Blitzen Trapper, Mötley Crüe, and more

WEDNESDAY 2.18

Blitzen Trapper

First Avenue

Eric Earley's melodic sense is so uncanny that critics appear to take for granted that he steals. Yet even the sound of his Portland, Oregon, band Blitzen Trapper is a defiant amalgam, an alternative country-rock attuned to '70s AM and Pavement, and apparently nothing in between. Locals could get the notion that he's a close study of our own similarly-inclined indies: Furr (last year's fourth album, and Sub Pop debut) recalls tuneful bits of candied Little Man, pastoral Ol' Yeller, and solo-acoustic Ed Ackerson. Even Earley's fantastical lyrics repay close listening: The murder tale "Black River Killer" is about his real uncle, while "Not Your Lover" says something deeper about the wayward subconscious than most "dream" songs ever attempt. He's a real artist with homey trappings, in other words, something our own music scene knows plenty about. With Alela Diane. All ages. $13. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Peter S. Scholtes

Mötley Crüe

Xcel Energy Center

Love it or hate it, metal has a definite place in rock history. And as much as the history books might leave it out and what we call "metal" might change with time, it will never die. And neither will metal nostalgia. Tuesday night at the Xcel, L.A. glam-metal heroes Mötley Crüe bring their grown-up and toned-down debauchery, while their searing Sunset Strip sound remains intact. With infinitely underrated guitar god Mick Mars, enigmatic songwriting bassist Nikki Sixx, genre-defining vocalist and aging pretty boy Vince Neil, and the wild pounding thump of Tommy Lee's near-perfect drumming, we might not be able to recreate the experience of seeing them at the peak of their wild, death-defying ways—but within the grand hockey arena scheme of things, it's gonna be an evening awash in devil horns, sweat, and straightforward hair-metal love. With Hinder, Theory of a Deadman, and upstarts the Last Vegas. $29.50-$95. 6:30 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. Jen Paulson

The Submarines

Triple Rock Social Club

If you discovered the lovey-dovey pop of this Los Angeles duo via the inclusion of "You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie" in an iPhone commercial and found yourself bitten and smitten—as we did—then you'll agree that it's best to forego the whole selling-out-verses-scraping-by argument and just let their sunny, jangly adore-core melt your computer speakers. Last year's Honeysuckle Weeks seems almost impossibly happy, to the extent that band members/significant others John Dragonetti and Blake Hazzard almost seem to be mocking the concept of happiness in time with all the twitching-tail bass-line bounces and nervous-tic guitar jiggles they pack into its smiley-faced 30 minutes. Hazzard's teasing vocals, which sometimes seem determined to leave as little room between verses as possible, recall early Mirah without the sense of dejection, while Dragonetti could be a studio ringer for the High Water Marks' Per Ole Bratset. Their performance could be just the pick-me-up we all need these days. With the Morning Benders and Kyle Andrews. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. Ray Cummings

FRIDAY 2.20

Ben Weaver

Turf Club

With a voice that creaks and moans like an old wooden canoe being paddled across a still lake, Ben Weaver is a singer whose style and craft seem to improve with each subsequent release. Last year's Bloodshot Records release The Ax and the Oak showcases some of Weaver's best work yet and hints at what one can expect from his show this weekend: stripped-down pop compositions that sound more like hummed poems than songs, with lyrics about the organic muses (birds, lakes, strangers standing in line at the grocery store) that inspire his music. Make sure your drinks are refilled by the time Weaver starts his set—his music is best heard in close proximity, with the audience holding still and clinging to his every word. With Larkin Grimm and the Dale Hush Hush. 21+. $8. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. Andrea Swensson

The Pretenders

First Avenue

Worship at the altar of Chrissie Hynde. Among the heroes and legends who cross from an old era to the present, the woman has done it all: from almost starting a group with Joe Strummer (who went on to start his own, sort of influential band, ahem, the Clash), to being a writer for New Musical Express, to the Akron native's eventual joining up with the other Brit Pretenders. The band took all the best parts of punk, new wave, and Hynde's own splash of girl-group-influenced rock 'n' roll and turned it into a highly influential, successful sound. Despite a changing array of band members, last year's Break Up the Concrete was a great record, and it leaves one looking forward to hearing the new songs alongside the classics when they come to town to play First Avenue. With Southern-fried Garage rockers American Bang. 18+. $35. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jen Paulson

SATURDAY 2.21

Romantica

Cedar Cultural Center

How is it that an Irish singer helms one of the Twin Cities' best answers to modern Americana? After hearing Romantica and digesting the group's cohesiveness, such a question is entirely moot—just know that the band makes complete sense after even a brief listen. Gaining immense national recognition with 2007's America, Romantica has steadily been building a reputation for its honest blend of musicians who breathe familiarity into modern music. To really make its mark on 2009, Romantica will be playing one of its first dates of the year Saturday night at the Cedar. Taking a break from promoting the recent Hopefuls release, Darren Jackson will be opening the night's show with the well-traveled Kid Dakota. All ages. $10/$12 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. Chris DeLine

MONDAY 2.23

Flogging Molly

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