Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
Gloria Estefan gives standards new life at Hollywood Bowl

Gloria Estefan happily took up every opportunity to date herself in her concert Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl. “That was my first No. 1 record -- a blast from the past,” she said after singing “Anything for You” to conclude a medley of her late-'80s pop ballads. During “Bad Boy,” by her old group Miami Sound Machine, she cried out “1986!” in reference to the year of that single’s release. And when her husband and producer, Emilio Estefan, appeared onstage after the singer mentioned that he’d inspired her recent recording of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face,” she told the audience proudly that they’d been married for 36 years. “That’s 150 years in Hollywood,” she added. For another artist, the emphasis on age might’ve been a kind of preemptive strike -- a way to justify an old-fashioned performance. But Estefan’s show, the first of two at the Bowl as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Americas & Americans Festival, wasn’t old-fashioned at all. On a night that drew freely on...

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Danny Brown talks cartoons, possible collaborations

Danny Brown was sitting in his dressing room before his Thursday evening set. The Detroit rapper was plopped on a leather couch, his tight black pants hugging his legs. Fumes wafted over his Grinch-green hair as he passed a smoke back toward Skywalker, his tour DJ. Thumping bass from the Houston-rapper Beat King echoed through Brown's headphones. With a provocative catalogue detailing Detroit hardships and drug-fueled-rages, one might assume that Brown’s demeanor would be equally rambunctious. However, the 33-year-old is reserved and in tune with his career’s current state. He sat down with the Los Angeles Times to discuss his career progression. You were in New York last night, then flew here to Los Angeles, and are then flying to Australia. For many people, that would seem pretty glamorous, but I’m sure that’s also pretty grueling. I don’t know how I can really explain it. I used to ... get on Greyhound buses and go to other cities and sell drugs. This is easy to me [laughs]. I can...

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5 Seconds of Summer tells it like it is on self-titled debut

The members of One Direction have done important work in relaxing what’s expected of a boy band. They don’t dance. They often dress like hobos. And their music generally relies less on syrupy R&B grooves than on rowdy pop-rock guitars. Onstage last August at Staples Center, where the British group played four sold-out concerts, they seemed so cheerfully indifferent to the arena-show enterprise that you wondered whether they knew anyone had turned up to watch them. In at least one way, though, One Direction adheres to established boy-band orthodoxy: When they sing about sex, they do so via winking euphemism and thinly veiled double entendre. “Let’s take a ride out in the cold air,” they sang on last year’s “Midnight Memories” album. “I know the way / Why don’t you go there with me?” For a more direct approach to the topic, one must turn to 5 Seconds of Summer, the Australian boy band that opened those Staples gigs (and will do the same job when One Direction stops at the Rose Bowl in...

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West Coast drummer Scott Amendola attempts to 'Fade to Orange'

With the record industry more fractured and risk-averse than ever, crowd-funding websites remain an often viable option for jazz and jazz-adjacent artists. Recordings by Roswell Rudd, Dave King and Darcy James Argue's Grammy-nominated "Brooklyn Babylon" are just a few recent endeavours that came to a fruition with fan support, and now Bay Area drummer Scott Amendola is looking for funding to record a debut orchestral piece, "Fade to Orange." If you're a fan of the guitar excursions of Nels Cline you've heard Amendola as the longtime pulse for his avant-jazz project the Nels Cline Singers. Not surpisingly, that project's DNA runs strong through "Fade to Orange," which premiered with the Oakland East Bay Symphony in 2011.  The 22-minute recording will feature Cline's squiggly improvisations as well as the Singers' bassist, Trevor Dunn, alongside San Francisco's Magik*Magik Orchestra and a bevy of guests, including clarinetist Ben Goldberg. Remixes by Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, Mocean...

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Smashing Pumpkins complete new album 'Monuments to an Elegy'

Billy Corgan has explored some unexpected paths in recent years. He’s opened a tea house in a Chicago suburb, founded a professional wrestling league and performed an eight-hour musical interpretation of Herman Hesse's existentialist classic "Siddhartha." The Smashing Pumpkins leader recently explored a more familiar avenue, announcing that he has completed "Monuments to an Elegy," one of two records the band says are lined up. “I’d like to boast and say it’s some newly invented form, but more than likely it’s just a stripped compendium, that in its steeliness achieves some eager, brute modernity,” Corgan wrote on the Smashing Pumpkins site, the Panopticon. Corgan believes the completed record “was one of the easiest and most pleasurable albums I’ve ever made.” He was more vague in delivering word of a released date, adding, “if we’re lucky it’ll be out soon enough.” No details have been released regarding the second planned record, “Day for Night.” Corgan also revealed the completed...

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Friday Coda: Africa mix, Crue, FlyLo, grumpy Jack White and more

As a service to readers who may need up-to-date music news and in-the-know talking points for the weekend -- who knows what Tinder may deliver? -- below are a few talking points to impress your date, dinner guests and/or parents, along with tips for possible soundtracks. -- Jack White went to a Cubs game, morphed into a miserable Cubs fan. (Go Cardinals!) He also covered “Royals,” Lorde’s ode to the middling Kansas City "baseball" team.  -- To build the groove-heavy new mix for the website Africa in Your Earbuds, Hot Chip singer and cofounder Alexis Taylor dug into his archives. He ended up selecting music that he got “from market stalls in Marrakech, and from street musicians selling their own CDs, as well as my own field recordings of dawn and dusk prayer sounds and general Medina music/noise.” It’s a good exercise and/or meditation mix, available for streaming and download. -- Mötley Crüe is the Gary Busey of Rock. Lady Gaga goes all in on EDM at Staples Center. Both don’t fare well...

