SHABAZZ PALACES, Sugar Club, Dublin, tonight
Seattle hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces released one of the most challenging and rewarding projects of 2017 — Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines, a twin concept album about a an alien visitor, “a sentient being from somewhere else, an observer sent here to Amurderca to chronicle and explore as a musical emissary”.
MC Ishmael Butler aka Palaceer Lazaro and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire are real rap outliers — taking their cues from psychedelia, jazz-fusion and Afrofuturists like Sun Ra and Parliament-Funkadelic.
Shabazz Palaces are a parallel world away from the typical MC and DJ live hip-hop showcase, with the pair programming live beats on the fly, triggering samples and African percussion, while choreographing mirror-image hand gestures to each other.
COM TRUISE, Button Factory, Dublin, tomorrow
If you have enough internet time on your hands you can literally find thousands of synthwave and retrowave artists online, a vast underground community of electronic producers in thrall to lowbrow video game and movie soundtracks, and a VHS case aesthetic to back up their throwback synthlines.
Com Truise aka New York producer Seth Haley is one of the best known of these 80s synth revivalists, alongside Timecop1983, Perturbator and S U R V I V E, who helped turn Stranger Things into a big old nostalgia comfort blanket.
Com Truise, like all the best retrowave artists, creates a fully-realised irony-free sonic world without any cheap nudges and winks. His second official album Iteration, released this June, follows 2011’s Galactic Melt, another collection of slow-motion robotic funk, epic synth jams and melancholy montage interludes.
KIASMOS, Vicar Street, Dublin, Sunday
If you want your techno at the more refined end of the scale, Kiasmos will have you covered for this show as the weekend bows out.
Icelandic composer and multi-instrumentalist Olafur Arnalds and Faroe Islander Janus Rasmussen of electro-pop act Bloodgroup have been collaborating for around a decade, with a debut album and four EPs released over the last five years on avant-garde label Erased Tapes.
The duo make the kind of elegant techno you’d find on Cologne label Kompact’s Total series, with added resonance with Arnalds’ piano and minimal strings. Their most recent EP Blurred is another beautiful slow-release valve of minor key piano, strings and shuffling percussion.
Get there early for Dublin-based duo Mount Alaska, a perfect complement to the Kiasmos main course. The pair have been drip-feeding tracks every few months since this time last year, from the wispy ambient electronica of Death Maths, to their new track Outlier, with its hints of Burial and Plaid, and a whoosh of a breakdown that’ll stop you in your tracks.
WILL STRATTON, Workmans Club, tomorrow
Press releases can really bend the truth when they bang on about ‘intimate’ gigs, but the Vintage Room upstairs at the Workmans goes way beyond pokey, for a genuinely inviting small space.
You’ll be sitting comfortably among the leather couches 70s wallpaper and vintage cabinets when US folk singer Will Stratton takes his European tour to Dublin.
Stratton has just released his sixth album Rosewood Almanac, his first for acclaimed UK indie label Bella Union. The title refers to his rosewood acoustic guitar, and says he has an intimate relationship with his instrument, crafting delicate songs that evoke Nick Drake, Paul Simon’s pre-Garfunkel songbook and Don McLean.
With the wider release, expect bigger venues than the 40-seat Vintage Room next time.
ALICE COOPER, Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Wednesday and Thursday
Original shock-rocker Alice Cooper missed the golden Halloween gig slot by just over a week — but at least black metallers Cradle of Filth were able to show off their white and black face paint in Dublin’s Academy last week.
69-year-old Cooper is one of the greatest influences on live rock’n’roll, from Kiss to White Zombie and Marilyn Manson, Iron Maiden or any other band who’ve dabbled in dressing up, horror imagery and iconography. That’ll be most metal bands of the last 30 years then.
For over 50 years the Detroit native has revelled in Vaudeville macabre showmanship — from the snakes, tophats and canes, to executing himself on stage and fighting various monsters, often with Broadway and Disney set designers.
The music isn’t secondary though — he’s got an arsenal of pure rock classics, including School’s Out, I Wanna Be Elected, Poison and No More Mister Nice Guy.
His new album Paranormal is another riot of sleazy glam, blues rock and showy guitars — and features extensive drumming from Larry Mullen Jr.
BANANARAMA, SSE Arena, Belfast Thursday
Bananarama were one of the funniest, don’t give a shit party groups of the 80s, who never suffered from any pretensions. Exhibit A: their debut album was called Deep Sea Skiving, with a daft pre-Photoshop undersea scene with cartoon dolphins and starfish.
Their setlist will unfold like the best bits of 80s pop, with karaoke and throwback wedding disco classics like Robert De Niro’s Waiting, Venus and Love in the First Degree.
Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward had been touring as a duo, including shows at Electric Picnic 2016 and Beatyard 2017, but Siobhan Fahey has rejoined and they’re now a proper trio on this latest tour.