoning for sexual predators has a soundtrack, and it’s Kesha’s “Rainbow.” On the last stop of the singer’s North American Rainbow tour Wednesday, grown men with glitter warpaint streaked across...

  • Sam Smith's falsetto carries a phantom weight on 'The Thrill of It All'

    Sam Smith's falsetto carries a phantom weight on 'The Thrill of It All'

    Who is Sam Smith kidding? “Every time you hurt me, the less that I cry,” he sings, vowing to guard his fragile heart, in “Too Good at Goodbyes,” the gospel-inspired opener from his new studio album, “The Thrill of It All.” But if there’s anything this young British soul star has made clear since...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Fats Domino put the joy in rock 'n' roll

    Fats Domino put the joy in rock 'n' roll

    If Elvis Presley personified the sex appeal of early rock ’n’ roll, and Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard channeled the danger lurking within this unbridled form of youthful expression, then Fats Domino was the living embodiment of the pure joy that was an integral part of the musical sea-change...

  • With the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse and more, Growlers 6 aims to be a fest with a handmade feel

    With the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse and more, Growlers 6 aims to be a fest with a handmade feel

    Few bands are as closely identified with a single festival as SoCal rockers the Growlers are with their annual Beach Goth event. So what happens now that the band has lost control of it? For the last five years, the group’s annual showcase of rock, punk, hip-hop and left-field throwback acts rose...

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