This week is essentially split up into two things: Capitol Hill Block Party and not-Capitol Hill Block Party. If you're planning on hitting that CHBP action hard, check out our comprehensive festival calendar for all the information you could possibly want. If you're planning on doing anything else, take heart knowing that we've got everything from a sold-out show featuring lush and compelling ear-wormy hits (Portugal. The Man), to what is basically the Fleetwood Mac line-up sans Stevie (Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie), to excellently portmanteau'd garage rockers just in time for summer (T-Rextasy, Emma Lee Toyoda, Hardly Boys), to a Stranger Things-themed festival in Snoqualmie (Off The Block Party). Click through the links below for all of our critics' picks, with complete details and music clips, and find even more options on our music calendar.
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The Drums with Stef Chura
Jonny Pierce is the Drums—though as he’s let on in recent interviews, it already had been the case, for the most part, for years. (Cofounder and final remaining bandmate Jacob Graham left the group before the recording of the Drums’ most recent album, Abysmal Thoughts.) But something about the lack of obligation to bandmates, even as a formality, has liberated Pierce as a songwriter. Abysmal Thoughts contains some of his best material to date: 12 sun-bleached, guitar-and-analog-synth pop numbers that hark back to the band’s masterful 2010–11 run of The Drums and Portamento; the innocent, so-happy-it’s-painful sound, coupled with hurt, hopeless, and even tragic lyrics form the shadow we’ve found we’re so drawn to in bright light. TODD HAMM
J. Cole with Guests
A top-notch hiphop talent deserving of all the hype and arena-size venues he plays, J. Cole maintains a clever, thoughtful, expressive lyrical style without losing his muscular, street-savvy swagger. He can also get tender and sweet, and he has been known to experiment with unexpected samples and sound qualities along with the expected beat-bumping and groove-hawking. He flows with an effortless mix of fluid rhyme-slinging and singing, and he has nice pipes, too, his husky tuneful timbre showcased in the jazzy horn-imbued “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the lead-off track on his latest LP, 4 Your Eyez Only. The loosely conceptual album relates the tragic experiences of a man who goes from selling drugs to falling in love, with the final track revealing that he’s died and created the entirety of it for his daughter to listen to after he’s gone. Cole says his goal was “to humanize the people that have been villainized in the media.” LEILANI POLK
Aimee Mann with Rhiannon Giddens
This ZooTunes event pairs indie acoustic powerhouse Aimee Mann with Carolina Chocolate Drops founder and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, promising performances of music from both of their latest albums.
Javiera Mena, ELIA, DJ Chilly
Chilean artist Javiera Mena, widely popular for her wild looks and collaborative sounds across her home country, concocts trance pop for the future. She'll be joined in her sonic weavings by ELIA and KEXP's DJ Chilly.
Matchbox Twenty and Counting Crows with Rivers & Rust
For reasons unknown, early '00s alt rock stalwarts Matchbox Twenty have rallied the troops to take over White River with the Counting Crows for a summer evening of music that could be so smooth. They'll be joined by Rivers & Rust.
Michelle Branch with HAERTS
Michelle Branch, one of the many talented early 2000's piano-playing wristband-wearing Top40-RenFair wistful singer-songwriters, is back on the scene with a tour stop in our fair Seattle.
Piano Starts Here: Antonio Carlos Jobim & Lalo Schifrin
We still don’t know who will plunk the keys on this evening, but they’ve got tank-sized dress shoes to fill up with tribute, improv, maybe both. Brazil’s Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927–1994) sat laconically with his hat and glasses at his keyboard, saying to himself, hey, I love standards, but I bet I can put fancier chords into the whole business and folks will still love me. So he did, and they did, and he begat new standards. Argentina’s Lalo Schifrin, still alive at 85, remains best known for his clipped, big-build theme to Mission: Impossible, documentary proof that folks can rock out in 5/4. He poured symphonic ambition into movie soundtracks. If you don’t know him, you definitely know his cinematic sounds. ANDREW HAMLIN
Crybaby Studios Monthly Show
Every month of 2017 will see a different locals-only showcase hosted by Crybaby Studios, with the third Wednesday of each month acting as a feature for some of our best regional musicians. The July show will include a headlining set from local dream pop group Close Encounter, with support by spacey post-punkers Dead Spells and electro-poppers Neu Yeuth, and visuals from Daisyheroin.
