Three Must-See Acts This Week

Cass McCombs on Friday at the Fillmore, SASAMI on Tuesday at Rickshaw Stop, and HEALTH on Wednesday at the Independent.

Rock/folk

Cass McCombs

8 p.m., Friday, April 5, at The Fillmore. $25; thefillmore.com

A master wordsmith with his emotive lyricism, Cass McCombs keeps giving his devoted fanbase reasons to admire his singular brand of California-centric Americana. The delightfully unpredictable McCombs’ sound is always evolving, and that hasn’t changed on his excellent new album, Tip of the Sphere. Born and raised in Concord, the singer-songwriter grew up immersed with the stories and legends specific to the Golden State, before spending most of his adult life drifting around the country, working odd-jobs and listening to stories from people from diverse backgrounds. McCombs spent a number of years perfecting his craft before releasing his 2003 debut, A, and has released remarkably consistent albums at a steady pace since then, with Tip of the Sphere being the ninth so far. The album hears him incorporate more obvious classic rock and jam influences in the vein of The Grateful Dead, but McCombs’ enigmatic yet colorful storytelling elevates it all — as heard on the second track, “The Great Pixley Train Robbery.” Cosing track “Rounder” is a smoky, 10-minute-long, blues-infected jam that proves McCombs is always ready to nudge his listeners out of their musical comfort zones, always in a manner authentic to himself.

Photo by Alice Baxley

Indie rock

SASAMI

8 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, at Rickshaw Stop. $14; rickshawstop.com

Although it is only Sasami Ashworth’s first solo album, the talented Los Angeles singer-songwriter presents a refreshing sense of confidence and professionalism on her vividly confessional debut, SASAMI, which saw its release last month. The singer and multi-instrumentalist played piano and French horn in her youth, and has since dedicated her life to playing or teaching music. While on tour playing keys and guitar for Cherry Glazerr, Ashworth compiled material over the course of ya ear, which would eventually become her debut album. SASAMI brings classic indie pop flourishes in the vein of The Breeders or pre-Loveless My Bloody Valentine for a unique guitar-driven sound that exemplifies Ashworth’s mastery of the instrument. The 10 tracks on SASAMI read like a personal diary, recollecting and processing past experiences which sound heartbreaking, but a breeze of optimism and empowerment lingers throughout the album’s runtime.

Courtesy of the artist

Noise rock

HEALTH

8 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, at The Independent. $25; theindependentsf.com

Blending elements of abrasive industrial metal with dreamy synth-pop, HEALTH makes music that sounds appropriate for a post-apocalyptic rave. The Los Angeles trio first made waves within the city’s DIY noise rock scene, recording their characteristically harsh 2007 self-titled debut at The Smell, L.A.’s seminal experimental venue. The group’s next album, 2009’s Get Color, hears the trio incorporate more electronic elements along with more conventional song structures, but retains their natural inclination for caustic noise. In 2012, Rockstar Games tapped HEALTH to produce the heavy-hitting soundtrack for Max Payne 3, which opened the door for further sonic experimentation that would define the next phase of their career. The trio regrouped in 2015 to release their third proper album, Death Magic, a violent, dance-infused dose of heavy synths and distorted guitars that hears the group simultaneously at their most ambitious and accessible. After touring with The Neighbourhood and Deafheaven, HEALTH returned earlier this year with their ferocious new album, Vol. 4: Slaves of Fear, and hears the trio reignited with brooding textures of pitch-black noise and electro-beats, giving a proud middle finger to anyone who would dare pigeonhole them into a genre.

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