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CL's picks for the week's best shows

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SON VOLT, BOBBY BARE JR. Jay Farrar is considered a guru in the Americana scene, having been part of the seminal Uncle Tupelo way back in the day. He's still doing pretty much the same stuff, but has matured a lot. Some of it is immaculate, some is disposable. Bare Jr. is one of those Nashville anomalies who doesn't quite fit in that scene but is doing something really interesting. $20-$22.50. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. -- JK


SHELBY LYNNE She was just 20 when she scored her first hit, and Lynne's early career saw more change than a MARTA kiosk. She grew into her expressive, soulful voice, and in her 30s has released a series of wonderful albums combining AC pop, country and soul in an idiosyncratic way, beginning with her breakthrough I Am Shelby Lynne. Her songs explore the pain, confusion and uncertainty of the world with a heartened pragmatism that reflects her own resilience. Her latest, Just A Little Lovin', covers Dusty Springfield, which proves a fine vocal fit. $25. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404 524-7354. -- CP

UNKNOWN HINSON, SYRENS OF THE SOUTH Imagine, if you will, an unholy hybrid of Hasil Adkins and Bella Lugosi, and you have Unknown Hinson. He's the rockabilly "vaym-parr" whose sly and slurring croon gives new meaning to Southern gothic. He's truly an old-fashioned troubadour of the night whose country twang and aw-shucks sense of humor is all about the red in redneck. Atlanta burlesque troupe Syrens of the South also performs. $13-$15. The Earl. 404-522-3950. -- CR


EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, LICHENS Austin, Texas, four-piece Explosions in the Sky crafts massive instrumental rock that is filled with breezy crescendos and sparse valleys of rhythm and resonance. Chicago's Lichens is the sometimes-solo, sometimes-full-band project of former 90 Day Men bassist Robert Lowe. As Lichens, Lowe dwells on the subtle elements of drone music and avant-garde folk pickery, relying on the microtones and the imperfections of sound to craft songs. $12-$14. 4:30 and 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. -- CR

TAKÁCS QUARTET The 2002 Grammy-winning Takács Quartet performs "Quartet in G minor, Op. 74 No. 3" by Franz Joseph Haydn, "Quartet No. 3 in B-flat major, Op. 67" by Johannes Brahms, and "Quartet in C major, Op. 59 No. 3" by Ludwig van Beethoven. The string foursome's passionate performances, teasingly subtle, dig deep to reveal the music from the inside out with unanimity of purpose. $40. 3 p.m. Spivey Hall. 678-466-4200. -- MG


CARBON/SILICON, MATT POND PA. Aging but still vital punk icons Mick Jones (the Clash) and Tony James (Generation X) teamed up in 2003 but finally released an unusually under-the-radar and unfairly ignored project last year. The sound is closer to Big Audio Dynamite, minus the dance sheen, than anything Jones did with Joe Strummer, but even with somewhat spotty material, the collaboration is a successful meeting of the minds within a standard pop-rock format. The likelihood of Jones reprising a few "Train in Vain"-era hits though makes this a must-see gig. Prolific indie pop-rockers Matt Pond PA make a strong opening act. $14-$17. 8 p.m. The Loft. 404-885-1365. -- HH

IRON & WINE, CALIFONE Melodic, artful, poignant and occasionally funny, Iron & Wine doesn't really fit into any particular category, but who cares? It's fascinating stuff; you never know what will come next. Califone's hypnotic and complicated space songs will be a perfect complement to open the show. Sold out. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. -- JK

SPOON, WALKMEN The jerky, spidery rhythms give the hooks sashay as they swing down the indie-rock corridor, the clean, crisp wiggle silhouetted against Britt Daniel's elliptical lyrics, drifting expressionistically like smoke from the end of a noir movie hero's cigarette. They've yet to release a disappointing album, and last year's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga may be their best. The Walkmen boast a rich, theatrical style that rattles, shimmies and shuffles like a bloozy beatnik carnival sideshow, suggesting the Band if they had grown up in the Bowery. $15. 7 p.m. Center Stage. 404-885-1365. -- CP


KATE NASH Two chart-topping hits and critics'-darling-of-the-month status allows Kate Nash to headline this "NME Awards Tour," named after the UK music weekly, that kicks off its month-long American jaunt tonight. Nash's generally fluffy approach belies some dark lyrical undercurrents that offer a much-needed edge, even if her talk/singing and inherent Britishness make crossover U.S. success, even with major-label backing, tricky. $15. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-223-1100. -- HH

PORTER/BATISTE/STOLZ This trio of New Orleans veterans has the requisite impressive résumés (Meters, Neville Brothers) and undeniable chops to pull off the funkiest show you've ever seen without breaking a sweat. It's the live experience that will make you a believer in the power of Crescent City funk performed by some of the journeymen who played an integral part in its creation. $15. 8 p.m. Smith's Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. -- HH



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