Thursday 7/29

PizzaFest 2010: TacocaT, Idle Times, Suspicions, Butts, Tax & Leisure Corporation

(Funhouse) TacocaT's formula really ought to have worn thin by now, but their preoccupation with ribald subject matter, rascally pop-punk riffs, and nudge-nudge, wink-wink lyrical localisms results in music that's way too fun to simply dismiss or condescendingly disregard. "Leotard" still feels like a shamelessly silly insta-classic. Fellow Seattleite mischief-makers Butts make for a keen pairing at this, the first day of the three-day PizzaFest 2010. How you feel about TacocaT and Butts likely hinges on what we might call the "Pizza Hut/Taco Bell paradigm": Some viewed upstart rap group Das Racist's ridiculous 2009 single "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" as retarded, half-baked parody. Others hailed it as a cunningly faux-idiotic take on modern consumer society. I wouldn't go to PizzaFest looking for profound meditations on the state of contemporary capitalism, but when the music's guaranteed to be so fun, there's no point in expecting anything beyond having a blast. JASON BAXTER See also preview.

Big Spider's Back, Wow & Flutter, the Harvey Girls, Pure Moods

(Sunset) The Portland husband/wife band that's not Viva Voce, the Harvey Girls—Melissa Rodenbeek and Hiram Lucke—have a very nice line in homespun psych rock, as evidenced by their recently released album, I've Been Watching a Lot of Horror Movies Lately. They place heartfelt, attractive melodies amid bravado song structures that recall Akron/Family and some of the headier groups on the Jagjaguwar and Dead Oceans labels. There's a pleasant, low-key, "let's get high in the woods" vibe running through the Harvey Girls' music. You also have to like any band that lists the Swirlies and Bukka White as influences. You just have to. Fellow PDX unit Wow & Flutter impress with their unpretentious, tuneful rock of minimal fidelity. They specialize in catchy, crusty songs that nonchalantly shrug in the direction of the Grifters and Guided by Voices. DAVE SEGAL

Revenge of the Lazer-Tits: Lisa Dank, Concours d'Elegance, Flat Black, DJ Sean Majors

(Crocodile) Would it be hyperbole to call Lisa Dank Seattle's Madonna? Maybe, but Ms. Dank does exhibit some Madge-like traits: She's an extroverted vocalist with blond ambition and a robust desire to implant her flamboyant, cheeky persona into your memory bank. While her hustle is impressive, Dank's music is a slick, cheesy dish that doesn't exactly contain the most nutritious ingredients. However, I'm not Dank's demo, so take this assessment with heaping tablespoonfuls of salt. She's an ENTERTAINER who's out for stardom and has a radio-friendly, pop-house sound that's in frequent-costume-changing, party-all-the-time mode. It's what the sociologists would call "fun." Seattle duo Concours d'Elegance's shiny-sheened, romo-tronic songs recall '80s pop radio fare. It's all well crafted and produced, but this sort of music originally served the purpose of taking Americans' minds off the nuclear arms race raging between the U.S. and USSR, and it doesn't sound that great the second (or third) time around. But! There'll be Lazer-Tits! Getting revenge! DAVE SEGAL

Friday 7/30

The Lights, Whalebones, the Young Evils

(High Dive) See preview.

PizzaFest: Personal & the Pizzas, Slippery Slopes, Dead Ghosts, Cowabunga Babes, Lamborghiniz, Whoa Hunx

(Funhouse) See preview.

