VAMPIRE WEEKEND, HIGH HIGHS
(Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay) Nobody expected Vampire Weekend's third album to be this good, especially with the title Modern Vampires of the City. Yet the New York boat-shoe prep-poppers—who even recorded part of the new album on blue-blood resort isle Martha's Vineyard—have delivered their best work yet, a mature, nuanced, and of course, catchy work that makes good on all their early promise. NED LANNAMANN
DEVENDRA BANHART, RODRIGO AMARANTE
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Those that rock out to Andrew Bird, whisk their omelets to Vetiver, and bone all night to Fleet Foxes must also smoke joints in their beds to Devendra Banhart. His songwriting is sweet and melancholy, like the day your seventh-grade girlfriend broke up with you. While Banhart's style floats in between indie and folk, his years growing up in Venezuela paved the way for his Latin-inspired tracks (which still pepper his latest album, Mala). What makes him worthwhile aren't his collaborations with Vetiver, Megapuss, or ex-girlfriend Natalie Portman; it's that somewhere underneath all that hair (since shorn off) and quiet strumming is a very crazy, dynamic musician whose sound offers more complexity than all those other dudes with guitars. ROSE FINN
ARIEL PINK, PURPLE PILGRIMS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Prior to the release of 2010's Before Today, any mention of Ariel Pink being a "pop genius" was laughable. Lo-fi doesn't even begin to describe his early records, which are dense to the point of being impenetrable. Before Today, though, exposed Ariel Pink to the world for what he really is: a chameleonic, stylistically fickle pop almanac, cut from the same cloth as an artist like Prince, and whose immense, effusive talent had been constricted up to that point by a self-imposed cassette-for-the-sake-of-it servitude. Ariel Pink's newest record, Mature Themes, is an exquisite follow-up and companion to Before Today, with pop-of-the-past-pillaging that ranges from the Byrds ("Only in My Dreams") to Zappa ("Schnitzel Boogie") and everyone in between. MORGAN TROPER
TRIO FLUX, TRIO SUBTONIC
(Secret Society, 116 NE Russell) As their name suggests, Trio Flux self-identifies as a jazz fusion trio. But they have a dirty little secret, one that I think they are beginning to come to terms with: They are actually a clandestine rock band. A prog rock band, to be sure, but a rock band nonetheless. Their second album, Möbius, was produced by Riley Geare, who has worked with Radiation City and drums for Unknown Mortal Orchestra. It's totally unfettered by pedestrian conventions regarding genre, structure, and length. Neil Mattson's guitar riffs range from the smoothest of smooth to gritty distortion, sometimes in the same song. Bassist Julio Appling and drummer Adam Ochshorn provide the cool heart of the album, playing seamlessly off each other regardless of what else is happening around them. And there's a lot: "For the Simple Reason Is" is a big, dusty, wordless country song; a few tracks later, they cover Miles Davis' "Nardis." REBECCA WILSON
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