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Lose your pop-diva mannerisms every night this week!
Swervedriver, Hawkeye, Stag
(Neumos) Confession: I'm a total sucker for British shoegaze-rock bands returning to the fray after longish hiatuses. So I'm all hot and bothered by the prospect of seeing Swervedriver power through their many classics from Raise, Mezcal Head, Ejector Seat Reservation (terminally underrated!), as well as resurrecting several fantastic tracks tucked away on their early EPs and singles (e.g., "Planes over the Skyline," "She's Besides Herself," "Mars," etc.). As noted in last week's Stranger, Swervedriver—like American counterparts Dinosaur Jr. and Hüsker Dü—have mastered the balance between strength and vulnerability, textural heaviness and melodic beauty. All this and a wicked cover of the Velvet Underground's "Jesus"? Welcome back, Swervedriver. DAVE SEGAL
Honey Ear Trio
(Royal Room) From Honey Ear Trio's website: "Honey Ear Trio is the new incarnation of Brooklyn NY based and longtime musical cohorts Erik Lawrence, Rene Hart and Allison Miller. They... explore mixing multiple genres (jazz, rock, soul, folk) while bending, stretching, and decompressing the rhythmic and harmonic characteristics of the music." Jazz musicians who explore and mix multiple genres? This is rarely music to my ears. It is for this reason, my dogged jazz traditionalism, that I was surprised to find a great deal of pleasure and many flashes of brilliance in Honey Ear Trio's album Steampunk Serenade. The music is experimental, but it's also deeply rooted and jazz-solid. Often, people mix for the sake of mixing; Honey Ear Trio blend genres because they know what the fuck they are doing. CHARLES MUDEDE
Beat Connection, Wampire, Blood Vibes
(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.
Apple Jam: Beatles Singles/1962–1966
(Triple Door) The Beatles' first half decade of recording life showed phenomenal growth and change. The range of stylistic variety within pop-rock parameters and amazing melodic cleverness that occurred from "Love Me Do" and "She Loves You" to "Paperback Writer" and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" are mind-boggling. Local Beatles tribute act Apple Jam are going to sink their choppers into this ripe period of musical invention and sheer sonic joy tonight. (They tackle the Beatles' singles from 1967–'70 on Friday, and only a rancid-souled, tin-eared curmudgeon would find this an unappealing prospect. These people definitely need "Help!") DAVE SEGAL
Apple Jam: Beatles Singles/1962–1966
The Polyphonic Spree, New Fumes
(Neumos) Remember when the Polyphonic Spree first hit the scene and everyone was like, "Oh my God, that dude from Tripping Daisy has a new band and it has, like, 20-plus people in it, and they all wear matching robes and it's a little creepy, in fact they might be a cult, but their songs are so good!" These days, it's more like "The Polyphonic Spree are still a band? Yawn." Especially because they haven't released an album since 2007's The Fragile Army. But Polyphonic Spree recently regained relevance when their hit song "Light and Day/Reach for the Sun" was featured in The Lorax, reminding the world that their songs really are fantastic—huge, infectious beams of sonic light. Let's go and pretend it's 2002 all over again and love them like we did a decade ago. MEGAN SELING
Monogamy Party, Rabbits, Gaytheist, Android Hero
(Josephine) This meeting of Seattle and Portland heavies is sure to satisfy the even the most practiced and undaunted aural masochists. Portland's Rabbits consist of former members of VSS, Angel Hair, and Pleasure Forever, and such a lineage results in depraved shrieking and lumbering riffs that turn on a quarter and then impact like a locomotive. That said, there's not a single dud on this bill. GRANT BRISSEY
Seattle Rock Orchestra: Poetry Apocalypse 2012
(Town Hall) After the apocalypse, future generations may find nothing of Seattle except for the original score and libretto for this evening's performance, written by a gang of spoken/written poets and rock classicists. Poets include Roberto Ascalon, Karen Finneyfrock, Tara Hardy, Soulchilde/Okanomode (also performing as a tenor), and Buddy Wakefield, with Seattle Rock Orchestra and soprano Annie Jantzer. You want to know what the future will think of us, don't you? JEN GRAVES
(Cafe Racer) Recording a live album in two takes is an ambitious prospect, especially when you're doing so with a reel-to-reel and not Pro Tools. But that's exactly what local stripped-down blues duo Lonesome Shack are undertaking tonight. "That place has some significance to us, since we met there and used to do a weekly gig for almost two years," writes drummer Kristian Garrard (also of Thousands) in an e-mail. Tonight also serves as the kickoff for their tour, which is taking them to Maine and back. Best of luck on all counts, boys. GRANT BRISSEY
Devonwho, D33J, Kel, Al Nightlong, Diogenes, Absolute Madman
(Vermillion) See Data Breaker.
