Critics' Picks: Shearwater and more
How Birds Work
In the rock world, it's not uncommon for bands to become associated with certain venues: the Ramones with CBGB's, Prince with First Avenue, the 'Mats with the Longhorn. But in the jazz world, residencies by artists at venues can become iconic: Coltrane at the Village Vanguard, Miles at the Plugged Nickel, Monk at the Five Spot. Instead of crossing the country, transplanting themselves into all manner of bars, jazz groups like How Birds Work (Dean Granros on guitar, Peter Schimke on keys/vocals, Chris Bates on bass, and Kenny Horst on drums) often prefer to invite you into their space at a venue like the Artists' Quarter. They recorded a live CD there, featuring their unique, guitar-driven takes on classics from Coltrane's "Equinox" to Wayne Shorter's "Footprints." They sound comfortable enough in their second home to push and stretch a bit; it's what they've been trained to do, after all, but music this simultaneously assured and expansive deserves a good home—and How Birds Work has found it. $5. 9 p.m. 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651.292.1359. —Steve McPherson
7th St. Entry
After a successful run backing Clinic on tour earlier this year, Shearwater are headlining their own tour and just happen to be passing through the same venue they played with the Liverpool-based troupe of masked men. Jonathan Meiburg, formerly a member of Okkervil River with Shearwater alum Will Sheff, has a sweet, haunting voice that gets into your bones with a musical sensibility that is atmospheric and seemingly dark, complete with melodic strings and vibraphones. Drummer Thor Harris definitely stands out with his mid-'80s Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson haircut, and is a great talent as he pounds away behind his kit. Shearwater are guaranteed to play plenty of cuts from their large catalog, centered on tracks from their most recent effort, Rook, a beautiful, moody outing filled with emotion and showcasing Meiburg's effecting falsetto. Opening is the noisy bombast of local lady rockers the Haves Have It. 18+. $8. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jen Paulson
Uptown Bar and Cafe
Whether your chompers are coffee-stained, over-bleached, or just nasty and yellow, here's a band that will make you grind 'em to nubs in wildly cathartic fits. The Minneapolis trio may have candy-coated molars, but they've got fangs like a fierce, human-eating sea monster possibly from hell. Sharp Teeth know how to do grunge. They've got the thrills, the chills, and the anti-frills. They've got three chords down pat and two-minute songs clipped to perfection. And Erica Krumm sings like she just blew the dust off her Beauty and the Beat cassette, but she doesn't want you to know it. Best yet, they're not going to come after you with one of those freaky drills. Maybe. With the Teeth, Fuck Knights, and Ghettos Burning. 21+. Free. 9 p.m. 3018 Hennepin Ave. S. Minneapolis; 612.823.4719 —Erin Roof
It's not enough to just describe Martin Dosh as an electronic artist. To be sure, if you were to describe him as something else it would be misleading, but there is more to his music than the word "electronic" can aptly describe. Though Dosh's music is created by machines, its spare, almost organic nature makes you forget that fact, even though he is dwarfed by the stacks of equipment at his disposal onstage. However, his goal isn't to make you respond with "Wow, that's so cool" or "Ooh, that's so spacey"; he's gone to great lengths, it seems, to inject actual feeling into the music and not simply push buttons and toy with the BPMs until it's good enough for dancing. A bit like M83, his new album, Wolves and Wishes, is one that you can approach as a chill-out record, but don't be surprised when long-dormant thoughts and decisions made long ago get knocked loose and you start reconsidering the impact and implications that those thoughts and decisions have had on your life—or, even more unsettling, what they may have in store for you a little further down the road. With P.O.S. and Kill the Vultures. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Pat O'Brien
Cedar Cultural Center
Halfway through Hayden's new album, In Field and in Town, he bemoans the fact that he's no longer sad. But after more than a decade of producing clever, intimate, and, yes, sad lo-fi bedroom pop, something tells me that Hayden is not quite through with examining the sullen side of his psyche. The Toronto singer fills In Field and in Town with moody organs, insistent rhythms, and wandering bass lines, but the instrument that brings weight and poignancy to the music is his beautiful, lonesome, and, at times, quivering falsetto. His voice has that claustrophobic winter angst polished to a shine with the optimistic yearning for an early spring—the cathartic exercise of the sun-deprived. Touring with Hayden this summer is Haley Bonar, a local girl who's written a couple of sad songs herself. $12/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612.338.2674.
