(Triple Door) Record stores are absolutely essential. Without an emphatic employee-recommendation card in the Sonic Boom on Melrose Avenue, I never would have discovered how much I like Hauschka. Where else would I have encountered his music? The avant-orchestral arrangements don't fit into any popular radio format—I don't think even KEXP would be willing to spend six minutes during a morning or afternoon show on something as melancholy as "Iron Shoes," from Hauschka's Foreign Landscapes album. And the mixture of two disparate genres (classical and electronic? Are you trying to keep people from hearing your music?) is likely to keep Hauschka off the front pages of most of the music blogs, too. So thanks, lady record-store employee who emphatically recommended Hauschka to me; I've practically worn the CD out, I've played it so much in the last couple months. PAUL CONSTANT
Special Explosion, Jupe Jupe, Says, Cat Among Pigeons
(High Dive) Special Explosion are a young band (literally, they're all 16 to 18 years old) from Bellevue that play fuzzy power pop in the vein of early Weezer and Ben Barnett's post–Kind of Like Spitting project, Blunt Mechanic. In fact, when it came time for Special Explosion to record, they reached out to Barnett, whom they met while attending classes at School of Rock. Special Explosion's demo, A Smaller Me, is available for free download at www.purevolume.com/specialexplosion. If you're a fan of the Thermals or anything Barnett has ever done, it's in your best interest to download it. MEGAN SELING
The Art of Derek Erdman
(Crocodile) Although Derek Erdman may not always exhibit it in his Line Out column, Caperin', the man knows a shitload about music. He owned a record store in Chicago and has lost more vinyl to water damage than you've ever bought. Also, he's hilarious. If you don't get his humor, you are probably a boring person and a bummer to hang out with. Says Erdman about tonight's event: "This show was difficult to get my brain around in many ways. Eventually, I decided that I could amuse myself just by making things up, such as Ben Gibbard collecting hats or Jens Lekman being obsessed with skateboarding gibbons. Eventually, I had to stop painting musicians, as well, so there are also paintings of animals and buildings. There's a painting about Julie Francavilla and Steve Pool having an affair. Is that slander? I hope that's not slander. I hate going to court." The fun starts at 6:00 p.m. GRANT BRISSEY
To the Sea, Exohxo
(Columbia City Theater) I'll put it as simply as possible: This is a great local lineup. Exohxo are a chamber-pop band you should know about; they're experts at combining orchestral strings, forceful guitars, and poppy melodies into something at once catchy and erudite. To the Sea don't work with the ornate strings of Exohxo, but they do the pop-rock part just fine, with music that often swells into a verse-chorus-verse-gasm. Here's the guarantee: You will leave the theater with at least three great new songs stuck in your head. PAUL CONSTANT
(Chop Suey) Sonic Boom's Spectrum project fuses many of his lifelong obsessions into his most cohesive artistic efforts since Spacemen 3 split in 1991. With Spectrum, Sonic (aka English guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Pete Kember) writes tracks that range from ripping, comet-trail rock to ethereal lullabies to BBC Radiophonic Workshop homages (check the awesome "Delia Derbyshire" on Forever Alien) to marvelously realized, reverent covers of underground-rock classics. There also have been fruitful collaborations with fellow electronic-rock psychonauts like Silver Apples and Jessamine. Kember has retained his knack for creating supremely tranquil, lovely ballads and unnerving, analog-synth-generated oscillation cauldrons. The aging gearhead's still got it—and as Spectrum's most recent release, the War Sucks EP, proves, Kember's not mellowing with age. DAVE SEGAL
(Easy Street Records Queen Anne) See Underage.
Monolake, Justin Timbreline
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Twin Shadow, Seapony
(Crocodile) This is what a well-matched bill looks like: Seattle's most delicately breathtaking pop band (Seapony) opening for a morose, retro-synth crooner (Twin Shadow), who, in turn, preps the crowd for endearing rockers the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. All three acts are, in their own way, audibly indebted to post-punk and new wave royalty (duh), but also, critically, late-'80s/early-'90s shoegaze pioneers like Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine ("Belong," the title track off the latest Pains LP, rather plainly echoes "Blown a Wish"). There's also a somewhat-disarming OK Soda–era alt sheen to Belong, placing Pains a hair ahead of most bands in the nostalgia-mining game. All three of these bands seem to grasp an inarguable actuality: One of the best ways to "win the future" is to pull from the past. JASON BAXTER See also Underage.