Lorn, Dolour, Omega Clash, Ill Cosby
(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.
Chairlift, Nite Jewel, Bell
(Crocodile) Brooklyn's Chairlift—vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly—are another one of those girl/boy duos that make restrained, moody electronic-tinged pop that pours out of studios itching to grace youth-oriented movie soundtracks and/or TV shows. Their latest album, Something, is slightly more energetic and texturally detailed than 2008's Does You Inspire You, but it still sounds like a major-label exec's idea of "what the kids want"—more slick than siiick. Nite Jewel (LA's Ramona Gonzalez) works in similar territory, but her songs, while not gritty, sound less polished and written-by-committee than Chairlift's. Albums like Good Evening and Am I Real? could be, bluntly speaking, Kate Bush goes chillwave, but the new One Second of Love is the not-unexpected stab at accessibility, as Gonzalez asserts more trad pop-diva mannerisms and classy lunges at love balladry, like a female analogue of late-period Bryan Ferry. DAVE SEGAL
fIREHOSE, Tera Melos, Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts
(Neumos) These days, one shouldn't be surprised by any band reunion. But did anyone anticipate the return of fIREHOSE? Doubtful. But here we are in 2012, feeling faint flutters of contentment over the chance to lock ears once again to Mike Watt and George Hurley's post-Minutemen rebound band, formed with rabid Ohio fanboy, singer/guitarist Ed Crawford. Of course, fIREHOSE never lived up to Minutemen's innovative political/personal poetry and jagged post-punk funk and jazz maneuvers, but they did issue a couple of solid, scrappy college-rock platters: Ragin', Full On (1986) and If'n (1987). Watt and Hurley are such riveting performers, they're a damn pleasure to witness in any configuration, even—especially?—when they're "Relatin' Dudes to Jazz." DAVE SEGAL
Cults, Spectrals, Mrs. Magician
(Neptune) There's nothing supremely "cult-y" about Cults—nothing religiously motivated, they don't wear Heaven's Gate–style Nike tennis shoes or seem to exhibit any obvious abnormal behavior. What's remarkable about the young, gorgeously raven-haired twosome is how fast people drank their Kool-Aid. They'd been together less than a year when they posted a handful of songs, including the wildly popular, sweet-as-candy pop song "Go Outside" on Bandcamp, and suddenly Columbia Records was knocking on their door. Cults' self-titled debut is pure sugar, and beautifully so, due to singer Madeline Follin's preteen sounding voice. There's an attempt to salt it with a few recorded samples of vintage rants by Charlie Manson, Jim Jones, and Patty Hearst—but it's still just a nonthreatening and dreamy girl-group-sounding affair. KELLY O
Reignwolf, Antique Scream, Bad Love Sessions
(Comet) There's been a lot of buzz about new Seattle transplant and former Canuck Jordan Cook, aka Reignwolf. He usually performs one-man-band style, with much sweating and energetic antics, using just his guitar and a kick drum. At first, when trying to visualize someone who's no stranger to guitar solos, my own brain conjures up goofy images of Yngwie Malmsteen and/or Randy Rhoads. But after watching performances online, including a recent video of him at SXSW, Cook's real-deal guitar abilities overshadow the inherent goofiness of watching someone perform a seemingly endless noodling solo. More Jimi Hendrix than Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cook is fascinating to watch. He'll release a new Reignwolf single at a KEXP Audioasis in-studio, before he tries to blow the socks off the Comet. KELLY O
(Neumos) I fell in love with Manchester's James in the summer of 1985, when I followed the hype of Morrissey to the Village Fire EP, which gathered the A-sides and B-sides of James' first singles into a ravishing five-song mini-masterwork. Our love continued into early '86, with the release of the Village Fire–worthy single "Chain Mail," but things grew cold later that year with the release of James' full-length debut, Stutter, on which all the charm and majesty of early songs curdled into something arch and off-putting. Then James simplified their song structures, normalized their tempos, and went on to sell 25 million records worldwide. Fans of world-conquering James will undoubtedly be delighted by tonight's reunion show at Neumos. I'll be home mooning over the still-exquisite Village Fire. DAVID SCHMADER
Codeine, Mark McGuire
(Sunset) Gone for 18 years, slowcore heavies Codeine are regrouping to stoke interest in the May release of a box set by the estimable Numero Group label. Marked by the forlorn, so-flat-it's-poignant vocals of bassist Stephen Immerwahr, Codeine's music achieved an intimate immensity and dense emotional power over two albums and an EP. Their ability to shift from spindly vulnerability to swarming, brawny riffmongering is breathtaking. DAVE SEGAL
