Tonight: Polvo, Jolie Holland

Kate Kunath
Jolie Holland
Polvo at the Crocodile, 8 p.m., $15 adv.

Polvo was always its own worst enemy, seemingly intent on maintaining a lower profile than the band deserved. Dauntlessly experimental in a genre defined by experimental sounds, Polvo sometimes seemed to go out of its way to alienate a broad spectrum of music listeners, even those whose ears were already attenuated to the off kilter indie aesthetic of the early '90s. The band took math rock as its jumping off point, using twisting guitar passages and start/stop, schizophrenic rhythms as a framework within which they could explore sounds of every variety. One of the band's early hallmarks, and one still felt today, was a fascination with non-western sounds and structures, incorporating both Eastern instrumentation and elongated passages of trance-inducing drone grooves into their arty guitar rock. Never formulaic, the band has also stretched into space rock freakouts, folk ballads, ambient soundscapes, scathing blues, and blistering punk across their scant handful of studio releases. Reunited in 2008 after a decade long hiatus, the band is in as good a form as ever, handing down sonic experimentation with the zeal of a mad scientist. NICHOLAS HALL

Jolie Holland, Michael Hurley at the Triple Door, 7:30 p.m., $25, all ages

One of roots music's most distinct contemporary voices, singer/songwriter Jolie Holland has managed to turn her vocal idiosyncrasies into an exquisite musical language all her own. Her penchant for combining the elegance of folk, country and jazz without brushing off the dust has rightfully earned her the acclaim of her peers and critics alike. On her fourth album, the just-released The Living and the Dead, Holland sets her sights on rock'n' roll. In a statement she released with the album, Holland says she's always liked rock'n'roll but "didn't trust its motives." Whatever the case is with rock motives, there's no need to question hers. On the new material, Holland expands her range with effortless grace, simply enfolding the grittier elements (courtesy of special guests M. Ward and Marc Ribot) into her dream-like delivery. This more contemporary edge only accentuates what's been true about Holland all along, that her work evokes a classic American spirit without any cloying "old-time" pretenses. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

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