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A Very Special Comet Christmas: Led to Sea, C'est la Mort, Little Penguins
(Comet) I first encountered Led to Sea, aka Seattle violist Alex Guy, at this year's Songs About Books show, where she performed compositions about Nabokov's Pale Fire that were oceanic and sad. Now, we were in a sort of church at the time (Fremont Abbey), so maybe it was the holy spirit, but I was mesmerized and a little woozy. The way she deploys her voice is arresting—sometimes it's very straightforward, sometimes it's breathy, sometimes it trips far up the scale in delicate little pirouettes. She plays the viola, and complemented by appropriately swoony or syncopated drums and her own slightly nerdy stage presence, she's really fun to watch. Tonight's show is a benefit for Teen Feed, and C'est la Mort and Little Penguins are both rad. Go, give your small dollars, and celebrate the season right. ANNA MINARD
Swamp Meat, Nixon Tooth, Loyalty Is Blue
(Seasick Halfshell Embassy) See Underage.
Xmas Maximus: Gavin Guss, Barbara Trentalange, Terri Tarantula, Panda Pocket, Wow & Flutter
(Comet) Former Walkabouts/Transmissionary Six drummer-keyboardist-singer-songwriter Terri Tarantula sounds like she would've been right at home on 4AD during the '80s and '90s, loaded as the revered UK label was with melancholy divas. Her brilliantly brooding, self-titled debut solo album was one of the best local releases of 2010. Now Tarantula (aka Terri Moeller) returns with Night of the Leapist, another slow-grower of uplifting downer music, although some tracks boast faster tempos and lighter moods than the previous album of eloquently minimalist rock ballads. Leapist is full of classic songwriting within familiar stripped-down parameters, engineered with keen attention to subtleties by Graig Markel and Matt Brown. A skeletal, chillingly moving transformation of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" caps another winning effort from TT. DAVE SEGAL
The Suffering Fuckheads, the Relentless Rhythm Machine
(Seamonster) For the past 10-plus years, local barroom heroes the Suffering Fuckheads have been much more than just a clever name, as they combine elements of punk rock, soul, funk, metal, and R&B, mixing them into their already finely tuned free-jazz mélange. All of this makes them a rare, seemingly undiscovered treat that bursts with musical talent from their genre-defying, experimental seams. Drummer Mike Peterson plays unpredictable rhythms that add layers of awesome to Ron Weinstein's powerful Hammond B-3 organ. Openers the Relentless Rhythm Machine are a pretty standard blues-rock cover band that plays everything from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to the Beatles and Sublime. KEVIN DIERS
Solvents, the West, Dan Miles
(Crocodile) Jarrod Bramson, main songwriter of Port Townsend pop-rockers Solvents, possesses a deft touch with the guitar and the melody while singing in a voice not unlike Alex Chilton at his most hushed, balladic, Big Star best. Emily Madden's violin adds crucial poignancy to Bramson's dulcet, gossamer songcraft, and understated percussionist Sasha Landis rounds out the lineup. STFU and swoon to their tunes. Seattle quintet the West—featuring the Blakes' drummer Bob Husak (who also co-owns the great Leary Records retail spot) and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Anthony Darnell—play intimate yet anthemic, hook-laden rock; it's not novel, but it is acutely executed. Dominated by Darnell and Adrienne Clark's floridly tuneful organs, their songs are punchy and immediate. DAVE SEGAL
Benefit for MusiCares: Pink Freud, Judd Wasserman, Elder Mason
(Sunset) Pink Floyd seem like an odd choice of bands to trot out for tribute during the holiday season—unless you take a step back. First, the band's dazzlingly epic songs transcend time and season, and second, this is a benefit for MusiCares. Pink Floyd's troubled genius Syd Barrett probably could've used the support of an organization like this, but you can make sure it's available for others by attending tonight's show and losing yourself in his band's haunting, ambitious, and ultimately glorious music, as interpreted by these three artists. BARBARA MITCHELL
Luck-One, Savant, L.A.C.O.S.A., Un Da Rhyme Hustla
(High Dive) The title of Luck-One's latest mixtape, King of the Northwest, may sound hyperbolic, but after repeat listens, it's clear that he isn't too far off. The Seattle-living Portland expat tears through its 13 tracks at a breakneck pace, with streetwise bars spit with the enthusiasm of a hungry rookie and the experience of a seasoned vet. His mode is mostly streamlined and focused lyrical rap, but the inclusion of a few more laid-back cuts like jazz-guitar head-nodder "Can't Get Over You" and bouncing slow jam "Like You" keeps things balanced. Luck's naturally skilled flow has the kind of substance that's hard to find on rap blogs these days, so get down to the High Dive and recognize one of the area's most underrated talents. MIKE RAMOS
Forrest Friends, Ziskis, Lindseys
(Black Lodge) See Underage.