Phosphorescent, Family Band, Betsy Olson
(Tractor) Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck has quietly become one of our generation's better singer-songwriters. His thoughtful country-inflected constructions are your friends on gloomy days and reflective road trips, and probably at a bunch of other times and places, too. GRANT BRISSEY
Tame Impala, Yuck
(Neumos) In a recent blurb for our Stranger Suggests page, I called Tame Impala Australia's greatest rock band since Birthday Party and the Scientists (okay, let's says since the Go-Betweens), and if you think that's hyperbole, well, clean out your ears. Tame Impala's lid-flipping debut album, Innerspeaker, swirls and soars with a dulcet, cloud-busting verve that few contemporary psych/shoegaze rock groups can equal. Over these 11 songs, TI auteur Kevin Parker's mellifluous melodic chops match an affinity for fascinating textural flourishes that are bolstered by vocals that lusciously stretch out vowels, culminating in the phenomenal "I Don't Really Mind"—which, for some damn reason, they didn't play last time they came through Seattle. It's probably the closest any band's come to invoking Wire's immortal "Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW." DAVE SEGAL
Tobacco, Beans, Shapers
(Chop Suey) Tobacco is the enigmatic prime mover of Pittsburgh folkadelic freaks Black Moth Super Rainbow working in solo hiphop(ish) idiom. Over two albums with anticon (Fucked Up Friends and Maniac Meat), Tobacco has staked out a very weird niche in the beatmaking scene. At his best, Tobacco sounds like a bizarre fusion of Boards of Canada and J Dilla, with clipped, mulched funk beats punching through muted, hazy wind instruments and wonky, bulbous analog synth billows. (If this is all done on computers, they're very stoned computers.) Beans is Antipop Consortium's most out-there MC and producer, which is saying several mouthfuls. Chicago's Shapers deliver post-rock that charges at you from several different, interesting angles. Cop their Little, Big album on the group's Bandcamp page. DAVE SEGAL
Shim, Hounds of the Wild Hunt, Hobosexual
(High Dive) While the city waits with bated breath for Fleet Foxes to release their sophomore record, and bands like the Head and the Heart, Campfire OK, and Drew Grow & the Pastor's Wives continue to get their faces on the cover of magazines, Hobosexual are doing their damnedest to make sure Northwesterners don't forget that it's okay to get loud and just have some fucking fun. Hobosexual are like Monotonix, only they don't set things on fire (I don't think). Instead, they come with more musical talent and songs that are actually bearable even when not being delivered by half-naked hairy men. And for a laugh, check out Hobosexual's music video for "Van Candy." MEGAN SELING
High Class Wreckage, Tit Pig, Hair Vest, Deadkill
(Blue Moon) If you've been lucky enough to check out local hardcore buzz-band Tit Pig already, you know they demand a certain amount of audience participation. "Onstage" at the Comet last year, vocalist Sean Evoy took a quick break from shrieking and screaming his face off to address the crowd: "Get fucking up here and start pushing people around. I'm gettin' pissed." But don't worry, this isn't your typical "bro-core" hardcore-dance-a-thon. Instead of simple chugging breakdowns, Tit Pig never let up, refusing to slow down while thrashing through sets crammed with pure, unadulterated punk-rock fury. Think later-era Black Flag mixed with a little Fucked Up. High Class Wreckage might not be as fast, but they sure as hell know how to write some burly-ass riffs reminiscent of Dead Moon and the Melvins. How very Northwest of them. KEVIN DIERS
Plan B, Eliza Doolittle
(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.
Brilliant Colors, M. Women, Gun Outfit
(Cairo) See Underage.
Starfucker, Champagne Champagne, Land of Pines
(Vera) See Underage.
