Ben Kweller, Fujiya & Miyagi, and more

Ben Kweller, adapting to his new country lifestyle
courtesy ATO Records


Fujiya & Miyagi

7th St. Entry

In an exceptional lineup for such an easily packed venue, Fujiya & Miyagi will be joined by School of Seven Bells Wednesday night at the 7th St. Entry. Led by former Secret Machine Benjamin Curtis, School of Seven Bells continue touring in support of 2008's celebrated Alpinismsan, which recently had the band playing to a packed Triple Rock Social Club with M83. Rounding out their last few American dates before heading overseas, School of Seven Bells will open for Fujiya & Miyagi, a group the Twin Cities saw last fall playing First Avenue's mainroom. The shift to the smaller venue is far from indicative of the group's ongoing success, however; though failing to match the breakout success of 2006's Transparent Things, last year's offering from Fujiya & Miyagi, Lightbulbs, matches Alpinisms in modern electronic flair. 18+. $13/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Chris DeLine




Varsity Theater

Oh, Cleveland...the city that could have but didn't. Lovedrug's sound mirrors the industrial wasteland it calls home. There's no better scenery in the nation to inspire songs titled "Bleed Together," "Blood Like," and "Dying Days." The music is a downer, sure, but it rides the economic tailspin with elegance, punctuating shot-out streetlights with its cascading beauty. Pulsating guitars twirl above a somber piano. Michael Shepard's Muse-ish vocals nestle in the range of eerie to ethereal. Overall, Lovedrug's tone is steeped in a drama best draped by the Varsity's thick, velvet curtains. It's not going to get better, folks. We might as well drain our change jars and go listen to Lovedrug sing songs about funerals. But they're pretty songs about funerals. With Now, Now Every Children and ReadyGoes. All ages. $10/$12 at the door. 6 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Erin Roof




Uptown Bar & Cafe

A onetime tank commander in the Israeli army, Ami Shalev now leads Monotonix around the world on a tireless touring schedule. Not to downplay the band's blistering rock, but the Tel Aviv trio might be best known for its raucous stage show, which perfectly translates the intensity of Shalev's former position. If the band's last stop in town, playing with Gay Witch Abortion and the Guystorm, is any indication, the Uptown Bar is in for a showcase of sweaty acrobatics and bloodcurdling howls. Accompanying the band for its first of two Minneapolis shows on the current tour will be Vampire Hands, the Millionth Word, and Condo$. 21+. $10. 9 p.m. 3018 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.823.4719. Also Saturday, with the God Damn Doo Wop Band and Fuck Knights. —Chris DeLine

Delta Spirit

7th St. Entry

Emerging from the wreckage of the emo band Noise Ratchet, the San Diego quintet Delta Spirit headed rootsward, picking up few specifics of the Mississippi Delta per se, but conjuring a ragged fervor that's equal parts folkie-protest, punk, inebriated English music hall, melodic Brit-pop, and vintage SoCal rock. As such, Delta Spirit's August debut, Ode to Sunshine, initially evokes mid-period Kinks, including Ray Davies-like musings on acoustic-driven tunes like "Tomorrow Goes Away" and "Trashcan," with twisted piano tinkling. The anthemic "People C'mon" has a Kinks-sized sing-along chorus, but by this time Matt Vasquez has stirred his voice into a raspy howl. Elsewhere there are echoes of the Waterboys, while the gorgeous "Strange Vine" fuses soulful Vasquez vocals with jangly guitar out of Bakersfield via Dick Dale and Roger McGuinn. These guys are reputedly killers live, and moreover seem to have found a vital avant-roots pulse that could take them far. Opening will be Other Lives, an Oklahoma quintet whose debut is due in April, reportedly blending folk and Brit prog rock. 18+. $10. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason



