Doug Coombe

Thursday 8/20

Japanther, the Pine Hill Haints, TacocaT, Strong Killings

(Mini Mart City Park) See Stranger Suggests.

Yirim Seck, the Physics, Fresh Espresso, LaRue, DJ WD4D

(Chop Suey) See preview.

The Dead Weather

(Paramount) The Dead Weather's debut CD, Horehound, has been sitting on my desk, unopened and still factory-sealed, for weeks. As much as I love some of the (especially early) White Stripes and the Kills (and Discount—why does no one ever talk about Discount?), I just wasn't sure if I needed another bluesy, blown-out rock 'n' roll act from Jack White (on drums for this project) and Alison Mosshart in my life right now. Turns out, of course, the album sounds great—the kick and snare big and round, the hi-hats hissing, the guitars wet-hot and crackling and fried like bacon in cast iron, the organ croaking like a night full of toads, Mosshart's vocals sultry and commanding. And though nothing's really sticking and begging for another spin so far, the songs are fine and groovy and engrossing enough as they're playing. ERIC GRANDY

Fruit Bats, Johnny and the Moon, Palmer Electric

(Crocodile) You might fear that lead Fruit Bat Eric D. Johnson has been so busy playing sideman to the Shins and Vetiver that he might not have much left to put into his main gig. Worry not: Fruit Bats' new The Ruminant Band (Sub Pop) shuffles and strides as easily as any folk rock this year, and the tunes are uniformly winning as well. Johnson is singing by himself now that co-vocalist Gillian Lisee has departed, but his nasal croon sounds invigorated, and so do songs like "My Unusual Friend," "The Ruminant Band," and the album-closing "Flamingo," which dips into old-timey sonics (faint vinyl hiss, tip-tap drums, cockeyed Optigan) without sounding merely cute about it. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Thee Oh Sees, Sic Alps, Partman Parthorse

(Funhouse) Partman Parthorse recently went into the studio to record an EP's worth of original songs and carefully chosen covers. Among the originals is their 206 shit-talker "Emerald City Dollar Bin," which sadly doesn't sound quite as snarky or sly in rough demo form as it does live. Better is "Party Brat," with its low-writhing rhythm, needling guitars, bad-trip vocal echo, and typically ill-mannered lyrics (a favorite line: "You equals puke equals on my balls"). The covers range from the band's peers (the Intelligence, Unnatural Helpers, the Lights) to the Germs (of course) to Lil Wayne (um, okay). PMPH frontman Gary Smith does a pretty admirable, not embarrassing drawl on Lil Wayne's "La La" (Smith is from Florida originally, which may help). Nothing's set, but look for these songs on maybe a split 7-inch with the Lights and/or a CD via T.V. Coahran's GGNZLA Records. ERIC GRANDY

Your Heart Breaks, Gina Young, Carrie Clark and the Lonesome Lovers, Pufferfish, Sage Redman, Andrea Wittgens, Central Services

(Triple Door) This show celebrates the release of Love No Love, a two-disc compilation put together by local arts organization the Levee Breaking (www.theleveebreaking.com). All proceeds from the album will benefit New Beginnings, an organization that provides shelter and support for women and children who are victims of sexual or domestic violence. Disc one of Love No Love evokes the happier side of the emotion with silly, sweet, and sexy love songs, while disc two is a tribute to love's darker aspects—the breakups, the betrayal, the broken hearts. Performing tonight are just a few of the artists who contributed songs, including Your Heart Breaks, Gina Young, and Central Services. MEGAN SELING

Friday 8/21

Pissed Jeans, Suck Machine, Pig Heart Transplant

(Chop Suey) See preview.

Flexions, Portable Morla, Piles, Work, Are you a cat?

(Josephine) See Data Breaker.

Karl Blau, John Van Deusen, Goldfinch

(Q Cafe) See Stranger Suggests.

