Fall Arts: Music Picks


The Raincoats
September 16

The post-punk trailblazers (and Kurt Cobain faves) are set to reenact their influential 1979 debut in December at England’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. Prior to that, though, the Raincoats are doing a brief North American tour in support of a new reissue of Odyshape, the sophomore set that turns 30 this year. It’s a weirder proposition, with skeletal art-funk grooves and creepy kalimba riffs and words you can believe about dancing in one’s head. But today it sounds like no less of a launching pad: If Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards is in town, expect to see her here.

261 Driggs Avenue,

Olivia Tremor Control
September 21

The Elephant 6 psych-pop collective is busier right now than it has been since the late ’90s—see Of Montreal’s aboveground incursion and Jeff Mangum’s return from wherever. Admirers might be most excited about the arrival of new music by Louisiana’s back-in-action Olivia Tremor Control, whose sprawling 1996 debut, Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle, laid out the E6 mission: stretching catchy Beatles/Byrds/Beach Boys­–inspired melodies into something darker and more experimental. It might be the ur-chillwave text.

Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker,

September 23

These fast-and-loud pop-punk pioneers haven’t released a new album since 2004’s Cool to Be You, thanks in part to frontman Milo Aukerman’s time-consuming biochemistry career. (He and Greg Graffin from Bad Religion, a fellow Ph.D., should totally open a SoCal boarding school once they’re done with music.) But Descendents pretty much said everything they have to say on their early-’80s classics anyway: “I’m Not a Loser,” “I Don’t Want to Grow Up,” “My Dad Sucks.” You see ’em now to laugh at how unsentimentally they channel those old feelings; they’re definitely in on the joke.

239 West 52nd Street,

September 27-28

Michael Gira’s No Wave fear factory reopened last year with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, a brutal (and scarily beautiful) set of chamber-noise tone poems that vindicated Gira’s pronouncements on how Swans’ reunion shouldn’t be compared to the reunions of all those other post-punk acts. The band’s accompanying live shows—typically intense, darkly theatrical, almost comically loud—further solidified the claim. A new album is reportedly in the works for 2012; if you missed Swans last time, catch them now before they move on.

Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th Street,

Il Volo
October 3

Don’t confuse Il Volo with Il Divo, the pop-operatic boy band originally assembled by Simon Cowell in an attempt to bring some sex to the PBS-pledge-drive crowd. Actually, go ahead and confuse them: Like Cowell’s creation, Il Volo wring every ounce of emotion from the classical-crossover material on their self-titled debut, then find just a bit more to extract. The twist? These fresh-faced Italians are honest-to-Dio teenagers, which gives their live presentation a splash of that special YouTube-savant sauce. They collapse the gap between Bocelli and Bieber.

Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway,

John Oates
October 8–10

Much of the ongoing critical reappraisal of Hall & Oates has focused on the guy with the golden pipes and the hipster-beloved webcast. But John Oates is not to be discounted, folks: In April he released a nifty little roots-rock record called Mississippi Mile that made up for some truly abysmal cover art (hit up iTunes for a look) with an appealingly croaky Delta-blues take on “You Make My Dreams Come True.” Here he’ll do two nights with the John Oates Band, then sit in with Iridium’s Les Paul Trio on October 10.

1650 Broadway,

October 25

CANT is Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear activating his nostalgia for a musical era he romanticizes along with plenty of his indie peers: the mid-’80s avant-soul of Arthur Russell and circa Sign o’ the Times Prince. As Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest demonstrated, Taylor is a whiz with texture and tone, so CANT’s debut, Dreams Come True, doesn’t necessarily sound like stuff by those other artists; it comes from Taylor’s own identifiable aesthetic sphere. But there’s for sure some inter-generational crosstalk happening here, something he’s making no attempt to drown out.

Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey

October 31 and November 1

SBTRKT follows the xx and James Blake as England’s latest purveyor of sexy-chilly digital soul, the kind of stuff that sounds as comfortable on a pirate radio station as it does in a sleek car commercial. And perhaps in a grimy rock club: SBTRKT has been racking up plaudits lately for his unusually energetic performances, during which he complements his knob-twiddling with live drums. Given that it goes down on Halloween in New York City, SBTRKT’s Bowery Ballroom date seems especially ripe for a guest appearance like the one Drake put in at a show in Toronto in July. (Maybe All Saints’ Day in Williamsburg will inspire someone to show up as well.)

Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey

Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th Street,

November 2

Feist took her time crafting the follow-up to 2007’s The Reminder, which upgraded the Canadian indie-rock chanteuse from a part-time gig in Broken Social Scene to whatever the scene is called where you end up singing your hit single with a bunch of Muppets on Sesame Street. The new record, Metals, is finally due out October 4, and its folky, low-key beauty should save Feist’s place in the brunch-soundtrack cosmos. Skip this show if you want to (you don’t want to), but you’ll be hearing her fresh tunes for many Sunday afternoons to come.

Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Street. Brooklyn,

Jay-Z & Kanye West
November 5-6

There’s no surprise in the quality of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaborative luxury-rap LP, Watch the Throne. Which isn’t to say there’s no surprise: More than a month after the album’s release, those mock-heroic horns in “New Day” still catch me off guard. But good records are what these guys do; the Throne is a business, man. Jay and ‘Ye’s live show might end up a different beast, at least if those Page Six reports about pre-tour bickering are to be believed. Will the two rappers hold it together? Will they fall apart? Fork over $250 for a floor seat and find out.

Izod CenterEast Rutherford,

Taylor Swift
November 21-22

When Taylor Swift played the Garden in 2009, she stood onstage silently soaking up her fans’ adulation for a full two minutes—one of the most prodigious expressions of faux-naïf wonder in a career already overflowing with them. Two years (and millions of album sales) later, you can be sure she’ll try to top it during these shows, the final North American dates of her yearlong world tour behind 2010’s excellent Speak Now.

Madison Square Garden
2 Pennsylvania Plaza.

Tori Amos
December 2-3

Tori Amos sounded a little starved for inspiration on 2009’s Abnormally Attracted to Sin, so it was probably wise that for her new one, Night of Hunters, the piano songstress lifted themes from some dependable old hitmakers: Frédéric Chopin and Erik Satie. (It’s out September 20 on Deutsche Grammophon, which last year released Sting’s surprisingly good Symphonicities.) As her superdevoted fans know, Amos rarely allows an opportunity for high drama to pass by unexploited. But onstage she can also give in to an appealing vulgar streak. Don’t anticipate an overdose of decorum here.

Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway,