MUSIC REVIEWS

CONCERT & ALBUM REVIEWS

Rihanna remains an enigma onstage at the Forum

Rihanna is one of the few pop artists who has seemingly mastered multi-platform superstardom in our digital, social media-driven world.  Since her debut more than 10 years ago, Rihanna has retained a high level of visibility in pop culture that would have long veered into overexposure if she weren't...

  • With 'Anti,' Rihanna shows the strength in vulnerability

    With 'Anti,' Rihanna shows the strength in vulnerability

    You can’t name your album “Anti” without inviting your audience to think about what you oppose. So what is Rihanna standing against on her eighth studio record? A smoothly choreographed product rollout, for one. After repeated delays, “Anti” finally appeared online Wednesday night, first in an ...

  • Sia wastes an opportunity on the ordinary 'This Is Acting'

    Sia wastes an opportunity on the ordinary 'This Is Acting'

    A year and a half ago, Sia transformed a serious liability into an undeniable asset. So why does her new album make waste of her success? An Australian singer-songwriter with a flair for fitting confessional lyrics to sleek electronic beats, Sia built a respectable following in the late 1990s and...

  • Jennifer Lopez gives all she's got -- and more -- in Vegas

    Jennifer Lopez gives all she's got -- and more -- in Vegas

    “Vegas, there’s a new girl in town,” Jennifer Lopez announced during a sold-out show at Planet Hollywood's Axis Theater on Friday. Judging from the dazzling two-hour spectacle the multi-hyphenate entertainer has produced for her debut Vegas residency, Lopez’s proclamation felt more like a warning...

  • John Mayer hops aboard the Dead & Company train at the Forum

    John Mayer hops aboard the Dead & Company train at the Forum

    The members of Dead & Company had been chewing on the taut boogie-rock groove of "Bertha" for a good long while at the Forum when John Mayer looked over at Bob Weir in search of a little guidance. Are we done? Mayer seemed to be asking with his eyes. Or do we keep going? Weir took his hands off...

  • Muse offers big issues, echoes of Pink Floyd at Staples Center

    Muse offers big issues, echoes of Pink Floyd at Staples Center

    The journeymen of Muse are masters in the art of subversion. It can be heard in their mingling of message and melody as singer Matt Bellamy urges,  “You can revolt!” on the trio’s new album, “Drones,” within the most disarmingly sunny vocal imaginable. Most of the new album is a lot noisier, and...

  • Here's how Miley Cyrus regained her mojo at the Wiltern on Saturday night

    Here's how Miley Cyrus regained her mojo at the Wiltern on Saturday night

    Miley Cyrus waited until the end of her concert at the Wiltern on Saturday to tell the audience why she was there, and maybe that was because she hadn’t wanted to give anyone the wrong idea by explaining it earlier. Seated behind a grand piano, Cyrus described the show as her response to a feeling...

  • On new albums, Chris Brown and R. Kelly have no use for filters

    On new albums, Chris Brown and R. Kelly have no use for filters

    Hours after a judge in Philadelphia suggested this week that she might send rapper Meek Mill to jail for violating his probation, Chris Brown fired up Twitter to defend his friend and get some things off his chest. “Wish the judge could see the influence meek mill can have out of jail more than...

  • Patricia Kopatchinskaja shows her astonishing artistry on 'Take Two' and 'Chiaroscuro'

    Patricia Kopatchinskaja shows her astonishing artistry on 'Take Two' and 'Chiaroscuro'

    In 2008, a prize-winning young violinist from Moldova made a recording of violin sonatas with the unconventional Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say. It begins with the most strikingly original nontrivial performance of Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata on disc. Her tone is wiry and electric. She...

  • Adele returns to explain the big emotions of your life on '25'

    Adele returns to explain the big emotions of your life on '25'

    When Adele sings on her new album, "25," about an emotional experience so vivid that “It was just like a movie / It was just like a song,” she’s probably thinking of a tune by one of her idols: Roberta Flack, say, or Stevie Nicks. But for fans of this 27-year-old British singer, such a moment could...

  • Seal is single and ready to mingle at the Ace Hotel

    Seal is single and ready to mingle at the Ace Hotel

    Seal understands where he fits into pop music in 2015. Standing onstage Monday night at downtown's Theatre at the Ace Hotel, the British singer was reflecting a bit on the 25 years since he broke out with a pair of hit singles — “Killer” and “Crazy” — that presented him as the (very handsome) face...

  • Quincy Jones loves jazz and jazz loves Quincy Jones at Monk Institute gala

    Quincy Jones loves jazz and jazz loves Quincy Jones at Monk Institute gala

    Along with his thanks, Quincy Jones had words of warning when he accepted an accolade from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. The veteran musician, arranger and producer — whose six-decade career took him “from bebop to hip-hop,” as his friend Herbie Hancock put it — was onstage Sunday night...

