CHARLES PETERSON'S BOOK PARTY FEATURING THE BRIEFS, GIRL TROUBLE, DJ BRUCE PAVITT
(Crocodile) See preview, page 35.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH TRIBUTE NIGHT FEATURING NICK GARRISON, PURTY MOUTH, ERIN JORGENSEN, JOSH FEIT, GUESTS
(Sunset) See Stranger Suggests, page 23.
DOWNPILOT, THE NATIONAL, TREASURE STATE
(Tractor) Moments of peaceful contentment are few and far between in the world of New York band the National. On "Slipping Husband," frontman Matt Berninger warns, "Never tell the one you love that you do, save it for the deathbed"; he lashes out at Jesus for using and confusing him on "90-Mile Water Wall," and advises you how to be a proper alcoholic parent with the warning, "Don't leave yourself alone for too many days, 'cause sooner than you know you're gonna start slipping" (all from the band's lush new release, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers). Berninger's voice sounds burdened with heavyheartedness even in the happiest of lines, and his lyrics seem to pour from a man quarantined in a world of disappointments, although his delivery is a resolute sort of broken--like Smog, but gruffer. He's backed by the perfect selection of instruments--twangy acoustic guitar, strings, piano, and French horn all help document the dark, cynical stories pockmarking this album. JENNIFER MAERZ
KILL HANNAH, BLACK NITE CRASH, COBER
(Graceland) Looking like girls and sounding like an old Cure album attempting to get it on with the MáAáC counter, Kill Hannah share a common mystique with Placebo--the ability to convey why straight girls often choose boyfriends who are prettier than they are handsome. (It's because they're fucking hot and dead sexy when you dress them up in private.) While Kill Hannah's album For Never & Ever, reminiscent of Loudermilk's The Red Record, is slickly produced, I'm betting they're appropriately raw on stage. Local shoegazers Black Nite Crash--who are a better band than the headliners but less attention-grabbing--are also on the bill. KATHLEEN WILSON
SAUL WILLIAMS, REGGIE WATTS, PIECE
(Graceland) As my background in poetry is very European and stuffy (Lord Tennyson is my favorite poet; T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets is my favorite book of poetry; Ezra Pound's "Portrait D'une Femme" is my favorite poem), the only comments I can offer in the way of a review of Saul Williams' new book, ,said the shotgun to the head, would undoubtedly offend the spoken-word crowd--with whom I have nothing against and prefer to stay on peaceful terms with. Let me just make one small point, which I think is a fact for the experience of poetry or fiction in general: Saul Williams is better heard than read. For example, his performance on the track "Coded Language" of DJ Krust's 1999 CD, Coded Language, is spectacular--an explosion of raw emotion with the debris of popular political fictions and Zinn-like people's histories flying in every direction. This living power could never be translated into the desiccated language of a book. To make up for the significant loss of energy, Williams, it seems, has to use a lot of crazy capitalized and bolded words to represent the moments when he is loud or orgasmic. In a word, I recommend you spend your money on the show rather than the book. CHARLES MUDEDE
BRITISH SEA POWER, THE CATCH, ROTTEN APPLES
(Crocodile) See preview, page 41.
PREFUSE 73, FOUR TET, BEANS
(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker, page 55.
STELLA, EUGENE MIRMAN, DJ CHERRY CANOE, DJ FRANKI CHAN
(Graceland) See Underage, page 57, and Stranger Suggests, page 23.
THE STROKES, KINGS OF LEON, REGINA SPEKTOR
(Stadium Exhibition Center) After two years of living in hype's luxury, the Strokes are back with a new album, Room on Fire. I have to admit, on first listen the record completely underwhelmed me. There isn't an obvious standout radio hit, and much of the record sounds like mediocre filler. But that was on first listen. The more I heard Fire, the more it grew on me, and now I'm at the risk of playing it so much I make myself sick of it. I like that the band went for a subtler approach on their sophomore release, making it more of a slow burner than a quick flash in the pan. The guitars and drums sound even more tempered than on Is This It, creating a highly styled pop record that doesn't want to mess up its hairstyle or crumple its suit, which works well for the band--especially when frontman Julian Casablancas' detached "I never needed anybody, it won't change now"/"When are you gonna give me a break" charm breaks through the cool to add a bit more texture to the controlled emotions in the music. You can hear for yourself when the band plays the Seahawks Exhibition Center, but my recommendation is to just check out the album. I've heard nothing but terrible reports on that venue. Sounds like you're better off listening to the band from inside a crowded airplane hangar than paying the $35 to be part of that cattle pen. JENNIFER MAERZ
TYLER KEITH AND THE PREACHER'S KIDS, the shackles
(Comet) Blues, rockabilly, garage punk, and a proud Southern attitude all come to blows on Romeo Hood, an album by Tyler Keith and the Preacher's Kids. The band takes its cues from the Stones, the Oblivions, and '50s rock 'n' roll, adding a punch-drunk sense of humor on songs like "Youth Is Wasted on the Young" (a track that puts both meanings of "wasted" to use). Fronted by the slurred, cracked crooning of Mr. Keith (Neckbones, Sky Pilots) and backed by members of Blue Mountain, the band careens into the tender love ballad and the barroom brawl bruiser with the finesse of a street drunk after a bottle of Night Train. Live, I expect the band will create a whole new congregation of converts. JENNIFER MAERZ
