The Human Abstract
This L.A.-based progressive metal band has been through a flurry of lineup changes since forming in 2004. For starters, they're now on their third singer. But all the upheaval has been for the best, since their new album, Digital Veil, is their strongest. The group mixes arena-friendly hooks (think Muse or Queen), prog complexity, and death-metal crunch that follows no discernible trends. You won't hear a rave synth line or a thunderous, detuned breakdown anywhere here. And unlike other neo-prog acts (like, say, the Mars Volta), the Human Abstract keep it tight. Sure, there's a seven-minute epic ("Antebellum"), but Digital Veil runs less than 40 minutes, with no dead spots. Travis Richter croons as beautifully as he growls menacingly, and his bandmates keep the music in constant flux — from inhumanly precise, staccato guitar riffing to soaring, piano-driven bridges and outros. — Phil Freeman
With Scale the Summit, This or the Apocalypse, Let Live, and No Bragging Rights. 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 1. Peabody's. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance;call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.
Cleveland singer-songwriter and former Rosavelt leader Chris Allen has always been front and center with matters of the heart. His sublime 2006 solo album Goodbye Girl and the Big Apple Circus, which was produced by Don Dixon, deserved a broader audience. Allen's most recent album, last year's Acetate, delivers more of the same. But the big news here is that Allen and his band the Guilty Hearts will perform Rosavelt's final album, 2004's The Story of Gasoline, live in its entirety this weekend. If that isn't enough to get you inside the Happy Dog, the always-versatile Dixon will be part of the band. Need more incentive? How about this: Everyone who shows up gets a free copy of The Story of Gasoline. Paste magazine gave it a four-star rating when it was released and compared Allen to Jeff Tweedy. High praise. And that's a lot of great music for the recession-busting ticket price. — Peter Chakerian
9 p.m. Friday, June 3. Happy Dog. Tickets: $6; call 216-651-9474 or visit happydogcleveland.com.
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
Despite all the marketing that makes them out to be slicker than they really are, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals remain a bar band at heart. Even their most recent, self-titled album from last year — in spite of the last-minute producer change and Potter's sexy makeover — can't hide the rootsy, working-class tendencies of the band. Songs like "Paris (Ooh La La)" and "Medicine" toss some radio-friendly shine and hooks into the mix, but Potter and her quartet sound like they'd rather be belting out three sets in front of a beer-swigging blue-collar crowd on a Friday night than playing hits for the fickle iTunes masses. They don't do a very good job of disguising their jam-band leanings either, swinging in and out of songs like they're wide-open playgrounds to be leisurely explored. None of this is to say that Potter isn't good at what she does. But what she does is a lot different than what you probably think she does. — Michael Gallucci
With Futurebirds, Black Box Revelation,
and Julian McCullough. 9 p.m. Saturday, June 4. House of Blues. Tickets: $25-35; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
Acoustic guitar and drum duos often mean disaster, but Dodos singer-guitarist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber have something special going on. The way they blend beauty and muscle can be breathtaking. It begins with Long's tender, airy tenor, which sounds like it was borrowed from your favorite twee-pop group. He matches it with finger-picked guitars that shimmer and contort in fascinating shapes and directions. But the secret weapon is Kroeber, whose propulsive rhythms rattle, shake, and rumble. The energy and detail are so transfixing, they threaten to push the guitar from the spotlight. It's a tug-of-war between wafting hooks that fill the arrangements and the anxious, indefatigable beats that drive them. The pair added electric instruments a couple years ago, but the results were too atmospheric. So they've returned to the original format for the recent No Color, rediscovering their mesmerizing tension in the process. — Chris Parker
With Gauntlet Hair and Shoreway. 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 7. Grog Shop. Tickets: $12,$10 in advance; call 216-321-5588or go to grogshop.gs.
Panic! At the Disco
Panic! At the Disco got their exclamation point back but lost a couple of members since their last album, 2008's go-for-baroque Pretty. Odd. Even though guitarist Ryan Ross, who was the band's chief lyricist, is gone, Panic! At the Disco's third album, Vices & Virtues, doesn't sound all that different from their other records. The flowery pop that adorned Pretty. Odd. is somewhat streamlined on the new songs, and remaining members Brandon Urie (the singer) and Spencer Smith (the drummer) don't treat songwriting as an endurance contest (remember "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage" and "Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off"?). But Vices & Virtues is still packed with hooky alt-pop that has enough glitter and glitz to fuel a strip of casinos in Panic! At the Disco's hometown of Las Vegas. The best songs on the new album — "The Ballad of Mona Lisa," "Memories," "Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)" — not only earn the remaining band rights to the name, but also the group's reinstated exclamation point. — Gallucci
With Fun and Foxy Shazam. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 7. House of Blues. Tickets: $28, $25 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
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