Joan Shelley with Guests
The No Quarter label is best known for its roster of noisy, head-wreckin’ rock acts like Endless Boogie, Pharaoh Overlord, Circle, and the Psychic Paramount. But it also harbors some singer-songwriter stateliness, mainly in the form of Joan Shelley. The Louisville, Kentucky, artist strums nuanced melodies on an acoustic guitar and sings with a solemn prettiness that will make fans of Vashti Bunyan and Sandy Denny want to fan themselves with back issues of Arthur magazine. Shelley’s mellow, frictionless ballads bear a feathery gravitas, and if there’s something coffeehouse-esque about her last couple of great albums—Over and Even and Joan Shelley—they’re world-class coffeehouse-esque fare. DAVE SEGAL
Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie
Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie got drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie to make four-fifths of the hit machine Fleetwood Mac lineup from the 1970s and ’80s, but they couldn’t get Stevie Nicks, who promised and then broke her promise. So they made a duets album (shoving their steadfast rhythm section matter-of-factly off the front cover). This disappointed me the first time around, although the second time around the clanking cutlery noises on “Sleeping Around the Corner” make me smile. Buckingham is a pop genius, but his tendency to physically attack other people (regardless of gender) needs noting. I’d like to chalk it up to cocaine psychosis, but I’m not sure it’s that simple. I won’t stop listening. But I won’t stop thinking about that. ANDREW HAMLIN
TUF Zine Issue 2: Release Party
TUF ("a female/nonbinary/trans collective centered on electronic music and art") will present this release party for the latest edition of their zine, featuring musical performances, a variety of art and visual installations, and a reading.
Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show
Okay, the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show provides good old-fashioned liquid light shows (now called “analog liquid light shows”) throughout, and head honcho Lance Gordon gleaned his chops from an actual liquid light show from at least one actual hippie, so you know it’s heavy. He’s not averse to laptop enhancement, but he’s fundamentally old-school—cool! I was too young for the 1960s and if the punk shows I went to wanted visuals, they had to show an old man’s 16 mm European vacation reels upside down and backward. I worried that the bands on this bill might compose some kind of cult, but no, they “only” worship psychedelia, the 1960s, garage rock, and good drugs. That’s enough for me. ANDREW HAMLIN
Portugal. The Man with Crater
Maybe it’s his Alaska upbringing, something heady and inherently stimulating about the air up there, but John Gourley has a knack for composing music that is lush, compelling, and strangely ear-wormy without being accessible to the layperson. The realms are generally psychedelic pop and rock, although he and his Portland-based band, Portugal. The Man, have amped up the groove-strut appeal (and brought back Danger Mouse to partially produce) on their eighth and latest LP, Woodstock. It kicks off with “Number One,” which riffs on Richie Havens’s “Freedom” performance at Woodstock, features guest appearances by Havens and Son Little, and bumps, marches, and grinds along on an oozing, creeping trajectory. The rest of the album is similarly weird and head-bob/hip-swing addictive, with Gourley’s vocals varying from creamy falsetto to commanding tenor to pitch-shifted tones. LEILANI POLK
Studio 4/4: John Talabot & Kelly Lee Owens
When you absolutely need disco and house music that’s more tropical than Ibiza and smoother than a roomful of Sade imitators, you call on Barcelona’s John Talabot. His heat-hazed tracks move with a languorous lope, sunshiny melodies and dulcet vocal samples adding luster to the laid-back grooves. You might even get away with wearing a Hawaiian shirt to this one. London producer Kelly Lee Owens is a newcomer with a fab self-titled debut album on Smalltown Supersound. It’s one of those rare records that combines intimate yet lush electronic dance music and winsome melodies in an entrancing manner, with Owens’s hushed, Jenny Hval–like vocals icing the cake. DAVE SEGAL
