(Merge): ****

If Thorn’s superb 2010 album “Love and Its Opposite” incisively portrayed women emerging from the marriage-kids-divorce cycle into the singles-scene ringer, then “Record” is the sound of them reconnecting with their inner dance club divas, gleaming with ’80s sonic references that should attract the witty alto’s Everything But the Girl fans. Yet producer Ewan Pearson’s bright synths and drum machines are current as Thorn’s feminist perspectives. “Sister,” a fierce, eight-and-a-half-minute setpiece with Warpaint’s rhythm section and Corinne Bailey Rae’s supportive harmonies, surges midway from empowering anthem (“Don’t mess with me, don’t hurt my babies/ I’ll come for you …I fight like a girl”) into a magnetic groover as enveloping as Thorn’s beloved disco mixes.

FEMI KUTI, One People One World

(Knitting Factory): ***

As Nigerian trailblazer Fela Kuti’s legacy’s been burnished by Western Afrobeat ensembles and Tony-nominated musical “Fela!,” his eldest son’s diligently tended his father’s ideals and Shrine performance space in Lagos. Tracks like “Dem Don Come Again,” “E Get as E Be” and “Evil People” jump with Fela-like double-sax attacks, but more often Femi pumps up soulful melodies and organ-horn exchanges. The lack of artfulness in his messages — “Africa Will Be Great Again,” “Best to Live on the Good Side,” the title track — doesn’t diminish their relevance.


(Mom+Pop): ***½

Jess Wolfe and Holly Laissig make good on the siren-like lure of the finely calibrated harmonies — like sisters gliding across notes on the same breath — that brightened their “Wildewoman” and “Good Grief,” rearranging their tuneful pop with spare percussion and elegant guitar work. The Nels Cline-assisted “Million Dollar Secret” (originally recorded for HBO’s “Girls”) charms, freed of gongs and synths, and new songs “Woman” and “Neighbors” register with emotional urgency during this acoustic soul-folk set punctuated by smart covers of Gerry Rafferty, Tame Impala and Lead Belly.


(Signature Sounds): ****

There’s a down ‘n’ dirty charge to these performances with producer/multi-instrumentalist David Goodrich, drummer Billy Conway, violinist Matt Lorenz and engineer/keyboardist Keith Gary, somehow conveying the weight and worth of the blues-folk veteran’s oeuvre. They transform Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” into eerie blues like they’re in a busted-up Ford with windows shot and brakes gone; the oft-covered Smither also covers himself, “diving one more time into the deep unknown/ one more time into the soul,” reinterpreting five of this two-disc collection’s tracks on its back end in ways not radical but genuinely satisfying. At McCabe’s in Santa Monica March 2 and 4.