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Robin Wheeler

The Head and the Heart returned to St. Louis and the Pageant a week after releasing its second album, "Let's Be Still," tip-toeing into the new material.

"Americana is country music for people who like the Smiths," Billy Bragg told the sold-out crowd at the opening night of his tour at the Old Rock House.

It's been 30 years since Billy Bragg blended punk sensibilities with a lone guitar for his debut album, "Life's a Riot with Spy vs. Spy." In that time he's not only created a rich catalog of music, but he's also been a labor advocate, a protestor, a writer and playwright, a father, a collaborator -- most notably with Kirsty MacColl and Wilco, and one of the foremost keepers of Woody Guthrie's legacy.

With their sophomore effort "Amelita," Texas duo Court Yard Hounds embrace breezing southwest-folk style with biting lyrics sung in ringing harmonies by sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison.

By late July, some of us are weary of summer. Too bright, too hot and too damn cheerful. Good thing the Handsome Family Band, Sean Rowe and Danny Barnes stopped at Off Broadway with some dark songs and gallows humor.

Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes nailed it early in the evening: "Small venue. Sold out. One hundred degrees. No better place to be."

Since 1995 Milagro Saints have made southwestern-tinged, alt-rock jams. Not the obvious choice for a band started in New York City, based in Raleigh, N.C., and fronted by a British expat, but it works.

New York City's Milagro Saints are touring this week to celebrate Woody Guthrie's 101st birthday with their EP, "Mighty Road Songs." Comprised of their interpretation of six Woody Guthrie songs, the band's passing through St. Louis tonight en route to the annual free folk festival in Guthrie's hometown of Okemah, Okla.

St. Louis' Jesse Gannon, along with a rotating cast of some of the city's most accomplished musicians, performed Gannon's debut album to an enthusiastic, music-savvy crowd at the Gramophone.

"Nobody ever interviews the drummer," Ha Ha Tonka's Lennon Bone joked at the end of our conversation. Which is a shame because sometimes, when drummers are starting at the backside of the rest of the band, they're cultivating their own projects.

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Karate Bikini - A Simpler Sugar

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Karate Bikini is an eight piece ensemble who's members hail from St. Louis and the metro area. They are a large band with a large sound. Their latest album A Simpler Sugar is full of upbeat pop songs,…