Critics' Picks



First Avenue

For reasons unknown, making it up as you go doesn't sound quite as dopey when you're doing it digital. From Daft Punk to Juno Reactor, the electronic underground has always had room for those artists daring enough to squeeze analog spontaneity from zeroes and ones. Granted, the decidedly improvisational Santa Cruz natives Sound Tribe Sector 9 may sound, rather antiquely, like Aphex Twin playing Red Rock West, but the soundscapes they've been weaving for the past decade have an ohm-shante-ohm luminosity that's warm enough to thaw out that Vice magazine sneer you've been practicing in the mirror since you were 16. Atmospheric and moody are descriptors sure to cause more than a few eye rolls, but even the resilient human spirit needs to re-lace its dancing shoes every so often. So put that Justice disc on pause for the evening. It'll be there when you get back. 18+. $20/$25 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —David Hansen


Buffalo Tom

Gallows fellows
courtesy of the artists
Gallows fellows

7th St. Entry

I can understand Robert Johnson or Led Zeppelin making a deal with the devil, but...Buffalo Tom? Still, how else to explain the reappearance of the trio, who emerge after a nine-year absence sounding not a day older? (Those in doubt of the Faustian bargain are directed to last summer's "September Shirt" performance on Letterman.) After a strong run in the '90s with hits like "Birdbrain," "Sodajerk," and "Taillights Fade" splashed all over MTV and alt-rock radio stations, the band went on hiatus, weary of label pressure to sound like the Next Big Thing. They reconvened last year to record the stellar Three Easy Pieces. Many tunes on the disc pack the punch of flannel-era BT, but others, like "You'll Never Catch Him," showcase the band's maturity and are tinged more with wise melancholy than with rage. The disc is as strong as anything from their earlier canon, and the band is even better live—so don't wait another decade to see them. With Western Fifth and Ada Jane. 18+. $15. 8:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Catherine Clements

Kruddler CD-release show

Turf Club

With a name taken from the episode of The Simpsons that found Bette Middler appearing on the Krusty Komeback Special ("We once owned a racehorse together—Kruddler!") and a penchant for goofy, hackneyed plays on words, Kruddler have carved out a space that they occupy virtually by themselves. Sure, they sound "like Minneapolis"—whatever that might mean nowadays (a punked-up Soul Asylum is the best fit here). Their new CD, Awesome Shoot 'Em Up, will do nothing to dispel that notion. But they also sound like an intentionally disheveled rock band slumming it for the thrill of being able to pound out three-chord sonic assaults while having nobody to answer to. They have gloriously idiotic song titles ("Sasquatchagawea" from 2003's They're There is one of the more amusing ones) and much of it recalls the golden age of '90s alternative (before "alternative" became a buzzword and then a cash cow for the record companies who forced atrocities like Gavin Rossdale and Candlebox upon us). 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Pat O'Brien



Triple Rock Social Club

With their live shows already legendary in their native England, Gallows are at the forefront of the U.K.'s punk revival—and with good reason. Their newest release, Orchestra of Wolves, is about as volatile and menacing as it gets. You could sit all day and compare them to the Who's Who of late-'70s punk and hardcore, but it still wouldn't do them justice. They sound like most of those bands, to be sure, but not even self-mutilator Iggy Pop could conjure the focused, intense nihilism captured on the album. (Granted, nobody rolls around on broken glass—but only because that would be too showy.) If you're going to win fans these days, confronting societal ills like date rape and violence with an unblinking eye is more the way to do it. The most unsettling aspect of Orchestra of Wolves is its refusal to offer a point of catharsis. Gallows wear their unease and disgust like a badge of honor. With This Is Hell and Cancer Bats. All ages. $10/$12 at the door. 5:00 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Pat O'Brien

The Show Is the Rainbow

Uptown Bar

"Storm's coming." Linda Hamilton's portentous final line in Terminator 2 must have been on Darren Keen's lips as he watched the Faint, his Nebraskan countrymen, release their breakout Blank Wave Arcade. Though their days may be waning, the Faint's post-nuclear fallout has salted the earth a bit for the nation's budding Duran Durans. But Omaha's one-man band the Show Is the Rainbow offers something much more meaningful than derivative Devo mimicry—there is a clubby, atomic pitter-pat lurking in his 606, and punk sensibility coloring his production. A cadre of frantic, urgent melodies carries Darren's spot-on Mark Mothersbaugh warble, and his thumping, clacking tempos will have your toes doing double-time. If the Faint are neo-wave's spreading, diffuse mushroom cloud, the Show Is the Rainbow is its irradiated Omega Man, prowling the ravaged wasteland for an unspoiled dance floor and a few mutants with whom to shake ass. With Mel Gibson & the Pants, Mystery Palace, and Tay Zonday. $8. 9:00 p.m. 3018 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.823.4719. —David Hansen

MONDAY 02.04

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist

Next Page »