It's not entirely clear to me how Michael Bublé became a global superstar instead of, say, a guy working the wedding-reception circuit in Vancouver. Which is not to say I'm not a fan; I am. Surely we can all agree that his bouncy, piano-based megahit "Haven't Met You Yet" is satisfying on all possible levels? (I also enjoy referring to the crooner as "my boy Bubes," though I will allow that's not quite as strong a supporting argument.) Bublé's act — lots of American-songbook standards and lounge-y original ballads — calls to mind the Rat Pack, if they were polite and Canadian instead of menacing, sex-crazed drunks. What's not to love?
Sunday, September 8, at Sprint Center (1407 Grand, 816-949-7000)
KC's Red Kate just released its new album, When the Troubles Come, via Lawrence's Replay Records. On it, frontman L. Ron Drunkard (real name) leads his band through 11 careening tracks that carve out some common ground between punk and alternative rock. Bent Left also put out a punk record this year: the vaguely academic, politically charged Fabergé, which owes equal debt to Against Me and NOFX. With Nado Coles and the Blue Diamond Band.
Thursday, September 5, at Czar (1531 Grand, 816-421-0300)
To these ears, punk that veers into power pop is a combo up there with peanut butter and chocolate, and with acts like King Tuff, Titus Andronicus and Japandroids, the last few years have been a golden age for it. Both bands on this bill are also working the territory. Nashville's Diarrhea Planet (which somewhat preposterously tours with four guitarists) channels Cheap Trick, the Descendents and Weezer in equal doses on its recent full-length, I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams. The So So Glos, high priests of the Brooklyn DIY scene, are a little snottier, but their beery hooks are plenty charming. With Warrensburg's Vandal? Vandal!
Saturday, September 7, at Czar (1531 Grand, 816-421-0300)
Marty Hillard, of Lawrence acts Cowboy Indian Bear and Ebony Tusks, this week launches a new, all-ages showcase of local, regional and national artists at the Bottleneck. "It's rap-centric but not bound to those parameters per se," Hillard says. First up is a smorgasbord of local hip-hop talent — Ebony Tusks, Heartfelt Anarchy, MilkDrop — plus a few headliners at the top of the Tulsa scene: 1st Verse and Algebra.
Friday, September 6, at the Bottleneck (737 New Hampshire, Lawrence, 785-841-5483)
On his latest album, Vince Gill — who owns one of the smoothest voices in country music — has teamed up with steel-guitar player Paul Franklin to explore the old Bakersfield sound. They've picked five songs apiece to cover by the two men who popularized the genre: Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. It's excellent stuff, revivalism at its finest. Expect Gill to try on a few of those Bakersfield-style tunes, plus some of the prettier stuff that makes up his vaunted back catalog, at this show.
Sunday, September 8, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway, 816-994-7222)
Jim James has led My Morning Jacket through a lot of shape-shifting over the past decade: alt-country, Southern rock, psych rock, funk. More recently, oddball soul sounds have crept into MMJ albums, and they're especially pronounced on James' first solo record, this year's electronic-tinged Region of Light and Sound of God. The songs are spacey, spiritual and driven by James' trademark plaintive wail, but they're anchored by steady grooves (played expertly by the touring band he has assembled). Space funk from the future? Dance music for yogis? I don't know what to call it, but it's working for me.
Wednesday, September 11, at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
I wasn't bothered by the heady art-rock zag MGMT took on its sophomore effort, Congratulations. "Kids," from MGMT's surprise-hit, 2007 synth-pop debut, Oracular Spectacular, is probably still the group's best song, but Congratulations is weirder, richer and braver, and three years later it sounds better than the debut. That said, the group has a new self-titled record out later this month, and one of the first singles, "Your Life Is a Life," is so bizarre, tuneless and juvenile that it's almost impossible to defend. But I'm holding out hope, and this Grinders show should be instructive in regard to what the rest of the album holds.
Saturday, September 7, at Crossroads KC at Grinders (417 East 18th Street, 785-749-3434)