A synthesis of Washington, D.C.'s go-go scene and New Orleans' rich musical history, Galactic have always been a fascinating work in progress. They shifted from their jam and funk roots in the mid-'00s after their original singer retired. Then they toured with a rotating cast of hip-hop MCs, leading to 2010's Ya-Ka-May, which featured collaborations with Big Easy legends like Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, and the Rebirth Brass Band. Galactic's latest gumbo, Carnivale Electros, bridges New Orleans' Mardi Gras and Rio's Carnivale with another stellar guest list, including Cyril and Ivan Neville and rapper Mystikal. In typical fashion, Galactic splice musical DNA with precision, expertly finding the intersection of funk, soul, hip-hop, rock, jazz, zydeco, samba, and whatever else drifts in — like Living Colour frontman Corey Glover and Rebirth's Corey Henry, who'll join them onstage to celebrate the Beachland's 12th anniversary. — Brian Baker
With the Soul Rebels. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $25; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Even though they isolated themselves from the outside world during the writing and recording of their third album, Odd Soul, New Orleans alt-rockers Mutemath made sure the results were audience-friendly. The trio tapped into the upbeat music and manic energy of their stage shows; they also mixed in a broad swath of influences, from bluesy garage jams and electronica to funk, psychedelia, and even some prog rock. Songs like "Tell Your Heart Heads Up," "Cavalries," and "Quarantine" sound like they're ready to lift off in concert. Founders Paul Meany and Darren King even felt comfortable enough this time to address their faith — before Mutemath, they fronted a Christian-rock band — but they're not about to promote any sort of religious ideology on record or onstage, for that matter. It's not about saving souls anymore. It's about letting emotions fly and saving rock & roll from eternal stagnation. — John Patrick Gatta
8 p.m. Sunday, March 4. House of Blues. Tickets: $23-$30; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
Almost every record that the London electronic dance-rock duo VNV Nation have released sounds epic. The enormous scope of their music has earned Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson a loyal following among a cross section of industrial rockers, black-clad goth kids, and electronic enthusiasts over the past two decades. Drawing on influences like Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, and Killing Joke, VNV Nation combine club-friendly beats with harsh pulses of noise. But their real skill is injecting a human element into the mix, something that so many of their industrial-rock peers often overlook when forging their sonic gestalts. Harris sings about things that matter to their fans, like making life better. It sets VNV Nation apart from the cold inhumanity that dominates the genre. Their latest album, last year's Automatic, is a fusion of dance-rock anthems fueled by a sense of romanticism inspired by steampunk. But make no mistake: There's a heart beating inside all that machinery. — Norm Narvaja
With Straftanz. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6. Peabody's. Tickets: $22, $18 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.
It's been years since Dave Alvin has released an album that rocks as convincingly as last year's Eleven Eleven does. He really doesn't switch gears all that much on his 11th record — it's still a sweaty mix of barroom blues, heartland country, and tube-amp-driven rock & roll — but his commitment to the songs is palpable, especially when he leads his smoking-hot band in guitar-fueled rave-ups that would have sounded perfect in the middle of the Blasters' sets back in the day. Lyrically, Alvin still writes about barely-hanging-on characters whose luck ran out years ago — classic Americana that's as much a part of the 1930s as it is 2012. His live shows usually fall together with pieces of his storied past: some Blasters for sure, maybe some Knitters or X, and definitely some songs from his first two great solo albums, Romeo's Escape and Blue Blvd. Whatever he decides to play, it will undoubtedly be delivered with the class and professionalism that has defined his 30-year career. — Gallucci
8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $20; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Just look at Bradford Cox on the cover of Atlas Sound's latest album, Parallax. Hair slicked back and lips kinda pouty as he cradles an old-fashioned microphone — the kind Frank Sinatra used to croon into back when your grandma was kinda hot — against his cheek. He looks like one of those pop singers record-company suits fabricated in the '50s to hold back the inflowing wave of snotty rock & rollers. And in a way, it's a perfect image for Cox's side project. As frontman for Atlanta noisemakers Deerhunter, Cox and his aural assaults can be abrasive, chaotic, and downright abusive. Atlas Sound, on the other hand, give him the chance to mellow out a bit, to hum dreamlike odes over soothing ripples of acoustic guitars, velvety synths, and tasteful bites of feedback and reverb. Parallax is the most polished of Atlas Sound's three albums and also the most tuneful. But underneath the digital lullabies lurks a record that's way more solemn than anything those clean-cut guys in the '50s put out. Cox glides through Parallax with more deftness than he does on Deerhunter albums. But it's an illusion, a gentle fantasy that sells a different kind of noise to pop-music fans. — Michael Gallucci
With White Rainbows and Carnivores. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 4. Grog Shop. Tickets: $18, $16 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.