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M. Ward @ UC Theatre 

Wednesday, Jul 6 2016
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M. Ward can do it all. As a solo artist? Check: nine full-length albums and two EPs. As a duo? Check: five records with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him. As a supergroup? Check: two releases — one as Monsters of Folk, consisting of Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes; one as Tired Pony, an unfairly overlooked project with Deschanel and members of Belle & Sebastian, R.E.M., Snow Patrol, and Editors. In sum: M. Ward has done it all. Though he now mainly sticks to solo tracks and covers, the Portland musician has such an extensive back catalogue that every setlist is unique. Old favorites, like "Chinese Translation," mix seamlessly with tracks like "Girl From Consejo Valley" and "Time Won't Wait" off this year's release, More Rain. While he may be best known for his brand of serene Americana, he can definitely rock out, so expect at least a few face-melting, bluesy guitar solos. An annual highlight at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the singer-songwriter is worth catching every time he swings through the Bay Area — this time with a new album, to boot. Nice As Fuck is opening. A new group led by frequent M. Ward collaborator Jenny Lewis, it surprise-released its debut album a couple of weeks ago. Filled with warm synths, peppy drums, and intensely political lyrics, NAF holds its own. At most of its shows, NAF eschews the stage completely and plays on the floor, so make sure to get there early for a good view.

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Steven Edelstone

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