Critic's Choice for the week of January 5-11, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


When you paint this town red/Why not do it from your veins?ask the distinguished gentleman and ladies of Ludicra, reasonably. The cover art for the Bay Area black metal outfit's new Alternative Tentacles disc, Another Great Love Song, sums it up pretty well: a bleeding heart held aloft in the palm of a hand. Sensually cathartic, or just fucking hostile? Make the call Friday night at 924 Gilman, wherein Ludicra shares the bill with Voetsek, Brutal Death, and John the Baker and the Malnourished. $5. (Rob Harvilla)


Nobody else in these parts can pump out the two-steps and waltzes with as much energy as Andrew Carriere. Tuesday night at Berkeley's Ashkenaz, he teams up with the Cajun-zydeco band Creole Belles to get the New Year started in sweat-soaked Louisiana fais-do-do style. Originally from Louisiana (his father was legendary fiddler Bebe Carriere), Andrew has played accordion and sung in such bands as California Cajun Orchestra. 8:30 p.m., with a 7:30 p.m. Cajun dance lesson. $9. 510-525-5054 or (Larry Kelp)


Utah Phillips is a folk singer, picker, and humorist who uses his own life -- and the stories of the people he has met in his forty years of bumming around the country -- as source material. His songs of hard times (including his own compositions) are always on the mark, but his Twain-like digressions are the meat of his live shows. Thursday at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage. $22.50-$23.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or (j. poet)


Put simply, 20 Minute Loop's Yawn+House=Explosion sounds like a dreamy, literate Berkeley couple arguing, angrily and esoterically, over moody indie pop. Watch in awe and/or amusement as Greg Giles and Kelly Atkins should heavily coded, sugary-sweet insults at each other, until the whole thing goes to hell and ends with a cover of Husker Du's "I Will Never Forget You." Pretty rad. By all means crash Explosion's release party Saturday night at SF's Bottom of the Hill, with Elephone and Every Move a Picture. $8, 10 p.m., (R.H.)


After many years of singing in Boston, touring with Boston Camerata, and occasionally returning to Berkeley to sing and record with Magnificat, deep-voiced contralto Elizabeth Anker again revisits her birthplace to perform a fascinating recital entitled Poet Power, accompanied by a six-person ensemble. The Berkeley City Club recital mixes twelve world premieres written to celebrate Anker's fiftieth birthday with two songs by Mahler, one by Billy Joel, and a jazz improvisation on Buxtehude's Jubilate Domino. $10-$15, dinner packages available. 8 p.m. 510-848-7800. (Jason Victor Serinus)


The Gourds have confounded audiences with their catholic musical taste and solid musicianship for a decade. They play credibly in any style you'd care to mention -- folk, blues, swamp rock, Memphis soul -- all spiked with their trademark oddball humor. Saturday at SF's Great American Music Hall. $15, 9 p.m. 415-885-0750 or (j.p.)


If you liked Goapele, Ledisi, Keyshia Coles, and La Toya London, you'll love Sakai. The latest neo-soul star to emerge from the local music scene, she recently won Best Neo-Soul Recorded Performance at the LA Black Music Awards, and has recorded or performed with Quincy Jones, Steve Winwood, Celine Dion, Tower of Power, and Narada Michael Walden. She's also blowing up in Germany and Japan right about now, so it's just a matter of time before it happens to us. Her new album, Dream Big, does just that: With sassy, sexy vocals and smooth uptempo beats from producer Darkside, the disc is equally suited for a morning drive-time pick-me-up or a late-night booty call, and Sakai's attitude is relentlessly upbeat, as she makes clear on "Can't Bring Me Down." She'll bring her positive black soul to Yoshi's Monday. $10. 510-238-9200. $10, 8 and 10 p.m. (Eric K. Arnold)


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