Hole, Los Lobos, Josh Ritter, and more: Critics' Picks

Courtney Love bringing Hole back at SXSW 2010
Stacey Schwartz


Los Lobos

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

It's been four years since the pride of East L.A. issued a new studio album. But early next month, Los Lobos will release Tin Can Trust, and a preliminary spin suggests it will be another jewel in the now-iconic band's nearly 40-year-old crown. The only change in the band's lineup in all that time was the addition, about a decade in, of saxophonist/keyboardist Steve Berlin to the quartet of Louis Pérez, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, and Conrad Lozano. That extraordinary ensemble has created an indelible, signature blend of rock 'n' roll, Mexican traditional music, blues, and associated roots unmatched since the days of the Band. Tin Can's title track is a moody, simmering, blues-lashed meditation on trying to survive hard times, slowly blossoming into an epic, guitar-fueled burner. Dark, hovering shadows, in fact, are repeatedly turned into powerful statements throughout the album, from the opening "I'll Burn It Down," a blues-rocker with guest vocals from Susan Tedeschi, to the exquisite anguish of "All My Bridges Burning," co-written by Rosas and Robert Hunter. There's also a rollicking cover of the Grateful Dead's "West L.A. Freeway," an effervescent cumbia ("Yo Canto"), and an accordion-driven norteño ("Mujer Ingrata"), both written by Rosas. As always, every track is packed with cunning details and subtle experimentation, from stray Memphis licks to jazzy interludes by Hidalgo's guitar to flashes of psychedelia. Chester Bay, a local quartet that mixes up rock, blues, pop, and reggae, opens Wednesday. On Thursday the honor goes to Moreland & Arbuckle, a Kansas trio that plays gritty, hard Delta and country blues (mostly originals). Flood, their major-label debut, issued by Telarc last winter, is terrific. All ages. $37. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. Also Thursday —Rick Mason


Josh Ritter

Orchestra Hall

Singer/songwriter Josh Ritter, best known for his folky, Dylanesque tunes, added a full band and a broader scope on 2007's excellent The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. The results were spectacular, ranging from the rollicking, lyrically playful "To the Dogs or Whomever" to more straightforward rockers "Real Long Distance" and "Rumors," the latter of which features the line, "My orchestra is gigantic/This thing could sink the Titanic." That quip will get a more literal spin when Ritter returns to the Twin Cities to play a show backed by the Minnesota Orchestra, led by Sarah Hicks. He'll be playing favorites from his first five albums, plus tracks from his new disc, So Runs the World Away. Ritter's latest effort is partly a return to form, lowering the tempo a little with sparer arrangements driven more often than not by acoustic guitar and piano, but lovely ballads like "The Curse" and compelling oddities like "Rattling Locks" should all fill out nicely with a backing band worth capsizing over. $20-$55. 7:30 p.m. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.371.5656. —Bryan Miller



First Avenue

Yes, Courtney Love has issues. The cameras have been squarely aimed at Love since Kurt Cobain's suicide, and now it seems oddly natural to think about her purely in terms of her personal demons. But those same struggles make up the core of Love's best songs; the raw heartbreak on full display and the prospect of her whole life breaking down over the course of three minutes makes for some thrilling music that might have gotten unfairly lumped in with the rest of the late-'90s angst-fest. Her solo album failed to spark the kind of interest that might have allowed Love to climb out from under her own problems (at least in tabloid terms), so perhaps revitalizing Hole is Love's way of getting back to the music that made her a force, unburdened from carrying an act all on her own. Regardless, the possibility of seeing some of the most cathartic Hole material live should be enough for Love's fans or anyone looking for a (possibly frightening) release. With Foxy Shazam. 18+. $37.50. 10 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

saturDAY 7.17

Band of Horses

State Theatre

As indie rock has steadily gained popularity over the past few years, Band of Horses emerged as a flagship act, spring-boarding toward a certain kind of hushed stardom. Actually, it's not so quiet anymore—TV appearances, a song on the most recent Twilight soundtrack, and a No. 7 Billboard charting for their latest record (Infinite Arms) reveal just how much mainstream acceptance the group has. The fans who have been around since their debut may want to believe that the band is still some personal secret, but it's a lost cause. The musical landscape has changed, and Band of Horses have changed alongside it, moving towards alt-country twangin' and pluckin', but the band's ear for broad pop hooks and massive arrangements has been present the entire time. The major-label-mandated coat of gloss on their recent material is largely unnecessary, but it's part and parcel of the rock star treatment, and there's no more use in denying that Band of Horses are now rock stars. With Bryan Cates. All ages. $27.50. 7 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Ian Traas

