The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Week, 1/21/13


Here are the 10 best shows around the city this week, in no particular order.

Ra Ra Riot + Savoir Adore
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Tuesday, 8pm, $23
With up-tempo hooky chamber pop ditties and technically tight swagger, the Syracuse fivesome began as superstars of college rock radio. Now touring in support of their upcoming album, Beta Love, the band has entered a new stylistic phase, adding a synthpop veneer to their upbeat rhythms and layered production. — By Sarah Madges

Christopher Owens
Bowery Ballroom
Monday & Tuesday, 9pm, $20
Now that singer-songwriter Christopher Owens has elected to end his indie-rock band Girls, he has released a concept album of sorts about being in the indie-rock band Girls. The LP, Lysandre, recants how Owens fell in love with a woman named Lysandre (referred to, of course, as a girl in the press release) while touring for the group’s debut, Album, and ultimately how that relationship didn’t work out. Despite sounding heady, a healthy dose of acoustic guitars, flute, and Owens’s hushed vocals keep it from becoming heavy. With Melted Toys. — By Kory Grow

Antwon + Cities Aviv + Weekend Money
Santos’ Party House
Thursday, 8pm, $8/$10
Cities Aviv’s 2011 debut Digital Lows name-checked Mr. Bungle and had arty edges, but mostly delivered thoughtful trad raps–like a slightly outré iteration of arch ’90s nostaljack Joey Bada$$. More recent material digs deeper, mining the groove where Throbbing Gristle abuts jazz-funk great George Benson. On 2012’s Black Pleasure, Quiet Storm samples get mangled in arrays of CD-skips and chops, while Cities Aviv’s incantatory raps also explore where repetition goes beyond the pleasure principle (e.g., pornography, online romance). — By Rajiv Jaswa

Vijay Iyer Trio
Jazz Standard
Wednesday – Friday, 7:30pm, $25-$30
The pianist’s Accelerando topped this year’s Rhapsody Jazz Critics Poll. Like 2009’s Historicity, it’s another fine blend of jazz history (Herbie Nichols’s “Wildflower,” Duke Ellington’s “The Village of the Virgins”), pop (Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”), solid originals, and Other (Flying Lotus and Thundercat’s “mmmhmmm”), all played with drive and finesse by Iyer, Stephan Crump (bass), and Marcus Gilmore (drums). — By Richard Gehr

James Carney Trio
Tuesday, 9pm, $10
The pianist’s horn bands are cagey and seductive, but sometimes they hide the beauty of his keyboard work. This trio with drummer Tom Rainey and bassist Mark Helias should put those skills right up front. There’s a sweet fluidity to Carney’s approach, and even the knottiest moments enjoy a certain flow. It’s a shared bill with percussionist Ches Smith’s trio, another engaging outfit that puts a premium on forward motion. — By Jim Macnie


Hammerstein Ballroom
Tuesday & Wednesday, 8pm, $65
In the ’90s, no grunge band played heavier, shrieked louder or spaced out quite like Soundgarden. Now that they’ve released King Animal, the sort of “good comeback record” all reunion bands strive for, they’re back to business as usual, playing super-charged concerts full of anxious intensity and sweat (lots of sweat). Frontman Chris Cornell’s voice might not waft up to the rafters the way it did 20 years ago, but, as they proved at last year’s Irving Plaza record-release show, he and his bandmates still play the heavy, lumbering grooves that made them legends like it’s 1992. — By Kory Grow

Robert Earl Keen + Andrea Davidson
City Winery
Wednesday, 8pm, $35-$50
According to a lyric on Ready for Confetti, Texas-based country singer Robert Earl Keen’s latest album, “Real cowboys say the party never ends and the road goes on and on.” Maybe he’s just trying to make himself out to be a real cowboy, but the line reads more like Keen’s mantra. In recent years, the graying twangster has made touring a ritual, and he hasn’t lost his sense of humor. For his recent Christmas shows in Austin, he and his band wore wild, ostentatious, almost Halloween-like costumes, and he recently held his own beard contest online. Good thing this “real cowboy” doesn’t have any real cattle to tend to; he’s too busy partying. With Andrea Davidson. — By Kory Grow

José James
Highline Ballroom
Wednesday, 8pm, $15/$18
This Brooklyn singer with the seductive and buttery baritone takes soul, funk, and jazz to a whole ‘nother level on his new No Beginning No End. To call James “nuanced” is to call water “wet.” Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye meet in songs that fan flames both upstairs (“Sword + Gun”) and down below (“It’s All Over Your Body”) with equal dispatch. — By Richard Gehr

Carole J. Bufford
Metropolitan Room
Wednesday, 9:30pm, $20
Bufford’s 2012 “Speak Easy” was one of the year’s best performances, and there’s every reason to believe the new “Body and Soul” will either equal or outdo it. For this run she’s promised passionate love songs, so look for the body to express what the soul is feeling most profoundly. Ian Herman will keep the pace on piano. — By David Finkle

Joe Morris
The Stone
Monday – Friday, 8pm, free
An inspired improviser with an approach to the guitar both well-formulated and idiosyncratic, Joe Morris spent the past three decades refining creative ideas, playing in myriad instrumental situations, and earning what serves as fame on the free jazz scene. Now he has written a book, Perpetual Frontier: The Properties of Free Music, which explains the quantifiable aspects of what’s oft-considered a mysterious music–“a methodology that can be used to construct a methodology,” says the bandleader and New England Conservatory teacher. The 27 gigs he has curated at the Stone for the next two weeks will likely reveal the essence of the tome’s tenets. His current cohort stretches from Boston to Barcelona with a variety of characters uniting to make everything from doom skronk (Spanish Donkey) to chamber-prov (Ultra) to ye olde free-bop (Bass Quartet). Need an extended portrait of one man’s provocative vision? Here it is. — By Jim Macnie

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