These are the best concerts in New York this week, in no particular order.
Mon., Jan. 7. 8pm. Bowery Ballroom. $40.
Once a local star in Washington–a city that was struggling to make it onto the hip-hop map–Wale became an Internet favorite when his mixtapes for Fool’s Gold guru Nick Catchdubs (most notably, his breakout 100 Miles and Running) circulated across the hipper neighborhoods in cities across the country. Today, he’s a national star, two seats away from the throne of Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group imprint, finding radio success with the Miguel-assisted slow jam “Lotus Flower Bomb” and flavoring songs like Ross’s “Diced Pineapples” with spoken-word intros. After the cancellation of Maybach’s small-arenas tour (due to “scheduling conflicts”), Wale comes to the Bowery Ballroom for a more intimate solo show. — By Nick Murray
Soft Moon + Majical Cloudz
Tues., Jan 8. 10:30 p.m. Mercury Lounge. $12-$15.
The first song on Soft Moon’s latest album, Zeros, is titled “It Ends,” which is about as cheery as it gets for this lot. Since releasing their self-titled debut in 2010, the Bay Area group has excelled in creating drab electronic-tinged downers, but with the sort of nuanced textures, industrial filigrees (they recently remixed a song by Trent Reznor’s new band), and murky Joy Divisiony guitars to make it more than just a depression session. They learned early on how to find the right balance between minor keys and expressionism–a trait they likely picked up from listening to misery mechanists like Einstürzende Neubauten and about every 4AD artist who put out a record before 1986. Openers Majical Cloudz will provide a slightly more uplifting counterpoint to Soft Moon’s negativity. — By Kory Grow
‘Robert Gordon’s Elvis Birthday Bash’
Wed., Jan. 9. 7:30 p.m. B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. $20/$25.
When the Ramones were wearing Elvis-esque leather, their fellow CBGBs performer Robert Gordon was channeling the King’s Sun Records years with the release of his 1977 rockabilly breakthrough, Robert Gordon With Link Wray. Tonight, he performs his ninth annual Elvis Birthday Bash, where he pays tribute to the man whose “Heartbreak Hotel” stirred him as a 9-year-old and whose “One Night” he covered to get a record deal. All hail the King! — By Kory Grow
Wed., Jan. 9. 8:00 p.m. ShapeShifter Lab. $10.
It wouldn’t be wrong to call them a band of accomplished sidemen, but more and more saxophonist Seamus Blake, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, pianist Dave Kikowski, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Donald Edwards sound unmistakably formidable as co-leaders in this feisty mainstream collective. Each contributes tunes, and the new Pentasonic bristles with the kind of old school swagger that only killer chops can cultivate. — By Jim Macnie
Tues., Jan. 8. 8:00 p.m. 92nd Street Y. $29-$55.
No matter what happens, no matter how many times he makes an “Oochie Wally” or an I Am . . ., New Yorkers will always love Nas, in part because there’s always a “Thief’s Theme” or a Stillmatic hiding right around the corner. His latest return to form, the summer hit Life Is Good, featured the city’s rapper laureate spitting over Salaam Remi and No I.D.-produced boom-bap, and launched a song about worrying over your daughter into Hot 97 rotation. Tonight, he comes to 92Y to discuss (with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis) his youth in Queens, his early days in the rap game, and the real-life daughter behind his latest hit. — By Nick Murray
Donald Harrison, Ron Carter, & Billy Cobham
Tues., Jan 8 – Fri., Jan. 11. 8:00 p.m. daily. Blue Note. $20-$35.
Since their 2004 debut, this trio has refined their ever-shifting sense of balance to blend frenzied moments and well-plotted flourishes with some of the most muscular lyricism around. The saxophonist flutters, the bassist strolls, and the drummer pressurizes everything–even the ballads. — By Jim Macnie
Tues., Jan. 8 – Fri., Jan. 11. 8:30 p.m. & 11:00 p.m. daily. Birdland. $40.
Jazz’s leading male singer has theatricality in his vocal arsenal, but he seldom abuses it; his casual delivery helps him quickly befriend an audience. Both skills are in play on his latest disc, a nod to the Brill Building’s irrefutable art and extended aura. From Carole King to Burt Bacharach, he puts a personalized spin on some classics, testing the waters with phrasing, tempo, and harmony updates. He doesn’t touch “Shopping For Clothes,” though–best not to mess with royalty. — By Jim Macnie
‘Unraveling: Corey Dargel & Jacob Cooper’
Mon., Jan. 7. 7:00 p.m. Le Poisson Rouge. $15.
Falling at opposite ends of the contemporary classical continuum, electro-minimalist Jacob Cooper and nouveau cabaret singer Corey Dargel present two song cycles that comment on the integration and unraveling of technology in society and in music. Cooper’s “Silver Threads” features captivating soprano Mellissa Hughes, ostensibly comfortable in any scenario, singing over an electronic trance track. Dargel’s wry “Hold Yourself Together” traces six interlocking stories on the breakdown of communication and the toll it takes on modern love, sung over a Baroque-style synthesizer. A more highbrow form of glitch, these subversive composers embrace technology only to undermine it from within. — By Aidan Levy
Julian Lynch + Andrew Cedermark
Tues., Jan. 8. 8:30 p.m. The Glasslands Gallery. $10.
Despite his interdisciplinary approach, the Wisconsin-based multi-instrumentalist maintains a clear focus when it comes to his forthcoming LP, scheduled to drop this April. Like his past releases, Lynch recorded its tracks in his Madison apartment using low-fi techniques, but he continues honing the material in live sets. Supposedly, this one picks up where he left off with Terra, his densely atmospheric 2011 release, with the lonely hum of bass clarinet meeting an understated, pop-infused synthesizer aesthetic. — By Aidan Levy