The Shins, Blondfire
(Showbox at the Market) The Shins have more ex-members than Def Leppard; frontman James Mercer is the one who remains from the band's first three full-lengths that made them famous in the first place. But their current lineup is, technically, the Shins' strongest. We've got Joe Plummer of ye ol' Modest Mouse on drums, Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls on bass, Richard Swift (of whom Jeff Tweedy is a fan) on keyboards, and Jessica Dobson, who's performed with everyone from Beck to Conor Oberst to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, on guitar. So it's a Shins supergroup, of sorts. And seeing as how the band's latest album, Port of Morrow, contains just as much charm, catchy choruses, and witty lyrics as before, even hardcore fans of the original lineup will find it hard not to be enamored of the Shins 2.0. Also, as an unashamed holiday-music junkie, I really hope they squeeze in their cover of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" during tonight's set. MEGAN SELING
John Cale, Cass McCombs
(Showbox at the Market) Great artists aren't content to merely reproduce previous successes with minor variations. They continue forging ahead. This is why John Cale's résumé reads like an encyclopedia of modern music. The Welshman produced landmark albums for Patti Smith, the Stooges, and Nico, and has collaborated with everyone from minimalist Terry Riley to LCD Soundsystem. He recorded Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" before Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, et al. reduced it to a TV soundtrack cliché. Oh, and he was in the freaking Velvet Underground! His solo discography is ever-evolving, too—just contrast 1979's abrasive Sabotage/Live with the icy beauty of 1982's Music for a New Society. Any other 70-year-old working with Danger Mouse and experimenting with Auto-Tune vocal FX would seem a bit desperate, but Cale's new Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, which does both, only underscores his willingness to keep taking chances. KURT B. REIGHLEY See also Underage, page 56.
King Tuff, White Fang, Dancer and Prancer
Lori Goldston, Greg Campbell, Jessika Kenney, Dylan Carlson
(Chapel Performance Space): This year's Stranger Genius Award–winning cellist, Lori Goldston, is joined by Greg Campbell on percussion and horn, vocalist Jessika Kenney, and guitarist Dylan Carlson. Magical musicians doing unexpected things. JEN GRAVES
Golden Gardens, Soft Shadows, Appendixes
(Comet) Seattle's burgeoning shoegaze-rock scene gets another gentle boost with the release of Golden Gardens' How Brave the Hunted Wolves on local label Neon Sigh. Anyone who has a soft spot or three for Cranes and Slowdive will sigh luxuriously to Golden Gardens' languid, spangly rock and Aubrey Bramble's almond-milky coo. Portland's Soft Shadows (formerly Sundaze) complement Golden Gardens with their own brand of slightly more rhythmically robust shoegaze rock. There are also traces of '60s-psych genes jangling through Soft Shadows' guitars, similar to those displayed in the work of the Dandy Warhols and early Primal Scream. Let's hope Soft Shadows do their spirited cover of the Velvet Underground's "Who Loves the Sun." DAVE SEGAL
Battleme, the West, NighTraiN
(Tractor) Battleme fact #1: If you watch Sons of Anarchy, you've heard Battleme. The Portland artist (aka Matt Drenik) has had his music featured in several episodes, including his cover of Neil Young's somber "Hey Hey, My My." Battleme fact #2: My surprising appreciation for Battleme is causing a personal crisis. He plays electro-tinged indie-dance songs reminiscent of Ghostland Observatory, and the guy is signed to GO member Thomas Turner's label Trashy Moped (with Turner even producing some of his tunes). But dudes, I DON'T LIKE GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY! But I like Battleme, so what does that mean?! Thankfully, it's not just cut and paste—for instance, there's a little bit of a Beck quality on the mellow, echoing "Doin' Time in My Head Ain't Cheap" (without the Scientology ties... I think... I hope). MEGAN SELING
Cave Singers, Poor Moon, Rose Windows
(Showbox at the Market) See Stranger Suggests.
Freq Nasty, Nit Grit, Andreilien
(Neumos) See Data Breaker.
Autoerotique, Just One, Gritty, Jon Lee, Jeromy Nail, Justin Collins
(See Sound Lounge) See Data Breaker.
