By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Friday, September 20, at Dada
Black Milk (aka Curtis Cross) is one of underground hip-hop's most respected and established figures. With a trademark sound that pulls from the jazzy styles of giants like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and J Dilla, Cross has made a name for himself twice over, both as an MC and a prolific producer. With an upcoming full-length release on the horizon (No Poison No Paradise) — featuring guest appearances from Black Thought (The Roots) and jazz heavyweight Robert Glasper — the new Dallas resident is hitting the road. The "No Poison No Paradise Tour" begins Friday here in his new hometown, and will see Black Milk performing his new music live. If a night of rubbery bass lines, soulful instrumentals and incendiary lyrical improvisation sounds like a good time to you, get in line early — as with others in Red Bull's Sound Select Series, tickets are $3 and available only first-come, first-served at the door. If you need a little fix to tide you over until the show, check out Black Milk's woozy collaboration with Danny Brown entitled Black and Brown. It's a good one.
Friday, September 20, at Granada Theater
When road-tripping, it's always a good idea to put something over the speakers that's native to the land you're currently traversing. In the mossiest, murkiest areas of Louisiana this past summer, all I could listen to was the swampy, soul-inflected blues of Tab Benoit. The Lousiana Music Hall of Fame member has been recording since 1993, but hasn't released a new album in a couple of years. With two decades of songs that expertly mix Creole soul, Chicago blues and Telecaster-bending magic better than just about anyone living, who needs new tunes? The consistently sold-out rooms he plays to around these parts certainly don't.
Glenn Tilbrook, Joe Michelini
Friday, September 20, at The Kessler
Although primarily (and justifiably) known for his work with the '70s new wave/power pop band Squeeze, Glenn Tilbrook has never been one to rest on his laurels. As a solo artist, Tilbrook has released two exceptional albums, including 2009's Pandemonium Ensues, an effort diverse enough to include a contribution from none other than Johnny Depp. Special guests aside, Tilbrook's way with melody and restraint has always been his calling card whether in a band or playing solo. This tour features his solid backing band The Fluffers, an outfit that contains two members who also played with Squeeze on their reunion tour in 2012. Adding to the festivities is Joe Michelini from the New Jersey alternative rock band River City Extension. With Michelini also earning serious accolades as a tunesmith, those looking for a heady class of Songwriting 101 could hardly fare better than a night with these two talented souls.
Sunday, September 22, at Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
The Weeknd is Abel Tesfaye. Raunchy lyricism, narcotic productions and a flagrant obsession with Prince are his tools. The shimmering, syrupy R&B that results is intoxicating. Tesfaye has a seductive current to his voice that makes debauchery and wicked ecstasy sound like really great ideas, making it easy to give in to his corruptive charms. His albums are intensely personal and alarmingly depraved tales concerning hazy partying and dysfunctional relationships. The sensation of listening to The Weeknd is one of blurry euphoria, tempting you to indulge in every cold passion you hoped to keep secret. After a trilogy of critically adored mixtapes and much blog hype, Abel Tesfaye finally, just days ago, released his first proper album, Kiss Land. As with most debuts, a tour has ensued, and, luckily, Dallas made its way on The Weeknd's cluttered calendar. If Tesfaye's absurd wordplay is any indication, you are advised to check your inhibitions at the door.
Tuesday, September 24, at Granada Theater
He's a singer/songwriter, producer, rapper, multi-instrumentalist and one helluva snappy dresser. Mayer Hawthorne is truly a musical force to be reckoned with. The Ann Arbor-born-and-bred artist is known for his signature Motown revivalist sound, and his ability to breathe new life into a classic genre. However, his latest album, Where Does This Door Go, is an interesting departure from his usual retro vibes. With production assistance from the likes of Pharrell Williams and Greg Wells, Hawthorne is exploring traditional pop sentiment with a very clear and relevant focus on the present. Featured artists like Kendrick Lamar and Jessie Ware add a depth and pitch of pertinence to Hawthorne's established style. The Granada is sure to be a perfect fit for Hawthorne's soulful and fun live show.