saturDAY 7.17

Kanser 15-Year Anniversary Show


Normandale Lake Bandshell

Credit the deepening musicality of Haitian singjay Unicus or the parole-induced clarity (if not sobriety) of old-kid lothario New MC (a.k.a. Big Zach), but this year's Two for One seemed like the album only Kanser fans knew the group had in them. As on the bootleggy collections Table Scraps 3 and Playlist Uno, the new Kanser is drunk on melody with a wide streak of autobiographical reckoning, subtly competitive in its ease: It took wisdom beyond Zach's stoner-mack persona to embrace producer Big Jess and singer Alicia Steele (now practically a full member, along with DJ Gabe Garcia), but maybe it's all he could do to keep up with Unicus's panoramic post-dancehall with the Goodfellas. Two for One splits down the middle like a miniature Minneapolis Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, but the oddest couple in rap shows no sign of divorce, moving on together in More Than Lights, a live-hip-hop funk band that doesn't suck, with their own The Electric Prescription for All Your Funky Illz released last year. All of the above join Heiruspecs, Carnage, Aphrill (featuring Nomi and Toki Wright), Unknown Prophets, and a dozen others for a free, family-friendly daytime hip-hop event at the Normandale Lake Bandshell in Bloomington, celebrating 15 years of Kanser. Where you can't have stardom, you have family. All ages. Free. 2:30 p.m. 84th Street and Chalet Road, Bloomington; 952.563.8877. —Peter S. Scholtes

SunDAY 7.18

Lilith Fair

Target Center

When the Lilith Fair debuted in 1997, the all-femme, Sarah McLaughlin co-founded fest was as granola as all get-out; its lineup was frontloaded with Birkenstock bait like Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman, and the Indigo Girls. Finally, the younger sisters of dudes plunking down summer-job ducats for Lollapalooza and the Warped Tour had their own she-scene—for a few years, anyway. Now Lilith is back, and she's a market-savvy realist who recognizes the importance of diversifying genres to cover costs. Which isn't to say there's no granola on the 2010 Lilith bill, but that there are also servings of neo-soul (Jill Scott, Erykah Badu), pop country (Court Yard Hounds), VH1 Classic staples (Go-Go's, Heart, the Bangles), and, um, Rihanna. Rapper Nicki Minaj isn't slated to appear, but you can bet that someone behind the Lilith scenes thought about calling her manager. The Twin Cities date, relocated from Canterbury Park, will feature Sarah McLachlan, Heart, Metric, the Court Yard Hounds, Mary J. Blige, and locals Bella Ruse. All ages. $62-$245. 2 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900.—Ray Cummings

SunDAY 7.18

The Lower 48

The Cedar

The Lower 48 are the second case of a rather disturbing trend of top-notch local talent relocating to Portland, Oregon. First came Haley Bonar's defection in July of last year—thankfully only temporary as she's now returned to town and just played the Taste of Minnesota two weeks ago—then the absconding of this talented quartet last fall. The move hit all the harder as it came just weeks after the band released their excellent debut EP, Everywhere to Go, a collection of briskly strummed, wistful folk-pop powered by the close harmonies of co-vocalists Sarah Parson and Ben Braden, who were both still teenagers at the time of the album's release. For now it looks like the Lower 48 are staying put in Portland, but they're thankfully swinging back through their native land for a homecoming gig tonight at the Cedar alongside similarly underage pals in acoustic-rockin' Total Babe and elder statesman by default the Wapsipinicon. $8. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rob van Alstyne

monDAY 7.19

Ariel Pink

7th St. Entry

It was inevitable that, eventually, Ariel Rosenburg's pop aesthetic would evolve; the question was always when. Before Today, the L.A.-based songwriter's years-in-the-making answer, simultaneously represents professionalist progression and freak-scene status quo. Rosenburg and his band, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, still rock like a warped mash-up of '70s and '80s AM mores, like a Class of '82 mixtape exhumed from an especially moldy time capsule; the band's default mode remains flailing, unrepentant cheese that's oblivious to contemporary pop standards. Don't get it twisted—Rosenburg's still capable of staging "Butt-House Blondes" as Neanderthal near-porno theater, reveling in the grindhouse disco-prog of "Fright Night," or playing "Hot Body Rub" as hot-buttered mutant funk that makes James Brown seem squeaky clean—but the new tunes are supple, polished, and manicured, sequenced and trimmed to evoke maximum pleasure from an audience primed for bellowed bon mots like "Break me, castrate me, make me gay." With Puro Instinct and Magic Kids. 18+. $12. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775.—Ray Cummings


Bear in Heaven


Turf Club

There's something dark at the edges of Bear in Heaven's psychedelic rock, a miasma that shades what would otherwise be lush, synth-heavy songs with a sense of inky foreboding. That's not to say that the band traffics in big bursts of noise or loads of distortion (those might actually provide some sort of release from the druggy anxiety that's so central to their sound); they can get loud, but rarely angry. This would be the sound of a trip that borders on bad if it weren't for the bits of euphoria that pierce the darkness in tiny patches, flashes that feel extra large due to the rest of the music's murky strangeness. There are plenty of hooks here, but they're gnarled, twisted into shapes that seem unfamiliar until repeated listens unravel them. For those willing to work to get comfortable with the band's sound, there's a sizable payoff (especially in a live setting), but Bear in Heaven won't be holding your hand through the most twisted stretches. With Twin Sister and Mountain Man. 21+. $10. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Ian Traas

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