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Critics' Picks: May 22 - 30 

Local shows by Scott Ainslie, JEFF the Brotherhood, Melvins, and Marina and the Diamonds

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[ACOUSTIC] + THU., MAY 23

Blues guitarist Scott Ainslie is just as much a preserver of the art of blues as he is a musician. He has transcribed recordings by Delta blues musicians, and learned a trick or two from Southern Appalachian fiddlers and many others. It's this knowledge of blues history that really sets him apart; listening to him play is like hearing hints of decade after decade of blues history as it unfolds before you. His songs are soulful and driven, just as they should be, and it makes for a worthy show on a number of levels. Ainslie plays a "Blues BBQ" show sponsored by Calliope tonight, at the Roots Cellar at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. John Lavanga 7:30 p.m. 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside. $28-79. All ages. 412-361-1915 or www.calliopehouse.org

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF JO MCCAUGHEY
  • Photo courtesy of Jo McCaughey

[GARAGE ROCK] + FRI., MAY 24

Jake and Jamin Orrall's previous Pittsburgh stop was on Thanksgiving night last year, but summertime brings the real JEFF the Brotherhood weather. The brothers' sun-baked garage rock brings to mind the Ramones, by way of Sloan, by way of Jack White (they're on his label, Third Man Records), striking a balance between muscular and breezy. JEFF's records make good soundtracks for drinking beer by the river, or cruising with the windows down, but they're no substitute for the heavy charm of the Nashvillians' live shows. Check them out tonight at Brillobox. With Hunters, Chrome Moses. Margaret Welsh 9:30 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $10. 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net

[SLUDGE] + MON, MAY 27

From releasing KISS-style "solo" EPs, to collaborating with Lustmord and Jello Biafra, to inviting the band Big Business to join them as regular members, Melvins — appearing tonight at Mr. Small's Theatre — have made some unconventional choices over the past 30 years. In someone else's hands, these might look like stunts, but Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover have built livelihoods on doing whatever they feel like. Their new covers album, Everybody Loves Sausages, includes sludged-up — but exuberantly faithful — versions of songs by Queen, David Bowie, Throbbing Gristle and others. MW 7 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $16-18. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

[POP] + TUE., MAY 28

Welsh singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis, known mainly by her stage name Marina and the Diamonds, has developed a following for her delightfully poppy synth arrangements. Her second LP, Electra Heart, is an upbeat collection of tracks, many of which are more about breaking hearts than falling in love. She's no one-note pop star; her intuitive understanding of how to construct a hit is rooted in her knowledge of musicians like Tom Waits and PJ Harvey as well as such pop mainstays as Madonna. Tonight, she plays Stage AE with another poppy songwriter, Charli XCX. JL 7 p.m., 400 North Shore Drive, North Side. $22. All ages. 412-229-5483 or www.stageae.com 

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