MAVIS STAPLES' TRIBUTE TO MAHALIA JACKSON
(Town Hall) One of my oldest, and most vivid, memories involves being woken from sleep to the sound of Mahalia Jackson's brazen contralto backed by Percy Faith on The Power and the Glory, emanating from an old wood-encased RCA turntable that my grandma had decided to switch on in the middle of the night. I had no way of knowing at the time that she did it to piss off Grandpa, but upstairs, as I put my ear to the trapdoor (the one that held the retractable stairs to the attic, where I slept on my father's old twin bed), it sounded like bright, hopeful sadness--three words that best described not only my grandma but the gorgeous blues Jackson lent to gospel songs. Her voice is unforgettable to all who hear it, and tonight one of her most awe-inspired fans, the evocative Mavis Staples, pays tribute to Jackson live, as she did in 1996 on Spirituals & Gospel: Dedicated to Mahalia Jackson. KATHLEEN WILSON
PHANTOM PLANET, BEN LEE
(Graceland) Neither Phantom "that kid from Rushmore" Planet or Ben "I was in Noise Addict" Lee is as good as their legends would have you believe. Yes, I just said that. It's been a long time coming where Lee is concerned, and I've let sentimentality get the best of me simply because the Australian Noise Addict singer sounded so goofy-sweet and sparkling when he dialed me up at The Stranger so far back in the day his voice was still cracking. Back then he was making fun of Evan Dando ("I Wish I was Him") instead of writing songs with him. Lee's first solo album, Grandpaw Would, is arguably the last entirely earnest, endearing record he made, and if you go back and listen to it today, I'll almost guarantee you'll never pick up his following releases, Something to Remember Me By (1997) and his new version of the 2002 import Hey You. Yes You. Phantom Planet may be Hollywood favorites, but to me, they're simply nonspectacular, embarrassingly studied-sounding power pop. KATHLEEN WILSON
THURSDAY, THRICE, COHEED AND CAMBRIA
(Showbox) Though my attraction to their style was immediate, it took me a while to fall for the new Thursday album, War All the Time. Something about the disc's instrumental intricacy, combined with vocalist Geoff Rickly's passionate delivery of the same three notes in every song, made it difficult to differentiate between tracks and forced me to conclude that, while any three songs would be great on a mix disc, a whole album was just too much. If I weren't such a slacker, that's the opinion you'd be reading now. Instead, I procrastinated, giving the songs time to soak into my subconscious, where, like a classroom full of Catholic schoolgirls, individuals that seemed superficially similar became unique and arousing as the conformity of their surface layers was stripped away. And if comparing this album to a striptease by a Catholic schoolgirl isn't enough to sell you on it, I don't know what is. JAMES SUTTER
HIEROGLYPHICS, DEL THA FUNKEE HOMOSAPIEN, SOULS OF MISCHIEF, CASUAL, PEP LOVE, LITTLE BROTHER, ENCORE
(Showbox) See The Truth, page 47, and Stranger Suggests, page 23.
THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS, HOOBASTANK, OZOMATLI, DIFFUSER
(Paramount) Back in May, when the All-American Rejects were just starting to attack the airwaves with their catchier-than-catchy single, "Swing, Swing," they played Graceland and I wrote a little preview for the show, stating, "If they keep their shit together they can escape the grips of an infamous 'one-hit wonder' tag.... If they let the machine eat them, however, they're doomed to be every 13-year-old girl's flavor of the week and will be vomited back into the gutter by June." Well, the Rejects certainly haven't been banished to the gutter, but they have become many 13-year-olds' dream date, meaning that quite possibly the end is near. Thirteen-year-olds have short attention spans, you see, and while right now the Rejects' gaggle of fans are wholly convinced that they could get forever lost in lead singer Tyson Ritter's big blue eyes, another boy, another song, another band will come along and the Rejects will live up to their dumb name. But I've been wrong before. MEGAN SELING
DAVID DONDERO, GUESTS
(Graceland) David Dondero is cool. He's a modern-day wandering troubadour--sort of an indie-rock version of Jack Kerouac, living his life mostly on the road and spinning his tales from his experiences. According to some accounts, his most recent "permanent" abode was a combination of his truck, a mattress, and someone's garage. But don't take my word that the guy's the frickin' bomb--Mr. Indie Cred himself, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, not only was quoted as saying that Dondero blows him away, but actually makes an appearance on Dondero's brand new album. So there. BARBARA MITCHELL
THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO
(Jazz Alley) For 30-plus years now, the core of the Art Ensemble has been eluding the pigeonhole of "free jazz" or "new music" while expanding and conjoining those idioms. Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors, Joseph Jarman, and Don Moye came out of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians before making a name for themselves in Europe. With the slogan "Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future," the collective's mandate encompassed avant-garde jazz, Afrocentric attire and face paint, mythopoetics, and riffs on traditional spirituals. With Lester Bowie's death in 1999, the rest of the group makes a rare appearance with original member Jarman, most likely playing songs from the recent recording Tribute to Lester (ECM). GEORGE CHEN