"I think the biggest influence Tony Conrad had on us in college was just the way he works on breaking boundaries between visual and sound art," Mercury Rev's guitarist/clarinetist Sean "Grasshopper" Mackiowiak said. "He approached his music the same way he did his film, structurally - very minimalist and structured. But the main thing, in all of his art, is that everything is valid, everything counts, and there are no mistakes. In his world, you can really just try anything, and if it doesn't work, then you'll know that it doesn't work."
Obviously, though, since it's been nearly four years since the last Mercury Rev release, the band doesn't believe that everything they write should instantly be committed to disc. Their newest release, "The Secret Migration," is a magnificent opus, a hymn to nature - to mystery - at a time when materialistic artifice threatens to destroy our planet.
"We got off tour from our last album, and we were kind of talking about migration, and how, when you're a migration, you end up going on tours, and you end up in different parts of the world, and how it's like this weird migration you do, and how it changes you inside," Grasshopper said. "It's kind of a migration of the soul, too. Anyway, we were just discussing it, and that kind of became the common thread, the theme, to a lot of the songs."
Th May 12, 6:30 p.m.The Quest, 110 N. 5th St. $16 in advance, $18 at the door.338-3383, www.thequestclub.com.
Taking a page from the Cramps, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have taken the whole three-chord garage rock format to a new level. The Danish duo of The Raveonettes write stripped-down songs about sex, suicide and prostitution loaded with noisy, fuzzed-out guitar, sweet boy-girl harmonies and sleazy surf-punk twang. Their 2002 EP "Whip It On" was recorded entirely in the key of B-flat minor, while the 2003 full-length debut, "Chain Gang of Love," stuck to B-flat major. Their latest release, "Pretty In Black," hits a whole bunch more notes and keys, while staying true to the original vision of three chords and three-minute songs.
Tu May 10, 8 p.m.First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N.$12. 332-1775, www.first-avenue.com
Another variation in the girl-boyboy-boy-guitar formula is the quartet featuring Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett, a.k.a. Rilo Kiley. The two former child stars write desperate love songs backed by gorgeous pedal steel guitar. Syrupy and unsettling, Lewis' breathy and innocent voice is the perfect center of each puzzling, beautiful song.
Sa May 14, 6 p.m.First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. $13 in advance, $15 at the door.332-1775, www.first-avenue.com