JAMES BLAKE, FALTY DL
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) The usual thing for young adults—in art and in life—is to start out with too much and scale back over time as they decide what can stand on its own. James Blake subverted this formula. Two years ago, his self-titled debut showed the soulful possibilities underlying calculated electronic tracks, the gut-wrenching potential of sonic scarcity. So it was inevitable that his second album, Overgrown, would have more going on, and in some ways it does seem less unified. Its atmospheric layers don't demand attention the same way the self-titled did, which is probably for the best, because it lends itself to more listening environments than staring at your ceiling with headphones on. There's more R&B now ("Retrograde") and even hints of gospel. What haven't changed are the two things that made the first album such a pleasure: Blake's voice and his good taste. REBECCA WILSON Also see My, What a Busy Week!
AESOP ROCK, ROB SONIC, DJ BIG WIZ, BUSDRIVER, GRAYSKUL
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) After postponing his January show due to a broken rib, Aesop Rock is back for a rescheduled date with cohorts Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz. Aesop—born Ian Matthais Bavitz—released his sixth album, Skelethon, last summer, and it's a showcase for his prodigious flow, offering a steady stream of images and ideas, akin to poring through a cluttered junk shop, or cleaning out a dead grandmother's basement, or head-scratching your way through a recent Pynchon novel. But sifting through Skelethon is all of the fun, and its hooks—subtle pinpricks at first—turn into full-fledged barbs, refusing to let go. Busdriver's on the bill, too, perhaps the only emcee who's capable of stuffing more imagery and sound into a single track than Aesop. NED LANNAMANN
THE PROCLAIMERS, JP
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Unbeknownst to me, the Proclaimers have put out six records since 2001—that's more than Radiohead and Wilco. I was actually pretty happy to discover this. The brothers Reid are best known, of course, as the nerdy but loveable twins behind the hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which became soundtrack fodder and forever solidified their place as one-hit wonders, here in the US anyway. The Scottish duo are more like four-hit wonders elsewhere in the world, while generally being regarded as great pop-smiths. The Proclaimers' latest LP, Like Comedy, was released last year on Cooking Vinyl, and shows they can still deliver great quirky pop. So don't be that guy yelling out, "Play the 500 Miles song!" There's a good chance you'll be the only one. MARK LORE