Wednesday, May 21
PLAN A: El Monte Slim, Brawley @ The Casbah. Local Americana group El Monte Slim have the honor of receiving one of our coveted "EXTRASPECIALGOOD" designations in this year's Great Demo Review. So, what does that mean? It means you should drop whatever you're doing on Wednesday and sing along with their hand-clapping, foot-stomping alt-country tunes.
Thursday, May 22
PLAN A: Papercuts, The Blank Tapes, Line & Circle @ Soda Bar. San Francisco's Papercuts have been releasing beautifully arranged indie-pop records for more than a decade. Sometimes they veer closer to psychedelic rock, other times baroque pop. But one thing's pretty much constant: The songs are always good, and their newest album, Life Among the Savages , keeps up that streak with nine more. BACKUP PLAN: Archons, Thrones, Cryptic Languages @ Til-Two Club.
Friday, May 23
PLAN A: Against Me!, Tony Molina, Big Eyes @ House of Blues. Against Me!'s newest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues , is both a concept album about a transgender prostitute and a semi-autobiographical reflection on singer Laura Jane Grace's own experience with sexual-identity issues. It's also one of the most intensely cathartic and personal punk albums to be released in a long while, and the band will put that into practice with its blistering live show. PLAN B: Their/They're/There, Creative Adult, The Down House, Big Bad Buffalo @ The Che Café. Their/They're/There aren't just a band for grammar sticklers; they're (not their or there) a solid band of indie rockers who should remind you of those halcyon days before Braid broke up the first time, or before Death Cab for Cutie lost the plot. BACKUP PLAN: The Burning of Rome, Hell or Highwater, Eukaryst, Fairy Bones @ The Casbah.
Saturday, May 24
PLAN A: Matt Pond PA, The Lighthouse and the Whaler, Gary Hankins @ Soda Bar. My favorite Matt Pond PA album has always been The Nature of Maps , but 2004's Emblems comes pretty close. And you might have noticed this year is its 10th anniversary, so to commemorate, the group is performing the album on tour. Hear how lush chamber folk is supposed to sound. PLAN B: Baths, Young Fathers, P. Morris @ The Casbah. I saw Baths last year at The Casbah, and it pretty much turned into a mega-fun dance party. There's a pretty solid chance of that happening again, so limber up and bring your A-game when they bring the beats back. BACKUP PLAN: John Meeks, The Midnight Pine @ Black Cat Bar.
Sunday, May 25
PLAN A: Protomartyr, Viv Vates, Lube @ The Hideout. Click here for my feature on Protomartyr, a Detroit post-punk band that combines abrasive melodies with a dark sense of humor. One of my favorite acts right now. PLAN B: SOHN, Mr. Littlejeans @ The Casbah. London's SOHN has, first and foremost, a great design aesthetic. But that's not why you're going to see him. You're going because his sultry and atmospheric electronic productions find the perfect middle ground between avant-garde pop and R&B slow jams. Bring your sweetheart and get close while he does his thing. BACKUP PLAN: Angelic Upstarts, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, The Generators, PSO @ Soda Bar.
Monday, May 26
PLAN A: Blood Red Shoes, Radkey, Soft Lions @ The Casbah. The key to making a two-person band a success is distracting you from the notion that something's missing. Listening to the U.K.'s Blood Red Shoes, you don't get the idea that anything is being left out. They have a meaty, rich sound that's equal parts shoegaze and classic alt-rock. It's not fancy, but it definitely does the trick.
Tuesday, May 27
PLAN A: Nothing, Whirr, Youth Code @ Soda Bar. The members of Philadelphia's Nothing have a background in metal, but you wouldn't know it to hear their debut album, Guilty of Everything . It's pretty much classic shoegaze, with gauzy layers of guitars and dreamy vocals. They can certainly get loud, but it's much prettier than you'd expect from the revered Relapse label. PLAN B: Jacques Greene, Samo Sound Boy @ The Loft at UCSD. Montreal's Jacques Greene is part of an elite class of bass producers that create a forward-thinking sound while paying reverence to classic house music. Plus, it's funky as fuck and way more danceable than, say, Burial or James Blake. Take part in this innovator's sure-to-be dance-a-thon and shake your ass—into the future .