Leave it to a young girl from Nebraska studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music to become a YouTube sensation covering the urban and hip-hop stylings of artists like Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj. Partner her with a budding professional trombonist and you naturally get dance floor- and radio-friendly tunefulness the Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan – collectively Karmin – like to call swag-pop.
Heidemann boasts the presence and attitude of, say, Pink, and the song-and-rap prowess of Fergie. Noonan’s vocal harmonies and trained-musician accompaniment adds to the appeal. Witness Brokenhearted and I Told You So.
Karmin’s #PulsesTour visits the Newport Music Hall Saturday, April 19. Rising pop songstress Bonnie McKee (co-writer of Katy Perry’s Roar, among others) opens. Tickets are $19.50/$22. Visit promowestlive.com.
Julianna Barwick makes lush and gorgeous ambient music, life-soundtrack music maybe, with layers of keyboards and vocals and loops. If it’s possible to make music like Enya without sounding anything like the Irish songstress, Barwick is doing it. Her 2013 record, Nepenthe, is her third full-length release, and finds her at the apex of her compositional skills.
Barwick plays Double Happiness Sunday, April 20. Like-minded Vasillus opens. Tickets are $8/$10. Visit doublehappinessohio.com.
Country music hitmaker Granger Smith is a Nashville music scene vet despite his still-tender age. He’s handsome with a regular-guy earnestness, a member of the trucks-and-ballcap-wearing generation of country stars.
His latest, Dirt Road Driveway, for sure fits the bill. He’s on the road, too, with a stop planned at the Newport Music Hall on Monday, April 21. Tickets are $12/$15. Visit promowestlive.com.
BONUS: For a less-blatant take on modern honky-tonk, check out Brandy Clark at Newark’s Midland Theatre Tuesday and Wednesday, April 22-23. The Washington state native grew up in the shadow of Mount St. Helens to a family whose livelihood was tied to the local lumber mill.
She developed an offbeat working-person sensibility that served her well after her move to Nashville to become a songwriter (she penned The Band Perry’s Better Dig Two and Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart, among others). She’s currently touring in support of her latest, 12 Stories, which brings her to the Midland’s Stage Door Cabaret Series. Tickets are $29. Visit midlandtheatre.org.
German power trio Kadavar is a metal band in the same way that Montrose, Foghat or Rainbow was metal in the 1970s. In fact, Kadavar sounds like the ’70s – not merely derivative of ’70s heavy rock, but making use of building blocks from a past era to make something wholly modern.
Touring in support of its latest release, Abra Kadavar, the band plays Ace of Cups Wednesday, April 23. Sons of Huns opens. Tickets are $8/$10. Visit aceofcupsbar.com.
When The Beat interviewed Chris Cain, bassist for melodic modern pop-rockers We Are Scientists, a few years ago, he gave us one of our favorite quotes. Talking about the band’s high-energy live shows, he said, “We want a show to be a party atmosphere. We’re maybe not as precise – perhaps the word is good – as some other bands, but our shows are better.”
Fast-forward a few years of touring, and who knows, maybe they play even better now. There are plenty of new tunes, too, including single Something About You and EP Business Casual.
Check ’em out Thursday, April 23, at The Basement, with opener Paws. Ticket are $12/$14. Visit promowestlive.com.