Critics' Picks: School of Seven Bells, Liz Phair, Ted Leo and more | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: School of Seven Bells, Liz Phair, Ted Leo and more

Fri., Jan. 21 -- Rock

The Secret Machines' unique "in the round" performance at Mr. Small's Theatre a few years back was among the coolest rock shows I've ever seen. So I'm optimistic about School of Seven Bells, formed by ex-Machine Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, formerly of On!Air!Library! With entrancing atmospherics and taut rhythms, the band's music recalls New Order crossed with Stereolab. School of Seven Bells headlines Mr. Small's (with openers The Wrong Airport, The Velcro Shoes and The Show) shortly before hitting the road with Interpol. Aaron Jentzen 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.). 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $10. All ages. 412-821-4447 or


Fri., Jan. 21 -- Electronic

"Electronic music" can be a catch-all term, since artists using primarily electronic instrumentation can capture a diversity of sounds. Tonight's Local Electronic Music Showcase at Howlers will deliver music across the spectrum. The nine acts range from the rapid-fire, abrasive breakcore beats of scene vet 8Cylinder to the drum-machine-backed rock duo Action Camp to relative newcomer Ag Ag Lady, who lays effects-laden vocals over dance beats and pop pastiche. No matter your tastes, you're likely to be grinning at some point in the night -- and perhaps grimacing at another. A CD compilation of the performers will be free to attendees. Andy Mulkerin 8:30 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-682-0320


Sat., Jan. 22 -- Experimental

It's year three for the Winter Void Music and Art Festival, a gathering of experimental musicians and sound artists organized by Dynamo Sound Collective's Ryan Emmett. The lineup consists of notable (mostly local) out-there music types, including Microwaves, Fuck Telecorps and Torus, a solo project by Adam MacGregor of Brown Angel. The festival starts at 4 p.m. at The Shop (4314 Main St., Bloomfield); later, it moves down the street to Brillobox (4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield) for a rock show, featuring Tusk Lord, Bigg Slurppp and 88 SEX BIZ, and a dance party. AM $10. 412-951-0622 or


Mon., Jan. 24 -- Rock

Between its 1993 release and 2008 reissue, Exile in Guyville has emerged as Liz Phair's trademark album, and a touchstone of the early alternative era. On recent albums, especially 2003's self-titled release, she's taken heat for a more mainstream sound. But last year's independent release, the online-only Funstyle, is anything but predictable, with tracks like "Smoke," with its Beck-like samples, and "Bollywood," on which Phair raps. She's playing the Rex Theater, with opener Bishop Clay. AJ 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.). 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $20. 412-381-6811 or


Ted Leo's long career has included hardcore, punk and the tuneful, snarling rock of Ted Leo and The Pharmacists -- a beloved indie-rock band with whom he's often played Pittsburgh. Loud guitars or no, Leo's an excellent songwriter -- a quality that will be all the more evident when he plays an intimate solo show at The Andy Warhol Museum. Opening for Leo -- in an excellent pairing -- is Pittsburgh's Karl Hendricks. AJ This show, scheduled for Wed., Jan. 26, has been postponed until May 3. 8 p.m. $15 ($12 students/members). 117 Sandusky St., North Side. 412-237-8300 or

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