When: Fri., Dec. 14, 9 p.m. 2012
When Tom Krell's avant-R&B alter ego, How to Dress Well, went from Blogspot-hosted home-recording project to indie-blogosphere viral sensation a couple years ago, he wasn't prepared for the attention—the HTDW tracks that earned him an 8.0 on Pitchfork were more like proof-of-concept demos than finished works, and his introversion meant he was hardly equipped for quasi-stardom. But in the intervening months he's reckoned with personal tragedies, including the death of his best friend, while learning to handle the gaze of critics and fans; the album Total Loss (Acephale), released in September, displays a level of confidence that his previous releases (as compelling as they were) just didn't have. The most obvious change is that Krell has hauled his tracks out of the abyssal reverb tank he was using before—his beats aren't brash, but they assert themselves. His voice, mixed front and center, has taken on an impressive strength and suppleness, especially when he bends it to a falsetto that's reminiscent of R. Kelly. This isn't just an indie rocker playing at being an R&B singer. This is real. —Miles Raymer Beacon and Grades open.