London Shepherds Bush Empire, 24 May
Punk drummer turned alt-country songwriter Neko Case says she never wants to play arenas. While the Empire is no cubbyhole, it shouldn't undermine the subtleties of Case's Fox Confessor Brings The Flood album, especially as the Virginia-born chanteuse peppers her gigs with involving anecdotes. Though none of her latest record's star guests (members of Calexico; Garth Hudson of The Band etc.) features in Case's current touring band, they, too, are no slouches. The point is that Fox Confessor... is a gem.
On tour 28-31 May
That Sleater-Kinney (pictured) are already seven albums to the good is hard to believe. The currently Portland, Oregon-based trio came out of the Riot Grrrl scene of the early 90s in which attitude dwarfed ability, but Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss have since become exceptional musicians. Tucker is a mesmerising performer possessed of a blood-curdling howl. Weiss could teach Meg White a thing or two on drums, and guitarist Browstein is renowned for her leaping.
The Black Heart Procession
London Koko, 6 & 7 June
It has been said that, had Edgar Allan Poe played indie rock, it might have sounded like The Black Heart Procession. Dark and brooding the San Diego quintet's music may be, but that didn't stop folks queuing around the block when tickets for these shows went on sale. The stampede was partly down to the band's latest album, The Spell, a spooky, sometimes menacing work packing Wurlitzer swells and gargantuan riffs. When they hit their grandiose stride, they are a near-untouchable live band.
On tour until 8 June
Back with ace new album Western Skies on Redemption Records, Roddy 'Aztec Camera' Frame remains an adored troubadour. These shows will largely be solo "unplugged" affairs, but the Scot who once filed a unique take on Van Halen's "Jump" will also be playing electric guitar, and entertaining occasional guest musicians. Frame's versatility is well to the fore on Western Skies, which features the affectionate nod to glam-era David Bowie, "Rock God", and exquisitely sung bossa-nova tune, " Marble Arch". Expect light and shade, then, all of it expertly sketched.
London Forum, 24 July
Grown men get misty-eyed over Teenage Fanclub, but their emotionally mature writing pleases both sexes. Here, the harmonious Glaswegian janglers put latest work Man-Made on ice, instead airing their 1991 breakthrough Bandwagonesque in its entirety as part of London's Don't Look Back season of concerts [ www.atpfestival.com]. A jewel in the Creation label's crown, Bandwagonesque featured such TF classics as "What You Do To Me" and "The Concept." Front man Norman Blake and co. will no doubt approach proceedings with gusto; if the bald guy singing "Metal Baby" beside you seems familiar, he's probably famous fan Nick Hornby.