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Soul, indie-rock, metal shows this week

Robin Thicke, Shiny Toy Guns, Rwake perform in Little Rock

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SHINY TOY GUNS: Indie rockers play Juanita's.
  • SHINY TOY GUNS: Indie rockers play Juanita's.

L.A. synth-pop band Shiny Toy Guns plays Juanita’s on Thursday night.

Like many other trendy indie bands, L.A.’s Shiny Toy Guns got their break with the help of mySpace. On the social-networking website, the new wave, dance pop band — led by singers Carah Faye Charnow and Chad Petree — developed a strong fan base. On their mySpace page, their amped-up anthem “Le Disko” has more than 4 million plays. The song made the rounds on the mp3 blog circuit, and eventually got noticed by Universal, which signed them. Their debut, “We Are Pilots,” which they’d put out independently, got re-released on Universal in October. Shiny Toy Guns play Juanita’s on Thursday night. Expect a young, hyper crowd at the all-ages show. Listen to “Le Disko” here: www.myspace.com/shinytoyguns. 9 p.m. Thursday, May 24. Juanita’s. $15.

ARTS IN CONCERT

Ballet Arkansas performs at the Arts Center on Thursday and Friday.

Ballet Arkansas presents “Arts in Concert,” a unique production during which musicians and dancers share the stage. Local artists will also display various pieces of artwork for audience members to view and purchase. 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, and Friday, May 25. Arkansas Arts Center. $30/person, $50/couple.

BEAR COLONY

Indie-rock collective comes together for a show on Saturday at the Rev Room.

Technology has made the notion of a “band” as a group of buddies fooling around with instruments in their parents’ garages or neighborhood warehouses as archaic as DOS. No longer is it necessary for bands to schedule studio time to record albums. Parts of songs can be recorded and arranged and e-mailed and IM-ed back and forth until there’s a finished product that results from this sort of virtual chemistry.

Involved in this cyber-song-and-dance is the Arkansas-centered collective Bear Colony, led by Little Rock singer/guitarist Vince Griffin, who came up with the idea while spending time in his bedroom with a computer and electronic beats. The collective’s other members include: Brooks Tipton (piano, keyboards); Adam Putman (drums, guitar, piano), who mans the digital audio workstation; his brother Matthew Putman (drums, percussion); Matt Depper (bass, guitar); Kyle Smith (bass); Nic Tse, who lives in Hong Kong, on guitars; and Chase Pagan (guitars, vocals), to name a few. While it seems complicated, it also seems to allow its members to work on their contribution to the band on their own time at their own pace.

Bear Colony’s debut, “We Came Here to Die,” released on indie label Esperanza Plantation in March, sounds directly affected by the band’s experimental, tech-savvy system. It’s piece-y but not disjointed; its wheels turn, parts click. Griffin’s voice, often backed by high-pitched harmonies, holds it all together gliding over groovy guitars and dissonant blips and beeps. Somehow, it works, and people are noticing. Bear Colony has recently received a good amount of press, including a featured spot as Spin.com’s Artist of the Day, in which they’re called “an electro-fied Broken Social Scene.” Listen for yourself here: www.myspace.com/thebearcolony. 8 p.m. Saturday, May 26. The Revolution Room.

ROBIN THICKE

“Lost Without U” crooner plays the Village Sunday night.

On the surface, at least, Robin Thicke is a fairly unlikely R&B star. First off, he’s white, and aside from the peculiar genius of Justin Timberlake, blue-eyed soul hasn’t crossed over much in the last decade. Second, his parents might be the most whitebread celebrity couple of the’80s. His dad is Alan Thicke (AKA George Seaver on “Growing Pains”) and his mom, Gloria Lorring, is famous for acting in “Days of Our Lives” and singing that incredibly awful, maudlin song “Friends and Lovers.”

But then, there’s his voice. Sultry, but commanding — ready to rise above the funk/soul din in a horn riff’s notice — it’s one of the most arresting on the radio. Surely, you’ve heard his single, “Lost Without U,” one of the million times its been played the last few months. The blue-eyed soulman just got another affirmation as well: Beyonce tapped him to accompany her on her expansive world tour (which will make stops in Memphis, Dallas and Nashville in July). Before he hits the road for massive arenas, he’ll play a more intimate show with two of Arkansas’s most promising soul acts, Ultimate Groove and Kemistri. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 27. The Village.

Future to-dos

JOE BUCK

Hank III’s bassist, Joe Buck, plays a solo show at White Water Tavern on Tuesday.

Rockabilly riot Joe Buck got his first big gig a few years back as lead guitarist for Nashville’s Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers. He played on the ballsy psychobilly band’s “Hunkerdown” (1998), but split soon after to hit the road with fellow hellion Hank Williams III. When he’s not on tour, Buck performs solo shows at smallish venues. He’s got one slated for Little Rock’s White Water Tavern on Tuesday night. Local acts Josh the Devil and the Sinners and Smoke Up Johnny open. 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 29. White Water Tavern. $5. 375-8400.

RWAKE

Sludge-metal heroes return home for a show at Downtown Music on Tuesday.

The most successful metal band to come out of Central Arkansas, Rwake (pronounced “wake”) plays music that’s somewhere between sludge metal and art rock. The standard pose for the North Little Rock five-piece is an often plodding pace, anchored by deep, thick power chords and straight-from-hell vocals, but the band is also not afraid to put some Moog in the mix or throw in a pretty guitar figure. The Relapse Records artists come to town in support of their debut with the label, “Voices of Omens.” Black Cobra and Vore open. 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 29. Downtown Music. $5. 376-1819.

WILL SHORTZ

Crossword puzzle master to visit Clinton School on Wednesday.

Crossword puzzle whiz Will Shortz, puzzle master for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday,” puzzle editor for the New York Times and founder of the Great American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, will visit the Clinton School for a screening of the documentary “Word Play,” in which he starred. The film will begin at 6 p.m. with a crossword puzzle competition and a Q&A session to follow. RSVP to 683-2399. 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 30. Clinton School of Public Service’s Sturgis Hall. Free.

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