Dirty Projectors, Digable Planets, Little Dragon, and more

Dirty Projectors invite you into the inner circle

Dirty Projectors invite you into the inner circle


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


Digable Planets


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


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


7th St. Entry

The clamor for San Francisco's Girls is almost early-Nirvana-sized, so it's not surprising to hear familiar-but-better in their recent debut on True Panther/Matador, Album. The familiar is the echoing jangle and pop-noise of so much indie rock, buffed to a Spector-esque sheen by bassist-engineer Chet "JR" White. The better is what his musical partner Christopher Owens sings and how he sings it, with Elvis Costello's guttural Dylanisms, but also something of Robert Smith's sob, Elliot Smith's warmth, and Conor Oberst's eternal tremble. You don't need a back story to be moved by the line "I wish I had a loving man in my life/I wish I had a father, and maybe then I would have turned out right," though this Miami native apparently escaped a childhood in a Slovenian cult forbidding pop music to eventually escape and start writing his own songs in order to impress fellow Holy Shit members Ariel Pink and Matt Fishbeck. From cult to cult-rock is the headline, in other words, but this band is much more. With Dominant Legs. 18+. $12. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Peter S. Scholtes

Wolfmother and Heartless Bastards

State Theatre

Led Zeppelin comparisons don't do either of these buzz bands good or justice. With Australia's Wolfmother, there's the small fact that they don't rock that hard, bluesy-ness and fuzz aside. The amiable yelp of singer-guitarist Andrew Stockdale is closer to the good-time wail of Chris Bell in Big Star than to any tender bat scream from Robert Plant or Ozzy—he could sing Leo Sayer songs. So the effect of would-be balls-out rock formalism such as Wolfmother's 2005 breakthrough "Woman" is anonymous camp. Maybe Stockdale suspected as much, because the new Cosmic Egg contains the seeds of a creative way out: "White Feather" is retro without being heavy, its harmonies evoking both Free's "All Right Now" and Boston's "More Than a Feeling" without copying either. Both Wolfmother and the Heartless Bastards are former trios stripped of two members to start over anew and expand around their singer-guitarist—"cosmic egg" refers to the singularity before the Big Bang. As it happens, Texas Ohioans the Heartless Bastards recorded their most back-chilling '00s punk-soul number, "Into the Open," with their previous lineup, but they nearly surpass it on several tracks across this year's third LP, The Mountain, the best being acoustic, with Erika Wennerstrom waxing as elemental about her hard-won optimism as Plant once did about his cock. With Thenewno2. $25-$49. 7 p.m. 824 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. — Peter S. Scholtes

SUNDAY 11.15

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Dakota Jazz Club

New Orleans's Dirty Dozen are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their first album release. My Feet Can't Fail Me Now only confirmed the Dozen's phenomenal reinvention of the Crescent City's brass-band tradition that was ignited on its street corners and in its clubs. Existing brass bands already knew how to shake it pretty good on the way back from the boneyard, but the Dozen jacked the rhythms into overdrive, poured on the funk, and saturated the whole thing with bop inspired by the likes of Bird, Monk, and Dizzy (who actually appeared on a subsequent album). Having inspired legions of followers, the Dozen are still on the cusp of the revolution, last time out redoing Marvin Gaye's classic What's Going On in its entirety in the context of contemporary disasters like Katrina and Bush. But when the horns get hot, the rhythms boil and quake, and the second-line umbrellas start twirling, it's party time down on Rampart and Dumaine. $30 at 7 p.m.; $22 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

MONDAY 11.16

Evan Christopher & Henry Butler

Dakota Jazz Club

A dazzling clarinet player, Evan Christopher is thoroughly steeped in traditional New Orleans jazz, exemplified by the likes of Sidney Bechet and Barney Bigard. His fluid improvisations and soaring, piercing style have been repeated showstoppers on his visits as a member of Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Although a southern California native, Christopher has been a stalwart on the New Orleans scene for 15 years, apart from interludes playing with the Jim Cullen Jazz Band in San Antonio and, post-Katrina, a two-year residency in Paris. It was there that he recorded his last album, Django á la Créole, a brilliant reworking of Django Reinhardt's Hot Club repertoire that combines Django's Gypsy jazz with the Creole howl of Crescent City licorice stick and a spicy array of rhythms gathered from points south, from New Orleans through the Caribbean to Brazil. Next summer, he'll premiere a composition here commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra. And he was just here a couple of weeks ago for a little-publicized performance for Dakota A-Train club members. Now he's back for a pair of highly recommended shows. The prospects for this gig just got elevated from great to fantastic with the late addition of ace New Orleans pianist Henry Butler, whose eclectic musical background and unique perspective yields wonderfully eccentric versions of the New Orleans canon. As a duo, there's no telling where they'll venture, but chances are there'll be at least something of a tribute to Butler's mentor, the late clarinet great Alvin Batiste. $20. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Tuesday —Rick Mason