Andrew Bird, Laura Marling
(Paramount) You probably already know all about Andrew Bird: Been gigging for years; recently been blowing up; writes songs with a loopy, fractured wit (like Shel Silverstein); plays a truckload of instruments. The first time I saw him, he was playing solo at the Tractor Tavern, using some contraption (maybe a Line 6?) to lay down and loop tracks—violin, guitar, whistles (dude can whistle), and xylophone. Then he got down to the business of soloing on those instruments. Laura Marling is an English nü-folk/anti-folk musician who begins with traditional elements (an antique banjo line, some old-timey lyric about the raging sea) and builds them into big, jangly pop songs. Laura and Andrew are birds of a feather—mournful in a folky way, playful in a sly way. BRENDAN KILEY
Band of Skulls, We Are Augustines
(Neptune) If you follow television more closely than music, you've likely heard Band of Skulls' "Light of the Morning" on the Ford Mustang commercial that was in heavy rotation some time back. (Using a Southampton, England, band's music to score a commercial for the most iconic of American muscle cars is another story.) Most of BoS's rock is safe and television-appropriate, with occasional moments of excellence. If that's your bag, you'll also be occasionally dazzled by openers We Are Augustines. GRANT BRISSEY
(Paramount) See Data Breaker.
Rainy Dawg Birthday Festival: Oneohtrix Point Never, USF, Secret Colors, DJAO
(UW Ethnic Cultural Theatre) See Underage.
A Gun That Shoots Knives, Partman Parthorse, Shit Machine
(Neumos) Shit is the new black, or the new animal, or the new whatever-the-fuck word that manages to appear in 90 percent of all new band names at any given time. Tonight's opener, Shit Machine, are in good company with their excrement-themed handle (that's a fancy way of saying "craptastic band name"). Why, just recently the music calendar has boasted other fecal-matter-obsessed bands like Turd of Bill's Colon, Mouthshitter, Poop Attack!, Shit, and Turd Helmet. Wow. Name aside, Shit Machine play lo-fi new wave meets garage rock. It's fuzzy and weird—maybe like what the B-52s sounded like in their first year of practices. They have songs called "At the Mall with a Bear," "Cheesus Is My Sailor," and, of course, "Sea of Piss." They're equal opportunity regarding bodily functions. MEGAN SELING
(Showbox Sodo) Gotye and Kimbra's "Somebody That I Used to Know" is blowing up all over the place, and I have two things to say about that: One, if you're relating to Gotye's part in this song, check yourself before you wreck yourself—because you are probably an asshole. Seriously, if she made her "friends collect [her] records and then changed [her] number," it ain't a regular breakup. And two: If you haven't listened to the rest of the album on which the song appears, Making Mirrors, you are seriously missing out. Gotye's super-bright jams "I Feel Better" and "In Your Light" will put a strut in your step. And go watch videos of Kimbra performing; she's truly amazing (even with the uniform-like long dark bangs and red lipstick—don't hold it against her, she's a Kiwi; maybe it's unique down there). ANNA MINARD
Explosions in the Sky, Zammuto
(Moore) Texas instrumental quartet Explosions in the Sky have been churning out nature-film (or Friday Night Lights) cinematic post-rock albums for 13 years now. Capable of building up melodic, wall-of-sound crescendos that tug at some listeners' heartstrings, they're as equally likely to put others to sleep with their lengthy, wordless numbers. But as the old saying goes, there's a time and place for everything, and the Moore Theatre, with its opera-house acoustics and comfortable seating, is definitely the place to see a band like EITS. Kick back and zone out. Nick Zammuto's solo-project-turned-touring band, whose self-titled full-length is a much more streamlined, pop-sounding look for one half of New York's the Books, will open. MIKE RAMOS
Hanni el Khatib, Tijuana Panthers, the Sundelles
(Tractor) Just about every piece you read about doo-wop/garage/punk alchemist Hanni el Khatib mentions that he's a skater. (Fuck! Now this one does, too.) But all you really need to know is that dude has a honeyed voice that he can transform into a swarm of bees from one song to the next, and that—on last year's Will the Guns Come Out, a record full of great tracks— "Build. Destroy. Rebuild." is so electrifying, it'd work as well on the worst day of your life as the best. Turn it up loud and rebuild that shit. GRANT BRISSEY