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This Week's Noteworthy Shows and Parties
Trumans Water, Tiny Light, the Freehands
(Funhouse) See Stranger Suggests.
Lower Dens, the Curious Mystery, Diminished Men
(Sunset) Diminished Men are instrumental, surf-rock operators performing brain surgery noir. Their sound is the soundtrack for a must-see spy thriller, The Operation of the Samurai. A scientist's brain must be safely transplanted into a samurai in order for the world not to end. Drummer Dave Abramson, guitarist Steve Schmitt, and Fender Bass VI stylist Simon Henneman cut into and out of jazz-fleshed sections with precision. By the surgical mastery of their instruments, they save the world every time. Also featured at Diminished Men shows is a fog machine that never stops billowing. By the end of the set, you can barely see them, which only enhances the power of their samurai sound. The Curious Mystery are K Records psychedelia driven by Doors-style American country-blues. They are tantric and garage, and vocalist/siren Shana Cleveland sings in a near trance. TRENT MOORMAN
Killer Canary, Indecisive Rhythm
(Showbox at the Market) Killer Canary and Indecisive Rhythm are musical soul mates. They've both got the pop-punk thing down cold. They both have enough screamy edge to keep things safely on the proper Pixies side of the fence (as opposed to the wretched Blink-182 side), but they're not afraid to be catchy. If you're looking for noodly, aimless rockgasms that never end, you should probably keep on walking. But if you like your music in three-minute, easily digestible verse-chorus-verse chunks, this could be the best night of your August. PAUL CONSTANT
Devin the Dude, Neema, Props,Gnotes, Mr. D.O.G.
(Nectar) See My Philosophy.
Jogger, Baths, Trentalange, Beat Connection
(Comet) Hey, old man, you ever wonder what happens when those damned kids finally get off your lawn? They skulk back to their windowless basements and spend hours on Ableton and GarageBand, quietly mapping the blogworld's future topography. Tonight's Comet bill is like a four-color superhero team-up of youthful talent. Maybe more "Teen Titans" than "Justice League of America," the pairing of California's Baths and locals Beat Connection—two skillful, clubby acts that are barely of legal drinking age—is sure to turn heads. Bath's Cerulean proves there's room in step-suffixed offshoot genres for "emo"-tional earnestness, and Beat Connection's Surf Noir EP is currently burning up the internet. Though they sounded a little shaky at their recent debut performance, Beat Connection packed the house, and with good reason. "The kids are alright," all right. JASON BAXTER
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, the Head and the Heart, Yuni in Taxo
(Mural Amphitheatre) Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band lost a member (second guitarist Matthew Dammer) between their last album and their recently released sophomore full-length, Where the Messengers Meet, but they seem intent on making their sound and their songs more expansive than ever. There are occasional strings, backing vocals and harmonies, spacious studio treatments, and they're all in the service of slow, sprawling songs. There are some fine moments; too often, though, things meander at length without ever arriving anywhere interesting. The combination of sharp ringing guitar tone and melody set to a jumpy drum break on "Leaving Trails" feels cribbed from Radiohead circa OK Computer, but if MSHVB are going for that kind of ambitious scope, they fall rather short. All the rock-operatic signifiers are here, only, unfortunately, with no surprises. ERIC GRANDY
(Crocodile) Rockaraoke is the Crocodile's recurring night of drunken wish-fulfillment wherein intrepid vocalists (amateurs, pros, whoever makes it onto the sign-up list) get to bust out songs with a real-live rock 'n' roll band. Enabling everything: $3 PBR and $4 Jägermeister shots. DAVID SCHMADER
Tulsi, the Let Go, Suntonio Bandanaz, DJ Modul8r, DJ Able, Specs One
(Crocodile) See Data Breaker.
