Spooner Oldham: hitchhiking Drive By Trickers country rock ride

Cloud Cult's sprawling new album, The Meaning of 8, is a joyous affair, marrying '90s indie rock guitar jangle with quirky Unicorns-style electro-pop. Frontman Craig Minowa's wavering voice is reminiscent of Doug Martsch as his lyrics occasionally float over armies of strings and horns. The Minnesota-based band's shows are just as enchanting, often incorporating videos and paintings. An added bonus: The group is certified as "green," meaning it purchases energy credits to compensate for touring's damaging effect on the environment. We can safely assume Al Gore is a fan. The convenient truth will be unveiled on Thursday, May 3, at Bottom of the Hill at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10; call 626-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. Jonah Flicker

Watching The Decline of Western Civilization again recently, it was refreshing to be reminded of the Germs' true lasting legacy — that gawdawful, proudly dumb-ass racket of their initial '77-'78 spurt. Forget that the Electric Eels were doing it in Cleveland five years earlier, or that today's true heirs — Piranhas, Human Eye, Functional Blackouts — have been ignored by "the punks." Those who laud the Germs now are more interested in Darby Crash's simulated Sid Vicious shenanigans, or worse, in the easily tattooed blue circle from the cover of '79's (GI). Reports on the reunion from last year's CBGBs set relay that the new dude (actor Shane West, who will portray Crash in an upcoming biopic) is "really like Darby, man," which is like saying that Julian Casablancas is "really like" Lou Reed. But hey, as the deflated response to alt-rock reunions goes these days, if the band is having fun, cool. The Germs perform on Saturday, May 5, at 9 p.m. Admission is $15-17; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. Eric Davidson

At their best, the Shakey Hands sound like the Feelies crossed with the Lovin' Spoonful. The scruffy five-piece's self-titled debut is a smart yet ragged mix of soul, country, and psychedelia. It's also sunshine-y as hell, which is funny considering the band hails from the gray domain of Portland. That spry mood carries over into the band's spastic gigs, which instantly garnered fans throughout the City of Roses. The group's also aptly named; guitarist and vocalist Nick Delffs moves like he's getting electrocuted onstage. Embrace the live wires on Sunday, May 6, when the Shakey Hands play the Make-Out Room at 9 p.m. Admission is $6; call 647-2888 or visit www.makeoutroom.com for more info. Mike McGonigal

Resilient road warriors Drive-By Truckers weathered the recent departure of guitarist Jason Isbell by adding another impressive member to their ranks. After years of sporadic collaborations, legendary keyboardist Spooner Oldham is joining the band on this year's "The Dirt Underneath" tour. Oldham is best known for contributing warm Wurlitzer notes to songs by Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young, and will undoubtedly inject the Trucker's celebrated live shows with dramatic technical acrobatics. The cerebral Southern rockers hold court at the Great American Music Hall for two nights this week: on Monday, May 7, and Tuesday, May 8, at the Great American Music Hall at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $26; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. Hannah Levin

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