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Seven Concerts You Might Want To Try (And Why)

Special to The Courant

Dua Lipa

You may have heard Dua Lipa’s hit “New Rules,” which spells out a little list of romantic self-preservation advice to herself: “One, don’t pick up the phone, you know he’s only calling because he’s drunk and alone.”

She goes on from there, but — because she’s in charge — you get the feeling she might ignore her own set of instructions if she feels like it. “New Rules” has a Caribbean feel, as run through a radio-EDM filter. Many of Lipa’s songs sound like house-tinged synth-pop. But she also does stark piano balladry, like on the slow burn of “Homesick.”

Her debut album came out last year, part of which she spent opening for artists like Bruno Mars and Coldplay. Lipa was born to Albanian parents in London, and she started posting covers on YouTube as a teenager, which led to her record deal.

She sings with a hint of huskiness, sounding a little like Halsey at times. Lipa is working on a new record, and she’s spent some time in the studio with pop-alchemist hit-makers Mark Ronson and Max Martin, so expect more radio saturation from her in 2019. She might be too big for venues like this soon.

See Dua Lipa at Toyota Presents Oakdale Theater, 95 S. Turnpike Road, Wallingford, on Wednesday, June 20, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and up. 203-265-1501, livenation.com.

Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile’s music masks anxiety and worry with a slacker mumble, stoner haze and a spacey stare into the distance. But under all that, there’s a recurring sense of something looming — a dark cloud, an omen, a bad dream — that is driving him to retreat to the solitary pleasures of making songs and listening to music. He’s mellow, but he’s still a little freaked out.

Vile is from Philadelphia and sings with a strange Philly pinch and dip to his sleepy voice. His singing can seem lethargic, but if you listen you’ll hear lots of little bends and stretches. Over the years Vile has gone from lo-fi D.I.Y. champion to more of a classic rocker, working some out of Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport. Vile’s records bring Tom Petty and Neil Young to mind. He captures that peculiarly 21st century sentiment of not really feeling here in the midst of everything that’s happening around us.

On “Snowflakes Are Dancing” off of 2013’s “Wakin On A Pretty Daze,” Vile sings “When I am out there, I wanna go home/ When I am home, my head stays out there.” He’s often sitting back watching the way his mind works, commenting on the flow of his thoughts. “I don’t even mean to think about it that way, but I do,” he sings on “Continental Breakfast,” from his 2017 record “Lotta Sea Ice” with Courtney Barnett.

Kurt Vile and the Violators play College Street Music Hall, 238 College St., New Haven, on Friday, June 15, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $30. collegestreetmusichall.com.

The Samuel Blaser Trio

Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser has done some fascinating projects lately, working on albums that in one way or another pay tribute to late-Renaissance genius Monteverdi, multi-reedist/composer Jimmy Giuffre, early blues, cowboy songs, or Duke Ellington, all done within a sort of free-jazz context.

Blaser, whether in solo, duo, trio, or large-group settings, balances lyricism and warmth with a bold approach to harmonies and textures. Blaser can get a golden glow from his horn, or a gut-bucket smear. His solo playing can be particularly astounding, as he’s able to use extended multiphonic techniques to simultaneously growl and blow through the horn, effectively harmonizing with himself, or playing chords. Concentration and control get wedded to experimental perspective in Blaser’s music. This is inviting and intelligent music.

Blaser’s trio features guitarist Marc Ducret and drummer Peter Bruun. The group has played together extensively in recent years, developing a kinetic language and an active sense of restrained interplay, with each capable of taking one of the other’s musical ideas and pressing it into action. They can march, tumble, groove, simmer or flare up, depending on the needs of the moment.

The Samuel Blaser Trio plays Firehouse 12, 45 Crown St., New Haven, on Friday, June 15. The trio plays two sets: at 8:30 p.m. for $20 and 10 p.m. for $15. 203-785-0468 or firehouse12.com

Rhiannon Giddens

North Carolina singer, musician, songwriter and performer Rhiannon Giddens synthesizes heaps of traditions in her music. She pulls from folk, gospel, blues, opera, soul and beyond in her material. On any given set or on any given record, Giddens might sing songs associated with The Staple Singers, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bob Dylan or her own originals.