If you missed last month's Soundset 08, here's a chance to redeem yourself. This Saturday's mini-incarnation will be reminiscent of the recent hip-hop showcase-slash-blowout right down to its cuddly concrete confines. Doomtree wunderkind Dessa will showcase the evening's events, reaching outside the close-knit Doomtree circle to rhyme with members of "St. Paul's Pride": Heiruspecs. For the uninitiated, Dessa has the uninterruptible voice of a snappier, sassier Erykah Badu, matched by lyrics that out-feisty M.I.A. Maybe we'll get a preview of Doomtree's upcoming release. Hey, there might even be some crunk involved. Jimmy2Times & Plain Ole Bill, Active Ingredients, DJ Abilities, and Heatbox will also be on hand. 18+. $8. 4 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Jessica Chapman
Spaghetti Western String Co.
Spaghetti Western String Co. take their details seriously, and this is a huge part of what makes them so successful. When all you have are the strings under your fingers, the air in your lungs, and a desire to blend banjo, guitar, cello, mandolin, and clarinet into something both traditional and progressive, the little things make a big difference. The music on their latest, Lull and Clatter, is subtle and warm and woody, floating through the air like dust motes through sunlight on a late summer afternoon. Leader/guitarist/banjo player Michael Rossetto has talked about how what they have to offer is "melody, harmony, your basic elements." But watching them put the pieces together on stage, seeing them build music imbued with both the sturdiness and delicacy of a well-crafted antique, makes you realize that it's all just basic elements. Little pieces—and all the pieces matter. Opening for the Pines. 21+. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Steve McPherson
7th St. Entry
Like a slew of judicious upstarts ranging from Made Out of Babies to King Darves, Imaad Wasif isn't one for the lily-gilding overdubs that marred way too many records in the decade's first half. This year's self-released Strange Hexes finds the Lowercase, Alaska!, and New Folk Implosion veteran and Yeah Yeah Yeahs touring guitarist fronting a condom-tight power trio whose impeccable dynamics render questions of embellishment moot and make Wasif's unnervingly beautiful psychedelic songs the unchallenged center of attention. His vocals don't hurt, either. Wasif excels at fluffing his animal magnetism with the kind of intimacy that's worked wonders for everybody from Thom Yorke to pre-op Frank Sinatra. Opening for RTX. 18+. $8. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rod Smith
RZA as Bobby Digital
It's been well demonstrated that the RZA can do just about anything, from his work with the straight-up legendary Wu-Tang Clan to his soundtrack/score credits, most notably Kill Bill I and II, which could be the be-all end-all to soundtracks with their retro-sophisticate kung-fu movie music and soul gems plucked from relative obscurity. But it's the release of his newest album, Digi Snacks, under the moniker of his solo alter ego RZA as Bobby Digital, that brings RZA to town this time around. Initial single "You Can't Stop Me Now" is rocking that '70s soul/jazz flavor, and is an apparent theme throughout. Whether people will be filling up First Avenue on account of it simply being a RZA show, or out of a genuine interest in the always-intriguing and entertaining Bobby Digital brand, it's gonna be a big night for those of us who love rap and the RZA's genius within the genre. With Stone Mecca, a funked-out soul group under the Wu Music Group umbrella. 18+. $16/$18 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jen Paulson
A Tribute to James Brown featuring Bootsy Collins
Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater
Mention Bootsy Collins and James Brown in the same breath, and you know whatever it is gotta be riddled with funk. And this expansive lineup assembled by seminal JB band bassist, Parliament Funkadelic stalwart, and Rubber Band founder Collins promises to be one furious funk fest. The heavy hitter funkateers on board include Bootsy himself, who Brown recruited for a two-year hitch with his JBs in 1969, along with former JBs guitarist Phelps "Catfish" Collins, drummers Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield, percussionist Johnny Griggs and trombonist Fred Wesley. Bart Anderson Byrd will sit in on organ for his late father, Bobby, one of Brown's oldest music associates, while Tony Wilson will provide the voice and James Brown moves. Also performing in various and sundry combinations will be the Bobby Brown Band, now led by former JBs singer Vicki Anderson Byrd; Brown's daughter Venisha with Public Enemy bassist Brian Hardgroove's band Escapism; rapper Djizzle; bassist Freekbass; ZionPlanet10 (who's actually a 14-year-old singer/keyboardist); and a U.K. female trio called I-Candi. It should be loud and proud. $37. 7 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.