Of Montreal, Wild Moccasins, French Horn Rebellion Warehouse Live, December 3
Of Montreal's sunny psych-pop brims with such starry-eyed youthful bliss that it might be a little sobering for aging hipsters to remember that Kevin Barnes' crew was once peers with Elf Power, Olivia Tremor Control and The Apples In Stereo in Athens, Georgia's legendary Elephant 6 scene. (Do they call that "classic indie-pop" these days?) Checking in with this year's Paralytic Stalks, Barnes and his musical starchildren are still going strong, with a deep-rooted affection for the synth-heavy slow jams of early-'80s Prince and stage shows that suggest the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar has been at the catnip again.
One willowy branch off the Of Montreal tree (by way of MGMT) is Brooklyn duo French Horn Rebellion, who strike all the proper electro poses on 2011 full-length The Infinite Music of French Horn Rebellion. With Houston's Wild Moccasins, who have completed writing their second full-length album and are now exploring recording locations. CHRIS GRAY
Odd Future House of Blues, December 4
The Odd Future clan, the bad kids of indie hip-hop, pretty much owned the imaginations of the music press in 2011. The group's antics - and constantly quotable leader Tyler, The Creator -- tended to overshadow the actual music, which is a lot more adventurous than many industry curmudgeons want to admit. (If they can get past the lyrical content, that is.) Tuesday, the group is also hosting an afterparty with their homies Trash Talk at Walters near downtown. CRAIG HLAVATY
Lamb of God Bayou Music Center, December 6
This year self-respecting metal fans everywhere found themselves alternately transfixed and heartbroken by Lamb of God lead singer Randy Blythe's situation. Accused of being liable for the death of a fan during a 2010 Prague gig, Blythe was incarcerated in a Czech Republic prison for a month before being released and extradited back to the U.S. While Blythe awaits trial back in Europe, he and his band are out on the road playing shows and thanking the "Free Randy Blythe" online supporters who had his back (digitally) while he was locked up. Expect plenty of hugs and blood-curdling fan favorites. CRAIG HLAVATY
Civil Twilight Fitzgerald's, December 6
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Nashville has come a long way in becoming an indie mecca to go along with all the rootsy stuff, but Civil Twilight has come even further. The brothers McKellar and their mates came to Music City all the way from Cape Town, South Africa (by way of L.A.), with a sound more like some of the top British bands of the past few years.
Debuting with 2010's Civil Twilight and releasing Holy Weather earlier this year, the quartet's atmospheric, electronically enhanced pop-rock never strays too far from the Coldplay/Muse/Radiohead orbit, but does so with a winsome ambition and enough genuine talent to raises the music above mere homage. CHRIS GRAY
Chris Knight, Cody Canada, Jason Boland House of Blues, December 6
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For country folk, stripped-down guitar pulls like KILT's "10 Man Jam" seem to be popular around this time of year. However, this House of Blues mini-pull the week before has a few big advantages over KILT's big December 12 Bayou Music Center event. With only three performers, this one won't last all damn night, and it's open to the public rather than being a listener-only exclusive event. But most important, Canada (of the Departed), Boland (of the Stragglers) and Knight (a sort of thinking man's John Mellencamp) have enough Haggardesque blue-collar grit between the three of them to outlast ten men. CHRIS GRAY