Amos Lee, the Bangles, Apples in Stereo: Critics' Picks

Los Campesinos! headline the Mainroom this weekend

Los Campesinos! headline the Mainroom this weekend


Amos Lee

Varsity Theater

Mixing together R&B and folk influences, former elementary school teacher Amos Lee has a soulful voice and plaintive songwriting style that conjure the likes of Bill Withers and James Taylor. The Philadelphia native's thoughtful, easy-listening brand of music has seen him collaborate with kindred spirit and Blue Note stable-mate Norah Jones and tour with legends Bob Dylan and John Prine. In fact, while Lee's smooth, husky vocals and simple, jazzy arrangements place him comfortably in the world of coffeehouse soul, he also displays a knack for exploring evocative, socially conscious realms with a true author's touch; songs like "Careless" and "Night Train" find him in the same tradition as his folk heroes. Such a balance has allowed the singer to make a lasting impression and earn a devoted following that remains strong five years after his debut: Even though Lee hasn't released an album since 2008's Last Days at the Lodge, his show at the Varsity sold out weeks ago. With Tift Merritt. 18+. $28. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Jeff Gage


The Bangles

Fine Line Music Café

Although the Bangles are mostly associated with the 1980s, when their irresistible songs leapt out of the radio, their sound was largely derived from the '60s. Jangly guitars, heady vocal harmonies inspired by the likes of the Mamas and the Papas, quasi-psychedelic garage arrangements, a serious infatuation with all Brit invasion things, and incredible hooks the size of T-Rex (dinosaur and band alike) all helped the quartet lead the power-pop parade. Band members wrote their share of nuggets, but many of the Bangles' signature tunes were written by others: Kimberly Rew's Beatles-obsessed "Going Down to Liverpool," Prince's "Manic Monday," Liam Sternberg's "Walk Like an Egyptian," plus sharp covers of Simon and Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter," Alex Chilton's "September Gurl," and Jules Shear's "If She Knew What She Wants." The Bangles' prime was relatively short-lived, the band messily disintegrating before the end of the decade. But the group reconvened late in the '90s with all hands on deck: Susanna Hoffs, Debbie and Vicki Peterson, and Michael Steele, although Steele eventually retired, bass currently being covered Abby Travis. The group issued a live hit-laden DVD, and a new album, Doll Revolution, came out to middling reviews in 2003, but not much else amid talk of new projects. The Bangles were very much a band of the moment, and they recreate that moment with joy and exuberance. With Sick of Sarah. 21+. $25/$27 at the door. 7 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Rick Mason


The Business

Triple Rock

The guys in the Business don't care about your haircut. They don't care about posing, the scene, or being hip—that stuff just takes time away from the important things like soccer and rock 'n' roll. When punk in England started veering too close to "art," the Business (and other working-class kids with guitars) set out to drag it back down to reality, proudly wearing blue collars soaked in the blood and beer of football riots. Their approach remains simple: take bits of punk, pub rock, and stadium chants and turn them into anthems about the everyday struggle at the docks, in the bars, and on the streets. Punk rock has gone through countless changes since the Business formed, but they've never stopped making the kind of no-nonsense, no-frills fight music that they started with over 30 years ago (they've even released a new EP). True to form for such a band, the Business are still lacing up their Doc Martens, still rowdy, and still doing their job. With the Hollowpoints. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Ian Traas


The Apples in Stereo

Turf Club

Sunny psych-pop indie stalwarts the Apples in Stereo started off as one of the leading lights in the famed Elephant 6 recording collective, which in its mid-'90s heyday also boasted the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel and the Olivia Tremor Control and later gave rise to Of Montreal. Having gone to high school with Jeff Mangum and William Cullen Hart, the Apples' prolific, endearingly nerdy leader, Robert Schneider, has long shared a love for the jangling rock of the Beatles and the Zombies with his old cohorts, splicing it with dancy electronic bleeps and bloops, which makes for a fun, often whimsical listening experience. On the band's last album, 2007's catchy New Magnetic Wonder, Schneider concocted an elaborate tuning system that he referred to as the "Non-Pythagorean Music Scale," but on the Apples' new release, he keeps things simple: The funky beats on Travellers in Space and Time are straight-up four on the floor. With Generationals and Laminated Cat. 21+. $15. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Jeff Gage

Los Campesinos!

