BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA (Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) About seven years ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with Jimmy Carter, the de facto lead vocalist of the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama, before a concert the gospel collective performed in Northern California. In his late 80s at the time, Carter's overarching vitality spoke volumes of the persistence of the Blind Boys, and made plain the reasons for the ensemble's many accolades, performances, Grammy Awards, and legions of fans. That the group is still on the road performing—after several incarnations spanning, get this, nine decades—sets the bar sky high for up-and-comers. The group is breathtaking in a live setting to boot, and within the intimacy of Mississippi Studios, this should be a special evening. File under: must see. RYAN J. PRADO Also see My, What a Busy Week!
BENOÎT PIOULARD, CARS AND TRAINS, MOJAVE BIRD (Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Benoît Pioulard is the mysterious pseudonym of Thomas Meluch, a former Portlander living in England. His new album, Hymnal, out this week, is a work of fascinating sincerity. Meluch's voice is nice—comforting and affecting without ever overdoing it—but it really serves to anchor the strange sound collages underlying it. Meluch is exceptionally good at taking found sounds and transforming them into something immediately accessible. Thematically, Hymnal is inspired by Meluch's Catholic upbringing and the preponderance of ancient cathedrals in England. Cars and Trains' Tom Filepp shares an aesthetic sensibility and a sense of musical maturity with Meluch, both being drawn to found sounds and analog recording. But where Meluch leans toward the ambient, Filepp focuses on deep layers of instruments, like woodwinds, strings, and horns. REBECCA WILSON