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Sound Menu 

CL's picks for the week's best shows

THU/31

BENEFIT FOR CARTMAN AND SCHROEDER'S MOM A cadre of local acoustic music and spoken word artists bring social action home in real, personal terms to help their friend Desiree Cross, who is undergoing treatment for leukemia at Grady Memorial Hospital. Emily Saliers, Kodac Harrison, Elise Witt, Matthew Kahler, Caroline Aiken and others share the stage to help out a singular instance that resonates with national concerns about paying for medical care. Two shows, doors open one hour before each. Children admitted free at the 6:30 p.m. "all ages" show. $20 suggested donation. 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. Eddie's Attic. 404-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com. -- Mark Gresham

NAS, TALIB KWELI These two have a lot in common, from their concern for their medium's future to the limber rhymes to the occasional lack of beats as inspired as their words. Nas spotlighted a conversation everyone was already having with 2006's Hip Hop Is Dead, and throws another brick with his untitled latest, which focuses on racism and stereotypes with palpable lyrical fury. Kweli's skills may be unmatched, but he's never produced the start-to-finish masterpiece of which so many think him capable, thanks largely to inconsistent, often unimaginative production. $37-$39. 7:30 p.m. Center Stage. 404-875-9364. www.centerstage-atlanta.com. -- Chris Parker

FRI/1

CONYA DOSS Raised on Cleveland Soul in its namesake city, Doss is touted as "soul's best-kept secret," but is increasingly visible among today's lead exponents of indie "nu soul," with hints of '90s R&B flavors thrown into a mix that underscores her vibrantly bright yet sensually smooth voice. Her fourth studio CD, Still, was released in April of this year. The show is hosted by MC/poet Spinxx. $20. 8 p.m. 21 and up. The Loft. 404-885-1365. www.theloftatl.com. -- MG

KT TUNSTALL This sassy young Scottish lassie took the music world by storm last year, one country at a time. Her energetic, intelligent pop songs created a foot-shuffling, butt-shaking movement, and she's riding a wave across America. Let's hope it lasts a while; she deserves it. $31.50-$35. 8 p.m. Atlanta Botanical Garden. 404-876-5859.

www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. -- James Kelly

SAT/2

CROSBY, STILLS, & NASH Their unique harmonies and thoughtful lyrics are still the voice of their generation, albeit a pudgier, grayer generation. Some things are simply archetypal by nature, and the magic combination of CSN is one of those. At a time when the United States is going through some domestic and international craziness, they may once again be the voice of reason. Teach your children well ... $29-$89. 8 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheater. 4469 Stella Drive. 404-773-4900. www.classicchastain.org. -- JK

RETURN TO FOREVER It's not the original RTF lineup, but with founders Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea along with drummer Lenny White and guitarist Al DiMeola aboard, it's the "classic" version that sold the most albums back in the golden jazz-fusion days of the '70s. All have since become headliners but their fiery collaboration helped put jazz on rock lovers' radar and albums such as Romantic Warrior have rightfully become genre landmarks. Since this is likely a one-off tour, it's a can't-miss gig for existing fans and a rare opportunity for those who never thought they would see the band perform live. $34-$99. 8 p.m. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. 404-916-2800. www.cobbenergycentre.com. -- Hal Horowitz

SUN/3

ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA How green is your orchestra? Because of the drought, the ASO has moved its annual Piedmont Park lawn concert to the paved Piazza at Woodruff Arts Center, to save the park grass from being stomped into oblivion. Mei-Ann Chen conducts a collection of dance-oriented music by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Ginastra, Bernstein and others. The tree-hugging band also encourages concert-goers to take MARTA to the Arts Center rail station, right across the street from stairs to the Piazza. Free. 7:30 p.m. Sifley Piazza, Woodruff Arts Center. 404-733-4848. www.atlantasymphony.org. -- MG

PROJEKT REVOLUTION The main stage's a joke. Tour founder Linkin Park is approaching obsolescence quicker than the VCR, a fact acknowledged with last year's Minute to Minute, which all but shelves rap-rock in favor of one long (low) power ballad, whose gently undulating atmospheres suggest the neutered Britpop of tourmates the Bravery. Former Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell's a versatile vocalist, but a mediocre songwriter. Rapper Busta Rhymes is a decade removed from relevance. The second stage is far fresher, with talented metalcore mavens Atreyu, romantic emo-poppers Hawthorne Heights and the tense, textured rock of Armor for Sleep. $20.75-$75.75. 2 p.m. Lakewood Amphitheatre. 404-443-5000. www.livenation.com. -- CP

MON/4

VALIENT THORR, EARLY MAN This isn't just metal, it's titanium. Hirsute, denim-jacketed rockers Valient Thorr look like they came down from the mountain, instead of crash landing from Venus, as they aver. Their explosive power-metal licks, thundering rhythms and rebellious rhetoric suggest the MC5 schooled by Judas Priest. Early Man's bottom end throbs like a horny member amid a party of slashing thrash guitars stabbing pointillistic portraits of Ozzy. Expect a sweaty, wall-rattling epiphany clarifying the difference between live and Memorex. $12. 8 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. -- CP

TUES/5

AMOS LEE Upping the energy level and shifting gears to a somewhat more blue-eyed-soul approach helps swing Lee away from the Norah Jones-styled folk-pop on his new Don Was-produced album. He's no Daryl Hall but his sensitive, grainy voice infuses just enough grit to keep the blandness at bay. That makes him the go-to guy for sensitive singer/songwriters, easy on the ears (and eyes) and perfect for Sunday brunch background. At his best he's better than that, yet there's a sense of restraint that prevents him from detaching from that established, commercially secure comfort zone. $25-$27.50. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. -- HH

RICHARD LLOYD One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the late '70s band Television was the unique guitar work of Lloyd, and to date, there has not been another player who has matched his unusual style and sound. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then, and Lloyd has done a wide variety of projects, some good, some not so good. Regardless, this is a great opportunity to hear a real No Wave pioneer in an intimate setting. Click here to read more about Lloyd. $15. 8 p.m. Smith's Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. www.smithsoldebar.com. -- JK

TEN OUT OF TENN Stretch your dollar in this tight economy by catching 10 up-and-coming artists -- including a few young veterans -- from the Nashville singer/songwriter scene, for about a buck each. Semirecognizable names such as Griffin House, Butterfly Boucher and Trent Dabbs lead the pack with music that ranges from indie pop to folk and even rock, but tellingly not country. All are worth hearing and many have been critically, if not commercially, successful. The mix-and-match potential with various permutations playing together is alone worth the price of admission. $10-$50. 8 p.m. Eddie's Attic. 404-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com. -- HH

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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