It's not unfair to lump in Eve 6 with the countless other faceless "number" bands they graduated with. But unlike Finger Eleven or 3 Doors Down, these California rockers' generic alt-blare has some distinction, thanks to Max Collins' wobbly voice and ridiculously wordy wordplay ("your heinous highness broke her hymen"). Plus, the tongue-twisting "Inside Out" is surely more fun than any Matchbox Twenty song. After Eve 6's only other hit, the 2001 mushy prom theme "Here's to the Night," they were never expected to be heard from again. But here's where the story goes off-script: The recently released Speak in Code is the band's best and hookiest album by far, bridging the debut's simplicity with a new zest for Killers-style dance grooves and tuneful enthusiasm. Besides, how can you hate on a band whose lament for a lost friend states, "We used to go bowling"? — Dan Weiss
With the Audition and Fall From Grace. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17. Peabody's. Tickets: $18, $16 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or go to peabodys.com.
JJ Grey & Mofro
JJ Grey's music is a lot like his life: blue-collar and reflective. The Florida native combines regional influences with blues, swamp rock, and Muscle Shoals and Memphis R&B. After a decade paying his dues on the live circuit, Grey released his debut album, Blackwater, in 2001. Five subsequent albums increasingly show off his blossoming storytelling. His latest record with the six members of Mofro, last year's live Brighter Days, showcases his preacher-like fervor in front of an audience he knows well. When he sings about hard times, it's familiar territory for Grey, who balances his musical career with family life. But he doesn't let it get him down; obstacles are just one more step toward better days. Songs like "Lochloosa" (about a local lake he's preserving from developers) may have their roots in Grey's part of the country, but he's wise enough to adapt them toward more universal truths. — John Patrick Gatta
With Grooveshire. 8 p.m. Thursday, May 17. House of Blues. Tickets: $20, $18.50 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or go to houseofblues.com.
Few artists skirt the lines of music, comedy, and performance art like Reggie Watts. The 40-year-old Brooklynite busts out of the usual boxes of music-based comedy through a busy mix of singing, rapping, beatboxing, and joke-telling that seem like they go from brain-to-mouth in less than 10 seconds. The dude gets the faceless, soulless monotony found in all kinds of indie, rap, R&B, and hipster music, and happily skewers them. "Fuck Shit Stack" is funny enough as a song, but its video — which piles on so many hip-hop clichés that even Hype Williams can't miss the joke — is comic gold. Watts' 2007 breakthrough was a sensitive piano ballad called "What About Blowjobs," in which he schools ladies on the proper method of class-A fellatio: "Take your dominant hand and place it around the shaft," he sings like an old-school soul man. "You still have one hand free, so why don't you cradle the balls?" Watts brings the love to town this week. — Gallucci
8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17. Grog Shop. Tickets: $25; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.
For a band that didn't set out to be a band, Memoryhouse sure act and sound like one these days. The Toronto duo began as an artsy-fartsy multimedia sound-and-photography project. But over the past couple of years, they started playing the songs that would make up their recently released debut, The Slideshow Effect, developing a voice onstage that recalls dream-pop groups like Beach House. Their new songs aren't quite as panoramic as the material on their 2010 EP, The Years. In fact, the album's title refers to the photographic technique of zooming and panning to animate still images. "It's not enough to live your life through photographs," deadpans singer Denise Nouvion on the hazy "Punctum," undermining the band's MO. Throughout The Slideshow Effect, Memoryhouse trade texture for vocals that just skim the surface, glimmering in the forefront and on top of song structures that dip and bob. — Michael Tkach
With Village Bicycle. 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $12; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Has anyone who plays popular music for a living aged as gracefully as Bonnie Raitt? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she released nine albums before her tenth one, 1989's Grammy-hogging Nick of Time, made her a household name. Or maybe it's because she never really bought into the bullshit star myths that a) you're required to become a total asshole once you hit the big time, and b) you're required to piss off your fans by ignoring what made you popular in the first place and replacing it with a string of records that show off your "experimental" side. Raitt has pretty much made the same album since her 1971 self-titled debut, with few modifications along the way. The only real difference is that she's gotten better as a singer, songwriter, guitar player, and ambassador for all sorts of 20th-century music. Her new album, Slipstream, is her 16th and first in seven years. It's also one of the best of her entire career. She doesn't stray from the blues- and folk-kissed rock she's played for the past four decades. If anything, Slipstream is the sound of an artist taking what works best, filtering it through her 62 years, and settling into a groove that very few do better. — Michael Gallucci
With Marc Cohn. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23. Akron Civic Theatre. Tickets: $37.50-$75.50; call 330-253-2488 or go to ticketmaster.com.
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