Critics' Picks: Sims, Blue Sky Blackout, Old 97's, and more

Sims (CD-release)

Saturday 2.19 at Fine Line Music Café

Calling Doomtree Minneapolis's indie-rap analogue to the Wu-Tang Clan might be bordering on cliché at this point—and a somewhat misleading cliché at that. But when you have a huge hip-hop collective cranking out top-notch solo albums at a rate like we've seen over the last couple of years—P.O.S.'s Never Better, Dessa's A Badly Broken Code, Paper Tiger's Made Like Us, and Lazerbeak's Legend Recognize Legend chief amongst them—it's hard not to think of a frozen-North equivalent to the legendary run that came out of Shaolin in '95-'96. Sims's Bad Time Zoo adds on to that impressive streak, with subject matter that touches on the personal-as-political (and vice versa) and the kind of authoritative flow that emphasizes the truth in the familiar. Nobody's safe from his incendiary focus—"less emotion, more emulsion," as he spits in the chorus to "Burn It Down"—and everyone from liberal-lite do-not-enough-gooders ("One Dimensional Man") to pop-chart perpetrators ("Radio Opaque") gets mowed down under a suite of stress-funk Lazerbeak beats and one of the sharpest lyrical blades in Doomtree's Swiss Army knife. Every member of the Doomtree crew is slated to make appearances at tonight's CD-release show, along with local DJ favorite and Bad Time Zoo scratch provider Plain Ole Bill. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. Nate Patrin

Galactic

Wednesday 2.16 at Cabooze

Galactic's furious future funk ties the myriad facets of New Orleans musical tradition—jazz, brass bands, Mardi Gras Indians, the second line—to the contemporary realm of hip hop, acid jazz, rock, and the avant-garde. The band's ever-adventurous core quintet conjures a ferocious groove anchored by extraordinary drummer Stanton Moore and then wanders far and wide, invariably with an extensive guest krewe ranging from Crescent City icons to cutting-edge rappers. Last year's Ya-Ka-May featured the likes of Irma Thomas and Trombone Shorty, plus an array of artists from the Big Easy hip-hop subculture called bounce. This time around Galactic will be joined by Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover and trombonist Corey Henry of the ReBirth Brass Band. Opening will be the Bridge, a Baltimore band with New Orleans and swamp pop inclinations. 18+. $20/$22 at the door. 8 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason

John Devine (CD-release)

Wednesday 2.16 at Loring Pasta Bar

A stalwart of the Twin Cities music scene for several decades, saxophonist and composer John Devine is perhaps most known for IMP ORK, the sizable improvisational ensemble that sometimes worked with the likes of Julius Hemphill and Roscoe Mitchell, as well as for his long tenure playing solo sax at the two incarnations of the Loring Bar. Devine will mark the release of his long overdue album A Little O' That with this performance featuring many of his longtime associates, including cellist Michelle Kinney, trumpeter Jon Pemberton, tuba player Tom Wells, bassist Brock Thorson, and drummer Alden Ikeda. Devine is a superior player whose brawny tone and versatile, often prickly ideas set a strong fulcrum for finely conceived, insinuating original music. There's one smart cover (Monk's "North of the Sunset") on an album that wildly ventures from free jazz maelstroms and post-bop workouts to touches of flamenco, swing, and funk, plus rivulets of sinuous blues, classical, and the avant-garde. Free. 6 p.m. 327 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612.378.4849. —Rick Mason

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Thursday 2.17 at Orchestra Hall

Though they caught the non-Zulu-speaking world's ear a quarter-century ago with Paul Simon, and launched a quarter-century before that, South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo are still magnificent, still unlike anything else, and still led by the scratchy-voiced tenor who imagined their sound in a dream, Joseph Shabalala. Where the sleeve of 1974's third album, Umama Lo!, showed Shabalala and his various brothers and cousins posing with Mom, the a capella choir now includes four of his sons. The forthcoming children's album, Songs from a Zulu Farm, celebrates the rural life of Shabalala's childhood. (It closes with a hilarious and beautiful version of "Old MacDonald.") Yet the zipping, dipping, astoundingly unified sound of these voices together—as synonymous with democratic South Africa as Nelson Mandela—has evolved and reinvented itself over the years, and remains a wonder live. All ages. $22-$50. 7:30 p.m. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.371.5656. Peter S. Scholtes

Blue Sky Blackout (CD-release)

Friday 2.18 at Cause Spirits Soundbar

Jon Hunt is no stranger to Twin Cities music listeners—one of his earliest bands, Lunar 9, landed on our Picked to Click poll in the late '90s—but he brought out the big guns for his latest project, Blue Sky Blackout. Continuing in the vein of sprawling Brit rock that has characterized many of Hunt's other bands, BSB—nothing short of a supergroup—boasts perhaps his biggest sound yet, with former Astronaut Wife member Christian Erickson's booming vocals fronting a three-guitar wall of sound. John Hughes, the EP being unveiled tonight, mixes those ingredients together with an unabashed love for Doctor Who and '80s teen movies with the type of cocksure showmanship that only comes with years of experience. With Grant Cutler and Gorgeous Joe Johnson, Original Mark Edwards, and the Seeks. 21+. $6. 9 p.m. 3001 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.822.600. Jeff Gage

Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band

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