Critics' Picks: The Mekons and more

WEDNESDAY 3.26

The Cribs

Varsity Theater

The Cribs are three British brothers whose first two albums didn't make much of an impression in the States—mainly because they weren't released here. But the new Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever slams down one killer riff after another, igniting both their career and Britpop in the process. Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos plays producer, and he applies a ringing sheen to the CD that never undercuts the band's raging punk instincts. Like the Arctic Monkeys, the Jarman siblings spend most of their time hanging out in clubs, drinking too much, and unsuccessfully hitting on girls. Songs like "Our Bovine Public" and "Men's Needs" load up on both hooks and charm, while the six-minute "Be Safe" features a free-form poem read by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, which is perfect for your end-of-the-night chill-out. With Ra Ra Riot and Jeffery Lewis & the Jitters. 18+. $15. 7:30 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. Michael Gallucci

THURSDAY 3.27

Black Moth Super Rainbow

7th St. Entry

Your first mental image of a band with a name like Black Moth Super Rainbow might be a group of unicorns, wizards, and trolls pumping out long-winded prog rock for hopelessly outdated fans. And you'd be half correct. Yet this bizarre outfit from rural western Pennsylvania, which features member monikers like Tobacco, Power Pill Fist, and Father Hummingbird, have caused a stir over the last year with their trippy folktronica pop sound. The group uses predominantly old analog gear, like a warped Boards of Canada with vocal filters, and an attitude that cheese can be tasteful in small doses. With Grey Skies and Mux Mool. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Tim Pratt

Styles P

Trocaderos

Although almost always overshadowed by his LOX/D-Block brethren Jadakiss on their collective projects, the Yonkers-bred Styles P possesses more than enough hardcore magnetism and just enough message-driven songwriting talent to make impressive solo albums. 2002's A Gangster and a Gentleman was a smooth and at times haunting ride through the life of a thug with a conscience, belying the posturing of a studio gangster with fresh insights into the struggle. Plus, he had that monster weed-anthem "Good Times (I Get High)" (in heavy rotation at the Selbo ranch for many years). In between that and his continued Don Dada dreams mixed with social uplift, P guested with the likes of Ghostface and beefed with 50 before quickly serving up another platter a few months back on Koch (oh Koch, where would we be without you?) titled Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentleman. Obviously, originality is not P's best attribute, but he knows what he does well, and then does it. Sounds super, if not extraordinary, to me. 18+. $30. 9 p.m. 107 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.465.0440. —Jordan Selbo

FRIDAY 3.28

Panther

7th St. Entry

Panther meet all three prerequisites of Portland residency: gnarly beards (groan), band membership, and vague political concerns. The duo's hippy-dippy DIY aesthetic follows them through their new release, 14 kt God, with patches of computer squeaking to singer Charlie Salas-Humara's mescaline-drenched falsetto. Eclectic and shifty (do I vote Green Party or Democrat?), Panther are sometimes disco funk, sometimes loopy drone. Either way, they induce indie tribal dancing in that I-drank-too-much-Pabst-to-pick-up-my-feet kind of shuffling. "Puerto Rican Jukebox" is catchy and semi-unforgettable, and "Your Pants Are Creased Familiarly" could be a track from Beck's Midnight Vultures blasted on slow-mo. But Beck didn't have awful facial hair—I know Salas-Humara's spastic bobbing and weaving onstage isn't spurred by the sting of aftershave. $6. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Erin Roof

Current Fakebook Series with Greil Marcus and the Mekons

Fitzgerald Theater

This ongoing series presented by the Current outdoes itself yet again. In the past there have been guests like filmmaker John Waters and satirist/rock nerd Chuck Klosterman, along with musical guests like local boys done good Tapes N' Tapes and Chicago's Bound Stems. This time out the audience will be treated to the legendary Greil Marcus, original Rolling Stone reviews editor and author of several books that placed music in a larger cultural context and influenced virtually every rock writer in the last 35 years. Musical guests will be the Mekons, legends themselves from the Class of '77 punk rock scene. The group have a knack for reinvention, branching out while managing to keep virtually the same fan base along the way—an impressive task when you consider the genre-jumping and experimentation they have done over the years, but one that they have made look effortless. $20. 8 p.m. 10 East Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.290.1200. Pat O'Brien

