Cowboy Junkies are remembered by most people for their 1988 cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," which later showed up in Natural Born Killers. Frankly, it's too good for the likes of Mickey and Mallory Knox and the carnage it bookended in the movie. And it's unfair to sum up the Canadian quartet's career with just that one song. The group was formed in the mid-'80s by guitarist and songwriter Michael Timmins and his longtime bassist pal Alan Anton. It became a family affair shortly after, when Timmins' singing sister Margo and drummer brother Peter joined them. Expect to hear songs from The Wilderness, the band's fourth release in less than two years, when they play the Kent Stage this week. New cuts like "Idle Tales," "Unanswered Letter," and "We Are the Selfish Ones" should mix and mingle perfectly onstage with the Junkies' torchy songbook that's packed with longing, low-fi country and tunes of haunting loneliness. — Peter Chakerian
8 p.m. Thursday, April 26. Kent Stage. Tickets: $30; call 330-677-5005 or visit kentstage.com.
When instrumental Chicago post-rockers Tortoise last played Cleveland in June 2010, they left a packed house chanting for more. That Grog Shop appearance mostly showcased 2009's Beacons of Ancestorship, but when they play Oberlin College this week, they'll be dusting off songs that span their 20-plus years. The band is also bringing along new tunes they created with some Chicago jazz musicians in mind for an upcoming project. But the music isn't jazz. "Some is geared toward compositional minimalism," says bassist Douglas McCombs. Tortoise are also getting ready for their next LP — sort of. "We are tentatively starting to work on new material for an album," says McCombs. "But we're not prepared to play that." The new record could be ready as early as this fall or as late as next year. Either way, this week's show should be a treat for old-school fans hoping for deep cuts. — Adam Burroughs
With Miracle Condition. 10:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26. The 'Sco in Oberlin. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 440-775-8471 or visit etix.com.
Singer-songwriter Clarence Bucaro isn't easy to pin down. He's called so many places home over the past several years that he's picked up little musical traces of every place he's lived. He was born in Cleveland, moved to New Orleans, then to Los Angeles, and he now resides in Brooklyn. The songs on his five albums range from moody Americana to bluesy rave-ups to gritty indie rock to folksy troubadour stuff. His latest, Walls of the World, is a wide-screen look at our planet and how messed up it's become. It wraps the personal within the political, the global within the cultural. A trip to Jerusalem inspired Bucaro, but little pieces of world events specifically find their way into the songs — like "Two Men Down," about the two photojournalists, including Restrepo filmmaker Tim Hetherington, who died in Libya last year. Bucaro recently premiered the song on, of all places, National Geographic's website. We're guessing he has a subscription. — Gallucci
7 p.m. Friday, April 27. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $10; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Just after graduating from their Tempe, Arizona high school five years ago, the five members of the Maine began filtering a potent blend of '90s rock influences through contemporary pop-punk sensibilities. Within a year, they released three EPs as well as their full-length debut, Can't Stop Won't Stop; toured with Good Charlotte; and landed a spot on the Warped Tour, which they've since returned to a couple times. They've also published two books — This Is Real Life and The Black & White Keepsake Book, tour diaries that document their road adventures through extensive journal entries and photographs — and were honored for best live band, best album (Black & White), and best song (that album's "Inside of You") in Alternative Press' 2010 readers' poll. The Maine's third album, last year's Pioneer, is a simpler and more direct record, filled with buzzsaw guitars and heart-on-sleeve hooks. They play the Grog Shop this week. — Brian Baker
With Lydia and the Arkells. 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 2. Grog Shop. Tickets: $18; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.
We Were Promised Jetpacks
The Scottish quartet We Were Promised Jetpacks, in addition to having one of the best names in the business, seem to have a lock on Glasgow's entry in the faceless-indie-rock-band-that-definitely-rocks-when-called-into-action sweepstakes. There's a whole history of music that goes all the way back to indie's formative era of the early '80s, when guitar band after guitar band sprouted up all over the world, determined to conquer the planet with post-punk riffing and softened stadium-ready sounds. There's way too much of that happening on the left side of the dial these days — from Surfer Blood to Hospitality to even Arctic Monkeys at this point — to make much of an impression. At least We Were Promised Jetpacks have that accent thing going for them. And some of the songs on their second album, last year's In the Pit of the Stomach, build in a way that hint they at least know where their strengths lie. By the time the guitars skyrocket and the whole thing explodes in the atmosphere with enough indie-rock spit and muscle to keep it under control, it doesn't really matter where they wanted to lead you and where they end up. You'll just be glad you were along for the ride. — Michael Gallucci
With Breton and Fort Lean. 8 p.m. Monday, April 30. Musica in Akron. Tickets: $12; call 330-374-1114 or go to ticketweb.com.
Under the Radar
Back when Cleveland bands were actually getting some national airplay (thanks, MSB and Breathless!), Love Affair almost sneaked through with the regional hit "Mama Sez," a guitar-and-drums sing-along designed for maximum fist pumping. After that 1980 high mark, the group kicked around for a few more years before calling it quits in 1984. The original quintet reunites this Saturday for a show at the Tangier in Akron.
At 532 West Market St. in Akron, 330-376-7171, thetangier.com.