RIMES REASONS: I’m generally not a fan of any country music artist that Us Weekly has heard of. But even I have to cop to my appreciation of LeAnn Rimes, who plays the LVH Dec. 13-15 ($54-$77). Regardless of how I feel about her material—fair to middling, at least what I’ve heard of it—there’s no denying that she’s got magnificent pipes. You can draw a line directly from Rimes’ sweet, gently quavering soprano to Patsy Cline’s unique singing voice. (Yes, the Patsy thing is sort of Rimes’ gimmick—but it’s a damned fine gimmick to have.) Her live show is aw-shucks-you-like-me earnest and just plain fun. And if for nothing else, you could admire Rimes for her work ethic: She’s sold 37 million albums, won two Grammy Awards and written four books … and she only turned 30 this year. She’s probably accomplished more in the past week than I ever will. Come to think of it, I don’t like her anymore, because she makes us all look like a bunch of lazy fucks who can’t sing like Patsy Cline.
THE MEN FROM CALIFORNIA: The Blasters are playing at Vinyl at the Hard Rock on Dec. 16 ($25), and you ought to go, because it’s a perfect case of the right band in the right place. The Blasters are the penultimate saloon band of the 1980s (second, I think, to Los Lobos, though it’s a close race), and to watch them in a club as intimate as Vinyl—with Rolling Rock in hand, nodding along with “Marie Marie” and “Colored Lights”—is to enjoy a rare kind of contentment. You feel like you’re in a locals-only roadhouse, and you’ve just discovered something rare and good.
NOW ON SALE: It’s been 12 long years since Ben Folds Five—scheduled to play the Pearl on Jan. 25 ($44)—gave us a new batch of what its namesake once called “punk rock for sissies.” But time heals all folds, and now Darren Jessee, Robert Sledge and Ben Folds have reunited for a new record, The Sound of the Life of the Mind—only their fourth studio record since 1993, remarkably—and a tour that will probably induce the creation of some very well-mannered mosh pits.