It would be easy to write off Saint Ohio as a sort of Replacements-loving, down-and-dirty rock group, but there's a bit more going on with this local four-piece. Besides showing off the group's ability to craft killer song titles, a song like "Far More Handsome Than You" displays a swirling shoe-gazer fetish and knack for rhythmic complexity, while "Summer," with its nods to the musical twists of Sunny Day Real Estate and the outbursts of early Cursive, harkens back to the days when the term "emo" wasn't an insult. Slap together your favorite indie acts of the late '80s and early '90s, and you get the idea: plenty of variation while still sounding surprisingly familiar. Reverse the Curse, No Target Audience and Spacer Ace open at 9 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $5. - Matt Whelihan
Back in the early '80s, the Soviet Union was still immersed in isolation, and listening to rock 'n' roll was considered a highly subversive act. But that didn't stop teenage Ilya Lagutenko from starting his own band, even if it meant being pushed underground and labeled "dangerous" by Communist leaders in his native Vladivostok. After the fall of Communism, Lagutenko served in the Russian army, and later he earned degrees in Mandarin Chinese and eastern economics. But music was always in his soul, and about a decade ago, he re-formed Mumiy Troll. It became one of the most beloved rock bands in his country, and the first to have videos played on Russia's MTV. Drummer Oleg Pungin, bassist Sdwig and guitarist Yuri Tsaler round out the quartet. In spite of all its success back home, Mumiy Troll has never released any material in the U.S. But on the new Comrade Ambassador, we get a sample of their soundÊ- guitar-heavy songs with a touch of electronica that sounds something like '90s U2 with a vodka-induced edge. Don't worry about not understanding the lyrics - the groove is good enough, and the cover (in Russian) of the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreaming" offsets the unfamiliar tunes. The band performs at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Kong Sauce open. Tickets: $12. - Ernest Barteldes
Magic Christian is like a living, breathing Nuggets record: hooky power-pop, greasy garage-rock, a dose of psychedelia. Although this Bay Area band is relatively new, they're not some snot-nosed twentysomethings who learned these '60s sounds from their grandpas' 45s. These guys are rock 'n' roll lifers playing what they love. Bassist Eddie Mu–oz contributed the distinctive guitar riff to the Plimsouls classic "A Million Miles Away," while Blondie's Clem Burke bashes away on the drums. Manning the guitar (and penning the vintage-sounding originals) is Cyril Jordan, founder of the legendary Flamin' Groovies. So it's no surprise that Magic Christian creates the bright mop-top pop and raw rock 'n' roll for which the Groovies are known. Singer Paul Kopf, the band's least-known member, comes up big, singing jangly gems like "All the Stars" and gritty shouters like "Turn Up the Heat." Covers of the Beatles' "Anytime at All" and the Who's "Out in the Streets" on their album Evolver (no hiding a Beatles influence there!) exude a joyous zeal that transcends generations. Magic Christian proves rock 'n' roll shouldn't be reserved for just the young. Rainy Day Saints open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $12. - Michael Berick
Nightmares on Wax
Plenty has changed since A Word of Science: The First and Final Chapter, the 1991 debut from England's Nightmares on Wax, was released. Originally featuring George Evelyn and Kevin Harper, NOW leaned more in the direction of straight techno than the chill-out, downtempo vibe for which it's known today. Follow-up Smoker's Delight wasn't released until 1995, and Harper was long gone by then, leaving Evelyn to carry on with help from Olive producer/keyboardist Robin Taylor-Firth. Looking back, it was the best thing that could've happened; not only did NOW begin to settle into its own sound, but its releases started to chart in the U.K. Some dismissed Evelyn's new direction as riding the trip-hop bandwagon of acts like Massive Attack and Portishead. But, as many in the genre came and went, NOW survived, evolving its sound from one record to the next. Almost two decades after Science, the dub-heavy Thought So … was released last year, showing that Evelyn's musical progression is anything but over. Ken Rei and 21 Jumpsuit open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. - Eddie Fleisher
Canadian Kathleen Edwards is only three albums into her career, but she's already notched some pretty impressive accomplishments. Her 2003 debut Failer was a triumph of folk/pop/Americana (Canadiana?), cracked Top 10 lists all over and made a fan out of David Letterman. Her follow-up, 2005's Back to Me, disappointed a narrow segment of critics with expectations where their souls should be. From weary empowerment cuts to bittersweet love songs, Back to Me was another triumph. Last year, Edwards released Asking for Flowers, and this time the critics got it right, returning her to their year-end lists with a vengeance. Edwards' tough-tender style stands up to comparisons with Lucinda Williams and Patty Griffin, but in every relevant way she stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Warren Zevon. Her career promises to be just as long, productive and wonderful. She performs at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., 330.677.5005). Tickets: $20. - Brian Baker The Black Keys Akron's Black Keys - singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney - have attracted hordes of fans with their signature raw rock sound, which they perfected on 2003's Thickfreakness and 2004's Rubber Factory, both recorded in their basement. The Akron duo has perpetuated that sparse, bluesy style on subsequent releases, including last year's critically beloved Attack & Release, produced by Danger Mouse, who took the guys out of the basement. The group is known for gritty, raucous live shows, like the one documented on the new DVD, The Black Keys Live at the Crystal Ballroom. The band is playing only a few shows in 2009 before Auerbach heads out on a tour in support of his forthcoming solo debut and the Black Keys hunker down over the summer to write their new songs. Don't be that person who has to wait until 2010 to see them onstage again. Buffalo Killers and the Other Girls open at 8 tonight and tomorrow night at the Agora Theatre (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.2221). Tickets: $28. -Emily Zemler
The harp, much like Metallica, has been around for quite some time. Over the years, both have been refined, reinvented and paired with unlikely instrumentation. Harp aficionados, much like Metallica aficionados, tend to eschew the latter works of the masters, instead immersing themselves in early period pieces. Given these similarities, harp arrangements of Metallica songs are a no-brainer, right? Enter Harptallica, a harp duo that serves up the tastiest morsels from Metallica's first five albums. Professionally trained Ashley Toman and Patricia Kline's playing is dynamic and whimsical. The irony is that even the harshest pluck of a string can't do justice to James Hetfield's damaged voice. Classic songs will bring a grin to the oldest members of the metal militia, while younger fans can enjoy digestible arrangements of popular music on increasingly erudite instruments. Much like the string arrangements of Led Zeppelin and Bjšrk tunes, these performances are first and foremost fun. Cleveland's Megadeth tribute band Degameth break out the acoustic guitars at 7 p.m. at Peabody's (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999). Tickets: $6. - Nick DeMarino
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