Each successive step in Akron/Family's musical evolution seems a little more unlikely than the last. And it's a safe bet they wouldn't have it any other way. Beginning almost a decade ago in the hipster epicenter of Brooklyn, they released a series of wildly eclectic albums filled with their brand of sonic-construction freak folk. Their latest release, last year's Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, is a weird concept album that hybridizes the likes of the Polyphonic Spree, the Shins, and any number of '60s folk-pop artists. It's never easy to guess where Akron/Family will take this busy mix onstage. They typically improvise their live shows, and they're down to a trio for this tour (although they occasionally supplement the core group with friends from Megafaun and Do Make Say Think). So leave your expectations at the door: With Akron/Family, anything is possible. — Brian Baker
With Bad Weather California. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, January 19. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $15, $12 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Michigan-born Joseph Scott fronts Akron's White Pines, which he formed between bands and a solo career he was preparing to launch. On record, it's just Scott and his acoustic guitar; onstage they expand to a trio. The vintage folk sounds of White Pines' 2009 EP, A Face Made of Wood, recalls '70s singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens, but with lush walls of guitar ambiance and a dash of psychedelic aesthetic tossed in. The full-length debut, The Falls, came out a year later and features more of the same, with pretty and delicate vocal harmonies that put White Pines in the same category as indie-folk godheads like Fleet Foxes. The trio manages to bring a fuller sound to the songs when they're played live, thanks to feedback loops, synth pads, and a drummer keeping steady time. Scott is all set to release a new album. Expect to hear a whole bunch of songs from it when he plays his adopted hometown this weekend. — Alexander Hall
With Valentiger and Austin Craig. 8 p.m. Friday, January 20. Musica in Akron. Tickets: $5; call 330-374-1114 or visit ticketweb.com.
The Cleveland quintet Blackout Superstar trade in every rock & roll cliché known to Nickelback, including babes, booze, cars, the road, and all the cross-pollinated metaphors that result from any combination of them. But they do it in such a wildly entertaining and over-amped fashion that they make most hair-metal bands look like singer-songwriters in comparison. Last month, they released "Winter Wonderland (BOSS Style)," a debauched rewrite of the holiday classic: "Gone away is our troubles/Here to stay are the doubles/So sing a love song as we grab the beer bong/Drinkin' in a winter wonderland." It capped a year of illness and delays for Blackout Superstar, who are trying to finish their debut, Whiskey Weekend. Apparently, their show at Peabody's this weekend will be their last local gig for a while, so don't pass up the opportunity to party like a rock star. And yes, blacking out like a superstar is pretty much required. — Baker
With Impending Lies and Via the Sun. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 21. Peabody's. Tickets: $10, $8 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.
Despite their below-the-border name, the seven-piece boy-girl collective Los Campesinos! have nothing to do with sweaty, mask-wearing guys playing surf-rock for fortysomething dudes in bowling shirts. Thankfully. Instead, the Welsh band — who, like the Ramones before them, have all adapted Campesinos! as their surname — makes deceptively poppy indie rock with horns, strings, and glockenspiel. And from the sound of things, it's a twee ol' time for the group. But pry beneath their shiny, happy exterior and you'll uncover mournful meditations on how much love and life can suck. The title of their latest album, Hello Sadness, even fills you in on its contents. Still, Los Campesinos! cram as much musical shrewdness and bubbling-over liveliness into their songs as Arcade Fire, with frontman Gareth leading the broken-heart regime through choruses of joyous sing-alongs and blister-popping handclaps. — Gallucci
With Parenthetical Girls. 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 24. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $15; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
It's been awhile since Ryan Adams made an album as straightforward and as unforced as Ashes & Fire. With dips into punk and metal, an album of unfinished demos, and an album that sounded like unfinished demos over the past several years, the singer-songwriter drives right into classic alt-country with a short detour toward 1970s folk on his latest record. It's also his most laid-back album in quite some time, with the queen of laid-back grooves, Norah Jones, helping out with vocals and piano on a handful of songs. Adams is dipping into his entire catalog for his latest tour, pulling out old Whiskeytown songs as well as some fan favorites from his 2001 breakthrough album Gold. But the focus is on Ashes & Fire and other tunes that fit into the solo acoustic spotlight he's stepping into. Of all the different roles he's tried out over the past 15 years, it looks like the ballad-singing troubadour may end up his most durable. It's certainly the most welcome at this point. — Michael Gallucci
8 p.m. Wednesday, January 25. Ohio Theatre. Tickets: $35; call 216-241-6000 or visit playhousesquare.org.
Under the Radar
American kids don't have a lock on sensitive pop-punk sung by dudes barely out of their teens who take their clothes as seriously as their hooks. The British quintet You Me at Six sound a lot like their U.S. contemporaries, combining crunchy guitar riffs and huge choruses with words that dive straight into the usual teen-angst stuff. Their new album, Sinners Never Sleep, was released overseas in the fall. It comes out here the same day they play the Grog Shop: Tuesday.
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