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Florida native Chester Watson released his first mixtape on his 15th birthday, and has been busy in the two years since. This year alone, the ballet dancer-turned-producer and rapper released a pair of EPs, “Guru Vol. 3” and “My Girlfriend Made Me Drop This,” and the five-act, 28-track album “Tin Wooki,” an impressive and sprawling collection of grimy, hazy and jazzy kick-snare beats and heady hip-hop that is lined with gold. Watson’s voice brings to mind Earl Sweatshirt or Guru in his even-keeled monotone flow and his raps bring to mind Joey Bada$$ or MF Doom in how cleverly they jump around the beat at different speeds, as on “Tin Wooki” tracks “Camels and Cranes” and “Film Noir.” New track “Fantastic” is another quick and dusty ditty with a flute harmony floating above a minimal boom-bap beat and the rap, “I’m from the future so I know you ain’t ahead of me / Strategically defeat as I triangulate trajectory / So you see why still no one is next to me, right? / Prolly in a league from beyond.”

||| Stream: “Camels and Cranes,” “Film Noir,” and “Fantastic”

||| Live: Chester Watson plays the Echo tonight with Jonwayne.

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A big Thursday as we head toward the holidays:

► After problems with the P.A. plagued Wednesday night’s show, Ryan Adams returns for a second night at the Wiltern. [Review of Night 1 forthcoming.]
► The “Where’s the Band Tour” brings a fivesome of rock frontmen to the Troubadour for solo acoustic performances — Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids, Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, Casey Crescenzo of the Dear Hunter and Andy Jackson of Hot Rod Circuit. Above, Kenrue’s video for “It’s Not Enough,” from 2013′s “The Water & the Blood.”
► Genre-mashing rapper Jonwayne headlines the Echo — get there early for Floridian Chester Watson and Russ.
► It’s roots-rock goodness at El Cid, with Brian Whelan and Gun Hill Royals.
► And Phoenix’s Melt W/ Me (fka Black Carl) is joined by the Burning of Rome and Party Gardens at the Satellite

Also:
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Smashing Pumpkins 8

Billy Corgan has been in a news a lot recently, giving good interview, waxing philosophical about the state of music and his place in it, the psoriasis of pop culture and, naturally, the Smashing Pumpkins’ new album “Monuments to an Elegy,” their ninth. He’s been ambushed by Anderson Cooper (and returned fire), likened his role as a rock frontman to that of a professional wrestler (he may have something there) and generally posited himself among ’90s survivors as the anti-bro (sign of the horns to Dave Grohl).

The 47-year-old brought none of that raillery to the Fonda Theatre on Tuesday night during a 95-minute show that was virtually absent any sparring with fans or pulpiteering. “I know it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, but we play music, not make jokes,” he said during an aside to his bandmate of seven years, guitarist Jeff Schroeder. “Jokes are so 2007.”

This incarnation of the Pumpkins features bassist Mark Stoermer (the Killers) and
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Here are your most excellent Wednesday show options:

Ryan Adams does the first of two night at the Wiltern in support of his new self-titled album.
Meiko returns to the Hotel Café for a show on a night that also features Tyler Lyle, Luke & Laura, Found in the Flood and Caitlin Lucia.
► Everclear frontman Art Alexakis does a solo night at the Roxy Theatre billed as “Songs & Stories.”
► Sean and Sara Watkins do their monthly The Watkins Family Hour at Largo, joined by John C. Reilly
The Lovers are joined by Truth & Salvage Co.’s Scott Kinnebrew & the Squirrels and the Lovers at Harvard & Stone.
► And at the Bootleg HiFi, young singers Katy Rose and Fiona Grey head up a night that includes DJ/producer Little Indian and singer-songwriter Trishes.

Also:
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Stream: Go Betty Go, ‘By Your Side’

by Kevin Bronson on December 16, 2014

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Go Betty Go gave pop-punk fans plenty of kicks in middle of last decade, when the all-Latina rockers released an EP and a full-length on SideOneDummy Records. So it’s fitting that their comeback EP is titled “Reboot” — after eight-plus years on the sidelines, engaging in real-life things like marriages, families, college educations and jobs, they’re still a kick. The Glendale-bred quartet returns with the original lineup: sisters Nicolette and Aixa Vilar, Betty Cisneros and Michelle Rangel. For the new EP, they also returned to the the producer who shaped 2005′s “Nothing Is More,” Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Flogging Molly). The result is a dynamic, crisp-sounding six-pack of songs that find Go Betty Go pretty much picking up where they left off. “Reboot” is out Jan. 27.

||| Stream: “By Your Side” and “It Haunts You Now” (and get a free download of the latter song via Noisetrade)

||| Live: Go Betty Go plays Cafe NELA on Dec. 28. The quartet also plays the Roxy on Jan. 25 with the Dollyrots.

||| Previously: Live in Chinatown.

