Toro Y Moi
Chaz Bundick, the boy genius behind Toro Y Moi, has not yet made a true dance record, but he keeps inching closer. After smartly abandoning the cheap synth-pop sound (most often described, regrettably, as "chillwave") of his debut, Bundick dropped some jaws with 2011's Underneath the Pine, a dreamy, expertly produced mix of smooth funk and melodic psych. Anything in Return, released last month, has clear traces of previous Toro albums but also attempts to strike a balance between loungey downtempo cuts and 1990s house music. (On a few songs, Bundick gets all C+C Music Factory, dropping diva-house echoes into the mix.) It's not quite the succinct artistic statement that Underneath the Pine was, but it does nothing to disrupt the notion that Bundick is one of the freshest songwriters and arrangers to emerge in recent years.
Thursday, February 21, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
The wild success of "Moves Like Jagger" would seem to portend at least another three or four years of pop-cultural relevance for Maroon 5. It could be longer if the NBC American Idol knockoff The Voice, on which singer Adam Levine is a "coach," keeps up its ratings. Two decades of cultural ubiquity for Maroon 5? I wouldn't have believed it in 2003, when "Harder to Breathe" hit the charts. But I suppose there are worse sounds in the world than the Los Angeles group's slickly produced, cornball R&B rock. I'm having a hard time thinking of any right now, but I know that there are.
Wednesday, February 27, at Sprint Center (1407 Grand, 816-949-7000)
Talib Kweli made his name through Black Star, his brainy, short-lived, conscious hip-hop collaboration with Mos Def. Mos Def is the household name these days, but Kweli's solo stuff has often been outstanding. (See his 2002 solo debut, Quality, which features "Get By," one of the best rap songs of that decade.) Kweli's set in Lawrence last year was heavy on songs from recent albums Gutter Rainbows and Eardrum. Expect similar material, plus cuts from his upcoming record, Prisoner of Conscious, which is scheduled to see the light of day in April.
Friday, February 22, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
On the House Concert Series
Local bands, cheap drinks, free admission — that encompasses the general pitch for this new concert series, brought to you by local label Golden Sound Records. The debut show features brood rock from the Caves (whose new album, Duplexiaville, GSR recently put out as a 12-inch); jangly drones from new-ish KC-Lawrence act Oils; and a set from Cowboy Indian Bear, which releases Live Old, Die Young, its sophomore album of grand, soaring indie rock, in April.
Saturday, February 23, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Tribute to J. Dilla
Among fans of hip-hop and electronic music, J. Dilla has been conferred an almost saintlike status. The Detroit producer died in 2006, but the spaced-out boom-bap beats he pioneered (for acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Pharcyde) have influenced a new generation of rappers and beatmakers. A few will perform at this show: Les Izmore, Diverse, Lee Langston and Reach. Get there early for a preconcert talk by Kenton Rambsy, an English doctoral candidate studying African-American literature at the University of Kansas.
Wednesday, February 27, at the Blue Room (1616 East 18th Street, 816-474-2929)
Sonic Spectrum Tribute to Thelonious Monk
Mark Lowrey, Mark Southerland, Stan Kessler, Gerald Spaits and Roger Wilder are a few of the local jazz names lined up to riff on the catalog of Thelonious Monk. RecordBar closes early on Sundays, so get there before 9 p.m. if you want to catch all the sets.
Sunday, February 24, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)