Ghostland Observatory, the Dodos, and more

Smoldering soul singer Ruthie Foster


Kurt Vile & the Violators

7th St. Entry

Not shockingly new, just blazingly beautiful, Kurt Vile's take on post-Velvets/Stooges pop sounds like Robert Pollard dreaming the Clean: His four-dozen-odd tracks released over the past couple of years seesaw between reverb-spanked folk finger-picking and reverb-ravaged psychedelia, as striking in crackerjack lo-fi seclusion as with his backing band, the Violators. (Vile also plays guitar in Philadelphia's the War on Drugs.) Listen to "Freeway," from his 2008 debut, Constant Hitmaker, or "My Sympathy," from this year's mini-LP God Is Saying This to You..., to get a sense of why Matador was so excited to release his new album, Childish Prodigy. He's more musician than songwriter still—you know you're reaching when your best tune is a cover of Richard Hell's "Monkey"—but few in the genre know how to use a tape recorder more expressively, or have so much talent to "ruin." With Velvet Davenport and Haunted House. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Peter S. Scholtes


Captured! By Robots

Triple Rock Social Club

JBOT, the humanoid formerly known as Jay Vance, has had a tough run of it lately. Two years ago, the last time he was scheduled to play the Twin Cities, a snowstorm closed a highway for two days and left him icebound near the Montana border. Last year he was hit by a car and had to cancel his spring tour while he rehabbed a broken arm. Also, he has been taken prisoner by a group of smack-talking robots, who force him to work as their technician/musical director. JBOT is the only meatbag among Captured! By Robots' group of spiteful, metal-loving mechs; he's the thrash-rock equivalent of our own beloved Joel Hodgson of MST3K fame. The robots in his band aren't Chuck E. Cheese animatronic puppets or glorified jukeboxes, but rather they play their own instruments—pressing frets, strumming strings, and blowing into horns—thanks to a little electricity, some compressed air, and a lot of robot malice. Last seen touting their Star Trek: The Next Generation-themed metal opera, this time around the Captured! By Robots crew will present a motivational show featuring wild, loud covers of American classics. JBOT says he's stoked to bring his high-tech pick-me-up performance to the Triple Rock, but he notes that his cybernetic captors remain surly as always. "Most of the bots are de-motivational," he says. "They talk a lot of shit." 18+. $10. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Bryan Miller

FRIDAY 10.16

Ruthie Foster

O'Shaughnessy Auditorium

Graced with sensational, classic soul pipes and a smoldering intensity, this Texas native more than lived up to the title of her 2007 breakthrough, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster. This year she's back with no less than The Truth According to Ruthie Foster, which hits nary a false note in working a classic Memphis groove riddled with potent strains of gospel, blues, R&B, and soul about as pure as it gets. Recorded at Memphis's Ardent Studios with a slew of wily vets helping out (including guitarist Robben Ford, late keyboards wizard Jim Dickinson, and trumpeter Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns), Truth is a potent collection of fine Foster originals and keen covers from the likes of Patty Griffin and Eric Bibb, sometimes complicating that Memphis thang with touches of reggae, country blues, and folk. Foster sings the beejeezus out of all of it, negotiating the delirious undulations of Southern roots like a genuine daughter of Aretha, Ann Peebles, and Mavis Staples. And that's the truth. She'll be in a trio format here, with drummer Samantha Banks and bassist Tanya Richardson. $32. 7:30 p.m. 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651.690.6700. —Rick Mason

Rain Machine

7th St. Entry

Though not the only singer or guitarist in TV on the Radio, robustly bearded Kyp Malone is the Brooklyn band's most iconic member, and his strengths—eerie falsetto, flair for noise texture, adventurous funkiness—overlap his fellows'. He wrote and played nearly every instrument on his new solo album, Rain Machine, released under that name on Anti-, where he strums acoustic, noodles acid-electric, and harmonizes with himself (and backing vocalists) in a Bowie-esque croak that recalls a tragic musical staged on Mars. Atmosphere somewhat obscures lyrics about burning crosses, castration, homophobia, and genitalia, but the pleasure of this show will be seeing a new, no doubt very good, live band pull together this piece of studio whimsy on stage. With indie-folk-pop singer Sharon Van Etton, also from New York. 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. ­—Peter S. Scholtes


Amy Millan

Turf Club

As a part of modern supergroup Broken Social Scene and the female lead in pop heartbreakers Stars, Amy Millan has plenty to do, so it's all the more remarkable that she finds time to record tender, fragile alt-country albums like 2006's Honey from the Tombs and this year's Masters of the Burial. Approaching all the material in much the same manner, Millan deviates little in her delivery, but this fails to be a problem due mostly to the stunning quality of her voice. A hushed, feather-light thing, simultaneously full of youthful wonder and weathered sadness, that voice is as effective at carrying her rootsy solo work as it is bolstering the rock-oriented offerings of her other bands. Live, Millan hardly needs to resort to affected twang to make her country and bluegrass songs come across—she does it with the sheer melancholy couched in her dreamy vocals. With Bahamas. 21+. $12. 8 pm. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Ian Traas


