Listen up and listen here:
Megafaun, Tuesday, Cafe Du Nord
This Durham, N.C.-based twangcore alt-country outfit puts its own spin on Americana with a harmonica that fights the soul and jazzy moments that keep us guessing. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is an apt comparison, thanks to a rustic and contemplative approach, served with haphazard lyrics that feel hyper-real. To some, they’ll forever be a footnote in the Bon Iver narrative — drummer Joe Westerlund and brothers Brad Cook and Phil Cook were once co-conspirators with Vernon in a band called DeYarmond Edison, in which Vernon developed his noble voice as a musician. But Megafaun on its own is just as artful and forward-thinking in its psych-folk framework — check out their self-titled 2011 release for proof.
Polyphonic Spree, Great American Music Hall, Tuesday
Meet the cult. Polyphonic Spree uses the all-for-one-one-for-all recipe to brew up its musical KoolAid. They’re routinely adorned in choir-robe uniforms, and their shtick is easy to get lost in. So, too, are their unlimited harmonies and melodies; think Flaming Lips, with epiphanies seemingly around every corner. It’s their collective sense of wonder and togetherness — and how those two things relate — that makes this a worthwhile listening and viewing experience.
Cults, Wednesday, Great American Music Hall and Thursday at Slim’s
In less than a year, Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin have gone from making music in their spare time as NYU students to earning stripes as one of the hottest bands going in 2011. They released a self-titled album on Columbia this year to universal acclaim, and have since been hitting the road hard, nabbing influential festival slots and bulking up in number to a five-piece. Follin is the focal point of the charm, and when she flexes her pipes, girl’s got that extra something-something that seizes a room — that “It’s my birthday and I’ll throw a fit if I want to” bravado. Don’t fight it.
Yeah this dude wrote radio napalm like Rihanna's "Umbrella" and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," but his solo work is some of the most luscious R&B to come out since Teddy Pendergrass reigned over women's hearts in the 70s, mixed with a dash of Princey falsetto and plenty of hip hop cred. The self-proclaimed "Love King" is perhaps the most in-demand songwriter working right now and just did a late-night jaw-dropping performance in a church at SXSW. He's also got a hotly anticipated new album Love IV MMXII dropping this year.The opportunity to see him at the intimate New Parish should not be missed. Just remember to bring someone to steal a few kisses with during the set.
What do you get when you cross the influences of Mexican metal and the Celtic folk influences of Dublin, Ireland, and everything in between? The answer is Rodrigo y Gabriela, a duo that defies classification and convention. The band’s latest project is a perfect example of why they’re considered one of the most forward-thinking world music projects going — they had a 13-piece Cuban orchestra re-work a chunk of their recent work, the result being the wonderful Area 52. Said Cuban orchestra — known as C.U.B.A. — will be onstage with the duo at the Fox.
Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sunday, SFJAZZ Center
Yeeeehaw! CCD plays old-timey music with an independent-minded bent, and the effect is one part cultural, one part feel-good. The banjo is the jumping off point, and everything else — jugs, various strings, etc. — seems to be arranged around it in the name of good times and bad. Their new album Leaving Eden makes use of everything but the kitchen sink, although I can’t be sure I’m not hearing a kitchen sink in a few songs. The album is a natural follow-up to its 2010 Grammy-winning album Genuine Negro Jig, which brought plenty of deserved attention to this Durham, N.C. outfit.