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This Week's Best Shows and a Spotify Playlist of the Bands

By Daniel Jumpertz | December 4, 2013 7:36am
 Here are the essential concert experiences in New York City between Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.
Gigs of the week Wednesday, Dec. 4
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NEW YORK — When is an artist at their creative peak? This week's gigs feature artists at each stage of their careers: debutants, sophomores and 30-album veterans.

Wednesday, Dec. 4
After many delays, Elton John's 31st studio album "The Diving Board" was finally released in September. Partnered with his long-time songwriting collaborator Bernie Taupin and producer T-Bone Burnett, John has produced what he has described as his most "adult" album yet. The biggest pop superstar of the 1970s, John's run of success continued well beyond that period — he enjoyed hits every single year from 1970 to 1996. Hear a selection of cuts from "The Diving Board" along with plenty of hits from his long, eclectic career. At Midtown's Madison Square Garden.

Rising stars King Krule and Harlem's Ratking play Webster Hall in the East Village tonight. King Krule's debut album "6 Feet Beneath The Moon" is sparse, jazzy and an excellent platform for his deep, soulful, truly original voice. Ratking came together as punks before developing into a hybrid hip hop outfit, mixing youthful hardcore energy with pure NY beats and rhymes.

Thursday, Dec. 5
Matthew E. White's debut album "Big Inner" has been described as "a collection of hushed character sketches worthy of Randy Newman or Bill Callahan" (CMJ) and  "A debut album of psychedelic gospel-tinged gems" (Mojo). Tonight at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

German DJ and producer Paul Kalkbrenner plays East Village's Webster Hall this evening. In 2008 he starred in and composed the soundtrack for the German movie Berlin Calling.

Friday, Dec. 6
Swedish singer and pianist Anna von Hausswolff's album "Ceremony" was inspired by the death of her grandfather three years ago. It's also influenced by her childhood — she and her sister sang in choirs and soaked up the wisdom of her father, the renowned avant-garde artist and composer Carl Michael von Hausswolff, as he worked with artists ranging from William S. Burroughs to Union Carbide Productions. At Union Hall, Park Slope. $10

Saturday, Dec. 7
Born of a Monterey Jazz Festival commission in 2012, Bill Frisell’s Big Sur features an hour of original music that references the coastal-mountain environment. Featuring a crack combo that handles stylistic shifts from jazz and classical to psychedelic rock, Big Sur is one of Frisell's most accessible works. Two shows this evening, 6.30 p.m and 8.30 p.m at (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St, Greenwich Village.

Pretty Lights is the hip hop tinged electronica project of Colorado producer Derek Vincent Smith. Reminiscent of DJ Shadow and UNKLE, Pretty Lights fourth album 2013's "A Color Map of the Sun" were described by Jon Pareles in The New York Times as "bass heavy, unhurried and unexpectedly thoughtful." From 2 p.m. at Rough Trade in Williamsburg.  Buy a copy of "A Color Map of the Sun" from Rough Trade and collect your wrist band for entry into the performance at the same time.

A fine lineup of fuzzy indie pop graces the stage at Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Greenpoint from 6 p.m. tonight: Au Revoir Simone, Spires, Splashh! and Grooms. Get some gift shopping done while you're there.

Sunday, Dec. 8
Gifted bass player and 2010's Grammy winner for Best New Artist Esperanza Spalding brings her sophisticated jazz, soul and pop to this last night of a week's run at the Village Vanguard. Her latest video "We Are America" urges listeners to call their senators in an effort to close Guantanamo. 178 Seventh Ave. S., at 11th St in Greenwich Village.

Hugh Cornwell, the original guitarist, singer and main songwriter with UK legends The Stranglers, is touring behind the release of his latest album "Totem and Taboo," recorded with producer Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana). At the Highline Ballroom, Chelsea.

Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir play Joe's Pub in the East Village at 2.30pm today.

Monday, Dec. 9
Pink is bringing her high energy "The Truth About Love Tour" to Barclays Center in Brooklyn tonight. Don't be late, excellent Swedish rockers The Hives will get you in the mood.

The Stepkids, former backing musicians for Alicia Keys, 50 Cent and Lauren Hill, skilfully fuse psychedelic funk and indie grooves. Tonight from 7 p.m they're playing live, and afterwards doing a signing session at Rough Trade in Williamsburg.

Tuesday, Dec. 10
The annual Holiday Cheer for WFUV Benefit Concert unfolds tonight at the beautiful Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. This year's concert features a host of musicians who will join Iron & Wine (Sam Beam) for a special collaborative evening of music. Thus far, the sublime pair of Calexico and Nick Lowe have been announced, with more surprises on the way.

Californian hip hop duo Blackalicious play Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg.

Wednesday, Dec. 11
Legendary producer Quincy Jones is being honored as part of Louis Armstrong House Museum's 2013 Gala tonight at Manhattan Penthouse, 80 Fifth Avenue, Union Square. Performing live, Grammy winners for their music on the hit HBO television series Boardwalk Empire, Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks.

Catch stream of consciousness beats and stories from the gifted human beatboxer Reggie Watts at Irving Plaza at Union Square.