My Morning Jacket and more

 

WEDNESDAY 10.1

Liam Finn

7th St. Entry

New Zealander Liam Finn undeniably has inherited the art of crafting insidiously clever pop tunes from his dad, Neil Finn of Crowded House and Split Enz fame. Liam's solo debut, I'll Be Lightning (Yep Roc), released last January, is in fact packed with loads of sly hooks and littered with Beatlesesque elements. But he's hardly a clone of his father or the Liverpudlians, favoring arrangements full of surprising twists and turns, and an occasional tendency to drift into relatively spare introspection, as on the wistful "Remember When." There's a lot of effervescent stuff, too, such as the playful, infectious "Lead Balloon" and the seductively Fab Four-like title track. Finn did virtually everything on Lightning, earning favorable comparisons to Paul McCartney's early solo recordings. On this, his first headlining tour, Finn will be an almost one-man band, using tape loops and playing all the instruments, with only the assistance of backup singer/autoharpist Eliza-Jane Barnes. Opening will be London's the Veils, led by Finn Andrews, who also grew up in New Zealand. His growly, unsettled voice stretches archly over pop-rock conceits darker and more haunted than the other Finn's. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

 

THURSDAY 10.2

My Morning Jacket

Orpheum Theatre

Louisville's My Morning Jacket has had an extraordinary journey in the decade since it was launched with a predominantly alt-country sound with lashings of Southern rock. By the time Evil Urges (ATO) was released this year, MMJ had become not only one of the most eclectic bands of the moment, but also among the most accomplished and satisfyingly experimental. Picking up where 2005's wide-ranging Z left off, Urges squeezes a peculiarly signature sound out of a cauldron writhing with dozens of musical threads, fusing the group's initial inclinations with pure pop, electro-funk, spacey synthesizer clouds, country, classic soul, and seemingly everything in between. There are spooky psychedelic melodies ("Touch Me I'm Going to Scream"), bristling rock 'n' roll ("Aluminum Park"), raging funk with Princely overtones ("Highly Suspicious," including Jim James's amazing falsetto). Still, MMJ's sound has a surprising overall unity—in the band's relentless quest for fashioning unique configurations out of familiar elements, as well as in the earthy, common-sense philosophical thrust of James's lyrics. $36. 8 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

 

FRIDAY 10.3

Ani DiFranco

State Theatre

More a movement than an actual person, Ani DiFranco is many things to many people: a spearhead of the modern feminist revolution, an unassuming cultural icon, an unwavering and supportive voice for those seeking release from political frustration and/or heartbreak. She's a cutesy jazz singer in cargo pants, an accomplished guitar picker who commands audiences with a blush and a scoff. And though she has so much to be proud of—two decades of relentless touring and recording behind her ever-evolving folk image, her own successful independent label, her own music venue, and the release of her 20th studio album, Red Letter Year, out this week—there isn't much that you'll find this righteous babe bragging about. It's that kind of everywoman attitude that can make entire rooms full of DiFranco fans feel like they are hanging out on a friend's back porch swilling wine and singing along to favorite oldies—and it's a good reason to catch this little folk-singer-that-could as she sweeps through town this weekend. With local hip-hop and spoken word phenom Dessa. $36-$39. 8 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. Andrea Swensson

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby

7th St. Entry

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby have released a new, self-titled album, featuring a cute little single called "Here Comes My Ship." In this already packed-to-the-gills night of stellar music in the Twin Cities (see Weezer, Ani DiFranco, and even the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers) some finely-tuned music lovers will gladly pass up all that righteous glory to hear Wreckless Eric sing "Whole Wide World," one of the greatest rock songs of all time, live. Amy Rigby, legendary in her own right, has had a long career crafting songs full of funny, clever lyrics and a certain knowing whimsy. In a way, it's no surprise that this pair ran off to France last year and got married. The meld of both artists' quirky and unique bodies of work on the new record, combined with their large separate bodies of work, makes it just that much more compelling to go. Beyond, of course, that one amazingly perfect rock song. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Jen Paulson

 

SATURDAY 10.4

Liz Phair

First Avenue

In 1993, she exploded onto the still-burgeoning alternative scene with Exile in Guyville, an album full of songs about sex, a woman's right to be a sexual object, and the ability to have many bedroom partners and not be referred to as a slut, and generally resembling your friend's ultra-hip older sister with whom you had no shot at a date, no matter how many times you asked. It was a sexually charged album, to say the least, but she played it off beautifully. She never looked especially sexy in public, which created a strange dichotomy: How can this fairly frumpy-looking girl (in a hot-librarian sort of way) be so frank about all of this? Are these stories as real as she claims? There was a bit of a backlash, fans came and went with her subsequent releases, and then when 2003's self-titled album was released she made the "mistake" of fully embracing her sexuality, appearing half-dressed in a couple of lad mags while fully alienating much of her core fan base. Which was unfair, considering her fans had encouraged the move for years—what's that saying about the grass being greener? This tour shouldn't be about her redeeming herself as much as it should be about giving her fans a shot at redemption. 18+. $25. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Pat O'Brien

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