This week's best shows include Paul Collins (formerly of the Nerves) at the hi-dive with his new-ish band, the Beat. That should be a great one -- same with Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake on Thursday. The rest of our picks follow.Cruel Hand Marquis Theater : 7:00 p.m. January 12
While Portland, Maine's Cruel Hand has been identified with that strangely durable neo-hardcore style of the last decade, the band's sound stretches a little further, encapsulating the diverse energy and heaviness of Metallica and Bouncing Souls. Vocalist Chris Linkovich leads Cruel Hand with a Black Flag-era Henry Rollins' authority, projecting his scream-talk with an exercised control over jutting guitars and plenty of tempo-fluctuating breakdowns.
Though often relegated to the arty crowd rather than pop-oriented audiences, Nika Rosa Danilova's Zola Jesus project has the power to appeal to a wide range of people. Her operatic chants are deep and imposing, but when Danilova's vocal lines get swept up into the beat, her radio-friendliness really shines. She's put out five grand full-length albums, making a small dent in the Billboard charts with 2010's Conatus and last year's Taiga, but Zola Jesus is still a well-kept secret. The intensity of Danilova's art is amplified through her live performances, which find her booming voice melting with the mysterious atmosphere she creates through backing instrumentation and minimal lighting. The Wisconsin native may be on a slow rise to the mainstream, but it's a steady one. Danilova's expertly calculated literary and soulful creation could be the kind of pop act the world has been waiting for.Paul Collins Beat hi-dive : 5:00 p.m. January 14
Paul Collins may not be a household name, but his tenure in power-pop band the Nerves had a significant impact. That band's self-titled EP had only four songs, but one of them, "Hanging on the Telephone," became a hit for Blondie. When the Nerves split, in 1978, Collins formed the Beat, and bandmate Peter Case started the Plimsouls, whose "A Million Miles Away" featured prominently in the 1983 cult filmValley Girl
. Collins's group, meanwhile, enjoyed moderate success with its high-energy tunefulness before dissolving in 1989. Collins has since re-formed a version of the Beat, and in 2011, the Broadway-musical production of Green Day's American Idiot introduced a new audience to Collins's songwriting by including a version of his song "Walking Out on Love." This is your chance to catch the pop legend in a small club.Bonnie and the Beard (with Miner) Larimer Lounge : January 14
Bonnie And The Beard has a wayward traveler-feel about its sound -- if Vaudville Americana were a genre, the local trio would be at the top of it. The band's stomping, clanging rhythms are complimented by a duet of male and female vocals and a little banjo, tambourine and keyboards between.Reel Big Fish & Less Than Jake Ogden Theatre : 7:30 p.m. January 15
Third-wave ska was last in vogue when people still thought Y2K was a threat, but the passage of a decade hasn't changed the fact that many of those bands still make an awfully accessible and enjoyable racket on stage. See: well vetted Huntington Beach six-piece Reel Big Fish whose 2012 Candy Coated Fury aptly encapsulates the group's sarcastic, semi-seething lyrics, which are wrapped up in fun, bouncy tunes. Co-headliners Less Than Jake still sing songs about pizza and parties, still has a horn section and is still sort of ska.
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