  • One Direction prepares to disappear with 'Made in the A.M.'

    One Direction prepares to disappear with 'Made in the A.M.'

    Like clockwork, they arrive each November. We’re talking, of course, about One Direction albums. The British boy band, which formed on the U.K. version of “The X Factor” and quickly escalated to filling stadiums, has given us a new record every year since 2011. Now, right on time, comes the fifth — and...

  • Kendrick Lamar brings Kunta's Groove Sessions to the Wiltern

    Kendrick Lamar brings Kunta's Groove Sessions to the Wiltern

    The first time I saw Kendrick Lamar play live, at New York’s Roseland Ballroom in February of 2013, he was cresting rapidly after a major label debut, “Good Kid, M.AA.D. City.” He was ferocious, alone except for his DJ, but a bit overwhelmed by a crowd reaction that felt ahead of itself, as much...

  • 'Bob Dylan 1965-1966' opens window on a creative peak

    'Bob Dylan 1965-1966' opens window on a creative peak

    Among the many things Thomas Edison famously said, he remarked that “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” and he also insisted that “I have not failed once. I have simply found 10,000 ways that do not work.” Both precepts are clearly evident in "Bob Dylan — The Cutting Edge 1965-1966:...

  • Josh Groban's 'Stages' feels like a retreat at the Dolby Theatre

    Josh Groban's 'Stages' feels like a retreat at the Dolby Theatre

    It’s an indication of Josh Groban’s vocal prowess that his new album of lung-busting Broadway ballads feels a little like a cop-out. Before he recorded “Stages,” which came out in April, the singer spent a few years venturing from the polished classical-crossover sound that made him a baby-faced...

  • Madonna feels her 'Rebel Heart' beat at the Forum

    Madonna feels her 'Rebel Heart' beat at the Forum

    As watchful a superstar as pop has ever known, Madonna paused not long into her concert at the Forum to appraise the recent renovation of the venerable Inglewood arena, which has housed so many of her performances over the decades that “I feel like this is one of my homes,” she said. “I see the...

  • For heavy metal's Ghost, it's always fright night

    For heavy metal's Ghost, it's always fright night

    Doom comes in a variety of flavors. The Swedish band Ghost prefers its heavy metal to be loud but melodic, scary but inclusive. As the enigmatic group played Monday to a full house at the Mayan, it hardly mattered that Halloween was just days away. For Ghost, every night is fright night. On two...

  • Cityfox brings high standards (and high prices) to downtown L.A.'s techno scene

    Cityfox brings high standards (and high prices) to downtown L.A.'s techno scene

    At one end of downtown L.A. on Saturday night, well-wishers said goodbye to the 6th Street bridge, whose fetching metal arches and dystopic views are beloved by music video directors and after-hours partygoers alike. At the other end, a different kind of party introduced itself to Los Angeles....

  • Live: Blur lovingly sends up L.A. in its long-awaited Hollywood Bowl show

    Live: Blur lovingly sends up L.A. in its long-awaited Hollywood Bowl show

    Blur’s “Parklife” is one of the most essentially English rock singles ever put to tape. But during Tuesday night’s show at the Hollywood Bowl, the band revisited the rambling 1994 tune with an appropriately L.A. twist. The band brought out comedian Fred Armisen to update the song — originally a...

  • Live: Kygo takes the Greek Theatre to the tropics of EDM

    Live: Kygo takes the Greek Theatre to the tropics of EDM

    On the crowded walk up the paths to the Greek Theatre on Saturday night, two young women in clingy metallic dresses scrambled up the hill to see Norwegian dance music star Kygo. Their heels clacked on the rough sidewalk, and as they clambered a few feet at a time, they tripped, dropped their purses...

  • Janet Jackson still rules over the 'Rhythm Nation' on her 'Unbreakable' tour

    Janet Jackson still rules over the 'Rhythm Nation' on her 'Unbreakable' tour

    Before Janet Jackson made her much anticipated return to music earlier this year, it had been seven years since her last full body of work — but you wouldn’t know it.More than 30 years after she first broke in music, Jackson’s influence remains omnipresent in today’s pop landscape.From Rihanna's...

  • Fired-up Neil Young rocks and rails at the Forum

    Fired-up Neil Young rocks and rails at the Forum

    Neil Young is riled up. Again. That’s usually a good thing, at least in terms of his concerts, and it turned out to be the case when the veteran rocker and his new cohorts, Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real band, pulled into the Forum in Inglewood on Wednesday and put forth nearly three hours...

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