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Jazz picks: Central Avenue Jazz fest, Ron Carter and more

 A selection of jazz and jazz-adjacent shows coming up this week. Ron Carter Trio at Catalina With the recent loss of Charlie Haden, Carter may be the most storied bass player working today with stints backing practically a phone book of jazz legends in Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy and, of course, Miles Davis on landmark albums such as "Miles Smiles," "Nefertiti" and "Four and More." Here he performs in a trio that shows he remains committed to pushing ahead. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. Thurs.-Sat., $25-$40. www.catalinajazzclub.com.  Mark de Clive-Lowe at Downstairs @ Fifty Seven A pianist, producer and DJ, Mark de Clive-Lowe can probably add the term chemist to his resume for his jazz-infused live sets combined with in-the-moment remixing he's offered on a regular basis in New York City and Los Angeles for a night he's simply called "Church." He just released an album of the same name, a dynamic, groove-heavy blend of live electronic music, funk and...

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Stevie Nicks to release new album, '24 Karat Gold,' on Oct. 7

Stand back: Stevie Nicks is preparing to unleash a new solo album. The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman announced Thursday that she'll release "24 Karat Gold -- Songs From the Vault" on Oct. 7, only a week after the band launches its first tour with Christine McVie in over a decade. The follow-up to 2011's "In Your Dreams," Nicks' record consists primarily of songs written between 1969 and 1987, according to a statement; there's also one from 1994 and another from 1995. Nicks co-produced the album in Nashville and Los Angeles with Dave Stewart (who also oversaw "In Your Dreams") and her longtime guitarist, Waddy Wachtel. "Each song is a lifetime. Each song has a soul. Each song has a purpose. Each song is a story," Nicks said with characteristic flair in the statement. "They represent my life behind the scenes, the secrets, the broken hearts, the broken hearted and the survivors. These songs are the memories -- the 24 karat gold rings in the blue box." Along with the music, "24 Karat Gold"...

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Unsung Heroes: Tips on reissues by Lewis, Gun Club, Pia Zadora, more

It’s Thursday, which in Twitter parlance means the Day of Throwbacks: dusty, crate-diggable music worthy of renewed consideration. Below, a curated round-up of recent and upcoming reissues, archival recordings, resurrection mixes and vinyl pressings.  Lewis, L'Amour (Light in the Attic). The mysterious artist who recorded under the pseudonym Lewis has gained much recent attention, much of it due to the reissue by Light in the Attic Records of his 1983 album, “L’Amour.” A smooth post-soft-rock guitar and synthesizer album considered a classic by collectors of private press recordings, “L’Amour” has a beguiling back story. Specifically, no one’s quite sure were Louis went. As the story goes, prior to making "L'Amour," he rocketed into L.A., stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel, recorded, did a photo shoot with underground punk photographer Ed Colver and then vanished, releasing "L'Amour" on his vanity label R.A.W. Records. The result is totally surreal: folky mumble-core that's tough to get...

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New SBTRKT record features ASAP Ferg, Jessie Ware and others

Since bass-dribbling single “New Dorp. New York” was revealed Tuesday, a wave of updates surrounding SBTRKT’s new album have surfaced. The U.K. producer announced a new record titled “Wonder Where We Land” is set for a Sept. 23 release. While SBTRKT’s self-titled debut album had a number of notable guests, including Little Dragon, Jessie Ware, and Sampha, “Wonder Where We Land” is set to top that. With Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig already featured on the single, ASAP Ferg, Denai Moore and members of Chairlift, Koreless and Los Angeles-based Warpaint contribute across the 15-track record. Jessie Ware and Sampha will also return. These featured tracks will be showcased on a lengthy world tour starting in the United Kingdom in late September. SBTRKT (whose real name is Aaron Jerome) is slated for two October outings in Los Angeles at the Belasco Theater. He additionally released an album teaser, a relatively repetitive audio snippet above bubbling maroon water. These updates amplify what...

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Made in America organizers detail festival plans at community meeting

The impending arrival of the Made in America festival in Los Angeles hasn’t been without controversy. Back in April when Jay Z stood on the steps of City Hall alongside Mayor Eric Garcetti to announce plans for his two-day festival to take over downtown’s Grand Park during Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30-31), there was already concern from city officials. How will the festival affect downtown? What will it look like? Which streets will be closed? How many people will be there? Festival organizers looked to answer those questions during a community meeting Tuesday night at City Hall. About two dozen downtown residents and business owners filed into the Public Works boardroom to hear from representatives of festival sponsor Budweiser as well as the United Way (some proceeds of the event will benefit area branches of the nonprofit) and Diversified Production Services, the entertainment promotions company that has partnered with Roc Nation and Live Nation to stage the festival. “We’re only...

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Sean Michaels to pay tribute to the theremin at Largo reading tonight

The theremin is just about the only musical instrument one can play without touching it. Musicians create sounds by moving their hands in the open air around the theremin’s antennae. Players get close to it, but outside of adjusting some knobs and settings, they never actually get their hands on it. For Sean Michaels, a writer and music critic, the theremin embodies all the modern, electrified ways that human connections come in and out of thin air. His debut novel, “Us Conductors,” follows the instrument’s creator, Russian inventor Lev Termen -- known as Leon Theremin in the West -- as he enjoys Jazz Age celebrity in New York’s avant-garde music circles, and chronicles his deportment to a Siberian prison camp after his return to the Soviet Union. After the theremin’s 1920 invention, Michaels said: “It was one of the first times that people found the beguiling confusion that can come from wires and electricity. It was a new feeling.” Music-obsessed readers will recognize Michaels’...

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