5 picks for Sled Island Thursday, including Marlaena Moore, Rapsody and Astral Swans

Astral Swans at The Palomino, main floor (6 p.m.)

Yes, the further into Sled we get, the earlier it begins. But for those with jobs (or faux jobs, cough, cough) the evening hours and apres dinner is where the action is. And The Palomino is where there is plenty of action over the weekend. And meat. They have meat. And couldn’t think of a better dinner and a show than some delicious BBQ and one of Calgary’s most brilliant artists. Matthew Swann continues to prove he is among this country’s finest and most unique songwriters and performers — two full-length albums in and he’s cemented himself deserving of a spotlight well beyond this city’s borders. Profoundly haunting, incredibly poetic, gorgeously restrained bedsit pop, he mines his life and psyche deeper than most would dare or be comfortable to go. Go for the meat, stay for the Matt. Or vice versa.

Rapsody at The Palace Theatre (9 p.m.)

South Carolina MC Marlanna Evans has fast become one of hip-hop’s finest female voices, both in her creamy smooth delivery and the way her music matters. The only woman nominated for a Best Rap Album Grammy — for her 2017 album Laila’s Wisdom — she’s become one of the most in-demand collaborators in that part of the musical world, having worked with everyone from Chance the Rapper to Busta Rhymes and Talib Kweli. Once again we can thank Sled for bringing to Calgary a world-class act that would likely have never thought to set foot in the Stampede city.

Marlaena Moore at The Palomino, downstairs (10 p.m.)

Gorgeous. Ethereal. Electric. Effervescent. Forlorn. This Edmonton singer-songwriter packs a punch and purrs like a lemur over music that sits prettily, perfectly between garage rock noisiness and jangly, midnight dreaminess. Her 2016 album Gaze is a deep, cool pool to skinny dip in under the stars, until the sun comes up, with someone, with your thoughts, with nothing but a smile on your face. Mazzy Star for millennials. 

Torche at Dickens Pub (11:30 p.m.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum is this Florida foursome who, to quote a Monster Magnet T-shirt, “Swings like God’s own dick.” Thundering stoner rock that pounds and sludges while still never losing sight of a melody in the groove and the head nod. Heavy, loud and so, so rock and fucking roll. Hell, listening to them now has made the gonads finally drop and the short-term memory … something or other.

The Messthetics at the Royal Canadian Legion No. 1, main floor (12:30 a.m.)

Avant garde, instrumental, guitar jazz-rock with Fugazi’s rhythm section. No other description necessary.