So Many Dynamos
So Many Dynamos are always on the road with somebody, whether it's a Nintendo-core outfit (HORSE the Band) or a group that's a bit more up its stylistic alley (nerd-rock heroes Harvey Danger). The quartet's tight, entertaining live set certainly reflects this constant pavement-pounding: Drummer Norm Kunstel's beats stop on a dime in synch with Aaron Stovall's robotic-precise keyboard, while guitarists Ryan Wasoba and Griffin Kay provide plenty of self-deprecating humor and manic thrashing from the sides. (AZ)
Cicero's, 9 p.m.

Best Local Release (on a label)

Blinded Black
Under the Sunrise (SideCho)
This emo sextet has turned heartache and disillusionment into hard-hitting epics. Under the Sunrise doesn't skimp on glossy production, but its slickness doesn't detract from the complexities of Blinded Black's arrangements — it's an integral aspect of the band's sound. Singer Jeff Nizick leads the band through time changes and tempo shifts while the twin guitars switch between chugging chords and nimble solos. Chuck Kraus may be the band's secret weapon when he steps in on harmony and background vocals — and his synthesizer leads add a touch of spaced-out prog-rock to the mix. (CS)

Finn's Motel
Escape Velocity (Scat)
2006 was the year that Joe Thebeau stepped back into the spotlight, taking time away from his role as trusted sideman (in Magnolia Summer, among other bands) to reintroduce his considerable songwriting talents to this city. Escape Velocity deals with middle-age and suburban stasis through references to the myth of westward expansion (specifically the Arch, as heard on "Eero Saarinen") and the promise of scientific advancement. Like a more hi-fi version of Guided by Voices, Finn's Motel stuffs clanging guitars, tossed-off hooks and moments of pop brilliance into these seventeen tracks. (CS)
Halo Bar, 9:30 p.m.

Casey Reid
Cephalclog (Big Muddy)
Casey Reid is nothing if not authentic — or rather, to be more specific, the wizened blues and folk tunes on his debut are as heartfelt and genuine as music gets. Crafted with a merry band of junkyard misfits, Cephalclog resembles a joyous religious revival. Washboards scrape, a patchwork choir harmonizes, sparse guitars pluck, and Reid's sandpaper voice intones tales of heartbreak and hope — creating a collection that's nothing short of a total-spirit catharsis. (AZ)
Market in the Loop Outdoor Stage, 3 p.m.

Sex Robots
Sex Robots (Roadhouse Tunes)
Here's the best (and most appropriate) way to listen to the Sex Robots' self-titled album. Pick the next sunny, insanely warm St. Louis summer day. Insert the trio's CD into the car stereo. Roll down the windows — all the way. Find the nearest freeway on which to go juuust above the speed limit (in other words, avoid 64-40). Crank the volume as far as it'll go. Enjoy the catchy-as-flypaper tunes, which span ragged power-pop, old-school-punk and bar-band bluster. Repeat as needed. (AZ)

So Many Dynamos
Flashlights (Skrocki)
Perhaps it's a clichéd statement to make, but one might need a crowbar to remove So Many Dynamos' second album from the CD player. For that matter, one might need a crowbar to extract the quartet's songs from the brain. Whether it's the nonchalant paranoia of the danceable "Search Party" or the motor-mouthed chants driving "Home Is Where the Box Wine Is," Flashlights is a little bit unhinged post-punk, a little bit chaotic electro-prog — and always a whole lotta fun. (AZ)
Cicero's, 9 p.m.

Target Market
No Thrills (Afternoon)
Like their buds (and kindred stylistic souls) So Many Dynamos, Target Market is skilled at making math-rock accessible to those who start sweating at the mere mention of calculus. Last year's No Thrills is bursting at the seams with spinning time signatures and criss-crossed melodies, all rendered with precision and a clear sense of purpose. Think the noisy comet-trails of the Pixies, with the brainiac edge of Talking Heads and the melancholic moments of Smoking Popes. (AZ)
Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 10 p.m.

Best Local Release (self-released)

Jumbling Towers
Jumbling Towers
Jumbling Towers' self-titled album contains no fat and very little over-indulgence in studio trickery. Mixing the taut rhythms of post-punk with nearly psychedelic keyboards, the quartet writes unhinged rock & roll songs with no shortage of dramatic movements. Singer Joe DeBoer yelps and shouts through cryptic songs like "Pure Jew" and "He's a Cop Now" in a style that mixes the menace of the Walkmen with the detached gaze of early Pink Floyd. Debut records rarely come so fully formed. (CS)
Cicero's, 7 p.m.

Gentleman Auction House
The Rules Were Handed Down
The seven members of Gentleman Auction House cram an album's worth of possibilities into their debut EP. These six songs reflect the modern state of American indie rock — specifically in their use of orchestral flourishes, sing-along choruses and hushed harmonies. Rules begins with the title track, a nod to the gentle folk of Bright Eyes (a reference point for the rest of the EP), while the next track, "A Hospital or Heaven," adds some Brill Building-esque piano and a modest trumpet solo. Somehow, amidst all the instrumentation, the band remains modest and humble, engaging in a kind of selflessness in supplication to the songs. (CS)
Main Outdoor Stage, 4 p.m.

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