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CAT & PATHOS-DRIVEN POWER

This week, Solar Culture Gallery hosts a pair of shows featuring solo women performers armed with only a guitar and a voice (and, in one case, possibly a piano), driving home the point that great stylistic differences can be achieved through similar means.

First up is anti-folk poster gal Kimya Dawson, half of the currently on-hiatus Moldy Peaches, spearheads of the thriving New York City anti-folk scene. While the Peaches are perhaps best known for tasteless in-jokes masquerading as pop songs and ballads, the duo also has a softer, more pathos-driven side. It was the latter that was on full display when Dawson last passed through town. An amateurish guitarist (she needed someone else to tune her instrument before the show), Dawson's charm lies in her ability to lay herself emotionally bare before an audience, singing songs both politically topical and profoundly personal that sound like they were ripped straight from her journal entries.

Kimya Dawson performs at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Sunday May 16. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. with sets from Jarron Bramson and Emily Long. Admission is $6. Call 884-0874 for further details.

Meanwhile, Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, lays herself emotionally bare simply by stepping onstage to perform. During many shows--her early ones, especially--her chronic stage fright and distractedness resulted in what appeared to be a near-meltdown. (Drive By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood's new solo album, Killers and Stars, contains a song called "Cat Power," which asks, "If you're really so shy, why are you standing in the light?") Lately, though, her shows have been more consistent, allowing the audience to bask in her multitude of charms--her cathartic, passionate songs, sung by that sensuous late-night voice--without fear of discomfort.

Cat Power performs an all-ages show on Tuesday, May 18 at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. A solo performance by Mt. Egypt kicks things off at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (plus a $2 service charge) at Cafe Jinx, Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street (next to Che's Lounge) and at Solar Culture from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. That number again is 884-0874.


HELLA POWER

Guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill comprise Sacramento, Calif., indie darlings Hella, who have just released The Devil Isn't Red (2004, 5 Rue), their fourth full-length in three years. Spastic, chaotic, abrasive and defiantly avant-garde, the vocal-less duo performs way-post-punk sonic algorithms designed for grown-ups who listened to Ornette Coleman in the womb.

Hella performs an 18-and-up show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, May 16. Also on the bill are Tucson's The Red Switch and L.A.'s The Nervous Return, who begin at 9 p.m. Cover is $6. Call 622-8848 for more 411.


ELF POWER

After issuing a series of quirky neo-psychedelic pop albums populated by mythical creatures like "Simon (The Bird With the Candy Bar Head)" as part of the Elephant 6 collective, Athens, Ga., combo Elf Power has returned with a revamped line-up and sound on its new album, Walking With the Beggar Boys (2004, Orange Twin).

Still helmed by frontman Andy Rieger, and retaining drummer Aaron Wegelin and multi-instrumentalist Laura Carter (ex-Neutral Milk Hotel), the band has drafted bassist Craig McQuiston (ex-Glands) and guitarist Eric Harris (ex-Olivia Tremor Control) into its ranks, while dropping the fuzzy psychedelia that made its name. While there's still plenty of unusual noises found on Walking (e.g., treated drums, banjo), it's by far the most straightforwardly pop-oriented Elf Power album released to date, highly enjoyable whether or not you're privy to the band's earlier discs.

Tourmates Summer Hymns recently released a mini-LP (too long to be an EP, too short to be an LP), Value Series Vol. 1: Fool's Gold, on Austin label Misra. (Like Elf Power, they also reside in Athens.) Full of gauzy textures and hazy atmosphere, the 10 songs here contain downcast, pretty melodies wrapped in a slight Southern twang that, at their best, recall Sparklehorse.

Both bands perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Monday, May 17. Young & Sexy opens at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $7. For more information, call 798-1298.


CRUMBLING RELATIONSHIP POWER

Newly signed to esteemed indie label Merge Records, rootless songsmith Richard Buckner makes his way back to Tucson this week with a stable of heartbreakingly tender songs that document the despair of crumbling relationships, and a husky yet pliable voice that achingly renders them even more profound. Recent shows have demonstrated that he's also become a hell of a guitarist.

Richard Buckner performs at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, May 15. Campo Bravo's Mark Matos and Haley Bonar open, starting at 9 p.m. Cover is $8. For more info, call 798-1298.


WILDCATS ROCK ... POWER?

Just in case last weekend's KFMA Day wasn't a sufficient enough summer send-off for you UA students, the Rialto Theatre and Princess Productions are teaming up this week to bring you Wildcats Rock! Headlined by Phoenix party band and rap-rock pioneers the Phunk Junkeez, the lineup also features local college faves 7 Days of May, Camp Courageous and The Year of Acceleration.

The big bash begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 14 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tix are available for $10 at Bookman's and the Rialto box office, or online at rialtotheatre.com. For more info, call 798-3333.


MUTANT HILLBILLY POWER

Now that we've all gotten used to Mark Insley's Arizona's Most Wanted roots-rock showcases each Wednesday at Vaudeville Cabaret (this week featuring the return of Austin's fabulous Weary Boys on Wednesday, May 19, by the way; $6 at the door), along comes Arizona's Least Wanted, a gathering of four twangtastic Tucson singer-songwriters who, according to the press release we received, "play 100 percent American music" and "don't kiss nobody's butt." In descending order of appearance, they are: Al Perry ("Tucson's acerbic Godhead du' Cowpunque"), Hank Topless ("twisted mastermind of honkytonkin' Topless Opry"), Slack Mac ("mutant hillbilly slide blues country punk genius") and Skid Severson ("way-gone pimpin' rockabilly daddy, late of Rodeo Queen").

Belly up to the bar at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 16. Questions, punk? Ring 'em up at 622-3535.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Acclaimed rapper and former Tucsonan Murs returns to town this week, hot on the heels of his recent solo show at Club Congress. This time around, he's one-third of Three Melancholy Gypsies (3MG), along with fellow Living Legend-ers Eligh and Scarub. Also on the bill: Louis Logic, Brycon & Equal, and Joint Custody. The 18+ show kicks off at 8 p.m., with advance tickets available for $14.50 at All City Records & Clothing, Zia Record Exchange and all Ticketmaster locations. They'll be $16 on the day of the show. Call 622-8848 for more info.

Acclaimed politico-punk Brits New Model Army are best known for their '80s material, but they haven't taken a breather yet. Catch 'em tonight, Thursday, May 13 at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Tucson's own Chris Burroughs opens at 9:45 p.m. Cover is $9. For bonus details, call 798-1298.

They may be one-hit wonders (1998's "The Way") but Austin trio Fastball is still churning out album after album of melodic guitar-pop songs inspired by '70s AM radio, the latest being the brand-new, highly revered Keep Your Wig On (Ryko). They'll be at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, May 19. David Garza and Al Perry open at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $8 at the front desk of Hotel Congress; they'll be $10 on the day of the show. Dial up 622-8848 for further info.

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