Sonic Boom burrows into the inner E.A.R.

It's fitting that Helmet recently completed a string of dates opening for Guns N' Roses: Frontman Page Hamilton might be post-hardcore's version of Axl Rose, having reconstituted his long-running, highly influential band with a bunch of hired guns after a lengthy hiatus. But one notable difference between Page and Axl is that the former actually releases albums — last year's Monochrome was much better than Helmet's 2004's comeback disc, Size Matters, although neither can touch such early '90s classics as Strap It On or Meantime. That's when Helmet's drop-tuned, noise-rock pummel kept perfect company with the likes of the Jesus Lizard and Tar. The quartet's lineup has changed several times over the past three years alone, and Hamilton's signature bark has lost some of its bite, but he's still an inventive guitarist and a bona fide riff-monster. Find out if Helmet still has an appetite for sonic destruction when it plays with Totimoshi on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Slim's at 9 p.m. Admission is $17; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. Michael Alan Goldberg


Portland duo Talkdemonic's fall-feeling full-length Beat Romantic features sampler-perked percussion, dusts of viola, and assorted earthy plucks of organ and banjo, its molting melodies clinging to the listener like a wool turtleneck. A bittersweet ardor is peppered throughout the songs' sepia tones, cinematic apparitions sounding translucent without being twee. Bask in the folktronic pirouettes as the group opens for Rob Dickinson (The Catherine Wheel) on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Café du Nord at 9 p.m. Admission is $15; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. Tony Ware


Sonic Boom (Englishman Pete Kember) could've retired a psych-rock legend after Spacemen 3's acrimonious 1991 dissolution. Instead, he embarked on a career that expanded upon the fruitful ideas he and S3 co-founder Jason Pierce explored in their first band. Over four albums and several EPs fronting Spectrum, Kember furthered his interest in astral-dust ballads, minimalist rock, and songs that toggle between celestial bliss and swarming menace. Along with Spectrum, Kember launched Experimental Audio Research to indulge in exactly what the name implies. E.A.R. delved deeper into abstract electronica and dystopian sci-fi-flick soundtracking, forging chattering circuit-bending and unsettling oscillations with loads of rare, arcane devices. Count on Sonic to exploit said gear to its most mind-scrambling potential on Friday, Jan. 19, at the Hemlock Tavern at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com for more info. Dave Segal


R&B singer Angie Stone has battled congestive heart failure and the failure of record labels to support her properly and come out a winner — except in the case of the recent season of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, where she was a big loser (of weight, that is). A benefit of Stone's increased energy: a rare local appearance showing off those still full-bodied pipes that have led to frequent comparisons of a young Aretha Franklin. Oakland's Malika, who weathered two seasons of another reality show, Diddy's Making the Band, opens on Friday, Jan. 19, at Mezzanine at 9 p.m. Admission is $25; call 625-8880 or visit www.mezzaninesf.com for more info. Tamara Palmer

 
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