The Los Angeles-via-Portland duo Soft Metals has drawn some attention for its Kraftwerk-y krautrock and moody synth pop. I'm not exactly bowled over by any of it, but the fact that the excellent label Captured Tracks — home to Mac DeMarco, Naomi Punk, Wild Nothing, DIIV and Chris Cohen — puts their stuff out makes me think I might be missing something. Opening here are Julie Byrne and 2013 Pitch Music Award nominee CS Luxem.
Saturday, August 3, at the Replay Lounge (946 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-7676)
It's fun to watch a promising young band figure out its sound, and in the case of Smith Westerns, many of us have had the pleasure of monitoring the Chicagoans' progress since they were fresh out of high school. Their ramshackle garage-rock debut had melodic kernels, and the follow-up, 2011's Britpop crib job Dye It Blonde, boasted sturdier songwriting and more polished production. They've returned this year with Soft Will, a dreamy cloud surf of an album. There are still choruses and glammy guitars, but this time around, they decorate soaring psych ballads. It's very pretty stuff and probably Smith Westerns' best album to date, though I'm still waiting for a hook to emerge that's as addictive as the one in the Dye It Blonde standout "Weekend." The psych pop of the hilariously named opener Wampire is worth arriving early for. With Mr. History.
Monday, August 5, at the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Haters gonna hate, but Taylor is just gonna keep doin' her thing, y'all. You don't like her pouty face and songs about her famous ex-boyfriends? You don't think Max Martin's dance-pop production imprint belongs on a country album? Well, then, you are free to not purchase the pop princess's most recent album, 2012's Red, which has sold about 6 million copies and whose songs will thrill a Sprint Center packed with Kansas Citians for two straight nights.
Friday, August 2, and Saturday, August 3, at Sprint Center (1407 Grand, 816-949-7000)
Naam, with Radkey
Brooklyn's Naam traffics in the kind of sludgy psych metal to which fans of Wolfmother and Black Mountain tend to cotton. They're joined here by Radkey, a St. Joseph grunge-punk trio that is enjoying an astounding amount of national and international hype. Radkey just completed a British media-charm offensive (front page of NME!), and this show kicks off a 20-day U.S. tour.
Monday, August 5, at Czar (1531 Czar, 816-421-0300)
Atmosphere, with Slightly Stoopid
I confess that Atmosphere has been absent from my radar for a few years. But I wouldn't have guessed that Slug and Ant would pop up on a bill with Slightly Stoopid, whose sound (a mix of reggae, rap and folk) and idiot-stoner aesthetic seem at odds with the intense backpacker raps I associate with Atmosphere. But perhaps they've mellowed with age. It's always 4:20 somewhere, brah.
Friday, August 2, at Crossroads KC at Grinders (417 East 18th Street, 785-749-3434)
Buzz Under the Stars, Night 2
Some big names have been corralled for the second installment of this concert series, hosted by 96.5 the Buzz. The Killers arrive fresh off a headlining performance at Lollapalooza. Queens of the Stone Age just dropped Like Clockwork, its sixth straight album of satisfying, riff-heavy rock songs. And Gogol Bordello's Eastern Bloc punk-rock niche continues to find new audiences. Should be a busy night in western Wyandotte County.
Saturday, August 3, at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater (633 North 130th Street,
Bonner Springs, 913-721-3400)