Stealing riffs and loser beats

Why can British bands get away with doing Americana, but when U.S. bands cop accents and attempt Brit-pop, it's just pretentious? Double standard notwithstanding, the U.K.'s Gomez has been crafting kick-ass blues-inflected roots rock for nearly a decade, a trend that hasn't stopped with its seventh record, the recently released How We Operate. The five-piece has endured its share of ups and downs, to be sure — winning the Mercury Prize in '98, getting dropped by Virgin after releasing 2004's Split the Difference, finding a new home at Dave Matthews' ATO label, and finally landing its latest single on the season finale of Grey's Anatomy. The new record, produced by Pixies/Foo Fighters knob-twister Gil Norton, carries more studio sheen than earlier releases, but Mez fans can still get their fix of the band's live vibe on Wednesday, May 24, at the Fillmore at 8 p.m. Admission is $25; call 346-6000 or visit thefillmore.com for info. —Maya Kroth


I'm one of those devout fans who thinks Beck Hansen can do no wrong. You say his lyrics make no sense? I say intelligibility is overrated. You say he's a Scientologist? I say bring on the body thetans and silent births. It's easy to forget the quirks when this Grammy-winning high school dropout makes album after album of wholly original, sometimes melancholy, but always ultra-groovy music. In the past decade Beck's mastered the breakup album (Sea Change), the party record (Midnite Vultures), and the anthem of a generation (Mellow Gold/Odelay) without losing an inch of cred. At this point he could make a klezmer-spiked death metal/hip-hop combo and people would buy it (or at least illegally download it). Wanna help Beck recoup some of the cash he lost when Guero was leaked last year? Then shell out the $40 for his Fillmore show on Thursday, May 25, at 8 p.m. Call 346-6000 or visit thefillmore.com for more info. —Maya Kroth


Seattle's Shoplifting has crafted a sound under constant threat of falling beautifully apart. Its danceable rock rhythms stray into seemingly fractured but precise improvised tangents. While many of its post-punk contemporaries are concerned with reinventing the disco ball, Shoplifting continues to be a much more elusive, dangerous creature. The group's latest, Body Stories, shows a new refinement to thrilling rhythms undermined by chaotic guitar yelps and alternatively lulling and terrifying polemic vocals. Live, the band's presence has been refined in the unfinished basements of the Pacific Northwest, all full of shambolic energy and true-believer passion. Shoplifting performs Tuesday, May 30, at Bottom of the Hill at 9 p.m. Admission is $8; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. —Scott Goodwin


Japanese instrumental quartet Mono (not to be confused with the British trip-hop act of the same name) operates in the same kinda sonic, cosmic realm as Mogwai and Sigur Rós — its command of soft-loud-soft brain-blistering dynamics is as impressive as the former, and its got the latter's knack for creating expansive, glacially paced space-rock symphonies with guitars, throbbing timpanis, strings, and every Boss effects pedal known to man. With Mono's stupendous new album, the Steve Albini-produced You Are There — on which four of its six tracks blast well past the 10-minute mark — Mono delivers exquisite passages of hushed grace that may have you tearfully longing for a return to the womb, as well as noise explosions that may have you believing the building is collapsing around you. Both extremes are sure to be magnified in the live setting. Plus, Mono claims a guitarist named Yoda among its ranks, so you know the band's gonna drop some wise, masterful shit on Wednesday, May 31, at Great American Music Hall at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $13-$15; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. —Michael Alan Goldberg

 
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