Live Tonight: Empires, Anna Gilbert

Chicago alt-indie outfit Empires’ sound falls somewhere between that of the Killers and the Black Keys. It’s nothing radical or new, but that doesn’t discount how good they are. And they are good (Jimmy Fallon follows them on Twitter, which is a pretty good indicator of hipness). The title track of their upcoming EP How Good Does It Feel is marked by lead singer Sean Van Vleet’s cool, sultry drawl, seducing listeners every time he inquires, “How good does it feel?” “Please Don’t Tell My Lover” is punchy and groovy down to its lyrics: “All has gone dark since I killed my idols/Melted down my vinyl.” Closing track “Lifters” is minimalist in instrumentation and vocal inflection, making it stand out against the other three tracks. Airy and melancholy vocals give the song a naked and vulnerable feel. By album’s end, I was feeling pretty good. With Battleme, Fox and the Law. Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442, thebarboza.com. 8 p.m. $10 adv. 21 and over. DIANA M. LE

When Eugene Weekly named singer/songwriter Anna Gilbert 2010’s “Next Big Thing,” they were onto something. Gilbert has not gone on to become an international pop star since then, but she has proven she isn’t afraid of taking chances. Prior to receiving this honor, her releases were grounded in a charming, melodic pop-rock sensibility. Almost immediately afterward, she followed up with Christmas, which took notoriously glorious holiday hymns like “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night” and imbued them with a quiet, stripped-down beauty that felt like something you’d hear played on a tropical beach in the middle of summer. Splitting her time between Eugene, Portland, and Nashville, Gilbert then wrote songs for other artists, worked with CCM producer Charlie Peacock, and returned last November with the more ambient The Able Heart, which explores the darker corners of life, like adultery and death. Her most exquisite release yet, Heart combines her often breathy, subdued vocals with a lyrical mood that suggests that even the most powerful melancholy is not the end of the story. With Justin Klump, Samsel and the Skirt. Q Café, 3223 15th Ave. W., 352-2525, qcafe.org. 7 p.m. $7. All ages. BRIAN PALMER

 
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