Back when multiculti rapper M.I.A. was ranting about the surveillance state on her 2011 album Maya - "The Google connected to the government," she proclaimed on "The Message" - the London-born provocateuse of Sri Lankan descent was painted in the media as a raving agitator who had gone off the deep end. In truth, Maya is her weakest album. But a flash-forward to the post-Edward Snowden we-are-all-being-watched America makes her seem more prescient than paranoid.
Her 2013 album Matangi was a return to form, and M.I.A. - who made news this month for performing bicoastal duets with Janelle Monáe via hologram - appears to have gotten her groove back. On Friday, she plays the Tower Theater, with Black Hippy rapper Ab-Soul opening, in the Upper Darby venue's latest general-admission configuration, in which 1,000 or so seats will be temporarily removed to make way for dancing and milling about. (Seats will be put back in place for more sedentary shows such as Nickel Creek on May 2.)
- Dan DeLuca
Ray Wylie Hubbard
- Nick Cristiano
With 1991's Spiderland, Slint created an influential touchstone for turn-of-the-century post-rock, but by the time the album, their second, came out, the band no longer existed. Coming out of the Louisville, Ky., punk scene, the quartet - guitarists David Pajo and Brian McMahan, bassist Todd Brashear and drummer Britt Walford - stretched and twisted song structures. They slowed tempos and switched up time signatures. They increased the contrast between long abstract, quiet passages and brief noisy, electric ones. They juxtaposed murmured, conspiratorial vocals with full-throated declamations. The album is complex and tense, unsettling and beautiful. Thursday's reunion show at Union Transfer coincides with a boxed-set reissue of Spiderland.
- Steve Klinge