This year marks Sloan's 20th anniversary, which the Canadian power-pop quartet is celebrating with the release of a new album, The Double Cross. This also marks the 20th year of Sloan failing to make any sort of headway with U.S. listeners, despite their massive success at home and an easily digestible, hook-filled songbook. Sloan kick off their latest stateside tour in Cleveland this week. Their appeal is obvious enough: In an indie landscape overrun with low-fi, fuzzy, and minimally talented Brooklyn kids, Sloan take pop back to its tight, slick, catchy, and harmonic heyday — be it Beatlesque or, more accurately, Big Star-ish. Fans of the Raconteurs and New Pornographers will wonder why they haven't been listening all these years. Of course, the band doesn't seem remotely offended by our country's total disregard for its music. They could be playing an arena in Ottawa, but the Grog Shop will do just fine, thanks. — Andrew Clayman
With the Modern Electric. 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25. Grog Shop. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.Front Line Assembly
The brainchild of Bill Leeb, Vancouver's Front Line Assembly got their start in the late '80s, merging horror and sci-fi movie samples to synths and sequencers set to automatic fire. There's a pervasive sense of dystopia to Front Line Assembly's music. Their 1989 album Gashed Senses & Crossfire was a hit with clubgoers and the nascent industrial-rock scene in North America. Over the years, the group continued to challenge (and at times repulse) fans, trying out industrial-metal grooves and finding new ways to misuse technology. Front Line Assembly's latest album, last year's Improvised Electronic Device, balances metal fury with some of industrial's colder elements. Their albums may serve as the band's primary playground, but their live performances — spearheaded by Leeb and fellow Canadian Chris Peterson these days — bring a human element to the proceedings. — Norm Narvaja
With Cyanotic, DJ Acucrack, and Filament 38. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26. Peabody's. Tickets: $18, $15 in advance; call 216-776-9999or go to peabodys.com.
Portugal. The Man
Fans of these Oregon indie rockers would like you to believe that their sun-kissed indie pop's roots are tangled in the psychedelic hues of bands like the Flaming Lips. But don't let them fool you — Portugal. The Man have just as much in common with the brain-fried prog-rockers of the '70s. They're not as self-indulgent as some of those dinosaurs, and their concepts are more worldly (the sociopolitical songs aren't disguised in extraterrestrial starcrafts, for example). But Portugal's winding, investigating songs rarely take the easy way from here to there. Their major-label debut, In the Mountain in the Cloud, doesn't come out until July, but the (mostly) bearded quartet is making the rounds, playing clubs and building buzz for what will probably end up being its breakthrough album. So go see them now, before they need arenas to hold all their keyboards and giant dragon props. — Michael Gallucci
>With Telekinesis and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 9:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26. House of Blues. Tickets: $10, $9.23 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
Mr. Gnome are a study in contrast. The Cleveland duo makes expressive art rock extending from moody post-metal structures swelling with face-melting throb to tightly focused bursts of guitar minimalism. Singer and guitarist Nicole Barille's smoky alto wanders a similarly dynamic range of loud-soft, going from sleepy, willowy croon to banshee squeal, all buoyed by the supple modulated thwack of drummer Sam Meister. They released a pair of EPs before hitting the road in support of 2008's full-length Deliver This Creature. They followed that less than 18 months later with the even more dramatic and elegantly rocking Heave Yer Skeleton, recorded at Josh Homme's Los Angeles studio. Between the piano-driven and Björk-like title track and the garage-blues rave-up "Plastic Shadow," it's a wildly diverse listen from one of Cleveland's best bands of the past half-decade. They're working on another album, so there's a good chance you'll hear some new songs at the show. — Chris Parker
With Phantoids and Rare Birds. 9 p.m. Friday, May 27. Beachland. Tickets: $8; call 216-383-1124 or go to beachlandballroom.com.
Let's try this again. Bob Seger was supposed to play Cleveland early last month. But the day before his show here he got sick and had to postpone. Hopefully he's all better and ready to rock the Q this week. But delays seem to be common with the Detroit rocker these days. He released a blah cover of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train" — a song Rod Stewart had already cleaned up for mainstream appeal — as the first single from an upcoming album. But the new record is on hold now, with no release date in sight. That could mean trouble for the album. Or it could mean that the 66-year-old Seger prefers to keep the focus of his first tour in four years on his classic songs, since he's been hinting that he probably won't be doing this rock & roll thing very much longer. All the better for us, since we prefer to hear classics like "Turn the Page," "Night Moves," and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" any day. — Gallucci
7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26. Quicken Loans Arena. Tickets: $37-$250; call 800-894-9424 or go to theqarena.com.
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