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The xx, Major Lazer and Rusko, and more

Japandroids, you know, lightin' stuff on fire

WEDNESDAY 4.7

As Tall As Lions

Varsity Theater

With billowy clouds of synths building into thundering rampages of driving drums and guitars, quiet musings abruptly shifting into soaring sonic flights of fancy topped off by Dan Nigro's cascading vocals, plus the odd ethereal chorus and boho jazz trumpet accent, As Tall As Lions' sound is as eclectic as it is ambitious. The Long Island quartet's intensely textured drift, complete with multiple time signatures in many songs and frequent changes in mood(iness), owes a substantial debt to the progressive-rock era. ATAL's third album, last August's You Can't Take It With You, roams from quirky, earthy ambience to sparkling, stratospheric pop pastiches, while Nigro, somewhat skeptically, muses about finding meaning in life. A boozy, R&B vibe surfaces on one tune, "We's Be Waitin'," but Nigro undercuts its effectiveness by ludicrously singing through a megaphone. Opening is the Cincinnati duo Bad Veins, an indie-pop outfit with an improbably big sound thanks to a vintage reel-to-reel dubbed Irene. Singer-guitarist-keyboardist Benjamin Davis writes bristly tunes with sometimes grandiose hooks, his yearning vocals grappling with Irene's looming orchestrations, while Sebastien Schultz brings it back to earth with his gritty drumming. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rick Mason

THURSDAY 4.8

Surfer Blood

7th St. Entry

This could be your little brother's band: youthful and almost embarrassingly honest, stitching together an album in an off-campus apartment with cheap microphones and Pro Tools. Before they took on the Surfer Blood moniker and started popping up all over the web (and our own Current), the band went by Jabroni Sandwich, a name that sounds as much like an inside joke as it does that half-baked college jam group that your roommate swore was "really talented." But forget all that—the Florida band has managed to craft a debut (AstroCoast) full of cheery, winning guitar pop that's far more accomplished than their beginnings would have you believe. With the overt Beach Boys and Pavement influences, the songs seem tailor-made to hit indie fans at gut level, but these guys seem too eager, too sweet for brazen posturing. No knowing smirks for this band, just huge hooks and that sunny vibe that you've been itching for since the onset of spring. With Turbo Fruits. 18+. $9. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

Julian Casablancas

First Avenue

It's hard to believe it was almost 10 years ago that the Strokes dropped Is This It. The band's Lower East Side chic was equally as important as the minimalist punk rock they played, and at the heart of their image and sound was singer Julian Casablancas, whose effortless bravado and coolly unhinged vocals not only embodied the quintet's style but also provided them with a bona fide sex symbol. Having started so superbly, however, the band's two follow-ups were almost inevitably let downs, leaving everyone to seek out solo projects. Casablancas dropped his, Phrazes for the Young, last fall, and while it carried much of the old Strokes sensibilities and a little of the attitude, it was also more adventurous, with songs like "11th Dimension" and "Glass" draped in '80s electro pop. With a new Strokes album due this year, there may be more reason than mere nostalgia to look forward to Casablancas's return. With Funeral Party. 18+. $20/$22 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jeff Gage

FRIDAY 4.9

Galactic

Cabooze

New Orleans's Galactic long ago took on the task of taking Crescent City funk to new dimensions, and they have succeeded with audacious panache: fusing the second line and Mardi Gras Indian rhythms with acid jazz, hip hop, rock, even flirting with the avant-garde. The departure of Theryl DeClouet some years ago left the band without a singer, but Galactic never faltered, enlisting a slew of guests who have helped them soar even higher. Galactic's new Ya-Ka-May is a ferociously funky foray along the levee, picking up a formidable cross section of New Orleans musical royalty, including Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Bo Dollis, John Boutté, Trombone Shorty, and the ReBirth Brass Band. But the stellar contributions don't supersede the groove or the track as a whole, each a remarkable quilt of past, present, and future Big Easy. On top of that, Galactic pay tribute to bounce, a local street-party variation of hip hop that builds off New Orleans trad rhythms, with guest shots from such bounce artists as Katey Red and Sissy Nobby. Galactic will have a couple of pretty spectacular guests at the Cabooze: scintillating singer and percussionist Cyril Neville of the mighty Neville Brothers, and Corey Henry, the ReBirth's trombone player. Opening will be T Bird and the Breaks, a smokin' funk and R&B band out of Austin, Texas. Their juicy, horn-driven sound, mostly featuring lead singer Tim Crane's originals, suggests a Texas roadhouse band deeply informed by James Brown. 18+. $20/$22 at the door. 8 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason

The xx/jj

 

