CHARLES LLOYD QUARTET It takes a confident bandleader to hire a bold, iconoclastic pianist like Jason Moran, but reedist Charles Lloyd has plenty of that kind of confidence—he’s spent decades developing his serene but tightly coiled sound, and he can trust his sidemen to come to him. He’s always surrounded himself with excellent musicians—in the mid-60s he introduced future heavies like Jack DeJohnette and Keith Jarrett to the mainstream jazz audience—and his current band is as good as any he’s led. On last year’s gorgeous quartet record Mirror (ECM), he revisits tunes he’s recorded over the past decade or so, and the new versions are more exploratory than the old ones—even when he repeats himself, he sounds restlessly vital. Lloyd’s style owes a lot to John Coltrane’s meditative side—contemplative tenderness drips from his melodic improvisations on “Desolation Sound”—but even at its most serene his playing simmers with the intensity of an ongoing spiritual quest. Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland match Lloyd’s temperament perfectly, channeling their own energy into his spacious, patient aesthetic. From luxuriant readings of Monk gems like “Monk’s Mood” and “Ruby, My Dear” to a wide-open treatment of the Beach Boys ballad “Caroline, No” to African-American spirituals like “Go Down Moses” and “The Water Is Wide,” the music has a lyrical generosity and calm that’s supported by a muscular backbone. Lloyd’s quartet, with regular collaborator Larry Grenadier subbing for Rogers, headlines this concert; Lloyd’s trio with Harland and brilliant Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain opens. —Peter Margasak 8 PM, Symphony Center, $21-$50. A
ONYOU This local band began in the mid-aughts as a basement project for engineer Stan Wood and bassist and guitarist Jamie Drier (Planes Mistaken for Stars, the Swan King), and their early four-track explorations have since lured aboard a steady lineup that includes one of Drier’s former Planes compatriots. Onyou‘s music has the trance and pulse of Kraftwerk and Neu! and Can, an eerie stalking burble that’s a little bit Goblin and a little bit Throbbing Gristle, and a touch of the creepy free-form unpredictability of the long drones of Angus MacLise, where what could be taken at first for a safe, womblike hippie jam is in fact leading you down a dark tunnel toward a potentially very bloody birth. (When you hear the voices, you will shit bricks.) So far the band has released an album, 2009’s Poltergeist, and a 12-inch, White Waste, both on the Captcha label; the latter came out in January in a tiny edition with hand-decorated covers. In case you’re not into embracing scarcity and just want to hear the smooth, serpentine beauty of Onyou’s work, a comprehensive download-only collection became available from Midheaven Mailorder last week. Also on the bill are Alma Negra, a brand-new female-fronted band featuring members of Nones, Yakuza, Telenovela, and Blasted Diplomats. —Monica Kendrick Lark’s Tongue, Alma Negra, and Kundalini open. 9 PM, Pancho’s, $6.
RAPHAEL SAADIQ You could hear Raphael Saadiq‘s fluency in old-school soul during his 90s stints with Tony! Toni! Toné! and Lucy Pearl, even though those groups made thoroughly contemporary R&B, but two albums ago, on 2008’s The Way I See It, he went straight-up retro. On his fourth solo record, the new Stone Rollin’ (Columbia), his sound is more scuffed-up and insistent, though he still meticulously controls every sonic detail—he’s all over Rollin’, and as usual plays most of the instruments. (He seems to be mildly obsessed with Mellotron.) Saadiq is a terrific singer when he doesn’t need to push too hard, but his voice isn’t up to the task he’s set himself. He’s clearly been inspired by some lofty greats on the new songs: the heavy Sly Stone thump of “Heart Attack,” the quasi-gospel Ray Charles shouting on “Day Dreams” (which includes excellent steel guitar by Robert Randolph), the rolling Marvin Gaye stroll of “Movin’ Down the Line.” The results are hardly embarrassing, but they can’t approach the work of the iconic artists Saadiq takes after—for them, brilliant singing came first. —Peter Margasak 8 PM, Park West, $30. 18+
KATE SIMKO Local DJ, electronic-music producer, and bassoonist Kate Simko is a classically trained musician who does things like remix Philip Glass and write musical tributes to the Fermilab particle accelerator, so you could be forgiven for expecting her debut full-length, Lights Out (recently released by respected German label Hello? Repeat), to aim more for the head than the booty. Luckily she doesn’t make the mistake a lot of art-music people do when they mess with dance music, which is to forget that you’re supposed to be able to dance to it. Lights Out has a lot of interesting timbres and textures going on—yes, there are some low reeds—but the record’s heart is in Chicago house, and it displays that influence admirably. The synergistic collision of acid-house synths, a disco-fied bass line, and a bassoon in the hypnotic “Had It All” will probably turn out to be one of the best moments in dance music all year. —Miles Raymer Cassy headlines; Simko and Sasha Navarro open. 10 PM, Smart Bar, $15 after midnight, $12 before.
