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This Week's Concert Picks 

Monsters Of Rock, Guitar Shorty, And More

Monsters of Rock

Gojira at the Agora Theatre, Sunday, November 11

France hasn't kicked this much ass since Napoleon was calling the shots. In metal, "melodic" pretty much always means "watered-down and sissified." Then there's France's Gojira, who - against all odds and conventional wisdom - proves the genre still has fertile ground to be broken. The band formed as Godzilla and immediately turned heads - especially those of the lawyers representing the Godzilla trademark. They slapped the Gallic heshers with a cease-and-desist order before they could crack 500 MySpace friends. The group changed its name to one of the Japanese pronunciations of Godzilla, "Gojira," and got to stomping. The Godzilla reference - the creature is a byproduct of a nuclear explosion - is meant to convey both monstrous kick-ass-itude and the band's dominating environmental themes. Songs like "Flying Whales" and the new "Toxic Garbage Island" feature ecologically and naturally minded lyrics by singer-guitarist Joe Duplantier, who also plays in the Cavalera Conspiracy with Sepultura alums the Cavalera brothers. At turns, his feral and vengeful not-quite-death-metal growl recalls Max Cavalera's primal rage and Jonathan Davis' early righteous fury. Gojira plays prog-metal that's both accessible and lethal, a dizzying blend of rapid-fire technical death and some of extreme metal's sharpest hooks. Swedish metal heavyweights In Flames headline the show, but compared to Gojira's range, all their top-shelf shredding sounds like so much same-old-same-old. All That Remains starts things off at 7 p.m. at the Agora Theater (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.2221). Tickets: $20 advance, $25 day of show. - DX Ferris

Guitar Shorty

He was the guy Hendrix went AWOL to hear. When Guitar Shorty would hit the stage in the early '60s, his superstar-to-be brother-in-law would slip away from his Army base and into the club. And, as Shorty tells it, young Jimi picked up on licks that would show up again in "Purple Haze," "Hey Joe" and beyond. But whatever Shorty imparted on the future rock-guitar god, it's a cinch that rock has worked its way into Shorty's own musical makeup. Merged with a classic sound steeped over decades of stage time with a who's who of the '50s and '60s blues and R&B scenes is a fire and edge unexpected from a cat pushin' 70. And the edge is no less cutting on the lyrical side. Shorty, born David Kearney, delivers old-school wit and irony with the best of blues songsmiths. While his early career made for steady work, his recorded output amounted to the occasional single, a condition not remedied until his 1991 debut album, My Way or the Highway. His most recent release is 2006's well-received We The People, a set that stands toe-to-toe - in energy and attitude - with anything from any young blues Turk that comes to mind. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., 216.226.5681). Tickets: $15. - Duane Verh

O'Death

Taking its name from a traditional bluegrass tune (famously performed by Ralph Stanley in O Brother, Where Art Thou?), this New York quintet imbues its murder ballads with manic punk intensity and moribund gypsy abandon. The guys built a reputation over the past five years for high-energy live shows, the spirit of which they capture on their third album, Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin. The racing banjo of "Legs to Sin," rides a furious hard-hit backbeat, while vocalists Greg Jamie and Gabe Darling scream about hog-tied objects of obsession like refugees from hardcore. The trilling fiddle-driven waltz "Fire on Peshtigo," strikes a Gaelic chord, as it surveys a disastrous scene: "Breathless air, lake on fire, land too … stepping on the neighbor that I once had seen as friend." (The 1871 fire claimed more lives than any other in U.S. history, though it was overshadowed historically by the Great Chicago fire, which occurred the same day.) Jagged noises and guitar percolate through the background, abetting the apocalyptic tone, which has a real-life counterpoint - drummer David Rogers-Berry's fiancée died suddenly last year of an aneurysm. In a scene already flooded with Americana, O'Death's fervor and originality is refreshing. Elliott Brood and Church of the Lazy Bastard open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $8. - Chris Parker

