My defiant position that Drake's whiny rap-singing was a passing hip-hop fad to be ignored was dealt a crushing blow last year upon the release of his undeniably compelling second album, Take Care. I still don't like the lazy timbre of his voice or all the complaint raps about the trappings of fame. But his capacity for thoughtful self-examination is rare (and brave) in the rap game, and only the most stubborn of grouches could deny the lush bliss of the album's arrangements and production.
Thursday, March 1, at Sprint Center (1407 Grand, 816-949-7000)
This Portland, Oregon, act seems to turn up on area bills at a quarterly rate, but in our post-Mumford & Sons age, the living is good for melodic folk-pop groups. Blind Pilot's most recent album, 2011's We Are the Tide, upped the band's production-value setting from dusty to grand, a move that appears to be elevating its profile among more casual music fans.
Saturday, March 3, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
The Head and the Heart
The template for Blind Pilot's new harmony-driven, big-and-rich folk sound exists quite successfully in the songs of its Pacific Northwest neighbor the Head and the Heart. Sub Pop has made a killing on the Seattle act's debut, whose sounds I've heard emanating from more than a few Brookside Mom Utility Vehicles.
Sunday, March 4, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
If there was a breakout star from late-'90s, early-'00s hip-hop crew Jurassic 5, it was probably Charles Stewart, aka Chali 2na, whose booming baritone was the liquid glue of the group's good-natured raps. He's on the verge of releasing a five-part EP called Against the Current, the follow-up to his unfortunately titled debut, Fish Outta Water.
Tuesday, March 6, at the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
In addition to his roles as frontman of Tool and A Perfect Circle (as well as his vintner duties — his wine company, Merkin, is named after a 15th-century pubic wig), Maynard James Keenan has been keeping it weird lately with yet another side project, the industrial alt-rock act Puscifer. It's all very cowboy-ish and theatrical and winking and bawdy, and I do not for a second claim to understand any of it.
Tuesday, March 6, at the Music Hall (301 West 13th Street, 816-513-5000)
New Orleans cellist Helen Gillet takes an improvisational, avant-garde approach to her instrument, augmenting its classical sounds with vocals and electronic loops. She performs twice while in town, both at approachable neighborhood venues.
Saturday, March 3, at the Brick (1727 McGee, 816-421-1634) and Tuesday, March 6, at Birdies (116 West 18th Street, 816-842-2473)
Their dates supporting Paul Simon, on his tour last fall, seem to be paying off for the Punch Brothers: Just this month, they've appeared on The Tonight Show and as a spotlighted act in Vanity Fair. The five-piece — mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar, violin, stand-up bass — performs plucky bluegrass-folk songs with a crisp, precise zeal.
Saturday, March 3, at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
For the broke MC5 fans among us: a free show at Davey's featuring White Mystery. The Chicago-based, ginger-haired, bro-sis duo bang out familiar but dynamic '60s garage rock.
Monday, March 5, at Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club (3402 Main, 816-753-1909)