Thor It took a metal-bar-bending, bellowing bodybuilder to remind us of what was missing in our lives. But a while back, after years of silence, the almost-forgotten metal god Thor reemerged with a bunch of awe-inspiring comeback shows and some serious old-school, hellbent-for-leather-and-dragons tunes. Suddenly, over-the-top showmanship and molten-riff-filled numbers about mountain kings, savage gods, and scantily-clad damsels were cool again. Surprise sightings and curious periods of inactivity from Camp Thor followed, but those who have missed the big guy will be relieved to hear about Into the Noise , his new record–a concept album, no less–and his Saturday (September 1) Media Club appearance. Those crazy H.P. Lovecraft–loving misfits, The Darkness of the Hillside Thickets, open. The Avett BrothersNorth Carolina's Avett Brothers play acoustic roots-based music with the power of a grunge-era rock unit. With Seth Avett manning the high-hat, guitar, and mike, and Scott on kick drum, banjo, and voice, the siblings (augmented by singer-bassist Bob Crawford) draw on a wide range of influences and inspirations–folk, punk, honky tonk, bluegrass, country, ragtime, jazz, and blues–to create a rich and original strain of Americana. The trio's latest album, Emotionalism, has been garnering high praise, but the Avetts are best heard live–as attested by some 200 videos made by fans and posted on YouTube. Find out what the old-timey buzz is about when the Avett Brothers come to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre this Sunday (September 2). Billy Bob ThorntonThere are worse things in this world than the thought of Billy Bob Thornton singing. Chief among them is the idea of Bono deciding that he'd really like to add "Hollywood actor" to his résumé, or Bea Arthur embarking on a career in adult movies. Truth is, because he's one of the people in Tinseltown who always seems to pick projects that are interesting ( Bad Santa anyone?), Thornton is almost impossible not to like. When he appears at the Red Robinson Show Theatre on Saturday (September 1), the former Mr. Angelina Jolie will be playing selections from his four roots-rock-flavoured albums, including the recently released Beautiful Door . That's all fine and dandy, but we'll be praying for the songs named after some of his most famous movie lines. The second Thornton announces "This one is called 'Mmmm (French-Fried Taters)'" or "I'd like to play a song called 'You Ain't Gonna Shit Right for a Week'", we'll be letting it rip on the dance floor. Mihirangi One of the most innovative and engaging solo performers on the world-music circuit, Maori singer Mihirangi uses a loop pedal to create intricate patterns of melody, harmony, bass, and percussion. Mihirangi's original music combines elements of traditional Maori chants with ska, funk, jazz, R & B, and electronica, and she crafts inspiring lyrics about the environmental and aboriginal issues close to her heart. Vancouverites can catch this intense and soulful singer on Tuesday (September 4), when Mihirangi comes to Rime.The Brunettes Because the Brunettes are only just arriving on these shores with their Sub Pop debut, Structure and Cosmetics , the temptation is to write the New Zealand duo off as shameless opportunists. Admit it, you probably had this image of them sitting there going "Well, if the Kills, White Stripes, Fiery Furnaces, Handsome Furs, Matt and Kim, Lightning Dust, and Captain & Tennille can make it as a boy/girl duo, why not us?" The Brunettes–at the Media Club on Wednesday (September 5)–have been at this thing for a while, though, with past import-only albums like Mars Loves Venus and Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks updating Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra for scene-making hipsters. Structure and Cosmetics ups the atmosphere without sacrificing the cool quotient, proving yet again that, more often than not, Sub Pop gets it right. Justin Timberlake Long after his work with *N Sync, his collaborations with Nelly Furtado, the Black Eyed Peas, and Snoop Dogg, his roles in Alpha Dog and Shrek the Third , and his solo albums Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds have been forgotten, Justin Timberlake will still be remembered for "Dick in a Box". As music historians have noted, the song, first featured on Saturday Night Live in a video with Andy Samberg, has all the hallmarks of a classic; namely, the fact that it's about a dick. In a box. Whether the smooth-talking R & B tune makes it into Timberlake's set on Wednesday (September 5) at GM Place or not remains to be seen–but considering his cross-generational appeal, we'll probably have to settle for watching it on YouTube again. And again. And again.K-OS Why would any right-minded music critic even bother mentioning the name of K-OS in print? The famously combative Hogtown native has never been shy about taking on his detractors, especially those who have a problem with his anything-goes approach to hip-hop. Ask Jason Richards of Toronto's NOW magazine who, after dissing K-OS's latest album, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco , was attacked on the singer's MySpace blog for being an "Uncle Tom" and a "Sambo". Luckily, we actually have a bit of a thing for K-OS, who'll mix and mash hip-hop, rap, funk-punk, and, yes, glitter-ball disco when he plays Malkin Bowl on Saturday (September 1). So even if he made a couple of horribly ill-fated detours into icky soft-pop territory on Atlantis: Hymns for Disco , that's no reason to run him out of town on the same railcar as Snow and the Rascalz. Oops. Cue the attack.