Brakesbrakesbrakes
October 6

What an evolution. From über-buzzed British Sea Power, to a side goof that blasted Dick Cheney and toasted Johnny Cash, to full-time band that hit the legal brakes with a name they had to cast off stateside and one of the greatest breakup ballads of the new millennium (2007's "No Return"), this excellent, somewhat ignored quartet has recently refined their approach to a two-chord drone reminiscent of Black Francis conducting the Modern Lovers. Drunk. Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, boweryballroom.com

Clem Snide
October 13

Vicious on his own, Eef Barzelay seems to grow another set of teeth with his down-and-out, Naked Lunch–derived band of Brooklyn-cum-Nashvillians, who quietly released the spiritual weirdbook Hungry Bird earlier this year in sharp contrast to back catalog sneers like "Jews for Jesus Blues" and "No One's More Happy Than You." Hipsters have little use for his vinegary mix of irony and cruelty, and even critics who gave the excellent End of Love its due might be surprised at how loose his usually hushed country backup can get live. But between the bizarre jokes ("The pedophiles did their rendition of 'You've Got a Friend'/And we all had to admit/It wasn't that bad") or Randy Newman–inspired cynicism ("We should just release the doves/Because no one will survive the end of love"), he slips in clues of what life's really all about: "Summer will come/With Al Green and sweetened iced tea." Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston Street, mercuryloungenyc.com

Regina Spektor
October 14

Staking her uncool on a No. 3 debut and a hit politely asking you not to laugh at God, the ivory-tickling songstress comes far after graduating anti-folkdom and surviving a Stroke (who, we hear, wasn't so hot at editing). We know you discovered "Fidelity" from Grey's Anatomy. It's OK—we're all friends here. And we want you to know about "Hotel Song" and "Ghost of Corporate Future," too. Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, radiocity.com

Al Green
October 16 and 17

The classiest soul legend ever isn't just still alive, he's preaching to your daughters. Last year's ?uestlove-helmed Lay It Down laid down more of the workaday ambrosia that the Reverend has been squeezing out since the '70s, reportedly without a cobweb plucked from the mixing board. But it also added new contenders ("What More Do You Want From Me") and hit the top 10. If the 63-year-old can sell anything live, it's consistency. B.B. King Blues Club, 237 West 42nd Street, bbkingblues.com

Justice (DJ Set)
October 29

Michael Jackson's passing has only heightened the appeal of this puritan-fragging French duo's inescapable hit "D.A.N.C.E.," a tribute so heartfelt and daring that it utilized a children's choir to unironically rehash Jackson slogans. Expect anything at their DJ sets, whether their own meter-destroying, blown-speaker take on funky house, or "Master of Puppets" vivisected gleefully for the metal-hating ringer-T set. Accept their dare to distort the danceable into the grotesquely (gulp) rocking. Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, websterhall.com

Jemina Pearl
November 5

Even without her detention pals in Be Your Own Pet, star firebrand Pearl detonates onstage with her perfectly Joan Jett–like fusion of short hair, schoolyard thrash, and Little Eva–style throwback pop. Guest spots from Iggy Pop and Thurston Moore on her solo debut Break It Up fail to quell her brattiness (or catchiness). And only a brat could resist her first non-zombie-related love song, a little valentine called "I Hate People." Bowery Ballroom,6 Delancey Street, boweryballroom.com

Ghostface Killah
November 11

Wu-Tang's most ferociously enduring rapper is also its tenderest, as his upcoming The Wizard of Poetry aims to prove with plenty of Autotune and exhortations for his babymama to rub his belly and get him Popeye's. Whether bringing out his rapper son (who "came out his dick") for second-generation headknockers like "Be Easy," or rocking standbys like "C.R.E.A.M.," it's fair to say that Ghost is starting to rule everything around cash. B.B. King Blues Club, 237 West 42nd Street, bbkingblues.com

The Big Pink
December 4

With both a dynamite single ("Dominos") and a propensity for slow-swelling synths making their name, London duo the Big Pink are poised to be this year's MGMT—if only they weren't so obsessed with being its t.A.T.u., flaunting instruments they "can't play" and faking as a gay couple in photos. But like t.A.T.u., don't be unprepared when five brilliant words they can-or-can't-sing run your life for the next few months: "These girls fall like dominos." Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, boweryballroom.com

The Juan MacLean
December 18

It takes some hit to earn that "the" in front of your name, and a decade after his bludgeoning Six Finger Satellite fell from the sky, John MacLean sits proudly behind the 12 ecstatic minutes of "Happy House," another DFA clubland thrill to notch James Murphy's belt following the success of the Rapture, Cut Copy, and the Pazz-winning label boss himself. It also takes some hit to exclaim, "You are so excellent." Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, musichallofwilliamsburg.com

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