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A fruitful autumn harvest Highlights from the season's stage, dance, architecture, books, art, classical and pop.

September 07, 2008

Afronaut auteurs

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.

AARP Adonises

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.

Hollywood forever

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.

Enchanting anniversaries

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

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