Jeff Hanson @ Che Café. Some people sing in falsetto and sound like they're trying too hard. Like oversized trannies in size-four pumps. But a few do it exceptionally well. And the two most obvious modern examples are dead. Jeff Buckley was swallowed by an engorged river at night. Elliott Smith did himself in with a screwdriver. Not to curse him, but I hope Jeff Hanson doesn't die. He's got a heavenly falsetto that makes Smith sound like Glenn Danzig. Acoustic, tender, lovely little songs his are.
PLAN A: Bob Mould @ The Casbah. Nostalgia's fine, but no good concert's ever been played in a rearview mirror. You shouldn't go see Bob Mould because he helped shape alternative rock with Minneapolis' post-hardcore dandy Hüsker Dü. Nor because you saw “See a Little Light” (his first solo hit) on MTV's 120 Minutes at a tender moment in your life. Not even because Sugar was a radio-hit machine for a while. But if you have the past stuck in your head, be assured. At Austin City Limits late last year, after running through songs of his very, very solid new solo record Body of Song, he ended with a titanic trio of “I Apologize,” “Celebrated Summer” and “Makes No Sense at All.” Wigs were indeed flipped, and new days arose like the old. (Oh, and the dude from Fugazi is on drums. And ex-Meat Puppet Curt Kirkwood opens the show.). PLAN B: Galactic @ 4th & B. Noodle Dance Appreciation Night is in full stench with some of New Orleans' best musicians combining bayou funk and electronica. They're the Karl Denson's Tiny Universe of Katrina's Kitchen.
Tiger Army w/ The Phenomenauts @ House of Blues. Rockabilly and its edgier cousin, psychobilly, have now been reduced to a micro-niche shared with actual hair grease and pegged jeans. Rightfully so, since the music sounds like it lost touch as soon as American Graffiti was out of theaters. But if any two bands that abuse the stand-up bass (Reverend Horton Heat exempted) are good enough to pull in regular, non-Pony Boy folk, it's Tiger Army and The Phenomenauts. Tiger is blessed with frontman Nick 13, who's got golden pipes and refrains from pretending you can still score girls with full sets of teeth at a drive-in. The Phenomenauts incorporate spaceman kitsch into their live show, which is one of the best in the Bay Area.
PLAN A: Lee Rocker @ The Belly Up. Brian Setzer gets all the glory, but Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker has arguably made better solo records with an approach that's less “revival” and more rough-edge roots-rock. His newest, Runnin' with the Devil, features San Diego guitarist Buzz Campbell (Hot Rod Lincoln). It rips when it's not mellowing out for solid crooner country as in the truly great song, “The River Runs.”
PLAN A: Dougie MacLean @ Sherwood Auditorium. This is the feel-good concert of the week for those who love songs about “lasses” and lush green countrysides. MacLean is a national treasure in his native Scotland and a real storyteller live, introducing most of his songs with a tale that will make you smile and laugh and feel like the world is a better place. The wispy naturalism loses a bit in translation with American audiences, but the BBC did a 40-minute documentary on this man's life for a reason. Expect him to lead you in a few sing-alongs, which elevate a simple concert into a spine-tingling group experience. PLAN B: Mason Jennings w/ Chad Vangaalen at The Belly Up. Besides Bob Mould, this is the other can't-miss show this week for underground music fans. Mason Jennings sold buckets of records out of his trunk for years. His charm is his sleepy cool, à la Jack Johnson, but his style is more Midwestern and poetic. Earlier this year, Epic Records told Modest Mouse, “Hey, you made us millions-let's pretend you have your own record label.” As his first signing, frontman Isaac Brock chose Jennings. Chad Vangaalen's first album on Sub Pop unfortunately got out-hyped by Wolf Parade's debut, but it's sleeping its way into the right hearts as we speak.
Walk the Line @ your local theater. It's nearly exiting the Cineplex Highway onto Rental Road. Don't let it slip you by. Johnny Cash was meant to be seen as larger than life.
PLAN A: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey @ Winston's. Quite simply, one of the best young jazz bands playing music right now. The piano-bass-drums trio is experimental at heart but realizes taking today's crowds to the nether regions of jazz just makes their eyes wobble in their heads. So along with warped originals that aren't short on humor (yeah, instrumental music can have audible punch lines in the right hands), they throw in tweaked covers, including Mingus, Hendrix, Brian Wilson, The Flaming Lips, Neil Young and even Björk. A must-see for jazz heads. PLAN B: Archer Prewitt @ The Casbah. The Sea and Cake was a precious and phenomenal band, part post-rock and part bubbly lounge. On his own, S&C grad Archer Prewitt is nothing less than phenomenal. His new record, Wilderness, is stripped-down, mostly acoustic pop songs that are worth way more than a buck a download.