Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive is enjoying the breakout success many independent road-warrior bands dream about, some of it thanks to Kevin Bacon. In late 2012, the actor tweeted a link to a video of the indie soul-rock quartet covering the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” and the clip has gotten nearly 2 million views.
The viral exposure has certainly been a catalyst for recent bigger things (an appearance on “The Colbert Report” and a show-stopping performance at T Bone Burnett’s all-star concert for the Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis”). But the band, first formed when the members were students at the New England Conservatory of Music, has spent nearly a decade honing its groove.
On its new album, “Bad Self Portraits,” the group delivers pop-minded R&B revivalism through the precision of jazz-school chops. Front and center are the huge pipes of lead singer Rachael Price, whose dynamic range can shift deftly from the silky crooning of Ella Fitzgerald to the lovesick howling of Etta James.
Behind her, the band sets the mood with choirlike harmonies and tight, punchy arrangements that run around the retro spectrum: ’60s girl-group pop (“Stop Your Crying”), Motown slow jams (“Better Than”) and even gritty country blues (“What About Me”). This band has vintage swagger and limitless potential. — Jedd Ferris
With the Sun Parade on Tuesday at the 9:30 Club. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-265-0930. www.9:30.com. Show is sold out.
Listen: Lake Street Dive's "You Go Down Smooth"
The Crystal Method
Whatever doesn’t kill the beat makes it stronger. That could be the motto for the Crystal Method, the L.A. duo that has survived not just 20 years of making electronic dance music, but also brain surgery: Recording the group’s self-titled new album was interrupted last year when Scott Kirkland had his head cut open to remove a cyst — a cyst, he said, that was the size of a Twinkie.
On the evidence of “The Crystal Method,” the twosome was not mellowed by the experience. Kirkland and his musical partner, childhood friend Ken Jordan, are still crafting the sort of room-shaking tracks on which they built their reputations. Such imperative new thumpers as “Storm the Castle” and “Sling the Decks” don’t boast the rock-goes-disco swagger of the Method’s classic “Keep Hope Alive,” but they do pack just as much vigor.
After their initial success in the ’90s, Kirkland and Jordan diversified into soundtrack work. Their new album also dabbles in electro-pop with such guest vocalists as Dia Frampton (who competed on “The Voice”) and LeAnn Rimes (who sounds more Memphis than Nashville on “Grace”). Such mainstream material may work better in movie scores than on dance floors. But the Method men have always been crowd-pleasers, so their Ultrabar DJ set is sure to emphasize earthy rhythms and grimy basslines over airy vocalese. — Mark Jenkins
With Proxxy & Lantern and LJ MTX on Wednesday at Ultra Bar. Show starts at 9 p.m. 202-638-4663. www.ultrabardc.com. $15-20.
Listen: The Crystal Method's "Sling the Decks"
In his 50-year career, Grammy-winning bluesman Taj Mahal has built a repertoire as formidable as the architectural wonder he adopted as a stage name in the early 1960s. The multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer was one of the first to incorporate elements of world music into his classic blues songs, and he has played with the likes of Ry Cooder, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, to name a few.
But perhaps even more impressive is that at 72, he still spends much of the year touring. An undisputed master of the live show, Mahal has been known to play extensive sets packed with such hits as “Fishin’ Blues,” “Corrina” and “Done Changed My Way of Living,” all delivered as though he hadn’t already played them thousands of times.
Mahal hasn’t released a new album since the 2012 compilation “The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal, 1969-1973,” but when he sets foot onstage at the Howard Theatre — dressed in his usual Hawaiian shirt and Panama hat — and picks up the guitar, banjo, harmonica or even the ukulele, he won’t be lacking for material. — Jess Righthand
Sunday at the Howard Theatre. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-803-2899. www.thehowardtheatre.com. $45-$70.
Listen: Taj Mahal's “Done Changed My Way of Living”