One of the more virtuosic musical displays I've observed in the past year, or maybe ever, was a YouTube video of Araabmuzik tapping out warp-speed beats with his fingertips on an MPC sampler. The MPC has traditionally been used as a hip-hop production tool, but Araabmuzik — the stage name of 22-year-old Abraham Orellana — has pioneered its transition into a live instrument. He wields the device as a sort of digital drum kit, in the manner of a DJ. What Araabmuzik is doing doesn't yet have a name but it's at the fertile nexus of electronic dance music and hip-hop, and rest assured that you'll be hearing more things like it in years to come. With Sleigh Bells.
Tuesday, October 23, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
How to keep track of all these blandly named, white, male, Americana singer-songwriters? How to remember which ones are good and which ones are just kinda average? No Depression should create trading cards for these guys, with helpful statistics on the back to aid us in deciding whether to shell out cash for their shows. Todd Snider is one of the good ones; his latest, Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables, is a smart, sardonic collection of alt-country tunes with some 99-percenter politics shaded in. With singer-violinist Amanda Shires.
Tuesday, October 23, at Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
Dr. John and the Blind Boys of Alabama
I asked a co-worker the other day if he'd heard the new Dr. John record, and he laughed at me. Laughed hard! But I was being serious. Because the new Dr. John record, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, is actually pretty amazing. In a way, it's exactly what I expected: Dr. John's trademark R&B swamp-funk aesthetic packaged in the kind of stark, tight, analog production that the Black Keys have perfected. But it's also daring in a way that I didn't anticipate. There are sprawling guitar solos, Farfisa riffs, and whole songs that bear the influence of Ethiopian jazz music. (Think the Broken Flowers soundtrack.) It's groovy as fuck, and one of 2012's delicious surprise gems.
Sunday, October 21, in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College (12345 College Boulevard, Overland Park, 913-469-4445)
Hammerween III: Season of the Hammerlord
Last year's Hammerween was called "Hammerween 2: Revenge of Hammerlord." This year, it's "Hammerween III: Season of the Hammerlord." Equally as epic and hilarious as those titles are the names of the metal bands joining Hammerlord on this bill: Troglodyte, At the Left Hand of God, Tennessee Murder Club, Enemies Laid to Rest, In the Shadow, David Hasselhoff on Acid, and High Rise Robots.
Saturday, October 20, at the Beaumont Club (4050 Pennsylvania, 816-561-2560)
Good old KRBZ 96.5 (the Buzz) has curated this pre-Halloween affair with the Hot Topic set in mind: suburban angst and white studded belts recommended. That's not to say there's nothing for adults here. Fresh off firing its bassist for robbing a Boston pharmacy for Oxycontin, Coheed and Cambria headlines the evening. The band released The Afterman: Ascension, a new album of conceptual emo prog, last week. Emo and prog ideas are also of concern to openers the Dear Hunter and Three; Dead Sara traffics in heavy alt-rock, like a female-fronted Audioslave.
Wednesday, October 24, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)
Percussionist Lloyd Knibb died in 2011, and upright-bassist Lloyd Brevett passed away a few months ago, which leaves alto-saxophonist Lester Sterling as the sole surviving member of the original Skatalites lineup. Sterling is still grinding it out on tour, aided by singer Doreen Shaffer (who has recorded with the group since the mid-1960s, when it was busy inventing the genre of ska music) and seven other guys you've never heard of. So, no, it's not the real Skatalites. But it's still probably a solid Thursday night. With Van Gordon Martin.
Thursday, October 18, at Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club (3402 Main, 816-753-1909)