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ryan’s forecast

by Ryan Snyder

upcoming shows you should check out

THE SMOG LIFTS FROM AROUND BILL CALLAHAN

As the blurred perception of the great outsider musicians goes, that of Bill Callahan is starting to come into focus a little more. The Austin, Texas singer known simply as Smog from 1990 to 2005 dropped the pseudonym for his 2007 album Woke on a Whaleheart, and with it he dropped a lot of the pretense that he clung to since his earliest days as a sub-lo-fi songwriter with a saturnine, almost sociopathic bent. Callahan isn’t the best singer or the best guitarist, but he has gotten remarkably better over time in both regards, and the impotent rage that led him to pen the line “I’m gonna be so drunk at your wedding” as an ode to an ex has mellowed considerably. His latest album Apocalypse finds him embracing the ’70s semi-country ethos of songwriters like Kris Kristofferson, while still retaining the level of honest unsophistication that earned him a small, but rabid following. Callahan will be at the Cat’s Cradle this Friday in kind of a meandering jaunt down the East Coast, and for anyone willing to take a chance on a slightly obscure name, be prepared to be counted among that faithful. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 the day of the show, and the music starts at 9 p.m. with a set by acid-folkster Ed Askew.

IT’S A COLE WORLD AFTER ALL

“Just drop it already.” That was the general tenor among J. Cole’s fans upon news last week that the prolific Fayetteville-born MC is preparing to add yet another mixtape to his catalog. The reaction, of course, isn’t referring to the currently untitled mixtape that doesn’t quite own a release date; those are feelings toward his long-awaited debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. The mixtape in question is composed he album that was long ago teased to be a summertime release has been pushed all the way back to Sept. 27 by Cole’s RocNation godfather, Jay-Z himself. Now officially a fall release, Cole World is also coming in prime Grammy season, if you believe there’s a bias in favor of later releases. If you believe there’s a Grammy bias in favor of great music (even more questionable), then Cole World could do for hip hop what fellow “unknowns” Arcade Fire did for rock. Never mind that he has more than 600,000 Twitter followers and an extensive catalog of mixtapes and bootlegs, Jermaine Lamarr Cole will more than likely be a household name by the time the album finally drops. Then again, it might actually happen sooner rather than later. His installment on Rihanna’s tour to help sagging ticket sales took a most serendipitous turn when erratic R&B crooner Cee-Lo Green decided that his fellow judges, err coaches, on The Voice make him appear more likeable by comparison than his recent string of performances had. Now Cole has ascended from opener-opener to supporting artist, with a 40-minute time slot that blends his mixtape masterpieces and album cuts with tributes to Biggie and Pac. Rihanna’s tour with J. Cole hits Greensboro this Saturday. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $19.75 to $99.75 before fees.

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