Walters Downtown, September 7
Like Best Coast, the Donkeys are one of those bands that bathes in the abundant California sunshine and it just makes them sad. In ten years, the San Diego-based quartet has crafted four albums brimming with loneliness and melancholy, most recently last year's Ride the Black Wave. (See what we mean?) This music is geared for early-morning surfing runs, late-afternoon bong hits and late-night bonfires (the psych-y "Imperial Beach"). This is some supremely mellow shit, but it's beautiful too. With Mikey & the Drags, Get a Life and DJ EELANDC.
House of Blues, September 8
Michael Angelakos is quickly establishing a reputation as one of the top indie auteurs of the 2010s, the man to turn to for sticky-sweet electro concoctions that combine the art-school noodlings of acts like Grizzly Bear with the pure pop exuberance of the One Directions of the world. That’s a difficult divide to bridge, something that even attempting to do could end badly, but Angelakos pulls it off with the kind of effortless panache that reaches its zenith with songs like “All Alone” and “Until We Can’t (Let’s Go).” Released in April, Passion Pit’s third album Kindred exudes all the inclusive warmth its title suggests, extending its arms to teens chilling at the mall and coeds preparing to start another semester, as well as anyone else who still misses The Postal Service.
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Warehouse Live, September 8
One of the new breed of rappers raised on the Internet and the rest of contemporary dysfunctional American society, Earl Sweatshirt has no compunctions about detailing exactly what that means in his songs. One of the higher-profile members of the infamous L.A. collective Odd Future, Sweatshirt spits lyrics that are a sometimes head-scratching collision of raw social commentary, intense self-examination and a nearly unchecked id, a potent combination that makes his albums like this year's compelling I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside really hit home. [Note: this show was postponed from May 9.]
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Walters Downtown, September 9
If rock were a library or bookstore, Moon Honey’s Hand-Painted Dream Photographs would be prominently displayed within the “Fantasy” section. The principal voice of the Bston Rouge-born, L.A.-based band belongs to singer Jessica Ramsay, whose voice has been sprinkled with the same pixie dust that has enveloped Helium’s Mary Timony and Bjork in the past, but can get pretty dark in a hurry too. It’s well-suited for an album that comes across more as a series of sound paintings — the more abstract the better — but the way Moon Honey balances out all the different voices and textures within each tune is pretty compelling all the same; they can rock out here and there, too. On top of that, they’re almost guaranteed to have brought along some pretty far-out stage decorations to Walters Wednesday with two of the most adventurous Houston acts of recent vintage, Satellite d’Homme and Camera Cult, and hefty Austin psych-rockers Megafauna.
Minute Maid Park, September 9
From an unlikely blueprint of ‘80s synth bands like Ultravox and Alphaville, Taylor Swift’s 1989 is packed with singles that have dominated the pop conversation since its release in late October 2014; in short, she made the sort of pop album that nobody makes anymore. (Perhaps she and Beyonce, but that’s another discussion.) In terms of what she sounded like before, 1989 is such a drastic metamorphosis that it makes Swift’s not-insignificant past as a country star seem almost irrelevant, though Wednesday’s fans will find a few hits from Fearless and Red accounted for as well. Here co-writing with the best collaborators money can buy, such as Swedish superproducers Max Martin and Shellback, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, and Jack Antonoff of Bleachers and fun., the Swift of 1989 is empowered, living for the moment and 100 percent hater-proof. In fact, its greatest achievement may be the way it anticipates her critics’ arguments and cuts them off at the pass, the backbone of songs like “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off.” The media should have plenty to chew on in the days before the show, too — apparently a future Kanye West/Swift presidential ticket (or #KanTay2020) is not out of the question. Don't say you haven't been warned.