7:15 Better Days (Punk)
Better Days' music has an urgency to it that seems to plead with the world-gone-mad that surrounds it to stop, take a deep breath and remember all the reasons life ain't so bad. After all, there are good friends, good times and great music. Staffed by a who's who list of St. Louis hardcore- and punk-scene veterans (including former members of To No End, the Requiem, Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting and about a thousand more), the band has been playing its high-energy mix of Gorilla Biscuits-meets-Saves the Day-style hardcore punk since January 2010, turning the usually bleak-and-angry posturing of the local scene on its head with unending positivity and some damn good music. Its upcoming debut seven-inch, Good Luck Tonight will be released this summer on St. Louis' venerable I Hate Punk Rock Records; make sure you don't miss the boat. Daniel Hill

8:30 Can We Win (Hardcore)
Born out of the remains of former St. Louis hardcore mainstay Resolve, Can We Win plays a straightforward, no-bullshit style of youth-crew hardcore that calls to mind classics of the genre such as Youth of Today, Floorpunch and Mouthpiece, the latter having written the song that serves as the band's namesake. The longest song on its 2011 demo clocks in at a lean one minute and ten seconds; most tracks don't even reach the minute mark. Drummer David Vaughn punishes his kit at an impressive, hyper-fast speed, dragging the rest of the band along for the ride while singer (and brother) Kevin barks angrily about life's disappointments, lyrically maintaining a refusal to compromise integrity or to accept the unacceptable. Catch the band opening the upcoming Negative Approach show, and watch for its debut seven-inch later this year on Camp Records. DH

9:45 Modern Man (Punk)
No frills, no affected egos, no bullshit: This is earnest punk that tips its hat to all the proper pioneers. With the reckless abandon of Black Flag, the intensity of Minor Threat and Kid Dynamite's infectious sneer, Modern Man peppers the listener like tattooed knuckles on a blood-drenched brick wall. Boston transplant Tony Auger (formerly of the Effort) scowls and snarls hardcore homilies on top of Paul Carr's breakneck Black Sabbath riffage, while the backbeat barrels through in hasty 4/4 timing. It's abrasive and concise in all the right ways. MD

11:00 Bruiser Queen (Rock)
The male/female two-piece band has a long and distinguished history. Way before Jack and Meg, compact bands like the Spinanes and Kicking Giant were making plenty of noise while maximizing precious van space. Over its two-year lifespan, Bruiser Queen has joined that tradition, gradually trimming down from its original four-piece incarnation to the core of drummer Jason Potter and guitarist/songwriter Morgan Nusbaum. On Swears, Bruiser Queen's debut full-length album, Nusbaum applies her trademark wail to her best-crafted batch of songs to date: They are brooding and intricate like her solo material, yet with enough amped-up dramatic hooks to recall Sleater-Kinney or the Muffs at their respective primes. Live, Nusbaum and Potter conjure a full, dense sound that's as powerful as it is memorable. (MA)

12:15 Bunnygrunt (Hall of Fame Inductee)
In the last several of its nineteen year existence, Bunnygrunt has been an RFT Music Award staple, and for a lot longer than that it has been a standard-bearer for messy, nimble pop.

1:30 Volcanoes (Experimental)
Volcanoes started in the most earnest of places — on a laptop in a Lindenwood University dorm room — and erupted into one of the most urgent groups from St. Louis in recent history. In its short career, the duo of Jon Ryan and Eric Peters has received nods from press outlets like Alternative Press and Magnet and joined the roster of elite Minneapolis label Afternoon Records alongside Pomegranates and Poison Control Center. At the core of this upward trajectory is Volcanoes' fiery live shows, the inventive DIY production of Heavy Hands and a strain of pulverizing, buzzing rock that fits as neatly in our "Experimental" category as it would in "Indie," "Rock," "Electronica/Dance" or — if ethics are a factor — "Punk Band." Ryan Wasoba


3:15 Kenny DeShields (R&B)
With a style that he's dubbed "soulternative," Kenny DeShields is trying to breathe new life into the local soul scene. While his lyrics tend to be spiritual in nature, his music has a more secular sound. 2008's Mosaic EP was a satisfying introduction to DeShields as a singer, songwriter and all-around musician. Combining neo-soul instrumentals with his positive and inspirational messages, DeShields tops off his tracks with a satin-smooth voice much like a Carl Thomas or Dave Hollister. In between sessions with other artists like Theresa Payne and rapper Thi'sl, KD is hard at work on his next album, The Real Love Project, which is due out this fall. CC

4:30 Humdrum (Indie Rock)
Humdrum hasn't skipped a beat since guitarist Gareth Schumacher left the mercurial Midwest weather for the sun-glazed coasts of California. It has been recording an album with Steve Albini and mixing it with Jay Pellicci at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studios. Aside from polishing that, its third LP, the band is still an active live presence in St. Louis. Its second album, The Arrangement, is as loopy as a space cadet. The band can bounce from cloying piano parts and guitar riffs ("Reproduce") akin to the Hush Sound to sincere ("Hello Hello Hello") in two tracks' time. Dan Meehan's voice has the thin echo of a penny dropped on marble. Its tinlike sound is sharp, pleasant and achingly sweet. Bill Streeter's Lo-Fi Saint Louis series recently recorded a video for "I'll Find You." Stripped of galactic noises, the band becomes tender and all the more terrestrial. BS

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