Sound Menu June 18 2008

CL’s picks for the week’s best shows


THE BAND OF HEATHENS Ignore the deceptively metalish name for some good-ol’-boy soulful roots rocking by this Austin, Texas-based collective, voted the city’s Best New Band in 2007. While there’s little unique here, the five-piece writes smart, hooky strummers and grinds them out with the sharp proficiency of the veterans they are. Three strong vocalists add variety and excellent harmonies to hummable melodies. The playing nails a swampy, twangy vibe somewhat like a countrified Little Feat. Fellow Texan and self-described “wanderlusty” songwriter Abi Tapia opens. $12-$60. 8 p.m. Eddie’s Attic. 404-377-4976. — Hal Horowitz

GRAND ARCHIVES Formed two years ago by former Carissa’s Wierd/Band of Horses guitarist Mat Brooke, his new quintet echoes some of Carissa’s folk-rock baroque. But with its soaring harmonies and glimmering lilt, it’s a lot sunnier, drawing as much inspiration from the Mamas & the Papas or Crosby, Stills & Nash as cloudy Northwestern pop slackerdom. Tracks like the bubbly “Louis Riel” is near twee in its airy, fluttering shimmer. $10. 9 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. — Chris Parker


JOHN MOONEY & BLUESIANA Nobody combines stark Delta blues with dark yet funky New Orleans rhythms as well as Mooney. Originally mentored by the great bluesman Son House in upstate New York, Mooney moved south to the Crescent City to soak up that city’s mojo and add it to his already accomplished and often edgy slide-guitar-driven country blues. Add a roaring, emotionally scarred voice that conveys every ounce of his trials and tribulations as an ex-addict and the results are brutally powerful and wildly exciting. $12. 8 p.m. Blind Willie’s. 404-872-2583. — HH

TONY CLIFTON & THE KATRINA-KISS-MY-ASS ORCHESTRA It’s been 25 years since comic genius Andy Kaufman passed away, and his dear friend the legendary Clifton is touring again in his memory. Clifton is a classic throwback to the early days of Vegas lounge lizards, a wise-cracking, sleazy sort of fellow who loves (and terrorizes) the ladies and never met a song he couldn’t destroy. Andy would be proud. $17.50-$20. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. — James Kelly


CAROLINE & THE RAMBLERS, ELLIS NASSOUR It’s a free event (unless you want to buy a book) as music industry insider Nassour talks about his recently published biography titled Honky Tonk Angel: the Intimate Story of Patsy Cline. Local songstress Caroline and her boys will be doing a few Patsy tunes throughout the evening, along with their own great material. Bring the kids, expect to hear some “real” country music, and there might be some beer. Free. 7 p.m. Decatur CD. 404-371-9090. — JK

SHAWN COLVIN, PAUL THORN While Atlanta has its share of talented chicks with guitars, Colvin is in a class all herself. Always on the mark with her great wordplay and honest, catchy melodies, she’s one of the most consistently great artists out there. Thorn is a damn good songwriter himself, with an eye and ear focused on the dark side. $31.50-$35. 8 p.m. Atlanta Botanical Garden. 404-876-5859. — JK

MELISSA ETHERIDGE Though her career peaked in ‘93 with her multiplatinum Yes I am, and though her albums since 1999 have struggled to break the “gold” barrier, Etheridge has been making something of a comeback in recent years. Her revival in the public eye, if not ear, is due in part to visible involvement with activities of Al Gore, including “I Need To Wake Up,” the theme song for An Inconvenient Truth. $38-$103. 8 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheater. 404-733-4800. — Mark Gresham

LESS THAN JAKE, MUSTARD PLUG Go ahead and call ‘em veterans. Florida’s Less Than Jake has earned it with nearly 15 years in the punk/ska trenches, churning out bouncy ditties that fill dance floors while sporting sing-along choruses every bit as catchy as Green Day’s. The two-piece horn section adds potent brass exclamation points to an exuberant sound that needs to be experienced live. The openers have been at it just as long and are also dedicated to the horn-driven punk/ska aesthetic that makes this a nonstop, high-energy bill that’ll keep the mosh pits swelled and sweaty. $20. 8 p.m. The Masquerade. 404-577-8178. — HH