Brain Fruit, Joy Wants Eternity, the Soft Hills, Foxtail Somersault

(Black Lodge) Seattle's Brain Fruit channel the motoriktacular repetition of krautrock masters like Can, Faust, and Neu! into crispy, third-eye-punching jams that you hate to hear end. But rather than the clean, aerodynamic glide of the latter's "Hallogallo," Brain Fruit's sound spills outside of the lanes, runs off the autobahn, and shakes up your equilibrium. I'm pleased to report that they've increased their MySpace song count to seven, and their songs pack a serious kosmische wallop, but they also roll pastoral, like midperiod Cluster. If Brain Fruit keep this up, they will be my favorite local band by 2011. San Francisco quintet Foxtail Somersault carry on an unabashed love affair with the gauzy, dreamy, spacey British rock that sprang up in the late '80s/early '90s. Foxtail's music—featuring Elizabeth Anderson's enchantingly dulcet vocals—is a Lush Cocteaul [sic] served with Verve. DAVE SEGAL

A Tribute to the Kinks: Sean Nelson, Guided by Dan, Gavin Guss, Erin Jorgensen, the Raggedy Anns, Matt Harvey, the Small Change, Kimo Muraki, the Sterling Loons, Dept. of Energy, the Riffbrokers, Jet Sparks, the Quaifes

(Sunset) The pithy Brit poppers get an evening-length tribute at the Sunset, where tonight a ton of local talent tackles Kinks kompositions. On the bill (along with suggested songs for each): Sean Nelson ("God's Children"), Guided by Dan ("Rosie, Won't You Please Come Home"), Gavin Guss ("Big Sky"), Erin Jorgensen ("Art Lover"), the Raggedy Anns ("Shangri-La"), Matt Harvey ("Mindless Child of Motherhood"), the Small Change ("Tired of Waiting for You"), Kimo Muraki ("Two Sisters"), Dept. of Energy ("Lola"), and more. DAVID SCHMADER

Saturday 7/31

Reverie (Now I'm Fine), Spekulation

(Lo-Fi) See Stranger Suggests.

PizzaFest: the Mean Jeans, White Mystery, Coconut Coolouts, Fungi Girls, Indian Wars, Meercaz, Diaper and the Shitbags

(Funhouse) See preview.

Shook Ones, Hostage Calm, Made Do and Mend, Power, Open Fire!, Sixes, Cool Runnings, Cowardice, Oblivion, Swinglow, Wreck

(Viaduct) See Underage.

Hunting Parties: Dropdead, Brainoil, Agrimonia, Ironlung, Samothrace, Deathraid

(Neumos) This year's three-day long Hunting Parties festival (www.huntingparties.blogspot.com) looks more brutally diverse than ever. You've got doom (Samothrace), crust punk (Resist), death metal (Bone Sickness), and lots and lots of beer (but not for free, sucka). If you're not looking to make a whole weekend excursion of it, though, at least make it out to witness the wreckage of tonight's main event. If there were ever to be a Rolling Stones or Beatles of crust, Dropdead would certainly be in the running for the title. Since the mid-'90s, this poser-smashing Rhode Island d-beat crew's politically driven anthems have inspired countless crusties to sew their bold logo onto bum flaps and backpacks everywhere. Add to this the utter chaos of two-man power-violence freak show Iron Lung and you have a very loud, very frantic, must-see show. KEVIN DIERS

The New Pornographers, the Dodos, Imaad Wasif

(Showbox at the Market) A venerable indie-rock supergroup based out of Vancouver, BC, the New Pornographers can be thought of as the Avengers West Coast to Broken Social Scene's Avengers (only, you know, you'd have to call the character Captain North America). Coalescing around the fantastic foursome of singer-songwriters A. C. Newman, Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, and Dan Bejar (of Destroyer)—each respected solo artists in their own rights—when the New Pornographers come together, as on new album, uh, Together, the result is a brand of power pop (and its tangents) imbued with superheroic levels of catchiness, charm, and craft. Right from its opening run of songs, Together thankfully picks up some of the upbeat steam that last album Challengers lacked; this latest installment may not be their finest hour, but it's at the very least another day sweetly saved. ERIC GRANDY

Phosphorescent, J. Tillman, Grouplove

(Crocodile) Phosphorescent's 2009 album, To Willie, was a selection of Willie Nelson covers done up in a more countrified, full-band style than that of singer-songwriter Matthew Houck's previous albums of cracked, arid folk and ambient acoustic ramblings. Some of that sharper, twangier sound carries over onto Phosphorescent's new album of originals, Here's to Taking It Easy, on which Houck is backed by generous arrangements featuring piano, slide guitar, and even swinging brass. Still front and center, though, is Houck's whine and howl and heartsick lyrics about all the usual fare, love and loss, grasped with unusual acuity. If the instrumentals are, true to the title, taking it easy, Houck is taking it hard, as on the stunning album centerpiece "Mermaid Parade," with its wistful, angry reflections on romantic dissolution. ERIC GRANDY

Phosphorescent

(Sonic Boom Capitol Hill) See above.