Mickey Avalon, THEESatisfaction, Truckasaurus
(Showbox at the Market) Dear Mickey Avalon, I know you've released three singles since your 2006 self-titled debut: Um, "Fuckin Em All" is perfectly sleazeball; "What Do You Say?" somehow popped up in that movie The Hangover last summer; and "Stroke Me," well, ANY remix of Billy Fucking Squier is A-plus in my book. But I have to say this, you're never gonna top "My Dick." Nope. I dare you to try, but I just dunno if it's possible. I mean, "My dick so hot, it's stolen/Your dick look like Gary Coleman/My dick pink and big/Your dick stinks like shit/My dick got a Caesar 'do/Your dick needs a tweezer, dude." How are you ever gonna write better rhymes than that?! Either way, please play it at the show. Thanks! KELLY O
Grand Hallway, the Head and the Heart, Weinland
(Tractor) The Head and the Heart are the latest much-buzzed-about band to emerge from Seattle's apparently endlessly fertile nouveau-folkie scene. The six-piece's songs rely on the usual instrumentation—strummed acoustic guitars, brushed drums, violin, piano, sweet and easy-sounding vocal harmonies—revving from simple acoustic solos to wide-swinging, full-band numbers. Those harmonies do much heavy lifting for the band, and YouTube footage of the group all singing along together over nothing more than acoustic guitar, stomping out the beat with their feet, makes their live shows look like a near-religious experience (they have a song about what it feels like to sing hallelujah for the first time, and it seems to be a feeling they sincerely wish to share). Their set at the recent Doe Bay Festival, on the front porch of the Orcas Island resort's general store, was reportedly the highlight of the weekend. ERIC GRANDY
Angry Samoans, Criss Crass, the Piss Drunks, the Whorewoods, Rat City Ruckus
(El Corazón) Some older folks, like, say, your parents, see punk rock as a degenerative phase in adolescence. Others, like the L.A. punk vets in Angry Samoans, see it as a lifestyle that will never grow old, as long as they don't look in a mirror. I still love the music that shaped my youth, especially Angry Samoans, but I've reached a point in my adult life where I feel a little bit sorry for the nearly AARP-aged punks who must give in to audience demands to play their classics—the troublemaking, un-PC songs they wrote as teenagers. Do they still perform "My Old Man's a Fatso" or "Homo-Sexual" or that song about saving Hitler's cock? I wouldn't, but Angry Samoans haven't given a shit what people think of them since day one. Why should they now? They're probably like that band in the SNL skit that reunites at a wedding to play "Fist Fight in the Parking Lot." They may be old(er), but they can still fuck with your mind and everything else around it. TRAVIS RITTER
Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Dum Dum Girls
Carousel Fest: Butts, Grave Babies, Kids and Animals, Secret Colors, Slashed Tires, Cumulus
(Cairo) The annual Carousel Festival perennially brings together an impressive bunch of interesting and diverse acts. It's got everything from the dance punk of the Redwood Plan to the acoustic ballads of Thousands to the booming hardcore of Heiress. Grave Babies fit in there somewhere. With fuzzy synthesizers and drums and echoing vocals, their morbid songs sound like they're being sung from a different dimension—a dimension somewhere between life and death. Halfway through their set, you might not be able to tell if you're at a rock show or some kind of punk séance. Bring some holy water just in case. MEGAN SELING See also Underage.
