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California Sounds: 30 essential Los Angeles records of 2017

Like wealth disparity in America, the divide between L.A.-based musical megastars and the other 99% of musicians reveals the extent to which big business controls the narrative. While the headliners get prominent pushes on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, a whole subset of artists...

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  • Garth Brooks is No. 1 again with 'Anthology' book-music hybrid

    Garth Brooks is No. 1 again with 'Anthology' book-music hybrid

    Who knew that Garth Brooks almost missed his chance to record “Friends in Low Places,” the DeWayne Blackwell-Earl “Bud” Lee song that became one of his biggest early hits, and helped cement his status as one of country’s bright new stars of the 1990s? Certainly not Garth Brooks. The country music...

  • The moment N.W.A changed the music world

    The moment N.W.A changed the music world

    Part of the ongoing L.A. Times series The age of hip-hop: From the streets to cultural dominance. In this exclusive excerpt from “Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap,” Gerrick D. Kennedy details the birth of the first major disruption of hip-hop.

  • Gregory Porter had worship on his mind at the Ace Hotel

    Gregory Porter had worship on his mind at the Ace Hotel

    Gregory Porter is never seen performing without his signature flat cap, and on Wednesday night the Grammy-winning jazz vocalist opened a concert by tipping it to some of the earlier artists who’d inspired him. Onstage at downtown’s Theatre at Ace Hotel, Porter sang his song “Musical Genocide,”...

  • Tori Amos is no longer a pop star — and she seems fine about it

    Tori Amos is no longer a pop star — and she seems fine about it

    Tori Amos put her songs first on Sunday night. Literally. Welcoming a capacity crowd to the third of three sold-out shows at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, the veteran singer and pianist said it had been a privilege for the songs — “and for me” — to be heard by audiences across North America over the...

  • No Trump meant spotlight stayed on Kennedy Center honorees Norman Lear, LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan

    No Trump meant spotlight stayed on Kennedy Center honorees Norman Lear, LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan

    This year's Kennedy Center Honors recognizing outstanding artists and performers managed to skip the political drama that loomed over it earlier this year — just ask honoree Norman Lear. Ahead of Sunday night's festivities at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the longtime television...

  • Jerry Lee Lewis brings his classic songs — and his notorious reputation — to the Ace Hotel

    Jerry Lee Lewis brings his classic songs — and his notorious reputation — to the Ace Hotel

    How should we think about Jerry Lee Lewis in 2017? At a moment of reckoning for powerful, allegedly abusive men in show business, it’s not possible for this rock ’n’ roll pioneer to appear onstage, as he did Friday night at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, without inviting consideration of his notorious...

  • Could a 'night mayor' unify L.A.'s vast music and nightlife scene?

    Could a 'night mayor' unify L.A.'s vast music and nightlife scene?

    Earlier this year, the New York City Council passed a bill establishing a new Office of Nightlife, a decree signed by Mayor Bill De Blasio at House of Yes, a popular Brooklyn dance venue. New York was following the lead of cities around the world. London, Berlin and Amsterdam have all warmed to...

  • Giving thanks for the music that (almost) redeemed 2017

    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...

  • 2017 Christmas album roundup: Music for every mood this holiday

    2017 Christmas album roundup: Music for every mood this holiday

    Holiday albums are as much a winter staple as mistletoe and Christmas ornaments, and this season sees a number of major artists vying for a spot in your collection. How does Gwen Stefani fare with Christmas standards? And do you need another Elvis collection?

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

    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...

  • 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...

  • After suffering a tragedy, music became a 'life raft' for Chasms

    After suffering a tragedy, music became a 'life raft' for Chasms

    A few weeks ago, Shannon Madden of the L.A. experimental band Chasms went to see “Mother!,” the latest film from director Darren Aronofsky. She’d watched Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” with her brother, Griffin, years ago, and they both had a thing for his dark, surreal movies. She thought he’d want...

  • 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...

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