Peter Rowan and Tony Rice

It would be hard to find two more respected names in the current bluegrass pantheon than Peter Rowan and Tony Rice. Rice has been known for years for his silky flat-pick guitar work. His early work with J. D. Crowe and the New South introduced an elegance that hasn't been heard before. Rowan's yearning vocals make him the heir apparent to Bill Monroe's high-lonesome sound. He's played with vets such as Monroe, David Grisman, Vassar Clements and Jerry Garcia. To the delight of bluegrass lovers everywhere, the two teamed up in 2004 for You Were There for Me. Their latest release, Quartet, features a blend of well-chosen covers by people such as Townes Van Zandt and Patti Smith, some traditional fare and re-workings of some of Rowan's previously recorded compositions. The duo performs at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., 330.677.5005) as part of the 42nd annual Kent State Folk Festival. Tickets: $25. - Peggy Latkovich

Boombox

How to classify Boombox, the duo that repackages classic grooves for the rock 'n' roll set? The group's DJ Russ Randolph and singer-songwriter-guitarist Zion Rock Godchaux fuse rock with dance and funk rhythms - at least that much is apparent from the tunes posted on their MySpace site. Taken from their only album, 2005's Visions of Backbeat, songs such as "Stereo" and "Mr. Boogie Man" have kitsch appeal, as the pair samples horns and bass-heavy beats, and mix them with Godchaux's falsetto vocals. The band is calling its shows (tonight and tomorrow at 10 p.m.) a "convergence" and plans to play a sampling of new tunes from an album due out early next year. It all goes down at the Jigsaw Saloon & Stage (5324 State Rd., 216.374.1666). Tickets: $12 advance, $15 day of show (with "meet and greet" tickets available for $20). - Jeff Niesel

Neva Dinova

One could make the claim that the rise of Omaha, Nebraska's national profile mirrors that of one of its longest running bands, Neva Dinova. As the formerly anonymous city that straddles the Iowa border has risen to prominence based on a forward-thinking economic plan and the presence of Warren Buffett, Neva Dinova can no longer be considered an anonymous bar band. Leader and co-founder Jake Bellows' group has chipped away at building a larger presence, signing with hometown label Saddle Creek in 2006. Earlier this year, the label released the band's third CD, You May Already Be Dreaming, to mostly solid notices. Veering between straightforward alt-country and more riff-based (but no less straightforward) rock, Neva Dinova has a fair amount in common with its city brethren. On Dreaming, highlights like the sleepy "Supercomputer" or the honky-tonk flavor of "Will the Ladies Bring You Flowers" allow the band plenty of room to flex its own unique set of muscles. McCarthy Trenching, led by notable Omaha sideman Dan McCarthy, who has played with almost every Omaha act you can name (save Manheim Steamroller, and I suppose there is an outside chance he sat in with them at some point over the years as well), opens. McCarthy's latest, Calamity Trenching, imagines what a Tin Pan Alley-obsessed Ben Folds might sound like if he'd recorded on eight-track. Turns out that sounds pretty good. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $10. - Chris Drabick

3OH!3

Hailing from Boulder (area code: 303), electronic hip-hop duo 3OH!3 has exploded over the past few months, particularly in Colorado, where it's become local celebrities. The band recently released Want on Photo Finish Records. It's a collection of cheeky, bombastic songs that question whether white boys from an affluent town in the Rocky Mountains can rap effectively. Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte, the masterminds behind 3OH!3, are at their best when they fast-talk lines like "Do the Helen Keller/And talk with your hips" and "Tell your boyfriend if he's got beef/that I'm a vegetarian and I'm not fucking scared of him" on the undeniable single "Don't Trust Me." "Punk Bitch" is equally catchy when they stop trying to mimic Lil Jon's gravely crunk (something they have a tendency to do a lot) and just offer a dance-worthy chorus. There's something likeable about this pair, but you'll have to decide for yourself whether it's a gimmick or not. Chaingang of 1974, Innerpartysystem and Cobraconda open at 6 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). SOLD OUT. - Emily Zemler

