Critics' Picks: February 20 - 26 

Local shows by Jenny Dalton, Murder by Death and Bugs and Rats, plus Code Orange Kids come home to open for H2O and Terror

[POP] + THU., FEB. 21

The pop sensibility Jenny Dalton possesses is underlain by something more sinister: The Minneapolis piano-pop songwriter likes to play with that element of minor-key suspense and foreboding. Think a slightly-less-weird Kate Bush, or Tori Amos — but with a voice that sounds a little more like Jewel. Her new Blood Folk EP came out last fall; on her tour to support it, she appears at Shadow Lounge tonight, headlining the weekly Release Open Mic featuring Hambone Jenkins. Andy Mulkerin 9 p.m. 5972 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. $3. 412-363-8277 or www.shadowlounge.net

  • Photo courtesy of Greg Whitaker


Back in 2003, the five-piece Murder by Death became far more than another Indiana alt-country group with a cello. That year, it released Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?, an album that blended elements of Southern-style indie rock with a haunting tale of the Devil's war against a small Mexican town. The end result was the sort of album Cormac McCarthy would write — if he fronted a country band. Since then, the group has been creating albums steeped in the mythos of the West: stories of haunted Mexican alleys, vengeance, blood and whiskey. Tonight the band is spinning its tales at Mr. Small's, cigarillos optional. With Man Man and Damion Suomi. John Lavanga 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $15. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com


It's not every day that we Yinzers get to hear the sort of mind-altering psych-punk that's being made by Boston outfits Bugs and Rats and Skimask. The former runs frantic, infectious punk riffs and rage full-speed into psychedelic vocals and ambient sounds to create raw, yet somehow controlled, chaos in its music. The latter brings grungy, crackling distortion and complex rhythms, and fires out its lines like tripped-out marching orders. All in all, the two groups make for great moshing material, and they'll be dropping by Kopec's tonight with Come Holy Spirit. JL 8 p.m. 3523 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. 412-682-0892

[PUNK] + MON., FEB. 25

H2O and Terror represent the two coasts of hardcore punk: The former, of course, is a Warped Tour-veteran group that hails from New York and is proud of it; the latter holds it down in Los Angeles. But the middle is held by Pittsburgh's Code Orange Kids, which opens most dates on the two bands' nationwide tour. Tonight all three pull into Altar Bar; Backtrack and locals Path to Misery play as well. AM 6 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $15. All ages. 412-206-9719 or www.thealtarbar.com


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