State Theater

The old-time string band rolls back into town for a show at the State just weeks after their last appearance in the Twin Cities, playing for fan Garrison Keillor, who books them frequently on A Prairie Home Companion. Like that legendary radio show, the music of Old Crow Medicine Show sounds like entertainment out of time. They're sometimes dubbed bluegrass fusion or alt-country, which is not inaccurate. Their songs are influenced by folk and blues: They've recorded a cover of a Rolling Stones tune, "Down Home Girl," and perhaps their most notable number, "Wagon Wheel," is a reimagining of an unfinished Bob Dylan song. But despite these more modern influences, their sound remains pure and defiantly regionalist, and it's distinguished by their incredible vocal harmonies. Old Crow Medicine Show have undergone a major chance since the release of 2008's Tennessee Pusher: Chris "Critter" Fuqua, who co-founded the band with fiddle player Ketch Secor, his musical partner since the seventh grade, has ceased touring with the group. In his place is slide guitar and banjo player Gill Landry of the Kitchen Syncopators. $27.50. 8 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Bryan Miller

The Mountain Goats

The Cedar

Swedish glam-punk masters the Sounds
Birte Filmer
Swedish glam-punk masters the Sounds

The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle is a serious literary type whose songs, stretching back almost two decades, detail human failings, foibles, fears, feints, and fables, sometimes stripping emotion down to its wiring, exposing tragedies inherent in the mundane. For many years he recorded on a boombox, essentially shouting his lyrics over a strumming guitar like some housebound busker, but of late, including October's The Life of the World to Come, Darnielle's cultivated a more refined chamber-folk sound with a piano and the assistance of guitarist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster. Stark, powerful yet deceptively straightforward language renders riveting dramas, which on the new album take their titles from Bible verses and deal with spirituality while remaining skeptical of religion. Messianic power, death, resurrection, sacrifice for love, wandering in the wilderness, martyrdom, netherworlds, kidnapping, and impending apocalypse are all present with chilling effect, not so much as gospel as stuff likely to turn up in the tabloids. Opener Final Fantasy is in effect Canadian violinist-composer Owen Pallett, who has done string arrangements for the Goats' latest as well as for Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, and Beirut. Pallett's own stuff is sweeping, kaleidoscopic chamber pop that sounds like Brian Wilson playing with the Kronos Quartet in the Land of Oz. $18/$20 at the door. 8 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason


Steely Dan

Northrop Auditorium

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are the latest to jump on the recent trend of recreating live entire classic albums, all songs in their proper sequence. The resurrected artifact for this performance will be Steely Dan's 1977 album Aja, a then-relatively innovative blend of rock, jazz, pop, and R&B, featuring guest shots from the likes of jazz-oriented saxophonist Wayne Shorter, keyboardist Joe Sample, and guitarist Larry Carlton. Aja has held up well over the years: sleek, cool, hipsterishly obscure lyrics, its melodicism delightfully subverted with sly, tricky arrangements, subtle textures, and impressive instrumental work. Reports from the road suggest Fagen and Becker, plus an 11-piece band, aren't slavishly reproducing every note from the original, but are coming close enough to please hardcore fans. This so-called Rent Party tour is billed as Aja plus, the addition invariably consisting of songs from the Dan's '70s heyday. $53-$125. 7:30 p.m. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.625.6600. —Rick Mason


Art Brut

Triple Rock Social Club

Because they sound a little like The Daily Show's John Oliver fronting the Pixies in the spoken-punk-rap style of Flipper or Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime," Art Brut are inevitably judged as comedy rather than music—more Beatles press conference than Beatles album. But like fellow literary ranters the Hold Steady, these Londoners are far more original and compelling as rock 'n' roll than their familiar elements and delivery might initially suggest—especially once their lyrics gel as narrative. "Demons Out!," off this year's Art Brut vs. Satan, immortally declares, "The record-buying public shouldn't be voting," in the appalled tone of ignored artists everywhere—a joke as rich as anything off the latest Flight of the Conchords CD. But the next tune demands sincerity and mistakes in rock, and the one after that admits, by way of its chorus, "I can't believe I've only just discovered the Replacements," making the self-deprecation and autobiography plain. The Art Brut idea, going back to their 2004 breakthrough, "We Formed a Band," seems to be a running self-portrait on five-year delay, which means that soon they'll be singing "We Just Wrote a Song Called 'We Formed a Band.'" I wish their scrappy musicality went beyond indie-rock, but their gestalt is new, their spoken hooks ("I fought the floor and the floor won") as sure as any good rap, and they claim the Pixies' own Black Francis as producer on this third album's harmonies/guitars/bass/drums, achieving maximum pop thwack. With West Palm Beach's Surfer Blood. 18+. $12/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Peter S. Scholtes

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