November rock in S.F.: Charlie Puth, Echosmith, The Cult, The Coronas

Charlie Puth at Davies Symphony Hall

When he performs at Davies Symphony Hall Monday, Grammy-nominated composer Charlie Puth will operate under one key artistic credo: In songwriting, he declares, “The most important thing that you can do is tell the truth — that’s the only way for your song to really resonate.”

It’s why Puth scrapped an entire album he recently finished and started over again from scratch, eventually arriving at a musically effervescent, but lyrically introspective, occasionally self-recriminating Mach 2 version, dubbed “Charlie.” It deals with the attendant turmoil of two breakups — one romantic, the other with his former label. The album also reveals why he’s not averse to rolling the creative dice, cutting the stomping single “Left and Right” with BTS anchor Jung Kook (whom he swears is as genuine as they come, despite his K-Pop superstar status), and taping a “Howloween” episode appearance on “Sesame Street,” duetting with Elmo while trying to find a suitable costume for his puppy Tango.

How does an artist get the Muppet call? “I’d like to say that Elmo himself called me,” sighs Puth, 30. “But it was all done by PR. And what’s crazy is that you forget while filming that there are human beings attached to the Muppets, and I literally will speak to Elmo as if I’m actually talking to him.” 

Puth is hoping kids will relate to his 2015 mega-hit “See You Again,” a touching elegy he co-wrote with Wiz Khalifa to play over the photo-montage finale of “Fast & Furious 7,” honoring the late Paul Walker. “I’ve always wanted to make a song that transcends its original meaning, and that song has gone the distance and continues to show new sides of itself everywhere it goes, like being discovered by younger kids, like it’s a brand-new song.”

Puth is planning to revisit some of his discarded material and possibly re-tool it into his next project — a Nashville-executed country album, similar to his 2020 “I Hope” collaboration with Gabby Barrett. “I know that pop can be infused into country music even more,” he says. “And I’m really excited to figure out how that can be done.”

Charlie Puth, “One Night Only.” Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., SF 8 p.m. Monday. Tickets: $165 and up. ticketmaster.com

Reunited, Echosmith plays Great American Music Hall

When they first formed as Echosmith under one roof back in 2009, the then-teenage Sierotas — singer/keyboardist Sydney, guitarist/vocalist Jamie, bassist Noah and drummer Graham — firmly believed the family who plays together, stays together. They have since amended that perspective, first when Jamie left in 2016, ostensibly to raise a family, then when the kids, now adults, scattered to the wind: Graham to Idaho, Noah on his own in L.A. and Sydney with her new husband (ex-Allstar Weekend bassist Cameron Quiseng).

But music has reunited the Sierotas again, first via Jamie’s solo project, meija, which just issued the first of two EPs, “Side A.” And he just rejoined his siblings for a series of buoyant, dream-pop singles as Echosmith, like “Gelato,” “Hanging Out” and a revamped take on their signature early hit “Cool Kids — Our Version.”

“When Jamie left the band to start his family, that was a hard thing for all of us to handle, because we were so used to doing it all together for the longest time,” admits Sydney, now 25. “So everyone suggested that we really just focus on being a family and remaining best friends, no matter what happens. And we really got closer in that time, when we moved to different places.”

A year ago, while simply hanging out visiting their nephew, the Sierotas all wondered how it would sound recording together again. “We were like, Why not? Let’s see what happens!’ And it was so much fun, it felt like old times. But also new times!”

Echosmith. Great American Music Hall, 459 O’Farrell St., S.F., 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16. $25-$79. gamh.com

The Cult is back with ‘Under the Midnight Sun’

Cult bandleader Ian Astbury has had so many close scrapes with death, he can barely remember them all. There were a couple of instances where he nearly froze, high in the snowy Himalayas. “And I’ve been run over twice as a pedestrian, and there’s been falling off stages — just reckless stuff — and I did a nice job of hitting the back of a pickup truck with my Harley Davidson, and once with The Cult we flew into a flock of geese coming out of the Portland airport, and the plane just dropped.”

But facing the coronavirus from his home in L.A. didn’t scare Astbury at all, he says. But he did process the experience lyrically on the band’s latest spiritually infused salvo, “Under the Midnight Sun,” its 11th and first album since 2016’s “Hidden City.” The group supports it in town Nov. 17.

Astbury hails from Britain but as a teen moved to Canada, where everything changed. “I come from Celtic origins, not a Christian household,” he says. “I grew up on a lot of old wives’ tales that were linked to the old religions. But when I came to Canada, I was identified by the other Anglo-Saxon kids at school as Other, Outsider, Immigrant or Not From Here.” Then one day on a field trip to a local tribal reservation, he wandered away from his classmates and started hanging out with long-haired Native kids who were riding ponies, bareback and playing lacrosse.

“We were told to cut our hair and taught how to behave, but these kids were just running wild,” he recalls. “And they were really cool, non-judgmental with me and I just felt really at home, so I started to learn about the Iroquois Confederacy, the Six Nations and that led me to the Tibetan nomads, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki and all these great thinkers, and I ended up in Tibet.”

So Astbury, a buddhist himself, had more than enough wisdom to go around to friends and family during lockdown. “Everyone’s got their own particular style, and I go deep,” he says.

The Cult. 8 p.m. Nov. 17. The Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F. $39.50-$85. axs.com

The Coronas at The Independent

Somehow, Irish rock outfit The Coronas — who hit The City Nov. 18, touting a rollicking new sixth album, “Time Stopped” — managed to just be voted the #1 live act in their homeland’s Hot Press publication. No mean feat, considering that the group’s tour time was recently curtailed by not only multiple COVID lockdowns, but by their somewhat unfortunate moniker itself.

“Initially, we wanted to poke fun at ourselves,” chortles good-natured frontman Danny O’Reilly, who also happens to be the son of legendary Celtic crooner Mary Black (with other musical family members now residing in San Francisco). “The first thing we did was treat Corona Extra, the beer, asking if they had a plan to rebrand. But after awhile, coronavirus became such a word ingrained in everyone’s psyche, that it wasn’t really comparable to anything else.” 

O’Reilly even caught COVID, forcing the cancellation of four shows. But at least he was ensconced in pastoral County Kerry, he says. “In the countryside, which was a great place to be creative — although there was an initial phase where I wrote nothing and just watched ‘The Tiger King’ and ‘The Last Dance.’ I also jogged, baked and rescued a dog!”

Now, he’s back on the familiar old road with an added clan bonus — his folk-chanteuse sister, Roisin O — as opening act, backing her latest effort, “Courageous” and The Coronas on keyboards. As family bands go, you can’t find any better.

Roisin O, The Coronas. The Independent, 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18. $20-$25. independentsf.com

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