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Live music picks: Oct. 28-Nov. 2

Umphrey's McGee - from left, Andy Farag, Jake Cinninger, Joel Cummins, Brendan Bayliss, Kris Myers, Ryan Stasik - will play a two-night stand at the Tabernacle this weekend. Photo: Chad Smith

Umphrey's McGee - from left, Andy Farag, Jake Cinninger, Joel Cummins, Brendan Bayliss, Kris Myers, Ryan Stasik - will play a two-night stand at the Tabernacle this weekend. Photo: Chad Smith

TODAY
Battles

The June-issued “Gloss Drop” is the second album by these former members of Don Caballero and Helmet. Tyondai Braxton, son of avant-garde jazz man Anthony Braxton, left after the post-rock outfit’s 2007 debut album “Mirrored,” which means the heavily processed vocals he provided are absent, too. Instead, the band brings in guest vocalists such as Gary Numan and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, providing some welcome variety without losing the essence of Battles. The vocals were never the focus of Battles music, anyway, which still makes strange hairpin turns and gets stretched into odd sonic shapes. Despite its weird, avant-garde nature, “Gloss Drop” isn’t inaccessible. You can even dance to it, but you might twist yourself into a pretzel.
8 p.m. Oct. 28. $18 in advance. The Masquerade, 695 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-577-8178.

TODAY
Jamey Johnson

Alabama’s Johnson had written No. 1 hits for others, including George Strait, but he first cracked the Top 10 on his own in 2008 with “In Color,” from his second major label album, “That Lonesome Song.” Though he hasn’t landed in the Top 10 again, his latest disc, “The Guitar Song,” was the consensus choice for best country album of 2010. It’s a collection of bone-deep country that provides a jarring and welcome contrast to the bloodless, antiseptic stuff that passes for country music these days.
9:30 p.m. Oct. 28. $20-$100. Wild Bill’s, 2075 Market St., Duluth. 678- 473-1000.

Jay-Z teams up with Kanye West for the "Watch the Throne" tour, which begins at Philips Arena on Friday, Oct. 28. Photo: Robb Cohen, www.robbsphotos.com

Jay-Z teams up with Kanye West for the "Watch the Throne" tour, which begins at Philips Arena on Friday, Oct. 28. Photo: Robb Cohen, www.robbsphotos.com

TODAY-SATURDAY
Jay-Z and Kanye West

It’s called the “Watch the Throne” tour with good reason. Jay-Z and West rule the hip-hop world. Sure, there are other influential and powerful performers and producers, but when it emerged that these two would join forces for the album “Watch the Throne,” it became the most anticipated release of the year. The tour is just the frosting on the cake, and it begins with this two-night stand at Philips Arena.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 28-29. $59.50-$250. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive N.W., Atlanta. 404-878-3000.

TODAY-SATURDAY
Umphrey’s McGee

Among the post-Dead jam-rockers, popular Chicago outfit Umphrey’s McGee is more accomplished — and more varied — than most. “Miami Virtue,” the lead track on the band’s new album, “Death by Stereo,” even recalls ’80s synth pop. “Domino Theory” rides on a big, crunchy guitar riff. There’s still room for things like a long-awaited studio take on “Hajimemashite,” a compact epic that brings to mind a modern take on Wishbone Ash and shows off the stellar talents of guitarist Jake Cinninger. It’s also been a fan favorite, a frequent part of the band’s live set from the beginning and first appears on the 1998 live album “Songs for Older Women.” With Eclectic Method (Oct. 28) and Dubconscious (Oct. 29).
9 p.m. Oct. 28-29. $30; $25 in advance. Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-659-9022.

SUNDAY
Stephen Stills

Stills is responsible for some of rock’s greatest and most enduring tracks, including Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” the strikingly beautiful “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” from the classic 1969 self-titled debut album by Crosby, Stills and Nash, and “Love the One You’re With” from his self-titled 1970 debut solo album.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 30. $40; $35 in advance. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.

MONDAY
M83, Active Child

Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez, the guy behind M83, crafts a beautiful blend of ’80s electronic pop and the whoosh-and-whir of ’90s guitar rock. Take a little Depeche Mode, with whom Gonzalez has toured, and a dash of Smashing Pumpkins, whose “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” is an acknowledged influence, and add the boundless imagination, melodic invention and modern sensibility of Gonzalez, and you have new M83 album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” The two-CD set is monumental. Active Child is the work of former choirboy Pat Grossi, who melds synthetic beats, glistening harp and his angelic voice to craft a strangely beautiful hybrid of minimalist R&B, electronic experimentalism and heavenly chorale.
8 p.m. Oct. 31. $17; 15 in advance. The Masquerade, 695 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404- 577-8178.

TUESDAY
Ray Davies

He’s been making hits since 1964, but Kinks main man Ray Davies’ first real solo album was released in 2006, followed by “Working Man’s Cafe” (released in the United States in 2008). He still crafts memorable characters and vivid slices of life in song, though nothing in the solo catalog matches brilliant Kinks classics such as “Days” and “Waterloo Sunset.” That’s a high bar to clear, though. Perhaps that’s why his most recent work revisits the Kinks catalog. The 2009 release “The Kinks Choral Collection” is just what you might expect with that title and features the Crouch End Festival Chorus. “See My Friends,” released early this year in the U.S., is a collection of duets that finds Davies performing new takes on old Kinks tunes with a diverse group of musicians, including Metallica, Mumford & Sons, Billy Corgan and Lucinda Williams.
8 p.m. Nov. 1. $39-$44. Center Stage, 1374 W. Peachtree St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-885-1365.

WEDNESDAY
Guns N’ Roses

Here’s a question: How many members of the classic Guns N’ Roses lineup, the one that made the 1987 hard rock milestone “Appetite for Destruction,” remain in the band today? The answer: One, Axl Rose. Is that enough? That depends on what you want. Did you like “Chinese Democracy,” the long-gestating 2008 “comeback” album? Then Rose’s presence is probably all you need to have a good time. Do you pine for the days of “Appetite” and the “Use Your Illusion” albums? If so, this might not be good enough.
8 p.m. Nov. 2. $39-$79. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive N.W., Atlanta. 404-878-3000.

Shane Harrison / sharrison@ajc.com

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