Critics' Picks: Cloud Cult and More...

First Avenue

Consider yourself warned: Cloud Cult are quickly elbowing their way up the list of local bands made good with their latest effort, Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornados). So if you want to prove that you were there, that you heard them first, get yourself to First Avenue on the double. Chock full of eclecticism, any given Cloud Cult song involves elaborate orchestral arrangements, electrifying freak-outs, or soulful art-rock. But fear not—bandleader Craig Minowa keeps it from spiraling out of control with his searching lyrics and earnest voice. If that isn't enough to get you there, the life-and-death themes of songs like "Story of the Grandson of Jesus" and "When Water Comes to Life" should do it. Their stop in Minneapolis comes in the middle of their coast-to-coast tour in support of their new album, so check it out and join the cult. With Mason Proper and the Forms. 18+. $13/$15 at the door. 5 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Desiree Weber

The Deaths

Turf Club

Cloud Cult, outside their gypsy caravan
Cloud Cult, outside their gypsy caravan

The Deaths are back! These Fargo transplants made a brief appearance last October with a split EP that also featured legendary locals the Beatifics. The Deaths' contribution, "Selector," was a delectable morsel of a preview for their upcoming effort. With their new release, Centralia, the band members advance in their use of electronic flourishes, but still maintain an abundance of expansive organ interludes and their trademark fuzzy, beautifully distorted guitars. The dual vocals of Karl Qualey and Jeff Esterby are mesmerizing as they croon with an affecting lilt that is irresistibly singable. It's been three years since their full-length debut, Choir Invisible, so was it worth the wait? Most definitely: From start to finish, Centralia is a polished, scientifically balanced work that will inevitably show up on plenty of Best of 2008 lists. With the Owls and Arctic Universe. 21+. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Jen Paulson


Afternoon Records Anniversary

First Avenue

Sporting a healthy bench of Midwest acts like prized pop Picked to Clickers Mouthful of Bees and Sioux Falls natives We All Have Hooks for Hands, Minnesota music stable Afternoon Records is a classic five-tool player. Label founder Ian Anderson has shown a voracious appetite for acts that always seem to strike a masterful balance between style and substance, between grist and glitter, and the bands that he signs exhibit a curious tendency toward national recognition. While Battle Royale pop collars with so many sparkling 0s and 1s, Haley Bonar's unerring croon haunts her earthy guitar work like a miner's ghost. That these acts share a label should be proof enough that Afternoon Records is a dynamic and forward force in Midwest Music, one that has earned with sweat and blood the right to revel in the main stage lights tonight. All ages. $6. 4 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —David Hansen

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