Mark Ronson In this day and age, the most celebrated producer-artists are usually of the hip-hop variety — guys like Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Pharrell, etc. But thus far, 2007 has been all about a skinny white dude from London with an ear for 1960s soul named Mark Ronson. First, he manned the boards for Back To Black, the album on which he culled from classic girl groups and made British singer Amy Winehouse an international star. Then, he put out Version, an eclectic collaboration with a variety of artists performing remixed covers of tracks from the Smiths to Radiohead. His first album since 2003’s Here Comes the Fuzz, which featured everyone from Rivers Cuomo and Jack White to Ghostface Killah and Sean Paul, the record has received widespread acclaim for Ronson’s ability to fuse old sounds with new swagger. Stepping out from behind the engineering console, Ronson is rapidly becoming as recognizable as the artists he supports, and his performance at the El Rey Theater on Oct. 3 should be one of the funkiest shows to hit Los Angeles this season. El Rey Theater, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles,
(323) 936-6400



Animal Collective Don’t mistake Vancouver’s New Pornographers as simply a launching pad for alt-country chanteuse Neko Case. The indie rock powerhouse is a force in its own right. Forming in 1996 from the strands of several other groups, the band solidified its lineup and released its debut, Mass Romantic, in 2000. It received widespread critical acclaim, praise which would follow the band over the course of its subsequent albums. Electric Version and Twin Cinema cemented the band’s reputation as superb pop craftsmen, and not just the lark which they started out as. Though mellower than their previous efforts, 2007’s Challengers was met with similar accolades. These charming smut peddlers visit the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood on Sept. 20.
Henry Fonda Theater, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 464-0808


Animal Collective It’s easy to simply label New York’s Animal Collective an “indie rock” band, but in truth, the group probably belongs to its own genre altogether. Describing their sound through a series of hyphenated adjectives would read like an independent record store’s inventory — yet it likely wouldn’t come close to giving an accurate impression of their music. But here’s a stab: It’s alternative folk with sonically experimental leanings that’s not afraid to be as poppy as Brian Wilson at his best and as weird as Captain Beefheart at his freakiest. Dressing in animal costumes and giving themselves aliases such as “Avey Tare” and “Panda Bear” is really just the icing on the cake. It’s probably best to just check out the much-hyped ensemble yourself and come to your own conclusions. And such an opportunity presents itself on Sept. 18, when Animal Collective performs at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles.
Henry Fonda Theater, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 464-0808



Velvet Revolver As Audioslave and the show Rock Star: Supernova prove, they just don’t make supergroups like they used to. But at least one has transcended its individual parts to become a heavy-hitting juggernaut of a whole: Velvet Revolver. When Guns ‘n’ Roses castaways Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum linked up with ex-Stone Temple Pilots frontman and should-be drug casualty Scott Weiland in 2003, fans of true hard rock rejoiced. “Slither,” the first single off #Contraband#, its debut, was an anomaly on new-millennium rock radio: not nu-metal and certainly not nu-wave, its loud guitars, pounding rhythm section and distinctive vocals recalled the best of both STP and GnR, yet instead of sounding like a transmission from the early ’90s, it was a blast of fresh air — emphasis on “blast.” Headbangers agreed, and the record became a hit. Three years later, Weiland is apparently sober, and the group is as big as ever, in both sound — as its second record, the recently released Libertad, proves — and popularity, as the band’s show at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sept. 11, with Sparta and the reconstituted Alice In Chains opening up, will definitely prove.

Rise Against Hardcore traditionalists down to the name, Chicago’s Rise Against formed from the ashes of fallen skate punk heroes 88 Fingers Louie. After that group disappointed legions of mosh pit enthusiasts by breaking up in 1999, bassist Joe Principe and guitarist Dan “Mr. Precision” Wlekinski wasted no time recruiting vocalist Tim McIlrath and drummer Brandon Barnes to form a new band, one with a heavier and decidedly more serious bent than its predecessor. With the reputation of its members immediately granting them scene cred, Rise Against released its first LP, The Unraveling, on indie punk giant Fat Wreck Chords in 2001 and was immediately welcomed into the punk community. After dropping their sophomore effort, Revolutions Per Minute, and touring with several of their heavyweight peers, the band signed to Dream-Works (and somehow wound up on Geffen — that’s what happens in the world of major label consolidation), crashed the Billboard Top 10 with 2006’s The Sufferer & the Witness, hit arenas with My Chemical Romance, had songs featured in multiple video games and appeared in the film Lords of Dogtown (performing a ripping Black Flag cover on the soundtrack). A few members have come and gone along the way, but true to their name, the band has risen against adversity, becoming one of the biggest bands of the Warped Tour sect. They play the Ventura Theater on Sept. 8.

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