When Kittie emerged from Ontario in the late '90s, all-girl metal bands were virtually nonexistent. The quartet's 1999 debut, Spit, went gold and earned the group an Ozzfest invitation as well as an opening slot on a Slipknot tour. Those experiences inspired Kittie to travel down a more darkly dense death-metal path, with downtuned guitars and vocals that alternate between soaring melodicism and fires-of-hell anguish. The band has weathered plenty of turmoil, including a rotating lineup (with only Morgan and Mercedes Lander remaining from the original band), legal threats from Kiss over Kittie's Kiss of Infamy label (which they later changed to X of Infamy), and the death of the Landers' father, who was also their manager. They explored new sonic territory on 2009's In the Black, while maintaining their signature heaviness. Last year's I've Failed You is one of Kittie's most personal albums. — Brian Baker
With Blackguard, the Agonist, and Bonded by Blood. 7 p.m. Sunday, May 13. Peabody's. Tickets: $16, $14 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.
Like tons of folks across the country, Mayer Hawthorne was pissed that Nickelback were tapped to play the halftime show at the Detroit Lions' annual Thanksgiving Day game last year. But like those who got a petition started to boot the strip-club-lovin' bros from the gig, Hawthorne actually did something about it: He plugged in and performed a halftime show online from his parents' house, with his dad on bass. That's one reason to love Hawthorne. Another is his commitment to turning on indie-rock fans to early '70s soul music, which his own songs faithfully replicate with period-perfect production, organic-sounding instruments, and his warm voice: a sweet falsetto that's sort of like a white guy's version of Curtis Mayfield. You occasionally wish he'd register a little authentic emotion, rather than just ushering it in from another era, but the songs on last year's How Do You Do beat Nickelback's vacuous tunes any day. — Gallucci
With the Stepkids. 8 p.m. Monday, May 14. House of Blues. Tickets: $20, $18 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or go to houseofblues.com.
Maps & Atlases
Maps & Atlases' string of EPs over the past seven years are full of polyrhythmic brushstrokes and vintage-sounding guitars. On its recently released second album, Beware and Be Grateful, the Chicago indie-rock quartet expands its sound without abandoning that early charm. The turning point came with 2010's full-length debut, Perch Patchwork, a clear progression within their experimental-folk context. These days, it's hard to hear how Maps & Atlases were ever tagged math rock. Beware and Be Grateful is a kinder, gentler, and far more subtle work, buoyed by delectable pop and soul leanings. Frontman Dave Davison kicks off the record with "Old & Gray," singing "When you are old and gray, I hope that someone holds you the way that I would" with heartbreaking precision. If their concert in Akron this week is even half as good as the album, it'll be time and money well spent.
— Peter Chakerian
8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15. Musica in Akron. Tickets: $12; call 330-374-1114 or go to ticketweb.com.
Gentleman Jesse and His Men
They burst out of the speakers like a jailbreak. Their bright melodies are nearly blinding, mining hook-laden Beatles territory while pulling big harmonies and sing-along choruses. Jesse Smith has been an Atlanta fixture since the late '90s, leading chunky indie rockers Paper Lions and playing bass in the garage-punk band the Carbonas. Gentleman Jesse and His Men began as a side project in 2008; Smith finally returns with his second album, Leaving Atlanta, inspired by some tough intervening years. True to form, he rallies to the challenge; for evidence, check out the rockabilly rave-up "Rooting for the Underdog." The LP has a definite arc and trajectory, from the opening survival paean "Eat Me Alive" to the strutting Replacements-like "We Got to Get Out of Here." There's a lot that sounds familiar, but it's less derivative than timeless, delivered with the spirited and heedless fervor of true believers. — Chris Parker
With Barreracudas and Prisoners. 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 16. Now That's Class. Tickets: $8; call 216-221-8576 or visit nowthatsclass.net.
The Avett Brotheres
The last time the Avett Brothers played Cleveland, back in February 2010, they sold out House of Blues. Before that — and before the release of their breakthrough 2009 major-label debut, I and Love and You, the Avetts seemed to gig around Northeast Ohio every other month, playing venues like the Beachland and the Kent Stage. This time they're going even bigger, kicking off Jacobs Pavilion's summer concert season this weekend. The North Carolina band built its rabid fan base with relentless touring — especially in college towns, where drunken frat boys and their chatty girlfriends would dance away to the Avetts' indie-speckled folk rock often played in punk-rock time. The group has been uncharacteristically quiet since I and Love and You, except for a live album in 2010 and a contribution to a Bob Dylan tribute album earlier this year (there was also a high-profile Grammy appearance in 2011, when they played alongside Dylan and Mumford & Sons). They're working on a new album, once again produced by Rick Rubin, who gave the band the sonic boost they desperately needed the last time around. Expect to hear some of those new songs when their current tour hits town. — Michael Gallucci
8 p.m. Saturday, May 12. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $40-$50; call 800-745-3000 or visit livenation.com.
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