The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Week, 2/4/13
Here are the 10 best shows to check out around the city this week, in no particular order.
Swans Music Hall of Williamsburg Wednesday & Thursday, 9pm, $33/$35 The members of Swans might be a bunch of dreary-faced LES expats, but they have much to celebrate. Like phoenixes, the group has risen from the ashes of its quasi-industrial negative-rock past. In their original '80s formation, they were a volatile fringe collective that predicted sludge metal and goth ethereality and, by the time they disbanded in the late '90s, they'd fully become experimental art-rock martyrs. Now, since reforming in 2010, they've courted more widespread critical acclaim than in their current run and, for the first time ever, they've gotten an album on the Billboard chart. More implausible, that "commercial" album--last year's The Seer--is a hypnotic, two-hour journey into downtrodden introspection, which features guest spots from members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Low, among others. It even ranked No. 7 on this year's Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics' poll. Now, if only these guys would smile. With Marissa Nadler tonight and Devendra Banhart on Thursday. -- By Kory Grow
See also: Swans' Most Terrifying Songs
Osvaldo Golijov Carnegie Hall Monday, 6pm, $30 The concert world's most internationally cannibalistic composer is on hand for performances of his music by the St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Zankel Band. The program includes Golijov's cantorial K'vakarat for string quartet and clarinet, the New York premiere of the Book of Ecclesiastes-inspired Qohelet for string quartet, and the Argentine's aptly acclaimed Ayre, a grand mashup of Iberian folk melodies. Carnegie's Jeremy Geffen will also interview the composer. -- By Richard Gehr
Los Rakas + Nitty Scott MC + Dave East + Panama S.O.B.'s Thursday, 9pm, $10 Pretty boys Raka Rich and Raka Dun of the Bay Area group Los Rakas dish out Panamanian hyphy generously topped with the duo's molasses flow. Their most defining single, "Soy Raka," is at least as infectious as "Vans," but urban radio isn't yet savvy to the potency of their bilingual afrolatinidad (see also: "Pimpin Smoking Dro" featuring E-40). Their politics are refreshingly evident but subterranean to pop dazzle. New single "Bien Ribetiao" is mostly just sexy and blunted. Hide your teenage daughters from their energetic live shows. -- By Alexis Stephens
'Icons of Funk' Highline Ballroom Tuesday, 8pm, $30-$65 Although none of the titular "Icons of Funk" playing tonight's showcase are, say, George Clinton or Bootsy Collins, each has played his part in the evolution of the music for different generations. The combo consists of Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli, who has played funk since the '60s, trombonist Fred Wesley, who has sat in with James Brown and Clinton in the '70s, and drummer Stanton Moore, whose jazzy funk beats first turned heads in the '90s. Dr. Funkenstein would likely approve. -- By Kory Grow
Diane Cluck Joe's Pub Tuesday, 10pm, $14 Singer-songwriter Diane Cluck plays an original brand of "intuitive folk" that joins the free expression of anti-folk with an elegant yet unaffected melodic base. Born out of various cafés of the Lower East Side in 2000, Cluck has been religiously strumming out her darkly arresting songs ever since, even beginning a fan-funded "song of the week" project sending new songs straight to subscribers. With distinctive, almost harp-like guitar work and melodies sung in a broken coo, Cluck is Joni Mitchell meets Joanna Newsom meets a new spellbinding beast altogether. -- By Sarah Madges
Mumford & Sons + The Felice Brothers + Ben Howard Barclays Center Wednesday, 8pm, $39.99-$55 Last year their exquisite Babel received as healthy a reception as could reasonably be expected, but don't be fooled by the fact that Mumford & Sons are now superstars: Even when songs like "I Will Wait" and "Whispers In The Dark" bore by hitting their explosive climaxes like clockwork at the halfway point, and each side of that distressingly predictable apex is still as exciting as early 2009 gems like "The Cave" and "Little Lion Man," or the hundreds of years of traditional tunes which in turn preceded those. These songs will probably just end up buried in a shallow grave of CDRs and USB flash drives, but in another era we might have found among them a handful of all-time classics. -- By Vijith Assar
Chris Potter Village Vanguard Tuesday through Friday, 9pm & 11pm, $25 The tenor saxophonist's study of Homer's Odyssey pays off with The Sirens, a new album on which Potter approaches archetypal themes, including romance and homecoming, with a storyteller's patience. Expect epic narratives (including Potter mentor Wayne Shorter's "Penelope") to unfold when the lyrical powerhouse sets sail with Larry Grenadier (bass), Eric Harland (drums), and Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson. -- By Richard Gehr
Psychic Ills + White Hills Bowery Ballroom Thursday, 9pm, $15 There are only a little under half a million chord combinations in Western music, and over the past decade, NYC psych-rock tripsters Psychic Ills seem to have tested every one, holding it for as long as it takes to achieve full hypnosis. Of course, it helps that their instruments of choice are murky guitars, '60s hippie-dippie organ, a few drum beats here and there, and some authentically listless vocals. With likeminded turned-on, tuned-in dropouts like White Hills, Prince Rupert Drops, and DJ Mike Newman of Beyond Is Beyond Is Beyond. -- By Kory Grow
Rakim + Raekown +1Fifty1 Stage 48 Friday, 6pm, $38 Rakim is only two years older than Jay-Z yet from another era entirely, a time when raps could get you atop Mount Olympus but not seated next to Charlie Rose atop the Spotted Pig. Meanwhile, opener Raekwon's oeuvre left marks across the current rap diaspora, influencing Action Bronson and "new" New Yorkers as much as ascendant Atlantans like 2 Chainz. Still, the hyperbolic grotesquerie of today's cross-border drug trade renders his recent crime raps less compelling than his new, august love raps. -- By Rajiv Jaswa
Richard Thompson Joe's Pub Tuesday, 7pm, $35-$45 While not everything on Richard Thompson's new Electric fits the title, more than enough does to justify its underlying power-trio impetus. Based in Los Angeles, the British guitarist-songwriter has been honing his approach to what he calls "anglocana" since 1967, when he galvanized the seminal folk-rock group Fairport Convention with his Celtic-overdrive approach to electric guitar. A few perfect albums later--including Henry the Human Fly, Shoot Out the Lights (with former wife Linda Thompson), and his Grizzly Man score--Thompson continues to mine Britain's folk roots for ass-kicking hey-nonny-nonny as well as darkly amusing social studies such as "Stuck on the Treadmill" and heartfelt paeans like "My Enemy." Drummer Michael Jerome and bassist Taras Prodaniuk fill out his self-described "power wimp" trio tonight. -- By Richard Gehr
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.