Critics' Picks: De La Soul, Fountains of Wayne, Lights, and more

Turn on the Lights in here, baby
Matt Barnes


Varsity Theater, Thursday 4.26

Toronto electro-pop success story Lights (born Valerie Poxleitner) has certainly flourished after touring and recording with Owl City a few years ago. Now she has her own legion of dedicated fans in both her native Canada and the U.S. This intimate show at the Varsity will allow Lights' growing local audience a chance to get up close and personal with the material on her bold new record, Siberia, an album that finds the former Juno Best New Artist award winner more confident and cheerful as she grows into both her success and her spiraling, textured sound. Whether her longtime pal Adam Young drops in on this show is anyone's guess. With Ambassadors. All ages, $14-$16 doors, 6 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Erik Thompson

Snow Patrol/Ed Sheeran


Snow Patrol still perform mostly moody rock grandeur on their sixth album, Fallen Empires, despite much-discussed efforts to stir up the Irish/Scottish quintet with infusions of electronics and dance beats. Both have slim influences on the band's established sound, generally on the first half of Empires: Pulsing electronics kick off "I'll Never Let You Go," while friskier, albeit generic rhythms turn up on "Called Out in the Dark." Still, Snow Patrol mostly stick to their well-honed formula of melancholic musing on a grand scale, lacking the U2 Irish soul they apparently aspire to, but nonetheless crafting hooks to accompany the emotional lyrics. Most impressive are the relatively low-key ballad "Those Distant Bells," with Lissie joining Gary Lightbody, and the surprisingly edgy title track. Opening will be English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who has drawn critical accolades for his acoustic mix of folk, pop, and hip hop, and was something of a sensation on his home turf last year for his single "The A Team." $37. 7:30 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

Ezra Furman

7th St. Entry, Thursday 4.26

Ezra Furman is equally in his element earnestly crooning an acoustic ditty as he is barking like a punk-rock madman over roaring electric guitars. Over the course of three albums with the Harpoons, the singer-songwriter has gradually honed both sides of his musical persona. Last year's woefully overlooked Mysterious Power boasts both a top-shelf heart-on-sleeve ballad ("Don't Turn Your Back on Love") and highly acidic post-punk anthem ("I Killed Myself But I Didn't Die" is the best song the Pixies' Black Francis never wrote). Flying solo for the first time on 2012's The Year of No Returning, Furman continues to expand his sound, bringing his reedy voice to material echoing rock's formative years ("That's When It Hit Me" plays like punk-rock Buddy Holly) and its genre-blurring present. Fans of eccentric and impassioned performers take note: Ezra Furman is a maverick ready and waiting to be your new love. With Chamberlin and Brian Laidlaw. 18+, $10, 8 p.m., 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rob Van Alstyne


Dakota Jazz Club, Thursday 4.26

Nashville collective Lambchop, one of the more lovably eccentric acts in Americana, have made outstanding records over the course of two decades that range from upbeat and epic (2000's Nixon), to snail-paced and spare (2006's Damaged). The sole constant in all the sonic shifts is frontman Kurt Wagner, a gifted lyricist whose oblique character sketches, delivered in an understated hangdog croon, provide an arty anchor for his band's airier orchestral leanings. Lambchop's latest, the elegant Mr. M., dresses up Wagner's caustic musings in syrupy strings and dulcet piano melodies, with just enough detours into weird ambient waters for the band to retain their place as the warped easy-listening masters in the indie-rock clubhouse. With Grant Hart. 18+, $25, 7 p.m., 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rob Van Alstyne

