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Now Hear This: Four Concerts You Should Know About

Rex Orange County's major-label debut Pony came out in 2019.
Rex Orange County's major-label debut Pony came out in 2019.
Alex Waespi

Denver's concert calendar is filled with gems. Here are four artists you need to know about who are playing in the week ahead.

Yacht

Thursday, January 23, Larimer Lounge.
It’s strange to think that YACHT’s I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler dropped a whole five years ago; after all, it was seemingly everywhere in 2015, and the cover art, with frontwoman Claire L. Evans's three gloved arms, still sticks in the memory. Initially the solo project of songwriter Jona Bectolt, YACHT grew into a duo with the addition of Evans in 2008 and released electro-pop opus See Mystery Lights the following year, drawing comparisons to Talking Heads and DFA label mates LCD Soundsystem. Those comparisons hold true on last year’s Chain Tripping, made in part by enlisting machine learning experts to help feed melodies and lyrics from the band’s back catalogue into an AI system. The future has always been now for YACHT, but this time the band has really outdone itself.

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Rex Orange County
Friday, January 24, Fillmore Auditorium.

Rex Orange County’s Alex O’Connor (who is English, not Californian, as his moniker hints) might just have the sunniest disposition in contemporary pop. A self-taught musician, he started penning songs at sixteen and first tasted viral success after releasing 2016’s bcos u will never b free on SoundCloud. It ended up catching Tyler, the Creator’s attention, who flew O’Connor to L.A. to contribute to the Flower Boy sessions. Things really kicked off in 2017 with the release of Apricot Princess, a youthful, buoyant and effortless-sounding collection of beachy post-genre pop: “Rain Man” is 44 seconds of jazz improv, and “Television/So Far So Good” is an irresistible alt-hip-hop love song. O’Connor’s major-label debut, Pony, arrived last year, dripping with enough sentiment to trigger Pitchfork’s gag reflex. Critic Anna Gaca called the LP “irritating enough to activate the mildest allergy to sincerity,” but we’ll let you decide for yourself.

RJD2
Friday, January 24, Ogden Theatre.

Yes, Ramble John Krohn did take his stage name from Star Wars droid R2-D2, but his doing so well predates the new trilogy and its attendant fanaticism. Krohn got his solo start after signing to El-P’s Definitive Jux label in 2001, one year prior to the release of his now-classic debut, Deadringer. (“Ghostwriter” went on to become that album’s sleeper hit, and it still gets us every time those horns kick in.) In the years since, he has composed the title theme for Mad Men (paving the way for Succession’s marvelous theme in the process), collaborated with Son Little and Blueprint, and established himself as an elder statesman of instrumental and indie hip-hop thanks to his cut-and-paste and era-spanning approach to sampling. And, unlike Moby, he never became totally insufferable, so there’s that.

Stevie Kin
Saturday, January 25, Globe Hall.

Stevie Kin will always have Paris. She credits her “creative metamorphosis” to her extended stay in the City of Light — evidenced on her Instagram by monochrome images of mansard roofs, boulangerie chalkboards, and moody portraits that indicate a familiarity with Truffaut and Godard. It’s also where her debut EP, Petals, began to take shape, though she ultimately recorded the lion’s share of it in a friend’s guest room in South Africa. The EP itself (co-produced by Civil Twilight frontman Steven Dayvid McKellar, set to headline this show) isn’t so much ’60s yé-yé pop as it is moody, melancholic indie: The intimate, self-contained songs are far more reminiscent of Cat Power or Karen O’s Crush Songs than Françoise Hardy or Brigitte Bardot. C’est la vie and whatnot.

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