Grinderman, John Mellencamp, the Suburbs, and more

Os Mutantes sit down for supper

Os Mutantes sit down for supper


KT Tunstall


"Nature techno" is the way Scotland's KT Tunstall describes the sound on her third studio album, Tiger Suit. As such, she helps characterize the essential dichotomy that has long defined her music: rooted in folk, laced with pop savvy, bristling with a taut rock 'n' roll fever threatening to spike at any moment. The new songs still seem to grow out of her acoustic guitar, while her perceptive lyrics go beyond the travails of love to plumb the fundamental struggles of life. What sets Tiger apart from Tunstall's previous work is its integration of dance rhythms and shadings of electronica, adding shimmering textures to the material's earthy, organic core, while her mastery of cunning hooks and intrepid spirit still turn more than her share into irresistible anthems. "Push That Knot Away," for instance, rides an insistent disco beat most of the way through, but Tunstall's underlying noirish acoustic guitar and a prominent fuzzy bass make the pulse human, pumping urgency into her message of confronting one's fears. Similarly, "Uumannaq Song" ties a Cyndi Lauper-like chorus to sleek funk rhythms amid hints of U2 atmospherics while Tunstall juxtaposes her own raw vocals with girl-group uh-uh-ohs. Even a much more understated ballad like "(Still a) Weirdo" floats on an effervescent synth sea. Throughout, Tunstall is at her sassy, exuberant best, playing with the spirit of a Chrissie Hynde, putting these infectious nuggets with their familiar yet deliciously different elements together on her own terms and having a blast doing so. Opening will be Hurricane Bells, a Steve Shiltz side project that got a big boost from landing a tune ("Monsters") on the soundtrack of the New Moon vampire flick. 18+. $21/$25 at the door. 8 p.m. 110 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3742. —Rick Mason

FRIDAY 11.19

The Suburbs/the Suicide Commandos

First Avenue

Ladies and gentlemen, the shoo-in for what to do with your weekend: This two-night gathering of local rock royalty features the recently reunited Suburbs, who have found solace performing together once again after losing guitarist Bruce C. Allen in December of last year, along with punk pioneers and longtime friends the Suicide Commandos. The two bands played a similar show together in the Mainroom last February, and by all reports it was a cathartic celebration of the band's and Allen's legacy, and one that revived the spirit of the Suburbs for a new generation of music fans. This weekend's shows should be similarly joyous and touching experiences. Get there early, get up front, and get ready to dance. 21+. $20. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Also Saturday —Andrea Swensson


Os Mutantes

Cedar Cultural Center

When the counterculture was challenging the status quo in much of the world in the late 1960s, musicians and artists in Brazil were formulating Tropicália, a distinctive movement still exerting its influence today. Among the chief instigators were musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, who adopted poet Oswald de Andrade's concept of artistic cannibalism and tossed together a provocative blend of traditional Brazilian music, psychedelic and roots rock from around the world, samba, jazz, ambient sounds, electric and folk instruments, all slathered with often surrealistic and irreverent lyrics. And right in the thick of things were Os Mutantes, who sometimes backed Veloso and Gil while representing Tropicália's virulent rock 'n' roll wing. Os Mutantes' original trio issued a series of albums that would resonate for decades as they were repeatedly rediscovered by new generations of rockers. The band eventually morphed into a larger group, then folded in the mid-'70s only to be resurrected three decades later as a septet led by original Mutantes prankster Sérgio Dias. On last year's Haih . . . ou Amortecedor, the band proved nearly as iconoclastic as they were way back when, Dias often collaborating with fellow Tropicália icon Tom Zé on quirky songs about Bagdad, cockroaches, and Fidel Castro. Meanwhile the group maintains the mutant mix-and-match precepts of Tropicália with stylish assurance. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, themselves strongly influenced by Tropicália ideals, will open, trading the eccentric band they opened for in September (Flaming Lips) for another, this time the original article. All ages. $18/$20 at the door. 9:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Every Wall Will Fall

