Kurt Vile & the Violators
Shhh. Don't make too much noise. You don't want to rustle Kurt Vile, the Philadelphia singer-songwriter whose sleepy-time ruminations have a hard time rising above, well, almost anything else going on around him. On his latest — and best — album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, Vile burns through a bong's worth of strumming riffs and hazy meditations that still somehow seem to recall classic heartland rockers on a fistful of downers. At their core, the songs on Smoke Ring for My Halo can be traced back to folk-rock icons from the '60s. But Vile filters them through a post-psychedelic blur that bleeds the lines between rock, folk, and background noise. Onstage, his backing band, the Violators, tends to wake him up a little, giving muscle and heft to songs that can casually drift away on record. We're not saying he'll be breaking out any funky moves, or even manage more than a nod or two. But he will get your feet tapping a little. — Gallucci
With Woods and Arc in Round. 8 p.m. Thursday, July 14. Grog Shop. Tickets: $14, $12 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
Deep Blues Festival
The Deep Blues Festival returns to the Beachland this weekend with a gritty blend rooted in the southern underground. So you can expect plenty of finger-picking guitar sounds that easily get lost in the mainstream shuffle of the Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers. Scissormen's Ted Drozdowski (pictured) and Ten Foot Polecat's Jim Chilson gathered bands from around the country (including Akron's Misery Jackals, Kansas City's Molly Gene, and Nashville's Cashman) to showcase Delta-style blues. Most of the groups include only a few musicians, but they marry traditional with modern, acoustic with electric, to re-create rugged (and authentic) juke-joint music. "A lot of bands are interested in keeping this deep traditional music," says Drozdowski, who formed Scissormen in 2004 after making the switch from rock and jazz to psychedelic grunge blues. "[That's] the spirit of this tour and the deep blues scene." — Courtney Kerrigan
5 p.m. Saturday, July 16. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $20; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Social
Ever since the breakup of his glam-punk band D Generation, Jesse Malin has released a steady stream of gritty, streetwise albums that ooze a downtown-Manhattan vibe sprinkled with a dash of heartland rock & roll. In a way, he's a bridge between older rockers like Springsteen and Lou Reed and the newer-generation Hold Steady, Ryan Adams, and Gaslight Anthem — all artists Malin has played with, covered, or both. His latest album with the St. Marks Social, Love It to Life, is one of his best. With spitfire energy, Malin infuses his characters with life, revving it all up with meaty guitar riffs and anthemic bar rock, which comes naturally since Malin co-owns a couple of N.Y.C. bars. But don't expect him to trade his guitar for a desk anytime soon. Anyone who sings "Moving to the Miracles blastin' on my old boom box/Listening to the Only Ones blastin' on my old boom box" has music coursing through his veins. — Michael Berick
With Biters and John Stanec Band. 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $12; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Stone Temple Pilots
That Stone Temple Pilots are back on the road is something of a small miracle: Their fall 2010 U.S. tour was derailed after frontman Scott Weiland admitted onstage that he had started drinking again. Then again, judging by his recent memoir, he isn't shy discussing his vices and isn't about to let his addictions stop him. In a way, there's something admirable about Weiland's stubborn musical drive and willingness to soldier on despite his many high-profile problems. Say what you will about STP, but so many of their songs have aged well. From the scuzzy garage glam of "Big Bang Baby" and the melancholy "Sour Girl" to the dizzying hard-rock scorch "Sex Type Thing" and easygoing introspection of "Interstate Love Song," the band's catalog is commercially untouchable. Although Weiland's onstage presence can be hit-or-miss, the group is rounded out by dependable (and underrated) musicians who always turn in solid live performances. — Annie Zaleski
With Rose Hill Drive. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19. Classic Park, Eastlake. Tickets: $24.50-$49.50; call 440-954-9467 or visit captainsbaseball.com.
The best mixtape of 2010 wasn't made by Lil Wayne or a member of Clipse or any of the big-name rappers that would usually come to mind. It was made by a pair of Brooklyn-based wiseasses whose slick and slippery rhymes drop in references so obscure, we're guessing even their professors at Wesleyan University don't know what they're talking about half the time. On Sit Down, Man (which was preceded by the equally amazing Shut Up, Dude), Das Racist flip stereotypes, pop-culture history, and a mess of sociopolitical musings on their head to probe the underside of what makes them tick. Heems and Kool A.D. explore and exploit their Indian and Afro-Cuban roots on songs like "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" and "Hahahaha jk?," two of the decade's finest singles. Das Racist's first official album is coming out in September. We can't wait. They're part of the Rock Hall's excellent Summer in the City series of free concerts. — Michael Gallucci
With Smoke Screen and Muamin Collective. 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Free; call
216-781-7625 or visit rockhall.com.
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