HEARTLESS BASTARDS, WRITER
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) The Austin-based Heartless Bastards' name can be misleading. No, they are not a bunch of punk-rock motorcycle dudes, although a similar energy is certainly present. Their guttural, multi-dimensional, rock 'n' roll sound is characterized by lead singer Erika Wennerstrom's throaty, full-bodied vocals. The band is in Portland in support of their stunning fourth record, The Arrow, their first time back since playing Pickathon last summer. Each of their songs—whether they include finger picking or full-on guitar shredding—is a dynamic, expressive piece of work that pulls on your heartstrings. RACHEL MILBAUER
BRUNO MARS, ELLIE GOULDING
(Rose Garden, 1 Center Ct) I'm actually surprised one of my female relatives "of a certain age" has not emailed me a Bruno Mars video with the subject line "ADORABLE!" because he's totally the kind of non-threatening pop-star/male human that aunts and grandmothers can get behind. Mars churns out music for the mainest of streams—think an Old Navy commercial for a bikini meets a Target commercial for a hot-pink blender. Now, Ellie Goulding is also pop, but she's got more sparkle and dramatic flair to her. Her newest album, Halcyon, is almost entirely about breakups, but has that powerful "I'M SAD BUT DEALING" punch of La Roux or Florence + the Machine, with Skrillexesque (say it fast) electronic backbone. EMILY NOKES Also see My, What a Busy Week!