Ambar Lucid opens her 2020 “Garden of Lucid” album with enticing, welcoming words that make listeners wonder what they’re getting into: “Welcome to the garden / please don’t be disheartened / once you perceive insincerity.” The 21-year-old New Jersey native, whose real name is Ambar Cruz, lives in the dreamier, moodier side of R&B. Much of her music could be a soundtrack to a movie that takes place in a dark green, mystical forest. “Questioning My Mind,” in which Cruz wonders how a relationship broke down, even features faraway bird chirps. On this song, like many others, Cruz slips seamlessly between English and Spanish. Cruz is not following a pre-drawn path when it comes to mixing languages in her music: She sings in Spanish in between English thoughts, words and sentences. “Fantasmas” starts off with a hearty guitar and Cruz’s dazzling voice pulled back and softer. Then the chorus hits and she puts the power back in her voice to sing the haunting line, “Mil fantasmas gritan en calma,” or “One thousand ghosts scream calmly.” June 20 at 7 p.m. at Songbyrd, 540 Penn St. NE. songbyrddc.com. $18-$20. Proof of vaccination required.
Arlie is an indie pop band from Nashville that makes sunny pop songs that are still grounded in something real. The song “Poppin,” off its debut album “Break the Curse,” is a great example of what this band does best. It features a cheerful guitar and effortless drums that scream “summer jam.” Yet with lyrics like “you could crush me at any moment,” the song does that classic pop music thing of making someone’s misery something fun to dance to. The titular track leans more into the sincere, using slightly echoing vocals in the beginning to give a psychedelic feel. It’s a song about internal battle with such lyrics as, “But there’s only one way out / honest with myself somehow.” By the end of the song, the intense drums feel like the singer’s racing mind with a guitar rushing to catch up. It sounds like the chaos of knowing what your struggle is but still finding yourself stuck. June 21 at 8 p.m. at DC9, 1940 Ninth St NW. dc9.club. $15-$18. Proof of vaccination required.
Trumpeter Jaimie Branch and drummer Jason Nazary make up the jazzy, electroacoustic duo Anteloper. Along with their main instruments, Branch and Nazary bring in synths and sequencers to create their version of this free-flowing jazz. Their first album, “Kudu,” released in 2018, is only five songs, but at 49 minutes long, it offers plenty of time for the musical moments that linger, and Branch and Nazary each have time with their respective instruments to sink into the songs. Its nine-minute opener, “Oryx,” is anything but static as Branch’s trumpet rages in increments, taking small but impactful steps, as the drums play sporadically. All the while, analog-like synth sounds are sprinkled in. By the second half of the song, the drums have become vigorous while the horn takes a smoother ride to the melody. Their 2020 project “Tour Beats Vol. 1” follows the same path as their previous work. It’s much shorter this time, just four songs and 22 minutes long, but the duo still makes bold choices, wrapping EDM sensibilities with an acoustic foundation. Branch’s trumpet is fluttering echoes by the second half of the opener, “Bubble Under.” With the snares hopping, the horn eventually fades slowly out, sounding like a memory you are recalling by the end. June 21 at 7 p.m. at Rhizome DC, 6950 Maple St. NW. rhizomedc.org. $15-$20. Proof of vaccination required.