PLAN A: The Octopus Project, Pal&- Drome, Bruin @ Soda Bar. Austin electro-rockers The Octopus Project don't typically write songs with lyrics, but even when they aren't singing, you can tell they're super-psyched to be alive. With their crisscrossing synth riffs, rocking guitars and whimsical music videos, they evoke a feeling of pure joy. PLAN B: Nick Waterhouse, The Amandas, DJ Claire @ The Casbah. Nick Waterhouse is so retro he even dresses like he's from the 1960s. Of course, he's not as much of a heartbreaker as Sharon Jones, what with those thick-framed glasses, spiffy button-up shirts and close-cropped haircut. But his horn-heavy, surf-tinged R&B sure has soul. BACKUP PLAN: The Paragraphs, Western Scene, Tori Rogg @ Belly Up Tavern.
Thursday, Nov. 8
PLAN A: METZ, Mr. Gnome, Manuok, Eighteen Individual Eyes @ Soda Bar. Time to batten down the garage and hold the Microkorg tight— METZ is coming, and they're bound to leave a trail of broken indie bands in their wake. Channeling the volatile energy of The Nation of Ulysses and The Jesus Lizard, this Toronto trio makes some of the loudest, heaviest, most refreshingly brutal indie-rock I've heard all year. PLAN B: Jens Lekman, Taken by Trees @ Belly Up Tavern. On his new album, I Know What Love Isn't, Swedish songsmith Jens Lekman grapples with a heart-shattering breakup in a way only Jens Lekman can—using sharp, witty observation; flowery, bright-hued arrangements; and a knack for beguiling melody. BACKUP PLAN: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Quasi @ The Casbah.
Friday, Nov. 9
PLAN A: Retox, The Creepy Creeps, Regents @ The Tower Bar. Best leave the open-toed shoes and expensive glasses at home for this one: Retox takes hardcore punk to such an ear-splitting, eye-blackening extreme that even a traditional circle pit can't contain the chaos. But you can count on The Creepy Creeps to lighten things up a bit with their tongue-in-cheek surf-punk. PLAN B: Smoking Popes, Luther, Dan Padilla @ Soda Bar. Chicago's Smoking Popes have taken a turn for the cheesy in recent years, but their 1994 album, Born to Quit, is still a classic of crooning pop-punk. To celebrate the album's recent reissue, they've been performing it front-to-back. BACKUP PLAN: Twin Sister, Cuckoo Chaos, Clockart @ Kensington Club.
Saturday, Nov. 10
PLAN A: Titus Andronicus, Ceremony, Weatherbox @ The Irenic. With the rawness of early Against Me!, the theatricality of Bruce Springsteen and the bookish taste of an English major, Titus Andronicus specialize in their own kind of brainy, sprawling punk. Even if you don't get all the references and inside jokes on their new album, Local Business, its hard-charging guitars and rawthroated screams makes for a thrilling listen. PLAN B: And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Technicolors, Ghetto Blaster @ The Casbah. Trail of Dead have always sounded rather volatile, delivering red-hot anthems only to go quiet and dreamy. That's especially the case on their new album, Lost Songs: The explosive, slow-burning track "Up to Infinity" is about the violence currently going on in Syria. BACKUP PLAN: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, The Midnight Pine, Blue in the Face @ Soda Bar.
Sunday, Nov. 11
PLAN A: Penis Hickey, Rat Jam, Creative Conspiracy @ Ché Café. Granted, I'm sure most of you will prefer to see Minus the Bear and Cursive (see "Backup Plan"), but I'm way more intrigued by Penis Hickey. The local duo's self-described "FreEjAZzcoRe"—a mix of atonal bass, free-jazz drums and the occasional scream—is as delightful as their name is hilarious. BACKUP PLAN: Minus the Bear, Cursive, Girl in a Coma @ House of Blues.
Monday, Nov. 12
PLAN A: Tilly and the Wall, Y La Bamba, Icky Blossoms @ The Casbah. After years of relying on a tap-dancer to keep the beat, Tilly and the Wall added a drummer into the mix back in 2008. It really helps on their new album, Heavy Mood, a fun slab of tweeas-fuck dance tunes backed with some nice, heavy beats. BACKUP PLAN: Talkdemonic, Extra Classic, Sociawki @ Soda Bar.
Tuesday, Nov. 13
PLAN A: Witch Mountain, Castle, Archons @ The Casbah. Most doom-metal bands have a singer with a deep, scary growl. Not Witch Mountain—the Portland outfit rounds out its monster riffs with singer Uta Plotkin's soaring, almost operatic howls. BACKUP PLAN: The Internet @ Porter's Pub.