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By 1974, John Cale’s résumé included co-founding the Velvet Underground, performing with avant-garde pioneer La Monte Young, producing the Stooges and the Modern Lovers, and releasing several challenging albums of his own. The Welshman’s output over the last 30 years has been a bit less impressive. Despite his classical training, rock smarts, proficiency on viola, guitar, and piano, and assistance from the likes of Brian Eno and Lou Reed, the quality of Cale’s albums has been erratic. Though his recent HoboSapiens is no Paris 1919 or Fear, it’s the closest he’s come in quite a while. Using digital technology, Cale worked with Björk producer Nick Franglen to lay samples and programmed beats under lyrics concerning Magritte, Archimedes, and a bicycle. But what makes Cale special here is not the instrumentation or abstruse lyrics—it’s his most artfully crafted, winsome melodies in decades. Cale plays at 8:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25. (202) 397-7328. (Steve Kiviat)