With Blue Merle. Saturday, November 20, at the Beachland Ballroom.

  • Jem

Mention the name Jem to a child of the 1980s, and visions of the animated rock star and her truly, truly, truly outrageous backing band, the Holograms, are likely to spring to mind. The non-cartoon Jem doesn't possess the former's neon glow -- although the Wales native co-wrote the Madonna single "Nothing Fails" with the queen of outlandish effervescence herself -- but she is steadily carving herself a unique niche within superstar circles.

After stints as a club promoter, DJ agent, and record-label employee, she moved to London and eventually snagged a record deal with the Dave Matthews-affiliated ATO. Finally Woken, her full-length debut for the label, feels like a lost Lilith Fair-era coffeehouse diamond. Jem's smoky, folksy vocals drive an album full of tasty morsels that will tide trip-hop lovers over until the next Beth Orton disc. Highlights include "They," a throaty, wintry carol steeped in hip-hop flava, and "Come on Closer," whose metal riffs alternate with sampled cinematic ephemera.

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Staff Pick Events

  • Cleveland Improv Jam @ Coffee Phix

    • Sundays
  • Pelléas and Mélisande @ Severance Hall

    • Tue., May 2
  • CIM/CWRU Joint Music Program @ Cleveland Museum of Art

    • First Wednesday of every month. Continues through May 3

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