Critics' Picks: Yelawolf, DeVotchKa, Bright Eyes, and more

Bright Eyes tour in support of what could be their final album

Bright Eyes tour in support of what could be their final album

Bright Eyes and Titus Andronicus

First Avenue on Monday 4.4 and Tuesday 4.5

Conor Oberst has said that recently released The People's Key is to be the final Bright Eyes album, and it feels assured, with Oberst finally settling his voice and turning in the raw Americana of albums like I'm Wide Awake, It' s Morning for swaggering pop-rock gestures. Gone are the righteous bursts of outrage and naked sentimentality that marked his earlier work, but rather than seeming like selling out, it comes across as growing up, retiring what no longer works for him and embracing his future. But Oberst's quavering delivery and fits of blazing anger have been picked up and amplified by Patrick Stickles of openers Titus Andronicus, whose hard-charging rock 'n' roll splits the difference between academia and whiskey-fueled troublemaking. Bright Eyes may have run its course, but Titus Andronicus is just revving up, finding strength in indignation while tending toward a rollicking punk flavor that's simultaneously youthful and classic. While it's too early to tell if Titus will have the same trajectory as Bright Eyes, the pairing seems natural, with Stickles reshaping cues from Oberst and using sheer force to make them fit his age and his band's identity.  It's not exactly passing the torch, but there's fire here nonetheless. 18+. $30. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas


First Avenue on Wednesday 3.30

The fact that Yelawolf is headlining the Mainroom this Wednesday after opening for Wiz Khalifa's sold-out show in the same spot a mere five months prior ought to be evidence enough of the Alabama rapper's rising star, but the only way to really appreciate why he deserves the hype is to see him live. The tatted-up skater with a trailer-park twang and a love for his Chevy could easily rely on his dirtbag charm and smooth vocals alone to garner attention, but his fame has been built primarily on solid rap ability and a powerful stage show. With Prof and Muja Messiah. 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jack Spencer


First Avenue on Friday 4.1

Bands that take a heavy influence from world music can be easy to shrug off, since a lack of sincerity can be hidden with exotic instrumentation and unfamiliar style, but DeVotchKa's Romani-rock hits squarely under the lungs. That power is mostly due to singer Nick Urata's voice, which can flip between trembling sentimentality and blustery force with surprising grace, though the group as a whole has a flair for ratcheting up the drama to reach some truly tear-jerking heights (see "How It Ends"). New album 100 Lovers junks some of the group's punkier tendencies, but keeps DeVotchka's wounded gypsy soul completely intact. With Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. 18+. $25. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

J Mascis

7th St. Entry on Saturday 4.2

J Mascis is best known as Dinosaur Jr.'s fret-shredding frontman, prone to guitar solos that are towering marvels of technique and volume, but he's also got a soft side. Mascis's acoustic material sounds almost too low-key to have been conjured up by an indie guitar god whose visits are marked by a spike in earplug sales, but it allows for a wide range during live performances, switching from unplugged strumming to amp-crushing riffs with a veteran's ease. By peeling away some of the noise, Mascis is rolling over, exposing a bruised underbelly and showing us what's been behind the distortion for all those years. With Kurt Vile & the Violators and Fauna. 18+. $20. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas


Triple Rock Social Club on Sunday 4.3

Hardcore punk's eruptive brevity is its charm and its Achilles' heel: At its best and most brutal, it slam-dances into your skull, smashes the fine china, then double-times it over the back fence. OFF!—a sort of hardcore revivalist movement staring iconic Black Flag/Circle Jerks howler Keith Morris and members of Redd Kross, Hot Snakes, and Burning Brides—don't quite hit that level of anti-compositional intensity. In other words, their songs refuse to collapse into anarchy after 20 seconds, they know their way around a melody, and on The First Four EPs' firecrackers like the PCP vignette "Peace in Hermosa," Morris demonstrates an uncanny ability to set scenes using little more than a handful of phrases and a lifetime of pique. Purists may shy away, but that just means there'll be more tickets for us. 18+. $13. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Ray Cummings


