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Richard Buckner, The Meat Puppets and Taylor Swift 

WEDNESDAY 9/28

RICHARD BUCKNER
8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $10.

In a better, more just world, Richard Buckner would be celebrated far and wide. When he embarked on his sold-out tours, the mayors of mid-sized American cities would issue declarations proclaiming that whatever day it was would henceforth be known as "Richard Buckner Day." Also, in this world Jeff Tweedy would have recently gotten canned from his video store clerk job, his resume littered with dozens of other dead-end hellscapes from which he was fired for being more smug and self-satisfied than his meager, minimum-wage accomplishments could ever justify. I suppose in reality, Buckner is appreciated well enough. After all, Volkswagen saw fit to use both his and Tweedy's tunes for car commercials. A spot for the 2009 Touareg featured Buckner's touching "Ariel Ramirez." That probably was beneficial in terms of helping Buckner's music reach new audiences. But it's nonetheless baffling that he's not way more popular. His songs are consistently great and his singing is expressive and dynamic, in sharp contrast to the hordes of bearded, hushed troubadours out there mumbling about feelings and stuff. "Our Blood," Buckner's latest album and first in five years, has met with pretty much universal acclaim.

THURSDAY 9/29

GRAND SERENADE
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $5.

A few weeks ago, a couple of 180-gram vinyl copies of Grand Serenade's latest album on Max Recordings arrived at the Times mega-compound hidden deep within the bowels of subterranean Little Rock. Nobody knows how they got here. They just showed up, the intended recipients' names scrawled in all caps on Post-it notes stuck to the front. A few spins reveal a band that traffics in moody modern rock that never comes across as self-indulgent and is a welcome respite from the current glut of glo-fi or chill-wave or whatever. The album reminds this writer of Radiohead's late '90s output, only not as freaked-out and melodramatic. The album is called "Lake Country" (a nod no doubt to the band's hometown of Heber Springs) and was recorded at Blue Chair Studio in tiny Austin, Ark. It has a big, warm sound, with Pink Floydian guitar solos, drums and cymbals that pound and crash and singing that's reminiscent of Thom Yorke or maybe a less bombastic Jeff Buckley. It's really good stuff and you can pick up a copy at this record release show for $10.

MEAT PUPPETS
9 p.m. Stickyz. $12 adv., $15 door.

As far as weird career trajectories go, it'd be tough to top The Meat Puppets: two brothers and their drummer friend started a hardcore band; signed to the legendary SST Records; decided hardcore had grown rigid and dogmatic and its fans annoying; proceeded to craft their own sui generis, sun-warped blend of punk, country, boogie rock and psychedelic burnout folk that would serve as a touchstone for subsequent generations of weirdoes; cut two stone-cold classic albums; cut several more really good albums; signed to a major label; joined forces with Nirvana for that band's massively successful MTV Unplugged album; released an album that broke the Billboard Top 40; put out another album that, uh, wasn't as good; spiraled into years of awful drug abuse, fraternal acrimony and incarceration; broke up; got back together years later to release solidly enjoyable albums. Back in May, the Meat Puppets played the Animal Collective-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival in England, performing 1985's peerless "Up on the Sun" in its entirety as part of the set. The odds are slim that the Puppets will get a wild hare up their collective ass and do that again, but you never know. Hearing "Two Rivers" live would be killer.

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