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Monday, December 8
“I’m alone on the couch watching my phone die,” Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad coo together against muted electric guitars on Girlpool’s loner anthem “White Flag.” They might have surrendered any thoughts of having a wild Saturday night, but they’ve created their own cool anti-party by revealing such lamentations against a stripped-down backdrop of angular post-punk chords. Their voices are oddly mesmerizing as they prowl through the dark alley of “This Place” amidst spidery guitars. Upset is a new band combining the talents of Ali Koehler (Best Coast, Vivian Girls), Rachel Gagliardi, Jennifer Prince and Hole drummer Patty Schemel, the subject of the documentary Hit So Hard. Koehler retains some of the pop instincts of her previous bands, but Upset delivers her melodies with crash-and-burn punk tempos. — Falling James
Tuesday, December 9
Today’s tempest in a teapot concerns the hoary old hairsplitting over whether Sweden’s Opeth is a death-metal band or an authentically progressive rock ensemble or just an arty hard-rock combo or some kind of heavily rocking mishmash of all of the above. What the hell difference does it make, says mainman singer-guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, whose veteran crew celebrated its 25th anniversary with the August release of Pale Communion (Roadrunner), a searing, soaring blast of supremely melodic, finely crafted, spot-the-prog-reference music that, like its predecessor Heritage, veers ever further away from the band’s brontosaurian death roots and Cookie Monster vocals. Openers: Swedish metalheads In Flames and Portland’s Red Fang. — John Payne
Wednesday, December 10
Tune-Yards, Cibo Matto
Merrill Garbus tosses a lot of seemingly random ingredients into the musical salad she and bassist Nate Brenner call Tune-Yards, and it all comes together with a pleasing strangeness on their third album, Nikki Nack. Garbus’ chameleonic vocals flit through busy intersections of Afrobeat, new wave, pop and electronica. “You want the truth in tones/Dig this dirt and sift out the bones,” she advises on “Real Thing.” The New England native calls up a chorus of celebratory voices against a clatter of African percussion on frenetic tracks such as “Water Fountain.” New York’s Cibo Matto have been mixing and matching an even wider variety of styles since 1994. The duo’s latest single might be titled “Déja Vu,” but you haven’t heard anything quite like the funky way singers Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline downshift from hip-hop into art-pop. — Falling James
Thursday, December 11
The Icarus Line
In the age of Auto-Tune and American Idol, The Icarus Line’s bluesy, Stooge-y and utterly organic punk rock could earn kudos and cred simply by standing still. But this frenetic, sometimes perverse L.A. sextet is seldom static in its simultaneously raucous and psychedelic creativity. Their latest full-length, last summer’s Slave Vows, crawls and sprawls through burbling, lurking bass lines jarred with sudden garage-guitar interjections and the semi-detached sneers, yelps and yowls of frontdude Joe Cardamone. Dark-hearted and grubbily decadent, Vows is a wounded outpouring sometimes unsettling to behold, yet it harbors sufficient rhythmic urgency and vocal irreverence to at least imply optimism beneath its many festering layers. The Icarus Line’s famously incendiary and unpredictable live performances mine yet more angles from their deceptively nuanced recorded expressions. — Paul Rogers
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