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Secret Machines, Action Action

Jack Rabbit Slims, Thursday

It’s hard to tell if Secret Machines are suffering from an identity crisis or they’re just playing coy. They’re down to just two main band members after one of the brothers Curtis (Benjamin) ditched them last year; so far they’ve run a rotation of swingers through the open slot, with no permanent replacements in sight. But never fear—the downsized band haven’t lost their penchant for psychedelic space-rock, nor has singer Brandon Curtis stopped sounding like an anxious Ben Gibbard. Secret Machines share a bill with Long Islanders Action Action, who are still riding the post-Killers synthpop; they’ll be in town to support their new An Army of Shapes Between Wars disc. (May 1, 6 PM, $12, 895 Broadway, Albany, 434-4540)

Wye Oak

Wye Oak

Valentine’s, Saturday

We’re so used to getting hit over the head by bands demanding our attention because they’re so damn awesome. So what a pleasant surprise when a disc just sort of shows up with practically no fanfare, and it turns out to actually be awesome. Wye Oak pulled one of those a few weeks back when If Children, the Merge Records debut from this Baltimore-based guy-girl duo, snuck onto our iPod. Their subtle interplay and song strengths remind us a bit of New York guy-girl duo the Malarkies, with some Breeders-Sonic Youth noise added for color. If the term indie actually makes you nostalgic, you’ll be nuts for this stuff. Saturday’s bill also stars Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, Audrey Ryan, Brown Bird, and Bernice Marie. (May 3, 8 PM, $7, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572)



Amy Speace, Sally Spring

Caffe Lena, Saturday

New York-based songwriter Amy Speace has never been one to squirm away from being pigeonholed—to wit, the artist’s live engagements are currently booked by the Americana Agency. She falls somewhere between Sheryl (Crow) and Lucinda (Williams) on the pop-country scale, which means you can expect her to be around for a long time. Speace will co-headline this Saturday’s show with North Carolinian Sally Spring. Spring was a light of the New York City and Los Angeles folk scenes in the 1970s and ’80s, but she’s been laying pretty low for a while. She returned to the circuit this year with Mockingbird, an earthy, traditional-sounding record that should easily please fans of Spring’s easygoing style. (May 3, 8 PM, $15, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022)

Parkfest 2008

University at Albany, Saturday

The strange evolution of a student activities budget can best be studied right here, with the University at Albany’s annual Parkfest event. The Parkfests of the ’90s were daylong, band-studded free events, in a public (Lincoln) park in downtown Albany. Roughly a decade ago, the event moved to the Altamont Fairgrounds, morphing into a pay-for-rocking affair which made up in starpower for what it lacked in the general goodwill (read: trash cans full of beer) of past events; a few years at the then-Pepsi Arena brought into question the validity of the term “park” in the event’s title. Now Parkfest has rowed ashore: This year’s event takes place right there in the UAlbany campus’ Collins Circle. The upside: Timbaland-protégé pop band One Republic and R&B youngster Trey Songz will perform, for free. The downside: This is technically a students-only affair; to attend, you’ll have to be the first person to ever doctor a SUNY ID. (May 3, 1 PM, free with UAlbany ID, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, 442-5640)

Reverend Horton Heat, Nashville Pussy

Revolution Hall, Sunday

If Reverend Horton Heat were a drink, he’d be a can of Shiner beer from Texas, with a shot of tequila on the side. Jim Heath’s juggernaut is still rocking strong even as the Rev himself nears 50; don’t expect the band to back off on their patented psychobilly sound anytime soon. Atlanta’s Nashville Pussy have never proven to be as provocative musically as their name would suggest, and now that the chick who used to take her tits out has left the band, why would anyone care anymore? Simple: They’re still 75 percent harder and faster thank your average rock band. “Motorhead with tits” indeed. Backyard Tire Fire will open to ignite what should be an action-packed show. (May 4, 7 PM, $24, 425 River St., Troy, 274-0553)

Also Noted
The Mathematicians

It’s a good week for giving. Here’s a quick rundown of fund-raisers happening this week: Today (Thursday) through Sunday at the Lake George Forum (in Lake George, obvs) be part of HIV Live, a jam-packed concert event featuring regional talent ranging from Bobby Dick and the Sundowners to the Mathematicians ($25, 668-2200, . . . Saturday, Rock for Hunger at Revolution Hall with a triple bill of local heavyweights: Super 400, Sirsy and Sarah Pedinotti Band (6:30 PM, $12, 274-0553). . . . Jack Rabbit Slims, or Noche, or whatever they want to be that night, will host an ’80s-prom-themed dance party Saturday to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and admission includes an open bar from 8 to 10 (7 PM, $20 donation, 434-4540). . . . Leukemia and Lymphoma better watch their backs, because Sunday finds a like-minded benefit at Tess’ Lark Tavern, featuring live music from Maggie Mayday and J.P. Brand, among others (3 PM, $5 donation, 463-9779). . . . Jack Rabbit Slims sticks with the benefits on Sunday, when Cindyfest commands the stage; Cell 213, Drop Deuce and 1/2 Past My Sin are among the acts on board to help out Cindy Badach, who is battling breast cancer (2 PM, $10 donation, 434-4540).

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