The Short List: FRB Staff Concert Picks of the Week (June 18-24)

Each week, Front Row Boston’s staff gives you our Short List: the bands and musicians in and around town we think you should hear.

Sunday, 6/19 – Mayer Hawthorne – Paradise Rock Club

When Mayer Hawthorne dropped A Strange Arrangement in 2009, it seemed a late entry to the mid-00s wave of blue-eyed soul. But Hawthorne has proved some staying power, updating his Hall & Oates-derived sound to resonate with an ever-widening audience, and garnering some critical acclaim to boot. His date Sunday at the Paradise backs his latest LP, Man About Town, which brings a psychedelic soul vibe to the lonely man at the barstool trope. It’s a whole new brand of wee small hours. Motor City soul-h0pper William Bolton supports.

Monday, 6/20 – Mark Lanegan – Brighton Music Hall

Mark Lanegan is still probably best known as the front man of the defunct Screaming Trees. Although the mainstream rock crowd likely still hears the band as the grunge wonders of “Nearly Lost You” fame, those in the know relish their early SST material as post-punk pioneers. Likewise, fans of Mark Lanegan see the Screaming Trees as an episode in a rich, shifting, and multi-faceted career. Whether it’s the echoes of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood in his duets with Isobel Campbell, or the sad bastard drudge of the Gutter Twins with Greg Dulli, Lanegan’s haunting baritone looms on some of the best rock music made in the past thirty years. We’ll hear just a fraction of it Monday at Brighton Music Hall, where roots-punk eclectic Sean Wheeler opens.

Wednesday, 6/22 – Mitski with Japanese Breakfast – Brighton Music Hall

Normally, we put forward the headliner and give passing mention to the opener on the Short List. This time around, though, we’re highlighting both Mitski at the top of the bill, and Japanese Breakfast just below. The two acts are near perfect complements where Mitski’s affecting grace is melancholic yet winning, and Japanese Breakfast’s less subtle pop whimsy is wistful yet winning. Tie a bow on that evening with the Bay Area’s Jay Som as the first on the bill, and you have three pop perfect bands drawing out Boston’s dream pop fans.

Thursday and Friday, 6/23-24 – Skull Pop Fest – The Middle East

Local products Guerilla Toss curated and organized this head-stomping mini-fest taking place over two days next week. This fest is not for the faint of heart: Thursday evening presents some of the best experimental noise since Lydia Lunch and Co. haunted the Bowery, while Friday evening throws on a more eclectic, electronic, and melodic shade. All of the bands are local(ish), and offer a slightly more skewed view of what music is being made in and around Boston these days. Look for FRB contributor Tim Gagnon’s interview with Guerilla Toss’s Kassie Carlson, as a fest preview next week.

Friday, 6/24 – Paul Simon – Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

There’s not much more that need be said about Paul Simon’s half century of contributions to American popular music and songwriting. When he arrives at Blues Hills Bank Pavilion on June 24th, he’ll be backing his latest LP, Stranger to Stranger, which has resulted in some of his most positive critical notice since the late 1980s. The tuneful and expansive record means that Simon won’t fall victim to the cliche of an audience nodding off during a legendary artist’s foray into his newer work. Instead, it may be just as engaging.