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Week in Rock: New Zealand Edition

<strong>Jonsi at Terminal 5:</strong><p><a href="http://gothamist.com/2008/09/19/gothamists_week_in_rock.php">Sigur Ros</a> are well known for their epic compositions, led by lead singer Jonsi's choirboy vocals that mingle between the understandable and the sonic. Their songs stretch out into very controlled icy, atmospheric landscapes; music that tumbles forth with meticulous production. But last Saturday night at Terminal 5, <a href="http://www.myspace.com/jonthorbirgisson">Jonsi</a> stepped out on his own to perform songs from his first solo album, <em>Go</em>, and revealed a more unabashed, flamboyant, pop-side to his persona.</p><p>It was exciting to see Jonsi let loose, wearing an elaborate, colorful Native American headdress, with lots of computer-generated visuals overtaking the stage. His 5-piece band set up facing the side of the stage, so the audience could have a better view of everything going on (...those who could SEE that much, that is). Highlights such as "Go Do" and "Boy Lilikoi" were mewled in clear tones and given sprightly acoustic arrangements that grew and grew like the best Sigur Ros songs, but in a more immediately accessible way. Some of the music was eaten up in the column-packed space however; hopefully next time, Jonsi might play a slightly more sympathetic venue.</p>


<strong>The Clean at Bell House:</strong><p>Kiwi rock is a catch-all term for describing rock music and culture from New Zealand. Although it's a seemingly small, popularly-unknown movement, it hit its stride in the mid-to-late '70s, and produced a bevvy of artists on labels such as Flying Nun and Propeller Records that became integral strands in the DNA of American indie rock of the 80s and 90s. Seminal indie bands such as Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Sebadoh and Guided by Voices have kiwi rock running through their veins.</p><p>So the opportunity to see maybe the greatest of all those kiwi bands, <a href="http://www.myspace.com/theclean">The Clean</a>, last Friday night at a packed Bell House, was not an opportunity to be missed. The three-piece band is touring behind recent album <em>Mister Pop</em>, another stellar entry in their catalog, filled with psychedelic-tinged songs, jangly trebley guitars and semi-intoned, nonchalant melodies. If you're a fan of <em>Painful</em>-era Yo La Tengo, in particular, you'd be shocked at how much they cop off The Clean. </p><p>On Friday, the band pushed some songs into extended guitar interplay that could rival Sonic Youth; other times, with highlights "Drawing to a Hole" and "Oddity," it was about harnessing three-chord sequences as efficiently as possible. Above and beyond all that, The Clean were focused on unfurling their delightfully memorable melodies, and the happenstance of stumbling into something surprising: "Anything could happen/ and it could be right now/ and the choice is yours/ to make it worthwhile."</p>


<strong>Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Return:</strong><p>Since 1976, Thomas Earl Petty and his Breakin'-Hearts band have been chugging through the miasma of meat and potatoes rock n roll, unloading timeless singles, from "Breakdown" to "Don't Do Me Like That" to "The Waiting," and consistently great albums such as <em>Damn the Torpedoes</em> and <em>Into the Great Wide Open</em>; they've never been the flashiest band, nor the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704204304574544184285937304.html">hippest</a>, but they are unequivocally one of the best rock outfits of all time, as evidenced on the recently released Anthology Live box set.</p><p>Now, they have a new album, <em>Mojo</em>, due out on June 15. It's their first studio album since 2002's vitriolic <em>The Last DJ</em>. The cover and tracklist can be seen <a href="http://www.tompetty.com/news/title/mojo-album-art-and-track-listing">here</a>, and you can also listen to a couple new tunes, including "I Should Have Known It" and "First Flash of Freedom." They've also announced dates for a massive <a href="http://www.tompetty.com/tour">world tour</a>, and will be the musical guest on the season finale of SNL on May 15.</p>