Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
Alan Jackson remembers the good times at Nokia Theatre

Implicit in the name of Alan Jackson’s current road show, the Keepin’ It Country tour, is the idea that this veteran country star is engaged in some resistance. It presents Jackson as a guy defending himself and the tradition he embodies against pressure to change.

But who (or what) is applying that pressure?

One possibility is age. At 56, Jackson has less company than he used to in Nashville, where he came up as part of a pack of slick neo-traditionalists – “hat acts,” they were often called, for their omnipresent cowboy hats – that also included singers such as Mark Chesnutt and Clint Black.

Today many of his former peers have retired from the road, as George Strait did last year, or ventured outside the country mainstream, as Garth Brooks did in November with his pointedly titled comeback album, “Man Against Machine.” Jackson’s tour, which stopped Friday night for a sold-out concert at the Nokia Theatre, might be an assurance that he won’t be next to disappear.

Then again, perhaps...

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Caribou mesmerizes in the first of three sold-out Fonda concerts

Many tone varietals run through pop music, some poisonously bitter and abrasive, others as sweet as honeysuckle. The sound the electronic artist Caribou (a.k.a. Dan Snaith) created at the Fonda on Thursday night hit the eardrums like velveteen berries: perfectly ripe and arranged in complex rhythmic patterns that seemed to luxuriate in hitting human pleasure receptors in the clearest, most striking ways possible.

On the first of three consecutive nights, Snaith cultivated a dance music feast of analogue and digital synth tones, human- and circuit-crafted beats, feedback-drenched noise, voices digitally altered and cleanly sung before a visual backdrop that displayed sprouting vegetation. The layers upon layers of textures propelled the 1,200-capacity Hollywood theater into heaving, bouncing dance mode.

With each new peak throughout the 70-plus minute set, first in a trio of tracks from the recent album “Our Love," on to a mid-set selection of tribal pounds from 2010’s “Swim,” and the...

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Leonard Nimoy's music blurred line between man and Vulcan

Much will be written in the coming days about Leonard Nimoy the actor and science fiction icon and his place in television history. But as we celebrate this, let us not forget one of Nimoy’s most important contributions: “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” his 1968 ode to "The Hobbit."

One of many curious records that Nimoy released both under his own name and as Dr. Spock, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” celebrates J.R.R. Tolkien’s creation with lines about hobbit habits, desires and adventures.

Now hobbits are a peace-lovin' folks you know

They don't like to hurry and they take things slow

They don't like to travel away from home

They just want to eat and be left alone

These are hobbit facts, made believable because Nimoy said so.

Nimoy wasn’t a one-trick Vulcan when it came to music, though. His folk records issued in the 1960s have long been underground classics, oddly earnest recordings including “Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space,” “Two Sides of Leonard...

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Kanye West publicly apologizes to Beck, Bruno Mars for his behavior

Kanye West is sorry. On Thursday, the controversial but immensely popular rap star took to Twitter -- where he has more than 11 million followers -- to apologize to artists Beck and Bruno Mars.

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Rising country star Brandy Clark reflects on whirlwind year

Long before Brandy Clark scored 2015 Grammy nominations for best new artist and country album, and before critics started lauding her 2013 debut album “12 Stories” as one of the freshest arrivals in recent years, the singer and songwriter knew she was onto something with her writing.

“I wrote this song called ‘I Cried,’ and I could tell by the response it had when people heard it that I’d figured something out — it hit people in a very emotional way,” Clark, 38, said over breakfast in the restaurant of her Los Angeles hotel Thursday, a day before she was scheduled to take the stage at the Nokia Theatre, where she's opening for country veteran Alan Jackson.

But she also soon began to wonder whether any significant number of country fans would ever get the chance to hear her smartly written perspectives on life, love, working and other topics, given the relatively limited scope of what makes it onto country radio these days.

“It can be very discouraging,” said Clark, who grew up in...

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Journey to perform at 2015 Hollywood Bowl opening night concert

City of the Angels, Journey is calling you. The classic rock band will open the 2015 Hollywood Bowl season with a performance with Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra on June 20. It will be the band's first-ever appearance with a full orchestra.

The curtain-raising concert will advance a pop music schedule that's filling up. Also slated to appear throughout the summer at the landmark outdoor venue are Basement Jaxx, Ed Sheeran, Underworld, Smokey Robinson, Death Cab for Cutie, David Gray, Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club, Sheryl Crow, the B-52s and others. 

As for Journey: as always these days, of course, the band will be absent its longtime vocal asset Steve Perry, who long ago stopped performing with the band. In his place, founding members Neal Schon and Ross Valory will be joined by longtime members Jonathan Cain and Deen Castronovo and the miraculously on-spot singer Arnel Pineda. 

Close your eyes and Pineda's a ringer, and as such, Journey's takes on classics...

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