Critics' Picks: Japandroids, Deep Blues Festival, the Walkmen, and more


7th St. Entry, Tuesday 7.03

In light of its title, Japandroids' new Celebration Rock bookends its eight tracks with the perfect sound effect: the pop of fireworks. The second album from the Vancouver duo is a legit contender for record of the year based on its irony-free sense of jubilation and the pervasive feeling that these guys are going all-in with this adrenaline rush. Celebration's muddy, cranked-up production only enhances its songwriting's skittish sparkle, constantly reminding you that these tracks will make for A-grade sing-alongs. Plus, this record includes a ferocious cover of the Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy," so let's award Japandroids a couple of bonus points for having great taste and making good on it. With Cadence Weapon. 18+, $15, 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Reyan Ali

The Promise Ring

Japandroids, in post-celebration mode
courtesy of the artists
Japandroids, in post-celebration mode

Varsity Theater, Wednesday 6.27

Now that seemingly every early '90s alt-rock band with a modicum of talent has successfully mounted a cash-in reunion tour, the ever-accelerating pace of pop-culture nostalgia dictates it's time for late-'90s scene kings to make a run at reunited glory. Hence the return of the Promise Ring, not quite a decade removed from their late-2002 dissolution. Notorious for their shape-shifting ways over the course of their seven years together, the Milwaukee quartet helped launch the then-nascent emo rock movement on the strength of early albums like 1997's Nothing Feels Good before eschewing blistering angular-indie angst in favor first of feel-good Weezer-copping power-pop (1999's commercial high-water mark Very Emergency) and later moody folk-rock (2002's unjustly maligned swan song Wood/Water). Reunion gigs thus far have seen set lists spread the love equally between all the phases of TPR's boldly chameleonic career. With Mark Mallman and Grant Hart. 18+, $25, 8 p.m., 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis, 612.604.0222. —Rob Van Alstyne

Emmylou Harris

Minnesota Zoo Amphitheatre, Thursday 6.28

To call Emmylou Harris a great, even iconic country singer is both paying her an ultimate compliment and a bit misleading. Her fine, reedy voice has confirmed her country credentials by making listeners feel every ounce of heartache for years. But Harris also has more eclectic interests, really tapping the breadth and depth of the musical universe for inspiration, making her a visionary artist in scope and insight. She covers the Louvin Brothers, Johnny Ace, and Springsteen, and her vocals have been paired with Dolly Parton, Mark Knopfler, Conor Oberst, and Elvis Costello. Last year's Hard Bargain was unusual in that Harris wrote most of the material, with striking results about mentor Gram Parsons, post-Katrina New Orleans, the murdered Emmett Till, and her late friend Kate McGarrigle. All their spirits will likely swirl around the stage. Opening will be Field Report, a highly touted Milwaukee outfit with a fall album due that's the brainchild of Chris Porterfield, former bandmate of Bon Iver and Megafaun. $58. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 800.745.3000. —Rick Mason

Twin Cities Jazz Festival

St. Paul, Thursday 6.28 Through Saturday 6.30

The 14th T.C. Jazz Fest, a veritable who's who of the increasingly impressive local jazz scene, will flood St. Paul's clubs throughout its three-day run. You can't go wrong with Mary Louise Knutson, the Zacc Harris Group, Connie Evingson, and Cory Wong, all with sparkling new albums in recent months. The high-profile gigs will take place on two free stages: in leafy Mears Park, surrounded by historic buildings, one of the most gorgeous settings of any urban festival, and on the nearby Sixth Street Stage. Three premier local jazz vocalists will grace the Mears main stage: Pipi Ardennia, Charmin Michelle, and Debbie Duncan. They'll be joined by a grand, eclectic cast: Francisco Mela & Cuban Safar is an expansive bop to Afro-Cuban band led by Cuban drummer Mela, who also often plays with McCoy Tyner and Joe Lovano. The trombonist of the famed New Orleans musical family, Delfeayo Marsalis is as equally steeped in jazz tradition and classical training as his father and brothers. He has a lengthy résumé as a producer, is a high-caliber player mentioned in the same breath as J.J. Johnson, and is a talented composer and arranger, as displayed on his recent version of Duke Ellington's Shakespeare-inspired jazz suite "Such Sweet Thunder." The Araya Orta Latin Jazz Quartet is a Miami-based ensemble sporting two sets of brothers who explore the broad spectrum of Latin jazz. Italian violinist Luca Ciarla straddles the junction of jazz, classical, folk, and contemporary music, employing things like a loop machine to push boundaries in all directions. The most anticipated performance of the festival is the collaboration between the Bad Plus, the iconoclastic, genre blurring trio of local origin, and acclaimed tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman. Notices from their previous performances together have been ecstatic, suggesting ferocious displays of fire and ice. The full festival lineup at Free outdoor stages; check individual clubs for admission fees and times. Various locations in downtown St. Paul. —Rick Mason

Brendan Benson

Varsity Theater, Friday 6.29

While still best known for his stint co-fronting the Raconteurs alongside Jack White, Brendan Benson led a rich musical life long before he ever hooked up with Mr. White Stripe, and continues to hit new highs in his post-Raconteurs solo career with the release of this year's What Kind of World. All that time ripping it up with White has definitely shifted Benson's sound somewhat from the days of breezy power-pop masterpieces like 2002's Lapalco. On his fifth solo album, the amps are turned up and bluesy riffs predominate while maintaining Benson's knack for earworm melodies. Despite all the tough-guy Who-styled rockers, however, it's the poignant piano ballad that hits hardest, with present 89.3 the Current staple "Bad for Me" proving Benson just as adept at emulating top-shelf McCartney as he is the Daltrey/Townshend playbook. With Young Hines and the Howling Brothers. 18+, $15, 7 p.m., 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rob Van Alstyne

Deep Blues Festival

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