After an unlikely comeback — the result of a 2008 documentary about their Spinal Tapian 30-year-struggle for a little respect — Anvil are rocking as hard as ever, with a new album and tour. Recorded in Dave Grohl's studio, Juggernaut of Justice doesn't deliver all the bells and whistles required for a mainstream hit. It's just an old-fashioned fast and hard rock & roll record, just like their 1982 opus Metal on Metal. If you've been listening since then, you've heard all this before. But the Canadian band — with original members Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Rob Reiner at the helm — still sounds dedicated. "Juggernaut of justice, it's what we want to be," they declare on the title track. "Juggernaut of justice, the truth will set you free." Anvil still may not be a household name alongside other hallowed metal forefathers, and they're still pounding the pavement at small venues across the country. But in a way, this is their happy ending. — Lydia Munnell
With Destructor. 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 27. Grog Shop. Tickets: $17, $15 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
The boy-band phenomenon died about a decade ago, but try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of screaming fans who've already seen the superboy-band NKOTBSB on their summer tour. The group, which mixes and matches members of New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys, first came together during a performance at last year's American Music Awards. The tour is proving the genre still has its fans, even if they are a little bit older and heavier than they were back in the day. The nine-member group sings, dances, and works its way through all of your favorite late-night drunken sing-alongs, like the New Kids' "Step by Step" and Backstreet's "I Want It That Way." They're even doing some songs together, like the new "Don't Turn Out the Lights," a highlight from the fan-picked greatest-hits album NKOTBSB. Is this the nostalgia tour of the summer? We're betting there are plenty of moms who wouldn't have it any other way. — Max Hayden
With Midnight Red. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 27. Quicken Loans Arena. Tickets: $32.50-$92.50; call 888-894-9424 or visit theqarena.com.
The Pogues may have blazed the Celtic-punk trail, but it took bands like Flogging Molly to keep it moving forward. The center of it all is Dave King, a Dublin expat who assembled the band 15 years ago. After he was plucked from obscurity to lead Motörhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke's Fastway, King landed a regular gig at an L.A. Irish bar backed by a group of like-minded musicians. Unable to return to Ireland because of visa issues, King recalled all the ache, beauty, and longing of his youth in plaintive songs buoyed by musical intensity and stubborn resilience. Flogging Molly's build has been slow, but the trajectory has always been upward, eventually developing into a fervid grassroots cult thanks to their spirited live performances. The band's stature has grown across five albums, including the latest, Speed of Darkness. The group recently moved to Detroit, started its own label, and is now tackling political and economic issues with one of its best batches of songs.— Chris Parker
With Clutch. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $27.50; call 440-247-2722 or visit livenation.com.
Wes Eisold did his time in the hardcore trenches, first as singer for the Boston band American Nightmare and then as a member of Some Girls. But in the past few years the former Army brat began channeling his musical energy into the dark electronic project Cold Cave. This year's Cherish the Light Years is a slice of 1980s-inspired synth/goth-pop at its finest. The sunrise-like keyboards and methodical pacing of "Pacing Around the Church" and "Confetti" recall New Order's peak years. "Icons of Summer" features karate-chopped 8-bit noise. And "Alchemy and You" injects periodic spurts of punk-funk horns in between Cure-like guitar melodies. Unlike most retro-inspired artists, Eisold never approaches his songs from a place of nostalgia or winking irony. Instead, Cherish strives to extend the dark-rock legacy of his influences with integrity and vision. In concert, Cold Cave expand to a full band, delivering a total disheveled-discotheque atmosphere to the music. — Annie Zaleski
With Austra. 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 2. Grog Shop. Tickets: $14, $12 in advance;call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
When it came out last October, Taylor Swift's third album sounded like a self-indulgent memoir from a 20-year-old singer-songwriter who was growing up a little too fast. Unlike, say, Lindsay Lohan, Swift, now 21, didn't exactly look forward to drunken club outings and meaningless one-night stands. Nine months later, Speak Now comes off like the strongest personal statement of the artist's wondrous short career. You can read whatever you want in the songs: This one is about Kanye West's onstage rush at an awards show, this one is about an ill-advised affair with class-A douchebag John Mayer, this one is about a hipster blogger who penned some mean words from his Brooklyn apartment. The heart of Speak Now, we see now, is in "Back to December," "Never Grow Up," and "Long Live," the least self-indulgent songs on the album. For the most part, they're not the ones that hog the spotlight, but they're the ones that may matter most in Swift's evolution. — Michael Gallucci
With Needtobreathe. 7 p.m. Saturday, July 30. Quicken Loans Arena. Tickets: $25-$69.50; call 888-894-9424 or visit theqarena.com.
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