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Stream: Modest Mouse, ‘Lampshades on Fire’

by Kevin Bronson on December 16, 2014

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Has it really been seven years since Modest Mouse released “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank?” Time flies. This week the long-running indie-rockers announced they have righted the ship — they’ll release their sixth album, “Strangers to Ourselves,” on March 3 via Epic. (The band also mentioned something about “extensive touring,” so we’re guessing you can pencil them in at Coachella.) And the first single, “Lampshades on Fire,” is a playful quick-hitter with a galloping groove and dialed-back guitars.

||| Stream: “Lampshades on Fire”

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Here’s your Tuesday show things:

► Buckle up: Smashing Pumpkins play the Fonda Theatre behind their new album “Monuments to an Elegy.”
► L.A. quartet Francisco the Man winds up a big year that saw them release their long-awaited full-length, “Loose Ends,” with a show at the Echo, supported by Gothic Tropic and Hot Panda. Above, the video for “It’s Not Your Fault.”
► Finnish rockers HIM take on the Wiltern.
Mark de Clive-Lowe heads up a big lineup at the House of Blues, including Arabian Prince, Ramses, Mr. Choc, Phil N Good and Nadastrom.
► At the Bootleg HiFi, it’s L.A. duo Smoke Season [see “Opaque”], along with yOya and the Gromble.
► And Alyeska previews some new songs at the Silverlake Lounge, supported by Bryson Jones Allman.

Also:
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Capping a year that saw them release their second album, “Dunes,” back in February, Santa Barbara’s Gardens & Villa unleashed their sticky sweet synth-pop on the crowd at the Echoplex on Saturday, complete with their characteristic wood flute. The dreamy set highlighted by Chris Lynch’s vocals found a perfect atmosphere in the giant geometric LED lights and heavy smoke. Costumed songstress and self-described “possible humanoid simulation” Geneva Jacuzzi (née Geneva Garvin) took to the stage in the arms of a hooded figure, laid upon a cot that rose above a constructed wasteland of Christmas lights, trinkets and dismembered mannequins. She managed to meander her way through low-fi bedroom recordings, punctuated with her barking orders at three nameless attendants who filled the stage with a melangerie of urban refuse, all under the pomp of [Barbara] Kruger-esque word art preaching largely forgettable maxims. The crowd seemed more confused by the spectacle than entertained, and after exploding several hot-sauce filled balloons, she had thoroughly lost them. However her TRON-meets-Marcel Marceau jumpsuit looked delightful. TV Girl opened the night with a poised set of sun-bleached, slacker indie-pop. Complete with a dressed mannequin on stage, they definitely delighted the crowd. Coupling safe samples with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, their mirthful, droney set the night off right with the college-going crowd in attendance.

Photos and recap by Zane Roessell

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Stream: The Mowgli’s, ‘Through the Dark’

by Kevin Bronson on December 15, 2014

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The Mowgli’s are like those smiling kids who come to your front door every so often with an armload of salvation, if only you’d become a True Believer. And if you are, you’ll smile at learning the L.A.-based missionaries of positivity announced this week that their sophomore album “Kids in Love” will be out in April. The septet — Colin Louis Dieden, Katie Jayne Earl, Matthew Di Panni, Josh Hogan, Dave Appelbaum, Spencer Trent and Andy Warren — emerged in early 2012 with the chipper single “San Francisco,” riding the slipstream of similarly upbeat indie-pop bands such as Grouplove and Family of the Year. The album they self-released that year was picked up, spit-polished and released as “Waiting for the Dawn” in June 2013 by Island Def Jam. The treacly new single “Through the Dark” (out today) continues in the same vein as “Waiting;” the Mowgli’s never met a gang chorus they didn’t like. They are most effective when you’re a member of the gang too.

||| Stream: “Through the Dark”

||| Live: The Mowgli’s perform May 8 at the Regent Theater.

||| Previously: “San Francisco”

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Ears Wide Open: Dronen

by Kevin Bronson on December 15, 2014

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You hear those over-driven guitars? Pummeling rhythm section? Angst-y yowls? It’s 1995 calling, in the form of Orange County trio Dronen. The band — Daniel Olivas, Victor Aguilar and Carlos Chevez — announced their presence in 2013 with the album “Digital Pathways (Analog Pathogens),” which served as something of a shout-out to the radio giants of the 1990s, and their fans. The follow-up is an EP titled “284 Days” (due Feb. 3) — which, owing to various complications and life’s curveballs, is the amount of time it took the trio to make the recording. Going on two deacdes after grunge and its neo- variants plays themselves out, this music still feels like flannel, and Dronen wears it pretty well.

||| Stream: “The Loss of All Things Real”

||| Live: Dronen plays Tuesday at the Cinema Bar.

Photo by John Ponce De Leon

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