Turf Club

Expect an amazing bill of local musicians uniting at the Turf as part of a nationwide exhibition of artists against Palestinian apartheid. Responding to a call sent out to artists, DIY collectives, political and student organizations, and community groups to come together in support of Palestine—namely in response to the construction of a 486-mile, 20-foot-high concrete barrier being erected to seal off the West Bank from Israel—this evening's event, organized by local musician Mark McGee, will feature not only the pulsating, experimental synth-noise-metal-electronic-dance typical to varying degrees of its five acts, but also a dose of good ol' awareness tempered with some solidarity of the "we're not gonna take it" variety. With Skoal Kodiak, Slapping Purses, Seawhores, Camden, and Food Pyramid, with DJs Makr (Matt St. Germain) and Fruit and Flowers, plus posters for sale by Adam Marx. 21+. $7. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Nikki Miller

MONDAY 11.22

John Mellencamp

Orpheum Theatre

The remarkable metamorphosis of Johnny Cougar, whose derivative meanderings were the sound of a brash youngster thrashing away in his own raw talent, into John Mellencamp, American heartland roots rocker highly respected for his artistic integrity, remains one of the most extraordinary transformations in popular music history. The string of forgettable material issued under the Cougar moniker was finally broken with "Hurts So Good" and "Jack & Diane" in the early '80s, signaling the emergence of Mellencamp as a perceptive chronicler of human struggles and real life in all those small towns he helped put back on the map. At the same time he established his band as one of the tightest, hardest working ensembles in the biz, and became an outspoken advocate for family farmers. Mellencamp's latest, No Better Than This, is a welcome surprise: 13 new songs recorded with a single microphone in warm mono sound by producer T Bone Burnett in a variety of historic locations—Memphis's Sun Studio, the San Antonio hotel room where Robert Johnson once recorded. Most of the songs are reflective, but more significantly they all seem to inhabit that heady era when country, blues, folk, rockabilly, and rock 'n' roll were still kissin' cousins and invigorating one another. A short film will open the show: It's About You, which documents the recording of No Better and Mellencamp's simultaneous ballpark tour with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. Paintings by Mellencamp will also be displayed in the theater's lobby. All ages. $43-$125. 6:30 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. Also Tuesday —Rick Mason



First Avenue

The humor and grit that Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn P. Casey, and Jim Sclavunos have duct-taped Grinderman together from is an anguished, low-down testament to (and break from) the 30-odd years they've spent crafting baroque and poetic caterwauls with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the mercurial collective that they've more or less maintained since 1984. Whenever Grinderman is brought up, Nick Cave understandably takes center stage, a magnetic, dark, and finely tailored man of mystery...who could barely play the guitar he strapped on when Grinderman began. So while Cave may provide the ambiance and verve, the bulk of their sonic weight is the product of Warren Ellis's multi-instrumental meanderings, which work like a katana jammed into an electrical outlet (in interviews he's also at least as charming as Cave). Live, they seem like apparitions from the future, spreading word of the danger in safety and the power of not giving a fuck. November 23. 18+. $25. 7 p.m. First Avenue, 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Andrew Flanagan

Loudon Wainwright III

Hopkins Center for the Arts

Gleefully enduring dozens of self-inflicted wounds over the years courtesy of his rapier wit, withering cynicism, and apparent willingness to air out the worst of his many foibles if that will yield a clever lyric (as well as mercilessly skewering plenty of others, incidentally), Loudon Wainwright suddenly turned scholar and won a Grammy earlier this year. His epic High Wide & Handsome project about roguish old-time country singer, songwriter, and banjo picker Charlie Poole still had sufficient autobiographical implications to keep a team of Wainwright therapists busy for years. So naturally he abruptly switched gears and recorded 10 Songs for the New Depression (on his own Cummerbund label), this time reflecting in his own inimitable fashion on the woeful economy created by the pathetic clowns just swept back into office on the doubtful premise that they'll fix it. Although songs like "Times Is Hard" and "The Panic Is On," along with his spare delivery, certainly still capture the tenor of the times, there's a rare (for Loudon, anyway) glimmer of optimism that now seems dated in light of the Election Day debacle. In, for instance, "On to Victory, Mr. Roosevelt," a vintage song written in support of FDR's efforts to combat the Great Depression, Loudon added the line, "Mr. Obama, we're back of you 300 million strong," apparently not having anticipated Republican perniciousness or the irrational toxins of the Tea Party. Perhaps most telling is the rollicking little rag "Cash for Clunkers," which concludes: "It's hard to wrap your head around that health care coverage thing, but Cash for Clunkers you can kind of understand," stupidity and greed again winning the day, but providing lots of new fodder for Wainwright's acidic humor. $26. 6 p.m. 1111 Main St., Hopkins; 952.979.1100. —Rick Mason