ANTIETAM “I’ve got a duffle and ten lives,” Antietam guitarist Tara Key declares on “Basra Bound,” a song from the group’s new Tenth Life (Carrot Top). Key and her bass-playing husband, Tim Harris, founded Antietam in 1984 (the band’s now rounded out by drummer Josh Madell), but though they’re a full generation older than the Iraq-bound soldiers whose survival they pray for, the New York-based trio sure don’t sound like they’re on their last life. On the new album they drop the spacey, loop-based instrumentals and pensive acoustic numbers that bulked up their mammoth 2008 release, Opus Mixtum, in favor of ten short, sharp tunes distilled till they’re as potent as anything bottled in Key and Harris’s home state of Kentucky. The rhythm section has Key’s back, alternating between loose sprints and relaxed, loping grooves to complement the level of urgency in her full-throated singing, and on every song her guitar leads punch through the music like magma bursting from a volcano. Key also just released Double Star (Thrill Jockey), her second instrumental collaboration with Eleventh Dream Day’s Rick Rizzo; though both guitarists indulge in a few hot licks and some textural exploration, most of the record is as focused and tuneful as Tenth Life. Rizzo and EDD multi-instrumentalist Mark Greenberg will join Antietam after their set for the year’s sole scheduled performance of Double Star material. —Bill Meyer Rizzo and Key headline; Antietam and the Horse’s Ha open. 9 PM, Hideout, $10.
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS It’s hardly a great selling point that A Place to Bury Strangers takes a cue or two from your local dance club’s 80s night: you know, New Order, Joy Division, the Cure, some dude doing blow off the back of a toilet. What makes the Brooklyn trio compelling is its willingness to combine that murky, gothy post-new-wave sound with dissonant eruptions of speaker-destroying noise—the band reliably gets compared to Suicide and My Bloody Valentine, and not without reason. On APTBS’s most recent full-length, 2009’s Exploding Head (Mute), these atmospheric distortions swell into enveloping masses, banishing any whiff of strobe-lit dance-floor hokeyness—while they’re breaking over you, the only other things you can make out are the pounding drums and a faint trace of Oliver Ackermann’s droning, melancholic vocals. If the band’s third album, due later this year, takes after songs like “Dead Beat” and “Ego Death,” I think we’re all set. These dudes are definitely at their best when they’re at their loudest. —Kevin Warwick See also Monday. This show is part of the Do-Division Street Festival. Big Freedia headlines; A Place to Bury Strangers, White Mystery, Omar Souleyman, Royal Bangs, and Daniel Knox open. Noon, Division between Ashland and Leavitt, $5 suggested donation.
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS See Sunday. Grimble Grumble and the Great Society Mind Destroyers open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, $12.
YVETTE A lot of horror directors could learn a thing or two from Yvette. The Brooklyn-based duo of Noah Kardos-Fein (guitar, vocals, effects) and Rick Daniel (drums, synth, vocals, effects) make poppy, noisy postpunk that can be downright creepy—and they’re efficient at it too, delivering several tension-and-shock cycles in just over ten minutes on last year’s self-titled, self-released debut EP. Yvette starts with a relatively familiar atmosphere—rumbling, brutally tom-heavy drumming, squalling guitar, wordless chanting, erratically deployed sound effects that sound like a knife scraping across plate glass—and adds unpredictable bursts of almost animalistic violence. It’s their restraint in using these explosive pockets of noise that makes them effective—once the first one hits, it’s hard to keep your equilibrium or guess what will happen next. It’s as if these dudes have spent the better part of their days in a cave that’s haunted by the spirits of an Indian burial ground. Their music is dark and a little grim, for sure, but it still sounds like a lot more fun than the latest iteration of Final Destination. —Leor Galil Geffika, Wishgift, Lazy Magnet, and Father Finger open. 8 PM, Pancho’s, $5.
