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Monsters of mope come to Berkeley: M. Ward, Bright Eyes, and Jim James. Old 97's are hotter than Ryan Adams.

For alternarockers the world over, one of the most despised aspects of the pop/rock mainstream was the "singer/songwriter," as that signified despised sensitivos like James Taylor and Billy Joel. But as times changed (and James, Billy, Carly, et al. were remaindered to the nostalgia circuit), the singer/songwriter concept regained street cred. Now three -- count 'em, three -- prolific indie vets bring their particular brands of single-cell introspection to scenic Berkeley: M. Ward, formerly of San Luis Obispo's Rodriguez, who channels the cracked, lonesome sound of Gram Parsons by way of Grandaddy; singer/guitarist Jim James, on holiday from Louisville, Kentucky's rootsy reverb-mongers My Morning Jacket; and Bright Eyes, band du jour of indie wunderkind Conor Oberst, who as a teenager started the Saddle Creek label, and whose latest disc, Home Vol. 4, is a collaboration with Britt Daniel of Spoon (plus he's dated Winona Ryder!). Expect both solo and collaborative performances when these three take to the stage on Friday, Oct. 15, at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley; call (510) 642-9988 or visit www.anotherplanetent.com for more info.
-- Mark Keresman

Forget Ryan Adams. Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller is the real altcountry pinup boy. I've done my share of perving on Miller's painfully perfect cheekbones and deep-enough-to-drown-in eyes. Looks aside, though, what could be hotter than a guy who can weave references to J.D. Salinger and Kafka into lyrics like "I'm dressed all in blue and I'm rememberin' you/ And the dress you wore when you broke my heart"? While altcountry icons like Adams and Wilco seem up to their knees in melodrama and irony, Miller manages to be sweet, sincere, and seductive in the same husky breath. After a three-year hiatus, Old 97's are back, touring in support of Drag It Up, a mix of high-gloss pop smudged with spitfired Texas country. Sing along with the fans (they will know every word) and watch for swooning women when Old 97's play Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15-16, at the Fillmore (bassist Murry Hammond's wife, Grey DeLisle, opens the show); call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com.
-- Maya Kroth

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