The Flaming Lips, Stardeath and White Dwarfs

(Marymoor Park) The Flaming Lips have maybe the most comforting song ever written about how we're all going to die someday so don't worry and just try to enjoy being alive right now ("Do You Realize??"). It is a legitimately magical, spine-tingling, life- (and death-) affirming thing, a sentiment so universal and inarguable that you can't not feel it, that you'll want to turn to the person next to you on the lawn at Marymoor Park and give him/her a hug no matter whether he/she's much older or younger than you or a total stranger or whatever. Also, there will be confetti and Martians and Santas and Lips frontman Wayne Coyne walking around on top of the audience in that giant hamster ball, and you really will feel good being there in that moment, even if it all has to end eventually. ERIC GRANDY

Nurses

(Sonic Boom, Ballard) Portland trio Nurses slot comfortably into that stratum of indie rock in which heartfelt, troubadourian folk songs get sprinkled with specks of lysergic dust (think Animal Collective, Yeasayer, the Ruby Suns). Bands like these often draw on the Beach Boys' elaborate vocal arrangements and harmonies. But, again like Animal Collective (and also Dirty Projectors), Nurses cast this approach in a darker, more arboreal light; these guys seem more likely to wander in the forest than revel on the beach, and their songs reflect that aural woodsiness. You can hear Nurses working out the intricate vocal tapestries and soaring, feel-pretty-good melodies from their delightful new album, Apple's Acre (Dead Oceans), in the intimate confines of Sonic Boom Records. DAVE SEGAL

The High Strung, the Sea Navy, Battle Hymns

(Sunset) On their new record, Memory Matches, the Sea Navy break the stereotype that all button-up-shirt-wearing namby-pambies strumming guitars are the anti-jocks. Singer Jay Cox is actually a sports nut, and it shows on the new record. "What Curse?" is a bright guitar-driven tune about his annual love affair with baseball and the emptiness the end of the season can bring: "Another sad September/I get home, I'm all alone/I leaned on you too much in the spring and summer months." "March Madness," Cox tells me, was "written on March 17, while watching Greg Oden's Ohio State beat Xavier during the NCAA March Madness tournament." There are some nerdier topics addressed too, though—songs about lost love, favorite movie villains, and board games. MEGAN SELING

Saturday 8/22

The Intelligence, the Girls, Little Cuts

(Comet) See preview.

Love Battery, SHiPS, Exohxo, the Navins

(High Dive) Exohxo recently expanded from a duo—the acoustic-y, sickly sweet indie-pop side project of Speaker Speaker's Jasen Samford and Danny Oleson—to a seven-piece band, the standard rock quartet bolstered by keys and twin violins. Those orchestral touches are sharp and bright and way upfront on the band's new album, Other Ghosts, and it can feel like a weirdly ornate amount of dressing for what are essentially simple pop-rock songs, especially since Oleson's voice—he shares vocal duties with Samford—is limited to flat, nasally pop-punk tones (the oft-made Sicko comparison sticks because it's spot-fucking-on). Other Ghosts is made of pretty maudlin stuff, and it suggests that weepy and twee may not really be playing to these guys' strengths. ERIC GRANDY

Unnatural Helpers, Box Elders, Eugene Wendell & the Demon Rind, Scraps

(Funhouse) Yup, the late show at the bar has four bands playing. Fortunately, all bands embrace the golden age of radio and keep it under the three-minute mark. Unnatural Helpers' awesomely damaged garage rock is notoriously concise, both in content and form. Box Elders revel in the sound of AM radio pop, but filter it through a wash of reverb and delay, giving their otherwise sunny compositions an element of Roky Erickson–esque psychedelic danger. Eugene Wendell & the Demon Rind find members of the Fastbacks and the Cops eschewing their more bombastic musical habits for a dash of Americana while still retaining the piss and vinegar you'd expect from that pedigree. Scraps open the show with their surprisingly agile, lo-fi, keyboard-driven anthems. BRIAN COOK

Sunday 8/23

The Deepsleep Narcotics Co., the Three Fates, Portable Morla

(Nectar) See Data Breaker.

Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes

(Chateau Ste Michelle) Of the dozen or so singer-songwriters fleetingly burdened with the tag "the new Dylan," Elvis Costello earned it most. Like the standard-bearer, Costello burst onto the scene as an undeniable force, pooping out a bunch of brilliant albums that revolutionized rock lyrics with astonishing ease. Then came maturity—Blood on the Tracks, King of America—followed by a settling-in as venerable elder statesman and lifelong musical journeyman. I'm still waiting for Old Man Costello to put together his Time Out of Mind or "Love And Theft"—i.e., late records that contend with the best of the early records—but until then, I'll make do with his better-than-Knocked-Out-Loaded late-middle-period releases, such as 2009's Secret, Profane & Sugarcane. DAVID SCHMADER

Existereo, Tullie the Rapper, Rheteric Ramirez, JFK, DJ WD4D

(Chop Suey) Existereo (or just Exist, if you're into the whole brevity thing) is a tatted, ragged L.A. original, a shit-bag corsair, a member of L.A.'s graf legends CBS, and an MC with fantastically weird crew of beloved subterranean titans the Shape Shifters. Exist freaks a charmingly clunky singsong flow with a confessional humor and a street-bred laundry list of hard-livin', Cali hardcore influences, flipping rap covers of Black Flag's "Wasted" and making it work. His group Candy's .22 is with local boy done good Barfly; their first full-length, Livin La Vida Boo Hoo, is a rare recipe of dayroom cowboy blues, and the follow-up, A Girl and Her Gun, is coming soon. LARRY MIZELL JR.

The Contraband Countryband, Mindless Thuggs, Feedback Seed, Are you a cat?

(Blue Moon) Every Are you a cat? live performance is a different beast, determined by the Seattle duo's caprices on the day of the gig. If they have a default mode, it's a miasmatic kind of abstract electronica, a malevolent cauldron of vivid, mutating synth, bass, and guitar textures. However, they can apply their own rejuvenating twist to free jazz, rock, disco, doom metal, funk, and prog pop, as well. Whatever style they flex, Are you a cat? are bound to make your night rewardingly strange—and strangely rewarding. The Contraband Countryband play spirited country rock, with Olie Eshleman's exuberant pedal steel twaaannnggg-eeeennn and sighin' like mad. These locals will leave that "yee-haw!" you'll reflexively shout upon hearing their music charred on your lips. DAVE SEGAL

Midday Veil

(Wall of Sound) "Kaleidoscopic soundtracks for beatific visions," runs Midday Veil's MySpace descriptor. That's hard to top for a critic looking to sum up this Seattle quintet. But to elaborate: I once saw a sign in a New York City storefront that read "ALL IS BLISS." It was one of the most beautiful—if illusory—axioms I've ever seen. And it just might be Midday Veil's guiding principle. Vocalist Emily Pothast has affinities for country music, soul, and blues, but her alluring earthiness comes equipped with an equally ravishing ethereality, which complements the band's more kosmische tendencies. Throughout Midday Veil's expansive, incantatory psychedelia, analog-synth wizard David Golightly meticulously, delicately coaxes star-dusted oscillations. Indeed, he and his cohorts convince you that all is bliss within the enchanting folds of this group's debut disc, End of Time, as well as in their newer epic, "Queen of the Void," which you can hear at www.myspace.com/middayveil. DAVE SEGAL

Monday 8/24

Eyedea & Abilities, Kristoff Krane

(Nectar) Yet another act has abandoned hiphop for rock, for live music—the antithesis of hiphop. After a five-year break, Minneapolis's Eyedea & Abilities (Michael Larsen and Gregory Keltgen) have returned with By the Throat, an album packed with rock and punk. The previous albums by this talented duo (First Born and E&A) contained hiphop in an experimental and intellectual state. These works also contained a lot of promise—the rapper, Eyedea, and the DJ, Abilities, were preparing to push hiphop to its limits. That promise is now broken. What we have instead of hiphop at its border of lyrical and turntablist meaning is diluted punk and rock. Why do so many acts make this mistake? Rock will not save hiphop. To turn to rock is to turn to the past and try to bridge a rupture that will forever separate the two forms. Do not look backward; look forward. CHARLES MUDEDE

