"Fuzz" is for Muppets — the abrasive garage-punk of Japan's King Brothers more closely resembles steel wool. While these self-proclaimed "blues aliens" occasionally use a light touch for a quick scrubbing, their true purpose is to scrape through greasy, feedback-crusted chunks of grime and come out shining. Brooklyn's Shellshag, on the other hand, is what might result if you took those moldy pots 'n' pans and started a lo-fi duo. The resulting pop romps -— thick with tom-tom drumbeats and tendrils of distortion — might even be called, well, "fuzzy." So forget about cleaning your dryer's lint screen and get thee to the Bottom of the Hill on Thursday, April 10, at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10; call 626-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. — John Graham
The band name is now exclamation-point-free (thank God), but Las Vegas quartet Panic at the Disco sounds more exuberant than ever on current single "Nine in the Afternoon," the first track unleashed from the band's sophomore disc Pretty.Odd. Some might scoff at the foursome's seemingly overnight sophistication — they've ditched the guyliner-emo, nü-wave affectations, and song titles like "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage" for classic English pop-psychedelia. But hey, at least they didn't pull a Springsteen, and it's tough to argue with the new material's melodic appeal. Previously, the most interesting thing about the band was its carnivalesque live shows — replete with dancing ladies and windmills — but it sounds as if the music has caught up to the visuals. Panic at the Disco performs on Thursday, April 10, and Friday, April 11, at the Warfield at 7 p.m. Admission is $35; call 567-2060 or visit www.livenation.com for more info. — Michael Alan Goldberg
At every Xiu Xiu show I've attended, I've seen people sob uncontrollably, laugh nervously, applaud wildly, and storm out in disgust. But mostly, I've seen fans stand enraptured by the drama unfurling onstage as Jamie Stewart and crew push through some of the most powerfully rendered musical experiences the indie-rock world has witnessed. Blending shards of post-punk guitar, IDM-and-industrial-style electronics, dark synth-pop, and avant-classical textures into a singular collage of melody and cacophony, Xiu Xiu provides a daring sonic backdrop to Stewart's harrowing croon. Diving deep into the traumatic places most people try to forget, he sings about abuse, incest, politics, love, religion, and depression in ways that compel all sorts of emotional response. Xiu Xiu performs on Saturday, April 12, at Bottom of the Hill at 10 p.m. Admission is $12; call 626-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. — M.A.G.
Saudade is a Portuguese word that's best translated as "wishful yearning." That feeling is the main theme of Lisbon-based singer Ana Moura's fourth release, Para Além da Saudade (World Village). In a rich voice, she sings about the streets and the sea, and of loves won and lost —- all recurring themes in fado, her country's blues-like style internationally popularized by the late Amália Rodrigues. Moura has been a key figure in its recent revival in Portugal. Her music not only honors its tradition, but also looks into its future by welcoming foreign influences and instruments into the mix. Ana Moura performs on Sunday, April 13, at Herbst Theatre at 7 p.m. Admission is $28-$58; call 398-5655 or visit www.sfjazz.org for more info. — Ernest Barteldes