Critic's Choice for the week of April 12-18, 2006 

Garage disco, didgeridoo wizardry, and slightly vintage booty poppers.

The rock is back in the Bay Area! Two conjoined events precipitate this moment of joy: First, the site of the former stoner rock club Covered Wagon (917 Folsom, in SF) has been transformed into the newest promising incarnation of Annie's Social Club. Second, Oakland boogie-rockers Drunk Horse have reignited their dual guitar jams with intense focus on their latest album, In Tongues. Friday night, when frontman Eli Eckert and his crew officially christen Annie's as the new place for non-ironic rock, expect sweaty dirtheads and hipsters to rub shoulders in utter bliss. With Red Meat and Harold Ray Live in Concert. $10, 9 p.m. (Kathleen Richards)

Oakland's Gravy Train sounds like the love child of the Ramones and the B-52s — cheesy organ, gnarly fuzz guitar, a primitive beatbox, and two out-of-control female singers give tunes like "Hump Lites" and "Ghost Boobs" an unstoppable new wave energy that's impossible to resist. The Train headlines an all-ages show Friday night at SF's Bottom of the Hill with VIP, the Husbands, the Shudders, and DJ White Heat. $10, 9:30 p.m. 415-292-2583 or (j. poet)

Right now, vocalist Julio Bravo leads one of the hottest salsa dance orchestras in the Bay Area. Blessed with a high tenor voice, he sings caribe-style originals and covers with excellent intonation, phrasing, and expression. At a recent show at Oakland's Club Anton, he and his Salsabor ensemble packed the dancefloor with swinging tunes and a potent band that included co-lead singer Ignacio Caxaj, congero Evelio Llamas, bongocero Alberto Palomino, and other top-notch musicians. This Friday they perform at Montero's in Albany. $13, 10 p.m. 510-524-1270. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

A great vocalist and an amazing didgeridoo master combine talents when Eda Maxym and Stephen Kent come to Berkeley's Freight & Salvage Sunday night. While both musicians have served as an important part of the East Bay music scene since the heyday of world-fusion groups Trance Mission and Beasts of Paradise, this joint Freight gig is a chance to focus intimately on their unusual music and inspired creativity; both possess the ability to work with very little and turn it into a full musical experience. Kent opens the evening with solo didgeridoo wizardry, then Maxym celebrates the release of her solo CD, Imagination Club, with a band featuring Kent, bassist Nancy Kaspar, and drummer Jeff Mooney. $18.50 in advance, $19.50 at the door. 510-548-1761 or (Larry Kelp)

If you're not planning on slaughtering a lamb on Easter Sunday, or hiding plastic eggs and eating chocolate bunnies, head down to the Ivy Room for some sunny California country with I See Hawks in L.A. Supporting its new album (aptly titled California County), the band meshes warm vocal harmonies with lyrics that simultaneously criticize country's roots and the band's own, all with a sort of frankness that makes them endearing, too — see "Houston Romance" and "Slash from Guns N' Roses.") This is good beer-downing, open-air music, and Dos Hermanos Borrachos (a Dave Gleason's Wasted Days spinoff) promise to keep with the theme. $5, 4 p.m. (K.R.)

The North American solo recital debut of Welsh virtuoso pianist Iwan Llewelyn-Jones occurs Saturday night at the beautiful Mills College Recital Hall in Oakland. The young pianist, winner of several international piano competitions, is known for his concerts at London's famed Wigmore Hall, as well as for championing new works and French repertoire. The evening includes Ravel's challenging Gaspard de la Nuit, as well as some Liszt blockbusters and Franck's Prelude Choral et Fugue. Rather than waiting until he's signed by a major label and returns to perform in a huge hall, now is the time to hear this rising talent. $18-$20, 8 p.m. 510-430-2296. (Jason Victor Serinus)

A decade ago, Toni Braxton was at the height of her game, strutting on top of a giant microphone in a white jumpsuit while ogling hotties in the video for "You're Making Me High." It seems pretty cheesy now, but there was also an innocence about it that makes the idea of such an R&B/smooth jazz singer penetrating the market today seem far-fetched. Maybe that's why after a brief pitstop for marriage and two kids, Braxton has had a tough time trying to reinvent herself, either as a hip-hop artist or a young booty popper. These days, Braxton's biggest fans may still be the brace-faced karaoke junkies posting videos of themselves on singing her signature ballad, "Unbreak My Heart"; when she plays the Paramount in Oakland Thursday night, you can expect the old favorites, with everyone singing along. $59.50-$69.50, 8 p.m. (K.R.)

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