COLUMN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
For Digital First Media
Welcome to “Seven in Seven,” where each week we take 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 November 27:
Niykee Heaton – November 27 at Theatre of Living Arts
After writing her first song at age 5 and teaching herself to play guitar at 9, Niykee Heaton dedicated her entire childhood and high school years to making music. In her early teens, she began posting pop covers on YouTube while continuing to cultivate her songwriting. One of Heaton’s highlights so far includes getting hand-picked by Snoop Dogg to accompany him onstage at the YouTube Brandcast in May 2013. Since then, she’s kept up a steady songwriting routine despite the whirlwind of becoming a magnet for up-and-coming producers.
Lizzo – November 29 at The Foundry
In the current state of hip-hop culture, built on stale rhymes about sex, money and drugs, Houston-bred, Minneapolis-based artist Lizzo relies on inventive wordplay and an ability to seamlessly flow between rapping and singing to set her above the rest. Her 2013 debut solo release, Lizzobangers, introduced listeners to her unique delivery and cadence. Fueled by the depth of her pop-culture, social and historic references, ranging from Lizzie Borden to Cogsworth to Anna Wintour, Lizzo is a breath of fresh air in a stale genre. This past October her first major-label release came out, an infectious EP titled Coconut Oil.
Donovan – December 2 at The Keswick Theatre
Donovan’s pioneering work in the 1960’s transformed the musical landscape from folk to psychedelic to pop and back again. His groundbreaking album Sunshine Superman was the herald of things to come, one year before The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Grateful Dead’s debut and Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow. He was one of the few artists to collaborate on songs with the Beatles, contributing lyrics to the song “Yellow Submarine.” Donovan was also invited by The Beatles to join them at Abbey Road Studios for the final orchestral overdub session for the Lennon-McCartney collaboration “A Day in the Life.” He’s a legendary rock and roll troubadour and should not be missed in a live setting.
Giraffe Tongue Orchestra – December 2 at Union Transfer
Comprised of singer William DuVall of Alice In Chains, Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Brent Hinds of Mastodon, Pete Griffin of Dethklok and Thomas Pridgen of The Mars Volta, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra has launched a special, brief run of their first-ever US performances. The band has been brewing the material from their debut release, Broken Lines, and is set to give fans a live interpretation of the album. GTO is undeniably a supergroup, but not a novelty one, it sounds like a band is supposed to sound; tight, fiery and ready to take on all comers.
Spirit Animal – December 2 at The Barbary
Drawing on a range of early rap and trip-hop influences – think Tricky, Outkast, El-P – and the songwriting of greats like Talking Heads and Tom Petty, Spirit Animal tears apart what you know and love about your favorite style and rearranges the pieces. Their breakout track “Regular World” kicks off with soaring and a poignant funk verse before crashing into a climactic chorus. As a whole, the group from Brooklyn is a chaotic combination of rock and pop, fueled by the unruly aesthetics of psych and funk.
Amy Ray – December 3 at Sellersville Theater 1894
Amy Ray’s progression as a singer/songwriter has taken her up and down all of the switchback trails of the South, from the dive bars of Saturday night to church on Sunday morning, with some coffeehouses and arenas along the way, too. As one-half of the duo Indigo Girls, Ray cemented a dedicated following along with fellow singer/songwriter Emily Saliers. On her own, she mixes the Indigo Girls American feel with a country music vibe. The urgent, plaintive ache that characterizes all of her vocals lends itself beautifully to country music, though her singing is soft and gentle, suited to back-porches and small campfires.
Paper Bird – December 3 at Johnny Brenda’s
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Paper Bird first emerged from the same environs that launched fellow indie folk outfits as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and the Lumineers. The group has toured extensively throughout the U.S., sharing bills with the aforementioned bands, as well as Daryl Hall & John Oates and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The band has a sound that blends the vocal harmonies of Fleet Foxes and The Lone Bellow with the classic ‘70s stylings of bands like Heart and Fleetwood Mac without imitating any one of them in particular.