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Local Licks

This week we review Valerie Orth, Donovan Quinn & the 13th Month, Nathan Clevenger Group, and Queen Makedah.

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Valerie Orth, Faraway City. Multi-octave range and nimble, yowling vocals aren't the only things that Valerie Orth has going for her. She's also buttressed by one of the best bands in the Bay Area, with Scott Amendola on drums and Jon Evans playing bass, electric guitar, Rhodes, and a little piano. Local emcee Mystic makes a dramatic cameo on "Black & White." But that's nothing compared to the call-and-response breakdown on "Waterfall." (self-released)

At Slim's (333 11th St., San Francisco) on Saturday, Aug. 28. 8 p.m., $15

Donovan Quinn & the 13th Month, Your Wicked Man. Sad bastard music is enjoying an unforeseen renaissance in the Bay Area, and few people do it with as much heart as Donovan Quinn. He sings with the baleful earnestness of one who's spent a lot of time on the receiving end of rejection. Your Wicked Man features a large arsenal of instruments backing that swoony tenor. "April Tenth" and "The Door Locks Itself" are gorgeous, and deeply sad. (Shrimper)

Nathan Clevenger Group, The Evening Earth. You can tell Nathan Clevenger studied English lit from the Beckett quote in his liner notes. He's also a fascinating composer, writing tunes that gradually unspool, sometimes languish in slow grooves, and often privilege sound over melody. "Fossil Strategies" and "Low Resolution" are long-form, dreamy, sectional without being rigid, and bluesy — albeit in a non-traditional way. (Evander Music)

At the Make-Out Room (3225 22nd St., San Francisco) on Monday, Sept. 6. 8 p.m., free

Queen Makedah, Bless Africa EP. Hard to imagine you could extract thirteen minutes of protracted lover's rock from just three tracks, but Queen Makedah is clearly up to the task. In vocals honed largely from listening to R&B vocalists of the Sixties and Seventies, she belts little proverbs and aphorisms, plus a few socially relevant lines about African diplomacy. (Oriyah Music)

At Cafe Cocomo (650 Indiana St., San Francisco) on Sunday, Aug. 22. Noon, $20-$35

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