Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Lovett every minute of it

| August 17, 2011

Leave it to Lyle Lovett to leave a tribute album to a fellow Texan sounding like an entirely different Texan — the Rick Perry effect? It’s all part of your unpredictable weekend including Tim Kasher, Nikka Costa, Elzhi, and Natalia Kills.

Two Buddy Holly compilations have dropped this summer to honor what would have been his 75th birthday, one designed not to upset “American Idol” fans (Listen To Me) and another to wash that one’s antiseptic taste from your mouth (Rave On). Lyle Lovett‘s contribution is unfortunately to the former, but that’s why they make things like iTunes and Spotify. His rendition of “Well All Right” is certainly worth hearing because not only does he add a different spin, but it’s one entirely influenced by Roy Orbison. Lovett hasn’t issued a studio album since 2009’s Natural Forces (Curb/Lost Highway), which means he and His Large Band will be in peak form and open to playing just about anything. (Sunday@Ravinia Festival in Highland Park.)

One of the most commonly pulled quotes from the new Kanye West/Jay-Z album comes from West: “I curse in cursive.” It’s a strange reference, seeing has how texting and social blogging have effectively killed penmanship. Flourishing side-projects haven’t killed Cursive for frontman Tim Kasher, though he made a concerted solo effort on last year’s The Game Of Monogamy. He’s back quickly this summer with a drip-pan EP, Bigamy (More Songs From The Monogamy Sessions (Saddle Creek), whose title makes it sound like marriage-counseling recordings. And that they might be, as Kasher details the varying cuddly, cold, and distraught emotions that accompany him on his one-on-one journey. Cursive fans should know that the separation between these songs and Cursive is simply the explicit subject matter; the musical score swoons and lurches just as it always has. (Thursday@Schubas with Aficionado.)

When talk Prince’s influence bandies about, it generally gravitates to men who affect falsetto and drum machine. Nikka Costa probably gets overlooked because, as a woman, she can dress like the Paisley one and not get called out on it. After a brief hiatus, Frank Sinatra’s goddaughter is back at it with the first of a series of EPs, Pro*Whoa!, on her own Gofunkyourself imprint. Costa has been quick to elude power-funk archetypes while still being able to try on as many R&B hats as she likes. Pro*Whoa! sticks its feet in the water as far as adopting electro, Top 40 synths (“Nylons In A Rip”), but the core remains her reedy, snapping voice, which you know she’s dying to take the training wheels off of but she knows how much that shit turns people off. (Sunday@Lincoln Hall with Dance Floor Plans and DJRC.)

Nas is like . . . Hip-hop has been debating Nas’ career ever since he started reading his own press — which unfortunately coincided with the writing of his second album. As we near the 20-year anniversary of Illmatic, reassessment won’t be in short supply with Slum Village MC Elzhi taking a crack at its legacy on the Elmatic mixtape. Able to adapt his flow to almost precisely imitate Nas’, he rebuilds the beats for a Detroit-centric vision of post-gangsta black America — or if there ever will be such a thing. (Saturday@Double Door with Pennjamin Bannekar and R.O.E.)

The Lady Gaga/Katy Perry phenomenon will — prepare yourself — be followed by a flood of imitators who are all a variation on the theme: more party, more political, more gay, more Madonna, more more. Sonically running perilously close to the pack, Natalia Kills‘ calling card is a darkness, which will probably gleaned more from publicity shots of her with a chainsaw than the retro-gothrock grit of Perfectionist (Cherrytree) tracks like “Acid Annie,” which will certainly surprise chaperoning parents with its “muthafucka” invocation. The Will.I.Am protégé doesn’t improvise enough of the script to land on Nikki Minaj’s beanbag, though as a successor to the Pink role she stands a chance. (Sunday@Allstate Arena with Katy Perry.)

— Steve Forstneger

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