Critics' Picks: Volcano Choir, Amos Lee, the Dodos, and more

Volcano Choir play a rare gig at the Cedar this Friday

Volcano Choir play a rare gig at the Cedar this Friday

Volcano Choir

Cedar Cultural Center on Friday 3.25

Volcano Choir is the artfully poignant collaboration between Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Collection of Colonies of Bees, an unlikely alliance that always seemed like a long-simmering side project that only the gifted participants would ever get to hear. That they actually released a truly stunning album, Unmap, was a surprise, but the fact that they are finally going to play those songs together locally for the first time is the real shock, and should make for quite a momentous performance. Vernon is captivating whenever he steps on stage, and when his wistful vocals are combined with the luxuriously experimental Bees, magic simply happens. This is one special show that you certainly don't want to miss. With Mystery Palace. All ages. $17. 10 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Erik Thompson

The Dodos

Cedar Cultural Center on Wednesday 3.23

Two years ago, the Dodos were in the process of smoothing out the more abrasive elements of their sound, cutting back on the clattering drums and frantic strumming in order to better highlight their gift for writing sticky, bittersweet pop songs. But with the recent release of fourth album No Color, it seems the duo has recognized those noisy proclivities as a vital part of their DNA, an element (maybe the element) that makes them more than another indie folk band. With their melodic knack still intact and a renewed sense of stylistic vigor, the Dodos are back to being exciting. With Reading Rainbow. All ages. $14. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Ian Traas

Amos Lee

State Theatre on Thursday 3.24

Philly singer-songwriter Amos Lee has had a big breakthrough with his fourth album, Mission Bell, which hit the top of Billboard's albums chart shortly after its January release. Produced by Joey Burns and prominently featuring the backing of Burns and his Calexico bandmates, Mission Bell has an arid, Southwest vibe that perfectly fits Lee's finely wrought, bittersweet songs, which regularly sprout improbably gorgeous hooks amidst the sorrow and heartache. Calexico also meshes nicely with Lee's fabulous voice, a raspy blend of equal parts soul and folk that doesn't venture farther southwest of Memphis, seemingly a potent blend of Al Green, John Prine, Bill Withers, and James Taylor. It's a voice so memorable Lee more than holds his own against such iconic guests as Lucinda Williams and Willie Nelson, while Mission Bell rings like a classic. With the Secret Sisters. All ages. $24-$29.50. 8 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

Chapel Club

7th St. Entry on Thursday 3.24

The young London quintet Chapel Club make their highly anticipated Twin Cities live debut in a venue that has launched many buzz bands on to loftier heights. Even though they are still just a fledgling band and have only just released their excellent debut record, Palace, their rich, textured songs are steeped with astute pop sensibilities and thoughtful subject matter that belie their youthful age. The Entry should prove to be the perfect venue to catch this highly hyped group who are clearly on the rise, providing an intimate setting for their fans to swoon over their elegant numbers before they inevitably move on to much larger clubs next time through town. With Hunting Club, the Sextons. 18+. $2. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Erik Thompson

The Gateway District (CD-release)

Turf Club on Saturday 3.26

What happens when you combine the Soviettes, Banner Pilot, Dear Landlord, and the Salteens? First off, you get a party where a lot of longtime friends come together. The Gateway District will celebrate their second full-length, Perfect's Gonna Fail, with a release show at the Turf Club, and you can bet there will be a strong community vibe for the supergroup's set. The band has been playing together since 2006, often in spurts as their other projects take them on the road. For the new record, they've honed their approach and unified the band's sound, drawing familiar elements from their other projects, but with a distinct pep, frustration, and, ultimately, renewal that comes through the dual vocals of Maren Macosko and Carrie Tennant. Also on the bill are Chicago's Arrivals, recent Epitaph signees Off With Their Heads, and the Fake Boys. 21+. $8. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul, 651.647.0486. —Loren Green

The Greenhornes

Triple Rock Social Club on Saturday 3.26

Now that Jack White has freed up his Raconteurs/Dead Weather bandmates Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler for the moment, they were both able to hook back up with Craig Fox and return to the Cincinnati garage-rock roots of the Greenhornes, releasing **** (it's pronounced Four Stars), their first new full-length album in eight years. Their lively new numbers are all drenched in catchy hooks and unshakable melodies, and everyone involved sounds inspired and reinvigorated on this rousing batch of new songs, which should make for quite a boisterous performance. These old friends clearly know how to have a rocking good time on stage together, and their taut, high-spirited live shows have long been missed around the Twin Cities for quite some time now. With Hacienda. 18+. $12. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Erik Thompson

The Skull Defekts/Zomes

Turf Club on Sunday 3.27

The favorite band, no doubt, of phrenologists everywhere, Sweden's the Skull Defekts exist on the experimental frontier of rock, where psychedelia, the roots of metal, punk, minimalism, and drone intersect. Massed guitars à la Sonic Youth create a dense mat that undulates, throbs, and whips about as it's pummeled by blistering percussion while Daniel Higgs's prickly vocals try to pierce its mysteries. Zomes, the alter-ego of guitarist Asa Osborne, similarly probes repetitive, cyclical figures that buck and sway in paroxysms of sonic excess, where drone and distortion is the architecture of fresh expression. Incidentally, Higgs and Osborne were half of the influential, cult-fave band Lungfish. With Danial Higgs, Whitesand/Badlands. 21+. $8. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Rick Mason

British Sea Power

Cedar Cultural Center on Tuesday 3.29

BSP return to the states after a three-year absence, behind their fourth album, Valhalla Dancehall, its oxymoronic, Nordic-Jamaican title ample evidence that the Brighton-based quintet's sense of absurdity remains gloriously intact. As do the band's very British eccentricities, which ricochet wildly from vaguely political paranoiac warnings ("Who's in Control?") to thinly veiled fretting about militarism with Monty Python twists ("Stunde Nuell") to Ray Davies-like inebriated basking in the sunset of the British Empire ("Living Is So Easy," complete with a reference to WWII songstress Vera Lynn). VD's music, meanwhile, sprawls luxuriously amid fractured grandeur that rocks hard in fits and starts, fed a steady diet of shattered indie-rock conceits. Opening will be A Classic Education, a Canadian-Italian rock outfit who favor a big, bustling sound and appropriately (given their name) cover Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World." All ages. $12/$14 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Rural Alberta Advantage

First Avenue on Friday 3.25

One obvious advantage of RAA singer, guitarist, and chief songwriter Nils Edenloff's upbringing in the sticks around Fort McMurray is that he learned to write striking, emotive songs about small town life and surviving fractured relationships. RRA's debut, Hometowns, was full of Edenloff's Alberta reflections after moving to Toronto. The trio's new Departing mines similar themes while further honing the compelling sound that has earned RRA a dedicated following: Edenloff's folkie musings furiously driven by Paul Banwatt's percussive fusillade while Amy Cole's piano adds melodic dimension and the voices of Edenloff and Cole flirt and parry with one another expectantly. There'll be two openers. With a naturally high voice verging on falsetto, Ireland's James Vincent McMorrow favors a folk-pop blend that ranges from wispy and slightly haunting to rollicking with epic ambitions. Chicagoan multi-instrumentalist Erik Hall's solo project In Tall Buildings veers towards experimental folk, Hall's inveterate tinkering yielding songs that ingratiate themselves with understated charm and occasionally suggest a Neil Young influence. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason