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CL's picks for the week's best shows

THURS/17

RA RA RIOT, THE LITTLE ONES Syracuse, N.Y., sextet Ra Ra Riot plays rolling and bottom-heavy indie-rock rhythms and melancholy chamber pop that fluctuates in approach. Songs sway from sprawling orchestrations to a fuzzy recording of a guy with guitar, singing and strumming. Like-minded Los Angeleans the Little Ones play breezy, happy indie-rock ditties that cling to a musical lineage that encompasses everything from the Beach Boys to Olivia Tremor Control. $10. 9 p.m. Lenny's Bar. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com. -- Chad Radford

TODD RUNDGREN Rundgren has been doing things his way for his entire career, including fronting the much maligned New Cars last summer. As highly regarded for his production skills as his own music, he has always embraced technology and put on quality shows despite followers never really being sure what they are getting on any tour. His 2005 album basked in the tuneful pop the majority of his fans revere, and recent gigs have him playing old material, albeit radically rearranged. But Rundgren's performances are best approached without expectations. $30. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-223-1100. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- Hal Horowitz

FRI/18

RECKLESS KELLY Another Austin, Texas, franchise in alt-country, Reckless Kelly formed in Orgeon before transplanting to the rockin' twang center of the universe. The quintet's acoustic country has a more traditional feel thanks to Cody Braun's mandolin/fiddle, and he offers nice harmonies with brother/frontman Willy. They'll unwind a slow-burn rock boogie such as Alejandro Escovedo's "Castanets," bust a rockabilly move on the humorously dissolute "Wiggles & Ritalin," or wrangle a little melancholy jangle on "Break My Heart Tonight." They're releasing a new disc this summer. $15. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- Chris Parker

THE SELMANAIRES, THE COATHANGERS, SLEEP THERAPY Fortifying a classic pop band dynamic with heavy polyrhythms and ethnic-flavored percussions bestows the Selmanaires with a sharp sense of worldly and rhythmic complexity. The songs are polished and bound by a dizzyingly eclectic palette. The Coathangers play spazzy, thrashy, girly and fast-paced punk songs that swagger with energy and bravado. Sleep Therapy slows things down a bit with a dose of morphine pop songs. $5. 9 p.m. Lenny's Bar. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com. -- CR

SAT/19

ANDY PALACIO & THE GARIFUNA COLLECTIVE Born of a Creole culture that emerged along the Caribbean coast from African survivors of slaving ships, the music of the Garinagu (plural of Garifuna, or "black Caribs," an ethnic group of mixed African-Amerindian ancestry) is part of their distinct, but vanishing, music and culture. Palacio has spent a lifetime in efforts to preserve and bring it to the forefront of world attention. The concert features 75-year-old Garifuna icon Paul Nabor, and Umalali, a group of female Garifuna singers. $29-$55. 8 p.m. Rialto Center. 404-413-9849. www.rialtocenter.org. -- Mark Gresham

AVETT BROTHERS, PALEFACE, CHRISTOPHER DENNY The Avetts are an enigma to me. Their live shows are sloppy, screaming, scattered events that border on chaos and dissonance, yet their recordings can be as precise and harmonic as Brian Wilson's best Beach Boys work. Operating within some semblance of traditional bluegrass but with a huge dose of punk mentality, they somehow manage to bridge two diverse worlds. Paleface and Denny open. Sold out. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- James Kelly

LAY DOWN MAINS, LIVERHEARTS, RIZZUDO This dual release party finds Atlanta post-hardcore torch bearers Lay Down Mains and the Liverhearts celebrating releases of their respective new full-length CDs. Lay Down Mains plays hard, fast, loud and aggressive songs that are complex, but not mathy to a fault. The Liverhearts summon a more angular and propulsive approach to their artsy and post-punk leanings. Rizzudo plays a set of proggy and mostly instrumental jams. $8. 9:30 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. -- CR

LEIF OVE ANDSNES Three-time Gramophone Award winner Andsnes is one of the most respected classical pianists in the world today. Born into a musical family on an island in West Norway, Andsnes is a four-time Grammy Award nominee, and 1998 Gilmore Award winner. His penchant for finding the music's inner voice comes to the fore in his insightful and fiercely transporting performances. $52. 8 p.m. Schwartz Center. 404-727-5050. www.arts.emory.edu. -- MG

MURDER BY DEATH The group's cellist and penchant for big canvases (two consecutive concept albums) aligns it with mid-period Cursive (cellist Greta Cohn) and leader Tim Kasher, who also delights in ambitious dramatic set pieces. Frontman Adam Turla's haunted, black-clad baritone leads a parched, apocalyptic country sound like 16 Horsepower's gothic twang with a spaghetti-Western kink. However, Turla boasts a better wit on tracks like the "Spring Break 1899," whose desperate, age-old, beer-goggled pursuit is rendered both comic and poignant. The Indiana quartet's supporting its fine fourth LP, Red of Tooth and Claw. $12. 8 p.m. Masquerade. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com. -- CP

