Critic's Choice for the week of March 7-13, 2007 

Double-edged metal sword, Swedish vulnerabilities, and punk Behind Enemy Lines.

Sad, Salty Dog

Now for something entirely unique. Swedish chanteuse Sarah Assbring offers a decidedly different take on melancholic pop under the moniker El Perro del Mar. With her vulnerable yet charming voice, she expresses despair with a striking sacredness found in Leonard Cohen or Brendan Perry recordings, but executed in a '60s girl group fashion. She's currently on her first US tour for her self-titled debut, released last November. Even the normally unexcitable music critic blog Pitchfork gushed over her, handing out an 8.1 rating. Rosie Thomas and Thao Nguyen open on Monday, March 12 at the Great American Music Hall. 8 p.m., $15. (Kathleen Richards)

Nancarrow for Everyone

Badass 20th-century composer Conlon Nancarrow gets some of his due at Hertz Hall with the help of highly experimental, quite-lauded ensemble Alarm Will Sound Sunday, March 11. 3 p.m., $32 (lecture 1:30-2:30 p.m.). (Jason Victor Serinus)

Bush: Argh!

Hardcore Pittsburgh punk snarlers Behind Enemy Lines make their point loud and clear on their 2007 release, One Nation Under the Iron Fist of God. The album gives a blow-by-blow critique of America's ruling elite. While the band's politics line up with punk's roots, its music — a blizzard of traditional punk drumming but with doomier, thick metal riffage — distinguishes it from its ilk. With Born/Dead, Bumbklaat, Deathtoll, and Outraged at 924 Gilman on Friday, March 9. 8 p.m., $5. (K.R.)

Sharp Metal

Start loosening your neck muscles. Austin metal band the Sword creates headbanging heaven for anyone that subscribes to the stoner-metal path blazoned by Black Sabbath and maintained by High on Fire's first two albums. The Sword's debut, Age of Winters, released last year, is a titan of pummeling, groove-fueled riffs — which makes purist metalheads and indie hipsters alike froth at the mouth. Besides the vocals (which lean closer to Fu Manchu), the Sword is all dirty, all the time. Heaven indeed. With Priestbird and Year Long Disaster at the Uptown on Wednesday, March 14. 9 p.m., $12/$14. (K.R.)

Sharp Metal, Western Redux

Everyone likes Led Zeppelin, right? This should benefit Brooklyn's Priestbird, ex-Tarantula A.D., whose dramatic prog-rock owes its foundation to the metal and folk mysticism of Zeppelin's 1970 album III. Atop this structure are piano ballads, cello solos, and the heavier sounds of Incubus and Soundgarden. Attempts at classifying headliner the Sword should prove less frustrating: The Austin hipster-metal outfit sings about horned goddesses and iron swans without trading any thunder. Tuesday, March 13 at Slim's in San Francisco. 9 p.m., $15. (Nate Seltenrich)

Bye-Bye, Barbie

Fronted by the distinctively piquant warble of Patty Spiglanin, the Naked Barbies refined their Band-like synthesis of rock 'n' roll, country, and folk in local clubs like the Starry Plough and El Rio for sixteen years and five albums. Alas, it's transition time — original drummer Dan Lashkoff and family are relocating to frosty upstate New York. The Barbies will endure (that's what Barbies do). An all-ages fare-thee-well soiree kicks off at the Starry Plough Sunday, March 11. 4 p.m., free. (Mark Keresman)

Funk Tribute

Bay Area dance kings Sila and the Afrofunk Experience combine an international vision with dazzling musicianship. Frontman Victor Sila rivets audiences with a combination of James Brown's punchy grooves and Fela Kuti's relentless West African swing. Their debut The Funkiest Man in Africa blows away listeners with its relentless rhythm and sharp songcraft, but can't prepare you for the band's potent onstage energy. At Ashkenaz in a tribute to James Brown Saturday, March 10. 9:30 p.m., $15/$10. (j. poet)


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