T-Rextasy, Emma Lee Toyoda, Hardly Boys
One of the year’s most think-pieced music stories was the hypocrisy of PWR BTTM, a queer punk duo who prided themselves on creating safe spaces at their shows and were then beset by sexual-abuse allegations against singer Ben Hopkins. New York band T-Rextasy, who planned to tour with PWR BTTM this summer, got caught up in the backlash—the quintet pulled out of that tour and quickly denounced the band on Twitter. T-Rextasy’s music stands on its own, though: tuneful, off-kilter garage-rock with an infusion of personality from vocalist Lyris Faron’s one-of-a-kind intonations. Irreverent feminist punk is a familiar sound in Seattle, and Hardly Boys—fresh off the release of an album called Dear Diarrhea—are an ideal opener. ANDREW GOSPE
Darqness: A Queer & Trans People of Color Party with Sissy Elliott
Sissy Elliott, Mykki Blanco's tour DJ, will headline a night of sweet Darqness with evening regulars NXMXGXLDXX and Reverend Dollars, and Timbre Room resident DJ Howin 1000 on the decks. Houston producer and social justice activist Brian Is Ze will host.
Derv Gordon of The Equals, So What, The Knast, Sir Coyler & His Asthmatic Band
I’m “So Excited” for this show, ’cause I bet “I’m Gonna Dance All Night”! Tho’ extremely well loved, frantic 1960s beat group the Equals, who included Eddie Grant and had a worldwide smash with “Baby Come Back,” somehow never made it to the United States to play live. WELP, in the past year, the group’s vocalist, Derv Gordon, has FINALLY given the “Green Light” to play some select live shows stateside and, god damn, we’re getting one! “Rub-a-dub” Derv, all my lerve, we’ve been waiting 50 years to “Stand Up and Be Counted”!!! Also on deck tonight are Bay Area boot-stompers So What (who also back Derv), local power-pop shaggies the Knast, and growling punk from Sir Coyler & His Asthmatic Band. MIKE NIPPER
The Psychedelic Furs and Robyn Hitchcock
New-wave act the Psychedelic Furs exist in the same hazed, romantic dreamworld as 1980s contemporaries the Church or Echo & the Bunnymen. Also like those acts, the Furs have toured the past few years to the delight of fans not fortunate (or old) enough to have experienced their heyday. Best known for hits like “Pretty in Pink,” “Heartbreak Beat,” and “Love My Way,” the UK band is armed with exquisitely surreal lyrics, swirling, jangly guitars, soaring sax flourishes, and riffs that situate themselves firmly in your memory. Eccentric gem Robyn Hitchcock made his name with the Soft Boys’ delightfully off-kilter neo-psych in the 1970s and ’80s, helping to pave the way for the Paisley Underground movement and psych influence of early-’80s college rock. His extensive solo material and work with his band the Egyptians should also spark the interest of those intrigued by lyrics crafted with poetic whimsy paired with smart pop melodies. BRITTNIE FULLER
Research: King Britt, J-Justice, Stas THEE Boss
A consummate, eclectic DJ and a producer of sophisticated, soulful house and spacey, abstract electronic music (the former as Sylk 130, the latter under his Fhloston Paradigm alias), Philadelphia’s King Britt offers nutritious brain food to audiences no matter which role he’s filling (tonight he’ll be doing a hybrid DJ/live set). Hiphop heads may know Britt best for his stint as Digable Planets’ touring disc jockey, during which he had ample time/space to flex his knowledge of obscure funk and jazz. (Check The Cosmic Lounge Volume One comp for an example of Britt’s curatorial prowess regarding freaky jazz-fusion.) That he recently collaborated with rising electronic iconoclast Moor Mother proves Britt’s remaining relevant, even if he has a rich history of productions and mixes to fall back on. DAVE SEGAL
Jeff Rosenstock, Laura Stevenson, Jason Clackley & The Exquisites
Quirky good-guy punk Jeff Rosenstock plays a set with ultimate garage talents Laura Stevenson and Jason Clackley & The Exquisites.
