The Week Ahead in New York music.
Thursday, Dec. 29-Saturday, Dec. 31, Patti Smith at The Bowery Ballroom, $45
We'll get to the New Year's shows later in the week, though we'll go ahead and spoil you and say that watching Patti Smith demolish a crowd with "Gloria" is one of the best ways to ring in the New Year. It's also a great way to spend Thursday or Friday night as well. Smith has been in the game for four decades, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and recently won the National Book Award for her memoir "Just Kids." She also likely doesn't understand what the phrase "phone it in" means, as she continues to play with a level of passion and commitment that continues to shame most other performers her age...and four decades younger as well. Simply put, if you like music, you should see hear at least once, or you won't realize what music is capable of. - Michael Tedder
Thursday, Dec. 29, Julian Lynch, Amy Klein and the Blue Star Band, SoftSpot, Backwords at Glasslands $10
Every list winner is doing his or her 2011 victory laps, and in the leading pack is Julian Lynch. His album Terra achieved the kind of simmering critical success most could only hope for, fusing roiling pop grooves and a panacean palette with left recording politics. He'll lead the bill at Glasslands Thursday night, with support from Amy Klein and the Blue Star Band. Also taking the stage will be SoftSpot. This Brooklyn band's three-track EP Nous had me doubling back for a listen in headphones, casting the kind of crafty, symphonic guitar writing that wouldn't be amiss in a Daniel Rosen songbook. Stack that with the best rhythm sections that emo dumped in a Midwestern cornfield, specifically Josh Baruth-era Appleseed Cast or False Cathedrals-era Elliott, and top with a powerful female vocal lead who shies away from the spotlight. Simply: it's awesome. Backwords opens up the night. - Dale W. Eisinger
Sunday, Jan. 1, Avant-Brunch featuring Julianna Barwick at The Manhattan Inn, $25,
The Manhattan Inn's new Avant-Brunch looks like a surefire four-quadrant hit. Assuming those quadrants are "people with an interest in avant-garde, minimalist composition that often gets described as Eno-esque," "hungover people with frayed nerves who would appreciate it if you could just put on something that sounds pretty," "people whose thirst for new music is so strong they won't stay home even on New Year's Day" and "people who like bacon and vodka." For $25, brunch-goers get a full meal (that elderberry syrup is no joke), unlimited vodka drinks and a performance from Brooklyn vocal-loop manipulator Julianna Barwick. There will also be a pre- and post-performance ambient DJ set from Avant-Brunch curator and music critic Chris Weingarten. -MT