Thirty years ago, the underground pop scene was a refuge for those equally unenthused about the blandness of Top 40 and the bloated angst of punk. It was pop music taken back to its essential elements but thematically updated. To alleviate any confusion, the Irish band So Cow wasn’t a part of that particular movement (frontman Brian Kelly wasn’t even alive when bands like the Go-Betweens were getting started), but it’s safe to say a So Cow song wouldn’t sound at all out of place on a dusty old indie-pop EP from the early ’80s. To his credit, Brian Kelly makes no effort to act like he’s reinvented the wheel with his lo-fi, jangly sound. Like quite a few emerging artists lately, he has thoroughly absorbed the once-forgotten catalog of New Zealand’s great pop label Flying Nun, which included a host of revered cult acts like Tall Dwarfs, the Clean and the Bats (the latter two are still recording). Kelly even followed the old-school pop blueprint for jumpstarting a career, self-releasing numerous singles and EPs while touring his native Ireland and his adopted home of South Korea. In 2009, So Cow expanded to a three piece and got some high-profile touring gigs with Ted Leo, Dan Deacon and Frightened Rabbit, eventually leading to a record deal with the Chicago indie label Tic Tac Totally. The So Cow LP compiled some of Kelly’s best efforts into his first wide-scale release, and the band will soon deliver a new album, Meaningless Friendly — a must-have for underground pop dwellers looking for a fresh new voice. Shiny Penny and Modern Electric open for So Cow when they play the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com) at 9 p.m. Tickets: $7. —Andrew Clayman
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