Noise Pop: Hot shots

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Mika Miko

Los Angeles' proudly punky ladies have been busy tearing out new tunes back home. Expect them to show their hand in their constant quest to drive the audience bonkers. Also on board is more of their characteristically dark imagery. "There's nothing worse than happy-joy-joy," drummer Kate Hall says. "You gotta go through some dark stuff." (Kimberly Chun)

With DJ Amp Live and Tempo No Tempo. Tues/26, 8 p.m., free for badge holders and VIPs. Rickshaw Stop, 55 Fell, SF. (415) 861-2011

Minipop

Indie pop rarely gets sweeter — or more radio-friendly — than in the hands of San Francisco's preternaturally poised Minipop. The foursome found an avid listenership early in their career, and the recently released A New Hope (Take Root) finds the unit looking fondly back at the dreamy alt-pop of the early '90s, with graceful nods to 4AD forebears. (Chun)

Feb. 27, 8:30 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

The Mumlers

Perhaps the Mumlers were channeling the spirit of William Mumler, a mid-19th-century man famous for claiming he could photograph ghosts, but once all seven band members touched their fingers to a Ouija board's planchette, the board, they claim, spelled out their group's name. Regardless, it's clear their swaggered ruckus pop channels dead folk musicians galore. Despite the ghostly origins of their handle, the Mumlers' live appearances tend into turn to lively celebrations, with the outfit dancing about the stage. Their repertoire of instruments rivals any philharmonic's and includes guitars, drums, upright bass, various keyboards, euphonium, French horn, trumpet, clarinet, tambourine, pedal steel, and recently, eagle whistles from Mexico. While the tunes give old-time music an indie pop sheen, beneath the group's sprawling arrangements the lyrics and vocal delivery compare to those of Johnny Cash's later recordings — with a touch of early Bob Dylan. (Alex Felsinger)

With the Entrance Band, honey.mooon.tree, and Golden Animals. Feb. 27, 9 p.m., $14. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com

The Morning Benders

This group has no shortage of hooks and crescendos, and with a lighthearted indie pop style familiar enough to capture anyone's attention and enough creativity to hold it, they stand out from their peers. Listeners have drawn comparisons to Voxtrot, the Shins, and Of Montreal for good reason, but in the end the Morning Benders' biggest debt is to the Beatles. So far they've recorded all of their releases at home but have always managed to mimic that old analog sound, even when using nothing but a laptop and one microphone. With their upcoming debut, Talking Through Tin Cans (+1), they've successfully stepped into hi-fi wonder without losing their homespun feel. The Morning Benders don't break any musical molds, but their solid songwriting and smooth deliver serve pop tradition well. (Felsinger)

With Kelley Stoltz, Grand Archives, and the Weather Underground. Feb. 28, 8 p.m., $14. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

The Blacks

SF's grungy indie rock band the Blacks sound so much like the Pixies that they ought to be called the Frank Blacks, but they trump the re-formed Pixies in stage presence tenfold. Vocalist JDK Blacker doesn't sing much at all but rather focuses his energy on livening up the audience: sometimes he'll help drummer Gavin Black smash cymbals, or perhaps he'll simply thrash around with his trusty tambourine. Vocalist Luisa Black holds the group together with solid alternating rhythm and lead guitar, while Gavin Black's drumming shines with stripped-down, solid beats.

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