MICHAEL CHAPMAN British guitarist and songwriter Michael Chapman is so disinclined to trifle with the vagaries of the music industry that he’s seemed out of step throughout his 45-year career. I’ve only become familiar with his work over the past few years, and just about everything I’ve heard has left me wondering what took me so long. On his recently reissued 1970 masterpiece, Fully Qualified Survivor (Light in the Attic), he plays potent folk-rock with a strong Bob Dylan influence, though he never seems too concerned with developing a unified sound or wedding his songs to any particular style, region, or era. The album’s ten-minute opener, “Aviator,” with probing violin improvisations by Johnny Van Derek, presages a sound Dylan delivered half a decade later; it’s followed by a rollicking solo acoustic rag, then a lean rocker with sterling lead guitar by a young Mick Ronson (who would later connect with future employer David Bowie because of his work with Chapman). Released alongside Survivor, the fantastic Trainsong: Guitar Compositions 1967-2010 (Tompkins Square) is a double-CD collection of instrumental solo guitar performances spanning Chapman’s career. Even within those constraints—one guitar, no singing—he nonchalantly showcases a dazzling range. Not only is he fluent on six- and 12-string acoustic, resonator, and electric guitars, whether played with fingers or a slide, but his pieces also reflect a voracious curiosity, extending beyond blues, ragtime, and country to borrow from flamenco, jazz, rock, Indian classical music, and more. —Peter Margasak William Tyler and Sir Plastic Crimewave open. 8 PM, Schubas, $12.
WILDBIRDS & PEACEDRUMS Austere Swedish experimental pop duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums, aka singer Mariam Wallentin and drummer Andreas Werliin, added new colors to their minimal sound on last year’s excellent Rivers (Control Group), a repackaging of two European EPs (Retina and Iris) recorded in a single week in Reykjavik, Iceland, with Ben Frost. Retina‘s five tracks feature heavenly arrangements by cellist Hildur Gudnadottir for the Schola Cantorum Reykjavik Chamber Choir, a group that had previously flirted with pop for Bjork’s Medulla; their wordless countermelodies and misty harmonies float around Wallentin’s beautiful, aspirated cry. On the Iris half of the album, Wallentin shadows her own vocal melodies with sparse steel-drum patterns, and besides Werliin’s percussion there’s almost nothing else in the songs—fortunately, that’s all they need. Wallentin’s writing reveals her jazz roots, and while the group’s songs are packed with unexpected details—curlicues, swoops, sophisticated rhythms, elaborate harmonies—they still hit with the immediate force of pop music. Rivers is Wildbirds & Peacedrums’ best release yet, and the power and charisma they bring to the stage is even better—I can’t wait till they can capture all of it in the studio. —Peter Margasak Jaime Rojo opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, $10.
