Traffic and Weather is Fountains of Wayne 's first new release since that Cars-jacking tribute to shaggable moms gave the band the lucky break they'd long deserved. Traffic assembles a typically tuneful collection of character sketches unified under a theme of people on the go. Or people working for the people on the go, like the crush-worthy chick at the DMV window in the bittersweet "Yolanda Hayes." Two standout cuts revolve around the drudgery of flying while the monotony of sleeping quarters only rates one track, "The Hotel Majestic." But the latter could be this year's "Stacy's Mom" it's a Beatles-esque blast of keyboard-driven new-wave classicism. Just imagine a video with Rachel Hunter as the maid. Fountains of Wayne perform on Monday, April 30, at the Great American Music Hall at 8 p.m. Admission is $18; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. Ed Masley
The Kooks aren't as kooky as the band name would suggest. And their hype-to-genius ratio is higher than it should be. But there's something irresistible about the group's debut, Inside In/Inside Out. It could be the youthful exuberance these young Brits have invested in bashing away at the oversized hooks of "Eddie's Gun" or "See the World." Sure, it's all been done before, from the British Invasion that started it all to version 2.0 starring the Libertines and Arctic Monkeys. But the Kooks are exciting in part because they make it all feel new again, if only long enough to make you smile. The Kooks perform on Monday, April 30, at Slim's at 8 p.m. Admission is $13-15; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. E.M.
Morrissey 's been busy these days with more than simply dashing all hopes for a Smiths reunion. He's been working on his third solo album in three years, the second with producer Tony Visconti. Visconti produced seven albums for Moz heroes T-Rex in the '70s and elicited a rawer sound from the famously morose singer on last year's thought-provoking Ringleader of the Tormentors. The man hasn't gone totally glam, though expect a strong dose of one of the world's driest and most self-deprecating wits on Tuesday, May 1, when Morrissey performs at Paramount Theatre in Oakland at 8 p.m. Admission is $47.50-85.50; call 510-465-6400 or visit www.paramounttheatre.com for more info. Tamara Palmer