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After the jump, four shows that did make the cut.
Tue 5/22: Lee Ranaldo at the Vic
Sonic Youth's artsiest and most avant-garde member is also its most accessible melodist, and his self-described "first rock album," Between the Times and the Tides, consists of "comfortably conventional rock-pop, apparently drawing on influences that include R.E.M., Blue Oyster Cult, and Neil Young," according to Peter Margasak. He opens for the comfortably conventional M. Ward.
Tue 5/22: Ane Brun at Lincoln Hall
The Scandinavian singer's new album, It All Starts With One, draws on unexpected lyrical influences, notes Peter Margasak. "Inspired by the Arab Spring, 'One' references a grassroots movement in nearly every verse, but it could be describing personal determination as easily as a populist revolution. Brun is just as effective when her purpose is plain, especially when she's singing about dying love."
Wed 5/23: Alejandro Escovedo at Lincoln Hall
Peter Margasak (again!) calls the rock 'n' roll troubadour's latest effort, Big Station (produced by the legendary Tony Visconti), a "mixed bag," but it still contains some masterful moments: "'Sally Was a Cop' is a wrenchingly powerful story about the Mexican drug war, which has turned into a military disaster terrorizing an innocent population: 'Thirty-five bodies lying in the highway / Children forced to dig the graves of their fathers.'"
Wed 5/23: Mythic Birds at the Hideout
In an apparent attempt to challenge themselves, three of the four members of this improvising group chose to rely on the bass clarinet, which I can tell you as a former bass clarinetist is a challenging instrument indeed. Peter Margasak (jeez) says the group clears that self-imposed hurdle with flying colors: "They do an excellent job pushing against the conventional limits of their instrumentation, with upper-register squalls that shatter into jagged split tones and serendipitous unison notes that create a surprisingly plush, velvety bottom."