Music A-List



First Avenue

Spoon's celebrated indie-rock sound belongs to the less-is-more school of pop. The Texas quartet's terse writing, efficient arrangements, and lurking minimalist tilt don't translate into bare-bones music, however, suggesting another architectural adage: Genius lies in the details. It's the fine touches that make Spoon's latest, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, sound like it's probing fresh pop-rock frontiers while tapping some classic elements (specifically, R&B-style horns). If you're keeping score at home, there's also a flamenco guitar, string quartet, koto, and even a chamberlin in action. Still, what comes through is sleek, inventive music that speaks volumes with minimum ado. Take the way "Don't You Evah" builds its intro in layers, while its rhythms constantly shift among themselves and multi-tracked vocals swirl around each other like agitated swallows. Or little touches, like the way the disc's title matches the piano pulses permeating "The Ghost of You Lingers" (so, too, does Spoon's wily music.) Opening will be the Ponys, a Chicago quartet that plays echoey, psychedelic-laced garage rock driven by careening guitars, sounding like a cross between Sonic Youth and the best 1966 underground rock outfit in the neighborhood. $20/$22 at the door. Wednesday: 21+. 8:00 p.m. Thursday: All ages. 6:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Also Thursday —Rick Mason

Northrop Auditorium

Diffidence and uncertainty hover over much of Sky Blue Sky, Wilco's latest album. On song after song, Jeff Tweedy struggles with conundrums about the trustworthiness of love and the quality of existence. Tending toward wistful, often lovely ballads, the music nonetheless hangs between the avant-pop of latter day Wilco and the band's early alt-country roots (the latter most evident on the pedal-steel-driven "What Light"). Still, Wilco's sound is in prime form, thanks to the additions of versatile guitarist Nels Cline and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone. Cline's scorching jazz-rock flights emphatically punctuate a handful of tunes, while his earthier work repeatedly adds blues and folk-rock dimensions, along with Sansone's assorted keyboard flourishes. When Tweedy joins that pair on electric guitar, their triple-headed drive is almost Allmanesque. But such giddy moments are short-lived, with a studied moodiness prevailing. $42. 7:30 p.m. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.624.2345. —Rick Mason


DJ Krush

Perhaps one of the first international citizens of hip hop (disregarding, for a moment, Bam's always global-minded Zulu Nation), DJ Krush has been bringing the Japanese flavor to the culture's dinner table for almost 15 years, and is loved by mainstream and underground alike. He was first inspired to buy a mixer after seeing the seminal b-boy chronicle Wild Style, so you know his roots run thick. Damn near 10 albums deep, on the wheels of steel Krush is a rarity, mastering both the art of recording and of getting the dance floor as hyper as a heart attack. His early cook-ups of breakbeats and jazzy soundscapes have recently given way to a sleepier ambiance, but don't let the mellowness of age fool you—Krush will still do a Godzilla on your sonic sanity. With James Patrick. 18+. $10/$13 at the door. 10:00 p.m. 10 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3931.— Jordan Selbo

FRIDAY 10.12

Painted Saints CD-release show
Varsity Theatre

Lead by multi-instrumentalist Paul Fonfara, a virtuoso clarinet player with a handle on just about any music-making device you can throw at him, Painted Saints are perhaps the most accomplished local band you've never heard of. A transplant from an incestuous Denver music scene, Fonfara possesses a technical prowess that has been on display for years; he's a former member of Devotchka and touring sideman to Jim White, but it's his songwriting and orchestral creativity that get the limelight with Painted Saints. Live, Fonfara layers guitar, clarinet, strings, an archaic Colombian squeezebox, and whistles that would make Andrew Bird blush, resulting in a self-described "spaghetti western-heroin-klezmer-chamber country-sad-bastard thing." Also a talented painter, Fonfara pens lyrics that detail the kind of dark and vivid imagery one could imagine Hieronymus Bosch creating, were he raised in modern-day rural America. Also celebrating Painted Saints' second full-length release, The Bricks Might Breathe Again, are Mike Gunther and his Restless Souls, and Spaghetti Western String Co. 18+. $7. 9:00 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Christopher Matthew Jensen

