Critics' Picks: Aretha Franklin, Battles, 4onthefloor, and more

The Sudden Lovelys celebrate a prolific year
Vanessa Meade

The Sudden Lovelys (triple CD-release show)

Ritz Theater on Thursday 10.6

Based on quantity of output alone, the Sudden Lovelys have had an impressive run so far: Since forming in February of last year, acoustic duo Danny Ferraro and Paige Prescher have recorded an EP and three full-length albums together. What's even more impressive, though, is that their band name rings true through the dozens of tracks on these albums—they are, seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly quite lovely indeed. Ferraro's modest guitar playing and Prescher's airy soprano are the main focus of their full-length debut, Red Rose in a Yellow Army, released in February, which was followed by two more LPs, Liquid Silver and Big White Circle. Though the albums were recorded within months of one another, you can hear Ferraro and Prescher gaining confidence on their later releases, Ferraro driving the momentum with a stomping foot and his low, growling voice. As a body of work, the three albums tell the narrative of a couple discovering each other musically, and it's a beautiful story to behold. For their triple CD-release show, they will be playing two sets and issuing all three volumes on vinyl. With Bill Patten and Midnight Social Hour. All ages. $8/$10 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.436.1129. —Andrea Swensson

Aretha Franklin

Mystic Lake Casino on Friday 10.7

She's still the inimitable Queen of Soul, and at age 69 apparently is hale and hearty a year after mysterious health problems and a hospitalization sparked widespread but fortunately premature death knells. She issued a new, self-produced album, A Woman Falling Out of Love, this spring, but it was physically available only at an obnoxious big-box retailer and garnered decidedly mixed reviews. But she also hit the road in May and has been greeted with generally ecstatic notices that praise the enduring power and suppleness of her remarkable voice. Those wondrous, gospel-soaked, Memphis-bred pipes have served her exceedingly well through her long career, still highlighted by the incomparable string of soul classics she put out through the '60s and early '70s. Songs like "Respect," "Chain of Fools," "Think," and a handful of others are essentially cultural touchstones, both irresistible music and reflections of the liberating spirit of their era. All ages. $69-$79. 8 p.m. 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake; 800.262.7799. —Rick Mason

The 4onthefloor and Those Darlins

Weisman Art Museum on Friday 10.7

The Tennessee openers for this free, all-ages show at the Weisman Art Museum are one of the great new sounds of the year: wobbly cowpunk-garage guitar, girl-group harmonies, and the cat-growl lead vocals of Jessi Darlin, a genuine original who could be Joan Jett's nasally Southern niece. (She trades lead with other band members, including Jagger-ish drummer Linwood Regensburg, on this year's wonderful Screws Get Loose.) The Minneapolis headliners are a feverish live buzzband with a blues-rock attack to rival the Black Keys or the Black-Eyed Snakes, but with a deep-voiced singer, Gabe Douglas, who sounds like he could swallow Jim Morrison, Glenn Danzig, and Jeffrey Lee Pierce in a single gulp. All ages. Free. 8 p.m. 333 East River Pkwy., Minneapolis; 612.625.9494. —Peter S. Scholtes

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Pantages Theatre on Saturday 10.8

The Beck-produced Mirror Traffic is Malkmus's songiest album since his solo debut, with none of the extended jams and few of the intricate unison figures that turned up on his last three records. There's still lots of cool guitar, though, usually in fuzzy tones evocative of belly-button lint. The songs are tuneful, funny, often slapdash, and attractively crooned, shouted, or treated to one of rock's most wonderfully off falsettos. The former Pavement frontman's interest in beauty has always been as sincere as his indifference to typical singer-songwriterly self-expression, and though nothing here matches the pretty heights of solo near-ballads such as "Church on White" or "Out of Reaches," a few—"Share the Red" and "Fall Away," for two—come close. And the guy's now decades-strong resistance to self-importance is casually heroic. With Holy Sons. $25. 6:30 p.m. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Dylan Hicks


Fine Line Music Cafe on Saturday 10.8

Much of Gloss Drop, Battles' second LP, sounds like some extraterrestrial circus dropped into feverish Carnaval on a surrealistic Caribbean island. Complex, cerebral, and often dense with textural adventures, Battles' music nevertheless brews frothy exuberance that's highly infectious, essentially twisting musical equations into funhouse enigmas rising from a boiling cauldron of prog rock, techno, synth pop, and avant-metal. Plenty more rockets about too, especially the almost pervasive effervescence of steel drums (although probably played on synths), all of it magnificently driven by John Stanier's constantly shifting and evolving grooves. Between 2007's Mirrored and this spring's Gloss Drop, Battles reverted to an instrumental trio following the departure of Tyondi Braxton, whose quirky vocal effects were a key Battles ax. Gloss Drop's tracks are teeming with so many dimensions they're hardly missed, but just in case, a few vocalists were recruited, including synth-pop pioneer Gary Numan on the throttling "My Machines" and techno producer Matias Aguayo on the shimmery experimental-pop nugget "Ice Cream." With Walls. 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Rick Mason

A Fearless Female Function with Desdamona

Fine Line Music Cafe on Sunday 10.9

As part of a new monthly series curated by Fine Line booker and Book of Right On frontman David Joe Holiday, this series (for which the full title is "Who You Calling a Bitch?: A Fearless Female Function") will cull from the vast pool of talented female musicians, artists, and business owners in the Twin Cities, starting with this kickoff featuring headliner Desdamona. With a sick new single, "The Comeback," under her belt, Desdamona should get this series off to the right start—in addition to organizing the annual B-Girl Be festival, which celebrates and empowers female hip-hop artists, Desdamona is in the midst of an impressive series of posts on her blog called "365 Days of Female MCs," which will profile a few hundred different badass female rappers. She's already up to 157, and she's just getting warmed up. The first installment of the Fearless Female Function will also feature R&B singer Alicia Steele and her band the Endeavors, plus powerhouse jazz vocalist Rookai. 21+. $4. 7 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Andrea Swensson

Minus the Bear

Varsity Theater on Monday 10.10

Bands can seem like celebrity couples sometimes: Most don't stay together very long. That's not so for Seattle band Minus the Bear, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary. In honor of this feat, the band will be integrating a performance of their 2002 debut album, Highly Refined Pirates, in its entirety into their set on this tour. Thrown in the mix are pieces from their most recent release, OMNI, which singer/guitarist Jake Snider professes is "a real leap forward. It's an impactful sounding record." Guitarist Dave Knudson adds, "One of the things we wanted to do was capture more of the live energy. We feel like the live show is really where you get to see what we're doing"—and the live show is where the band shines. Opening will be the Velvet Teen. All ages. $20. 6 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Youa Vang

Ziggy Marley

First Avenue on Tuesday 10.11

Contending with the monumental legacy of his late father apparently hasn't been an enduring issue for eldest son Ziggy Marley, who has embraced roots reggae while occasionally incorporating pop, rock, and hip-hop elements. For a couple of decades, Ziggy led his family band, the Melody Makers, to popular and critical acclaim (particularly 1988's Conscious Party), then recently issuing a series of solo albums. His new Wild and Free is not only predominantly roots reggae, it also taps Ziggy's hereditary activist streak, addressing broad social and political justice issues. The title track very specifically calls for the legalization of marijuana, written in support of last year's failed California Proposition 19 with famed pot advocate Woody Harrelson, who makes a cameo on the song. Weed aside, Ziggy and vet producer Don Was have come up with an album that spliffs the difference between reggae's engaging classic hitch and Ziggy's contemporary identity. With Leon Mobley. 18+. $25. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Rick Mason

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