Critics' Picks: Lee "Scratch" Perry, Buck 65, Lil' Kim, and more

Lee "Scratch" Perry

Cedar Cultural Center, WednesDay 5.23

Summing up the career of reggae's greatest living legend, Lee Perry, seems deceptively simple. The Black Ark production genius and early dub pioneer's career collaborations span from the heydays of the Skatalites to Andrew WK. Narrow his backbreaking discography down to a mere sliver — say, 1976-77 — and you've still got Max Romeo's War ina Babylon, Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves, the Congos' Heart of the Congos, the Heptones' Party Time, the Clash's "Complete Control," and the Upsetters' own Super Ape, a streak that feels less like a résumé and more like an atom bomb. In the years since, Scratch has grown into an elder statesman not just of the genre but of music in general. He's an odd but still together goodwill ambassador of life, good times, and the liberating realness of being just a bit eccentric. All ages, $22-$25, 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612.338.2674. —Nate Patrin

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside

Lee "Scratch" Perry is prepared for anything
courtesy of the artist
Lee "Scratch" Perry is prepared for anything

7th St. entry, Wednesday 5.23

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside may appear, at first, to be a little too hipster for their own good. Ford herself is like the proverbial slice of pie from a '50s ad, with a cute little bob, vintage cat-eye frames, and a cardigan sweater to boot. She's got this funky voice that has its own built-in rhythm, and when she's accompanied by her band the Sound Outside, the entire ensemble takes on a distinct rockabilly vibe — with something more. The resulting sound is irresistibly vintage, perfect for a sweet, dewy summer evening. But far be it from Sallie Ford to be all sugar-coated niceties. She may sound like a delightful mid-century relic, but her lyrics and her very legitimate bravado are definitely modern. On 2011's Dirty Radio, Ford challenges the conventions of contemporary radio with her punchy lyrics, intelligent compositions, and startlingly off-kilter personality. With Swallows 18+, $10, 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Natalie Gallagher

Anders Osborne

Varsity Theater, Wednesday 5.23

Swedish-born, but with a true New Orleans soul after more than 25 years' residence, Anders Osborne is a formidable guitarist, singer, and songwriter who has collaborated with the likes of Keb' Mo and Tab Benoit. Additionally, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, and Kim Carnes have all taken his songs up the charts. Osborne is so integral to the New Orleans scene that he can turn up playing with Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, or blues or jazz artists, while all those influences are rolled together with a broad swath of roots, rock, and R&B to constitute his seamless signature sound. He brings it all together on Black Eye Galaxy, his 11th album overall and second for Alligator, an epic accomplishment that marries starkly personal revelations of loneliness and addiction with universal themes of redemption as well as juxtaposing blistering rock, elegant guitar, sweet singer-songwriter fare, and country elements. The album is framed by the thunderous, angst-filled "Send Me a Friend," a harrowing mix of Zeppelin hard rock and searing Mississippi hill-country blues, and the soaring finale, "Higher Ground," a gospel-laced affirmation of hope, co-written with jazz pianist Henry Butler. Osborne will be accompanied by drummer Eric Bolivar and bassist Carl Dufrene. $18-$20, 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. S.E., Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rick Mason

Spencer McGillicutty CD-release show

Triple Rock Social Club, Thursday 5.24

Harkening back to a more innocent pop-music era, youthful quintet Spencer McGillicutty — they're a band, not a person — mine the sounds of early-'60s AM radio gold to produce their present-day melodic riches. The local group's third album, All the Happy People!, swings effortlessly between cotton-candy sweet group sing-alongs and wistful acoustic balladry. Employing a rotating coed cast of four charming lead vocalists and with an ear for precise group harmonies, Spencer McGillicutty's winning sock-hop sounds will prove to be irresistibly winsome ear candy for fans of Wes Anderson soundtracks. And considering that the majority of the artists on the beloved Rushmore soundtrack are buried six feet under or in convalescent homes, this is probably your best shot at enjoying a truly shagadelic live show in 2012. With Brian Just Band, and Paul Spring. 18+, 8 p.m., $5, 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Rob Van Alstyne

M. Ward

First Avenue, Thursday 5.24

After spending three years as a team player in super-groups both large (Monsters of Folk) and small (She & Him), M. Ward made a welcome return to solo artistry and sonic minimalism last month with the release of his seventh album, A Wasteland Companion. Keeping with its dystopian title, the collection of songs sees the critically feted troubadour turning his back on the sunny AM pop sounds of She & Him and returning to the plaintive finger-picked folk on which he initially made his mark. Lead single "Primitive Girl," with its catchy piano-driven groove, is ultimately a red herring. The bulk of Wasteland finds Ward where he's always belonged: croaking cryptic tales of disappointment atop technically stunning acoustic guitar work. Expect Ward and his group of longtime collaborators to lean heavily on boisterous full-band numbers, but here's hoping he saves room for at least a few of his latest bummed-out solo-acoustic masterpieces. With Chris Scruggs. 18+, 6 p.m., $22, 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rob Van Alstyne

Buck 65

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