Music Picks: John Legend, Chromatics and More

Our top shows this week include one of indie rock's greatest elder statesmen in Johnny Marr (The Smiths, The Pretenders, Modest Mouse, etc.). We've also got up-and-comers (Chromatics), and the start of the winter arena season here in Dallas with John Legend's Verizon Theater stop.

John Legend

Thursday, November 7, at Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

Neo soul master John Legend just oozes cool. Besides his outstanding solo work, the guy has played with Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, won nine Grammy Awards and gives more money to charity than he spends on himself. Plus, Legend's music is of such a consistently high quality that it almost restores one's faith in the musical tastes of the masses. Although Legend usually employs a bevy of collaborators and countless session musicians, the guy has the talent to get by alone. And while 2006's Once Again is probably the guy's high-water mark, the recently issued Love in the Future does not disappoint. Grossly over-produced, both albums succeed on the sheer talents of all those involved. If Legend ever does decide to pull things back and just let the songs do the talking, he could well be the next Stevie Wonder. Darryl Smyers


Friday, November 8, at Granada Theater

Many fans came to know the Chromatics through the soundtrack to the highly stylized film Drive. While the icy tones and crackling shimmer of the Chromatics' sound make them ideal for soundtrack purposes, their music is really so much more. Flitting between synthy krautrock abstraction and post-punk pop, the group produces a twilight grandeur that firmly separates them from the rest of indie's pastiche-crippled scenesters. Romantically charged and sonically vibrant, the Chromatics are in many ways an ornate reshaping of the sort of music that made Joy Division a cult success. Their efforts came to a head with their recent full-length Kill For Love, an album that displayed great strides in emotional complexity and overall sophistication. When the Chromatics, alongside fellow italo disco heads Glass Candy, hit the Granada, it's sure to be a spectacle — an ocean of writhing bodies framed by slithering neon hues. Jonathan Patrick

Johnny Marr

Saturday, November 9, at Granada Theater

Of all the possible blockbuster band reunions out there waiting to materialize, it's tough to imagine one that would be more orgasmically welcomed than a reunited The Smiths. As Morrissey continues to pump out solid records as often as he churns out tabloid headlines, his old chum Johnny Marr has been planting his sonic stamp on bands ranging from The The and the Pretenders in previous decades to Modest Mouse and the Cribs in more recent years. In a "what the hell took so long" development, Marr released his solo debut, the high-quality The Messenger, in February. The album is stocked with the sonic identity that helped The Smiths become so adored. Similar to iconic combos such as Stipe and Buck, Plant and Page or Bono and The Edge, Morrissey and Marr were indeed a magical duo that needed one another more than many might assume, but that was a long time ago. Judging by Marr's excellent, if unheralded, post-Smiths output, it's clear that we all want a Smiths reunion, but we really don't need it as badly as we think. Kelly Dearmore

Washed Out

Monday, November 11, at Granada Theater

On Monday, Washed Out — the poster boy for 2009's trendiest micro-genre, chillwave — returns to Dallas. This time around, though, he's got some new tricks up his sleeve. Riding the wave of his best new music in years, Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, will bring his critically acclaimed live set to the Granada. 2013 has seen the singer-songwriter re-imagine the texturally sodden bedroom sounds of his early material into something much more compelling, and, frankly, far more musical. His 2013 LP, Paracosm, finds his skills rekindled amidst a new creative center—denser in instrumentation, less effects-driven and lush, almost to the point of tropical. It's one of the most unexpected, and in turn refreshing, releases of the year. In light of his new direction, it should be a real treat to see him perform in person. Jonathan Patrick

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