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Mayday! Mayday!

| May 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

May’s going down! Before it all ends and we head into the unknown — has anyone named the next month yet, for God’s sake???!!! — live every day like your rockin’ last with Big Science, Emeli Sandé, Patrick Watson, and Machine Gun Kelly.

They may have taken their name from the title of her most popular album, but the similarities between Big Science and Laurie Anderson stop at them both being from Chicagoland. This isn’t to say that Difficulty, the band’s debut, isn’t without nuance or quirk, but Big Science have slotted themselves to be worshippers at the altar of guitar-based indie rock. The wide range of sounds between “Crown For The Hanging” and “No One Ever Wakes Up” is wide but never suggests that the band need personality. But after this outing, they should have a better sense of what their strengths are. (Wednesday@The Burlington with Bring Yr Ray Gun, Jared Grabb, and Boy Blue.)

Despite Adele’s breakout success, overhyped British R&B exports continually get overshadowed by the list of failures. Emeli Sandé crosses the Atlantic divide in advance of her U.S. debut, Our Version Of Events (EMI), buoyed by the international success of the single “Heaven,” and competently delivers the notion that she’s more songwriter than pop star. Despite her shock of blonde hair, “My Kind Of Love” and “Hope” bear an economy that’s generally free of bluster. Her debts to Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell aren’t hidden, though there’s a certain disappointment that she doesn’t match the former’s ambition or wander out of the latter’s lyrical shadows. She’s set the table for her own success, but now that she’s not just writing for other people she needs to invest in herself more. (Wednesday@Lincoln Hall with Yuna.)

Patrick Watson and his band wanted Adventures In Your Own Backyard (Secret City) to sound like something recorded at home or in the yard — and they succeeded, if your home is an orchestra hall with some occasionally creaky floorboards. (Of course, they’re from Montreal where an indie-popper is born each minute.) With the beguiling, sweeping arrangements, Watson has found a delicate match for his fluttering voice and fantastical whims. There will be no sneaking up on the Polaris Music Prize this time. (Friday@Lincoln Hall with Cat Martino.)

On Half Naked & Almost Famous (Bad Boy), Machine Gun Kelly says he’s Eminem and Jay-Z, with a little bit of Nikki Sixx. While you have to admire his confidence and sense of humor, MGK’s going to need more than a rapid-fire flow to reach those heights. With his efforts expended on branding his Twista-like bursts, the EP rests on production choices that hypothesize him in every conceivable top-40 guise (R&B duet, dubstep-pop, etc.) — clearly saving the good stuff for the full-length dropping later this year. (Saturday@House Of Blues with Tech Nine.)

— Steve Forstneger

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