Week Ahead in New York Music: Feb. 20 to Feb. 26

sharon von etten

Tuesday, Feb. 21 Stalley, Moruf, Kris Kasanova, The Boy Illinois at Dominion, $12

Stalley deserves whatever love he's getting right now. He's got the underdog complex but backed by fierce pride of place. You must mention his beard, which he raps about. "The Dharma Bums" and Hunter Thompson are commonplace on his bookshelf. Bigger and bigger producers work with him. Nike puts his jams in like every other ad now, if that's your thing. Oh, also, he's got the drive and talent. It's time dude arrived. This should be the one.  - Dale W. Eisinger

Friday, Feb. 24, Cut Hands, Xeno & Oaklander, Pop. 1280, Veiled, David E. Williams at Public Assembly, $10 

Cut Hands is the solo project of longtime Whitehouse leader William Bennett, who has spent three decades making avant-garde electronic music compositions that sound like someone taking a chainsaw to the very idea of music. (They're one of those groups for whom the term "punishing" is often used.) Cut Hands finds him stretching out a bit, adding African tribal drumming and relatively soothing ambient passages that lead to climaxes that are as physically bracing as the noise he is normally known for, but show a heretofore unheard knack for pleasurable sound. Lots of likeably scuzzy noise groups on the undercard here; pay special attention to Pop. 1280, whose new album Horror is not something you would want to encounter in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong hour. (Because this is probably what the band was going for, read that as a compliment.) -Michael Tedder 

Friday, Feb. 24 The Heartless Bastards, Hacienda at Webster Hall, $20

No joke: I heard about The Heartless Bastards from a friend who really soured on me when I starting dating his ex. Their dark blues rock poked me wrong -- I hated it at the time, I think because my friend had it and I wanted it and maybe he didn't fully appreciate it. Needless to say, they've grown on me with time, and you can't hate a band that Matt Saracen takes Julie Taylor to go see. - DWE 

Friday, Feb. 24 at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Saturday, Feb. 25 - Sunday, Feb. 26 at Bowery Ballroom, Sharon Van Etten, $18

There's a lot to like about Sharon Van Etten's album Tramp. Most obviously, there's her voice, filed with grace and heartbreak. But let's not ignore her smart sense of build and ear for nicely shaded guitar harmonics. Let's just focus on "Give Out" for a second. Now that's a song right there. We're going to go ahead and predict that people are going to be putting that on mixes and jukeboxes for a while. Sharon has written a "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" classic that nails the feeling of not knowing how to let go of something hurting you. The rest of Tramp deals in a roundabout way with growing stronger after heartache, but "Give Out" is the wound that gives the set of songs life. So, yeah. Cheer extra hard for it. (Shearwater will open on the Friday and Saturday shows, Carter Tanton and Glass Ghost on the 26) -MT

Saturday, Feb. 25, The Twilight Sad, Forest Fire, Micah P. Hinson at Music Hall of Williamsburg, $14

When it comes to visceral anguish played at near-deafening levels with the occasional suggestion of despairing melody, these Scottish pedal abusers remain the gold standard. -MT

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