The Quiet Ones, Other Desert Cities, Michael O'Neill
(Blue Moon) The Quiet Ones have been pretty, er, quiet for the last few years—their last album, Better Walk Than Ride Like That, came out in 2009. Until now! Word is the indie-rock, brother-centric band (founding members include John, Chris, and David Totten) have a new album on the way this spring. In the meantime, they have given us Version Suicides, an album of spot-on cover songs ranging from R.E.M. to Guided by Voices. It's hard to put the Quiet Ones into a specific genre/sound box since they have ability for days and use it to range over a lot of varying musical ground. I mean, they cover Steely Dan's "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," and any funky one with half a heart can appreciate that. EMILY NOKES
DUG: Doc Delay, Christian Science, David James, Jon François, DJ Greasy
(Lo-Fi) Doc Delay is my favorite kind of DJ—one who possesses deep knowledge of several styles and excels at spinning all of them. The good doctor also has the ability to make unlikely musical elements mesh incredibly well, as he proves on his Eastern Block Party mix, on which he drops rap a cappellas over slamming Eastern European funk and rock tracks. Besides his hiphop credentials—producing for Mobb Deep's Prodigy and opening for Large Professor—Doc has extraordinary psych-rock, world-music, and prog gnosis. This is looking like one of funk/soul monthly DUG's best bookings in its storied history. DAVE SEGAL
Antibalas, Si Limon, Darek Mazzone
(Crocodile) Antibalas, Brooklyn's answer to Fela Kuti's legendary band the Africa '70, have a new video for the tune "Dirty Money." In the video, the puppet (or indeed Muppet) of a Wall Street capitalist goes around New York City making calls, making money, making the world turn, while the puppet of an ordinary man who has just been laid off goes around the city looking for a place to commit suicide. In one scene, the ordinary man jumps from a bridge into a river; in another, he jumps from the top of a tower to his death on a sidewalk. But here's the interesting thing about the video: In the river scene, the Wall Street man throws coins at the drowning man, and in the tower scene, the Wall Street man throws a rope of cash to the falling man. Meaning, the capitalist tries to save the ordinary man's life—but money is not enough. This is Antibalas's deep insight: The problems that money causes are not solved by money. We need answers, solutions that are outside of capitalism. Kuti would be proud of Antibalas. CHARLES MUDEDE
Rabbits, Monogamy Party, Brokaw, Fist Fite
(Josephine) Stockholm has a rabbit problem. The city is so infested that it burns bunnies en masse and uses their cremation to heat the Swedes. Still, the rabbit population survives and thrives. Portland's Rabbits also deserve credit for being fruitful, hardy, and incendiary. They survived the minimal treatment of their debut 2011 album on the stalwart metal label Relapse and came out on the other end with this year's scorching sophomore album, Bites Rites, on Seattle's Good to Die Records. The near-blown guitar speakers and blood-sport drumming of their Sonic Youth homage "Meth Valley 99" is worth the sticker price alone. In other torrid news, pigfuck-rockers Monogamy Party recently opened up their relationship to include former Pleasureboaters guitarist Ricky Claudon. Come see him do it for the first time tonight. BRIAN COOK
(Showbox at the Market) See preview.
Early Atoms, Panabrite, Widesky, Derek Monypeny
(Gallery 1412) See Data Breaker.
Astronautalis, Busdriver, Jel
(Vera) See Data Breaker.
Moon Duo, Life Coach, Brain Fruit
(Sunset) Phil Manley has been flamboyantly and understatedly making important American underground rock for nearly 20 years. His guitar and keyboard wizardry has enhanced works by Trans Am, the Fucking Champs, Jonas Reinhardt, and Oneida. Now, after all these years, Manley has gone solo, and the project bore interesting fruit with 2011's Life Coach. On it, Manley lets his kosmische/krautrock proclivities run free through the fatherland's canon of amazing music. He puts his Yankee spin on meditative Popol Vuh–like atmospherics, mid-period Cluster's tranquil propulsion, and Manuel Göttsching and Günter Schickert's spacious guitar calligraphy. Here's hoping Manley brings maniacally funky drummer Jon Theodore along with him, as he did the last time he played Seattle during the Comet's Cock Block Party. DAVE SEGAL See also Sound Check.
