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Weekend Music Picks

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Fri 5/5 - Islands @ The El Rey ($12) – Montreal’s Islands are an eccentric indie pop band that formed out of the ashes of the Unicorns. Don’t hold that against them, they’re much better than the Unicorns. The band can still be too cutesy at times (the song “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Whitney, Bobby or Curtis Mayfield) but the arrangements are more fleshed out and enjoyable. Underground rappers Busdriver and Subtitle make appearances on the record; maybe they’ll enhance the live show too? Listen to some tracks at Myspace (“Rough Gem” and “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” are a good place to start).

Sat 5/6 - R. Kelly @ Gibson Amphitheatre ($50-65) – Lock up your teenage girls, R. Kelly is in town. If you still haven’t seen Trapped in the Closet do yourself a favor and rent it immediately (and then re-watch the Tom Cruise South Park spoof on YouTube). To quote and recontextualize a cool, local artist (Travis Millard), “Are you for real dawg?” Also on Sunday

Sun 5/7 - Irving / Essex Green / The Minor Canon @ Spaceland ($10) – Local heartthrobs Irving are touring in support of their album Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers out now on Eenie Meenie. With three different lead vocalists, their music moves between Elephant 6 style retro-rock, moody early 80’s Cure-style rock and dance rock. Last month's show at King King was energetic and entertaining. Download “Situation” Merge Records’ The Essex Green are a Brooklyn based retro pop band with folk flourishes. Two of the members are in Ladybug Transistor (a fun live band). Listen to some tracks at their Myspace page. The Minor Canon is Paul Larson’s (he’s played with Strictly Ballroom, Dntel, Beachwood Sparks, Nobody, Languis) new band. It’s sad music with trumpets and pianos.

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Photo: Irving (attention critics - they're an LA band, not a San Francisco band)