Music Snob's Weekly Concert Picks - NBC4 Washington
The Music Snob
Your guide to D.C.'s live music scene

Music Snob's Weekly Concert Picks



    Famous Showdowns Between Outlaws and the Law

    The week in rock starts strong with two (sold-out) shows from brilliant experimental post-punk band TV on the Radio, one of the few truly great bands that earns critical acclaim and record sales.

    TV on the Radio, Monday and Tuesday at Nightclub 9:30 ... I'm sure I don't have to tell you about TV on the Radio because you either have a ticket or are browsing Craigslist for a spare one. Still touring off of their third LP, both of these shows have sold out. The group is primarily based on the duo of vocalist Tunde Adebimpe and multi-instrumentalist/producer David Andrew Sitek. They make fire-in-the belly post-punk that's a little too experimental to get the band lumped in with the many sound-alikes finding inspiration from that genre. Theirs is such a perfect blend of cutting edge and homage that they should sell out the 9:30 Club. They should be even bigger than they are. Dirty Projectors is quirkier, but expect a more traditional indie rock set. It is the vehicle for prolific songwriter Dave Longstreth's whimsical, folky pop rock. Longstreth is one of the current lords of lo-fi.

    The Detroit Cobras, Tuesday at the Rock and Roll Hotel ...The Detroit Cobras were among the first bands to break out in Detroit's garage rock renaissance. This band remains true to the soulful sounds of the '60s in tone. This is a cover band, but a really good one, playing great R&B song and lesser-known early rock & roll singles. The lineup is forever rotating, but the shows are always a retro good time. With Dex Romweber Duo.

    Exit Clov, Wednesday at Black Cat Backstage ... Local indie-pop rockers Exit Clov's spread through the D.C. scene largely because of their DIY determination. The band relentlessly promotes itself and self-released two EPs before 2006's "Respond Respond" was issued on Livewire Recordings. Sisters Emily and Susan harmonize over a mix of synth and violin as well as the standard rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums. The songs can be playful just as easily as they can be political. With Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band.

    The Avett Brothers, Thursday at GW's Lisner Auditorium ... North Carolina's Avett Brothers (Scott -- vocals, banjo -- and Seth -- vocals, guitar -- plus upright bassist and vocalist Bob Crawford) have been plucking away at folk and country for a decade, but it wasn't until 2007's "Emotionalism" that they really started to turn heads and prick ears. The album shows a terrific knack for pop songwriting without betraying roots arrangements, not unlike Andrew Bird.

    Bill Callahan, Friday at the Black Cat ... Better known as Smog, Bill Callahan has been making slow, somber and poignant acoustic folk music full of melancholy and wit for two decades. A four-tracker of the late '80s, as Smog Callahan was on the forefront of the lo-fi revolution in underground music, though he largely eschewed rock and roll. He experimented with sounds and more instruments over the years but mainly stayed an acoustic singer-songwriter. When he ditched the Smog handle a few years back, Callahan updated his sound will fuller arrangements and technology, but with the April release "Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle," Callahan returned to the mopey, lo-fi and sparse folk music Smog fans know and love him for.

    Band of Horses, Friday at Ram's Head Live ... After about a decade, the slow-tempo chamber folk group Carissa's Wierd called it quits, but multi-instrumentalists Ben Bridwell and Matthew Brooke kept working together, starting Band of Horses, one of the most hipster-hyped groups of the past few years. Brooke didn't last long, but Bridwell is going strong, slowly working on a third LP and on the road again. Bridwell has increased the pace of the music -- moving into mid-tempo and full-beard territory -- since his previous group. It is more of a folk rock sound with a Northwest imprint all over it, even as Bridwell has relocated from Seattle to his native South Carolina. He did keep a bit of that chamber pop sound, which is most evident in the rich arrangements on the studio recordings.

    Gipsy Kings, Friday and Saturday at Wolf Trap ... For 30 years the Gipsy Kings have been delivering terrific flamenco fused with pop and Spanish folk. Formed in France, the Kings had music in their blood. The Reyes brothers -- Nicolas and Andre, sons of established flamenco artist Jose -- teamed with cousins Jacques, Maurice and Tonino Baliardo (son of established flamenco guitarist Manitas de Plata) to play parties and weddings and merely busk on the streets, but they took their elders' music and, thanks to producer Claude Martinez, infused it with modern sounds for a new flamenco style that earned them increasingly bigger gigs and record deals. They have consistently but not exhaustively released records since the late '80s and continue to be one of the catchiest and most entertaining world beat bands around.

