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Music Picks: The Descendents, Stones Throw 15th Anniversary Show,, Princess Pangolin, Brian Setzer 

Also, Guns N' Roses, Weingart, Stevie Wonder's House Full of Toys, and others

Thursday, Dec 15 2011
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fri 12/16

Project Blowed 17th-Anniversary Tour

HOUSE OF BLUES

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAPMAN BAEHLER - The Descendents: See Sunday.
  • PHOTO BY CHAPMAN BAEHLER
  • The Descendents: See Sunday.

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The local hip-hop collective Project Blowed celebrates 17 years of high-flying, freestyling rap with a loaded lineup of some of its most dangerous wordsmiths. Freestyle Fellowship — a virtual supergroup featuring Aceyalone, Self Jupiter, Myka 9 and P.E.A.C.E. — doesn't even need musical backing, sending out a nonstop avalanche of pure, improvised a cappella raps, with the words coming fast and rhythmically, the consonants bouncing off and striking each other like sparks. Flash Bang Grenada slams together the rapid-fire puzzle-box rhymes of Busdriver and Nocando into a frenetically brainy flow. Abstract Rude, another veteran of Project Blowed's wildly influential Good Life workshop, has a more seductively soulful groove, while the Visionaries' 2Mex expands his "Naive Melody" with a hazy dreaminess. Underground diva Medusa balances all that testosterone with her own confrontationally slinky declarations. —Falling James

Drake, J. Cole, Big Sean

GIBSON AMPHITHEATRE

There's a pecking order found within this gathering of hip-hop's heavily hyped young MCs. To best solve the formula, simply calculate each rhyme-slinger's ability to carve out his own following, distinct from his respective mentor. Drake, having just released his brilliant hip-hop noir Take Care, is clearly the top dog; he's on the cusp of entering hip-hop's upper echelon, where boss man Lil Wayne resides. Roc Nation's J. Cole, whose nomination for this year's Best New Artist Grammy Award was a surprise, knocked out a stellar debut this fall but still finds himself riding the coattails of main man Jay-Z despite Hov's rare acknowledgment of dude's skills. Lagging behind is Detroit's Big Sean, who landed a pop hit with the Chris Brown–featuring "My Last" but has yet to distance himself from muse Kanye West. —Dan Hyman

Robin Thicke

KEY CLUB

Talking music backstage at Club Nokia last month, Anthony Hamilton told me he slots Robin Thicke alongside Sade and Erykah Badu as folks who can be depended upon to deliver each time they release an album. He's right: Thicke's brand-new Love After War is the blue-eyed soul singer's fifth solid effort in a row — which doesn't mean it lacks for risk-taking. Indeed, "An Angel on Each Arm" and "I'm an Animal" rank among Thicke's rawest numbers yet, while the lush "Tears on My Tuxedo" contains some lyrics only a truly committed lover man could get away with. Onstage, Thicke has been giving himself over to his inner showboat of late, a tendency sure to be on display at tonight's gig, the final date of a brief U.S. tour. —Mikael Wood

Rachel Haden

THE SMELL

Rachel Haden might be most often remembered for harmonizing with her sister Petra Haden in the beloved '90s alt-pop group That Dog, but, like Zelig, the local singer-bassist also has been at the center of a wide assortment of not-always-expected musical collaborations. She has sat behind the drums for Beck, dueted with Rivers Cuomo in Weezer and starred in Weezer spinoff The Rentals. The multi-instrumentalist also has toured with Todd Rundgren, played keyboards for Jimmy Eat World, traded jokes onstage with Neil Hamburger and gone country with her sisters Petra and Tanya in the Haden Triplets. When she's not making everyone else around her sound better, Haden occasionally deigns to headline her own shows, delivering her contemplative art-pop originals and inspired John Denver covers in a sweetly beguiling voice. —Falling James

SS Kaliert

COBALT CAFÉ

A German hardcore band with "SS" in its name can conjure distasteful images, but in fact the elaborately Mohawked lads of SS Kaliert — though overtly antifascist and antiracist — are a rather apolitical lot. Sung in both German and English, their brawl-provoking blasts detail hypocrisy ("Talking") and disdain for authority ("A.C.A.B.") but appear chiefly concerned with the perennial punk themes of rejecting peer pressure and cherishing individuality ("Society's Victim," "You Make Me Insane"). On newbie SubZero, SSK deliver a better-performed and -produced take on the second-generation 1980s Brit punk of Discharge and Broken Bones: fast, frenetic and at times barging elbows with full-on street metal. Not tuneful yet never boring, SS Kaliert is a bruisingly authentic Kardashians-era reminder of why punk rock was so potent (and necessary) the first time around. —Paul Rogers

Larry Goldings Trio With Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart

VITELLO'S

Many a musician would love to have the career that Larry Goldings has had. As a young prodigy, he impressed Keith Jarrett, who granted him lessons, and now he's one of the most in-demand sidemen in the jazz world. He's recorded for pop artists such as Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, De La Soul, India.Arie and Norah Jones, not to mention having been chosen by the great James Taylor to accompany him as his "one-man band" for the past three years. Not only does Goldings play everything to perfection, he does so with a warm intensity of emotion and unmatched imagination. Goldings' own trio has been around for 23 years and 15 albums and is the best organ trio on the planet, with Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart establishing the gold standard on guitar and drums, respectively. Also Sat. —Gary Fukushima

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