Unassuming roots-rock doesn't need to be this polarizing. A year ago, when Washingtonian/South Carolinan trio Band of Horses dropped Everything All the Time, middle ground was minimal. Hyperbole mounted over the omnipresent blog buzz tune "The Funeral," while detractors wrote the group off as a bunch of posturing My Morning Jacket clones. Reel yourselves in from those fawning/dismissive extremes to revisit the record and its slippery grooves ("Our Swords") and jangling anthems ("Weed Party"). For whatever its influences, Band of Horses crafts thoroughly solid songs. Production is almost done on the group's sophomore record, so expect road tests of new material when BoH plays a sold-out show on Thursday, July 5, at Great American Music Hall at 8 p.m. Call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. John Vettese
Over the past six years, the Court and Spark has delivered three albums filled with expansive tunes that are folk-based, but don't fit neatly into any pigeonhole. Now it's time to move on. "There's no acrimony," says MC Taylor, the band's spokesperson. "We were friends before the band and still are, but we've accomplished everything we wanted to do." For its farewell show, C&S presents three showcases of where the members are, and where they're going. Drummer James Kim will play with opener Kelly Stoltz ; MC Taylor and Scott Hirsch will debut their new ambient folk band Hiss Golden Messenger ; and the Court and Spark takes us down memory lane with a set of greatest hits. The Court and Spark says adios on Friday, July 6, at the Café du Nord at 9:30 pm. Admission is $12; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. J. Poet
Hugh Cornwell 's dark, stentorian vocals were one of the calling cards of the Stranglers, possibly the most threatening band to surface from Britain's new-wave explosion. The Stranglers have gone downhill since Cornwell quit in 1990, and his solo career has been spotty as well, with brilliant albums alternating between sets of unlistenable or embarrassing music. Cornwell recently reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter. With a semi-acoustic band in tow, he's touring to support his forthcoming live album Dirty Dozen. The disc came out almost a year ago in England to mixed reviews; the songs he wrote for the Strangers still sound better than much of his solo material. Cornwell's lost some of his high end and much of his bile, but his mature growl can still send a chill down your spine. Hugh Cornwell and his band play Tuesday, July 10, at Bottom of the Hill at 9 p.m. Admission is $10-12; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. J.P.