The Rapture

Varsity Theater on Thursday 9.29

We could sit here and kick around how the Rapture's new album, In the Grace of Your Love, marks a return to music for a band with all sorts of historic importance. Yes, Grace heralds the end of nearly a half-decade of purgatorial hiatus, and yes, with it we see the Rapture back on DFA and off of a major label, but let's push aside the hype here for a moment and get down to brass tacks: There's this band that used to be together and then wasn't, and now is again. They made an album, it's the fourth one they've made, and it's, well...it's great. In the Grace of Your Love has ample surges of that catchy energy that made the Rapture so maddeningly appealing in the first place (see "Come Back to Me" and "How Deep Is Your Love"), but more than that, Grace is a record seemingly made to tug the band, and their audience's preconceived notions, in new directions. And it's an album not concerned with drawing a lot of attention to that. The Rapture are older now, and they've made a record full of odd little crafty tunes: a few stumble a bit, and one or two are just plain genius, but Grace has this loose, athletic feel that can only come with 15 years at the plate. Well, 15 years minus four or five in there. Did we mention they're great live? Because it's universally agreed that they are. 18+. $18. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. Ian Power-Luetscher

James Blake

Brace yourselves 
for the Rapture
Ruvan Wijesooriya
Brace yourselves for the Rapture

First Avenue on Wednesday 9.28

No one could tell when James Blake burst onto the scene with intricate, sample-heavy compositions that he would morph into such a convincing singer in such a short time. His CMYK EP was built around bits of reappropriated '90s R&B chopped nearly into dust, but Blake garnered the most acclaim with his own voice, centering new compositions entirely on his vocals and piano. But, as striking as those two elements are, it's the space between them that makes his songs so haunting. He's a master of atmosphere, and when he reins a song in, there's a tension that few young artists could hope to match. Blake's range is impressive, but not as impressive as his restraint. With Chairlift. 18+. $20. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. Ian Traas

Minnesota Orchestra with Fat Kid Wednesdays

Orchestra Hall on Thursday 9.29, Friday 9.30, and Saturday 10.1

An institution as well-respected and consistently groundbreaking as the Minnesota Orchestra doesn't necessarily need a shot in the arm to stay relevant. But they are surely about to get one, as longtime MN Orchestra composer and contributor Stephen Paulus and his son Greg (of Brooklyn's No Regular Play) have collaborated on an original composition titled TimePiece, which will see its world premiere at Orchestra Hall. The arrangement, which is a fusion of a standard classical sound and more modern jazz and electronic elements, will be bolstered by a stellar supporting cast of musicians, in addition to the orchestra itself. Besides Greg on trumpet (as well as other sonic flourishes), Fat Kid Wednesdays (featuring Mike Lewis, Bryan Nichols, Adam Linz, and J.T. Bates) will flesh out their adventurous, contemporary sound. Conductor Osmo Vänskä will be orchestrating the inventive performances, and is even rumored to be joining in on clarinet at some point during the piece, which makes this a truly can't-miss event. $26-$84. 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.371.5656. Erik Thompson

Girls

First Avenue on Saturday 10.1

The expansion of San Francisco's Girls from wall-of-lo-fi studio duo to actual rock band on their second album can be taken as a loss, at first: Augmented by strings, organ, and backing vocals, the band's second album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, is as safe as houses, style-wise, from the middle of a road paved long ago by Elliot Smith and Dinosaur Jr. What's new about Christopher Owens isn't just his Abbey Road classicism, however, but a tendency to under-sing, which can also seem like a loss at first until his quietness becomes more intriguing and seductive, the edges of his voice growing more and more apparent. It's an odd sound—the tender whisper you never knew Craig Finn had? But it sustains songs that sneak up on you. With Nobunny and Papa. 18+. $15. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. Peter S. Scholtes

