England duo Aquilo brought more than enough synth-y sadness and teasing crescendos on its new album, Silhouettes. Each track is unapologetically emotional, almost syncopating with your heartbeat to trap you in a melodic four-minute heartbreak. On “Human,” there is a sense of rising-from-the-ashes: The whisper-like synthetic bass lines combine with a powerful echo from the lyrics, “You’re gonna have to start / To learn to recognize / That even in the dark / There’s lines between the spaces / Hiding where you are.” It’s a desolate visual that aligns with the lonely piano riff, swallowing the listener into some sort of reassuring, yet melancholic, hug.
On “Complication,” an eerie grooviness comes out of nowhere as the song begins with a muted guitar riff that sounds like Adele and The Neighbourhood had a love child. In an interview with GQ Australia, Aquilo’s members say they’re just “two proper young lads that just sing sad songs about girls that have got under our skin at some point in our lives.” Anyone would agree that this record is more than just two boys singing away sorrows. They’re two musicians expanding their sound through wicked songwriting.
9 p.m., Friday Oct. 13, at The Chapel. $18-$20; thechapelsf.com
Ohio-born rock band The National stuns listeners with its newest album Sleep Well Beast and the undone, yet cohesive nature of each track. It feels as if the record creeps up on you with the reminder that, sometimes, the human existence feels less like “Yeah, I’m living life to the fullest” and more like, “Uh, I guess I’m still technically alive” — but in the most harmonious way. The pensive, heart-string-ripping “Empire Line” iterates this tone with lines like, “And I don’t think we’re getting anywhere any time soon / We have so much to cover, and I don’t know what I’m expecting / You just keep saying so many things that I wish you won’t.” Frontman Bruce Berninger’s voice is soft, the beat expansive enough to let the listener ruminate over the death of an emotional investment gone awry. In a recent interview with Stereogum, Berninger alluded to the album’s title having a connection to the term “resignation syndrome” and “the emotional and mental landscape of not seeing any way out, not really seeing a pathway.” It is the record form of intense human anxiety that is wrapped under daunting organic sound and synthetic instrumentals.
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, at The Greek Theatre. $20-$35; thegreekberkeley.com
The Afghan Whigs
The ’90s alternative rock band that birthed albums like Gentlemen and Congregation has re-emerged from its 10-year break with the same kick-ass sound and melodic tenacity as before. Tunes like “Arabian Nights” and “Light as a Feather” are laced with tantalizing guitar riffs that introduce an encore of what the ensemble blew up for 20 years ago. Killer drums, relentlessly sexy electric guitars, and even an appearance of violins gliding through the first track “Birdland” carve out a promising track list that delivers only the most refined lyrics and instrumentals. There is a distinct flare to “Arabian Heights” that frontman Greg Dulli attributed to Led Zeppelin in an interview with Guitar World, saying, “I had been listening to a lot of Presence by Led Zeppelin in my car, and particularly the song, ‘Achilles Last Stand.’ I think I brought that sprawling, impenetrable vibe in with me. I can tip my hat to Jimmy Page in that particular arrangement.” The Robert Plant-esque vocal tracks combined with the mean guitar paint a clear picture of what fans should expect at Afghan Wings performances: nothing but energy, passion, and rock ’n’ roll.
9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, at The Fillmore. $25-$75; thefillmore.com
Nick Murphy has retired his infamous alias “Chet Faker” and introduced an EP under his given name that’s unlike anything else from his discography — and we are here for it. Electronic hip-hop DJ and record producer KAYTRANADA appears on the first song, “Your Time” on Murphy’s Missing Link, including catchy, distorted vocal tracks over heavy synth-bass drops. Naturally, you’d think that this sets the tone for his new direction as an artist, but that is the last thing Murphy had planned. Instead, it’s followed by a minute-and-a-half interlude titled “Bye” that sounds more like Lenny Kravitz playing electric guitar while spaceships get shot down in Galaga than anything else. The remainder of the EP features loops and turns that should be noted as more of an evolution and building-on of his work as Chet Faker, rather than a death of the artist who brought us hits like “Gold” and “Drop The Game.” During a recent Nylon interview, Murphy says, “I’m just at a point where I need to do something that feels more me, in this moment.” His multifaceted nature with music proves that Murphy cannot be contained in one category. He’s embracing the music process for what it is: experimental, evolutionary, and fun. Nonetheless, listeners worldwide are ready for what the Australian singer-songwriter has to bridge the gap between his former-alias and the mysterious Missing Link.
8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16, at Fox Theater. $20-$55; thefoxoakland.com