Critics' Picks: Buddy Guy, AraabMuzik, and more
The Loft, Wednesday 2.29
In the typically background-work world of hip-hop production, AraabMuzik has become a front-and-center presence in a way that's surprised people who knew him only as a name in the liner notes of Dipset albums. Those tracks are notable, sure—the choppy Manfred Mann-boosted drive of "Curve" and the towering bounce-gone-rave of "Get It in Ohio" were easy high points of Cam'ron's '09 release Crime Pays—but his solo spotlight work is what's gotten exclamation points spilling all over the place. Last year's Electronic Dream was an audacious stab at transforming arena-sized Euro-house anthems into instrumental club-rap bangers, and it did so in ways that preserved its source material's euphoric highs while still giving them a hard-hitting pulse a bit ahead of the trance-infatuated Top 40 curve. And as a live act, he's miles above anyone in finding ways to turn MPC manipulation into a virtuosic performance showcase. He's not so much an introverted knob-twiddler as he is a hip-hop John Bonham, laying down propulsive breaks and jaw-dropping solos with equal flash. With Zed's Dead, XI. 18+, $20, 8 p.m. 711 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis; 612.333.6100. —Nate Patrin
The Sound of Surprise: A Vijay Iyer Mini-Festival
Walker Art Center, Thursday 3.1 + Friday 3.2
Praised far and wide as one of the most vital contemporary jazz musicians, pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has racked up truckloads of awards and accolades for music that embraces both the cerebral and visceral. Wildly innovative, but at the same time tied to the popular realms of rock, soul, and hip hop, Iyer also manages to incorporate his Indian heritage and deep veins of classical. He's worked with the likes of Steve Coleman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, John Zorn, and Das Racist, and leads a stellar, intuitively attuned trio that includes drummer Marcus Gilmore and bassist Stephan Crump. So there's ample reason for Iyer to merit a two-day festival at the Walker. Thursday's show will begin with Iyer and jazz avant-garde trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith premiering a new collaborative piece. That will be followed by an Iyer solo performance, and then Iyer's trio, whose new album, Accelerando, focuses on the many facets of rhythm, including covers of Ellington, Henry Threadgill, and Michael Jackson. Friday will feature another Iyer solo set between a collaboration with poet/rapper/provocateur Mike Ladd, and a performance by Tirtha (the trio of Iyer, tabla master Nitin Mitta, and guitarist Prasanna), which explores the connections between jazz and Indian classical music. $18-$38. 8 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-375.7600. —Rick Mason
Cedar Cultural Center, Friday 3.2
Over the past five years, Bradford Cox has laid claim to one of the most prolific and evolution-prone voices in all of indie rock. The Atlantan with a malleable, high tenor range is slightly better known for his full-band, psych-rock project Deerhunter. Initially, there were jagged guitar stabs as the foundation, but recent songs like the fizzy, synth sweetness of 2010's Halcyon Digest single "Helicoptor" aren't markedly different from his "solo" act, Atlas Sound. Because his lustrous voice is so specific to him, Cox's sound collages and inventive melodies stray from sounding like his own only when he gets a big-time collaborator like Panda Bear, Stereolab siren Laetitia Sadier, or MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden to sit in. The final example appears on last year's Atlas Sound album, Parallax, via "Mona Lisa." Surely no one thought this pairing would result in a bold stride into twangy, Americana-style songwriting, but it did. Cox devotees are safe to predict intriguing results, but little else is certain. With Carnivores and Frankie Broyles. $15, 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Reed Fischer
State Theatre, Friday 3.2
The autobiographical "74 Years Young" kicked off Chicago blues icon Buddy Guy's last album, the Grammy-winning Living Proof. Even if we've added another year to that tally, forget the numbers. Listen to the searing, eloquent authority peeling off Guy's Stratocaster and the passionate intensity of his vocals, and that old Satchel Paige line seems particularly apropos: Age is a matter of mind over matter; if you don't mind, it don't matter. What does matter is that Buddy Guy is still at the top of his game, running his Legends Windy City club and playing with a fire people a quarter his age would envy. Guy still plays guitar with ferocious power, as he proves with shredding solos on nearly every assured, gritty blues on Proof, palpable evidence of his enduring influence on generations of such high-caliber guitarists as Clapton, Hendrix, and Stevie Ray. Buddy Guy returns to the State with his five-piece road band, which will also back opener Quinn Sullivan, a 12-year-old guitar prodigy and Guy protégé who released his first album last year. $48.50-$58.50. 8 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason
7th St. Entry, Friday 3.2