A Ladies' Choice Blackout Xmas: Skarp, Snuggle, Android Hero, Spacebag
(Comet) Space Bag is the registered trademark of those vacuum-sealed storage bags you see on television commercials. Spacebag is also a Seattle three-piece instrumental rock band. The original Space Bag allows users to cram a bunch of stuff into a really small space. Spacebag (the band) dazzles listeners by cramming a lot of music into compact songs. Seriously, it's like they vacuumed Rush's "YYZ," Nomeansno's "Obsessed," and Lightning Bolt's "Dracula Mountain" into one dense chunk of frantic, agitated prog punk. This is hardly surprising given their pedigree—drummer Andrew Gormley used to bash it out in the technical noisecore act Playing Enemy, Luke Laplante lent his keyboard skills to the hyper-grind band Sean, and guitarist Dave Webb also plays with the prog wizards of Wah Wah Exit Wound. Just don't get sued, guys. BRIAN COOK
Nacho Picasso, Sam Lachow, Steezie Nasa, Pu$h Gang, DJ Phosho
8th Annual Blue Moon Christmas Pageant and Midnight Mass: The Donner Vixens, the Fabulous Downey Brothers, Derek Sheen, Jesus & Satan, DJ Country Mike, Reverend Darnell Jenkins
(Blue Moon) See Stranger Suggests.
Talcum: Emerald City Soul Club Xmas Edition
(Chop Suey) See Stranger Suggests.
The Racer Sessions
(Cafe Racer) Since I moved to Green Lake, Cafe Racer in the neighboring Roosevelt hood has become one of my favorite joints to work and/or eat and/or hang out in. The other Sunday evening, I was working and eating and hanging out, when musicians slowly started filing in for the Racer Sessions, which is apparently a sort of jam session that's different every time. Soon, a sizable crowd had amassed; most people looked like they were there to see a friend play or just see what would happen. I had to leave (such circumstances are not conducive to productivity), but I'll be back the next Sunday they're open, be it Christmas or not (call ahead). GRANT BRISSEY
The World's Tiniest Tea Dance: DJs El Toro; Freddy, King of Pants
(Pony) For those who aren't million-year-old gay dudes: A "tea dance" is a daytime dance party, typically frequented by gays, who seize the opportunity to party like it's 1999 in the middle of the afternoon. At Pony, Sundays bring the World's Tiniest Tea Dance, lorded over by DJs El Toro (representative spin: Liza Minnelli and the Pet Shop Boys' "Don't Drop Bombs") and Freddy, King of Pants (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's "Brother for Sale"). During this season of early dusk, afternoon tea dances feel more than ever like full-fledged nights out. That this week's tea dance lands on Jesus's birthday invites a whole world of joy and perversion. DAVID SCHMADER
Flammable!: DJs Riz, Wesley Holmes
(Re-bar) You do not need a reason to be with DJ Riz on Christmas. The birth of the Christ and the heart-spins of the Riz are equally glorious. But if you need an excuse, tell your family as you leave them that Flammable! is the longest-running house night on the West Coast (11 years). It'll only get to be as old as Christ if you keep showing up. JEN GRAVES
Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band
(Paramount) See Stranger Suggests.
My Goodness, Anything Goes with Lisa Dank, Downstrokes, Sweet Pups, Ronald McFondle and Billy the Fridge, DJ Nils
(Funhouse) Well, this is one hell of a post-Christmas variety show. We've already spilled plenty of ink on My Goodness (excellent garage-blues duo, destined for great things) and Lisa Dank ("rescued" a dog, sometimes puts on highly entertaining shows of who-knows-what). Ronald McFondle and Billy the Fridge are hilarious and once showed up at the office looking for Larry Mizell Jr. and me (neither of us were here) and presented, according to Kelly O: "An armload of balloons, and CDs wrapped in colorful paper. They smelled funny. I left the CDs on Grant's desk, after opening one. It was wet. It also smelled funny. Inside there was long, sticky black hair, fake blood, and fingernails." They sit under my desk to this day, and I'm still afraid to touch them. GRANT BRISSEY
Scribes, Brothers from Another, Superfire, Nimble Bs
(Rendezvous) Headlining this sure-to-crack lineup of great young local talent is Scribes—a thorough MC with a touch of harmony—fresh off a couple dates with the Living Legends' Grouch, and who recently topped the CMJ chart. Rounding out the bill: clean-cut Brothers from Another, collegiate and funny, on top of their game, quite possibly sponsored by both Stussy and Tacos Chukis; and Superfire, doper than their kinda played name might imply (we already have a Helladope, after all), blending live instrumentation, classic samples, and solid, charismatic good-time rhymes. If this were an all-ages event, it could pack a good-sized club; that it's at the Rendezvous—where not enough hiphop shows happen these days—guarantees showgoers some rowdy, Rainier-fueled revelry. LARRY MIZELL JR.