Norah Jones at the Santa Barbara Bowl
A decade after her Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling debut, Norah Jones is still going strong. She’s also taking the risks that, when properly executed, yield the greatest rewards the music industry has to offer. Case in point is this year’s Little Broken Hearts, Jones’s fifth full-length and first alongside megawatt producer Danger Mouse. While she’s long been known as reigning queen of modern jazz, Broken Hearts finds Jones exploring more experimental, drum-and-bass–driven pop arrangements. Songs like “Say Goodbye” and “Happy Pills” fall closely in line with that other high-profile Danger Mouse collab, Broken Bells, though they never stifle Jones’s ethereal, honeyed deliveries. The album’s also sprinkled with plenty of signature Norah, from the loungy heartbreak of “She’s 22” to the somber kiss-off “Miriam.” That Broken Hearts pulls much of its inspiration from a breakup is perhaps what keeps the material from wandering too far from Jones’s past work; the songs here are still strapped with weighty thoughts and poignant storytelling. Those extra vocal layers, beefed-up bass drums, and reverb-soaked guitars simply elevate Jones above her adult-contemporary comfort zone. Tuesday, August 7, 7 p.m. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.
Twin Shadow at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club
A lot of words have been thrown around to describe Twin Shadow’s music: haunting, heartfelt, nostalgic, nuanced. No matter how you break it down, though, there’s something achingly timeless about the records he makes. The project of Dominican Republic–born, New York–bred musician George Lewis Jr., Twin Shadow’s sonic landscape is steeped in ’80s and new-wave culture. Vocally, Lewis sounds a lot like Morrissey; arrangement-wise, the reference points range from Depeche Mode’s danceable, neo-industrial vibe to Peter Gabriel’s worldly, percussion-heavy approach. Lewis’s 2010 debut, Forget — which he wrote, played, and recorded himself — placed a focus on crisp, clean production, a quality that made his low voice and regret-filled lamentations ring out all the more clearly. This July, Lewis releases his sophomore album as Twin Shadow, Confess. And trust us when we say it’s a triumph. Built on the framework of Forget, the record is equally nostalgia-driven, but with more uplifting — or at least accepting — themes of optimism and forward motion. It’s also loosely modeled around Lewis’s fast-paced drives on his vintage motorcycle. Our engines are already revving. Saturday, August 18, 9 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com.
Tangerine Dream at the Granada Theatre
We’re not sure how or why Santa Barbara ended up on Tangerine Dream’s Electric Mandarine Tour schedule, but we’re sure as hell not complaining. The German-born synth pioneers lay claim to one of the oldest pedigrees in the electronic music world, having laid the groundwork for much of the Krautrock movement. (Sorry, Kraftwerk.) But that’s still only a fraction of Tangerine Dream’s reach. The band is heralded with everything from popularizing the sequencer to penning some of the more seminal avant-garde soundtracks of the 1980s. (See: Flashpoint, Legend, and Risky Business.) They’ve also been cited as influences by everyone from Radiohead and M83 to DJ Shadow and Cut Copy. The group’s largely instrumental catalog is one of the music world’s most ambitious, reaching back to 1967 and topping out at more than 200 albums, singles, EPs, and compilations. And the concert setup? It’s a dizzying blend of live instrumentation, intricately arranged loops, kinetic light and laser displays, and fittingly tripped-out visuals. In short, if you’re looking for a super cerebral night of mind-melting rock, we highly suggest you snag a seat. Wednesday, July 11, 8 p.m. Call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org.
More Pop, Rock & Jazz
Dan Phillips, Natalie D-Napoleon, and Headless Household – SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Sunday, June 24.
Glen Phillips – SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Wednesday, June 27.
Mike G (of Odd Future) – Velvet Jones, Friday, June 29.
Laura Marling – Presidio Chapel, Saturday, June 30.
Ben Harper and Fitz & the Tantrums – Santa Barbara Bowl, Saturday, June 30.
The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue – Santa Barbara Bowl, Tuesday, July 3.
Joey Cape and Chris Shiflett – Velvet Jones, Wednesday, July 11.
Saint Anne’s Place – Muddy Waters Café, Saturday, July 14.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Lobero Theatre, Friday, July 20.
Chatham County Line and Freebo – Lobero Theatre, Saturday, July 21.
Swingin’ Utters – Velvet Jones, Sunday, July 22.
Big KRIT – Velvet Jones, Sunday, July 29.
Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra – SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Monday, August 6.
Woods – Velvet Jones, Tuesday, August 7.
Animal Liberation Orchestra – SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Friday, August 10.
Animal Kingdom – SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Friday, August 17.
Wheeler Brothers and The Dunwells – Lobero Theatre, Saturday, August 18.
Joe Cocker and Huey Lewis & the News – Santa Barbara Bowl, Sunday, August 19.
Matt Embree (RX Bandits) – Velvet Jones, Saturday, August 25.
Air Supply – Granada Theatre, Saturday, September 8.