Rodrigo y Gabriela

Pantages Theatre

When I say that Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero's shredding will melt your face, bear two things in mind. First, said shredding consists of inconceivably fast classical and flamenco picking on acoustic guitars—no heavily distorted, thunderbolt-shaped custom axes here. Second, your face: It's gonna be in a puddle on the floor. The pair have roots in death metal back in their hometown of Mexico City, but since they moved to Dublin, Ireland, they've cultivated a musical style all their own, blending their rock beginnings with more traditional sounds. Unlike a lot of virtuoso guitarists, they don't get bogged down in navel-gazing improvisation; their music is designed from the ground up to get your hips wiggling and your toes tapping. The pair's new album, 11:11, makes tentative steps into alternative instrumentation, featuring a bit of high-flying electric guitar and piano backup on some tracks, but all indications are that their live show remains unchanged: the pair onstage with nothing but their guitars, a couple of microphones, and a healthy dose of awesome. $32-$36. 8 p.m. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Ward Rubrecht

Ghostland Observatory


As a band, hailing from Austin, Texas, means coming up in a hotbed of musical activity that makes artistic evolution possible in the same way that a deep-sea volcano nurtures natural mutation—only the weird survive. But maybe even the ocean floor never created anything as freaky as Ghostland Observatory. A two-man team stitching together scraps of electro, funk, and hair metal to form some kind of beat-hungry glam monster, Ghostland Observatory have one foot in the indie/dance crossover territory that has been steadily gaining in popularity since the early 2000s. However, the other foot is planted firmly in the bizarre, cemented there by singer Aaron Behrens's man-on-fire shrieks and the duo's playfully unhinged live show. A word of advice: Be wary of the electronic thump pulling you toward the dance floor; you might not realize you're in the band's jaws until it's too late. 18+. $22. 8:30 pm. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Ian Traas

SUNDAY 10.18

Meshell Ndegeocello

Dakota Jazz Club

As sinisterly ambiguous as its title, the primary theme of Meshell Ndegeocello's brand new album, Devil's Halo, is the treachery of love, which in her nearly unremittingly grim view leads to groveling, bitterness, even death. The lovers she describes are distraught with stark need, yet poison for one another. In "Blood on the Curb," they're caught in an evil web, one captivated by another who is also drawn in but ultimately feels nothing. Halo's sound is equally ambiguous. Compared to the complex eclecticism of recent Ndegeocello albums, including her 2007 tour de force, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams, Halo relies on a relatively lean mix, the musicians mostly pared down to a quartet while Ndegeocello alternates funk pieces laced with pop hooks and soulful ballads. But as always with Ndegeocello, things are not that straightforward; the seemingly simple arrangements are full of quirky nuance. Even when she sings sweetly of love in a whispery passage, chances are that close behind is a bristling fusillade from the band and ominous portents of doom, as in opening track "Slaughter." $35 at 7 p.m.; $25 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. ­—Rick Mason

MONDAY 10.19

Maria Muldaur's Garden of Joy Jug Band

Dakota Jazz Club

When Maria Muldaur leapt into the general consciousness in 1973 with her debut album, which included the sultry, chart-climbing charmer "Midnight at the Oasis," she seemed to appear out of nowhere, artistically fully formed. In fact, the native New Yorker had spent years immersing herself in a broad swath of Americana with a distinctly Southern exposure: blues, Appalachian folk, country, gospel, jazz. It's territory she continues exploring today, and she has a string of marvelous albums stretching back several decades to prove it. Pre-"Oasis," while hanging out on the Greenwich Village folk scene, she joined the Even Dozen Jug Band, which included the likes of John Sebastian and David Grisman, and when they broke up, Boston's Jim Kweskin Jug Band, which included her future (and long ago ex-) husband, Geoff Muldaur. Lo these many eons later, Muldaur has returned to her roots, formed her own jug band, and issued a delightful album, Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy, which roots around in a cornucopia of ripe jug-band standards, with help from Sebastian, Grisman, Taj Mahal, and Dan Hicks. Her six-piece touring outfit will clutter the Dakota stage with all the proper accoutrements, including fiddles, mandolins, washtubs, kazoos, banjos, and, of course, jugs. $25 at 7 p.m.; $20 at 9:30 p.m.1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. ­—Rick Mason


The Dodos


Turf Club

For a buzz band with mountains of hype surrounding them, the Dodos have a sound that is mysteriously lacking in certain areas. No distortion. No synthesizers. No bass. But what the Dodos do have is a vast reserve of frenetic, crackling energy, infusing what would otherwise be pleasant folk tunes with a whiplash-inducing speed. Logan Kroeber's drums are bracingly wild, hammering out a foundation on which to base Meric Long's acoustic guitar, which is sometimes strummed so intensely that it's a wonder his pick doesn't disintegrate or burst into flames. This energy would be wasted if the songs themselves didn't hold up, but the hooks on last year's Visiter proved so effective that they netted the band a ton of positive press (and a beer commercial). Though the reception of their newest album, Time to Die, has been less enthusiastic than that of their '08 breakthrough, the Dodos' live performance could be enough to transform the tepid into the triumphant. With Ruby Suns. 21+. $12. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Ian Traas

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