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SEVEN IN SEVEN: Gozu thunders into city; Pop Evil, Japandroids and others have local dates

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WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER 
For Digital First Media

Welcome to “Seven in Seven,” where each Friday we take a look at shows coming to the region over the next week. Whether your musical tastes are rock and roll, jazz, heavy metal, singer-songwriter or indie, there’ll always be something to check out in the coming days.
Here are seven of the best for the week beginning Feb. 19:
Pop Evil – Feb. 19 at The Theatre of Living Arts
Even as the music business was dismantled and reconfigured, large chain stores shuttered, MTV abandoned music videos as a format, radio playlists tightened, and bubblegum anthems celebrated, hard rock music has thrived, increasing in size and championed by an elite vanguard of ambitious bands like Pop Evil. After a self-released record and EP kicked up a buzz, the first proper Pop Evil album, Lipstick on the Mirror, found its way to listeners via a major label re-release, despite the business trouble that resulted in the group tearing up their major label contract on stage. It’s that attitude that draws in fans and shows that Pop Evil are just about as real as it gets.
SafetySuit – Feb. 19 at The Foundry
Last year, after touring extensively following an extended break, SafetySuit locked themselves away in a studio in the mountains for the summer and returned with what they say is their best album to date. The self-titled effort from the Nashville-based rock band is their first in five years, and to say it was eagerly anticipated is quite the understatement. Basing themselves in a town that in recent years has become a haven for rockers looking for some of the countrified inspiration Nashville is famous for, SafetySuit being a straight ahead rock band down there sets them apart from the word go.
Tove Lo – Feb. 20 at The Electric Factory
It’s hard not to be swept away by Tove Lo and her dark, catchy pop music, filled with heavy electronic beats, crystal clear melodies and honest lyrics, her music goes straight to the heart. There are songs in which each tone strikes a sense, whether it is love or sadness, euphoria or despair, and the Swedish electropop star delivers them with an unmatched authenticity. Last October, she released her second album, Lady Wood, which was a smash with critics and fans. There’s so much amazing music coming out of Lo’s homeland – in all genres – and hopefully her success is a bit of an opening for audiences to be exposed to more of it.
Dropkick Murphys – Feb. 21 at Sands Bethlehem Event Center
The Dropkick Murphys have been synonymous with the city of Boston, and it’s almost startling to learn that 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory was not recorded there, but in El Paso, Texas. On the album, the punk rockers carry on the tradition of rough and tumble storytelling, the kind of writing that never leaves fans wondering whether the band have lived what they’re singing about. A look back at childhood life, hard knock adolescence, and a stop-you-in-your tracks reflection on a terrorist tragedy are all represented across the record. There are moments of Celtic punk attitude, snide wisecracks, tear-jerking confessions, and the kind of upbeat words of wisdom that can be chanted loud and proud.

Gozu
Photo by Jay Fortin

Gozu – Feb. 22 at Kung Fu Necktie
One of the more exciting metal bands to come out of America in recent years is Gozu, out of Boston, Mass., who late last year were signed to Blacklight Media, a brand-new imprint from Metal Blade Records on the heels of Revival, their thunderous third album, which also came out in 2016. Taking their name from the 2003 Japanese cult classic directed by Takashi Miike, Gozu bounded onto the New England metal scene in 2010 with a self-titled EP and have been barreling over all-comers ever since. Supporting them at Kung Fu Necktie will be two of Philly’s own in Kingsnake and the Age of Truth.
Japandroids – Feb. 24 at Union Transfer
After playing the last of their 200 shows in more than 40 countries in support of their critically acclaimed 2012 album Celebration Rock, Japandroids took a much needed break to rest and recover after their last show in November of 2013. Last month, the Canadian rock duo made their triumphant return to the stage, playing intimate shows in their hometown of Vancouver, Los Angeles, Toronto, London and New York. They treated fans to their favorites from their first two albums, Celebration Rock and Post-Nothing, and previewed a handful of new, unreleased songs that came from their much-anticipated third album, Near To the Wild Heart of Life, which dropped as the month drew to a close. The release was a bit of a surprise as it was written clandestinely throughout 2014 and 2015 in Vancouver, Toronto, New Orleans, and Mexico City. Known for their electrifying shows, Japandroids are an act not to be missed in concert.
Lisa Hannigan – Feb. 25 at Underground Arts
Lisa Hannigan first gained recognition as the muse and backup vocalist with fellow Irish singer/songwriter Damine Rice in the early ‘00s. The two had a falling out, and Hannigan was determined to move on with her own talents. After touring in support of her last album, Passenger, for nearly two years, she began writing songs for her new record, but struggled to write new material while living in London, away from home. A breakthrough came when she got an email out of the blue from Aaron Dessner, guitarist in The National, who offered to be her collaborator on what became At Swim, garnering some of the best reviews of Hannigan’s career.

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