Critics' Picks: May 20 - 26 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: May 20 - 26

Shows by Palma Violets, Chain and the Gang, Stephane Wrembel and Whitehorse

[ROCK] + THU., MAY 21

"Buzz" can be a figurative four-letter word — at least for many British rock startups trying to bring the band to America. The London pub-rockers of Palma Violets are experiencing this firsthand, playing much earlier in the afternoon at Coachella and Shaky Knees Festival than they will at Reading and Leeds. Tonight at Brillobox, the band brings its live show to a much smaller stage than it will occupy after returning home to Britain later this summer. Even though the Violets' anthemic new album, Danger in the Club, is still catching on in the States, British fans should envy our opportunity to see the group in such intimate, raucous quarters. Public Access T.V. kicks things off tonight. Shawn Cooke 9:30 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $12-15. 412-621-4900 or

click to enlarge Chain and the Gang - PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL ANDRADE
Photo courtesy of Michael Andrade
Chain and the Gang

[ROCK] + SAT. MAY 23

Ian Svenonius — who stops by Brillobox tonight with his band, Chain and the Gang — first rose to notoriety in the late '80s as the dapper frontman of Washington, D.C.-based Nation of Ulysses. In 1990, Sassy magazine crowned him "the Sassiest Boy in America." Twenty-five years, dozens of records and a bunch of non-music side projects later, the title still fits. Last year, Chain and the Gang released its fourth record, Minimum Rock n Roll; it perfectly showcases the distinct (and distinctly snotty) punk-tinged '60s garage rock that Svenonius has made his trademark. Brooklyn's !!! and Sex Tide from Columbus also appear. Margaret Welsh 10 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $12-15. 412-621-4900 or

[JAZZ] + SUN., MAY 24

It's rare that you find an exceptional jazz guitarist who's equally indebted to Django Reinhardt and Woody Allen. Reinhardt provided Stephane Wrembel with a highly sophisticated Gypsy modus to build upon, and Allen provided him the opportunity to reach a larger audience than ever before: Wrembel scored the theme to Midnight in Paris and later performed at the Oscars. Although Wrembel has fully entrenched himself in the Gypsy culture and musical style — he studied extensively in Gypsy camps before moving to New York — his later records, including last year's Dreamers of Dreams, have coalesced into a fusion of jazz, flamenco and rock. Tonight, he plays from that record at the Thunderbird Café. SC 6:30 p.m. 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $20. 412-682-0177 or

click to enlarge Whitehorse - PHOTO COURTESY OF WHITEHORSE
Photo courtesy of Whitehorse

[FOLK] + TUE., MAY 26

Like many duos, Whitehorse wasn't content to just sound like a duo. Canada's folksy answer to The Kills brought in some more studio hands to produce this year's Leave No Bridge Unburned than on its Polaris Music Prize-shortlisted predecessor. The adjustment resulted in a brasher, more confident record than we're used to from the band, and it's sure to net it an even bigger following. Rolling Stone recently ran a story on Whitehorse in its "RS Country" section, but that discounts the band's versatility — some of these are punchy enough to rock. Fellow Canadian songwriter Lindy Vopnfjörd opens the show tonight at Club Café. SC 8 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $10-12. 412-431-4950 or

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