I regrettably missed local metal horde Thou plumb the depths of Black Sabbath's catalog at the North Gate Tavern, but I did witness a leaner, tighter Harlan debut the songs off their soon-to-be-released second album, Spiderette. The band seemed more streamlined than in the past, and it serves John Norris' encyclopedic, scintillating pop well. His songs are rife with references to music criticism and bands from past 20 years, less a pastiche than it is an assimilation of influences and experiences. In other words: smart music from a smart band. Equally smart was the opening solo acoustic set by Kevin Hurstell (Slobot, Otasco), whose material is the right mix of wordiness and charm needed to captivate a whole room with just a guitar.
Speaking of charm, Paul Burch, one of the finest singers around, extolling to the high countrypolitan virtues of heartbreak and lechery better than any actual country singer around, will be swinging into Chelsea's this week, as will a full night of Southern groove with The Dynamites, Topaz and The Greyhounds. If you prefer your rock 'n' roll howled with drunken abandon, Ladyhawk promises to make reckless use of their bar tab and your eardrums at Spanish Moon. Boudreaux & Thibodeaux's has started a series of zydeco dance lessons every Wednesday night, but if you are looking for something completely different, Kid Midi will be available at the North Gate Tavern to blow your mind with his backstage-at-the-circus, metal/electro-pop extravaganza.