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Can vulgarity be artful? Can obscenity be beautiful? Who decides these things anyway? Who knows? Indie hip-hop/rock experiment Why? is pushing the boundaries, trying to find out.

If you want to know what Robin Bacior sounds like, and I mean really sounds like, listen to her 2013 EP I Left You, Still In Love (available for free until Feb. 25 at robinbacior.bandcamp.com).

Electronic music is criticized for using cold and soulless sounds made by machines. It’s often dismissed as falling in one of two camps: sleep-inducing new-age soundscapes or frantic beats for sleepless day-glo ravers. Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) is here to prove both of those assumptions wrong.

While the Terrible Buttons describe themselves with the tongue-in-cheek classification “horror folk,” they’re quick to distance themselves from other bands in the recent folk revival.

Connor Martin really wants to party with you. In fact he’s driving up and down the entire West Coast building an army of eccentric, neon-clad youth.

Classical music is often rightly accused of ignoring the here and now. Fortunately, many younger composers are using classical and postclassical forms to help us understand the sometimes-unpleasant realities of the world we live in.

Sometimes it really is all in a name: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Since the early ’90s Bone Thugs have blended straight-up thuggery with some sweet Temptations-style harmonies, creating one of the most distinctive rap/soul hybrids of the hip-hop era.

Many musicians are coy when it comes to the meaning behind their songs, but not the refreshingly candid Lindsay Rachel Rilko, lead singer for Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys.

It makes sense Dead Prez are in town for the UO “Social Justice, Real Justice Conference.” The New York-based hip-hop group has long taken on politics in its work since they began in the late ’90s.

Eugene is about to swallow a whole lot of Austin, Tex., grunge-rock vigor; The Blind Pets are inspired by a DIY attitude and a complete lack of concern or sympathy for bullshit rock ’n’ roll.

Valentine’s Day (or Forced Romance Day, Singles Awareness Day — whatever you prefer) and the proceeding weekend are packed with excellent shows, so grab your schmoopy or your sweet self and paint the town red.

“Eugene has one of the most talented hip-hop scenes around,” says Kendrick Gilkey (aka Mac Nut), who is a founding member of local hip-hop group Fresh Inc. “There is everything for everyone here.” And on Feb. 8 at Luckey’s, Eugene is hosting two of the scene’s most vital up-and-coming acts: Fresh Inc. and The Architex.

If you’re bored this week and feel like swingin’ — I mean seriously getting down — with some hard hitting (and intelligently composed) grooves, look no further than Hot 8 Brass Band’s show at WOW Hall.

In an era when iTunes and iPods reign supreme, when acquiring music for free on the internet is as easy as keeping tabs on Lindsay Lohan, a funny thing has happened; there’s a growing resurgence of interest in vinyl, one of the oldest physical formats for recorded music.

For a younger band that’s still in its mercurial stages, Pluto’s melodies and lyrics are well developed, catchy and, maybe most importantly, upbeat.

The last time EW covered the North Mississippi Allstars in depth was in 2006, in anticipation of their McDonald Theatre performance to support their sixth album, Electric Blue Watermelon.

EW caught up with the singer of Portland’s beloved alt-rock duo, Brandon Summers, on tour, shortly after his car broke down on the way to St. Louis.

Colorado’s Lionel Young Band is rolling into town after a blues festival-filled year, and they are bringing along quite the pedigree.

The macabre, folksy Black Prairie is on the up and up, and the group hits town on Friday.

Eureka, Calif., was a bit toastier than Eugene when I spoke to Frank Hoier, the guitar force behind the band Crushed Out, along with drummer Moselle Spiller. Even though 42 degrees isn’t exactly summery, I could hear the sunshine in Hoier’s voice.

Eugene has incubated more than its share of strong performers who either studied at the UO (the band Oregon, jazz singer Nancy King, Portland Cello Project founder Douglas Jenkins) or won early acclaim here (Robert Cray, Curtis Salgado) and moved on to greener pastures. This month brings a few once familiar faces back.

When watching competitive music shows like X-Factor or American Idol, you expect the contestants are upstart performers. Often this is the case. However, when Seattle-based pop soul-singer Leroy Bell participated in the X-Factor in 2011, the other hopefuls likely didn’t realize what they were up against.

The Del McCoury Band, Punch Brothers, the Steep Canyon Rangers and ... Betty and the Boy? Josh Harvey (vocals, mandolin, banjo, harmonica) is the first to admit surprise that Betty and the Boy are joining the first-ever Mountain Song at Sea, a “best of bluegrass” cruise from Miami to the Bahamas.

Three local up-and-comers will hit the stage Friday night and go head to head for the title of Bandest of the Bands.