Music A-List


First Avenue

Spoon's celebrated indie-rock sound belongs to the less-is-more school of pop. The Texas quartet's terse writing, efficient arrangements, and lurking minimalist tilt don't translate into bare-bones music, however, suggesting another architectural adage: Genius lies in the details. It's the fine touches that make Spoon's latest, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, sound like it's probing fresh pop-rock frontiers while tapping some classic elements (specifically, R&B-style horns). If you're keeping score at home, there's also a flamenco guitar, string quartet, koto, and even a chamberlin in action. Still, what comes through is sleek, inventive music that speaks volumes with minimum ado. Take the way "Don't You Evah" builds its intro in layers, while its rhythms constantly shift among themselves and multi-tracked vocals swirl around each other like agitated swallows. Or little touches, like the way the disc's title matches the piano pulses permeating "The Ghost of You Lingers" (so, too, does Spoon's wily music.) Opening will be the Ponys, a Chicago quartet that plays echoey, psychedelic-laced garage rock driven by careening guitars, sounding like a cross between Sonic Youth and the best 1966 underground rock outfit in the neighborhood. $20/$22 at the door. Wednesday: 21+. 8:00 p.m. Thursday: All ages. 6:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Also Thursday —Rick Mason

Northrop Auditorium

Diffidence and uncertainty hover over much of Sky Blue Sky, Wilco's latest album. On song after song, Jeff Tweedy struggles with conundrums about the trustworthiness of love and the quality of existence. Tending toward wistful, often lovely ballads, the music nonetheless hangs between the avant-pop of latter day Wilco and the band's early alt-country roots (the latter most evident on the pedal-steel-driven "What Light"). Still, Wilco's sound is in prime form, thanks to the additions of versatile guitarist Nels Cline and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone. Cline's scorching jazz-rock flights emphatically punctuate a handful of tunes, while his earthier work repeatedly adds blues and folk-rock dimensions, along with Sansone's assorted keyboard flourishes. When Tweedy joins that pair on electric guitar, their triple-headed drive is almost Allmanesque. But such giddy moments are short-lived, with a studied moodiness prevailing. $42. 7:30 p.m. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.624.2345. —Rick Mason


DJ Krush
Autumn De Wilde

Perhaps one of the first international citizens of hip hop (disregarding, for a moment, Bam's always global-minded Zulu Nation), DJ Krush has been bringing the Japanese flavor to the culture's dinner table for almost 15 years, and is loved by mainstream and underground alike. He was first inspired to buy a mixer after seeing the seminal b-boy chronicle Wild Style, so you know his roots run thick. Damn near 10 albums deep, on the wheels of steel Krush is a rarity, mastering both the art of recording and of getting the dance floor as hyper as a heart attack. His early cook-ups of breakbeats and jazzy soundscapes have recently given way to a sleepier ambiance, but don't let the mellowness of age fool you—Krush will still do a Godzilla on your sonic sanity. With James Patrick. 18+. $10/$13 at the door. 10:00 p.m. 10 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3931.— Jordan Selbo

FRIDAY 10.12

Painted Saints CD-release show
Varsity Theatre

Lead by multi-instrumentalist Paul Fonfara, a virtuoso clarinet player with a handle on just about any music-making device you can throw at him, Painted Saints are perhaps the most accomplished local band you've never heard of. A transplant from an incestuous Denver music scene, Fonfara possesses a technical prowess that has been on display for years; he's a former member of Devotchka and touring sideman to Jim White, but it's his songwriting and orchestral creativity that get the limelight with Painted Saints. Live, Fonfara layers guitar, clarinet, strings, an archaic Colombian squeezebox, and whistles that would make Andrew Bird blush, resulting in a self-described "spaghetti western-heroin-klezmer-chamber country-sad-bastard thing." Also a talented painter, Fonfara pens lyrics that detail the kind of dark and vivid imagery one could imagine Hieronymus Bosch creating, were he raised in modern-day rural America. Also celebrating Painted Saints' second full-length release, The Bricks Might Breathe Again, are Mike Gunther and his Restless Souls, and Spaghetti Western String Co. 18+. $7. 9:00 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Christopher Matthew Jensen

Fiery Furnaces
Turf Club

Consider yourselves forewarned: In a live setting, your favorite Fiery Furnaces songs may seem markedly different from the studio versions you've become so accustomed to. They might be performed with different arrangements. They could feature odd vocal or genre inflections. They will probably arrive squished together alongside several other songs in a slapdash, whirlwind medley. Chicagoland-bred siblings Eleanor (vocals) and Matthew Friedberger (everything else) have long enjoyed prodding, twisting, and distending their untamed, indie-pop playthings in public, and as the duo's recorded oeuvre deepens, the opportunities to tinker only multiply. Widow City, the Furnaces' latest ode to the joys of a hyperactive, too-literate, globe-trotting imagination, favors a hearty classic-guitar rock sound over the usual spasms of synthesizer/keyboard goo (and is unusually concise). When the Friedbergers hit the stage tonight, expect everything you just read to be gleefully thrown out the window. $13/$15 at the door. 8:00 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Ray Cummings


Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
First Avenue
Next Page »