Richard Lloyd

If talent recognizes genius, then even the best will go unappreciated by many. Guitarist Richard Lloyd knew Jimi Hendrix through his friend Velvert Turner, whom Hendrix was teaching guitar. That musical spark would propel Lloyd through a musical career that produced the seminal New York early punk band Television and five solo albums. His distinctive guitar style (sleek, sonorous and wiry) offered a fine counterpoint to Tom Verlaine's more florid playing. With just two albums, the pair produced a guitar vocabulary that would influence many subsequent artists - from the Pixies and Sonic Youth to the Strokes. Lloyd has played alongside many other artists, including Matthew Sweet, John Doe and our very own Rocket From the Tombs, whose last album he produced. Perhaps fired by that old-school punk sound, he followed up the jazzier guitar pop of 2001's The Cover Doesn't Matter with last year's The Radiant Monkey, on which he played every instrument but drums. It's the most hearty, fibrous rock effort since his Television days, and he's never sounded better vocally. (He's called it his best solo album to date.) Besides producing, Lloyd pens a column for Guitar World, and offers instruction personally and on his website and YouTube. The show starts at 10 p.m. at Now That's Class (11213 Detroit Ave., 216.221.8576). Tickets: $7. - Parker

Otep

Otep Shamaya is a guru of lost souls. Though the music her self-named quartet plays is, in many ways, not that different from the typical extreme-metal band, petite howler Shamaya has turned her troubled past into the material of her art. Again, that's not that unusual in modern metal's landscape of damaged souls screaming their disaffection into the abyss. But Shamaya, who was a poet and artist before forming the band as an outlet for her seething self-dissatisfaction, brings a specifically female point of view and attitude to her lyrics and performances. She speaks more strongly than your typical goateed, dreadlocked, pierced, tattooed, damaged white male singer (she's all of the preceding, except male and goateed) to many audiences - especially girls, but also guys who may find the trapped-animal rage, frustration, hurt and determination somehow more authentic than that of yet another pouting Aaron Lewis/Jonathan Davis wannabe. When she sings a line like "Loving you is nothing new/it's self-mutilation" on "Homegrown," it takes on a different meaning than when Davis is similarly self-flagellating. Touring in support of The Ascension, Otep performs with Ill Nino, Walls of Jericho and Sister Sin opening at 6 p.m. at Peabody's (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999). Tickets: $16 advance, $19 day of show. - Anastasia Pantsios

Escape the Fate

Escape the Fate has some, well, issues since the release of its Motley CrŸe-indebted debut, Dying Is Your Latest Fashion, in late 2006. Former singer Ronnie Radke was in and out of the band after pleading guilty to being involved with a murder, battling drug dependency and having several subsequent run-ins with the law, eventually getting thrown out of the band for good earlier this year. Guitarist Omar Espinosa also called it quits. The three remaining members replaced Radke with Blessthefall singer Craig Mabbit and went into the studio with hit producer John Feldmann. The result is This War Is Ours, a slightly messy collection of screamo songs that sounds a lot like Feldmann's work with the Used and Story of the Year. Songs like first single "The Flood" and "This War Is Ours (The Guillotine Part II)" are loud and thrashing, combining one too many layers of throbbing drums, heavy-metal guitar riffs, and a chaotic combination of guttural screams and sung vocals. There's admittedly catchy moments, though. The foursome has clearly done the best it could with little time and a barrage of problems, but it wasn't exactly an original, skilled band in the first place. This is a step in the right direction, and Escape the Fate is dialed into a sound that attracts fans. Find out if that's truly the case when the band, along with A Skylit Drive and Alesana, opens for Chiodos and Silverstein at 6:30 p.m. at the House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583). Tickets: $24.50 advance, $26 day of show. - Zemler

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