Afrobeat Tribute to Michael Jackson with members of COMMOTION, Neindow Mashud, DJ Dundiggy
(Tractor) If there's a better way to celebrate Michael Jackson's birthday than experiencing his hits reinterpreted as Afrobeat, it's illegal. Tonight's tribute is the creation of Portland-based composer Ben Darwish, who'll be joined by a 10-piece band featuring vocalists Tahirah Memory and Gretchen Mitchell, members of the band COMMOTION, master African drummer Neindow Mashud, and DJ Dundiggy. "[The] arrangements were fantastic and it was cool to hear Jackson's work pulled, stretched, and wrapped around Afrobeat rhythms," wrote the Portland Mercury of the tribute's hometown performance earlier this year. "It worked both as a live mashup and as the collaboration you never knew you always wanted to hear." DAVID SCHMADER
Peter Case, Kasey Anderson
(Tractor) You probably know it as the Fat Possum sound: blues with nasty guitars that sound like they have some kind of electric STD, a swampy, stompy, lurching sound that makes everything in the club feel like it has a glorious layer of fat coating it. Peter Case has some of that Fat Possum sound going for him, but he updates it enough, with a fuller backing band, that it doesn't sound like shameless homage—unlike the late, great R. L. Burnside, for example, Case cleverly brings a piano into the mix, which serves as more of a percussion instrument to push things along. While Case's voice isn't quite there yet (his vocals sound a little too self-consciously honky for a blues singer), he's onto something with his Second Coming of Junior Kimbrough shtick. PAUL CONSTANT
Neutral Uke Hotel
(Sunset) I know this ukulele fad is one day going to be emblematic of the cuteness of the late '00s/early '10s, but I just can't stop being thrilled right now by the inventiveness and earnestness that people keep bringing to the ukulele as an instrument. Neutral Uke Hotel sounds like the Gimmicky King of Gimmicksville (a ukulele Neutral Milk Hotel cover band? Is Wes Anderson making a hidden-camera prank show now or something?), but the simple instrumentation—a melodica accompanies the ukulele on many tracks—really brings out the doleful harmonies of NMH's catalog. The whole thing feels tender and sweet and intimate and not precious at all. For music made with toy instruments, it's surprisingly moving. PAUL CONSTANT
Xenophon, Yokai No Uta, Blackpool Astronomy, Matthew Bergman
(Rendezvous) Seattle ensemble Yokai No Uta venture off on a series of musical tangents that baffle and enchant in equal measure. (Their iTunes genre, "Unclassifiable," is not an idle boast.) These musicians are playful, skillful, unpredictable, and possessed of fantastic aesthetics that uncannily keep them on the right side of the interesting/tedious divide. They are "experimental" in the best, least pretentious way possible. Much of their output comes off as improvised, gamelan-inflected psychedelia, but YNU can rock, too, in an unhinged Godz-like way. They also know rock history well, and can excitingly deconstruct beloved icons like the Beatles and the 13th Floor Elevators without making you want to kill them. Ask them politely to do "The Book of Weed" for maximum mind expansion. DAVE SEGAL
(Triple Door) Jimmy Webb's compositions were inescapable in the 1960s and '70s. (Dude's royalty statements must be in the six figures annually.) Recording artists from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to Glen Campbell to Isaac Hayes to Dennis Brown to Richard Harris couldn't get enough of his widescreen ballads and airy pop confections, which tread a fine line between sublimity and schmaltziness. (R.E.M. and Nick Cave later covered Webb songs, too.) Webb's hits include "MacArthur Park," "Galveston," "Up, Up and Away," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and "Wichita Lineman." The last named is one of those unbearably moving songs that—no matter how many times you hear it—never loses its power to moisten eyes and crack hearts while simultaneously inflating souls. Can "I need you more than want you/And I want you for all time" be surpassed as an expression of love? When set to that gently soaring, elated/deflated melody? Doubtful. DAVE SEGAL
Jason Clackley, Cobalt Cranes, Maxirad, Diver Down
(Funhouse) Jason Clackley is a busy man who always seems to be trapped in basements (or the YMCA, rented halls, etc.). As an outspoken advocate of the local all-ages community, Clackley has opened up for screamo bands, delicate indie rockers, and ear-piercing grindcore acts alike, each time proving that his straightforward blend of acoustic punk and folk can fit anywhere you place it. Along with having the best band name I've seen in months, San Francisco trio Maxirad play quirky garage rock with lyrics everyone can get down with—"I don't wanna be an example, I just wanna have fun and have sex with everyone." Go ahead, prove it. KEVIN DIERS
(El Corazón) Stay Gold are playing El Corazón? THE Stay Gold? The totally rad Seattle hardcore band that sounded like a scrappier and more emotional little brother of Avail? The band that played their last show in 2005? THAT STAY GOLD? No, it's not that Stay Gold, goddamnit. This is actually a release party for a new skateboarding photo book called Stay Gold. The book is a collection of images taken of and by Emerica's skate team (Ed Templeton, Justin Regan, Aaron Suski, et al.). There are pictures of beer drinking, skate tricks, bloody ears, and naked butts, and while that's neat for those of you who like skateboarding, it's not my Stay Gold. Next time, before I get all excited, I'm gonna remember to Google some shit first. MEGAN SELING