What the Christ Was That? Skeleton Key Makes a Junk-Rock Racket

Twenty-one years after his debut, Kenneth Edmonds looks youthful enough to still be called Babyface. Thankfully, his songs have matured quite a bit since the days of his revealing slow jams like "Whip Appeal." It's not that the successful R&B soloist and producer of hits by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Boyz II Men (among others) has abandoned the love song. But his focus has audibly changed: A highlight of current album Playlist is the guitar ballad "Not Going Nowhere," a song of total devotion meant to reassure his kids in the wake of his divorce. Babyface performs on Friday, Nov. 23, at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland at 8 p.m. Admission is $40.50-69.50; call 510-465-6400 or visit www.paramounttheatre.com for more info. Tamara Palmer

Both hyperkinetic MC Busdriver and anachronistic beat collagist Daedelus prove that the bloated beast known as hip-hop can both get ill and be healthy, as they manage to balance absurdist vignettes and breezy cut-ups. Candied and crunchy like some sort of Honeycomb cereal for the earhole, Busdriver spits glitchy electro-cution on his latest, RoadKillOvercoat, while Daedelus smudges precocious melodies with the whimsical verve of the Go! Team on his EP Fair Weather Friends. All these gleeful subversions and oblique, aerobic ad libs will be on display when the two L.A. residents hit the Great American Music Hall on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 8 p.m. Admission is $13-15; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. — Tony Ware

Skeleton Key is the ultimate purveyor of what-the-Christ-was-that instrumentation. Hearing the New York City act's music evokes such random visions as raindrops falling on a Fisher-Price xylophone and a whoopie cushion farting through a toy walkie-talkie. The band comprises crap-heap antiquarians when it comes to assembling equipment, making this "junk-rock" group a conflation of garage-inspired clamor and the avant-garde. "The Barker of the Dupes" and "Roost in Peace" (from Skeleton Key's last full-length, Obtainium) showcase the offbeat sonic marriage, each track a spiky blend of junkyard tattoo, barmy lyrics, and catchy rhythms. Skeleton Key isn't a jackleg reaction to serious, muso-rock sensibilities; the members are just keen on having an unusually rollicking time. Join in the fun on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Bottom of the Hill at 9 p.m. Admission is $14; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. Ryan Foley

The seasoned veterans of Mexican rock group Café Tacuba have stuck together for nearly two decades thanks to an uncompromising vision that's consistently incorporating new influences, from hip-hop to Mexican folk. On stage, vocalist Rubén Albarrán comes out with his trademark oversize bowler hat, while fans respond to the band's music by emotionally singing along, dancing, and waving the Mexican flag. Café Tacuba, whose lineup has not changed since the members first met in college, will give crowds a powerful chronicle of its canon this week — including such favorites as "Flores," "Dejate Caer," and "Eres," its Latin Grammy–winning love ballad. Café Tacuba performs on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Warfield at 8 p.m. Admission is $36.50-49.50; call 775-7722 or visit www.livenation.com for more info. — Ernest Barteldes

 
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