LCD Soundsystem, Deerhunter, and more

Dream-pop phenoms Phantogram

FRIDAY 10.22


Fine Line Music Café

If it weren't for the rock-solid beats anchoring them, the songs from New York duo Phantogram would float away, buoyed on expanses of sweetly chiming guitars and singer Sarah Barthel's sighing vocals. It's equal parts trip-hop and dream-pop, though it has evolved by moving past the former's sense of melodrama and the latter's soft-focus melodies; it's an animal all its own. Phantogram can feel grounded and immediate enough to qualify as "catchy," but the hooks are surprisingly light, often pared down to a guitar laced heavily with echo, breathy cooing, and Josh Carter's head-nodding drums holding everything together. Just when you think a song has drifted too far away from its center, the pair introduces something odd or noisy enough to shock you out of your lull, a dark balance to the woozy beauty. Carter and Barthel have turned out a fully realized sound after only two EPs and a debut album, and if you haven't caught them on their past two trips through the Twin Cities, now's your chance. With Josiah Wolf of WHY? 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Ian Traas


Great Big Sea

Pantages Theatre

Emerging from the St. John's pub scene nearly two decades ago and rooted in the rough-and-tumble, Celtic-laced folk music of its home province, Newfoundland's Great Big Sea specialize in forging a fervid cross between traditional and contemporary music. Employing mostly trad instrumentation running to mandolin, fiddle, pipes, and whistle, the band often uses a drum kit to kick the tunes into raucous overdrive, including the rousing pub anthems "Road to Ruin" and "Wandering Ways" on GBS's latest, Safe Upon the Shore. The title track, on the other hand, is an original tragic seafaring tale that easily matches Maritimes trad fare, especially showing off GBS's bracing a capella harmonies. All the new tracks are originals except for a sprightly cover of the Kinks' "Have A Cuppa Tea" and the folk standard "Gallows Pole," but even then GBS's rousing version is based on Led Zeppelin's. A number of the pieces are collaborations with other Canadian songwriters, notably Randy Bachman. The band also got fresh inspiration from recording several tracks in New Orleans with producer Steve Berlin and a smattering of locals, most prominently guitarist Sonny Landreth and the trombone onslaught of Bonerama. Renowned for their live energy, Great Big Sea should come on like a wave of the icy north Atlantic in the face. $30-$40. 8 p.m. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason


Fine Line Music Café

Looks like these Georgia boys got their titles switched. Deerhunter dropped Microcastle in 2008, but that title's a better fit for the just-released Halcyon Digest, a creamy compendium of carefully crafted sleeper-cell pop. Microcastle's marvels, by contrast, felt less present-tense immediate than past-tense flashback. Anyway, on this Digest, swooning glo-fi money shots abound: the florescent, Mersey Beat undertow of "Don't Cry;" the rickety, wind-up grind of "Revival;" secondary-songwriter Luckett Pundt's insidiously panther-like contributions ("Desire Lines," "Fountain Stairs"). In a blind listening test, you—or maybe your mom—would be hard-pressed to identify this as the same band that cobbled together mangy magenta moods back in 2007 as Cryptograms. The best part? They're just getting started—and even when they're on pause, you can count on wavy, hazy Atlas Sound and Lotus Plaza discs to zone out to. With Real Estate and Casino vs. Japan. 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Ray Cummings

LCD Soundsystem

Roy Wilkins Auditorium

James Murphy and band began to breathe in 2002, releasing three singles throughout the year on Murphy's brand-new label, DFA, and becoming a flagship of New York cool while chasing a certain version of honesty. One of those singles turned out to be more or less decade-defining: the lament-of-cool "Losing My Edge," a song that, at the time and in retrospect, captured perfectly the tenor of a pretty frustrating decade in which connotation and appropriation seemed as close as we could get to real cultural weight. So that's how a star is born. Murphy's circuitous career brought him from being a writer on Seinfeld (almost) to work as a sought-after New York DJ and producer, acclaim and fame as a dance/punk alchemist, and finally a position that will allow him to take full advantage of those laurels. Eight years, four albums, 18 singles, and innumerable classic interviews later (his headlined quote from a Guardian interview in 2004 is one for the books: "I speak as a lifetime failure"), Murphy and the gang are putting LCD Soundsystem in the memory box. This year they've been on what he calls an "album schedule—release, press, videos, and tour" in support of their retirement and their new record, the Los Angeles-bred This Is Happening. That record's opening song, before bounding straight into a beat that sounds culled from the mind of a cyborg Marc Bolan, declares: "It's the end of an era, it's true." Going by the almost unanimously rave reviews LCD Soundsystem are getting from the live shows they've put on this year, they intend to write their swansong with dignified spark and polish. With Hot Chip. $35. 8 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.989.5151. —Andrew Flanagan

