PENTATONIX PERFORMS ON FEB. 11 AT THE RIVERSIDE IN MILWAUKEE
The 2011 winners of NBC’s talent show The Sing-Off, a cappella group Pentatonix, featuring out founding member Mitch Grassi, returns with PTX Vol. II. The disc includes three Pentatonix originals, including “Natural Disaster,” “Run To You” and “Love Again” (which has club hit written all over it). As with the group’s previous EP, Pentatonix exhibits great taste when it comes to cover material, including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us,” Jessie Ware and Sampha’s “Valentine” and Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding’s “Need Your Love.” They save the best for last with a delirious Daft Punk medley, which incorporates seven of the Grammy-winning electronic dance duo’s tunes, ranging from early (“One More Time”) to late (“Get Lucky”).
LUCIUS PERFORMS ON FEB. 22 AT HIGH NOON SALOON IN MADISON
Mixed-gender quintet Lucius is nothing short of luscious on the tasty, assorted-flavors debut album Wildewoman. The title cut suggests vintage country influences, with its “howdy pardner” tip of the cowboy hat. “Turn It Around” turns it around, spicing things up with a post-modern girl group vibe about a woman “looking through the wrong end of a telescope.” Lucius changes it up again with the folksy blues of “Go Home” (just wait for the “I don’t need you anymore” wail) and “Hey, Doreen” is a pop delight. Just when you get comfortable, Lucius conjures tUnE-yArDs in the rhythmic tribal cacophony of the aptly named “Nothing Ordinary.” Just as swiftly, Lucius returns to acoustic territory on the pretty “Two of Us on the Run.” “Monsters” could be the soundtrack to your night terrors, while “How Loud Your Heart Gets” returns your pulse rate to normal.
XIU XIU PERFORMS ON MARCH 3 AT THE FREQUENCY IN MADISON
As much homage to Nina Simone as it is a deconstruction, Nina by Xiu Xiu, led by queer frontman Jamie Stewart, may not only change the way you listen to Simone, but also the way you listen to Xiu Xiu. With so much from which to choose, Nina also says something about Stewart’s choice of songs (why, for instance, did he choose to forego “Mississippi Goddamn” and “Feeling Good”?) Stewart sounds as though he’s been smoking filterless cigarettes on the scorched and still smoldering “Don’t Smoke in Bed.” “Pirate Jenny” is suitably Brechtian and as dramatic as you might expect. “See Line Woman” picks up the pace consider- ably, and Stewart rises to the occasion, whereas “Wild Is the Wind” blows in on the subtlest of breezes.
SKY FERREIRA PERFORMS ON MARCH 9 AT BMO HARRIS BRADLEY CENTER IN MILWAUKEE
Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry better keep a collective eye on Sky Ferreira, whose long-awaited full-length debut Night Time, My Time was one of the best albums of 2013. Edgy and exhilarating, Ferreira, who co-wrote all 12 songs, is an undeniable force, confidently drawing on a range of styles and effortlessly making them her own. From the Suicide-inspired electro on “Omanko” and “Ain’t Your Right” to the timeless retro of “Boys” and “24 Hours” and the modern pop of “I Blame Myself” and “Love in Stereo,” the tracks on this album prove that Sky Ferreira’s time has come.
DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. PERFORMS ON MARCH 13 AT TURNER HALL BALLROOM IN MILWAUKEE
Not entirely abandoning the Brian Wilson surfer influence and kissing everything with Flaming Lips-style flair, dynamic Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. revs up the electro dance music effects on the aptly titled The Speed of Things. Restarting their engines and driving in the electro lane, DEJJ leaves others in its dust on dazzling dance tracks such as “Run,” “Mesopotamia,” “War Zone,” and, of course, “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t on the Dance floor).” Speed kills!