A lot of ear-appeasing things are coming out of Lawrence, and one of the newest and most noteworthy is Middle Twin. On the power-pop five-piece's new EP, City of Gold, lead singer Demi Renault's razor-sharp vocals cut through a sophisticated assembly of synths, keys and electronic drumbeats. Middle Twin straddles the cosmic line between dance music and electronic art. Renault occasionally shares singing duties with Joel Martin, who soothes and calms when Renault pushes and drives. It's a seductive album that invites bodies to writhe and sweat with the volume turned all the way up. Experience the magic at the Bottleneck — and maybe bring a date. See what happens. Forrester opens.
Thursday, March 27, the Bottleneck (737 New Hampshire, Lawrence,
Alejandro Escovedo, with the Sensitive Boys
We can hope that we are as spry and rockin' in our retirement years as Alejandro Escovedo. It's unlikely that the 63-year-old Austin veteran will put the brakes on anytime soon. Since the mid-1980s, Escovedo has cultivated a rock sound of grown-up grooves that combines his early punk roots with the '70s group the Nuns and his country-music dabbling with the '80s band True Believers. On 2012's Big Station, Escovedo may have finally achieved the most essential incarnation of his sound. The record captures Escovedo's smooth, far-reaching vocals — at times reminiscent of Elvis Costello — flying coolly over devil-may-care guitar riffs and touches of trumpet, violin and cello.
Friday, March 28, Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
At this point in his life, Arlo Guthrie probably wishes, on some level, that he never wrote the 18-minute epic folk monologue "Alice's Restaurant." The tune has followed him around since he released it on the eponymously titled 1967 album, requested at all of his concerts — Guthrie's own personal "Free Bird." The brilliant satire of that song is sometimes engulfed by its own fame, but more than 40 years later, the anti-war lyrics still make a relevant point. Tuesday at Liberty Hall, you have the opportunity to experience other aspects of Guthrie's legacy. Bring the parents or bring your kids — Guthrie is sure to walk on cross-generational common ground.
Tuesday, April 1, Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
By the time Blitzen Trapper arrives at the Riot Room, the group will be fresh off a string of dates opening for Drive-By Truckers on the first leg of that band's North American tour. The Riot Room gig kicks off Blitzen Trapper's own headlining tour in support of last year's full-length, VII, the band's, er, seventh record — and arguably its best. It still carries lead singer and songwriter Eric Earley's trademark discordant Americana. After more than a decade in the business, he has managed to strike a balance on VII, which is accessible and appealing in its folk revivalism while maintaining Earley's artsy weirdness with trippy, off-kilter organ notes and odd banjo arrangements.
Sunday, March 30, the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
A Night for Joc Max
For more than 20 years, Joc Max has been the foremost name in the metro's hip-hop production. You'll hear some of that legacy in retrospect at RecordBar Saturday. Local MC Reach has organized what he's calling a hip-hop "honors show," with performances by himself, SoundsGood, DJ Ataxic, DJ Skeme, DJ Maxx and Smooth C. This lineup is especially exciting, considering that SoundsGood — featuring rapper Joe Good and producer Miles Bonny — has technically been retired since 2007.
Saturday, March 29, RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)