St. Vincent

Walker Art Center on Sunday 10.2

Although it's tempting to say St. Vincent is the alter ego as well as the stage name of Annie Clark, the art-pop she creates is so multidimensional and highly textured that two personalities barely scratch the surface. The Texas singer-songwriter and prodigious guitarist is a pop provocateur who defies expectations with constant rhythmic twists, jarring juxtapositions, and disquieting, often ambiguous lyrics. With her new band (Toko Yasuda, mini moog; Matt Johnson, drums; Daniel Mintseris, keyboards), she'll kick off a fall tour at the Walker supporting her third album, Strange Mercy. The title track offers a sort of frigid comfort, Clark angelically crooning a soulful lullaby (about "policemen who roughed you up") over an electronic pulse that bleeds into fathomless atmospherics eventually lashed by shredded electric guitar before drifting into a surreal temporal realm that melts like Dali's clocks. "Cheerleader" ricochets between quiet, folky rumination and stomping, industrial protestation, Clark's still-sweet vocal riding bucking, increasingly dissonant orchestration. "Surgeon" is a moody cauldron of skittering electronics, jazz-rock bolts, and icy funk, Clark meanwhile enticingly suggesting "Come cut me open." Which would likely lead to an entirely unexplored dimension. All ages. $25. 7 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Orchestra Hall on Sunday 10.2

Arguably the world's premier contemporary jazz orchestra, led by one of the most significant current figures in jazz, Marsalis and the JLCO will be celebrating the imminent 50th birthday of the New Orleans-born trumpet maestro and music director. The repertoire reportedly will be a retrospective of Marsalis's big-band work, which draws strongly on classic jazz, Ellingtoniana, and Crescent City tradition, as well as innovative projects such as the Pulitzer-winning Blood on the Fields. Besides Marsalis, JLCO features some of the premier jazz artists of our time, including clarinetist Victor Goines and trumpeter Marcus Printup, who are also among the JLCO folks backing Marsalis and Eric Clapton on their brand new Play the Blues, a spectacular, joyous collaboration of the blues in the context of New Orleans jazz. Clapton's unlikely to be lurking in the wings, but standards like "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" just might work their way into the set. $35-$70. 7 p.m. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.371.5656. —Rick Mason

Esparanza Spalding

O'Shaughnessy Auditorium on Tuesday 10.4

For best new artist at this year's Grammy Awards, the academy was widely expected to leave it to Bieber. But confounding widespread cynicism and the group's clueless reputation, the award—shockingly but deservedly—went to jazz bassist, singer, and composer Esperanza Spalding. With three albums, sessions with the likes of Joe Lovano and McCoy Tyner, and even a White House performance in 2009, she's not exactly a new artist. But why quibble? With her now considerably higher profile, including a recent fashion spread in the New York Times, Spalding is playing the larger O'Shaughnessy for this last installment of her Chamber Music Society tour. That album, with a chamber string trio augmenting her jazz group, explores the jazz-classical nexus while showcasing both her instrumental and vocal prowess, particularly as a supple scat singer, in addition to her impressive Brazilian inclinations. Spalding will be back (in Hopkins) later in October as a member of Lovano's Us Five ensemble. All ages. $37-$67. 7:30 p.m. 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651.690.6700. —Rick Mason

Megafaun

With the release of their eponymous fourth studio album, the North Carolina-based, Eau Claire-bred trio Megafaun have only complicated efforts to categorize their ambling, freely roaming, sometimes experimental sound. But at the same time, and in logically contradictory fashion, the band has solidified its identity with the new disc (recorded at former bandmate Bon Iver's Wisconsin studio), its disparate threads shooting wildly from a rootsy, Americana freak-folk core to the fringes of jazz and avant-garde. "Real Slow" could be American Beauty-era Grateful Dead. "Get Right" is a jangly rocker with a growing undercurrent of noisy insurrection. The swirling instrumental "Isadora" sprouts horns that shift from stately to raucous territory somewhere between the Balkans and Caribbean while vibes and banjo negotiate multiple time-signature changes. "Scorned," a cover of a gospel standard recorded by the Staple Singers, is spare blues haunted by a ghostly harmonica's wail. "Serene Return" is a scrum of bubbling electronics, industrial drone, and murmuring vocal choruses. Opener Doug Paisley is a well-regarded Canadian singer-songwriter with equal debts to country and folk masters like Hank, Woody, and Townes. The songs on his Constant Companion, mostly about fractured love, are remarkable for their richness of expression despite a prevailing spare, arid, plainspoken quality. Paisley sings with a confiding warmth, fitting nicely with his understated but expressive guitar, Garth Hudson's (of the Band) striking keyboard work, and vocal duet partners, including Leslie Feist on "Don't Make Me Wait." All ages. $15. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

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