Joshua Radin with Rachael Yamagata and Brandon Jenner
Joshua Radin has the monopoly on emotionally resonant indie rock, and will be illustrating the reasons for his success in a set flanked by equally popular Starbucks soundtracker Rachael Yamagata and guest artist Brandon Jenner on their Coffee House Live Tour.
Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.
Jazz vocalist Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., may be a big name thanks to America's Got Talent, but manages to stay on top courtesy of smooth as silk performances every time he hits the stage.
At the end of the 1970s, Edward Larry Gordon (aka Laraaji) often played music in Washington Square Park, entrancing rush-hour passersby with the cosmic intonations of his DIY electric zither—all the while visualizing finding just the right producer for his sounds. The universe accommodated, bringing Brian Eno across his path—resulting in Laraaji’s proper debut, Day of Radiance (the third installment in Eno’s genre-making Ambient series). In the 30-odd years since, Laraaji has composed more than 40 albums of higher-vibrating instrumentals meant for soundtracking meditation. He’s become a joyful, orange-enrobed fixture in new-age sections and in yoga/transcendental centers—and resurgence of interest in the genre (and some choice reissues) has found his works deeply resonating with a new generation. Breathe and stop. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Natalie Merchant got a little older (her distinctive voice sounds exactly the same), became a mother, and released a concept album called Leave Your Sleep, based on poems about childhood that date back centuries. The critics were divided—too buttoned-up, some said, but others were thrilled. This night will include some of her old favorites, which hopefully means a few 10,000 Maniacs tracks.
Off The Block Party 2017
Promising an immersive experience outside of the city, the second annual Off the Block Party, set on three acres near Snoqualmie, will feature musicians like Briana Marela, Haley Heynderickx, Great Spiders, Gabriel Delicious, and Emma Lee Toyoda, as well as large-scale art installations, camping, and distractions of every kind. This year's theme will be Stranger Things, so don't be afraid to get weird.
An Evening with 2Cellos
Croatian classical populists 2Cellos, otherwise known as Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, became famous in 2011 after their version of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" went viral and they were subsequently featured on Glee. They'll come to Seattle on their national tour, on the heels of the release of their most recent album, Celloverse.
A Fundraiser For Teresa Mosqueda with Pony Time, Lisa Prank, Childbirth
Pony Time, possibly the best garage-rock band of all time (but don’t quote me), are getting back together for one night, and that should be the only information you need to get your ass out the door and into this show. If you require more info, take heart in the fact that this event will double as a fundraiser for Teresa Mosqueda, political director for the Washington State Labor Council and former legislative director of the Children’s Alliance who is running for citywide Position 8 of the Seattle City Council. Along with Pony Time’s retirement-age scuzz, Lisa Prank, the Trapper-Keeper queen of Seattle, and Childbirth, sentient hospital smocks who make a lot of sense regarding womxn’s issues and your dad, will also grace the stage. KIM SELLING
Orphan Radio Pop-Up
New kids on the block Orphan Radio will be throwing a live broadcast party for 12 straight hours wherein local DJ collectives and record labels will hawk their wares while alternately taking turns on the decks. Featured groups on the bill include MOTOR, Further Records, Budget Cuts Records & Tapes, Jungle Gym, and many more.
Today is the Day, Kayo Dot, Convictions, Pink Muscles
When underground noise-rock pioneers Today Is the Day team up with Boston’s kings of left-brained chaos Kayo Dot, you know it’s going to be three things: loud, abrasive, and downright weird. For both bands’ entire existence, they’ve lived outside any traditional boundaries of the often-limiting metal genre, constantly evolving and adding deeper elements of experimentation. No two albums of either artist sound alike. While Today Is the Day have dabbled in the realm of jazz fusion, Kayo Dot might be one of the only bands to get metalheads jamming out to a vibraphone. Now that’s what I call brutal. KEVIN DIERS