Listen up: 2014 Fall music preview

The start of the new school year means that a slew of musical talent will be visiting the area. Here are 10 highlights to help you plan your autumn music calendar. Check out this Spotify playlist that features songs from these highlighted shows, and also see below for an expanded listing of fall shows, curated by Little Village staff.

Photo by DeShaun Craddock
Photo by DeShaun Craddock

Brother Ali w. Bambu | Sept. 12 at Gabe’s

In an era where optimism is a matter of clicking away from depressing news stories, rapper Brother Ali has no interest in passive optimism. Instead, he offers a message of real hope that doesn’t flinch away from taking on the real ugliness of our world. On his last album, the raspy-voiced MC opines over buoyantly soulful beats on his love for community and unequivocally identifies himself with America: “I embrace it all, beautiful ideals and amazing flaws.” But he doesn’t hesitate to call out those amazing flaws that too much of the world knows us for: “When innocent people perish / It’s a very thin line between a soldier and a terrorist.”

Listen | Watch

Photo courtesy of Traxman
Photo courtesy of Traxman

Traxman w. L-Vis 1990 | Sept. 17 at Grinnell College

Traxman is a true pioneer of Chicago footwork, a genre of frenetic dance music that has evolved out of the city’s longstanding house scene, and which, since the late 2000’s, has branched out from its Chicago confines to achieve worldwide recognition. With his Da Mind of Traxman album being the first from the much-respected Teklife crew to be distributed internationally, Traxman has played no small part in bringing footwork to a larger audience. Even more importantly, his knack for imbuing a soulful touch to a dance genre defined by its chaotic fury has ensured that the footwork sound hitting the globe remains true to its house roots.

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Photo courtesy of Festival Contato
Photo courtesy of Festival Contato

La Yegros | Sept. 18 at Landfall Festival of World Music

In “Trocitos de Madera,” La Yegros punctures the steady build of Latin percussion to belt out the surreal story of a young girl from Misiones, a far northeastern province of Argentina, who cries out “pieces of wood” and never ceases dancing to salve her pain. Regardless of whether you can understand the Spanish lyrics, by the end of the track you’ll inevitably be following the path of the song’s protagonist, swaying your hips as the off-kilter yet thoroughly hypnotizing groove takes over. With a voice that enchants even at its most brash, La Yegros has quickly emerged as a defining artist of the Buenos Aires digital cumbia scene.

Listen | Watch

Photo by Stig Ove Voll
Photo by Stig Ove Voll

Al Jarreau | Sept. 19 at Iowa Soul Festival

With a genius for vocal improvisation and a delivery so smooth and warm that one rarely walks away from it without smiling, jazz legend Al Jarreau is still going strong after four decades. Jarreau found himself climbing the jazz charts this month with his latest album release, My Old Friend, a tribute to jazz pianist George Duke. Duke collaborated on Jarreau’s 1981 album Breakin’ Away, containing his signature hit “We’re in This Love Together,” and helped Jarreau get his start performing full-time after his move to San Francisco in the mid ’60s. What was Jarreau up to before that? Earning his masters in vocational rehabilitation at the University of Iowa.

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Video still via KEXP
Video still via KEXP

Twin Peaks w. Ne-Hi | Sept. 23 at Blue Moose Tap House

Sure, they’re named after the David Lynch show, but there’s nothing particularly enigmatic or mysterious about this Chicago-based garage rock four-piece. Starting as a high school band, the members of Twin Peaks are just now reaching drinking age, and their youthful energy is still very much on display with their latest record, Wild Onion. This album sees the band running at two speeds: heavy-hitting Jagger-swagger rock or after-party melancholy. Fans of the early, beer-swilling Guided By Voices albums, as well as fans of The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, will find something to love in Twin Peaks.

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Video still via KEXP
Video still via KEXP

Low w. The Lonelyhearts, Holly and the Night Owls | Sept. 26 at Maximum Ames Music Festival

The Duluth-based trio, Low, will be headlining the Maximum Ames Music Festival as they reach the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album, I Could Live in Hope. Contrasting starkly with Duluth’s hardcore punk scene at the time, Low pioneered the “slowcore” sound. Marked by whispered lyrics, softly brushed drums and glacial paces, their songs are mini-epics unto themselves, often allowing even small, subtle changes in a song’s structure to feel powerful and huge.

The second decade of their career has seen the group expand their sonic palette, but their live shows remain low-key. Case in point: Most audiences choose to sit on the ground in front of the stage while the band performs.

Listen | Watch

Video still via Mathias Nielsen
Video still via Mathias Nielsen

OM w. Watter | Oct. 9 at Gabe’s

It’s rare that the off-shoot of a legendary band ever steps out from the shadow of the former group, but OM has done just that. Formed by the rhythm section of Sleep (frequently described as “the ultimate stoner rock band”) upon that group’s disbanding, OM is less interested in transcendence through intoxication and more interested in transcendence through faith, rituals and, of course, teeth-rattling volume.