    Leo Kottke, Friday at the Birchmere ...Kottke remains one of the greatest pickers of all time. Born in Athens, Ga., long before it became the indie pop capital of the world, the man is a virtuoso who made the Twin Cities his home base and released his first LP in 1969 and quickly caught the ear of like-minded instrumental acoustic guitarist John Fahey. Wasn't long before the major labels came calling. Instrumental acoustic guitar records aren't hot sellers, but Kottke made the majors anyway. His frantic folk was born of acoustic country-blues but expanded over the years to fuse with jazz and rock. His collaborations with Phish bassist Mike Gordon have turned a whole new generation on to his impressive skill and incredible ear.

    Meat Puppets, Saturday at the Rock and Roll Hotel ... The Meat Puppets never really went away, but they hadn't been at full strength in years until their 2007 release, "Rise to Your Knees." Though guitarist Curt Kirkwood has released material under the Meat Puppets name -- 2000's "Golden Lies" -- without brother/bassist Cris, it just wasn't the same. But the brothers are going strong again. While "Rise to Your Knees" wasn't earth shattering, it was a return to form. It was a Meat Puppets record, and the Meat Puppets had been missed. This spring's "Sewn Together" is even stronger, and a better reminder of Meat Puppets past. Some of you may only know the Kirkwoods thanks to their guest appearance on Nirvana's "Unplugged" performance, and that's truly a shame. The brothers formed the band in 1980 and played avant garde punk, but by their second full-length, "Meat Puppets II," they were playing an unheard of fusion of country and punk, not the alt-country rock you might expect. Then with 1985's brilliant "Up on the Sun," the Pups had softened the edges a bit, embracing pop sounds though remaining fairly outside. The next decade was some hit or miss for the band, until the song "Backwater" became a minor hit thanks to that "Unplugged" appearance and the heavy rotation it got because of Kurt Cobain's death, but Cris' drug addiction kept him out of the picture from 1995 until "Rise to Your Knees." While the last two records don't reach the dizzying cowpunk heights of "II" and "Sun," they rank among the best Pups records of the past 20 years, and Curt's unique picking style is in full form. Opening is Retribution Gospel Choir, a sort of supergroup featuring Low's Alan Sparhawk. Initially it was founded as an outlet for Sparhawk and Mark Kozelek of Low-minded slowcore vets Red House Painters to turn out some classic rock riffs and up the energy. Kozelek dropped out before any studio recordings but stayed on as producer.

    Joe Lally and Glorytellers, Saturday at Black Cat Backstage ... When Fugazi formed in the mid-'80s, Joe Lally was arguably the least accomplished musician in the quartet, but with the possible exception of Ian MacKaye's howling scream, Lally's rolling bass became the most signature sound of that legendary band. With Fugazi on hiatus, Lally's been working on his solo project. Basically, Lally's live shows are jam sessions based on his songs. Much like they do for the recordings, Lally's musician friends who find themselves available will sit in with him, adding whatever they feel appropriate to surround Lally's still highly recognizable bass and quiet vocals. It's an organic performance, and each show is unique. Glorytellers is the latest project from singer/songwriter/guitarist Geoff Farina, better known for his long-running Boston post-rock group Karate and the sadcore/folk-pop duo Secret Stars. Glorytellers revisit Karate's post-rock but are more ballad-driven and jazzier. This show is part of the Black Cat's Second Saturdays series featuring local artists.

    Jonathan Richman with Tommy Larkins, Sunday at Nightclub 9:30 ... You may not know much about Richman's first band, The Modern Lovers, or his solo career, but you probably remember him from "There's Something About Mary" (he was the singing minstrel) and you've heard The Modern Lovers' "Road Runner" plenty of times, though maybe not as performed by Richman's band (the song has been covered to death). Richman was probably the first noteworthy Lou Reed-ophile. Following the break up of the Velvet Underground, Richman tried to fill that void with the Modern Lovers in the early '70s. Their self-titled debut didn't materialize until after the band broke up in '73 (keyboardist Jerry Harrison went on the Talking Heads and drummer David Robinson joined The Cars), but upon its release in 1976, during the punk rock explosion, it became an instant classic, despite being a collection of demos, and led to the formation of a new Modern Lovers, which released its first album in 1977. The sound wasn't quite the same, but it still is recognized as link between the Velvet Underground and punk rock. Since then, Richman has consistently released records that mix good bar band music with his penchant for quirky singer/songwritering. He is supported again by drummer Tommy Larkins of the brilliant, creepy Americana bands Giant Sand and Friends of Dean Martinez. With Vic Chestnutt.