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CL's picks for the week's best shows

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WED/22
CRACKER
Rootsy wise guy David Lowery and shotgun-riding guitarist Johnny Hickman may never have a “Low”-sized radio hit again, but 17 years along in their remarkably consistent career, Cracker’s new album is as musically gutsy and lyrically sharp as anything in the band’s catalog. $18-$20. 8 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.  — Hal Horowitz

THUR/23 
JAAFAR The city of Birmingham may not be considered a bastion of progressive soul, but with the layered debut album Travel Light, B'ham native Jaafar is breaking the mold. Rich vocals, narrative lyrics and lush production make Jaafar one of the genre's most respected rising talents. In short time, he's proving he has the goods to carve out his own lane. Free. 8 p.m. Café Circa. 404-477-0008. www.cafecircaatl.com. — Jacinta Howard

MAIA SHARP Despite penning songs for a wide array of rootsy Americana artists such as Bonnie Raitt, the Dixie Chicks, and er, Cher, Sharp’s own albums have flown under the radar. Enter super-producer Don Was to give her latest set of melodic singer/songwriter musings a high-profile boost and bid for mass attention. $12-$60. 8 p.m. Eddie’s Attic. 404-377-4976. www.eddiesattic.com. — HH

MICHAEL JACKSON BENEFIT CONCERT Since MJ's death, a slew of cathartic, DJ-helmed tributes have left everything but "Blood on the Dance Floor." Now Atlanta's soul community honors the King of Pop by putting its own spin on his deep discography via performances from local faves Heston, Algebra, Rahbi, Donnie, Avery Sunshine, Jaspects and more. Hosted by WCLK-FM (91.9)'s Jamal Ahmad, proceeds will be donated to the Michael Jackson Heal the World Foundation. Sh'mon! $15. 9 p.m. Vinyl. 404-885-1365. www.vinylatlanta.com. — Rodney Carmichael 

VNV NATION, WAR TAPES, SAM Pan-European goth-industrial torchbearers VNV Nation march on the dancefloor with a blitzkrieg of EBN and industrial rhythms that move from moments of stern, electro-fascism to moody, dark wave atmospherics. Vampy L.A. act War Tapes plays scenic and darkly romantic gothic balladry. SAM also performs. $20. 8 p.m. Masquerade. 404-577-8178. masq.com. — Chad Radford

FRI/24
BORIS
The Russian export has made a name for himself with extended sets of house music at New York’s club Pacha, and other clubs around the world. He returns this week to the venue where he made his Atlanta debut in ’07, with additional sets by Armando and Edo. $15. The Mark Ultralounge. 678-904-0050. www.themarkatlanta.com. — Jonathan Williams

CINEMECHANICA, SO MANY DYNAMOS, CAST SPELLS, COYOTE BONES Athens’ Cinemechanica plays fast, fiery post-rock workouts that summon all of the angst that comes along with being young, then channels it into a caustic and cathartic experience. St. Louis’ So Many Dynamos wield elements of pop, chaos and noise to craft a catchy and abrasive post-hardcore sound. $4-$7. 9 p.m. 529. 404-228-6769. www.529atl.com. — CR

MAMA'S MUSTACHE, DOLL DAZE, BYRON THE AQUARIUS, THE REMNANT Moods Music presents a soul lounge featuring Mama's Mustache, the funky, feel-good duo featuring vocalist Jeff B. and Mr. DJ of Dungeon Family. Other performers include Doll Daze, Byron the Aquarius, the Remnant and Jaafar. Free meet and greet from 8-10 p.m. features Rahsaan Patterson, Choklate and Trina Broussard. $5-$10. 9 p.m. Lenny's Bar. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com. — RC

SAT/25
ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Guest conductor Hugh Wolff leads an all-Beethoven program. The concert includes “Leonore Overture No. 3” and “Symphony No. 7,” and features young Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen in the “Piano Concerto No. 3.” $21-$59. 8 p.m. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. 404-733-4800. www.atlantasymphony.org.  — Mark Gresham

CHRIS ISAAK, MICHELLE BRANCH Isaak’s smooth Roy Orbison voice, humorous between-song musings and retro-flavored rock is a Chastain staple for good reason. He and his veteran band deliver a fun, rollicking, hits-filled show without pandering to the masses. $25-$75. 8 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheatre. 404-733-4949. www.classicchastain.com. — HH

KINGSTON TRIO WITH JON MICHAELS Though the musicians have changed over the years, the current Kingston Trio is the most vocally complete since the original 1950s group. Michaels hosts and performs some. Benefits the We Will Not Forget Foundation. $30-$100. 8 p.m. Roswell Cultural Arts Center. 770-641-1260. www.wwnff.org. — MG

SUN/26
NEKO CASE, JASON LYTLE
Neko has made quite a splash this year, and rightly so. Her newest album is a monster, and with Atlanta’s own Kelly Hogan singing backup, the live show is amazing. Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle opens. $23-$33. 8 p.m. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. 770-916-2800. www.cobbenergycentre.com. — JK

OLD 97S, RHETT MILLER, MURRY HAMMOND Plentiful jangling hooks flow out of the Old 97s' energetic alt-country, producing an exuberant, nearly irresistible twang. Miller’s solo material has migrated from a similar style toward more singer/songwriter sophistication with slower tempos and richer production. $20-$22.50. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. — CP

MON/27
CAGE Once-institutionalized rapper Cage muscles his dark, eerie blasts in a rock direction on his latest, featuring ex-Hatebreed guitarist Sean Martin. Raging guitars and wavering synth lines key the backdrops for anthems to fat kids and depressed loners. $12. 7 p.m. Masquerade. 404-577-8178. masq.com. —CP

KIRKWOOD BALLERS CLUB, TRACHTENBURG FAMILY SLIDESHOW PLAYERS Atlanta’s long-standing experimental open-mic night, KBC, moves to Lenny’s to continue its legacy of spontaneous musical outbursts — be it with an acoustic guitar, a cinder block or a sampler. It’s usually free, but since the Trachtenburg Family came all the way from Seattle/New York to play, there will be a paltry cover charge. $5. 8 p.m. Lenny’s Bar. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com. — CR

TUES/28
FRANKLIN POND CHAMBER MUSIC
FPCM's faculty (all Atlanta Symphony members) plus 16 of Atlanta's brightest young classical musicians conclude this summer chamber music program in a performance of music for strings by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartok and Gershwin. Free. 8 p.m. Peachtree Presbyetrian Church. 404-252-3479. www.franklinpond.org. — MG

PAULO NUTINI, ERIN MCCARLEY, MATT HIRES Just when you think you have Nutini’s number, he changes lanes. Sunny Side Up is a rootsy collection, more skiffle than soul this time around. McCarley and Hires open with solo sets. $21.50-$24. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com. — JK

PTERODACTYL, THE LIVERHEARTS, PLEASURE CRUISE Pterodactyl produce a chunky, vibrant, stomping sound that mixes the thundering intensity of noise rock and the well-wound compositions of indie math rockers. It’s more tuneful than you’d expect, while stealing your breath like a rollercoaster drop. $8. 8:30 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com. — CP

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