CENTRO-MATIC The anthemic melodies, fuzzy rhythmic shamble and wavering vocals peg Will Johnson as Robert Pollard’s Texas twin, fueled by similar ’60s garage-pop touchstones, but colored with dusty expanse instead of Midwestern rumble. Johnson’s nearly as prolific; besides Centro-Matic, he has reflective, rustic-balladeering side project South San Gabriel — featuring the same members. Both bands have their own disc on the new Dual Hawks, which pans the spectrum from the spare, hypnotic drift and cello-abetted folk jangle to tangled, swaggering peals of distorted guitar. Part of AthFest. Wristband for three days: $15. 10 p.m. 40 Watt Club. 706-549-7871. — CP

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, JOSHUA JAMES, LEX LAND Yeah, he’s Steve’s kid, but Justin has set out to make a name for himself, and he’s well on his way to accomplishing that. His first solo album is a nice mix of new folk and country. James is a newbie, and his recently released CD features a slew of crispy acoustic tunes with an edge. He’s one worth listening to. Land opens. $12-$15. 9 p.m. Smith’s Olde Bar. 404-875-1522. — JK

KING JOHNSON OK, so this pizza joint is an unusual venue for the long-awaited reunion of one of Atlanta’s most respected and enjoyable groove-oriented funky blues-rock outfits. It’s still great to welcome them back. Frontman Oliver Wood has cracked the mainstream with his Wood Brothers project, but he can let loose here, jamming away on good-time rootsy dance music, enlivened by percussion and horns. Have a slice and join the fun. $10. 9 p.m. Shorty’s. 770-414-6999. — HH

R.E.M., MODEST MOUSE, THE NATIONAL Three generations of underground crossover acts provide an astounding level of craftsmanship. Rootsy elder statesmen R.E.M. are supporting their best album in a dozen years, Accelerate. There’s a cloudy Northwestern pallor shading the shimmer and softening the edges of Modest Mouse’s jagged windy guitar and percolating rhythms. The National’s shadowy orchestral swoon is at its most modulated and balanced on last year’s The Boxer, a stylish cape around Matt Berninger’s smoky baritone. $35-$75. 6:30 p.m. Lakewood Amphitheatre. 404-443-5000. — CP


MICHAEL O’NEAL SINGERS Billed as “commemorating the transforming power of music,” the program’s centerpiece is the “Holocaust Cantata: Songs from the Camps” by Donald McCullough, composer and director of the Master Chorale of Washington. Featured artists are soprano Debbie Rostad, baritone John LaForge, cellist Daniel Laufer and pianist Tom Alderman, and director O’Neal leads the 90-minute program, which also includes an array of American spirituals. $10. 4 p.m. Ahavath Achim Synagogue. 770-590-7974. — MG

RANCID, TH’ LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS You wouldn’t need oil if you could tap the energy of these two acts. Rancid blends reggae and punk shuffle like its heroes the Clash, forging an underrated catalog with plenty of great music unfairly dismissed. Openers Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers have one of rock’s great frontmen, Col. J.D. Wilkes, whose manic stage persona channels Iggy while the band sounds like a white-hot Credence racing through a Southern graveyard with “Great Balls of Fire.” $19.99. 8 p.m. Masquerade. 404-577-8178. — CP

BILLY JOE SHAVER, SALLY JAYE & BRIAN WRIGHT I hate clichés, but they definitely broke the mold in this case. Shaver is a poet, a picker, a prophet and a pilgrim. He exemplifies the art of songwriting at its finest, and will captivate you from the first note he sings. This man should be on the Texas state flag. Jaye returns for the second time in two weeks, with her fine Americana style. $25-$125. 7 p.m. Eddie’s Attic. 404-377-4976. — JK


JONNY LANG Back in ‘97, blues-rock guitarist Lang made waves as a teen prodigy when his solo debut album, Lie to Me, went double-platinum. Nearly 10 years later, the Fargo, N.D., native found a new musical maturity, winning a Grammy for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album with his fifth and pivotal CD, Turn Around, in 2006, melding his guitar work into a much tighter ensemble while letting impassioned vocals and lyrics leap more into the foreground. $32-$33. 8 p.m. Center Stage. 404-885-1365. — MG

Bands/performers/venues wishing to be included in Sound Menu’s noted-acts boxes may send recordings, press material and schedules two weeks in advance to Creative Loafing c/o Rodney Carmichael, 384 Northyards Blvd., Suite 600, Atlanta, GA 30313, or e-mail information to: To be included in the listings only, e-mail venue and band schedules by Thursday at noon (for the issue that comes out the following Wednesday) to