CULTURE

It’s a slow but simmering scene

The esteemed and still-creative ex-Velvet Underground member John Cale has proven somewhat of a regular performer here in recent times, with two visits since the late 1990s. It has just been confirmed that the stylistically hard-to-pinpoint artist will be returning to Greece for two dates in Athens and Thessaloniki early in the new year as part of double-header bills with Bob Mould, formerly of the influential ’80s indie act Husker Du and Sugar. Their scheduled gigs, on January 20 in Thessaloniki, at the Mylos club, and Athens the following evening, at the Gagarin 205 club, come as a welcome addition to the winter season’s relatively subdued activity from abroad. Now in his 60s, Cale, who will be returning with a backing band following a wonderful solo guitar-piano-and-vocals performance at the now-defunct Pallas Theater some five years ago, has just released a well-received new album, «Black Acetate.» Unlike its loop-crazy predecessor, «Hobo Sapiens,» Cale’s latest outing presents a cross section of various styles and moods that have prompted comparisons to splendid work put out by the Welshman during his mid-’70s stint on the Island label. Mould, who emerged the following decade as frontman of Husker Du, one of the most influential American bands of the ’80s, has also just served up fresh work, «Body of Song,» a more conventional effort compared to 2002’s electronics-heavy «Modulator.» But there’s still some time to fill before Cale and Mould play their double-headers here. This Friday, the highly popular American act Cake, whose unusual yet infectious country-funk blend has sold well worldwide, will be at the Gagarin 205 club. The band, in Greece for the first time, will also play a second show in Thessaloniki, at the Mylos club on the following evening. Not long after, on November 19, in what could be an interesting night out, a young Swedish crooner, Jens Lekman, almost a pop star in his native Sweden, will be at the pint-sized Small Music Theater in the capital’s Koukaki district. The 24-year-old professes «to know every stupid love song that has ever touched your heart.» The same venue will host ex-Red House Painters frontman Mark Kozelek on November 28. Renowned for evocative and compelling work throughout the ’90s with Red House Painters, Kozelek has, in more recent times, polarized his cult following with an unusual focus on the Australian hard-rock band AC/DC with reworkings of early, Bon Scott-era material. Also coming up is the return of frequent British visitors, the dance-oriented Stereo MCs, on December 3 at Club 22 in Athens. Later that month, the Norwegian rock act Madrugada has been booked for two shows at the Gagarin 205 club, on December 17 and 18.