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Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Revolution Hall, Thursday

In 1999, Karl Denson said let there be music, and his tiny universe was born. Often referred to as a jam band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe eschew such labels—although they are quick to credit their “jam-ily” for much of their commercial success in venues nationwide. KDTU performed last week in Syracuse where New Times writer Tom Kahley described their funk-based fusion of danceable soul, gospel, booglaloo, jazz, and acid jazz thusly: “If the Parliament-Funkadelic’s Mothership flew over Big Pink and hit the boys in The Band with the Bop Gun and funky-fied their vibe.” We think that sounds about right. (Oct. 29, 8 PM, $22, 425 River St., Troy, 274-0553)

April Smith and the Great Picture Show

Falstaff’s, Thursday

For some reason, Perez Hilton is a trusted music-industry tastemaker. We don’t get it. But it’s fine as long as we agree with him, which we do on the topic of New York’s April Smith. Perez featured the singer-songwriter’s song “Colors” on his Web site, calling it “the kind of tune you’d hear on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or in the next iPod commercial.” That’s not damning with faint praise; Smith’s music is the kind of breezy retro-pop that might slip through the cracks of the mainstream without such prominent placement. So we’ll take Perez’ blurb as wishful thinking—we hope we hear April Smith on TV real soon. In the meantime, she plays in Saratoga this evening. (Oct. 29, 8 PM, free, Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-5000)

Zs, Little Women

EMPAC, Friday

This sounds seasonally appropriate: Brooklyn’s Zs will perform as part of EMPAC’s New Nothing series tomorrow (Friday). The venue calls them the “scariest band from [last year’s] Between a Rock and a Tiny Bell concert,” and we would be hard-pressed to disagree: The band take guitar dissonance to the point of flat-out feedback; effects-laden saxophone howls through the din, sounding more like the screams of a thousand souls in limbo. This isn’t music, but a sensory assault—and we mean that in the best possible way. Opening are Little Women, whose saxophones are employed in a more traditional jazz context. But next to Zs anything would be more traditional. Weird, wild stuff. (Oct. 30, 8 PM, $15, $10 seniors and students, $5 with RPI ID,110 8th St., Troy, 276-3921)

Richard Julian

The Linda, Friday

Richard Julian is kinda cute (think Wayne Coyne meets Ryan Gosling). A sensitive singer-songwriter type on an acoustic guitar, Julian plays simple tunes that showcase socially smart lyrics in the same vein as Paul Simon, with a voice that’s more evocative than tuneful. He has worked extensively with Norah Jones and, touting him as the thinking man’s singer-songwriter, Randy Newman has called him “one of the best songwriters and record makers I’ve heard in a very long time.” But the still-largely-unknown Julian’s latest album isn’t likely to be topping the pop charts anytime soon, which may be just the reason to go see him in person, where his humble storytelling style is likely to shine brightest. (Oct. 30, 8 PM, $17, 337 Central Ave., Albany, 465-5233 ext. 4)

Pete Yorn

Pete Yorn

The Egg, Wednesday

When he completed his morning-day-night album cycle a few years ago, with the lackluster Nightcrawler, many fans wondered what Pete Yorn would do next. The answer, it seems, was collaborate. Producer Mike Mogis enlisted a handful of guest musicians—a first, as Yorn had played most everything on his previous releases—to record this year’s Back and Fourth. It’s another rootsy, midtempo affair, but there’s more life to be found in this comparatively lean collection than in his recent output. The singer-songwriter has another release on the shelves this season—Break Up, an album of duets with actress Scarlett Johansson—but it’s the material from Fourth that fans should expect to dominate the set list this Wednesday night. New York and Alberta Cross opens. (Nov. 4, 7:30 PM, $28, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 473-1845)

Also Noted
Rhonda Vincent

Jillian’s hosts an early Halloween party tonight (Thursday) with music from rising local band Lunic, former Loyalty frontman Travis Gray and the Frontiers, and the Blisterz (8 PM, free, 432-1997). . . . Tomorrow (Friday), the Van Dyck presents a tribute to late, local sax great Nick Brignola, featuring the Van Dyck All Stars (7 PM, $12, 348-7999). . . . See the woman the Wall Street Journal called the “New Queen of Bluegrass” Friday night as Rhonda Vincent and the Rage play the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (8 PM, $18-$34, 273-0038). . . . Don’t be a “Slave to the Grind”—be part of the “Youth Gone Wild” and go see Skid Row this Friday at Northern Lights! Was that too much? (7 PM, $22, 371-0012). . . . Counterpoint: The soothing sounds of Celtic harp will take over Old Songs on Friday when Patrick Ball performs (8 PM, $20, 765-2815). . . . And then, there’s Saturday: The big holiday brings a few big shows, notably one from moe. at the Washington Avenue Armory (8 PM, $37, 684-7160). . . . U-Melt will play a post-moe. gig at Red Square on Saturday (9 PM, $10, 465-0444). . . . At Valentine’s Saturday night, B3nson Records presents the Halloween Freak-Out with Beware! the Other Head of Science, Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, and Sea of Trees (7:30 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . Tuesday, Providence, R.I. Band Deer Tick make an appearance at the Saratoga Arts Center to accompany the screening of their new documentary film, To the City of Sin! (7 PM, $10, 584-4132); then, on Wednesday, the band will play Revolution Hall (7 PM, $15, 274-0553).

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