PABLO SÁINZ VILLEGAS Classical guitarist Villegas has quickly emerged as one of the instrument's brightest new stars following his gold-medal win at the 2006 Christopher Parkening Guitar Competition. The native of Spain has performed in more than 20 countries, and is noted for his musical expressiveness and energetic assurance as a performer. This recital marks his Atlanta/Spivey Hall debut. $30. 8:15 p.m. Spivey Hall. 678-466-4200. www.spiveyhall.org. -- MG

SUN/20

MEGADETH, IN FLAMES, CHILDREN OF BODOM, JOB FOR A COWBOY, HIGH ON FIRE Moved to the Masquerade Music Park after last month's tornado hit the Tabernacle, this show will bring its own storm of darkness. Legends Megadeth headline Gigantour, which was founded by the four-piece's frontman Dave Mustaine three years ago. Expect some classics in the set list, and solos by new guitarist Chris Broderick (Jag Panzer, Nevermore). Sweden's In Flames are a highlight, providing "melodic death metal" support. Songs from its April 1 release, A Sense of Purpose, are likely to be performed, along with faves from Come Clarity (2006), and maybe even Clayman (2000). Glendale, Ariz.'s Job for a Cowboy has a dustier, screechier sound courtesy of Jonny Davy's vocals, but has risen up fast to be one of the better U.S.-based metal bands. California's High on Fire makes a more straight-ahead but no less thrashy display, while Children of Bodom add to the evening fresh off their April 15 Blooddrunk release. $37.50. 5 p.m. The Masquerade Music Park. 404-577-9178. www.masq.com. -- T. LaGon

STEVE EARLE, ALLISON MOORER In a recent interview with his wife, Allison Moorer, Earle was called an "Americana icon." She replied, "Heh, I wash his socks." And she opens his concerts. This evening's show will be an intimate acoustic listening event, but some drunk yuppie will inevitably start yelling "Copperhead Road" within five minutes. Nevertheless, Earle's great songs will show once again why he truly is an "Americana icon." $32.50. 7:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. --JK

SUSAN COWSILL Yes, she's one of those Cowsills. The family band was big in the '60s, and Susan has retained a lot of their great melodic pop qualities in her contemporary material. A former Continental Drifter, Cowsill has had songs recorded by the Bangles, among others. Now she has her first solo album out, and is making a rare Atlanta appearance to promote it. $10. 8 p.m. Smith's Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. www.smithsoldebar.com. -- JK

MON/21

AL STEWART His few '70s folk/pop hits are obviously what fill the seats -- and he still plays 'em -- but Stewart is a prolific writer whose newest music is every bit as melodic and moving, if somewhat less commercial, than the old stuff. Stewart's distinctive voice hasn't changed over the decades and like all good folkies, he can tell a great story, both musically and with between-song banter. His Top 40 days are over, but he doesn't seem to care and neither will you. $25-$30. 8 p.m. Eddie's Attic. 770-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com. -- HH

BRITISH SEA POWER, FILM SCHOOL Plenty of moody shimmer all evening long. Film School's psych-tinged dream pop leans toward the meatier Jesus & Mary Chain side of the spectrum, with less atmospherics and stronger hooks, though last year's Hideout failed to match the grandeur of their 2006 self-titled second album. British Sea Power's gloomy epics suggest a merger of Joy Division, the Cure and Coldplay -- dark and a bit overwrought, but often beautiful. They even flash some of the muscle missing since their debut on the six-minute "Lights Out for Darker Skies" off their latest, Do You Like Rock Music? $12-$14. 9 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. -- CP

TUES/22

NICK LOWE Many know him as the producer of punk's first album (the Damned's Damned Damned Damned), the Pretender's stunning debut, and Elvis Costello's early albums, but Lowe also has a long history as a performer. While his '80s solo work echoed the period, scoring a minor hit with the infectious "Cruel to Be Kind," for the last two decades, he's been playing Americana. It's a fascination that goes back to British pub rockers Brinsley Schwartz during the early '70s. His songs boast a laid-back gentility that disguises their knowing wit, and sly, wizened bemusement. $25. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- CP

Bands/performers/venues wishing to be included in Sound Menu's noted-acts boxes may send recordings, press material and schedules two weeks in advance to Creative Loafing c/o Rodney Carmichael, 384 Northyards Blvd., Suite 600, Atlanta, GA 30313, or e-mail information to: rodney.carmichael@creativeloafing.com. To be included in the listings only, e-mail venue and band schedules by Thursday at noon (for the issue that comes out the following Wednesday) to soundboard@creativeloafing.com.

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