The experimental edge of black pop is alive with new music right now. Tricky, the Bristol, England-born dark Magus responsible for some of the most original sounds of the late ‘90s, makes a smashing comeback with the album “Knowle West Boy,” out domestically Tuesday on the Domino label; he plays his first local date in five years Friday at the Henry Fonda Theater. Big Boi, the earthier half of Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast, releases his first official solo debut, “Sir Luscious Left Foot . . . the Return of Chico Dusty,” Oct. 28 on LaFace/Zomba Records. Also, two titans of plastic fantastic soul make long-overdue returns this fall: LaBelle, the trio of Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, has enlisted producers Lenny Kravitz, Wyclef Jean and Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for “Back to Now,” its first album since 1976, out Oct. 21 on Verve. And the cyber-mother of us all -- Grace Jones -- reenters pop’s orbit after two decades with “Hurricane,” out Oct. 27 on the Wall of Sound label.
Stars in our neighborhood
L.A. hardly lacks for great rock bands or singer-songwriters; this preview could be devoted solely to their efforts. But two stand out this month. Jenny Lewis, whose songwriting just gets sharper and more adventurous with every album, releases “Acid Tongue,” her second disc beyond the confines of her band, Rilo Kiley, Sept. 23 on Warner Bros. The same day, the flamboyantly gifted Long Beach combo Cold War Kids makes its sophomore leap with “Loyalty to Loyalty,” on Downtown Records. The band recently threw down at the Democratic Convention, and its latest single, “Something’s Not Right With Me,” is inspired insanity.
Four-night standsCoheed and Cambria, the torch-bearer for sci-fi influenced progressive rock, presents “Neverender,” the song cycle it’s stretched out over four albums, in its entirety at the Avalon Nov. 5-8. It’s unclear whether visuals will enhance the band’s rendering of leader Claudio Sanchez’s space opera -- a series of graphic novels complements the recordings -- but the vibe will surely be heavy. A different kind of intensity characterizes the folk-pop of Tegan and Sara, the Canadian sister act with a rabid, mostly female following. Their fans can shout out requests and throw flowers during the pair’s residency Oct. 16-19 at the Fonda.
In pop, it’s never too late to get ladies screaming. Just ask Neil Diamond -- on the heels of his bestselling, Rick-Rubin-produced CD “Home Before Dark,” the man behind “I Am . . . I Said” is playing a high-profile three-night L.A. stand. Two nights at the Hollywood Bowl weren’t enough, so he’s following those Oct. 1-2 dates with one Oct. 4 at Staples Center. Diamond isn’t the only graying lion on the prowl. Tom Jones is finalizing tracks for his first collection of all-new material in 15 years. The Welsh wailer is getting help from Bono and the Edge, as well as the English production team Future Cut, which has worked with Lily Allen, Natasha Bedingfield, Dizzee Rascal and other fashionable Brits. The as-yet-untitled effort should hit retail Oct. 21, and Jones will be on tour, charming old fans and new pussycats, after that.
Many a legend has graced the stage of the Hollywood Palladium: Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The glamorous spot was shuttered for renovation last year, but reopens in October under the auspices of concert promotion company Live Nation. Rap kingpin Jay-Z hosts the grand reopening, performing with a 12-piece band. Other artists appearing at the venue this fall include Gym Class Heroes and the Roots on Oct. 17; grass-roots rockers Rise Against for three nights, Oct. 31-Nov. 2; metal band Dragonforce on Nov. 7; rock en Espanol queen Alejandra Guzman on Nov. 21 and indie-rock freakazoids Of Montreal on Nov. 22.
Royce Hall, a gem on UCLA’s campus, is an honored local landmark; it’s always fun when its live performance schedule includes retrospective fetes for other treasured institutions. Perhaps the concert season’s most warmhearted tribute will fill the hall Oct. 2, when luminaries gather to reminisce about the Santa Monica musician’s enclave McCabe’s Guitar Shop. Performers paying homage to this unique gathering place and live venue include Jackson Browne, Richard Thompson, Odetta, David Lindley, Jennifer Warnes, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Ricky Jay and several unannounced guests. A concept, rather than a physical space, is honored Oct. 30 when Hal Willner resurrects his 20-year-old project “Stay Awake.” One of many recorded tributes staged by New York-based producer Willner, this one is especially suited for restaging in Los Angeles, since it focuses on the music of Walt Disney’s classic films. The lineup for the Royce Hall show hasn’t yet been announced, but original participants are promised. So go ahead and get your hopes up for stars like Bonnie Raitt, Suzanne Vega, Bill Frisell and Los Lobos.
Pickup truck poetics
Lucinda Williams is the denim-clad doyenne of regionalist singer-songwriters, her eye for detail and cool conversational voice producing songs that make you feel the Southern dirt under your feet. Williams releases her love-drunk new disc, “Little Honey,” Oct. 14 on Lost Highway Records. Her younger competition from the Northeast, Ray LaMontagne, releases “Gossip in the Grain” on RCA Records on Oct. 14. The third album from the Maine-based troubadour heads toward a full-band sound and some unexpected turns, including the retro-soul single “You Are the Best Thing” and a rather obsessive ode to drum vixen Meg White. The week before, West Coast wanderer Jolie Holland releases “The Living and the Dead” (Anti- Records), which also boasts a bigger sound than her previous work.
