This week's not nearly as busy as last week when it comes to premier shows -- unless you're set to go apey over Boss tunes -- but there are plenty of local acts and touring singer-songwriters filling the calendar, leading up to independent heavyweights The National and their three sold out shows at 9:30 Club.
Mixel Pixel, Monday at Galaxy Hut ... Mixel Pixel began more than a decade ago as four-tracker Rob Corradetti's U.S. Postal Service collaborations, then took form with his partnership with Matt Kaukeinen, and it has since grown into a quartet. Often, they still sound like a direct descendant of Corradetti's experimental electronic twee. But with their growth in numbers, there's been a growth to a fuller sound. The band is playful, and their indie pop songs are littered with gimmicky instruments and electronic toys.
Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Tuesday at Iota ...Elvis Perkins in Dearland is the folk-rock quartet of Anthony Perkins' singering-songwritering son. His reflective songs carry an air of tragedy, yet there is often a certain optimism in the music. Comparisons abound -- Bob Dylan (what worthwhile folk singer doesn't face that one) and Leonard Cohen (probably more accurate) -- but he also reminds of local singer-songwriter Benjy Ferree, particularly when Elvis is in Dearland. Their self-titled debut came out in March following about two years after Perkins' debut, "Ash Wednesday." With the Woes.
Edie Sedgwick, The Poison Arrows and Olivia Mancini & the Mates, Tuesday at Black Cat Backstage ... Another post-Supersystem/El Guapo outfit, Edie Sedgwick is the stage name of Justin Moyer, borrowed from the Andy Warhol companion. In this guise, Moyer makes glammy rock that leans on electronics. Call it the best of both Bowies. The Poison Arrows has one of the more interesting and unique histories in underground music. The band's name dates back to the mid-'90s, but leader Justin Sinkovich left Knoxville for Chicago, where he started the ambitious, noisy and post-rock-leaning Atombombpocketknife, which broke up too soon. Sinkovich then took on the name The Poison Arrows as his experimental electronic persona but soon swelled it to a trio, including Patrick Morris, a former bassist for math-rockers Don Caballero. Math rock being a sibling of post rock, you can pretty much guess what The Poison Arrows lean toward, particularly both those genre's nods to jazz, but there is also a more brooding form of classic, mid-'90s indie rock there, as well as a penchant for songs that seem worthy of a Michael Mann soundtrack. Olivia Mancini & The Mates is a Washington Social Club side project turned main gig for Mancini. WSC -- now in indefinite-to-permanent hibernation -- made great, punky pop rock, showing great promise with the 2004 album "Catching Looks," but they grew stagnant in the following years and never really advanced their music or their following. This group might actually fair better outside the local scene, despite their claim of fierce independence. They've got less punk in the mix -- they prefer rock, soul and sunny, '60s pop -- and more playfulness.
St. Vincent, Friday at the Black Cat ...St. Vincent is the musical moniker for the prodigiously talented Annie Clark. Clark played guitar in support of Sufjan Stevens and The Polyphonic Spree before making her solo ascent. As St. Vincent, she tends to take the stage alone, switching between guitar and keys. On the former, she demonstrates why she was picked by Sufjan and The Spree. She's got impressively dexterous fingers on the six-string, accompanying her sweet, soulful vocals with strumming and picking that mostly sounds like post-rock guitar work, but she also can get a little bit heavy, borderline shredding on a couple of songs. Her sets sometime feel like poetry readings, and she is endearing with her earnestness and humor, both inside and outside of her songs. "Actor," released May 5, is ambitious and darker than her previous LP, the sweet, funny "Marry Me."
Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Saturday at the Birchmere ... Louisville's Will Oldham seems to have settled on Bonnie "Prince" Billy as his stage name, but it doesn't matter what he calls himself when he's recording or performing -- he's also been Palace Songs, Palace Brothers and Palace Music -- it's always Will Oldham. His rustic folk is usually sparse, but he's been known to get help from a lot of underground aces. It's a creepy kind of Americana bolstered with touches of rock. Dare I say rock? At the risk of being misleading, elements are there, particularly elements of the post-rock of his hometown, but he's always down tempo and beautifully drab, to match his terrific but sleepy voice. Mainly, it's a modern version of the folk and traditional music of his region.
Jukebox the Ghost, Saturday at the Rock and Roll Hotel ... The piano-driven and dance-friendly power pop of Jukebox the Ghost is pop music for fans of Ben Folds, but it has a playfulness and edge that Ben seemed to lose long before he Folded his Five after three albums. Five fans should think of this as what might have been. Fans of Folds' suburban heartthroberry might not be so smitten, but they'll find a sometime companion in this band. And instead of letting the piano cover the guitar parts, Jukebox keeps the guitar and lets the piano cover the backside. With Jenny Owen Youngs.
The Bangles, Saturday at the State Theatre ... Why support this '80s revival over so many others? I really don't know. Something about the listing just grabbed my eye. I was never really a fan growing up, but their songs are an indelible part of my youth, and I always regarded them kindly, never felt the need to turn them off. But maybe it's just remembering the way a pre-adolescent boy felt watching Susanna Hoffs sing "Walk Like an Egyptian" on MTV. And the prevalence of the term -- and culture of -- "cougar" in pop culture these days.
The National, Sunday (7p.m. and 11:30 p.m.) and Monday at 9:30 Club ...The National, a mellow rock band that blends alt-country, chamber pop and Britpop, is one you've probably heard of by now. I am convinced that these guys will be on a major label soon, though given their independent following -- three shows at 9:30! -- maybe that won't be necessary. This band is a grower. Over the course of releasing two full lengths and an acclaimed EP, the group's fan base slowly swelled. The 2005 release saw the band reaching new heights, albeit still slowly. It can take a while to appreciate the nuances and subtle brilliance. "Boxer" was an extension of the previous record. There wasn't too much different, but the band continued creating little, hushed rock anthems. It's been a while, though, so hopefully they've got some new songs ready for us.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Sunday at the State Theatre ... About 30 years ago, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band revived a New Orleans tradition and refreshed it with an infusion of R&B for an exciting, jamfan-friendly sound. Their innovations shined bright in the '80s but grew tired in the '90s. They're back to making exciting, funky brass band sounds the past 10 years or so, though. Like many (Most? All?) New Orleans artists, this group responded to Hurricane Katrina with an album about it, but instead of writing their own tunes about the tragedy, they channeled Marvin Gaye's socio-political frustrations of the early '70s by reinterpreting his classic "What's Going On?" album in 2006.