Dirty Projectors, Digable Planets, Little Dragon, and more

WEDNESDAY 11.11

Dirty Projectors

The Cedar

Dirty Projectors' last album, 2007's Rise Above, was a chamber-rock rewrite-from-memory of Black Flag's 1981 hardcore punk classic Damaged, a radical reinterpretation so thorough that the songs were barely recognizable. Amid the flighty mannerist quaver of singer Dave Longstreth, the unresolved answer harmonies of Amber Coffman, and the Afropoppy guitars of both, the music's lumbering, anti-funk syncopation evoked Ani DiFranco scatting Zappa to an endless Captain Beefheart break—striking, original, yet somehow disposable in its strangeness. The refusal of any songful elements seemed doubly odd given the source material—Greg Ginn wrote riffs, hooks, and choruses, however bare-bones or tuneless. The band's acclaimed new album, Bitte Orca, is as jagged and surface-rich, but with tunes striving more than before to come together as pop, rock, or R&B while still feeling like the musical equivalent of a sputtering run-on sentence. With tUnE-yArDs. All ages. $15. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Peter S. Scholtes

THURSDAY 11.12

Digable Planets

Dirty Projectors invite you into the inner circle
Dirty Projectors invite you into the inner circle

Cabooze

Digable Planets are well acquainted with how fickle the music business can be. After a spike in popularity and a Grammy award in 1993, the jazzy hip-hop group disbanded the very next year after rap (and its fans) took a turn for the tougher; guns and blunts were in, while social awareness turned passé overnight. Fast-forward 15 years (an eternity in terms of pop music), and members Doodlebug and Butterfly seem confident about their rightful place in the rap pantheon, knocking layers of dust off of the Digable Planets name for a reunion tour—but one that won't include female cohort Ladybug. Will a shorthanded group be enough? Fans who have waited years to see the Planets perform will have the final say, but the combined power of nostalgia and the group's mastery of chilled-out funk could prove to be a subtly overwhelming force, a reminder that newer does not always mean better. With Yoni, John Wayne and the Pain, and Desdamona. 18+. $18/$20 at the door. 8:30 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Ian Traas

David Wilcox

The Cedar

Call it spiritual or psychological, the current running through most of singer-songwriter David Wilcox's songs is one in which he tries to make sense of life's endless dimensions, both in the psyche's inner workings and the world at large we all must negotiate for better or worse. In a career stretching over 15 albums, Wilcox has seemingly written a song for nearly every condition, which he has helpfully categorized on his website, from heartbreak to depression, addiction, "the adventure of faith," and "appreciating good sex." It might be tempting to be cynical (not a category) about what could be construed as a laundry list of neuroses if it weren't for Wilcox's adept handling of it all. Not to be confused with Dr. Phil, Wilcox writes poetically elegant treatises on simply living well. On the title track of Wilcox's latest, Open Hand, for instance, a metaphoric bird on an open palm suggests life's unfettered possibilities. Elsewhere he talks about keeping dreams alive, refusing to be trapped by your own fears, and the hypocrisy of intolerant religious orthodoxy. Wilcox's pleasant baritone and interesting but muted guitar work are usually quiet and earnest, their power emanating from within. He loosens up on the whimsical "Modern World," about the spectacularly inaccurate predictions of 1950s futurists, and "Captain Wanker," named for an inept blunderer whose identity may be betrayed by the "W" on his chest. All ages. $24-$26. 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

FRIDAY 11.13

Little Dragon

400 Bar

Some of the people who became enamored with Gothenburg, Sweden's Little Dragon via the left-field jazz-tinged and R&B-flavored indie pop of their self-titled 2007 debut might be in for a shock. The band's new album, Machine Dreams, is distinctively less warm and smooth, an abrupt jump to new wave and electro-indebted sounds that, all told, are a bit less out-of-the-ordinary than the odd cocktail-pop stylings of their debut. But less unusual doesn't necessarily mean less intriguing, and the band's big x-factor, lead singer Yukimi Nagano, shares the same enigmatic appeal as scenemates like jj and Sally Shapiro: a voice that sounds mysterious and a bit heartsick, yet still filled with a reserve of brisk, almost sensual strength. And that electro she's singing over is anything but predictable—an alluring, glowing mid-fi sound that splits the difference between the Knife and early Madonna. With Athletes in Slacks. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Nate Patrin

SATURDAY 11.14

Fiery Furnaces

Turf Club

Until this year, being a Fiery Furnaces fan meant that one had an especially high tolerance for cracked musical-theatre narratives, live revisionism, and wonky, disjointed melodic abuse. With new album I'm Going Away, an appreciation for those elements isn't entirely necessary, as siblings/bandmates Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger opt to play their word-drunk, kitchen-sink blooze straight here. These are breakup songs drawn from Eleanor's actual experiences, and Matthew leashes or quashes his tendency to overdub guitar flare-ups as much as his sister keeps her vignettes rooted in cruel reality. Take, for example, the self-as-abject-stranger barroom rush of "Lost at Sea," which spends a few expository minutes laying out its dolor and unleashing trampolined piano splashes before spazzing into an extended, jam-session outro that essentially underlines the heroine's sense of confusion. The Furnaces have more than earned the right to turn reflective, and in doing so, they may have furnished their best album yet. But if Away proves too much of a bummer, dig on the killer openers: comedic folkie Dent May and crepe-sweet avant-rockers Cryptacize. 21+. $15. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Ray Cummings

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