Red Pens, Danzig and more

7th St. Entry

There is really no other way to describe Red Pens' music other than as a deafening squall. Like the Pixies fed into a blender or My Bloody Valentine in a bad dream, Howard Hamilton and Laura Bennett whip up a sound so fierce it's almost comical that only two people are contributing to its creation. People stand in utter disbelief at their live shows, and those foolish enough to be without earplugs run to the bar for some cheapies or flee the scene altogether. The end result leaves people stunned and clamoring for more; part of the allure is the anticipation of what comes next. Red Pens hardly ever play first on a bill these days, but people show up early to make sure they're there at the outset of the destruction and not just in its wake, or worse, while it's happening. The safest place is at the eye of a storm, and since the Red Pens are at the center of it all, it's best that you follow their lead. They're celebrating the release of Limitations, a new six-song EP that promises more of the same chunky yet wiry (or Wire-y) punk rock in two- to three-minute lung-collapsing bursts of fury. With Zombie Season and Fauna. 18+. $7. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Pat O'Brien

The Richard Thompson Band

First Avenue

At this late date, some four decades after Richard Thompson started out with folk-rock pioneering Fairport Convention, it's tough to add to the barrage of superlatives regularly hurled in his direction. But what the hell. He has yet another great new album out, Dream Attic, this one recorded live with a superb quartet that will join him here in concert. Offering 13 fresh tunes from Thompson's often witty, frequently withering, usually caustic pen, it provides ample fresh evidence that he's among a handful of essential songwriters of his time. And since it's live, there's plenty of opportunity for Thompson to crank up his electric guitar, lashing his lacerating, Celtic-edged licks about with wicked abandon, as satisfying a sound as there is in the rock realm. As you might suspect, Thompson's Attic harbors more nightmares than dreams. "The Money Shuffle" lampoons the financial tricksters who hijacked the economy. The desperate protagonist in "Haul Me Up" is losing a life-threatening game with elusive rules. "Here Comes Geordie" portrays a talentless narcissist. "Crimescene" takes a brutal, forensic medical approach to aging. "Sidney Wells" is a tale of vicious murder. "A Brother Slips Away" is an elegy to lost friends. And those, as Thompson may deadpan, are the cheery songs. Never mind. Latch on to Thompson's splendid, scintillating guitar escapades and ride them out with all the thrills and chills of another Thompson classic, "Wall of Death." His first set is likely to be a complete run-through of the new album, followed by a set of vintage Thompson nuggets. 18+. $25. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

MONDAY 11.8

Watain

Station 4

"The gigs are the most righteous manifestations of the forces behind Watain, and we will always see them as a kind of ritual, where the inner spiritual darkness is channeled. Everyone who attends a Watain gig must expect nothing but blood, fire, and blackest death!" That's Watain frontman—principal flagellant and master of rituals is more accurate, really—Erik Danielsson speaking to the gravity with which the band members approach their shows/rituals. Formed in the late 1990s in Uppsala, Sweden, Watain are one of the better examples of "true black metal": mercurially cultish, steadfastly incendiary, and sonically brutal. It's been four years since these northern sons of one dark lord or another have landed on North American soil (hide the children!), and it will undoubtedly be the most accurate expression of the genre you're likely to see this year or the next. With Goatwhore, Black Anvil, Nailed Shut, Under Eden, Australis, and Kidnapped by C Section. 16+. 6:30 p.m. 201 E. Fourth St., St. Paul; 651.298.0173. Andrew Flanagan

TUESDAY 11.9

Danzig

Cabooze

Just hearing the name probably immediately makes you want to start singing "Mother" like you were watching MTV in your basement in 1993, but Danzig are, fortunately, much more than that juggernaut (which was actually on their '88 debut). They have had to fight the "Black Sabbath rip-off" label their entire careers, but Glenn Danzig and company have soldiered on, making metal when it wasn't cool to be a metalhead or in a metal band (that ugly detour into industrial rock on Blackacidevil notwithstanding), and at the very least keeping things interesting. Things slowed down a bit on last year's Deth Red Saboath, but as the band ages, playing at lightning speed would just seem silly and a little sad, really. It still may not be clear what "Lucifuge" is or why teenage girls loved "Mother," but Danzig still put on a show worth checking out, for unlike many of their contemporaries, they seem to have no use for nostalgia. With Possessed, Marduk, Toxic Holocaust, and Withered. 18+. $25/$27 at the door. 6 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Pat O'Brien

Two Hours Traffic

400 Bar

With the long deep freeze of winter about to set in, the timing couldn't be better for Two Hours Traffic to bring their sunny and buoyant melodies to the Cities for the first time and help stave off any incipient seasonal affective disorder. The quartet of twentysomethings hails from Prince Edward Island, a surprisingly sleepy and frigid home base for a band defined by a warm and lively power-pop sound. Over the course of three albums they've gradually refined a winning formula that balances the adenoidal angst and power-chorded crunch of early Fountains of Wayne with overt nods to slick new wave masters like the Cars and the occasional pinch of Californian canyon-rock strumming. Their latest effort, Territory, finds the group still rife with instant-gratification hooks, but features a more varied tone and richer production value than its no-frills forebears. While widely acclaimed in their native Canada, the band remain under-the-radar stateside for now, perhaps because a blogosphere prone to look north for icy artiness and dour sonic drama is unable to wrap its head around a Canadian act whose tunes could provide the perfect soundtrack to a Fourth of July barbecue. 18+. $5. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. Rob van Alstyne

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