We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
As a member of Dublin’s Rollerskate Skinny, singer-guitarist Ken Griffin helped create one of the best albums you’ve never heard—1993’s Shoulder Voices. Mixing the sonic textures of My Bloody Valentine with the rich melodies of Echo & the Bunnymen and angular, runaway rhythms, Voices’ layered brilliance was maniacally complex, immediately catchy, and refreshingly innovative, comparable to pre-orch-rock Mercury Rev. The solid but more subdued follow-up, Horsedrawn Wishes, was not as memorable, but its reliance on keyboards and lush arrangements hinted at the work Griffin would produce post-Skinny. Made under the name Kid Silver, Griffin’s solo debut, Dead City Sunbeams, could be the best pop album you’ll hear this year. As a singer, Griffin sounds a bit like the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, but he has a broader range, capable of jumping from low to high with the dramatic flair of a musical actor. As a musician, Griffin piles on sounds as if he’s renting them for a short time and has to get them down on tape before the lease runs out. He touches on Caribbean grooves (“Breadcrumbs”), drum and bass (“Keep Warm”), orch pop (“Dead City Sunbeams,” “Hey Trespasser,” “Racing Daylight”), triphop (“24 Last Days of the Lilac”), and noirish jazz (“67 Cities of Light”). Despite its disparate sounds, Dead City Sunbeams holds tightly together because of Griffin’s inventive arrangements and attention to sonic details. See his brilliance coalesce on stage when Kid Silver (with a live band that includes some former Rollerskate Skinny members) plays with Aerialist and M31 at 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 18, at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $6. (202) 667-7960. (Christopher Porter)