Centro-matic|The Leather Uppers|Husky Rescue|Wayne Hancock

God damn the humorless alt. country zealots for casting Centro-Matic as a blue-collar indie hero; it takes a hot second in the audience of the Denton, Texas, band to realize that it doesn't fit the knee-jerk definitions that find it filed next to Wilco by slumming CPAs in mesh-back hats. Sure, the ragged incantations of Will Johnson occasionally bring to mind vintage Crazy Horse, but the singalong choruses and major-chord melancholia should have the band just as easily categorized as power pop. Expect alternating explosions of guitar-driven dejection and lofty saccharine optimism in the group's commanding live performances. But please, leave the trucker cap at home. Centro-Matic performs on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at Bottom of the Hill at 9 p.m. Admission is $10; call 621-4455 or go to www.bottomofthehill.com for more information. —Nate Cavalieri

Back in the Clinton era, the kooky Canucks of the Leather Uppers were one of the better surf-garage groups of the Estrus Records retroid ilk. They rode the umpteen-singles party train into the hearts of many a Coop-poster collecting twentysomething. Now, just as those fans are contemplating trading in all that vinyl to make room for baby cribs, the Uppers suddenly reappear on the new-gen retroid label, Goner, this time in the guise of a down'n'dirty duo on their fine comeback, Bright Lights. Gone are the Monkees suits, replaced for humble ascots, a trashier cask, and only slightly more irascible punchlines. The Leather Uppers perform on Friday, Sept. 8, and Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Hemlock at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $7; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com for more info. —Eric Davidson

Finland's latest export, Husky Rescue, recently released Country Falls — a mid-'90s throwback of muted electronica that's tricked-out with melodies nicked from old spy flick soundtracks and smooth, softcore love funk. It's totally delicious, especially when the Rescue's Emma Salokoski and Reeta-Leena Korhola steal the show on such gems as "Summertime Cowboy" and the ghostly "Sunset Drive". If Yoko Ono and Björk shot smack and fucked, the couple's offspring would be these two silky chanteuses from Scandinavia. Then again, H.R.'s true hero is chief songwriter and artistic focal point Marko Nyberg: an incredibly talented tunesmith with a DJ's uncanny instinct for rhythm. Husky Rescue performs on Friday, Sept. 8, at the Rickshaw Stop at 9 p.m. Admission is $10; call 861-0211 or visit www.rickshawstop.com for more info. Justin F. Farrar

Texas seems to breed illustriously irrepressible musical mavericks. Buddy Holly, die-hard eclectic Doug Sahm, and jazz innovator Ornette Coleman are but three Lone Star self-starters insistent on their individual game plan, consequences be damned. Add to that list hard-country stalwart Wayne Hancock, who, given ownership of Hell and Nashville, he'd likely rent out Music City U.S.A. and live with the devil. Hancock's roots are pre-1960 honky-tonk (think Hank Williams Sr., Webb Pierce), Western swing (and occasionally swing jazz), and rockabilly, his yowling, rough-hewn Hanklike vocals the epitome of hick cool. Utilizing acoustic, electric, and steel guitars and bass — no muss, no fuss, no waxy yellow buildup — Hancock's brand of invigorating, heartfelt (unimpeded by any smug "retro" attitude), dancehall/beer garden music has few equals. Learn this Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Hemlock Tavern at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10-12; call 923-0925 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com for more info. Mark Keresman

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