MUSIC REVIEWS

CONCERT & ALBUM REVIEWS

  • Guns N' Roses is back. But where are Axl Rose's snake hips?

    Guns N' Roses is back. But where are Axl Rose's snake hips?

    You knew where you were. You were in the retirement home, baby. At least that's how it felt when Axl Rose, the sneering frontman who once used similar language to welcome listeners to the jungle, was wheeled onstage for the first full-scale concert in a much-hyped reunion tour by his influential...

  • Can't we just let Adam Lambert be Adam Lambert?

    Can't we just let Adam Lambert be Adam Lambert?

    “American Idol” introduced us to Adam Lambert, but it’s also what’s kept us from really getting to know him.In 2009, this former San Diego theater kid struck the televised singing competition like a bolt of originality. He was sensitive but macho, showy yet deep-feeling. As a vocalist, he could...

  • Big Sean & Jhene Aiko's 'Twenty88': A raw, sexy look at twentysomething love

    Big Sean & Jhene Aiko's 'Twenty88': A raw, sexy look at twentysomething love

    Even before they formed a duo, Big Sean and Jhene Aiko's chemistry was undeniable. The Detroit rapper and the L.A. singer have already been exploring the complexities of coming of age in their music and were still finding their voice when they first collaborated on 2013’s “Beware.” That single,...

  • Rising soul singer Andra Day makes flaws seem beautiful at the El Rey

    Rising soul singer Andra Day makes flaws seem beautiful at the El Rey

    Andra Day took out a handkerchief from her pocket and began wiping off her makeup. A normal thing to do after a show, for sure. But the young neo-soul singer wasn’t winding down backstage, sweaty from her sold-out show at the El Rey on Wednesday. She did it midway through her set, in front of everyone...

  • Last Shadow Puppets throws a dark, unexpected twist into 'Everything You've Come to Expect'

    Last Shadow Puppets throws a dark, unexpected twist into 'Everything You've Come to Expect'

    In the music video for "Aviation," the first song on their new album as the Last Shadow Puppets, Alex Turner and Miles Kane play two men forced to dig what look like their own graves by a suave but sadistic crime-boss type. There's a woman too, weeping in the back seat of a vintage Rolls-Royce,...

  • Super Bowl 2016: Beyoncé gets the halftime win with Coldplay's blessing

    Super Bowl 2016: Beyoncé gets the halftime win with Coldplay's blessing

    For a band that’s been called wimpy for the better part of two decades, Coldplay showed some remarkable chutzpah Sunday night in the halftime show at Super Bowl 50. Sure, frontman Chris Martin was his usual heart-on-sleeve self, starting the performance with a few lines from Coldplay’s ultra-sensitive...

  • 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...

  • 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...

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