LIARS 10/25, EMPTY BOTTLE; 10/26, FIRESIDE BOWL The Liars' debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (Blast First/Mute), released last fall, did more to reclaim New York's title as a capital of joli laid rock 'n' roll excitement than almost any other contemporaneous contender. The Liars are inspired by a continuum of waves (new, no, and neo new) to foster restlessness rather than ensure familiarity (keep your Strokes to yourself). Jagged, ragged, and unafraid of its own brilliance, the new EP Fins to Make Us More Fish-Like keeps the energy up--"Pillars Were Hollow and Filled With Candy So We Tore Them Down" and "Everyday Is a Child With Teeth" jump out of the box like they had to be released now! The nasty and merry Yeah Yeah Yeahs headline. RIVER CITY REBELS 10/25, FIRESIDE BOWL Though it might have been blasphemous to suggest back when they were saving the world from fascism and interminable guitar noodling, the Clash were a great pop singles band. Now that pop and punk are no longer expected to be exclusive, third- and fourth-generation imitators are more likely to emulate the way "White Riot" and "Janie Jones" and "Career Opportunities" come bounding out of a jukebox than to embrace their passionate politics. Few youngsters can approximate that infectious concision even once, but on their third album, No Good, No Time, No Pride (Victory), Vermont's River City Rebels slam it home twice--first with the riffy opening cut "Such a Bore," then on the howling "Life's a Drag." The rest: less catchy but rock solid, with sax and trombone lending depth to the usual guitar and bass. DESTROYER 10/26, ABBEY PUB Fidgety pop spirit Daniel Bejar has been a member of Vancouver Nights and the New Pornographers, but he seems most comfortable "leading" his band Destroyer, of which he's the only steady member. On Destroyer's third album, This Night (Merge), Bejar's music finally catches up with his poesy, no mean feat considering he's setting the pace with surreal turns like "Somewhere an olive branch is being planted / In honor of a dancer's body and, granted / You could take this as a sign / That there is life outside the mine." Nicolas Bragg's fleshy lead guitar inspires Bejar to crank it up himself, giving a little corporeal weight to his ethereal glam pop. THE STANDARD 10/28, EMPTY BOTTLE This Portland-based quintet was once called American Standard, until they realized they shared that name with too many other bands--and one toilet company enjoying plenty of free advertising. On their second album, August (Touch and Go), a solid hunk of 90s-style indie rock, the guitars are warm and warbling, the keyboards layered yet unobtrusive, and front man Tim Putnam's voice quavers with a combination of Neil Young's soul and Steve Malkmus's preciousness. ANNUAL HALLOWEEN BASH 10/30, DOUBLE DOOR Every year at Halloween local bands don secondhand finery (and in some cases fake hair) to mimic the look as well as the sound of beloved classic-rock titans. This year's highlights should be the mighty Monster Trux as Suicidal Tendencies ("classic" ST, I'm assuming), the rocking Last Vegas as Foghat, Local H as ZZ Top, and the Gaza Strippers as the ever underrated Blue Oyster Cult. All it would take for the Strippers to win my heart forever would be a reprise of the SNL skit where Will Farrell's overzealous cowbell thumping drowns out the rest of the band during the recording of "Don't Fear the Reaper." As always, expect surprise guests. RICHARD PINHAS 10/30, SCHUBAS French guitarist Richard Pinhas, late of the prog band Heldon, has often been compared to Robert Fripp, and not unjustly--both men gradually moved from rock into the realm of experimental sound. Over the past decade, Pinhas' electronic guitar manipulation has won him a new audience. On Event and Repetitions (Cuneiform), recorded live to digital using an electronic processing system he developed himself, layered loops of guitar effluvia separate into streams that flow back into a river of drone. "GSYBE (Thanks To)" builds and climaxes a la the Montreal band it's named for, but exceeds its model both in density and duration, running more than 28 minutes. SCENE CREAMERS 10/30, EMPTY BOTTLE; 10/31, FIRESIDE BOWL This buzz-heavy new quartet, featuring former Make-Up members Ian Svenonius and Michelle Mae, won't have any product to push until Drag City releases I Suck On That Emotion in January, but they've been touring all summer and fall to give folks a preview. Svenonius and Mae's recent collaboration (with Steve McCarty, Jessica Espeleta, and Neil Hagerty) as Weird War on the Drag City album of the same name might offer a hint of what to expect: a tumbledown castle of rattle-bag rock, each song embarking on the quest for the perfect state of looseness along a different path. DRAG THE RIVER 10/31, EMPTY BOTTLE Drag the River is the band most likely to break your heart on the Upland Records roster, a rootsy subsidiary of Joe Carducci's Owned and Operated. On its new album, Closed, the Colorado-based quartet smothers its sorrows beneath a blanket of boozy country melancholy. Even the livelier cuts--like "Get Drunk," which captures the initial euphoria of a strong buzz--hint at the bitterness and bile to come. "Lost Weekend" evokes that dark hour when the bars shut down, and with his poignant whine, front man Chad Price sounds as if he's girding himself for another night on the sidewalk, waiting for the early-morning taprooms to open. It takes a mighty talent to make such a state sound this inviting. LEGENDARY PINK DOTS 10/31, DOUBLE DOOR Founded in London 22 years ago as part of a revolutionary art movement consisting only of themselves (though those who consider Current 93 and Death in June kindred spirits aren't far off), this band is legendary--at least in those odd-bird circles that celebrate the weird and the beautiful. Part goth, part Canterbury prog, part electronica/industrial, and all sui generis fantasia, the Dots nourish their followers with so steady a diet of limited editions, special editions, fan-club-only releases, and side projects on so many tiny labels that even the diehards at the band's semiofficial Web site can't come up with a definitive discography. The full unit tours rarely, but when they do their shows stray into the far reaches of the band's considerable catalog.