The Besnard Lakes/Malajube
In concert, Besnard Lakes come out with guitars blazing, stirring up a blur of psychedelic burnt-sugar melodies and distorted noise that's closer to My Bloody Valentine than My Morning Jacket. That aggression isn't always obvious on the Montreal quartet's records: Strings, piano, and hypnotic organ tend to burnish their sprawling compositions. Their recent EP, You Lived in the City, is yet another sonic sucker punch. Hymnal and hushed, its four songs are closer in spirit and tone to Low's wintry drone-pop. Besnard Lakes' tourmates are fellow Montreal rockers Malajube, one of the few francophone rock bands that's made inroads in the States. Over the course of five albums, the band has evolved from raucous Pixies devotees into something far more sophisticated. This year's La Caverne is full of starry-eyed plush-pop with twinkly keyboards and breathy vocals. Bring your earplugs anyway for this week's show. You'll thank us later. — Annie Zaleski
With Sun Spots. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 6. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
It's taken a while for this Montreal quartet to find some footing. Before they started playing around with artsy post-rock music, they dabbled in more conventional sounds. "We were first a folk band, and it was a very different band," says frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston. "But then we started experimenting with foot pedals and became electronic-based." The group's debut album, Native Speaker, came out earlier this year; it boasts an artful, experimental mash-up of mesmerizing vocals and an orchestral pop tone that occasionally recalls Animal Collective. Just don't expect Braids to get to the point quickly. They take their good ol' time getting to where they want to be: "Lemonade" is a seven-minute trip through serene sounds and bizarre lyrics, while the title track is a whopping eight and a half minutes of whimsical noise that could put you to sleep if you're not careful. Needless to say, Native Speaker isn't recommended for long car rides. — Courtney Kerrigan
With Pepper Rabbit and Painted Palms. 9 p.m. Saturday, October 8. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $12; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
With a list of influences ranging from Lauryn Hill to A Tribe Called Quest to mentor Wiz Khalifa, Pittsburgh's Mac Miller has flow and flavor in all the right places. He must be doing something right: A song from his 2011 mixtape Best Day Ever called "Donald Trump" became a hit after the real-estate mogul/reality-TV star mentioned it on Twitter. Next thing he knows, Miller is pushing 20 million YouTube hits, collaborating with Cobra Starship (on the nitty-gritty "Middle Finger" from their new CD), and building huge buzz for his debut album, Blue Slide Park, which comes out next month. The knock on rappers is that often they're not very musical sorts. Not so for the 19-year-old Miller, a self-taught musician who plays guitar, piano, and drums. With skills like that, there's little doubt that Miller will bust out some riffs to match his rhymes when he comes to town this week. — Peter Chakerian
With Casey Veggies and the Come Up. 7 p.m. Monday, October 10. House of Blues. Tickets: $23, $20 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
"I may have girly parts, but I got a boy's heart," sings Jessi Darlin on "Be Your Bro," the foot-stomping highlight from Those Darlins' second album, Screws Get Loose. On paper, the line reads like a tortured slice of gender confusion ripped from an adolescent's diary. But in the context of Those Darlins' bright, strummy garage pop, it's a declaration of self-awareness crammed with more testosterone than a whole Black Lips album. Those Darlins — three rowdy chicks with a shirtless guy on drums — sprouted up from Tennessee armed with minimal skill and a live show filled with Appalachian ruckus. Their self-titled 2009 debut mixed punk and cowpoke country — but when it came to actual songwriting, the album didn't quite hold up. With Screws Get Loose, they focus on a broader range of influences and sharper instincts. They still have boy hearts; they've just traded in their overalls for business suits.— Ryan Reed
With Peelander Z and Filmstrip. 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 12. Grog Shop. Tickets: $10, $8 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
On last year's Olympia, super-suave Bryan Ferry reunited with former Roxy Music bandmates Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, and Andy Mackay for a predictably lush, elegant, and urbane album. He also teamed up with devoted disciples like Scissor Sisters and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood for a few cuts. Olympia is Ferry's first album of new material since 2002's Frantic (there was an all-Dylan covers album in 2007, but the less said about that one the better), and for the most part he falls back on smooth, familiar sounds. The thrills come from the little twists here and there, like the simmering "You Can Dance" and the funky "BF Bass (Ode to Olympia)," which is about social networking. If Facebook seems a little too common for someone as stylish as Ferry, take comfort in knowing you'll never be cool enough to be his friend. It's that distance that has kept him in the game for so long. So pour yourself a cocktail and settle into Ferry's timeless grooves when he comes to town this week. — Michael Gallucci
With the Phenomenal Handclap Band. 7:30 p.m. Monday, October 10. State Theatre. Tickets: $37.50-$65; call 216-241-6000 or visit playhousesquare.org.
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