David Bazan, Impaler, They Might Be Giants, and more


David Bazan

Turf Club

Some artists cloak their every move in carefully manufactured mystery, but ex-Pedro the Lion frontman David Bazan has a refreshing transparency to everything he does. There's no heavy lifting to be done; his words (and his rock songs) are so clear that they require zero interpretation. This unflinching realness is how Bazan is able to tackle religion and politics without coming off as preachy—he's only wondering aloud if there are others who have asked the same questions, not trying to convert the heathens. Recent troubles with booze and his waning faith have distanced Bazan from the Christian fanbase that he and his old band once enjoyed, but his candidness about both has served to strengthen the relatable quality of his music, so his non-churchgoing fans might appreciate him even more for acknowledging his faults. Despite the condition of your immortal soul, it's a rarity and a joy to hear someone say exactly what they mean. With Say Hi and Wye Oak. 21+. $12. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Ian Traas

Asleep at the Wheel

The many faces of múm
courtesy the artists
The many faces of múm

The Cedar

Western swing—packing a potent mix of big band jazz and country—reigned in the 1930s and '40s with the likes of Bob Wills, Milton Brown and his Brownies, the Light Crust Dough Boys, and Cliff Bruner commanding the bandstands. Asleep at the Wheel, led by the redoubtable Ray Benson, picked up the western swing mantle in 1970 and over the following four decades have done such a fabulous job carrying the torch that they've earned a slew of Grammy Awards and a well-deserved niche among the legends of the past. Willie Nelson, who's still working on his own legend, grew up with western swing. Some 30 years ago, producer Jerry Wexler suggested he do an album of WS classics. Nelson and Benson finally got around to it this year, and the resulting Willie & the Wheel is an instant classic. With Willie's magnificently weathered voice leading the way and AATW swinging like a polecat in a cyclone, iconic tunes like "Hesitation Blues" and "Corrine Corrina" twitch and jump with vitality while a rollicking horn section adds a sparkling measure of New Orleans traditional jazz. Willie won't be along on this gig (a joint tour will begin later this winter), but AATW will be their rambunctious selves, Benson leading a particularly fine version of the Wheel these days featuring singer Elizabeth McQueen, fiddler Jason Roberts, and pedal steel player Eddie Rivers. $29/$31 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Me & My Arrow (CD-release)

Uptown Bar & Cafe

There's been a lot of talk about the size of local band Me & My Arrow, but it's warranted, since there are only a small handful of Minneapolis stages that can accommodate them comfortably. They've recently trimmed down from nine members to a relatively lean seven, but in order to pull off the anthemic, heavily layered sound that's become the band's stock-in-trade, the largeness is a necessity rather than overkill. Just the coordination involved in this mini-orchestra should tell you that M&MA are ambitious enough to stand on equal footing with more established projects, and with the release of their debut LP they'll take a major stab at attracting the kind of attention that could transform the band into the nationally recognized indie darlings they deserve to be. That the band's tour concludes with this hometown show at the not-long-for-this-world Uptown Bar could prove to be fitting, as the decline of one Minneapolis mainstay could signal the rise of another. With Story of the Sea, Chooglin', Speed's the Name, Death Cube, and Alicia Wiley. 21+. 6 p.m. Free before 9 p.m.; $6 after 9 p.m. 3018 Hennepin Ave S., Minneapolis; 612.823.4719. —Ian Traas



Walker Art Center

Blame it on the cold or midnight sun or essentially being adrift in the North Atlantic or whatever, Iceland keeps producing bands that revel in their frigid quirkiness and uniquely untethered pop aesthetics to create remarkable music, whether it's dubbed experimental, avant-garde pop, post-rock, or pre-22nd century. Case in point: this pair of Icelandic bands hip enough to qualify for the Walker's cachet. Múm (pronounced "moom" and variously written with or without a capital m) is a dozen-year-old collective that expands and contracts around founders Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason. Currently operating as a seven-piece, múm has a new album, Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know, that's a gossamer wonderland of eccentric chamber pop, integrating electronica cries and whispers with a strong organic element juggling guitars, cello, ukuleles, and idiosyncratic percussion devices. Múm's sound ebbs and flows via swells variously characterized by folky choral washes, psychedelic sighs, bubbling rhythms, wispy melodies, jewel-like apparitions of rock and folk textures, and surrealistic lyrics. Opener Sin Fang Bous is the brainchild of Sindri Már Sigfússon, who also leads the Reykjavik folk-pop outfit Seabear. Clangour, SFB's debut, also ventures into a curiously textured, atmospheric realm of spacey folk, pop, and rock. But the last two elements are a bit more prominent, the rhythms more insistent than múm's amid clear references to vintage remnants of the Beach Boys and even subdued Phil Spector. $18. 8 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason

FRIDAY 10.30


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