Everyone is freaking out about Haim right now, before they're even sure how to pronounce the name. For the record, you say HIGH-em. The band is led by three sisters, and they're Jewish, and it's their last name, OK? Anyway, Haim just popped out a new album called Days Are Gone, and it's a delightful collection of '80s-inspired synth-pop beats that blatantly recall the best ballads of Phil Collins while being coated in enough lighthearted sugar to make your teeth hurt. Este, Danielle and Alana Haim — who began their foray into music as children with their parents, in a Partidge Family–style jam band Rockinhaim — are about as entertaining as this kind of thing gets. If this show at the Granada doesn't feature at least one smoke machine, I'll be so disappointed.
Thursday, October 10, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
Neko Case is an odd bird — a magnificent, talented bird, but an odd one. For many of her songs, she chooses to embody elements from the natural world: singing from the point of view of a tornado, for instance, and employing surreal, oblique metaphors. Her lyrics are so fantastical that sometimes you wonder if Case herself really knows what she's singing about. On her latest album — the formidably titled The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You — Case is at her most vulnerable and personal. (The memorable single, "Man," is all first-person.) If you're not already into Case, now is a good time.
Tuesday, October 15, at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
Fiona Apple, with Blake Mills
After seven long years away from the music business, Fiona Apple got back on the horse with 2012's The Idler Wheel, a fierce and poetic album that chews through the word "comeback" and spits it back out like venom. This promises to be a dynamic show that you shouldn't miss if you're a fan. But be prepared: The "Criminal" songstress is not one to sit back and let a distracted crowd ruin her set. Just over a month ago, she cursed a Tokyo audience for its "rude" behavior. Blake Mills is a talented folk singer and songwriter who toured with Fiona Apple as part of her band and as her opener during the original album-release tour last year. This new run of dates sees him hoisted into more of a "shared bill" position.
Saturday, October 12, at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
You like alt-folk? Americana? Roots-rock? Other hyphenated genres vaguely derivative of country? Awesome. Todd Snider delivers a sound that appeals to all those food groups, and he has been at it for nearly 20 years. Snider's songs often include a bit of political commentary, and his lyrics unfurl like the words of a wizened storyteller drawing in a skeptical child. Sometimes he's even funny. He sounds genuine, in other words.
Wednesday, October 16, at Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
The National, with Tame Impala
Between the two of them, the National and Tame Impala make up 90 percent of the soundtrack at your nearest Urban Outfitters. It's not their fault that they're both so cool. Blame it on the apathetic baritone of the National's lead singer, Matt Berninger, or the fact that Tame Impala is from Australia. Plenty of people also find actual musical qualities to like about these two bands.
Friday, October 11, at Starlight Theatre (4600 Starlight Road, 816-363-7827)
Surfer Blood waited three years to follow up their excellent breakthrough album, Astro Coast, with the recent Pythons, and the major-label bow glosses over a lot of the raw emotion that made Surfer Blood sound so promising back in 2010. Add a domestic-battery charge filed against frontman John Paul Pitts — a charge later dropped — and the band has had a hell of a rough patch. Still, Pythons is a good listen, and the band is young.
Tuesday, October 15, at the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)