De La Soul

The Cabooze, Friday 4.27

One of the most enduring hip-hop acts going, De La Soul were always quick to emphasize what separated their offbeat positivity from soft-batch hippiedom. If the Funkadelic-driven "Me, Myself and I" was the first salvo, 1991's daisy-cutting De La Soul Is Dead was the master thesis. By the time they had their biggest crossover appearance with Gorillaz on 2005's "Feel Good Inc.," they'd shared mic time with everyone from Brick City maniac Redman ("Oooh") to funk icon Chaka Khan ("All Good") to indie-rap contemporary MF DOOM ("Rock Co.Kane Flow"). This year's excellent side project First Serve features members Posdnous and Dave on some conceptual alternate-identity hip-hopera business. But word is that Maseo is also still with De La proper, and that a reunion's in the works with Prince Paul, the producer who helped make their first three albums into tour-de-force classics. The tentative title: You're Welcome. 18+, $23-$25, 9 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis, 612.338.6425. —Nate Patrin

School of Seven Bells/Exitmusic

Triple Rock Social Club, Friday 4.27

After morphing from the ashes of Secret Machines and On!Air!Library!, School of Seven Bells have seen their share of change over the years. The band is now a duo, with guitarist Benjamin Curtis and vocalist Alejandra Deheza crafting a stellar third record, Ghostory, by shifting their focus along with their writing style. The results are often mesmerizing, as Curtis's textured guitar strains glide over the top of the songs' intoxicating synth beats and melodies, and Deheza's mellifluous vocals soaring above it all. New York City's Exitmusic make a quick return to Minneapolis after a stellar opening set for the Joy Formidable last month. 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Erik Thompson

Fountains of Wayne

Varsity Theater, Saturday 4.28

Veteran power-poppers Fountains of Wayne are settling comfortably into the role of respected elder statesmen. They can gleefully cash royalty checks from the nine-year-old "Stacy's Mom" but have garnered enough critical cache and loyal cult followers to never be labeled has-beens. The band's first album in four years, Sky Full of Holes, finds the songwriting team of Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood continuing to write what they know. On their 1996 debut, that meant chronicling twentysomething angst; 2003's Welcome Interstate Managers was a song cycle largely revolving around the drabness of spending one's 30s locked in a cubicle. Now on the wrong side of 40, the pair use their latest long-player to look back wistfully on their youth and embrace middle-age melancholia. Covering such downbeat topics as friends turned into depressive recluses ("Hate to See You Like This") and decaying family vacation homes ("The Summer Place"), the whole affair would be downright depressing if it weren't set to the band's usual brand of razor-sharp and super-shiny rock. With Nicole Atkins. 18+, $22-$25, 7 p.m., 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rob Van Alstyne

Frankie Rose/Dive


After cutting her musical teeth as a member of fuzz-pop garage bands like the Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose assembled a band and in 2010 issued the eponymous Frankie Rose and the Outs, which relied on a litany of '60s pop artifacts. With the release of Interstellar, Rose has chronologically advanced a couple of decades, now embracing chilly, epic synth pop heavily influenced by '80s bands like New Order and the Cure. As a drummer, Rose appreciates a pulse, and the best tunes here have intriguing ones that pull the spatial oddities earthward: the pounding thunder that ignites the frigid striations of the title track, the Mick Fleetwood-like gallop of "Gospel/Grace," the nervous guitar-drums tandem on "Night Swim," proving there's fire here as well as ice. Opening will be Dive, another Brooklyn-based, synth-heavy outfit, although with a darker edge. The Olsen Twinns, a St. Paul electronics project, also join the bill. 18+, $10. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

The Drums/Craft Spells/Part Time

Fine Line Music CAfe, Monday 3.30

Brooklyn's the Drums have an ebullient, edgy pop sound that hasn't lost a step on their enthralling sophomore release, Portamento. Pair that with the band's more refined live presence, and this show could make for quite a heart-melting night. Frontman Jonathan Pierce has echoes of Ian Curtis threaded within his delightfully personal vocals, but without the haunting, dour undertones. During past appearances, his band's effortlessly buoyant melodies have actually caused typically reserved Twin Cities audiences to dance joyously in time with their catchy beats. 18+. $15. 7 p.m. 318 First Avenue N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Erik Thompson

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