He's My Brother She's My Sister
You can't necessarily teach a drummer to dance, but apparently you can teach a tap dancer to drum. The adorably petite Lauren Brown of He's My Brother She's My Sister — and her feet — take center stage in this L.A. group, led by brother and sister Rachel and Robert Kolar. Like Tilly & the Wall and other tap-dancing bands (look it up — it's a trend!), He's My Brother She's My Sister include male and female singers who share, harmonize, and trade off vocals. Five of the sextet's members boast theater or movie backgrounds, so it's no wonder their live shows are filled with colorful costumes and carnival-like atmosphere. Their music is undeniably catchy too: shuffling folk with hints of contemporary pop. Their local debut happens this week at the Beachland, where they'll play songs like "How'm I Gonna Get Back Home" and "Tales that Tell." Get ready to sing, and tap, along. — Rachel Hoskins
With Shivering Timbers and Lowly, the Tree Ghost. 8:30 p.m., Thursday, January 26. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $8, $10 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Reuben Wilson never had a hit, but he tried pretty hard between 1969 and 1975. So far removed now from the start of his career, it's a bit of a surprise that some of the organist's recordings wound up being insinuated into hip-hop's vernacular many years later. The cover of Wilson's 1969 album Blue Mode is just short of iconic, as is the music inside. It's a peek into the burgeoning days of soul-jazz. "Snaps" (from 1974's The Cisco Kid) takes joyful comfort in its groove, refusing to do anything but support Wilson's improvisational flights as driving percussion creates ample sonic bedding. After the following year's "Got to Get Your Own," Wilson's final attempt to capture some chart success, he took a few decades off, resurfacing in the mid-'90s with new records and sporadic tours. Jimmy Smith is still the best-known organist dealing with similar sounds, but Wilson deserves a wider audience. — Dave Cantor
With Greg Bandy and Marvin Horn. 8:30 p.m. Friday, January 27, and Saturday, January 28. Nighttown. Tickets: $20; call 216-795-0550 or go to nighttowncleveland.com.
Samantha Crain plays roots music rich in vocal melody and ear-catching hooks. Her voice isn't beatific so much as girl-next-door. It's warm and sonorous, but more striking for its brash, no-bullshit manner and the way it moves than for its tone. Though there are intimations of chamber pop in the dulcet delicacy of the acoustic arrangements, they're so understated and generally spare that things never get too lush — just sweetly ethereal and a tad atmospheric at moments. The 25-year-old Oklahoma native's most recent album, 2010's You (Understood), stretches beyond the pretty folk-pop of her 2009 debut and into surprisingly supple rock. Songs like "Toothpicks" move with arty, constricted angularity. Even though her records can be somewhat schizophrenic at times, they nonetheless showcase Crain's promise and interest in being something more than just another Americana throwback. — Chris Parker
With White Pines and Ben Weaver. 8:30 p.m., Sunday, January 29. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $8, $10 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Almost seven years removed from the cancer diagnosis that nearly derailed Jack's Mannequin, the band's frontman, Andrew McMahon, has evolved into one of Warped Tour nation's most beloved figures. He's also one of the few modern artists who's fashioned a successful career with two bands. Before forming Jack's Mannequin, the 29-year-old led the emo-piano troupe Something Corporate, which reunited in 2010. McMahon has sustained his popularity because of riotous live shows and heartfelt, honest music. There's no sugar-coating involved in the evocative piano-pop of Jack's Mannequin, and as a songwriter McMahon has a knack for pragmatism: He deconstructs California's beauty myth, faces the reality of mortality head-on, and, on the group's latest album, People and Things, examines the struggles married couples face after the honeymoon's over. — Annie Zaleski
With Jukebox the Ghost and Allen Stone.
7 p.m. Sunday, January 29. House of Blues. Tickets: $25, $23.50 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
When Glen Campbell released his latest album, Ghost on the Canvas, last summer, it came with some sad news: The 75-year-old singer had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and Ghost would be the final record of a career that started more than 50 years ago. There's plenty of poignancy in the songs, including cuts written by Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard, Richard Thompson's son Teddy, and Bob Dylan's son Jakob. And while Campbell's voice doesn't quite reach the heights it did when he sang the classic "Wichita Lineman" in 1968, the extra weight adds depth to songs like the sweeping title track, written by Paul Westerberg. There's lots of regret in the words Campbell sings, but there's also lots of joy. He's touring one last time, celebrating a long and prolific life in music (he played guitar on Phil Spector's legendary sessions and on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds before launching a successful solo career). Expect some smiles as well as some tears, plus a night of terrific music. — Michael Gallucci
8 p.m. Sunday, January 29. Kent Stage. Tickets: $50.50-$90.50; call 330-677-5005 or visit thekentstage.com.
Under the Radar
The third-annual Acoustic Cafe Evening tour makes its way to town this weekend, and this year's lineup — singer-songwriters Erin McKeown (pictured), Carrie Rodriguez, and Kelly Joe Phelps — includes hyper-literate artists capable of filling sets with stories and songs told with just a voice and an acoustic guitar. There's nothing groundbreaking here — just personal music played with heart. It hits Nighttown on Sunday.
Under the Radar
Purling Hiss frontman Mike Polizze is a friend of Kurt Vile's, so it's no surprise that the music his band plays is somewhat sloppy, kinda unfinished, and recorded cheaply. The songs on 2010's Public Service Announcement album and last year's Lounge Lizard EP sound like they were made between bong hits: Polizze slurs his words, and the guitars are even more of a muddled mess. It all drifts among garage, punk, and indie in a thick, hazy cloud of noise. They play the Happy Dog on Tuesday.