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Music Picks: Mad Decent Block Party, Weeknd, Cold War Kids 

Thursday, Sep 12 2013
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thu 9/19

The Orb

MUSIC BOX

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The rather legendary electronic duo of Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann specialize, for one, in ambient dub mixes that work on headphones to near head-poppin'-off effect. Perhaps even better is to experience the magic in a vast, open space, as the masses did at The Orb's recent Glastonbury performance. Better yet is to catch the duo in an intimate concert venue, such as our very own Music Box. That's because The Orb's super-audio-therapy-like thing works a treat when one is squarshed in with a big load of like-minded seekers just like you. Bring open heads 'n' hearts and prepare to emanate a resonant energy up onto the stage, where The Orb will incorporate it into something entirely new again, and yes, they can work with your chic contempt as well, so don't hold back. The point is, The Orb's sound — both massive, Chic-funk airy and painterly when they re-mutate classik cuts like "Golden Clouds" — radiates positivity without getting all sappy about it. In 2013, that is the sound of possibility. —John Payne

Cold War Kids

WILTERN

I remember the last show before the whole indie-rock world figured out who Cold War Kids were — it was in 2006 in some Fresno-adjacent strip-mall storefront where the landlords had to leave the fluorescent lights on, and even then kids knew every word by heart. (And lemme underscore the "heart" part. That front row was one high note away from medical attention.) The next day, Pitchfork, et al., reviews would hit and away they'd go, but Cold War Kids already knew how to use that idiosyncratic, pared-down, post-punk sound to make room for their own messy (in the best way) poetry. So recent album Dear Miss Lonelyhearts (named for a great book, too) isn't so much a return to form as a welcome home, with its anxious, desperate choruses you know before you hear them and sing-along lyrics that are stories as much as they are songs. —Chris Ziegler

Stars

EL REY THEATRE

The Toronto band Stars are feeling "Wishful" on their new 7-inch single, a song that bounces like an exuberant puppy over several styles in just three minutes. It starts like a reflective, slightly sad tune with Cure-style bass and a post-punk synth, but Amy Millan's wistful cooing turns it into a bubblegum-pop valentine. Then the guitars slam into a punky alt-rock chorus, even as Millan's vocals become more ethereal. For no reason, the guitars suddenly deepen and ring out majestically across spaghetti Western mesas, as the keyboards, bass, drums and what sound like celestial violins surge together and fill the canyons with a brief squall of psychedelic feedback, which quickly subsides to return once more to Millan's dream-pop yearning. —Falling James

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