Fiery Furnaces
Turf Club

Consider yourselves forewarned: In a live setting, your favorite Fiery Furnaces songs may seem markedly different from the studio versions you've become so accustomed to. They might be performed with different arrangements. They could feature odd vocal or genre inflections. They will probably arrive squished together alongside several other songs in a slapdash, whirlwind medley. Chicagoland-bred siblings Eleanor (vocals) and Matthew Friedberger (everything else) have long enjoyed prodding, twisting, and distending their untamed, indie-pop playthings in public, and as the duo's recorded oeuvre deepens, the opportunities to tinker only multiply. Widow City, the Furnaces' latest ode to the joys of a hyperactive, too-literate, globe-trotting imagination, favors a hearty classic-guitar rock sound over the usual spasms of synthesizer/keyboard goo (and is unusually concise). When the Friedbergers hit the stage tonight, expect everything you just read to be gleefully thrown out the window. $13/$15 at the door. 8:00 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Ray Cummings


Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
First Avenue

The pride of Bloomfield, New Jersey, the indefatigable Ted Leo plays sinewy post-punk loaded with urgent hooks and punctuated with gnarly electric guitar. Leo's torrent of storytelling lyrics suggests early Springsteen, maybe Billy Bragg or Graham Parker on the pub front. Like Bragg's, much of Leo's music is virulently (if not overtly) political. If he's not taking on big issues like war, as in the brutal "Bomb Repeat Bomb," from his latest, Living with the Living (Touch and Go), then it's grainy anthems about average folks trying to endure "in this land of grand decay." There's a touch of ska on Living, sonic references to the Clash, the Brit reggae band Steel Pulse, and the Kinks ("Army Bound" borrows directly from "Victoria"). But it's all ardent Ted Leo, cranking the amps, searching for truth in the rushing words, proving there's better Living through chemistry. With A Sides and His Mischief. $12/$14 at the door. 18+. 6:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. — Rick Mason

SUNDAY 10.14

Redukt Vol. II
Ritz Theater

The first Redukt show christened the Ritz Theatre as a rock venue. This proved a great gift, because it's arguably the best place to see underground music in town: The acoustics are superb, the seats comfy, and there are no pillars blocking your view. Redukt's second installation might not have the same novelty factor, but the bill is just as wide-ranging. Erik Wivinus unfurls acoustic ragas as Forgotten Works, and Jason Kesselring dusts off an electric guitar piece, promisingly named "Metalgazer," under the handle Cupid. The band Sarah Johnson have been described as a youthful outpouring of Id, and Arto Lindsay, er, savaging Glenn Branca, and will probably draw a crowd of gyrating No-Wave revivalists to the Ritz stage. Maps of Norway lurch between melody and noise like a drunken landlubber staggering through the narrow passages of a sinking boat, yet have enough presence to manifest fresh surprises at every chord change. All ages. $8. 7:30 p.m. 345 13th Ave. NE; 612.623.7660. —Cecile Cloutier


New Pornographers
First Avenue

Perpetual power-pop persuaders, the New Pornographers emerged from deepest Canada as a super collective side project obsessed with the prevailing sounds of another era. A decade later, the Pornos are critical darlings consistently turning out some of the smartest, most buoyant, heartily complex pop of any era. Carl Newman's songs strew references to a litany of pop predecessors as prolifically as Mets infielders drop pop flies—ELO, Bowie, Beach Boys, and obscurities infinitum. Meanwhile, alt-country princess Neko Case and new sidekick Kathryn Calder play pop sirens to the hilt. The genius behind Newman's (and fellow songwriter Dan Bejar's) pop forays is that they're far more peculiar than predictable, opting for the twists and tangents, however lushly melodic. That's even more the case on the new Challengers, which favors relatively dense eddies of eccentric pop craft over popsicle rushes. Opening will be former Delgados singer/guitarist Emma Pollock, whose solo debut, Watch the Fireworks, is a striking slab of shimmering, cerebral, mature pop (see review, p. 62). 18+. $18/$20 at the door. 8:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

Foundation Nightclub

There's plenty of things that the French don't necessarily do better than anyone else, they just...well, they invented the phrase je ne sais quoi for a reason. And while I can't quite explain why Le Cercle Rouge is cooler than any other heist flick I've seen, or why I'd rather drive an Alpine-Renault A110 than a Porsche 911, I can at least justify France's lock on house music with a few well-placed names: Daft Punk, Alex Gopher, Alan Braxe, and now Justice. The last group's recently released debut, a Led Zeppelin IV-ishly-titled record alternately called , or Cross, is rougher, scuzzier and more abrasive than the work of their predecessor countrymen; if Daft Punk's Discovery was the disco utopia of Larry Levan's Paradise Garage, Cross is a boom box and a flat slab of cardboard in an abandoned subway station. Their combination of electro pop-lock rhythms, thick funk bass, and heavy metal thunder is the best thing to happen to house since the genre went minimal. 18+. $15/$20 at the door. 8:00 p.m. 10 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3931. —Nate Patrin