First Avenue

Wales seven-piece Los Campesinos! jam-pack about as much youthful exuberance as you can imagine into their shambling indie rock. Shouting more than singing over the rest of his band, frontman Gareth Campesinos helped characterize the brash, playful demeanor of their debut, Hold on Now, Youngster, with his clever, snarling vocals, which were transformed into jubilant sing-alongs at virtually every opportunity. Barely six months later came We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, which followed the now-familiar path of the "dark" sophomore album; while the rest of his Campesinos! remained as frantic as ever, Gareth slipped into a self-absorbed, world-weary funk, the combination making for a desperate-sounding state of affairs. Three years on from their initial, sunny blast into stardom, the band cut down on shouting and wordplay on Romance Is Boring while smoothing out the edges of their signature sound. Rest assured, though: These Brits haven't grown up so much as they've learned to pace themselves. 18+. $12. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jeff Gage

Shelby Lynne

Dakota Jazz Club

Ten years after definitively establishing both her artistic vision and independence with the release of I Am Shelby Lynne, the former Nashville up-and-comer who chafed at the country establishment's constraints has reached another watershed with her latest album, Tears, Lies, and Alibis. Lynne wrote all the material and produce it herself, with a deft, economic touch that maximizes the lyrics' resonance, and it's the initial release on her own label, Everso. I Am and subsequent albums showed her to be far more eclectic than Nashville would allow—with a country element certainly, but also major doses of Southern soul and gospel inhabiting a voice that can be laid-back and sultry, sad and reflective, tough and resilient. TL&A's "Old Dog" is a sinewy, driving blues. "Old #7" could be a Patsy Cline outtake. "Alibi" is a soulful ballad about infidelity that Lynne sings with fluctuating degrees of regret, resignation, and jealousy, but no self-pity. "Family Tree" is a darker, stormier response to a "callous heart" with a gospel-bluegrass windup. Among those contributing to the gorgeous arrangements were drummer Kenny Malone and a pair of Muscle Shoals aces: keyboardist Spooner Oldham and the late bassist David Hood. Opening will be Yorkshire native Findlay Brown, whose U.S. debut, Love Will Find You, features dramatic, over-the-top ballads billowing with Brown's compelling, crooning emulations of Roy Orbison and Elvis. $35-$45. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason


Al Kooper Tribute feat. Al Kooper

Dakota Jazz Club

This unique, somewhat peculiar but brilliantly conceived event will gather some of the Twin Cities' premier musicians to pay tribute to keyboardist, guitarist, songwriter, and producer Al Kooper, whose uncanny presence and participation in landmark events over the past half-century have made him the rock equivalent of Forrest Gump or Zelig. His long association with Bob Dylan includes playing the prominent organ part on "Like a Rolling Stone" and being in the band when Dylan "went electric" at Newport. He also played on the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," the Who's Sell Out, Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, and George Harrison's Beatles reminiscence "All Those Years Ago." He was a member of the Blues Project, founded Blood, Sweat & Tears and came up with the groundbreaking concept for their first album, discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd and produced their first three albums, and wrote songs covered by everyone from Gary Lewis and Gene Pitney to Carmen McRae and Freddie Cannon. And that barely scratches the surface. The Honeydogs' Adam Levy, a Kooper friend for a decade, organized the thing and coaxed Kooper to town for only the second time in his 52-year career (the first was an early-'80s Guthrie show with Dylan). With Levy leading the band (including fellow 'dogs Peter Sands, Trent Norton, and Steve Kung), the first set will be a who's-who of local singers (John Munson, Allison Scott, Ashleigh Still, Dave Campbell, Kevin Bowe, Martin Devaney, Kate Murray, Paul Metsa, Eric Koskinen, Jack Ventimiglia, Alicia Wiley) airing out the Kooper canon. The second set will be Kooper himself, playing solo and with the band. "I've never done anything like this before," Kooper said by phone last week. "It's very flattering and I'm very curious about it. And I'm really looking forward to it." $45. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason


Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now!

Turf Club

At first you might mistake the name of this new band featuring Art Brut singer Eddie Argos for a joke about French collaboration under the Nazis (a Broadway musical adaptation of The Sorrow and the Pity?). But the concept here is more car-game playful and inane: Conceived on a road trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco by the deadpan Londoner and pianist-backup vocalist Dyan Valdés of L.A.'s the Blood Arm, Fixin' the Charts, Vol. 1 is an album of answer tracks to famous pop songs—replying to Avril Lavigne's relationship-wrecking "Girlfriend," for instance, with the upbeat but concerned "GIRLFRIEN (You Know I've Got a)." So the tune with the title chorus is an oblique response to "Creeque Alley" by the Mamas and the Papas. Really, it's all an excuse to hear Argos in a new pop argot, namely a pale version of the Magnetic Fields that makes me miss the shapely guitar riffs of Art Brut. But he's compelling enough to see live in whatever happens to sweep him up. With Duke of Dark. 21+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Peter S. Scholtes