Big K.R.I.T. is my favorite rapper going right now, and I haven't even heard his debut. I've been too busy bumping his mixtapes — he has dropped three in the last 15 months, and they're all excellent, and free — to get around to actually buying his major-label studio album, Live From the Underground, out last month. K.R.I.T. is from Mississippi, and his version of hip-hop is steeped in the Southern rap tradition of guys like Pimp C, Chamillionaire and T.I. He doesn't seem content with revivalism, though. I don't recall UGK ever rapping alongside any smooth jazz saxophones, as K.R.I.T. (who produces his own stuff) seems increasingly fond of doing. And few rappers from the A are as willing to hazard the kind of socially conscious sincerity that he lays down every fifth or sixth track. Still, he's probably at his best when he keeps things breezy and street, as on "Rotation," which goes: I'm just rotating my tires, rotating my tires, rotating my tires, rotating my tires.
Monday, July 16, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence,
About three years ago, it became very popular to weave 1960s girl-group melodies into garage-punk fuzz, and one of the better bands working this sound was Hollows. The Chicago act adds prominent Farfisa organs to this mix, which lends a Halloween-like vibe to the songs and makes its name seem especially fitting. The girls (plus one guy) are touring on their solid sophomore album, Vulture.
Saturday, July 14, at the Replay Lounge (946 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-7676)
Sunday, July 15, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
The Gaslight Anthem
The Gaslight Anthem has lost a bit of momentum since the summer of 2010, when it headlined the Midland. But a smaller club like the Bottleneck is probably a better venue for the New Jersey act's sweaty, romantic, old-school rock and roll. Fellow Garden Stater Bruce Springsteen is the most obvious touchstone, but there's plenty of Replacements, Tom Petty and Social Distortion in its sound, too.
Thursday, July 12, at the Bottleneck (737 New Hampshire, Lawrence, 785-841-5483)
With 2009's Bitte Orca, Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors made an art-rock classic: a mishmash of West African guitars, screwball time signatures, funk beats and saintly harmonies that you could somehow dance to. The bar is high for the follow-up, Swing Lo Magellan, out this month. Based on a few cursory streams of it, I think I'm all in. It's wild and structurally fearless, like Bitte Orca, but there's more power behind it: Some of these songs really pummel you. I don't know of another band out there that's connecting brain and brawn quite so effectively.
Wednesday, July 18, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
I caught Fiona Apple live a few months ago at South By Southwest, where she debuted some songs from The Idler Wheel ..., her first album in seven years. NBD, it was probably only the biggest event of the entire festival, and I was pretty close to the stage. My take-away was that the new songs are good, her band is tight, and it is very difficult to look away from her while she is performing. It's not just that she is extremely attractive. She's so neurotic and tormented and wound-up onstage that you half wonder if you might be witnessing a mental breakdown. You're tempted to think that maybe it's all a big affectation, a tortured-artist pose. But it's not. She is that crazy, and that amazing.
Tuesday, July 17, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-816-283-9921)