Silversun Pickups, Against Me!, the Henry Clay People

(Paramount) With their second major-label album, White Crosses, Against Me! address some of the criticisms they've received over the years, as they've morphed from a group of sloppy-but-passionate, basement-playing punk rockers into a slick pop- rock machine primed for arena-sized crowds. On the song "I Was a Teenage Anarchist," a kind of follow-up to Reinventing Axl Rose's "Baby, I'm an Anarchist," frontman Tom Gabel chalks those good ol' days up to naiveté and youth, asking, "Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?" Which translates to: "I no longer want to set the world on fire. I'm older now. Now, I want to play shitty rock songs that sound like Gaslight Anthem because, hey, it worked for them." I for one won't be joining Against Me! for this new era. MEGAN SELING

Ripynt, Luck-One Conscious, S-n-O, Steph

(High Dive) North End rider Ripynt (and onetime Seattle Weekly cover boy, under the headline "The Great White North") flows in crackly double-time like his favorite rappers, Cleveland's own kings of hair maintenance and Eazy-E protégés, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Rip spits, has heart to spare, and thankfully tends to avoid Bone's gothier, proto-Juggalo overtones (Ouija boards, spiritual crossroads, and stagecoaches). His best moments, though, are when he just slows the cadence down and sinks his teeth in (no Bill Compton). Luck-One Conscious is another Portland ex-pat hiphopper living and grinding in the 206 (like my partner djblesOne, Sportn' Life's "sex symbol" Spaceman, and the homey Ohmega Watts) with a dope EP under his belt and a recent turn on J.Pinder's terrific posse cut "Tougher" to bolster his rep. Expect to hear more of his focused rhyming, and soon. LARRY MIZELL JR.

Sunday 8/1

The New Pornographers, the Dodos, Imaad Wasif

(Showbox at the Market) See Saturday.

Spindrift, Chief Nowhere, the Curious Mystery

(Comet) Does anyone remember the band Acetone? Spiritualized's Jason Pierce raved about 'em in interviews; they put out a grip of downered, big-skied psych rock in the '90s, and then they slow-dissolved from public consciousness after leader Richie Lee committed suicide in 2001. I ask because I think Los Angeles's Spindrift remember Acetone with vivid clarity. At their best, Spindrift sound like Link Wray on a peyote bender scoring an imaginary western directed by David Lynch (note that Quentin Tarantino used Spindrift's "Indian Run" in Hell Ride). They also operate under the dictum that less is Morricone. Locals the Curious Mystery radiate a more introverted, indoors vibe, capturing a bedroom-bound bummertude that smooches your melancholy sweet spot just right. Their 2009 K Records album Rotting Slowly offers many such soft-impact, morose-colored-glasses pleasures. DAVE SEGAL

Seattle Doom Fest: Witchburn, Crowned by Fire, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Roareth, Yidhra, Fuck Knuckles, the Cosmic Knights of Eden, Noel Austin and Pure Cirkus

(Magnuson Park) What the fuck kind of doom fest takes place outdoors, during the day, in the middle of the fucking summer?! Doom is dark and morbid and heavy. Doom does not frolic in the park! Regardless of this glaring oversight, I'm all for the idea of a doom fest, especially with some of the epic talent we have right here in Seattle. Witchburn play metal-tinged Southern rock about blood and whiskey, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth star the perpetually heavy (sonically, of course) Tad Doyle, and Roareth's songs are slow and low with monstrous vocals. It should be one hell of a show. Just one little suggestion for next time: Have this shit in the middle of the night. In a cave. In January. Doom does not wear sunscreen. MEGAN SELING