How to Dress Well, Beacon, USF
(Barboza) How to Dress Well's Tom Krell is one of the so-called PBR&B genre's more mysterious figures. Much like the Weeknd, he appeared out of nowhere, releasing some hypnotic tracks on his website under a curious moniker, and the wheels of the internet hype machine went into motion before anyone even knew what the guy looked like. (He still hasn't released an official music video to date.) But while Weeknd shows tend to get a little wild—yes, the audience insists, this is a fuckin' sing-along—Krell and his fans keep things more low-key. If "poignant and understated" is more your thing, you won't want to miss this show. HALLIE SANTO
La Luz, Hive Dwellers, Stickers
(Hollow Earth) The mesmerizing sounds of La Luz remind me of hula-hooping on a yellow beach while slightly buzzed on piña coladas. Maybe after a breakup, but with a new make-out partner already in mind. A Seattle four-piece comprising Shana Cleveland and Marian Li Pino (the Curious Mystery) with Katie Jacobson and Abbey Blackwell, La Luz expertly float haunted Shangri-Las harmonies over spring-reverby surf and Farfisa-flavored organ melodies. It's catchy heartache music to keep you warm and dreaming all winter long. With the Hive Dwellers (the latest project from Olympia's favorite son, Calvin Johnson) and Stickers (top-notch no wave—a longtime Seattle favorite). EMILY NOKES
Sufjan Stevens, Sheila Saputo
(Neptune) Must we explain who Sufjan Stevens is? No? (Minimally: Detroit singer-songwriter, beloved by many, weird to the core.) So: This is a concept-heavy event formally titled "The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-Along Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice" or, sometimes, the "Sirfjam Stephanopolous Christmas..." (etc.). Perhaps lovely Sufjan is off his rocker. Or perhaps he just looooooooooves him some Christmas. Either way, it has to be pretty rad, right? Stevens is permanently wonderful, and so is the Neptune. Don't sleep on the weird ticket restrictions—in order to eliminate scalping, it's all will-call and you have to pick up your tickets yourself, after which you will be "escorted immediately into the venue." Ooh, how dirty and exciting! ANNA MINARD
The Esoterics: SYBILLA reprised
(St. Joseph Church) A reprise of exquisite vocal group the Esoteric's performance of the complete Hildegard von Bingen–inspired motets by American composer Frank Ferko (born 1950), plus a new world premiere motet, O nobilissima viriditas. (Hildegard von Bingen, for those new to her, is the coolest Middle Ages mystic.) JEN GRAVES
The Sword, Gypsyhawk, American Sharks
(Neumos) When I asked Sword guitarist Kyle Shutt how to describe his band's third studio album, Warp Riders, at an interview a couple years back, he went off on a foggy yet suspenseful tangent about cosmic journeys and unearthing orbs. Clearly, these dudes know how to write solid stoner metal. Thing is, they also know how to write classic-rock-sounding melodies, and they do so flawlessly, weaving heavy riffs with catchy, memorable hooks. Being multilayered, the band fits on bills alongside High on Fire or Metallica, crossing over to a territory few can call home. KEVIN DIERS
Nice&AO, Guilty Simpson, House Shoes, Knxwledge, Samiyam, Al Nightlong, Introcut
(Lo-Fi) See preview.
Big Gay Wedding Reception: Dan Savage, Terry Miller, DJ Riz Rollins
(Q) Did you know that from noon until 5 p.m. today, 200 or more same-sex couple will get married at Seattle City Hall? Artists Jennifer Zeyl and Celeste Cooning are going to turn the place into a festive wedding-worthy scene, and couples will marry in quick, official ceremonies. So what's a newlywed couple, and their family and friends, to do afterward? Hit the Big Gay Wedding Reception at Q, of course! Starting at 6 p.m., the event is hosted by Dan Savage and Terry Miller, and it will raise money for other states to fight for marriage equality. There'll be photographers, wedding cake, flowers, and DJ Riz making everybody dance. Expect love, laughter, and probably a drag queen or two. KELLY O
Nouela, Social Studies, Detective Agency
(Chop Suey) See Stranger Suggests.
Grave Babies, Pony Time, Baby Guns
(Crocodile) Imagine you are walking through an empty street in a small town. It's foggy and dark and it's also the '80s, so the music that scores your stroll kind of sounds like Depeche Mode. Except, if you haven't already guessed, you are in a low-budget horror movie, so all that synth turns out to be less than friendly—it casts a distorted, sinister haze on everything. It's still catchy, though. You'll make it to your babysitting gig after all! Right? Even though the music is getting louder and more paralyzing by the minute... and the family you're going to meet for the first time are actually the Grave Babies... and zero babies are involved. Instead, they are a Seattle goth-pop trio and they have a chamber to hell (fun, '80s hell) in their basement. EMILY NOKES
Ty Segall, Night Beats, Sandrider
(Neumos) See Stranger Suggests.