7th St. Entry on Sunday 4.3

Baltimorean Benny Boeldt's initial foray into indie-pop was as simple as it was sugar-rush puerile: Dude called himself Adventure and, on a debut album helpfully titled Adventure, banged out two-dimensional Nintendo Entertainment System c-side chiptune. Adventure essentially allowed listeners to pretend that humiliating, routine errands and tasks were as epic, crucial, and fun as beating Mega Man 2 or Super Mario Brothers 3 for the 15th time in a week. Replete with vocals, choruses, and themes, follow-up Lesser Known represents a quantum leap in Boeldt's songwriting sophistication. Un-cutesy quick-hit synth-pop? We'll take that for a dollar. Opening for Toro y Moi, with Braids. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ray Cummings

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears

Cedar Cultural Center on Sunday 4.3

Of all the contemporary bands messing around with vintage R&B, funk, soul, and blues, none come close to the raw, primitive, incendiary, sweat-drenched glory of Austin, Texas's Joe Lewis and the horn-stoked Honeybears. Shouting, growling, and testifying like James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and R.L. Burnside rolled together, Lewis howls with blistering intensity about lyin', cheatin', and dangerous livin' while his guitar slashes viciously and the Bears weigh in with a taut tumult of raunchy rhythms and blazing horns. The band's new Scandalous ricochets from stark Delta blues to talking blues to punk-informed blasts out of north Mississippi, Memphis, and Detroit. Nearly as wild is the Tennessee female trio Those Darlins, who apply a punk ethos to a genuine feel for country roots, with convincing covers of the Carter Family and Uncle Dave Macon joining nice originals. All ages. $15. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Iris Dement

Dakota Jazz Club on Sunday 4.3

Over three extraordinary albums in the early 1990s, Iris DeMent established herself as a brilliant singer and songwriter whose timeless material embraced country, folk, and gospel while probing rare depths of emotion. Her voice in particular—brittle yet fortified with inner spirit; weary yet unbowed, glowing with a deeper wisdom—seems as elemental a force of nature as an Appalachian brook or the prairie wind. And it's perfect for her songs, which often grapple with scenes of life and death seemingly captured on sepia-toned photographs. But apparently DeMent's muse arrives only at odd intervals. She hasn't recorded an album of new material since 1996's The Way I Should, although recently she's said she almost has enough material for a new album. Maybe she'll slip a new one into her already rich catalog during this relatively rare foray up from Iowa. $45. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

Joe Lovano & Us Five

Dakota Jazz Club on Monday 4.4 and Tuesday 4.5

By now a saxophone titan in his own right, Joe Lovano has carved a sterling career by re-imagining, re-contextualizing, and in subtle ways revolutionizing jazz history with a strikingly contemporary perspective. Rather than creating tortured fusions, Lovano ventures into logical but largely unexplored tangents that shed new light on roots as well as break new ground. That's the premise of Bird Songs, Lovano's latest with his superb, equally lithe and innovative Us Five: the percussion tandem of Otis Brown and Francisco Mela, pianist James Weidman, and 2011 Best New Artist Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding on bass. Bird Songs lovingly reinterprets Charlie Parker's canon with a profusion of fresh harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic ideas culminating in "Birdyard," a brief but wild inversion of fractured Bird themes. $40 at 7 p.m.; $25 at 9 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

Hayes Carll

Varsity Theater on Tuesday 4.5

The latest in a string of clever outlaw Texas singer-songwriters that run to the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle, Hayes Carll is a honky-tonk bard whose "other American stories" (as his new album is subtitled) are sharp vignettes from barrooms and beyond. Most of the songs on KMAG YOYO are laced with pedal steel and twang. But the title cut ("Kiss My Ass Guys You're on Your Own" in military jargon) tears on a jag virtually identical to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" while giving the riveting account of a hapless soldier in Afghanistan. Carll and guest vocalist Cary Ann Hearst make like a contemporary George Jones and Tammy Wynette on a bickering mating dance called "Another Like You." Opening will be Hearst (whose voice sometimes suggests Neko Case's) and partner Michael Trent, a.k.a. Shovels & Rope, a South Carolina duo mining a compelling blend of country, blues, and '60s pop and rock. 18+. $14. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rick Mason