Prog and punk go head-to-head in Calgary this week

No time for snappy banter or witty introductions — this week’s column is strictly about the music.

This week gets off to a decidedly progressive start with local prog-rockers Meta . The band featuring Brad Stanton of all-Nintendo cover band THWOMP will unleash their debut LP at the Marquee Room on Thursday night. Meta are considerably less kitschy than Stanton’s other band but the synth-driven outfit still manages to bring a sense of humour to their instrumental rock.

Paper Bag Records’ Laura Barrett doesn’t scrimp on the humour either. The Toronto musician stuffs plenty of whimsy into her songs about robot ponies and Optimist Clubs. It’s the distinctive sound of her thumb pianos that sets her apart from the indie-pop pack though — she’ll turn the Palomino into a giant music box on Friday and then do the same at Tubby Dog the next day.

Punk-rock supergroup The Last of the Bad Men will play Saturday night at the Palomino. With members of Exploding Fuck Dolls and Australia’s Radio Birdman they’re the sort of punks who would’ve declared war on all things prog back in the ’70s. Hopefully things don’t get too ugly because New York’s Coheed and Cambria are playing the MacEwan Hall Ballroom that same night. With a blend of alt-rock energy and prog-rock pretension the band makes the Mars Volta seem down to earth.

Before the Mars Volta leapt into the stratosphere they blended their ambition with punk’s aggression in At the Drive-In. It looks like guitarist Jim Ward was responsible for some of that grounding because his latest project Sleepercar follows in the roots-rock path of Wilco and Ryan Adams. Ward and friends are opening for City and Colour (another singer-songwritery offshoot of a prog-punk outfit) and both will be taking the stage at the Jack Singer Concert Hall this Sunday.

If you’re looking for authentic roots though you can’t get much better than The Blind Boys of Alabama . They’ll be bringing their soul-shattering harmonies to the Jack Singer the very next day joined by legendary blues musician Taj Mahal .