SUNDAY 10.24

Blonde Redhead


First Avenue

Though Blonde Redhead enjoyed some commercial success with their 2007 release, 23, the band has always placed its emphasis on well-shaped atmospherics, letting their sound wash over listeners in a mist of diffused guitars and opaque lyrics. At the time, the band's predilection for avant garde waves of noise and feedback made their move toward pop surprising, but with recent release Penny Sparkle, they seem to have embraced the accessibility that took fans by surprise just three years ago. Even so, BR retains a penchant for constructing vistas of sound where the beautiful and the raw coexist, and for their current tour, they've picked up an opening act that suits their level of meticulous sound design. Opener Pantha du Prince (a.k.a Hendrik Weber) is a German producer who shares BR's love of classic shoegaze, but uses techno's thumping structure as a foundation on which to build his haunted house. For once, the tourmates aren't just friends, but artists with complementary visions aiming to provide an immersive experience. 18+. $18. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

MONDAY 10.25

Sleigh Bells

Triple Rock Social Club

The dynamic duo of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss jingles it up with such revolutionary zest that Sleigh Bells have emerged as one of this year's most impressive buzz bands. And the emphasis is definitely on buzz, since SB's sound is a magnificent, grinding mash of churning guitars, searing synths, thunderous beats, orchestrated distortion, blistering reverb, delicious sludge, and twisted metal riffs. Yet Miller has crafted a melodic core that's such pure pop its sugary nature is the perfect juxtaposition to SB's bitter exterior, all the more so because Krauss's sweet, girl-groupish singing weaves through it all. Even her razor-sharp screams slather icing on Miller's noise-popsical. On Treats, Sleigh Bell's debut album, Krauss variously suggests Debbie Harry, M.I.A., and Ronnie Spector; Funkadelic crops up via a sample; there are intimations of Sonic Youth, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Black Sabbath, and Phil Spector's famed Wall of Sound, the latter so vivid on "Rill Rill" that it threatens to morph into the Ronettes' "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"—the perfect spot for sleigh bells. 18+. $12/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Rick Mason

Max Weinberg Big Band

Guthrie Theater

The formal confirmation that bandleader Max Weinberg would indeed not be joining Conan O'Brien on his new TV program (revealed first in City Pages months ago, by the way) somewhat anticlimactically ended that lingering melodrama, finally allowing people without lives to get back to them. But weep not for the mighty Max, who not only still has a pretty good, 36-years-and-counting gig with the E Street Band, but is now also leading a nifty 15-piece big band that will play its second local gig in just over three months. At the Dakota in July, Weinberg, his drum kit out in front of the band, seemed to be having a blast, introducing the tunes with stories and self-deprecating humor that really connected with the appreciative crowd. The band swung nicely with an energetic kick from Weinberg's power drumming. The repertoire was mostly classic big band stuff, with a special emphasis on Weinberg inspiration Buddy Rich, fellow Jerseyites Count Basie and Frank Sinatra, plus vintage TV themes from the '50s and '60s. There was also a cool Beatles medley based on a Basie arrangement, plus a couple of requisite Springsteen covers: "Born To Run," which was OK in a big band context, and "Kitty's Back," which was just about perfect. $37-$42. 7:30 p.m. 818 Second St. S., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224. —Rick Mason


The Black Angels

Varsity Theater

The Black Angels have always resembled the stoners who other stoners fear, and maybe that's the truth. Their riffs sound like heavy metal being played through an impenetrable waterfall of boiling toxic waste, but on their new Phosphene Dream, the Black Angels have honed what was previously unrelenting sludginess into jagged points. Listening to it is the sonic equivalent of being smacked across the face with a broken whiskey bottle. Simply put, it's a more listenable (if still staggeringly harsh) entry into the psych-rock pantheon than most. There are forays into almost White Stripesian garage rock at turns and the overall sound is a bit cleaner (read: you can pick out the individual instruments fairly easily), but don't be fooled—the crushing, foreboding darkness and general malcontentedness omnipresent in the Black Angels' work is still at the forefront and it's amazing, really, that the Angels are still so pissed off. In the end, though, it's our gain that they refuse to just be OK with it—whatever "it" might be—and continue to howl at the top of their lungs, maybe just to feel something, anything. Bring your earplugs and maybe your antidepressants, this is a live show that is astonishingly loud—in every sense of that phrase. With StrangeLights. 18+. $14. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Pat O'Brien

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