COLUMN WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
For Digital First Media
Welcome back to “Seven in Seven,” where each Friday we’ll be taking a look at shows coming to the region over the next week. Whether your musical tastes are rock and roll, jazz, heavy metal, singer-songwriter or indie, there’ll always be something to check out in the coming days.
Here are seven of the best for the week beginning Sept. 25:
Alt-J – Sept. 25 at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing
Having forged their own unique sound combining elements of electronic, folk and guitar music, Alt-J hit with a band with their 2012 debut “An Awesome Wave,” which won the coveted Mercury Music Prize, beating out upstarts like Django Django, The Maccabees and Jessie Ware. Much of the record’s success was rooted in the offbeat yet ridiculously catchy single “Breezeblocks.” Just over a year ago Alt-J delivered their sophomore effort, “This Is All Yours,” which hit the Top 10 on charts around the world, including here in the States where it landed at number four. This is definitely one of the more intriguing trios out there.
El Ten Eleven – Sept. 26 at Johnny Brenda’s
El Ten Eleven initially gained notoriety through film and television featuring their music in various commercials from the likes of Lexus and the MTV awards. As a post-rock instrumental duo, there’s always the chance of sounding tired and a bit repetitive. Yet a decade in with six albums under their belt, Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty show no signs whatsoever of being anything but innovative and interesting. It’s chill, it’s interesting and it’s perfect for an early evening.
Ghost – Sept. 26 at Union Transfer
Hailing from Sweden, heavy metal outfit Ghost use one of the oldest tricks in the book: theatrics. It’s been done to perfection by the likes of Kiss and Alice Cooper, and the version done by Ghost comes pretty close to flawless too. Led by Papa Emeritus III, who dresses like a pope but in corpse-paint, the band is rounded out by five other members on various instruments who dress in long, hooded robes while wearing masks and are referred to only as “Nameless Ghouls.” Oh, and the music? It’s pretty darn good as well; it’s metal, but it’s poppy, and there are soaring choruses. Definitely unlike anything else out there.
Bully – Sept. 30 at Boot & Saddle
The word “bully” has a negative connotation these days, one heavy with menace and violence. A bully is an instigator, an aggressor; someone who can spot your weaknesses and exploit them mercilessly. It’s a curious name for a Nashville quartet that is transforming familiar ‘90s alt-rock in the vein of Pavement and Weezer into smart, sharp-edged millennial indie rock, but “bully” is certainly an apt description for the band’s churning guitars, rambunctious rhythms, and tightly coiled intensity. Their debut “Feels Like” sounds alternately like a balled fist and a fresh bruise, due in no small part to the vocals by frontwoman Alicia Bognanno, who wavers between sugar sweet singing to spiced up screaming. The 90s never sounded so good.
Pentagram – Sept. 30 at Underground Arts
Alexandria, Virginia metal outfit Pentagram was all but forgotten a few years ago, mainly due to frontman Bobby Liebling – in his 50s – battling substance abuse issues which had left him in a haze and living in his parent’s basement. Influential and powerful during the 70s, it was the interest of two filmmakers who wanted to know what happened to the group that provided the spark for Leibling to fix himself, return to music and to the stage. All of this is chronicled in the fantastic 2011 documentary “Last Days Here,” proving that there’s always a way up from the bottom.
Wolf Alice – Sept. 30 at The Trocadero
Last year, Wolf Alice was the most blogged about artist in the UK and most talked about band at this year’s SXSW. The four-piece rockers released their debut album My Love Is Cool at the start of the summer, and on the strength of the singles “Giant Peach” and “Moaning Lisa Smile,” have quickly captured the attention of music fans in the States. Dramatic guitars, hints of shoegaze and unforgettable riffs – what’s not to like?
Daryl Hall & John Oates – Oct. 1 at The Fillmore
Homegrown blue-eyed soul duo Hall & Oates have had an enduring popularity which has lasted for nearly 40 years. Hits like “Sara Smile,” “She’s Gone,” “Out of Touch” and “Private Eyes” are woven into the fabric of American music like few others have managed to do, especially for this long. Officially the best-selling duo of all time, the pair is now Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, having been inducted at last year’s ceremony. For some, that might be validation, but for longtime fans of the band, it’s just the nominating committee finally coming to their senses. The concert is sold out.
Michael Christopher’s “Seven In Seven” column appears regularly in Ticket.