Monday, October 22
There are actually several versions of Kaki King. The Atlanta native first came to attention busking in the subways of New York City, but she wasn't panhandling for change by strumming creaky versions of "Free Bird" or "Sweet Child O' Mine." Instead, the acoustic guitarist crafted amazingly intricate, prog-like art-rock instrumentals, employing dazzling, fret-tapping witchery and banging on her ax for dramatically percussive effect. Then there's the Kaki King who reinvented herself earlier this decade by singing vocals and experimenting with indie-rock electricity and song structures. And, finally, there's the celebrity incarnation of King, an in-demand guitarist who has toured with the Mountain Goats and collaborated with Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook on the soundtrack to Into the Wild. With her latest album, Glow, King returns to her instrumental persona, deftly popping harmonic tones from her guitar like soap bubbles. --Falling James
Tuesday, October 23
Rasputina, Faun Fables
If you're looking for some airy, pastoral escapism based on the fanciful names of tonight's bands, think again. Rasputina mastermind Melora Creager likes to dress up her ever-evolving lineups in elegant steam-punk costumes, but her dense, cello-pumped fantasies are more dark and twisted than playful and escapist, scattered like poisoned bread crumbs and insomniac landmines across such freaky albums and EPs as Transylvanian Regurgitations and Sister Kinderhook. In listening to her tangled anti-fairy tales, where she comments on modern-day war and politics through unusual characters and historical figures such as Fletcher Christian and Mary Todd Lincoln, it's useful to remember that Creager titled an early album How We Quit the Forest-- in other words, for all of her febrile imagery, she and her bandmates live right here among us in the real world and not in some castle in the woods. Faun Fables have a more traditional and overtly pretty folk sound, but the Oakland duo also is capable of some strangely unsettling melodies. --Falling James
Wednesday, October 24
The Melvins gotta travel lite for this one -- that means no Big Business dudes in the lineup, but just as much of everything else, up to and including stand-up bass. This isn't just another show. It actually started as an attempt to get into Guinness World Records for the fastest tour of the U.S.A.: The Melvins are trying to do all 50 states in 51 days. ("Going good!" Buzz told a reporter at the 30 percent mark. See West Coast Sound for more.) True, history demands we acknowledge an earlier claim to the record by George Thorogood & the Destroyers in 1981, but taste and sense demand that we nevertheless root for the Melvins on this one. They deserve to be in the record books for something. Let's have it be this. --Chris Ziegler
These bawdy Brits are as funny as Spinal Tap (with lyrics like "Where fools rush in, where eagles dare, you will find us, already there") and have enjoyed a similarly unlikely resurrection -- a hit 2003 debut album, followed by a dramatic sophomore slump and breakup, before a reunion and return to form with this year's Hot Cakes. Only The Darkness are world-class songsmiths, too, and, despite early speculation, definitely no spoof. For all of their falsetto-flecked Queen-via-AC/DC histrionics, at the heart of songs like recent single "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" is a poppy concision and gift for uplifting yet nostalgic melody that would emote regardless of genre. Wonderfully eccentric and trend-detached, The Darkness also stand on their heads (sometimes literally) to deliver the most unashamedly entertaining show in contemporary hard rock. --Paul Rogers
Thursday, October 25
Robert Glasper Experiment
When a Google query for "jazz sucks" turns up more than 18.9 million hits, jazz has an identity problem. Granted, searching for "I love dirt" turns up 62.5 million options, but dirt never tried to pass off shitty work as eloquent complexity. Glasper doesn't even call his music jazz. Instead, he strives to define it as something that doesn't suck, simultaneously connecting jazz to its roots in black culture and embracing its fashionable younger nephew, hip-hop. So far the experiment is succeeding, with his album Black Radio peaking at No. 3 on iTunes sales, and with close associations with non-sucky people like Erykah Badu, Bilal and Questlove. Their endorsements prove the pianist's efforts have relevancy outside the insular echo chamber of jazz, where the circular firing squad of its proponents and critics goes unnoticed by everyone else. --Gary Fukushima
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