(Tractor) See Sound Check.
Floor, Totimoshi, Norska
(Funhouse) See preview.
The Cave Singers, the Young Evils
(Showbox at the Market) A few months back, we gave the new Cave Singers record, No Witch, to a bunch of dilettantes in the office. The idea was to get some nonmusic writers' opinions on the thing. Unfortunately, most of them returned with a bunch of uninformed claptrap (sorry, dudes!). Dave Segal and Megan Seling were pretty much the only ones who got it right. In truth, the record is quite a nice set of murky, countrified rock songs, and while it might not be the band's best work, it's far from bad. Go find out for yourself. GRANT BRISSEY
Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks
(KeyArena) This coheadlined tour is called "Heart & Soul," but only because "Rasping to Infinity" wouldn't look as stately on a Ticketmaster stub. The world has watched Stevie Nicks grow from a young woman in a shawl to an old woman in a shawl, with a good portion of us remaining forever susceptible to her gauzy pop sorcery. The world has watched Rod Stewart grow from a cocky young singer-songwriter to the world's most insistent cover artist, with a good portion of us ignoring his existence as he embarked on a five-volumes-and-counting pillaging of the Great American Songbook. (Ella Fitzgerald is rolling legless in her grave—but I bet the songwriters' families appreciate the royalties.) Tonight, the raspy blond bombshells share the stage—Stevie first, Rod second, happy nostalgia throughout. DAVID SCHMADER
Ian Moore and the Lossy Coils, Kasey Anderson
(Sunset) Not all shape-shifters are tricksters, and Ian Moore is one of the best shape-shifters out there. After starting his musical career as an Austin-based guitar-slinger, he reinvented himself as a soul-stirring Vashon troubadour. Now he's back to basics—a rocking power trio with Oranger/Posies bassist Matt Harris that returns the guitar firepower without sacrificing the soaring, heartbroken intelligence of "Luminaria." If you need your favorite artists to keep making the same album over and over, Moore will piss you off. Repeatedly. If you enjoy watching artists evolve and explore their creativity, hop on the train. But by all means, get your butt down to the Sunset—it's rare that all three band members perform together in the Northwest, and they kick some serious ass. BARBARA MITCHELL
Kurt Vile and the Violators, EMA
(Sunset) See Stranger Suggests.
OFF!, Steel Tigers of Death, Deadkill
(Neumos) See preview.
Dengue Fever, Maus Haus
(Crocodile) Los Angeles sextet Dengue Fever play finely honed, melodic psych pop with Cambodian accents; their vocalist, Chhom Nimol, often sings in Khmer, and keyboardist Ethan Holtzman's visit to that Southeast Asian country sparked an interest in its brand of rock music. Faint kitsch, B-movie tendencies seep into Dengue Fever's approach, but a lot of people seem to enjoy that aspect of it. The group's most distinct elements are Nimol's artfully wild, expressive vocals and Ethan and brother Zac Holtzman's fluent, outré organ and guitar riffs. Dengue Fever are supporting their new album, Cannibal Courtship, with Maus Haus, a San Francisco band that distributes generous dollops of odd analog-synth emissions over off-kilter yet danceable rock song structures. DAVE SEGAL
Steve Ignorant, Goldblade, the Estranged
(Neumos) See preview.
Fake Problems, Pomegranates, Laura Stevenson
(Vera) Let's talk about how awesome Laura Stevenson is. First, there's her voice. It's a wonderful mix of confidence and precociousness—she can quietly sing soft lullabies, but she can also carry the climactic moments of more passionate anthems (listen to "Master of Art" on her new album, Sit Resist, for evidence). Also: She has played keyboards for the wonderfully scrappy NY ska/punk band Bomb the Music Industry! (shut up the punx!), and one of the dudes from the world's greatest posi-punk band Latterman is in her backup band the Cans. To top it off (according to Wikipedia), her grandfather wrote "Little Drummer Boy." Oh, and she's gorgeous. Everyone in the world should have a megacrush on this woman. MEGAN SELING