Rocket From the Tombs
Rocket From the Tombs are like comets: Their reputation precedes sporadic sightings, and when they do show up, it lasts only long enough to barely satisfy longtime fans. The band's historical mark was made after it splintered in the mid-'70s into avant-garage art-rockers Pere Ubu and in-your-face punks the Dead Boys. The Day the Earth Met the Rocket From the Tombs, 2002's compilation of vintage radio and concert performances, confirms that it was possible for a group of Cleveland misfits to produce something that equaled what was going on in N.Y.C. punk at the time. Nearly four decades after they broke up, original members David Thomas, Cheetah Chrome, and Craig Bell have made peace long enough to record their first studio album (the recently released Barfly) and hit the road. But they're not revisiting the raw power of their past; they're charging forward with their own abrasive, artsy, and celebratory lead. — John Patrick Gatta
With Obnox. 9 p.m. Friday, December 9. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $20, $17 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Donna the Buffalo
Americana can be a fairly inclusive term, considering all of the artists who fit comfortably under its umbrella. But the genre tag can't quite contain the broad range exhibited by Donna the Buffalo on any given night. Beginning in the late '80s as Dawn of the Buffalo (which was misheard as their current moniker), the rural New York quintet concocts a relatively simple jam groove out of an impossibly diverse set of musical components, including country, bluegrass, zydeco, roots rock, folk, and reggae. Their freewheeling and tenaciously independent approach immediately attracted the Deadhead community, which branched off into the Herd, Donna's longtime and slavishly loyal fan base. The band, anchored by Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear for the past two decades, is working on its 10th album. With any luck, they'll bust out a few new songs when they play the Kent Stage this weekend. — Brian Baker
8 p.m. Saturday, December 10. Kent Stage. Tickets: $20; call 330-677-5005 or visit kentstage.org.
Now that Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers have had their Grammy moments, what's the next old-timey band in line for the spotlight? We nominate Frontier Ruckus, whose rustic, somewhat unruly music suits their name. The Michigan band delivers spirited, acoustic-based roots music driven by David W. Jones' banjo and fleshed out with saws, horns, and other left-field touches. Frontman Matthew Milia's vocals convey a dreamy, twangy quality, like someone who's wandering aimlessly through the woods at night. He recalls Michael Stipe in his vivid wordplay and oblique imagery — especially on songs like "Silverfishes," from the group's latest album, last year's Deadmalls & Nightfalls. R.E.M.-sized levels of success may seem out of Frontier Ruckus' realm, but with their heady mix of rustic melodies and beguiling lyricism, they're at least on the right path toward escaping the confining Americana wilderness for bigger things. — Michael Berrick
With Dolfish and Shivering Timbers. 8:30 p.m. Saturday, December 10. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $10; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
From a list of their favorite things — Call of Duty, Twitter, vegan cheese steaks — you can guess that Los Angeles' Drive A are a lot like other pop-punk kids out there. That means their musical tastes range from Slayer to Green Day. The World in Shambles, which came out this summer, picks up where their 2009 debut Loss of Desire left off, expanding in both sound and concept. They attribute this growth to the amount of live shows they've played over the past couple of years. Since Loss of Desire came out, Drive A have performed more than 200 concerts, and that live energy manifests itself on World in Shambles songs like "Revolt," "Let's Have a Wreck," and "Belligerent Time Bomb." It's also a more hopeful record, a reaction to so many of the band's peers whining about things but never really doing a thing about them. Still, the best place to hear the group is onstage, where the constant touring has sharpened the punk edge of their equation. — Logan Boggs
With the Frantic. 7 p.m. Monday, December 12. Peabody's. Tickets: $10, $8 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or go to peabodys.com.
Before he slimmed down and started singing catchy electro-pop songs infused with a dash of blue-eyed soul, Patrick Stump was the voice you heard on Fall Out Boy's string of hits during their five-year reign as the kings of pop-punk. But with main songwriter, spastic bass player, and chronic penis-flasher Pete Wentz guiding most of the band's decisions, Stump was pretty much relegated to the role of powerless singer. Hiding his frumpy frame beneath baggy clothes and goofy hats, Stump could scarcely be called a frontman. But with Fall Out Boy on an indefinite break, Stump recently released his first solo album, Soul Punk, and it sounds like he's had a lot bottled up. Playing almost every instrument himself, Stump soars through the record's playing field — which includes pop, club, funk, hip-hop, R&B, punk, and electronic music — with a self-assured swagger he rarely exposed in his old band. Stump plays House of Blues this weekend as part of the 96.5 Kissmass Holiday Show. — Michael Gallucci
With Taio Cruz, Iphonic, and DJ EV. 7 p.m. Sunday, December 11. House of Blues. Tickets: $25, $23 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
Under the Radar
Futurebirds hail from a long tradition of indie rockers who call Athens, Georgia, home. And while they really don't sound much like R.E.M. or the Drive-By Truckers, there's an electric bond that at least ties the band to the two most famous exports. Buried in the feedback-drenched sounds they make are mandolin, steel guitar, and banjo. They just released a split Holiday Road Super Single in time for the season and their show at the Beachland Tavern on Wednesday, December 14. — Michael Gallucci