Giddens came to national attention as a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an ensemble that pays tribute to the music of African-American jug and string bands, artists that did a similar bit of blending and mixing with elements of country blues and old time. Her work continues to present and explore the richness and depth of Appalachian and African heritage in the American South and how those complexities fortify the culture at large.

Last year, Giddens released “Freedom Highway,” her second solo record. In 2017, Giddens was also awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

Rhiannon Giddens performs at Ridgefield Playhouse 80 East Ridge, Ridgefield, on Wednesday, June 20, at 8 p.m. For ticket information call 203-438-5795, or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org.

The New Mastersounds

Slinky organ funk is made for steamy summer weather. The New Mastersounds play grooves that sound like heirs or cousins to the Meters and Booker T and the MGs.

This British quartet plays plenty of funk, and it delves into hard bop and boogaloo as well. The band’s latest album, “Renewable Energy,” released earlier this spring, has a driving soul-jazz vibe, with danceable workouts (like “Green Was Beautiful”) sandwiched next to more mellow vamps (like “Pudding & Pie”).

The band has made many meaningful connections in the U.S., particularly in the jam band scene here, and has now probably spent as much of its time on the road in America as in Europe.

The New Mastersounds plays Infinity Hall, 32 Front St., Hartford, on Sunday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $24 to $44. 866-666-6306 and infinityhall.com.

mewithoutYou

If the painter Marc Chagall had started an indie-rock project it might have sounded something like mewithoutYou, a Philadelphia band that mixes mysticism, folk-art roughness and a little gloom into its work. The band’s 2015 album “Pale Horses,” its sixth, opens with what sounds like a small-group version of a lined-out Sacred Harp hymn — a traditional Southern style of shape-note singing. It’s a raw and exuberant style of sacred music, but one with a dark, death-obsessed streak.

MewithoutYous shift into brooding indie folk, with reverberant waltzes that touch on religious themes and allegorical subjects. Fans of Viking Moses, Sufjan Stevens, Nick Cave and Neutral Milk Hotel might find elements of those artists’ torment and poetry in mewithoutYou. The band’s older, earlier records were a little heavier and more abrasive, sometimes bringing to mind bands like the Jesus Lizard, with pounding music and anguished, howling vocals.

Aspects of spirituality and philosophy get picked up and knocked around by frontman Aaron Weiss. The band, which has toured with bands like Underoath and Norma Jean, has written songs about Sufi mysticism, historical accidents, love and eternity. It’s finishing up work on the next record, which is due out in the fall. Perhaps the quartet will play some new material at its CT show.

MewithoutYou performs at Space Ballroom, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden, on Wednesday, June 20, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. 203-288-6400, spaceballroom.com

The Posies

The early ‘90s were weird. Grunge was, in its way, about recycling and upgrading all kinds of aspects of classic and college rock. Take a couple records by Neil Young, the Stooges, the Pixies and the Meat Puppets and you could see how Nirvana was born.

The Posies emerged at about the same time, and in the Pacific Northwest as well. But the band was clearly more interested in the tight hooky rocking pop of bands like Big Star and Cheap Trick or the sweet vocal harmonies of the Hollies than in noisy art rock and disaffected post-punk. (Over the years, the Posies has covered songs by all three of those bands.) It was still a kind of throwback, but one with roots in a different corner of the same garden. Still, the Posies had a little scruff and blur to its guitar sounds and muscle to the drums, which situated it in the era.

The band released five studio records between 1988 and 1998, then took some time off, reforming in 2005. Since then, the band has been releasing a new record about every five years, changing all along.

On the 2016 album “Solid States,” the Posies sounds a little like Squeeze or Radiohead at times, with ambitious song forms and unexpected kaleidoscopic chord progressions. This year the band is out on a 30-year anniversary tour.

See the Posies at Fairfield Theater Company’s Stage One, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield, on Thursday, June 14, at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $35. 203-259-1036 or fairfieldtheatre.org.

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