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The New Pornographers, Ought, Trophy Dad (free)

  • Live On King Street 100 King Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

The New Pornographers' early albums, starting with 2000's Mass Romantic, placed pop music into a brilliantly mutated scheme, one where jamming more melodic twists into a hook made it more euphoric and where writing indecipherable lyrics made the intricate vocal harmonies stickier. I couldn't tell you what Mass Romantic's "Letter From An Occupant" or "Use It," from 2005's Twin Cinema, are about, but they hold up as furiously catchy, convoluted masterpieces, a sly humor running alongside their urgency. The band's seventh album, this year's Whiteout Conditions, nails a balance they've struggled for since 2010's Together—keeping the edge of their earlier work, but making room for more varied and polished arrangements. About the only disappointment is the absence of Destroyer's Dan Bejar, who's arguably done his best work on New Pornographers albums (for my money Mass Romantic's "Jackie" and Twin Cinema's "Jackie, Dressed In Cobras" beat out almost anything Destroyer has ever done). On tracks like "Juke" and "High Ticket Attractions," the band sound almost as aggressive as ever, and while sleekly working in new percussive textures and arpeggiated synths. This Live On King Street show also boasts an opening set from Madison's own Trophy Dad, who released the solid Dogman EP in May. —Scott Gordon

Earlier Event: August 17
Ronny Chieng (multiple showtimes)
Later Event: August 18
Tephra Sound