Copping Christian iconography for their album covers and exploring themes a number of of Eastern religion within their lyrics, OM’s only clear intention is to bring a sense of awe to their audience—which they easily do with their hypnotic bass-lines and subtle, yet insistent, drumming.

Listen | Watch

Photo by Mike Katzif
Photo by Mike Katzif

Sharon Van Etten w. Tiny Ruins | Oct. 14 at Gabe’s

Nearly 10 years ago, Sharon Van Etten handed Kyp Malone (of TV on the Radio) a CD-R full of rough demos of her delicate, thoughtful folk songs, and the rest is history. Since then, Van Etten has steadily gone from “better than most coffeehouse singer-songwriters” to “better than most anybody.” Throughout her four full-length records, members of The National, Wye Oak, Lower Dens, Beirut and many other indie A-listers have all enthusiastically lent their talents to her songs. But it’s her songwriting, full of distinct harmonies and devastating lyrics, not her entourage of talented friends, that will really blow you away.

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Photo Courtesy of the United Nations
Photo Courtesy of the United Nations

Roberta Flack | Nov. 8 at Riverside Casino

With such iconic hits as “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” no one would ever question Roberta Flack if she choose to simply stick to the milieu of soul music she helped bring to such acclaim. Yet, her latest project, Let It Be Roberta, an inspired collection of Beatles covers, speaks to a musical sensibility that refuses to be pigeonholed. Her musical talent was not first honed as a singer, but rather as an aspiring concert pianist with a penchant for Romantic-era composers. Of course, go ahead and love Roberta’s undeniably beautiful voice, but don’t ignore the keen musical talent behind it.


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Photo by Barbara Muerdter
Photo by Barbara Muerdter

My Brightest Diamond | Nov. 16 at The Mill

My Brightest Diamond is the project of Shara Worden, a multi-instrumentalist and classically trained vocalist. Worden has been an active musician since the late ’90s, when she was the frontwoman for AwRY, an experimental chamber pop group with a decidedly open-door policy (one member simply blew on wind chimes for a few performances, for instance).

My Brightest Diamond takes the same experimental approach to ornate chamber music, but refines it for a larger audience. Over the course of five full-length albums and a handful of compilation appearances, My Brightest Diamond has effectively married jagged punk rock with operatic tendencies—and the music world is all the richer for it.

Listen | Watch

More shows to look forward to this fall

Lucy Kaplansky Sept. 6, CSPS
Lucero Sept. 11, Blue Moose
Black Lips Sept. 16 Blue Moose
The King Khan & BBQ show Sept. 16 Blue Moose
Shonen Knife Sept. 17 The Mill

Landfall Festival of World Music — Sept. 16-20, locations vary)

(only a selection of artists are mentioned, see the full listing)

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (Italy) Sept. 16
Derek Gripper (South Africa) Sept. 17
Telvin Trio (Turkey) Sept. 18
Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ (Vietnam) Sept. 18
Emel Mathlouthi (Tunisia) Sept. 19
Kinobe & The Wamu Spirit (Uganda) Sept. 19
Matuto (NYC) Sept. 20

Iowa Soul Festival (Sept. 19-20, Pentacrest and Clinton St.)

(only a selection of artists are mentioned, see the full listing)

Kinobe & The Wamu Spirit Sept. 19
Conjunto Angola 70 Sept. 19
The FunkDaddies Sept. 20
Lalah Hathaway Sept. 20
Yonatan Gat Sept. 22, Trumpet Blossom
Pokey LaFarge Sept. 23, Englert Theatre

Maximum Ames (Sept. 25-28, locations vary)

(only a selection of artists are mentioned, see the full listing)

The River Monks Sept. 25
Sage Francis Sept. 26
William Elliott Whitmore Sept. 27
We Are the Willows Sept. 27
The Depaysment Sept. 28
Hoba Hoba Spirit Sept. 26, CSPS
Pile Sept. 30, Trumpet Blossom
Il Sogno Del Mariano (Mike Watt) Sept. 27, Gabe’s
Rubblebucket Oct. 1, Blue Moose
Brillz Oct. 7, Blue Moose
Born of Osiris Oct. 11, Blue Moose
O’ Death Oct. 14, The Mill
Los Lobos Oct. 15, Englert Theatre
Meatbodies Oct. 15, The Mill
Spankalicious Oct. 16, Blue Moose
Flatbush Zombies Oct. 17, Blue Moose
Big Krit Oct. 18, Blue Moose
Black Milk Oct. 27, Gabe’s
Reigning Sound Oct. 30, The Mill
SpokFrevo Orquestra Oct. 30, Englert Theatre
Atmosphere Nov. 2, Blue Moose
Quintron and Miss Pussycat Nov. 10, The Mill
Ty Dolla Sign Nov. 12, Blue Moose
Huey Mack Nov. 16, Blue Moose
Yelawolf Nov. 29, Blue Moose

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