Cowboy Junkies are remembered by most people for their 1988 cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," which later showed up in Natural Born Killers. Frankly, it's too good for the likes of Mickey and Mallory Knox and the carnage it bookended in the movie. And it's unfair to sum up the Canadian quartet's career with just that one song. The group was formed in the mid-'80s by guitarist and songwriter Michael Timmins and his longtime bassist pal Alan Anton. It became a family affair shortly after, when Timmins' singing sister Margo and drummer brother Peter joined them. Expect to hear songs from The Wilderness, the band's fourth release in less than two years, when they play the Kent Stage this week. New cuts like "Idle Tales," "Unanswered Letter," and "We Are the Selfish Ones" should mix and mingle perfectly onstage with the Junkies' torchy songbook that's packed with longing, low-fi country and tunes of haunting loneliness. — Peter Chakerian
8 p.m. Thursday, April 26. Kent Stage. Tickets: $30; call 330-677-5005 or visit kentstage.com.
When instrumental Chicago post-rockers Tortoise last played Cleveland in June 2010, they left a packed house chanting for more. That Grog Shop appearance mostly showcased 2009's Beacons of Ancestorship, but when they play Oberlin College this week, they'll be dusting off songs that span their 20-plus years. The band is also bringing along new tunes they created with some Chicago jazz musicians in mind for an upcoming project. But the music isn't jazz. "Some is geared toward compositional minimalism," says bassist Douglas McCombs. Tortoise are also getting ready for their next LP — sort of. "We are tentatively starting to work on new material for an album," says McCombs. "But we're not prepared to play that." The new record could be ready as early as this fall or as late as next year. Either way, this week's show should be a treat for old-school fans hoping for deep cuts. — Adam Burroughs
With Miracle Condition. 10:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26. The 'Sco in Oberlin. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 440-775-8471 or visit etix.com.
Singer-songwriter Clarence Bucaro isn't easy to pin down. He's called so many places home over the past several years that he's picked up little musical traces of every place he's lived. He was born in Cleveland, moved to New Orleans, then to Los Angeles, and he now resides in Brooklyn. The songs on his five albums range from moody Americana to bluesy rave-ups to gritty indie rock to folksy troubadour stuff. His latest, Walls of the World, is a wide-screen look at our planet and how messed up it's become. It wraps the personal within the political, the global within the cultural. A trip to Jerusalem inspired Bucaro, but little pieces of world events specifically find their way into the songs — like "Two Men Down," about the two photojournalists, including Restrepo filmmaker Tim Hetherington, who died in Libya last year. Bucaro recently premiered the song on, of all places, National Geographic's website. We're guessing he has a subscription. — Gallucci
7 p.m. Friday, April 27. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $10; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.