Soundchecks: Luthi, Clayton James, Back to Black, Petal, Echo in the Canyon

Live music to catch this week

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ALEX JUSTICE
  • Alex Justice

BOOGIE CIRCUS | Luthi
w/ Bone Jinzen with Zane (ft. members of Eighty Seven Nights)
Thurs. Jun. 20
9 p.m.
$10/adv., $12/door
Pour House

At the risk of sounding ambiguous, the best way to describe the funk prodigies in Luthi is to call them a good time. They're "organic dance music for a modern age," according to bass player Taylor Ivey. Laying somewhere between indie-pop and old-school R&B, the band takes influence from the Talking Heads, psychedelia, new wave, and the big band funk of the '70s. "Really, we're being intentionally vague because we don't know what to call it," Ivey jokes. The nine-piece band puts on a killer live show thanks to the boisterous party sound that flows from the stage. Some of the songs stick close to their format on record, but others lend themselves to tight jam sessions. "I like to consider us amateur jazz musicians because we like to listen to each other and go where everybody's going and do the actual improv thing," Ivey says. Luthi's 2018 LP Stranger finds the band making some of the finest pop-funk around. This year, Luthi released two singles called Episode One and they hope to have another duo of tracks, called Episode Two, out by the end of the summer. —Heath Ellison THURSDAY

PROVIDED
  • Provided

HIP-HOP | Clayton James
w/ Semkari, Current Blue, RGN
Sun. Jun. 23
9 p.m.
$5
The Royal American

Rapper Clayton James is that special brand of chill — relaxed, but not lackadaisical. On his recent EP 2:50/843, he gives a brisk rundown of who he is. James drops hard rhymes on "Beamin," goes even harder on the laid-back beat of "Fred Astaire," then wraps things up with pensive finale "Memories." "Ever since I moved to the South, I've opened my musical horizons. I've been getting back into the blues a lot, and R&B," says James. The rapper and multi-instrumentalist also likens his sound to the NYC songwriters of the early '90s. "I take a lot of influence from the sounds I grew up with," he says. "When I really got into hip-hop, I was living in New Jersey at the time, so a lot of old-school sounds that were coming out of New York, like Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie." As a songwriter in his early 20s, James is finding his footing and really taking the time to grow his sound. On his recent Soundcloud release, "Holy City," the rapper conjures memories of soul singer Bill Withers' famous opening lyrics to "Ain't No Sunshine." But "Holy City" keeps its foot in the rap world with James' fast mouth and strong shots thrown at racism in the city. —Heath Ellison SUNDAY

PROVIDED
  • Provided

TRIBUTE | Back to Back to Black: Amy Winehouse Tribute
w/ Remember Jones, 12-piece orchestra, & Special Guests
Sat. June 22
9:30 p.m.
$15
Pour House

There are plenty of tribute acts out there, but few of them focus on a single album by the artist they're paying tribute to. Even Pink Floyd tribute bands don't necessarily play all of The Dark Side of the Moon. But the Asbury Park, N.J. singer Remember Jones has decided to recreate Amy Winehouse's 2007 neo-soul masterpiece Back to Black, with the help of a 12-piece orchestra-style band — and, if nothing else, it's a moving way to remember a performer who burned impossibly brightly and left us far too soon. Thanks to the large-ensemble approach, Jones can effectively recreate the textured, grandiose feel of producer Mark Ronson's arrangements on Back to Black, and all that's left is for him to use his remarkably soulful voice to deliver stirring versions of "You Know I'm No Good," "Rehab," "Tears Dry on Their Own," and the title track. When you've got the pipes and the band to pull it off, it's hard to turn down an evening of skilled musicians playing Winehouse songs, and the sense of wasted potential in this material just lends more power to the performances. —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

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ATMOSPHERIC INDIE-ROCK | Petal
Sat. June 22
9 p.m.
$12/adv., $15/door
The Royal American

What is it about unlikely juxtapositions in music that make things so damned appealing? When musicians mix elements together that don't seem to fit, there seems to be some sort of magic they can often derive from it. So perhaps it's fitting that the latest album by Scranton, Pa.'s Kiley Lotz, a.k.a. Petal, has the word "magic" in it. The Magic Gone album takes grungy guitars and pairs them up with Lotz's airy, crystal-clear cry of a voice; it sounds at times like Aimee Mann suddenly decided to join the Drive-By Truckers. But the filthy six-strings just serve to put Lotz's vocals in greater relief, lending a grounded sort of realism to her almost childlike wail. Even the ballads, especially the eerily atmospheric "I'm Sorry," have a propulsive guitar undergirding that keeps things from getting too polished. The intensely personal, singer/songwriter material that Petal has created here takes on a darker, more universal tone when Lotz cranks up those amps. —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

COURTESY GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT
  • Courtesy Greenwich Entertainment

ROCK DOC | Echo in the Canyon: The Birth of the California Sound
Echo in the Canyon
Wed. June 26
7 p.m.
$8
Charleston Music Hall

L.A.'s answer to the San Franciscan psychedelic, counterculture, Summer of Love movement happening in Haight-Ashbury at the same time, the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene is the stuff of legends. From the Hollywood Hills 'hood sprung a well of electric-folk creativity and, thus, some of the world's best ever songwriters, like Leon Russell, Carole King, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Peter Tork, Alice Cooper, Leonard Cohen, Nico, and scores more. Echo in the Canyon attempts to distill this moment in time — 1965-1967 — with interviews, candid conversations, performances, and personal details from the likes of Jakob Dylan, Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Michelle Phillips (Mamas & the Papas), Stills (Buffalo Springfield), David Crosby (The Byrds), Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty (his last film interview), and more — including contemporary artists like Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, and Norah Jones. Created by filmmaker Andrew Slater, the documentary is a unique, close-up look at the the birth of that glorious California sound that is definitely worthy of this kind of celebration. —Kelly Rae Smith WEDNESDAY

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