Yer Cronies

Triple Rock Social Club

For those Valentine's Day castaways, nothing gives you better chances for lad or lady luck than a dimly lit space with multiple-stalled bathrooms and, of course, moderately priced liquor. You won't be able to see her crooked teeth, and you won't notice his generous man tits. Plus, you won't care. It's Valentine's Day, goddamnit. Yer Cronies present the perfect soundtrack to really inappropriate public promiscuity. It sets the mood. Vocals are languid. Guitars and piano lull like Amnesiac-era Radiohead. And most of the songs are slow enough that you won't have to embarrass yourself by trying to dance. Even if you don't find the right one-night stand, you still get an evening of pretty music. Awww. Everyone wins. With the Absent Arch and Tentacle Boy. 21+. $6. 10 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7499. —Erin Roof

Valentine's Day Show

7th St. Entry

Local music fans, whether lovelorn or lucky in love, won't find a better Valentine's Day bill than this one. Chris Koza is an affable troubadour whose wry indie-folk is showcased on his latest release, The Dark, Delirious Morning. The ubiquitous Velvet Lapelles rode a wave of praise into the new year with their debut, Orange Peels & Rattlesnakes, on which Lucy Michelle's singular croon adorns a bevy of plaintive ballads and raucous sing-alongs sure to warm the hearts of even the most cynical Valentines. Big Trouble, known for rotating in guest members from the local scene, round out the evening. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jake Mohan



Thomas Mapfumo & Blacks Unlimited

The Cedar

A giant of African music, Thomas Mapfumo essentially wrote the soundtrack for the independence movement that transformed the white government of Rhodesia into the nation of Zimbabwe. For his efforts, he was jailed by the regime of Ian Smith and had his music silenced, but emerged triumphant, honored as the Lion of Zimbabwe, only to eventually run afoul of the Mugabe government for his outspoken criticism of corruption. Transcending all the politics is Mapfumo's wonderfully intoxicating music, which he dubbed "chimurenga," variously translated as "struggle" or "liberation war." He created it by reworking the traditional rhythms and melodies that had been played on the mbira or thumb piano for guitar, at the same time writing new material that eschewed Western pop and tapped traditional sounds but with fresh themes. Mapfumo and his family currently live in exile in Oregon, his music again banned by Mugabe in Zimbabwe. But he continues to write and record, reportedly recently working on a new album in South Africa. With DJ Paul Harding. $20/$22 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason



Sophie Milman

Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

Born in Russia, raised mostly in Israel, finally settling in Canada in her teens, Sophie Milman burst on the jazz scene in her early 20s with a sly and sultry sophistication seemingly beyond her years but maybe not her international experience. With a breathy, soulful approach that seems to naturally settle into samba, a pop song recast with jazzy nuances, a knowing scat run, or the breadth of jazz standards, Milman handles mature music and emotion with aplomb, adding her own shadowy tones in the bargain. Her quartet—pianist Paul Shrofel, bassist Kieran Overs, saxophonist Chet Doxas, drummer Mark McLain—is equally lithe and resourceful. Milman's second album, 2007's Make Someone Happy, was a worldwide hit and won a Canadian Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. She's reportedly gathering material for her third. $25 at 7 p.m.; $20 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Tuesday. —Rick Mason



Ben Kweller

Varsity Theater

A warning to Ben Kweller fans: His new record is a departure from his usual extremely catchy indie pop songsmithing. That Kweller sound is evolving into something very different, at least for the time being. If you combine dobro, piano, perfectly mournful pedal steel, and sawdust from the honky-tonk floor, you come close to the wistful, sweet, and sad alt-countryish melodies of his newest, Changing Horses. And the Varsity is always the perfect place to appreciate expertly crafted and thoughtful tunes. Tuesday's double bill is bound to be a beautiful night of music, especially with the gorgeous melodies of openers the Watson Twins, who made a name for themselves singing out on Jenny Lewis's solid Rabbit Fur Coat in '06. Their own release, Fire Songs, was a pretty, chilled-out, overlooked gem of last year. 18+. $20. 7:30 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Jen Paulson

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