MAJOR STARS | T.T. the Bear's Place | January 19 | It's Major Stars' second record for legendary ripshit imprint Drag City, and it already feels like home. Snippets of Return to Form promise more crapped-out guitar amps, spilled beer, and tangled, sweaty hair than any band has a right getting away with, and singer Sandra Barrett bellows out more than her share of husky, bizarre-world grunge vocals (plus the requisite buttload of O-face guitar solos). The band's been busy with outside stints in Life Partners, Carlisle Sound, Pants Yell!, and of course running the Twisted Village record store, but all hands will be on deck when this eight-song psych bomb drops.
10 Brookline St, Cambridge | 9 pm | $8 | 617.492.BEAR or www.ttthebears.com
MASCARA | Middle East upstairs | January 29 | Mascara's Fountain of Tears might be one of the year's weirdest local offerings. Not '80s Boredoms weird, but like Joni Mitchell's head-scratching jazz phase, as played by a spaced-out garage-prog band that drives a van with a wolf mural. CEO Chris Mascara leads the trio through this maze of left turns and campy echo-chamber melodrama. There's a seven-minute noise-drone monologue about high school insecurities, but that's nothing compared to the overall Gang of Four-meets-Andrew-Lloyd-Webber deal going on here. Bring your dreamcoats.
472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 9 pm | $10 | 617.864.EAST or www.mideastclub.com
THREE DAY THRESHOLD | Paradise Rock Club | January 30 | The grizzled rock-and-country men of Three Day Threshold went on a vision quest this year and came back with one thing on their mind: whiskey. After getting invited down to Kentucky for a heavy bro-down with Jim Beam grandson and head distiller Fred Noe this past fall (which included several free trips to open barrels), the band was understandably inspired. The record, Straight Out of the Barrel, drops at singer Kier Byrnes' eighth annual Rodfest fundraiser show for a Stonehill College scholarship.
967 Comm Ave, Boston | 9 pm |$20 | 617.562.8800 or www.thedise.com
THICK SHAKES| P.A.'s Lounge | February 20 | Splattered garage blues lost its home base last year when the Abbey Lounge closed its doors, but locals Thick Shakes have proven their business model works fine right out of the suitcase. The three-piece make gut-wrecking fuzz-rock straight off a Nuggets disc, and they swear two-thirds of the band never picked up an instrument until last year. A blindside beatdown at a party last fall that guitarist Tim Scholl walked into has put some delays in the band's release schedule, so the new tracks have been up for grabs for a while. They're finally getting a proper release via Austin's Snugglehound Records on shiny new cassette tapes.
345 Somerville Ave, Somerville | 9 pm |$10 | 617.776.1557 or www.paslounge.com
HENRY GALE| Great Scott | February 18 | Boston quartet Henry Gale are already onto their second EP, a follow-up to last year's head-rushingly great Other Voices. This band's made short work of mastering the starry soundscapes and chiming guitars of all your favorite post-rock records — while editing out all the waiting around for things to happen. Earthbound gets a victorious self-release at Great Scott (with Horsehands), but in the meantime check their MySpace for video footage of the least conflict-ridden recording session ever.
1222 Comm Ave, Boston | 9 pm | $9 | 627.566.9014 or www.greatscottboston.com