Another Marley makes his mark in the reggae business

Trans Am's latest disc, Sex Change, begins with the echo of Afrobeat guitars washing over a trance-inducing synth riff. But things move swiftly along, droning psychedelic vocals tugging against a percolating beat, and by the third track, it's almost as if the group has gone electro-funk. There's no real unifying theme here — unless it's an unwillingness to stay in one place long enough for listeners to get a bead on what the band is doing. Could Sex Change use focus? Sure. But there's something to be said for a record whose highlights range from a vocoder melody topping a disco beat to an explosive prog-on-punk attack. Trans Am performs on Saturday, April 21, at Bottom of the Hill at 10 p.m. Admission is $14; call 626-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. Ed Masley


A performer since age 7 (starting with brother Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers), 34-year-old Stephen Marley has spent his adult years focusing mainly on production. His most recent studio success was producing sibling Damian " Jr. Gong" Marley's hit record Welcome to Jamrock. All the while Bob Marley's offspring was sketching in his mind the tunes that would form his recently released solo debut Mind Control, which effortlessly melds hip hop and reggae and touches on substantive issues (police harassment, governmental overlording). Jr. Gong joins Stephen onstage for Marley magic on Sunday, April 22, at the Fillmore at 8 p.m. Admission is $23; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info. Tamara Palmer


Nerdy people like nerdy music, and Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong of the Books are involved in some heavy, high-minded nerdery. Their albums of found and constructed sounds are favored by those undeterred by classical, jazz, and experimental elements humming inside structured three-minute electronic songs. Perfectly suited to the quirky German Tomlab label, the band's quietly daring music (what if John Cale were to bro down with Animal Collective?) is driven by samples, spoken word, cello, and bass guitar. The pair make no concessions to coolness, and don't pander to melody. Hear for yourself when they perform on Monday, April 23, at the Great American Music Hall at 8 p.m. Admission is $15; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. Kate Carraway


For a musician to remain relevant two decades into his career is beyond remarkable. Like sonically kindred visionaries the Flaming Lips and the brilliantly eccentric Tom Waits, Mike Patton has kept his cachet by challenging his boundaries with one acclaimed project after another: Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, and FantÔmas. His latest project, a scathing venture dubbed Peeping Tom, finds the dexterous singer applying his melodic yet demented signature vocals in a poppier format to darkly humorous effect. Peeping Tom also features Patton collaborating with an unlikely set of partners including Norah Jones, Dan the Automator, Kool Keith, Massive Attack, and Kid Koala. Considering Patton's penchant for inspired musical mayhem, there's no doubt that the execution of his live show will be worth more than a furtive glance. Peeping Tom performs on Wednesday, April 25, at the Fillmore at 8 p.m. Admission is $28.50; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info. Tom Murphy

 
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