Critics' Picks: Deerhoof, Built to Spill, GZA, and more


Mill City Nights, Sunday 9.23

The idiosyncratic San Franciscan noise-pop quartet Deerhoof have been expanding the musical palettes of their fans for nearly 20 years now. The always unpredictable band have continued to experiment over the years, transitioning from the raw, unbridled adventurousness of their early work to a bit more conventional, but still strange, sonic arrangements on the just-released Breakup Song. But no matter what distinctive sound the band is searching for, they always inject their ebullient songs with plenty of fun, a collective feeling that they easily transfer to every audience they play for. Drummer Greg Saunier describes the new album as "Cuban-flavored party-noise-energy music," and it's indeed a collection that keeps you on your toes. With Buke and Gase. 18+, $15, 7 p.m. 111 Fifth St. N., Minneapolis, 612.333.3422. —Erik thompson

Built to Spill

Things are looking up for Deerhoof
Elias Gwinn
Things are looking up for Deerhoof

First Avenue, Wednesday 9.19

The guys in Built to Spill don't need to write any more albums. They've already earned their place in indie-rock heaven. After records like Keep It Like a Secret and Perfect From Now On, you could make the argument that Built to Spill distilled jangling guitar anthems into a perfect equation: layers of virtuoso strumming plus wistful melodies plus knowing winks to music history equals bliss. Frontman Doug Martsch might as well be the patron saint of bearded rock nerds, and seeing him jam with his band in a live setting might leave you thinking that you really did see that halo. That kind of religious experience is well worth the price of admission. With Helvetia and Sister Crayon. 18+, $20, 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

The Heavy

Fine Line, Wednesday 9.19

The English neo-soul quartet the Heavy take their name seriously, often favoring thunderous rhythm section assaults that shake the plaster and revive the anachronistic concept of heavy rock. But the band members also embrace a far broader array of vintage and contemporary elements in forging their familiar yet distinctive sound, ranging from garage rock to swampy blues and gospel. The Heavy, incidentally, are responsible for the 2009 song "How You Like Me Now?" which seemed to be appropriated by dozens of movies, commercials, TV shows, and even Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign. Anyway, the Heavy's new album, The Glorious Dead, is an adrenaline-laced hoot, highlighted by "What Makes a Good Man?," a dazzling mash of frontman Kelvin Swaby's over-the-top testifying, a blazing Georgia gospel choir, psychedelic strings, searing electric guitar, and crashing drums. Which is definitely what's to like about 'em now. With the Silent Comedy. 18+, $15-$17, 8:30 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Rick Mason


First Avenue, Thursday 9.20

Though he's purportedly at work on a metaphysics-inspired, Neil deGrasse Tyson-aided new album, original Wu-Tang Clansman GZA is also currently touring 1995's Liquid Swords, often considered the first classic Wu solo outing and one of rap's all-time greats. A mostly RZA-produced set of bass-heavy, minimal slices of grimy NYC boom-bap, it's an album replete with some of the densest cautionary tales to ever emerge from the Big Apple: "Killah Hills 10304" details the hard-knock life of a drug dealer (the first line tells you as much), while "I Gotcha Back" is a five-minute meditation on the nature of crime. Also performing are Killer Mike, whose R.A.P. Music is one of the few 2012 records anywhere near Liquid Swords' level; Sweet Valley, the instrumental-rap project of Wavves' Nathan Williams and brother Joel; and Brooklyn post-punks Bear Hands. 18+, $20, 7 p.m., 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Mike Madden

Silversun Pickups

State Theatre, Thursday 9.20

At this point, Silversun Pickups don't seem to care about killer hooks. They're focused on creating a particular atmosphere, relying on pregnant prog-rock swells and '90s guitar crunch to provide the pressure. It all serves to conjure images of an alternate reality where grunge grew wings, soaring and moping and roaring like the king of some flannel jungle. The L.A. quartet has been working hard for 10 years to keep the "alternative" tag alive, and if you wish that there was less irony and more good ol' Clinton-era angst in your modern rock, you should be in attendance. Bonus: You'll probably get to hear the massively awesome "Lazy Eye," too. With School of Seven Bells and Atlas Genius. $30, 7 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 800.982.2787. —Ian Traas


The 400 Bar, Friday 9.21

While ranking among Canada's biggest rock bands throughout the latter half of the '90s, Sloan never took off in the States, likely because their classicist power-pop, with its shiny and airy sound, was woefully out-of-step with the aggressive alt-rock dominating American airwaves at the time. The passing of time, however, has led to a fervent cult following for the Halifax-birthed quartet, the rare band whose members equally share the songwriting and singing spotlight. Having released 10 studio albums in their 20 years together, the typically forward-looking foursome are taking a stroll down memory lane on their current tour, where they're performing their much-loved 1994 sophomore album, Twice Removed, in its entirety in addition to other north-of-the-border hits. 18+, $15, 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Rob Van Alstyne


Fine Line Music Café, Friday 9.21

The Seer, Swans' 12th studio album overall and second following their 1997-2010 hiatus, is very possibly the lead candidate for this year's boldest full-length musical statement. At two hours and just 11 songs in length, it's an almost impossibly ambitious record, with one track ("The Seer") extending beyond a half-hour and two others ("A Piece of the Sky" and "Apostate") that aren't much shorter. On the strength of walloping chunks of industrial clang and propulsive freak-outs (plus a Karen O-featuring ballad, "Song for the Warror"), frontman Michael Gira and his feral flock have created the most transcendent record of their collective career. With Xiu Xiu. 18+, $20, 8 p.m., 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Mike Madden

Ariel Pink

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