Over the course of many far-reaching albums since his days with Public Image Ltd., bass-slinger Jah Wobble has steered a teetering course, admirably so for its bold plunges into uncharted, spontaneous seas. For every record of lumbering fe-fi faux funk or pastiche-y world-beat/dub ramblings, he’s stumbled upon something really magnificent, such as his 2000 The Inspiration of William Blake, which was graced by Jaki Liebezeit of Can, the percussive-rhythm genius who swears by Wobble as perhaps the baddest bass player on the planet. Wob’s got a new album out, called Mu, which is easily his best in years, a deeeep, dusky, dubby thing redolent of ancient ritual in very dark caves, among other highly sensual items. As with his records, the live performer Wobble’s a hit-and-miss proposition, but when he eventually does hit, it’s transcendent. Be there . . . now. Wobble also at Amoeba Music, Mon. (John Payne)
This hydra-headed bill, part of the Unlimited Sunshine Tour, offers some fascinating musical contrasts. Better arrive early for New York City’s Gogol Bordello, as lead singer (and Everything Is Illuminated scene-stealer) Eugene Hütz leads his merry band of Gypsy musicians and acrobatic dancer-percussionists through the exotic accordion-and-violin-laced melodies of underdog anthems “Not a Crime” and “60 Revolutions.” Not since the early Clash and Mano Negra has leftist protest music been this explosively celebratory and energetically inspiring. Identical twins Tegan and Sara are more concerned with personal politics on their recent So Jealous CD, crafting insidiously catchy love songs with coolly confided harmonies such as “Speak Slow” and “Walking With a Ghost.” (And, unlike most of the reigning pop divas, Tegan and Sara often write clever lyrics amid those rousing choruses.) Stick around for headliners Cake, the Sacramento band that offsets John McCrea’s laconic vocals with jaunty indie-rock flourishes. 3790 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 380-5005. (Falling James)
The four members of Akron/Family moved from upstate New York and Pennsylvania to Brooklyn; there, they hooked up with former Swans mastermind Michael Gira, signing to his label, Young God, and occasionally serving as his backing band. You can hear evidence of both environments in the band’s music: They play acoustic-based alt-country dirges that sound like they were written in a log cabin somewhere, yet they frequently interrupt the free-flowing pastoral beauty with bits of gentle techno-folk improvisation; it’s easy to imagine Akron/Family appealing to fans of both Sufjan Stevens and Boards of Canada. Local openers No North aren’t quite as digressive; their banjo-flecked barnyard jams make less room for noise, even if the band does funk things up a bit. (Mikael Wood)
One of the funniest Canadians taking away work from our own local comics is Ian Bagg. The Ian Bagg Show brings his polished, smart and funny act to a classy venue. Bagg describes the show thusly, “It is like I am having a party in my room and we are all getting to know each other, but we all have pants on.” And there’s no cover as long as you don’t sit down! Comedy is funnier when you’re standing up, anyway. Friars Club, 9900 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tues., Jan. 31, 8:30 p.m.; free, $20 min. food & beverage purchase at tables. (310) 553-0850.