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Daniel Johnston brings DIY pop bliss to an imperfect world

Wednesday, Aug 22 2007
Over the course of recording 30 albums, Daniel Johnston has been compared to Brian Wilson and has provided inspiration to artists like Kurt Cobain and Yo La Tengo. And yet his songwriting understandably hasn't always been the focal point of his notoriety. Indeed, many people who have heard of Johnston are probably more familiar with the stories of his mental instability than his songs. The 2005 film The Devil and Daniel Johnston may have provided needed context for music fans who haven't found his crackly vocal delivery and tape-hiss-riddled recordings to be their cup of sleepy-time tea. But a listen to his retrospective album Welcome to My World reveals why so many notable names appreciate Johnston's pure, Beatles-y melodicism, alternately playful and painfully autobiographical lyrics, and forever-teenage enthusiasm for rock 'n' roll. Daniel Johnston performs on Wednesday, Aug. 22, at Bimbo's at 8 p.m. Admission is $18; call 474-0365 or visit for more info. — John Garmon

There are key questions every metal snob should know how to debate competently. To wit: What's the last great Judas Priest album? Most likely Screaming for Vengeance, though sound arguments can be made for Defenders of the Faith. Or what is Black Sabbath's most underrated record? Sabotage, hands down. The members of Portland's old-school, metal-knowledgeable Red Fang would undoubtedly tackle such queries with aplomb, although, from the sound of things, they could also arm-wrestle over the merits of Black Flag or the Fucking Champs. The best part? The band's rock influences offer a total absence of metal's Cookie Monster vocal offshoots. Red Fang performs on Friday, Aug. 24, at Thee Parkside at 9 p.m. Admission is $7; call 503-0393 or visit for more info. — Hannah Levin

Kudos for taking its name from Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Otherwise, Au Revoir Simone is just another example of today's grim, endless desire to fetishize young girls. Little else would explain the buzz for this all-gal, swoozy synth trio. (Well, a track on Grey's Anatomy helps.) These genetic jackpot winners from Brooklyn have improved upon their early days, going from bloodless synth-slogging that Teletubbies producers would deem too infantile, to slightly more melodically layered bloodless synth-slogging that David Lynch digs because, well, David Lynch probably doesn't get out much. We've got the Brunettes, Stereolab, and about 217 Japanese groups for this particular fetish. Au Revoir Simone only offers a cute and calming demi-hippie haze, which, in our strife-filled times, has its place, I suppose. Au Revoir Simone performs on Friday, Aug. 24, at Bottom of the Hill at 10 p.m. Admission is $10; call 621-4455 or visit for more info. — Eric Davidson

Though far from a household name, U.K. folk maestro Bert Jansch has exerted a profound influence on notable musicians with his virtuoso guitar skills. During the 1970s, Neil Young and Jimmy Page openly credited the Scotsman's work as a key inspiration for their acoustic explorations. As a solo artist and as founder of folk super group Pentangle — an outfit he formed with fellow six-string giant John Renbourn — Jansch crafted a haunting style that creatively combined American folk and blues with the traditional sounds of the British Isles that continues to resonate. Now more than four decades into his career, the talented player counts such diverse admirers as guitarist Johnny Marr, trip-hop chanteuse Beth Orton, and freak-folk avatar Devendra Banhardt among his more recent collaborators. Jansch shows off his prodigious gifts when he plays the Swedish American Hall on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $17-$20; call 861-5016 or visit for more info. — Dave Pehling


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