Dios (malos) drops dream pop at the Great American, and the experimental Fog City thrill ride that is Eddie the Rat

Dios (malos), the South L.A. quintet formerly known simply as dios, has spent the last few years fielding cease-and-desist letters from Ronnie James Dio and touring behind an album hailed alternately as "spacey," "mellow," "easy-breezy," "dreamy," "drowsy," "hazy," "lazy" ... zzzzzzzzzzz ... sorry, dozed off there for a second. Indeed, the response was near-unanimous: Dios (malos)'s first self-titled record was an awesome (if slightly comatose) work of indie rock. Thankfully, the band's follow-up (self-titled again, with the new appendage), produced by Phil Ek (Modest Mouse, Shins, Built to Spill), keeps all the Brian Wilsonian melody of the previous album and kicks in a much-needed jolt of energy for a forward-moving sound that heralds a potentially long career. That such cute, boppy indie rock is being made not by pasty boys in Seattle but by five Latinos from outside Inglewood is even more satisfying. Dios (malos) performs on Friday, Oct. 14, at the Great American Music Hall; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. -- Maya Kroth

Five years back, Bay Area multi-instrumentalist Peter Martin launched a high-concept aural drama called Eddie the Rat. Boasting the talents of more than a dozen local performers, including vocalist/percussionist Molly Tascone and instrument builder Dan Ake, Martin's adventuresome ensemble effort places the listener directly in the theatrical line of fire, where dames and dudes -- in a haze of cigarettes, booze, high-speed chases, and impassioned embraces -- duke it out in an epic struggle for survival on the fog-swept streets of San Francisco. "The group seeks to create music which challenges the listener's emotional response," suggests the bandleader. The idea is to provoke audiences by upending expectations with unusual arrangements of all kinds of electroacoustic material. Thus, a riot of disembodied voices haunts rather than sings, richly layered instrumental loops purposefully evade harmonic development, and a steady percussive clangor leans toward melodic and timbral experimentation rather than beats or grooves. In the end, Eddie the Rat's soundtracks are a mystery of sorts, a noirish thrill ride with lots of shadow and light. Find out what it's all about when the troupe performs on Saturday, Oct. 15, at New Langton Arts; call 626-5416 or go to www.newlangt onarts.org for more info. -- Sam Prestianni

Everyone complains about our crisis-ravaged world, yet few do anything about it. Well, songstress Dar Williams is trying something, and it has nada to do with a concept album or fasting until the U.S. withdraws from North America. Williams has organized her "Echoes" strategy, which provides media focus and fundraising for charities specific to many cities on her tour trail, such as local food banks, Growing Hope (improving communities via gardening), and Wild for Life (rehabbing injured/orphaned wildlife). This cross-country jaunt coincides with her just-released album My Better Self (Razor and Tie), her seventh, which offers further proof (for those who need it) that one can be an earnest singer/songwriter without being a self-absorbed mope or displaying an "idiosyncratic" style. Along with her comforting vocals, Williams blends elegant, attractive melodic hooks with gentle satire ("Teen for God"), wryly expressed indignation over power and conformity ("The Empire"), and compassion (the chiming, humming "Echoes"). Self also features a creepily plaintive duet with Ani DiFranco on Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." Help Ms. Dar improve the world a tiny bit on Sunday, Oct. 16, at the Fillmore; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info.-- Mark Keresman

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