Varsity Theater

Despite only being teenagers at the time, the xx demonstrated remarkable maturity and diversity on their self-titled debut last year. The London trio's indie rock bears more than a little R&B influence, mixing in a surprising dose of Aaliyah with more predictable traces of the Cure. While their minimalist bent, which borders on downright shyness, is plenty seductive, what's most alluring about the band is the chemistry between the male and female vocalists: The soulful exchanges between Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft provide enough sparks to allow the xx's music to crackle and hiss without ever sneaking beyond their carefully reigned-in affections. Returning to Minneapolis after playing the Triple Rock last fall, the xx are joined by the similarly capital-letter-averse jj. The Swedish duo created a buzz last year simply by revealing next to nothing about their identity, so it will be intriguing to see how they stack up in the flesh. With Nosaj Thing. 18+. $14. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Jeff Gage

SATURDAY 4.10

Japandroids

7th St. Entry

While it provides a tantalizing jumping-off point, comparing this Vancouver act to art-punks No Age would be all too easy and a little misleading. Like their Los Angeles counterparts, Japandroids are two guys: Brian King and David Prowse. There is, indeed, a similarity in their sounds, as both bands produce a hell of a lot of noise with little more than big, jagged riffs and sweaty, propulsive drumming. But that's about as far as the comparison's usefulness goes, for Japandroids are utterly devoid of the artistic purviews or carefully crafted noise sprawl that propelled No Age to indie stardom. These Canadians play sloppily and aggressively, often shouting in unison vocals that do little more than exhibit a reckless, youthful exuberance and a preference for hanging out with girls over making art. Both sides of the coin are important, but we should nonetheless give thanks on this occasion for such a large helping of the Dionysian. With Avi Buffalo. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jeff Gage

SUNDAY 4.11

Major Lazer

First Avenue

Considering the pedigree of Major Lazer's two masterminds, the globetrotting DJs Diplo and Switch, there was really no need to come up with some nonsensical gimmick with which to promote the project. Fortunately, they did just that, claiming "Major Lazer" was in fact a Jamaican commando who lost his arms in the CIA's underground Zombie Wars of the '80s, for which he has received replacement laser limbs from the U.S. military. While utterly silly and entirely unnecessary, the back story is perfect for this heavyweight collaboration, which is a freewheeling and off-the-wall exploration of Jamaican dancehall music in all of its scattershot and experimental glory. The genre can make music out of any sound imaginable and does so gleefully, and Diplo and Switch return in kind on Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do! with cameos that range from Mr. Lex to Santigold (on the same song, no less). The result, not surprisingly, is an irresistibly good time. With Rusko. 18+. $13/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jeff Gage

Baaba Maal

The Cedar

Senegalese singer and songwriter Baaba Maal is a massive star in West Africa and, increasingly, much of Europe and the international music community. Although still steeped in the traditional music of northern Senegal, Maal received formal training in Dakar and Paris and long ago established a distinctive sound that incorporates a wide range of Afro-pop as well as western pop, soul, reggae, and other worldly influences. Maal's voice usually soars over his band's percolating rhythms, with a finely honed edge cutting to the heart of the matter, which is often spiritual. But his voice often is strangely subdued on his latest, Television, a collaboration with Brazilian Girls Didi Gutman and Sabina Sciubba. With Maal's vocals dialed down into the mix, Television often emphasizes the swirling electronica and Eurodance beats brought by the Girls. Still, some arresting moments: "Tindo" could almost be a moody U2 tune, "Miracle" is infused with sunny soukous, and the dark-toned "Dakar Moon" has a swampy/Caribbean feel that could have come from Daniel Lanois. Here, Maal will lead a nine-piece band, including griot and longtime associate Mansour Seck on vocals. All ages. $30/$35 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

MONDAY 4.12

Madeleine Peyroux

Dakota Jazz Club

Madeleine Peyroux has a serious Billie Holiday fixation. Which is fine because although they share an affinity for sly, slinky blues and jazz, Peyroux continues to assert her own personality. Most recently that was via the original compositions that prevailed on last year's Bare Bones, often dealing with, as one song is titled, "Love and Treachery." A few more contemporary grooves emerged there, particularly the jaunty "You Can't Do Me," written with Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Larry Klein. Still, Peyroux's phrasing, vintage jazz inclinations, and the timbre of her voice are sometimes uncannily like Holiday's. Although she's from Georgia, Peyroux essentially found her voice busking on the streets of Paris, an essence still permeating her music. $28-$45. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Tuesday —Rick Mason

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The Varsity Theater

1308 4th St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

612-604-0222

www.varsitytheater.org


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