(Barboza) When a folk-oriented acoustic guitarist records for Tompkins Square Records, it means he/she’s basically arrived. That label’s imprimatur implies excellence in this style, as releases by Daniel Bachman, James Blackshaw, Shawn McMillen, Mark Fosson, and many others have proved. Add Chicago-based Ryley Walker to this esteemed legacy. His 2014 album All Kinds of You is a gorgeous collection of serpentine, spangly instrumentals and soulful, Pentangle-esque ballads sung in Walker’s deeply felt, vibrantly grave tones. Calling him an American Bert Jansch might give Walker a big head, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. DAVE SEGAL
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(Crocodile) Rapper/singer Phonte (formerly of celebrated supergroup Little Brother) and Dutch producer Nicolay didn’t meet in person until after the release of their first album, Connected (hence their name), an instant classic based on its backstory and breezy indie-rap sound. All of the results since the two finally met and collaborated in person—including last year’s Love in Flying Colors—have taken a much more grown-n-sexy R&B approach than their debut, with Phonte almost completely abandoning rapping for singing, which he fortunately does well. Though fans of their initial head-nodding, backpacker-friendly stuff might be turned off by this, the Foreign Exchange’s music is pretty well-suited for a live environment, especially if it’s on a date night. MIKE RAMOS
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(Chop Suey) Describing the Magik Markers' latest album, 2013's Surrender to the Fantasy, as their most accessible to date makes it sound like singer Elisa Ambrogio, drummer Pete Nolan, and guitarist John Shaw are gearing up for endorsement deals and stadium tours, but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, they're keeping alive the dissonant flame Sonic Youth and Live Skull ignited in the 1980s. The Connecticut combo invest their avant-blues with plenty of aggro, but with time, they've become less hostile to melody. This may disappoint fans of their self-released CD-Rs, but the move to a studio environment—they recorded part of the album in J. Mascis's attic—and an established independent label (Drag City) only highlights their strengths as musicians. KATHY FENNESSY
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And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!