Monday 8/2

Verse Chapter Verse: Orkestar Zirkonium (band), Gary Shteyngart (writer)

(Sunset) When we were putting together the lineup for this edition of Verse Chapter Verse, The Stranger's bimonthly reading-and-music event at the Sunset, the author choice was a no-brainer: Gary Shteyngart is a hilarious, talented writer—probably the best author coming to town this month. And Orkestar Zirkonium is the only logical band to play before and after Shteyngart: They share a loopy, slapped-together Eastern European sensibility with the author, and I've never had anything less than a blast at Orkestar shows, whether they're playing on the street out front of a bar at closing time or in a more traditional venue. However you find yourself at the Sunset tonight—as a fan of the author or a fan of the band—you're guaranteed to find a new favorite. PAUL CONSTANT See also review, page 23.

Tuesday 8/3

DJ Nobody

(Lo-Fi) See Data Breaker.

Timmy Sunshine & the Conductors, Kate Lavoie & the Verdict, Kristi Nelson

(Chop Suey) Bellingham-based Timmy Sunshine & the Conductors' bio says they started as a two-person side project (they don't bother to name the original band). They quickly added four more members, and somehow along the way, something weird happened: They don't sound anything like a goofy side project anymore. They're a main event, with the relaxed, slapped-together sound of a front-porch string band and the sensibility of an indie-rock supergroup experiment. "Adore" sounds like Sufjan Stevens, a lilting, sincere love song, but at other times they've got the summertime energy of a Tom Petty number. It's rare to see a band coming from this kind of folk tradition that's so willing to incorporate new ideas in the mix; maybe they should keep referring to themselves as a side project, because the diminutive, cast-off nature of the descriptor seems to produce some compelling work. PAUL CONSTANT

Wednesday 8/4

Joanna Newsom, Robin Pecknold

(Moore) Hailing from an imperial California like something out of a Joan Didion essay, Joanna Newsom arrived a golden-child grown-up, harp in dexterous, classically trained hands, ready to lay some freaky, fantastic, faerie-folk song cycles on your unsuspecting ears. Now three voluminous albums into her career, Newsom's latest, Have One On Me, is a two-hour, 3xLP epic, more sprawling and less busy than 2006's Ys but still boasting some subtly expansive arrangements. At the fore, though, as always, is Newsom's divisive voice, at times child-tiny but capable of great range, and her unconventional, grandly ambitious songwriting. Joining her tonight and on the rest of her West Coast tour is Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold, whose solo sets include his own songs as well as folk traditionals and, tonight, could include material from the Foxes' nearly done sophomore album, which is due out early next year. ERIC GRANDY

The Black Lillies, Chatham County Line, Sam Quinn

(Tractor) Now this is country: The Black Lillies come straight out of Tennessee with all the country trappings. Fiddle and steel guitar punctuate the occasional sad lyric with extra heart-punching melancholy, Jamie Cook's drums keep the ballads loping forward, and the beats grab the barn burners by the nose and drag them out to the dance floor for a kicky little two-step. Like all outstanding country acts, though, the real charm of the Black Lillies' work comes in the harmonies: Male-female vocals intertwine beautifully for a moment before going their separate ways, and everything blends together like a dream featuring Hank Williams and Dolly Parton doing duets. PAUL CONSTANT

Langhorne Slim, Palmer Electric, Red Jacket Mine

(Neumos) The best folk songs manage to broach melancholic subjects with an air of optimism, as if the power of a song in and of itself is enough to overcome the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives. The masters of Americana might make you cry into your beer, but they also give you the courage to face the next day with your chin up. Langhorne Slim understands this perfectly. His music is relentlessly hopeful without ever coming across as naive or superficially positive. And something about that common language of promise and vitality in the face of adversity is completely endearing. If folk music is about keeping tradition alive, Langhorne is doing a damn fine job of preserving its best attributes. BRIAN COOK