“Idol” worship is a year-round activity, what with former winners, contenders and also-rans producing a steady stream of product. This fall, though, three “Idol” discs have a chance of being more than chart bottom-feeders. The two Davids -- Archuleta and Cook -- extend their loving rivalry by releasing their debuts on the same day, Nov. 11. Archie’s is sure to overflow with breathy paeans to young love like his current hit, “Crush.” Cook, who’s working with renowned rock-dude producer Rob Cavallo toward that Green Day-meets-Our Lady Peace sound, can count on mall shoppers popping in to Best Buy. But both could be clobbered by the comeback of Kelly Clarkson, whose last release was the kind of artistic-risk-turned-commercial-failure that puts an artist in a fighting mood. She’s due back sometime in December. And don’t forget Jennifer Hudson, whose long-anticipated solo debut drops
Music’s spiritual path is as wide as an ancient river, with as many tributaries. Two concerts presented by the L.A. Philharmonic highlight different ways sound can transport. “A Celebration of Rumi: The Sights & Sounds of Mystic Persia,” on Sept. 27, will feature whirling dervishes, lute-playing bard Nour-Mohammad Dorpour, a live calligrapher and the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, among others. It’s the first Persian-oriented program to come to the Hollywood Bowl. If you prefer spiritual ecstasy of the torchy blues variety, the androgynous, unclassifiable singer Antony makes a special appearance with his band, the Johnsons, and a 20-piece orchestra conducted by James Holmes, Oct. 14. The show celebrates the October release of Antony’s latest EP, “Another World.”
The British invade -- again
Our rock-star pals from across the pond have their clocks set back about a decade; ‘90s zeitgeist rulers the Verve, Spiritualized and Portishead all returned this year. Now the biggest bully boys of all, the brothers Gallagher, offer up the seventh Oasis studio album, “Dig Out Your Soul,” Oct. 7 on Big Brother/Reprise. The two songs leaked: the grittily meditative “Falling Down” and the dance-floor rocker “Shock of the Lightning.” Both shove listeners back into the band’s Britpop time machine, indicating that Liam and Noel are again prepared to start throwing boasts and punches. Dido is a much quieter -- but perhaps more likely -- contender for a massive return. This skilled chronicler of life’s private moments releases her third album, “Safe Trip Home,” Nov. 3 on Sony/BMG. The lead single, “Look No Further,” is an unadorned and powerfully direct assertion of domestic contentment. Jon Brion co-produced “Safe Trip Home” with Dido and her brother, Rollo Armstrong. One song is a co-write with Brian Eno, while a bevy of great drummers, including ?uestlove, Jim Keltner and Matt Chamberlain, took out their brushes to help Dido achieve maximum chill.
Fall festivalsL.A. hosts two notable fests this season: the Detour Festival, an alternative-music smorgasbord sponsored by the L.A. Weekly, which has Gogol Bordello and the Mars Volta headlining Oct. 4 on some closed-off streets downtown, and the dance-music extravaganza Nocturnal, which takes over San Bernardino’s NOS Events Center on Sept. 13 with six staging areas, more than 100 DJs and plenty of promised “beautiful people.”
Latin without borders
Two returning groundbreakers show the range of contemporary Latin sounds this season. Lila Downs, the majestically voiced, border-crossing Oaxacan American singer, is touring in support of what could be her pop breakthrough: the powerfully cosmopolitan album “Shake Away,” just released on Manhattan Records. She plays the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 21, as part of KCRW’s World Festival, which also features Nortec Collective, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Ozomatli. Puerto Rican hip-hop experimentalists Calle 13 also have a new album ready; “Los de Atras Vienen Conmigo (The Ones Left Behind Are Coming With Me)” arrives Oct. 7 on Sony BMG. The gossip is that the daring duo incorporate Argentine and Balkan influences into their Nuyorican stew this time. The duo, in the midst of a short U.S. tour, comes to L.A. Live’s Club Nokia on
It’s a war among goddesses on L.A.'s biggest concert stages this fall. Janet Jackson is still trying to move beyond the scandal of her Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction"; expect plenty of voluntarily exposed skin when she plays Staples Center on Sept. 17. Tina Turner is prepping new songs for her un-retirement party, which comes to Staples on Oct. 13 and the Honda Center in Anaheim on Oct. 14. Celine Dion brings her world tour to the Honda Center on Nov. 29 and to Staples on Dec. 2. And Sarah Brightman spreads her light-operatic love around with three year-end shows: Dec. 18 at the Nokia Theater, Dec. 19 at the Honda Center and Dec. 20 at the Forum. All that gold-plated feminine power is still no match for the hardest-working queen in show biz, Madonna, who dares to fill Dodger Stadium with her “Sticky and Sweet” tour
Lost and found
Bob Dylan is eight volumes into his ongoing “Bootleg Series,” featuring great stuff he couldn’t fit into his official releases -- does this guy ever take a break from being a genius? The latest set, “Tell Tale Signs,” offers overlooked gems from a particularly fruitful time: his artistic resurgence of the past two decades. Live recordings, outtakes and rarities fill in the blanks on the epoch that gave us great late-period works such as “Time Out of Mind” and “Modern Times.” The deluxe two-CD set comes out Oct. 7. Dylan’s late pal and sometime collaborator Johnny Cash is honored with a groundbreaking box set this fall too. “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: the Legacy Edition” delves deep into the circumstances surrounding two of the most famous concerts in pop history -- the country master’s visits to the California lockup. Both concerts are represented in their entirety, including 31 previously unreleased tracks. A companion DVD takes viewers inside the prison and includes interviews with Cash’s friends and family, as well as inmates who attended the shows. The box is out Oct. 14 on Columbia/Legacy. --
The fall preview list was written by Craig Fisher, Christopher Hawthorne, Carolyn Kellogg, Christopher Knight, Orli Low, Charles McNulty, Suzanne Muchnic, Nick Owchar, Ann Powers, Mark Swed, Scott Timberg and David L. Ulin.