Stripping away the self-conscious eccentricities that occasionally marred his prior outings under the Islands moniker, A Sleep & a Forgetting finds sole Islands constant Nick Thorburn favoring directness both melodically and lyrically. Working with Rob Schnapf, the same producer who helmed some of Elliott Smith's finest records, A Sleep sounds a bit like XO's equally heartsick cousin, packing in 11 self-described "doom-wop" indie-pop numbers, built with forcefully plunked pianos and swooning strings, into 37 minutes. Inspired by a particularly bitter breakup, the album's lyrical content is as prickly as its sounds are smooth, with Thorburn favoring a no-frills take on his trials and tribulations. "I Can't Feel My Face" sports some of the darkest opening lines in the whole mope-pop canon ("I miss my wife/I miss my best friend, every night/I miss my home, my own bed, and my old life"). Wallowing in misery has rarely sounded so sublime. With Idiot Glee. 18+, $12, 10:30 p.m., 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.331.9800. —Rob Van Alstyne
Dakota, Saturday 3.3
Although he gained a measure of fame with the proto-Americana band the Blasters, then with the L.A. punk band X, Dave Alvin is a criminally underappreciated guitarist and songwriter who has all too quietly created a distinct and rock-solid body of work. Actually, there's a good bit of country, folk, blues, and rockabilly entwined with the rock, a rootsy swath that matches his wiry, vividly detailed, oft-noirish stories about characters invariably plagued by hard times and heartache. Alvin's guitar weighs in with icepick stabs of irony, wild cries of angst, lashes of agonized truth. His latest, Eleven Eleven, grapples with lost love, faded memories of union solidarity, a ruined prizefighter, the death of Johnny Ace, vigilante injustice, raw lust, and other troubles. Alvin will be backed by his three-piece band, the Guilty Ones. $20. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332-5299. —Rick Mason
Galactic / The Soul Rebels
The Cabooze, Saturday 3.3
New Orleans's takes its blazing cauldron of Crescent City traditions and cutting-edge innovations to stunning new heights on Carnivale Electricos, which brings together the potent bacchanals of New Orleans's Mardi Gras and Brazil's Carnaval. Anchored in second-line funk ignited by drummer Stanton Moore, Galactic ventures outside the city's brass band and jazz traditions to contemporary hip-hop, acid jazz, and beyond. The album, whose name apparently was inspired by the massive sound trucks—called trio elétricos—that parade through Brazilian streets during Carnaval, starts with a furious variation on a trad Mardi Gras Indian chant from the Golden Camanches, laced with a greeting in Portuguese for good measure. NOLA's Casa Samba lend a hand on Carlinhos Brown's "Magalenha," Neville brothers Cyril and Ivan—as well as rappers Mystikal and Mannie Fresh—stop by, and rising Rio samba singer Moyseis Marques takes on the funk-samba "O Coco da Galinha." Living Colour's Corey Glover and the Rebirth Brass Band's Corey Henry will join Galactic on tour. Also on the bill is another terrific New Orleans band that trades in funk, brass band, and jazz. The Soul Rebels' Unlock Your Mind, their first nationally distributed album, is a street-savvy, celebratory dose of bristling horns, reggae, and hip-hop-infected second line. $23-$25. 9 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425.
The Twilight Sad
7th ST. Entry, Saturday 3.3
It's been a great last few years for sad-bastard Scottish music, whether you prefer your forcefully accented misery with the amps cranked to 10 like We Were Promised Jetpacks, or in the brightly polished folk-pop package of Frightened Rabbit. Fellow Scots the Twilight Sad opt for a distinctly different—yet no less emotionally scarred—middle path on their excellent new album, No One Can Ever Know. Clearly drawing inspiration from post-punk icons like Joy Division, the trio's latest release largely ditches guitars to put the focus squarely on haunting vintage synthesizer textures and frontman James Graham's sonorous brogue. It's a bold gambit for a band previously defined by a dense wall of sound, but it only takes one listen to lean doom-and-gloom ballad "Sick" to instantly realize Graham's got the pipes to pull off the minimalist makeover. With Micah P. Hinson. 18+, $10, 9 p.m., 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.331.9800.
—Rob Van Alstyne
Orchestra Hall, Sunday 3.4
The most prominent and arguably finest Irish roots band of their generation, the Chieftains not only made their mark as staunch traditionalists, they're mavericks who roam the globe collaborating with artists wherever there's a thread of Celtic culture—or not—from Galicia to Nashville, East L.A., China, and now even outer space. So as the band celebrate their half-century mark, it's appropriate that their new Voice of Ages album features a new array of collaborations with a younger generation of up-and-comers, ranging from Bon Iver and the Decemberists to the Civil Wars, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Imelda May. Plus, astronaut Cady Coleman plays flute and tin whistle with the boys from the International Space Station. This, in part, is what keeps the Chieftains fresh and vital after all these years: impeccable musicianship, an impish sense of humor, solid traditional grounding, and a questing curiosity that yields fascinating musical juxtapositions. Fiddler Sean Keane is not traveling with the group. But assorted musicians and dancers will be on hand to help Paddy Moloney, Matt Molloy, and Kevin Conneff rouse everyone's Celtic spirit. $30-$55. 7 p.m. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.371.5656.
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