SATURDAY 3.29

Headlights

Nomad World Pub

Whether they admit it or not, today's indie rockers owe a lot to '60s radio poppers. Immediate hooks, sweet and sensitive singing, and lean song construction (make your point in three minutes or less) are hallmarks of both eras' greatest hits. But what separates nostalgia from inspiration is how the new kids apply these traits. Headlights' translucent harmonies recall the Hollies, Searchers, and way too many '60s girl groups to list. You can even hear Phil Spector's Wall of Sound in the Illinois trio's layered instrumental chimes. But these are the mere raw materials Headlights works with. The band assembles all of them into sleek, cyclic song structures, built around guitars that clang as much as they twang. And that's something that never goes out of style. With the Evangelicals. $6/$8 at the door. 9 p.m. 501 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6424. — Mark Keresman

Le Loup

7th St. Entry

Bless Craigslist. It does the work of the Gods, righting wrongs in Missed Connections and uniting dongs in Casual Encounters—why, it's even behind the mini-orchestra from Washington, D.C., that's rolling into town tonight. You see, the songs from Le Loup's 2007 release, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly, originally existed only on bandleader Sam Simkoff's laptop. But then he reached through it to pull seven bandmates off of Craigslist. Now the troupe bring his heated, experimental, ever-changing folk rock to life. The group members create swells of sound and waves of color and emotion; they might seem to be aimlessly meandering before tightening down into an electro-blippy, banjo-bending jam. And with everybody in the operation contributing to the vocals? I can't imagine the most successful Casual Encounter creating a more ecstatic sound. With the Ruby Suns. $8. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Sarah Askari

MONDAY 3.31

These United States

400 Bar

Timelessness and universality are two qualities missing from most contemporary music—which is a lot of the reason why These United States feel like such a breath of fresh air. On their debut CD, A Picture of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden, the dynamic duo of songwriter/singer Jesse Elliott and producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist David Strackany pursue a vision somewhere between the Postal Service's soft synth-pop and traditional blues-folk. Elliott comes off as the best sort of troubadour: For him, songs are as much signposts to rally around as they're short, short sonic stories or romantic serenades that'd work equally well in 1953 or 2009. Take "The Business," a lively, swinging, all-in-a-day's-work meditation that doubles a reaffirmation of dogged adoration. "I got a big brand new Cadillac of a plan," he promises, later flipping negative to positive: "I can't even tell you all the blood I've seen/But for a taste of your love, I'll go through any machine." With No Time for TV, the Pleasure Boaters, Mannix!, the ReVamps, Pandora's Box Cutters, and the Puritanicals. 18+. $5. 5 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. Ray Cummings

TUESDAY 4.01

Born Ruffians

7th St. Entry

Imagine—if you dare, really—the tribalist/psychedelic antics, shrieking exuberance, and faux-twee naiveté of Animal Collective married to the Strokes' OCD, no-note-wasted-or-outta-place take on downtown muso NYC cool. Taken singly, each of these two flavors is delicious in unique, distinctive ways; taken together, the resulting compound would be enough to make almost anybody cringe. To say that Born Ruffians violently disagree would be a massive understatement. Take debut full-length Red, Yellow, & Blue. As multi-tracked guitarist/singer Luke Lalonde reels off lame fantasies and Rolling Stones lyrical lifts, this Canadian indie-rock threesome bangs together anal-retentive pop constructs so tight you'd swear they just rolled off of an assembly line. None of which is much fun to think about, let alone listen to; unlike their celebrated Warp labelmates Battles, Born Ruffians haven't figured out how to synthesize influences into something unique and amazing. Acid Mothers Temple headline. With Danava and Cadence Weapon. $10. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ray Cummings

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