This week’s best concerts: O.A.R, Sun Kil Moon, De La Soul

July 17, 2014

O.A.R. performs at the White River State Park in Indianapolis, Indiana (EPA/Steve C Mitchell)

O.A.R.

There may never be another album inspired by Montgomery County’s provincial stretches of strip malls and office parks, so let’s savor it: O.A.R.’s latest release, “The Rockville LP,” is the band’s love letter to the home town from which it sprung more than 15 years ago, when the motley crew of jam-banders at Wootton High School released its first album of reggae-influenced radio rock.

Since then, O.A.R. has caught on so thoroughly with college kids and wine-festival attendees that the band has sold nearly 2 million albums and crisscrossed the world, once selling out Madison Square Garden for two straight nights.

In releasing the album last month, the band noted that returning to Rockville had brought on a period of creativity. But “The Rockville LP” doesn’t really feel as if it’s of any place in particular. Such songs as “Peace” and “We’ll Pick Up Where We Left Off” are typically prosaic college-rock singalongs, with nary a reference to “The Pike” in sight. It’s the perfect stuff for the band’s return to a venue that feels like home: summery Merriweather Post Pavilion. Opening is Phillip Phillips, the one-time “American Idol” winner who’s riding high off his hit “Raging Fire.” — Lavanya Ramanathan

With Phillip Phillips and Saints of Valory on Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Show starts at 5 p.m. 410-715-5550. www.merriweathermusic.com. $36-$46.
 

Sun Kil Moon

There’s such a thing as being too dependable. Mark Kozelek, for instance, has been writing slow, melancholy songs for so long that, despite his consistent excellence, people may have started to take him for granted.

In the 1990s, Kozelek lead the moody San Francisco indie-rock outfit Red House Painters. During the 2000s, he rechristened the band, now more of a solo project, as Sun Kil Moon.

Kozelek’s early work was sprawling and atmospheric, with the singer-songwriter crooning lightly over reverb-soaked guitar riffs that unspooled over several minutes. He has become more concise over the years, but many elements of his early sound have remained constant — hushed vocals, stark minimalism and dour tone.

Kozelek has long had a stalwart cult following, but the most recent Sun Kil Moon release, “Benji,” has helped bring a fresh audience to his work. And for good reason: It’s a harrowing set, with the singer reflecting on death, family and his youth in rural Ohio.

The album finds Kozelek abandoning ambiguity in favor of honesty, speaking in raw and direct language. It’s Kozelek’s life, but more often than not, it hits close to home. — Aaron Leitko

Tuesday at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-408-3100. www.sixthandi.org. $25 in advance, $27.50 at the door.

 

De La Soul

De La Soul’s 1989 debut album, “3 Feet High and Rising,” sounded like little else in its time: The Long Island hip-hop trio merged samples with quirky rhymes and such diverse influences as jazz, pop, funk and soul. Certainly, some naysayers wrote the group off as hippies, thanks to its positive outlook and assertion of the “D.A.I.S.Y. Age” (da inner sound, y’all). But the album’s cutting-edge sound and lyrics set De La Soul and the rest of the Native Tongues hip-hop collective apart.

Arguably, not all of the group’s influence has been positive. With producer Prince Paul on “3 Feet High and Rising,” the trio pioneered comedic hip-hop skits that became increasingly prevalent in hip-hop as filler between songs. (It’s not entirely fair to blame De La Soul for the imitations, however, since the skits on “3 Feet High” generally work cohesively within the album.)

De La Soul continues to go against the grain. In February, the band offered its entire catalogue (including remixes and rarities) in a free download, a retrospective that fits with the theme of this tour, “Celebrating 25 Years of De La Soul.” But while commemorating the past, the band is still very much living in the present: It’s busy recording De La Soul’s first new studio album since 2004. — Catherine P. Lewis

With Dillon Cooper on Saturday at the Howard Theater. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-803-2899. www.thehowardtheatre.com. $27.50-$55.

Listen: De La Soul's "Me, Myself And I"

Lavanya Ramanathan is a features reporter for Style.
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