Howdy, July. Before launching into shows happening on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, I offer five slightly off-the-beaten path, patriotic (and I use that word very loosely) songs as we ring in another Fourth of July: “American Tune” by Simon and Garfunkel; “Tis of Thee” and “Independence Day” by Ani DiFranco; “4th of July, Asbury Park” by Richard Shindell; and “The Great Compromise” by John Prine. And let me add a very honorable mention to Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America.” Now light some sparklers and enjoy. 

Cuddle Magic? Sounds like a cousin of the Snuggie blanket. Or maybe a fabric softener. But a band? Hmmm.

This Cuddle Magic is an eight-member quasi-orchestra from New York City and Philadelphia. I listened to the lengthy tune “Paris/Happydent,” and it was a mellow affair, full of the sporadically strewn sounds of hand-held instruments and drums. And then something like a violin comes in, along with haunted keyboards and horns. I think I just heard a xylophone and some big bass notes in there.

Only at the 3 1/2-minute mark do vocals come in with: “In the end, I am nothing but a singular sound.” There’s another minute or so of words, and then the song settles back into its instrumental haze before alighting into quiet. Said another way, I rather enjoyed the last seven minutes.

“Expectations” includes sleigh bells and whistling, and some rather cynical lyrics in a rather sweet and upbeat song. Find Cuddle Magic on Facebook.

Cuddle Magic, The Deadly Gentleman, Patter Cubs and Greg Jamie. 8 p.m. Friday. The Oak and the Ax, 140 Main St., Biddeford. $7. theoakandthe 

Saturday night means vintage-inspired hard rock from Sun Gods in Exile, a band that formed in 2008 and has been making good on its promise to deliver bone-thumping rock tunes ever since.

Go to and check out “Hellwell,” a song that’ll make you want to drink whiskey and pump your fist. What better place to do just that than Geno’s? Turn the amps up even louder for the trio Doomstone, also on the bill.

Sun Gods in Exile and Doomstone. 9 p.m. Saturday. Geno’s Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland. Call for cover. 221-2382 

Not even the most awful 52-degree, rainy late-June morning could put a damper on the country swing sounds of the Sweetback Sisters. The new CD “Looking for a Fight” opens with Patsy Cline’s “Love Me Honey Do.” Zara Bode’s vocals are spot-on sensational, and the harmonies from Emily Miller … well, it just don’t get any prettier. Throw in Ross Bellenoit’s guitar and Peter Bitenc’s upright bass, and there’s so much to be happy about.

The title track for the CD was penned by guitarist/fiddle player/harmonizer Jesse Milnes. “If you’re looking for a fight, well I’m talking about tonight, well you know where to find me,” sing Bode and Miller. It’s modern-day classic country.

There are plenty of other originals on “Looking for a Fight” to spin your spurs, but permit me to croon about another cover. This time it’s the ditty “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There” by bluegrass legend Hazel Dickens. “There’s more to her than powder and paint, than her peroxide bleached-out hair/ And if she acts that way, it’s ’cause you’ve had your day, don’t put her down, you helped put her there,” sings Bode. And when Miller’s harmonies come in, it’s a sublime moment of recorded music perfection.

I heart the Sweetback Sisters.

The Sweetback Sisters. 8 p.m. Sunday. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland. $12. 

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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