DAVID BAZAN If you were given to understatement, you might call David Bazan’s 2009 full-length solo debut, Curse Your Branches, a heavy record. A musical account of his apostasy from the Christian community he was born into—a community that’s been responsible for much of his success as a professional musician—the album is a harrowing affair, even taking into account the occasional ray of hope that shoots through. As astoundingly good as that album is, it’s a relief to see Bazan lightening up a little with its follow-up. The new Strange Negotiations (Barsuk) is Bazan’s first recording with a full band since Headphones’ 2005 self-titled album—he’s backed by the group he toured with following Branches—and the pleasure the musicians take in the meaty, muscular guitar rock they’re laying down is palpable. Bazan being Bazan, the lyrics are fraught and minor chords are plentiful, but album opener “Wolves at the Door” is the first song of his that you could conceivably toss into a DJ set without nose-diving the whole party. —Miles Raymer Cotton Jones opens. 9 PM, Lincoln Hall, $15. 18+
EARTH, O PAON It’s been six years or so since guitarist Dylan Carlson launched the reinvented version of his seminal doom-drone band, Earth, with drummer Adrienne Davies (who’s even more mesmerizing onstage than he is); now they have two new members, bassist Karl Blau and cellist Lori Goldston. Their first album with this lineup, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (Southern Lord), doesn’t depart radically from the dusty, twangy, pitch-black crawl that Earth Mark II adopted right out of the gate: the heaviness comes from implication, from tension, and from strange flourishes of complexity in their minimalist Morricone-ish metal. The music might seem to describe a wide-open space—you could call it the soundtrack to a spaghetti eastern, set on the volcanic plains of Mordor—but you’re hemmed in by eruptions of poison gas and sudden spurts of flame. It takes close listening, and perhaps a level of patience that could be mistaken for fatalism, to really unpack this album’s subtle, sometimes physically uncomfortable joys, like the regal underbuzz in “Father Midnight” or fractal repetition of the 20-minute title track. But it’s hard to imagine anyone in the rock department of the long-attention-span theater providing a more rewarding journey this year. —Monica Kendrick
Both in her previous solo guise, Woelv, and as O Paon, comic artist and illustrator Genevieve Castree has made hypnotic music pulsing with dark undercurrents. Castree, who lives in Anacortes, Washington, recorded last year’s beautiful, self-released Courses during four informal sessions in Montreal, aided by key members of the city’s underground community—Thierry Amar of Silver Mt. Zion created arrangements and played a bit of bass, for instance, and Sophie Trudeau added violin on three tracks. Atop simple electric-guitar loops, occasionally fortified with string counterpoint, hovering atmospherics, or sparse, heavy drumming, Castree sings in spellbinding French (she was born in Loretteville, Quebec), harmonizing with herself via additional looping. The music is restrained and minimal, but Castree charges it with a riveting focus—her power may be gentle, but it can still grab you by the collar. —Peter Margasak Earth headlines and O Paon opens. 8:30 PM, Mayne Stage, $15. A
ARTO JARVELA, KAIVAMA Arto Jarvela is perhaps Finland’s greatest living traditional fiddler. He hails from a Kaustinen family that’s been playing music for several centuries, and he’s best known as the leader of JPP (aka Jarvelan Pikkupelimannit, or “Little Folk Musicians of Jarvela”), which has included his brothers and an uncle. But Jarvela has played in many other groups over more than three decades and was a key member of Aldargaz, the backing band of great accordionist Maria Kalaniemi. And as he proves on JPP’s most recent album, 2006’s Artology (NorthSide), Jarvela has interests and skills outside Finnish music, from tango to the swing of Stuff Smith. Opening this concert is Kaivama, a Finnish-American duo from Minneapolis. On their self-released, self-titled debut (which features Jarvela on a few tracks), they let their American roots show through: Sara Pajunen primarily plays violin, while Jonathan Rundman adds keyboards as well as guitar, banjo, and mandolin, with a country twang in his strings. Both acts will play their own sets, and then do another one together. —Peter Margasak 8:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $5 suggested donation. A
SKISM At the top of his SoundCloud page, Berlin-based producer and DJ Stefan Batsch (aka Skism) has written, “Move on, no dubstep here. I even hate it.” That’s a pretty brutal sentiment, especially coming from someone who made his name with big, stuttery beats and wub-wub-wub bass lines. It does happen to more or less sum up the underground dance scene’s current opinion of the style as played out, though. Abandoning dubstep looks to have been a good move for Batsch because, to be honest, he was unremarkable at it. But he shines on the mixes he’s posted to SoundCloud over the past year, which pile up unlikely combinations of Italo-disco, Krautrock, psychedelia, and some kind of fardled funk shit that sounds like a bunch of hippies locked in a studio with a Moog, a mess of percussion instruments, and about a hundred tabs of acid. —Miles Raymer Antiserum and Bogtrotter open. 10 PM, the Mid, $20, $15 in advance.