Al Qaeda, Dried Up Corpse, Wickt, Demian Johnston

(Josephine) The experimental-music crowd tends to elevate the effect pedal from its status as a supplemental tool to heralding it as the primary instrument. The Bay Area's Al Qaeda are a perfect demonstration of the phenomenon. While the band employ guitars to generate their tones, the real magic is in the endless chain of stomp boxes that sculpt and manipulate rudimentary foundations into sprawling dynamic soundtracks. Local pedal wizard Demian Johnston opens the show by building pretty and ethereal guitar loops and decimating them with blasts of Masonna-like dissonance. Johnston will also lend his modulation expertise and his arsenal of delays, distortions, and filters to a one-off collaboration with Al Qaeda tonight. Congrats, Demian. You're now on the CIA watch list. BRIAN COOK

Tuesday 8/25

Joe Pernice, John Cunningham

(Tractor) Joe Pernice does a number of things well. His volume on the Smiths' Meat Is Murder in the 33 1/3 series is a gray, windswept novella that outlines its teen-angst plot with real empathy, and he's just followed that with a stand-alone novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop, which is lighter in tone. Pernice's new album of the same name incorporates some of the book's passages, read by the author, as well as covers of songs mentioned in the text. But Pernice is best known as one of the indie world's great singer-songwriters; while this appearance will concentrate on the new work, let's hope he breaks out some gems from his Pernice Brothers and Scud Mountain Boys catalog, as well. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Wednesday 8/26

The Cult, Living Things

(Moore) Describing his band's 2009 tour to NoiseCreep.com, Cult frontman Ian Astbury said, "We're going to perform the Love album for the first time in its entirety as the quintessential postmodern album. That's our tag... We were one of the first bands that were like punk rockers that came on and said, 'It's okay to be into punk and Led Zeppelin.'" Contrary to Astbury's proclamations, 1985's Love isn't the quintessential anything—just a good, glossy rock record, whose blend of crunching cock rock and new-wave glam would provide the context for such late-'80s alt-rockers as Mother Love Bone, Jane's Addiction, and Soundgarden. Opening the show: Saint Louis's Living Things, who meld punk and hard rock better than the Cult ever did. DAVID SCHMADER

Jay Reatard

(Easy Street Queen Anne) Where does Jay Reatard get all his fucking energy these days? He cut umpteen singles for Matador last year, not to mention everything he did on In the Red during the two years preceding that. His latest, Watch Me Fall, came out last week. It seems like every time you turn around lately, the guy either just released a recording, or he's coming through town, or both. He just tore apart the Crocodile with his revved-up punk-rock tangents in mid-June, and now he's back to do an in-store at Easy Street in Queen Anne? Based on what I saw at the Croc, I'm picturing a mosh pit, upended racks of CDs, and general chaos not usually associated with the inner workings of a record store. Relax, though, y'all, he'll be back again in October. (Natch.) GRANT BRISSEY

Bat for Lashes, Other Lives

(Neumos) If you're going to do wildly ripe new-wave romanticism, dive in all the way. That's how Natasha Khan, the British singer-songwriter who does business as Bat for Lashes, goes about it, and with often arresting results. Two Suns, her critically acclaimed second album, has spun off a couple of hypnotic singles whose appeal is easy to discern: There's a lot of Kate Bush there for sure, but there's also something darker and headier than your typical Bushies provide—Khan isn't goth, per se, but there's an undercurrent of it that makes "Daniel" and "Pearl's Dream" more singular than slavish. MICHAELANGELO MATOS