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> Flaming youth

Though the Australian indie-rock explosion of the past five years has produced some major alternative music success stories -- the Vines and Jet come to mind without too much strain -- musically speaking, the real success story is Youth Group, a band whose "Skeleton Jar" record hasn't left my steady-rotation list since I laid my mitts on it a few months back.

Blending folk, pop, rock and new wave, the band -- led by vocalist/guitarist Toby Martin, and also comprising drummer Danny Allen, guitarist Cameron Emerson and bassist Patrick Matthews -- crafted a work of strident beauty, where economy and understatement balance a subterranean venom. The melodies, the persistent intent of the songs, are inescapable throughout, which is a rarity in the world of (very) young bands.

The television arbiter of the cheesy and the vapid, the "everyone in my town looks like a supermodel" dumb-fest "The O.C.," picked up some Youth Group music for its soundtrack, but don't be misled. This is not pretty-boy heart-throb pop rock but, rather, mature and thoughtful modern music that also happens to be fun and accessible. So there.

No, Dashboard Confessional this isn't, as will be immediately clear when Youth Group takes a break from its hand-picked slot opening for the Death Cab for Cutie tour to drop by Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St., at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Call the club at 855-3931 for details.

> Your roots are showing

Doug Yeomans -- who anyone with a pulse in Western New York should know is a world-class picker and musician -- will celebrate the release of his new disc, "Down to the Roots," with a party inside the Lafayette Tap Room, 391 Washington St., between 6 and 10 p.m. next Friday.

The record was recorded in Nashville, with former Buffalonian and widely respected studio cat Phil Dillon collaborating on the 11 Yeomans originals and an explosive interpretation of a Bill Monroe tune. As ever, Yeomans draws here from his encyclopedic knowledge and organic understanding of various forms, including folk, rock, blues, R&B, country and bluegrass. Listening to the record is like taking a master class in American roots music.

At the Tap Room, Yeomans will be joined by his band, Lo Blue Flame -- that's Rob Lynch, Steve Sadoff, Willie Schoelkopf and Jim Ehinger. Copies of the disc will be available at the release party, Admission is free.

> Sweethearts of the Rodeo

Blue Rodeo's show scheduled for Thursday in the Town Ballroom has been postponed because a band member needs knee surgery. Tickets for Thursday's concert will be honored when the band comes to play Nov. 13.

In the late '80s, Blue Rodeo became the band emblematic of the Toronto country-folk-pop sound. Since releasing its debut, "Outskirts," in 1986, it has charted a steady course through a terrain of its own, highlighted by the excellent "Lost Together" and "Tremolo" albums, and culminating in the recent career-defining "Are You Ready."

At this point, the band is a veritable supergroup; all of its musicians -- Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor, Bazil Donovan, Glenn Milchem, James Gray and Bob Egan -- are widely respected as masterful musicians. In Canada, "Are You Ready" came darn close to knocking 50 Cent's latest out of the top slot upon its release. That should tell you something.

Blue Rodeo plays the Town Ballroom (formerly the Sphere), 681 Main St., at 7 p.m. Nov. 13. The Damnwells will still be the opening act. Tickets are $22.50 (box office, and are on sale now. Call 852-3900.

> Weird gig picks

Here's one that sounds weirdly wonderful. The Fluffgirl Burlesque and Vaudeville Roadshow -- a combination music, comedy, traditional sideshow performances and old-fashioned striptease numbers -- comes to Mohawk Place on Thursday. Quite fittingly, the opening act will be our own wicked and wacky Irving Klaws. Tickets are $10 at the door, and the show commences at 10 p.m. sharp.


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