Aretha Franklin, Islands, Pinback

Aretha Franklin, Islands, Pinback
Christian Faustus
Obsessed with death or just with sunglasses? Islands prefer to play it cool.

Islands

With TEEN, 7 p.m. Thursday, September 4, at Dada, 2720 Elm St., dadadallas.com, $12-$14

For better or worse, this is the type of future Zappa saw for pop, a contraption as regressive as it is disarming, music as sour candy. Rising from the ashes of cult act the Unicorns, Islands are in many ways your typical indie pop-rock outfit: melodic, twee, syrupy; one part Cramps, two parts Human League. Only there's something more to Islands, something that's followed frontman Nick Thorburn since his early days with the Unicorns: a romantic infatuation with death. While this fixation often plays out in kooky songs about ghosts and the afterlife, there's a poignant center in each morbid nod, a dark half-joke that's at once macabre and comical. "Of Corpse," "Shotgun Vision" and "Death Drive" go the telling titles on new album Ski Mask, a record whose sleeve depicts a human face melting into heavy black globs. It's with this sort of explicit exhibition of his fetishes that Thorburn drafts some of the most unusually honest and subtly off-kilter music in contemporary pop. And yeah, Zappa would be proud. Jonathan Patrick

Pinback

With Tera Melos, 7 p.m. Friday, September 5, at Trees, 2709 Elm St., treesdallas.com, $15

Indie rockers dating back to the '90s currently rule the Dallas tour circuit. It seems the never-ending barrage of bands from that era have led to bearded dudes invading every festival and venue in the area to indulge in some needed nostalgia while the kids are with the babysitter. The progressive work of San Diego's Pinback has kept the band in the limelight of the music press for almost two decades now, and the band shows no sign of slowing down. So expect the nostalgia tour to continue and the bearded dudes to continue to be at the bar. The excellent Sargent House-signed group Tera Melos provides support, and are worth the price of admission on their own. Jaime-Paul Falcon

Brad Paisley

With Randy Houser, Leah Turner and Charlie Worsham, 7 p.m. Friday, September 5, at Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 1st Ave., 214-421-1111 or gexaenergypavilion.net, $30-$230

Whether it was a publicity stunt or not, Brad Paisley seemed to piss off some record label executives by leaking his album Moonshine in the Trunk track by track. Well, now the album is officially out and all of the leaking must have garnered enough attention to be iTunes' No. 1 country album. Paisley leaked the songs mainly via Twitter but with some help: NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon helped leak "Moonshine in the Trunk," with the line "Let's drive tonight like this whole town is dry and there's moonshine in the trunk." Ellen DeGeneres tweeted out Paisley's feminist anthem "Shattered Glass." Its lyric includes this line: "It's kind of fun for a guy like me, sitting here in your shotgun seat, watching you leave them all in the dust." And then for "American Flag on the Moon's" big debut, Paisley leaked it from NASA's Florida launch pad. In a video posted to Paisley's social media accounts, he said he just wanted to be in control of the leaking and present the tracks in unique ways to his fans. That he certainly did. Paige Skinner

Aretha Franklin

8 p.m. Saturday, September 6, at Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St., 214-880-0202 or attpac.org, Sold out

Aretha Franklin is one of the most important musical artists of the 20th century. Her impact on soul and pop cannot be overstated. At 72, Franklin's amazing pipes are still capable of belting out such legendary fare as "Respect," "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman." Sadly, Franklin hasn't made an album since 2011's Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love, but her live show gives all a chance to catch a living legend who can still bring the goods. Darryl Smyers

Drake vs. Lil Wayne

7 p.m. Sunday, September 7, at Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 1st Ave., 214-421-1111 or gexaenergypavilion.net, $35-$165

We considered posting a photo of shocked Drake in the "Anaconda" video next to a photo of a confused-looking Weezy with the word "vs" between them, but that would mean we couldn't tell you how amazing it is that Drake has progressed like he has. Long the butt of jokes when he started his career as a rapper and left the world of Canadian teen melodrama behind, Drake has managed to turn himself into a legitimately interesting artist who isn't afraid to take chances. At this point there's not a debate over who's on top of the game between Drake and Lil Wayne, because it's Drake in a walk. Jaime-Paul Falcon

Washed Out

With Small Black, 7 p.m, Monday, September 8, at Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave., 214-824-9933 or granadatheater.com, $27/$29 at the door

Last year, Ernest Greene, the soundscape architect behind Washed Out, seemed to have slipped away from the safety of his band's minimalistic chillwave tether. On sophomore release Paracosm, he attempted to explore untested waters, pursuing fantasy-inspired textures and intricate lyricism, although his work still retains the "dreamy" quality he's been clutching since his bedroom recording days. Nonetheless, despite that ever-present adjective, Washed Out can still put on an energetic performance. Paired with Brooklyn's Small Black, this tour features two chillwave acts that more or less came into existence around the same time and have grown at similar rates into something more substantial. After all, if there's anything chillwave has taught us it's that any artist can hide behind a thin veil of grainy lo-fi production and '80s-inspired rhythms, but over time, the stage and maturity can't help but dissolve some of those conventions. What's more, some of us still just want an excuse to groove. Aaron Ortega

 
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