By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
Music is a weapon, CX KiDTRONiK announces at the top of Activate!, the first single from Atari Teenage Riot since 2000. So right away you know some things havent changed for this Berlin-based outfit, an early pioneer of what group mastermind Alec Empire rather descriptively dubbed digital hardcore. What has changed, though, is the context in which ATR operates: The bands shows were once known for their random outbreaks of violence, but in an age of casual laptop-noise terrorism, can that reaction still be provoked?
Dubbed the BlackDiamondSkye tour after its participants latest albums, this hard-rock triple bill teams Alice in Chains with a pair of heirs to its sludge-metal legacy. Not that Alice is ready to give up the crown: Last years Black Gives Way to Blue, the bands first effort since the death of former frontman Layne Staley, surpassed all kinds of commercial and creative expectations. But Deftones (supporting this years Diamond Eyes) and Mastodon (2009s Crack the Skye) are both well suited to keep the gloomy spirit of Them Bones and Man in the Box alive.
Following a series of stylistic experiments that didnt necessarily trigger the kind of mainstream breakthrough the bands members mightve been after, Soulive is back to its instrumental-trio roots these days, a retrenchment thats hard to find fault with on Rubber Soulive, a just-released set of tastefully funked-up Beatles covers. Especially nice: the local outfits take on Eleanor Rigby, which somehow splits the considerable difference between death metal and elevator jazz.
The gospel-music veteran wooed well-meaning NPR types in 2007 with Well Never Turn Back, a deeply felt set of civil rightsthemed material produced by Ry Cooder; this fall, shes set to scoop up more of their Paste-reading brethren with You Are Not Alone, which she made in Chicago with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Beyond the Tweedy-penned title track, the disc includes covers of tunes by Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint, and John Fogerty.
My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James got his side project on last year, releasing a solo EP of acoustic George Harrison covers (under the name Yim Yames) and touring with Monsters of Folk. So perhaps this five-night stand is meant to assure MMJ fans that James hasnt retired from his day job. Each show will find the Kentucky psych-jam band tackling a complete studio album from its catalog.
Madison Square Garden
How the heck did Phoenix get so big? Eighteen months ago, these French disco-rock dudes were probably dreaming of scoring an iPod spot; now, theyre headlining Madison Square Garden just like the real rock stars theyve resembled for years. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the wonderfully titled 2009 disc that broke the band wide, certainly contains its share of effervescent delights: Lisztomania, for instance, still hasnt worn out its welcome. But its still a song about Franz Liszt. Thats weird, right?
The Corin Tucker Band
The former (and perhaps future) Sleater-Kinney frontwoman spent the latter half of the 00s concentrating on her family, but this fall, shes returning to public life with 1,000 Years, an album of new tunes credited to the Corin Tucker Band, which also includes Sara Lund of Unwound and Seth Lorinczi of the Golden Bears. Its a quieter disc than any of Sleater-Kinneys, with none of the psych-guitar fury of that bands 2005 swan song, The Woods. But Tucker remains a startlingly incisive songwriter, no matter her subject.
After working through their initial infatuation with Sonic Youths boy-girl art-guitar skronk, these internationally minded locals hit upon a unique indie-noir sound thats been Blonde Redheads own since at least 2000s Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. Their new one, Penny Sparkle, is synth-ier and less discordant than the several that preceded it, but it still resembles the work of no one else. Live, the band physicalizes the sexual tension between singers Kazu Makino and Amedeo Pace in a way thats as arresting as it is uncomfortable.
Here's something worth giving thanks for this Turkey Day: The man who already sounded like an old soul in 1969, when he sang "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" with the Band, is still recording and performingand the results are as lively as anything 70-year-old Levon Helm did as a youngster. Expect this pair of post-Thanksgiving gigs to draw from 2007's Dirt Farmer and last year's Electric Dirt, but also from the history of American music; Helm's roots go deep, deep, deep.