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Monday, October 6
Ella Yelich-O’Connor, aka Lorde, is that rare pop diva with a fully functioning brain. Unlike many of her peers, she seems uninterested in the trappings of fame, and her commercial-minded electro-pop tunes are flecked with unexpectedly defiant lyrics. “Everything’s cool when we’re all in line for the throne,” the New Zealand singer muses, before adding wisely, “But I know it’s not forever.” Elsewhere, she comments on the shiny output of her rivals in the pop marketplace: “Every song’s like gold teeth … bloodstains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel rooms,” before neatly setting herself apart: “We crave a different kind of buzz.” She’s not kidding — the hushed swirl of voices in which she wraps herself on “Ribs” is beyond enchanting and much artier than the average radio hit. Also Tuesday, Oct. 7. —Falling James
Belle and Sebastian, ?Kevin Drew
THE THEATRE AT ACE HOTEL
Stuart Murdoch is well-versed in the ways of gentleness. As leader of Belle and Sebastian, he’s been crooning sweetly laid-back pop laced with literate, witty lyrics since the indie-pop band formed in Glasgow in 1996. Even a song like “Calculating Bimbo,” from the group’s most recent album, 2010’s Belle and Sebastian Write About Love, belies its catty title by cataloging a series of sweetly rendered and thoughtful romantic details. When Murdoch claims that he wants “the world to stop,” he delivers the sentiment cloaked in candied keyboard, guitar chimes and sympathetic harmonies, and the overall mood is more languidly peaceful than despairing. Occasionally, violinist Sarah Martin lightens things even further, contrasting Murdoch’s vocals with her angelic delivery. Broken Social Scene mastermind Kevin Drew, meanwhile, reportedly has been working with Archies songwriter Andy Kim. Also Tuesday, Oct. 7. —Falling James
Tuesday, October 7
Robert Plant refuses to stand still. While most of his contemporaries continue to trot out their old hits on the nostalgia circuit, the former Led Zeppelin frontman lives up to the title of his 2005 album, Mighty Rearranger, reinventing his sound every few years with a rotating cast of collaborators and supporting players. His latest group, The Sensational Space Shifters, is an Afro-European groove machine, highlighted by the interplay between John Baggott’s pulsating electronics, Liam “Skin” Tyson’s guitar and banjo, and Juldeh Camara’s ritti, a West African one-stringed fiddle. Tonight’s set undoubtedly will lean heavily on tracks from Lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar, Plant’s just-released album featuring the Space Shifters, but expect to hear a few rearranged Zeppelin classics, as well, still recognizable thanks to Plant’s remarkably well-preserved rock-god roar. —Andy Hermann
Wednesday, October 8
Norway’s perennially optimistic Sondre Lerche is not an artist wont to weigh listeners down with gloom, even when the occasion calls for it. Bringing a freshly odd-angled sound to most anything he touches, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has shown that he’s seemingly incapable of missing points of interest in a wide swath of musical genres and emotional states. But the sheer good feeling you get from his excellent new album, Please (a divorce-themed record), has something to do with the forthright way Lerche deals with growing up, moving on, facing the void and all that kind of stuff. These expertly arranged, raw-edged songs reveal a lot about the mind and soul of one very big-hearted guy, and remind us that when the going gets tough, the tough get creative. —John Payne
Thursday, October 9
Zola Jesus heads further into the woods on her fifth album, Taiga, which is named after the subarctic, boreal forests of Russia and North America. The Wisconsin native has drawn on the natural world before on albums such as Versions, but she’s even deeper into the mystic with her new release. In the past, she’s worked with sonic shape-shifters including J.G. Thirlwell, who broadened and darkened her songs even as she remained an ethereal presence floating above the icy soundscapes. Ms. Jesus’ lovelorn vocals echo the human heart that beats underneath these layers of frosty synthesizers and muted beats, and at times her singing is so stirring, you can hear hints of spring approaching amid the haunted echoes of new tracks like “Go (Blank Sea).” —Falling James
IMMANUEL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
After an eight-year silence, Irish crooner Damien Rice revealed “I Don’t Want to Change You,” the first single from his highly anticipated third album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, and announced a tour of North America and Europe — including his first performance in Los Angeles in two full years. The album, out next month, is Rice’s first work since his devastating split with musical and romantic partner Lisa Hannigan in 2007. While “I Don’t Want to Change You” doesn’t stray far from the acoustic avowals heard in earlier songs such as “The Blower’s Daughter” and “9 Crimes,” Rice’s new solo approach to songwriting, along with his partnership with producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin, promises to be a familiar yet unfamiliar prize for fans who have stuck it out through Rice’s nearly decadelong hiatus. —Artemis Thomas-Hansard
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