THE DIVORCE, THE LASHES, THE VEXERS, CROSSTIDE
(Chop Suey) See preview, page 37.
THE GOSSIP, HOLY GHOST REVIVAL, THE KING COBRA, THE FITNESS
(Vera Project) See Stranger Suggests, page 25.
(Seattle Art Museum) See Drunk by Noon, page 47.
HIDDEN CAMERAS, PURTY MOUTH, PLUM STREET
(Chop Suey) As far as the music's concerned, Canadian Joel Gibb's Hidden Cameras project is a starlit wash of drum-machine staccato, childlike Broadway tunes, and nervous indie-pop anxiety. His voice is low but excited, which in its more successful moments, like the pressurized "Ban Marriage," recalls Bernard Sumner in his work for Electronic. With the live shows you're offered a crowded stage of breasts and male go-go dancers in ski masks and underwear, and on top of that are Gibb's lyrics. Flipping between adolescent notes-across-the-classroom and graphic bursts of homosexuality, The Smell of Our Own is a smart, frank, and still very frustrated collection of gentle ironic sentiment. "I found music," he sings, "and he found me, he made me toast, music filled my mug with Vaseline, I gave him a choke." GUY FAWKES
ZEKE, HIMSA, THE RUBY DOE, MANDO DIAO
(Graceland) Definitely an odd lineup, but for those who think all loud music sounds the same, here are some of your basic variants. There's the brawling butt-rock aesthetic of Zeke, the hypnotically hardcore and dark metal of Himsa, Ruby Doe's anthemic, angular punk, and then there's... the bouncy antics of Swedish garage stylists Mando Diao, who snag pop hooks on Hammond melodies, like a better-fashioned version of the Forty-Fives. Their songs cover soul, pop, and regular old rock 'n' roll, making their recent release, Bring 'Em In, an eclectic selection of genre-jumping. Pitting (at the two extremes) the Mando Diao mods against the Zeke rockers is a scene so straight out of Quadrophenia you'll wish Sting would pop out from behind the pinball machines to settle the score for good. JENNIFER MAERZ
ARGONAUT, THRALL, A BRIGHTER BURNING END, RONSON FAMILY SWITCHBLADE
(Hell's Kitchen) Old timers might recall the God Bullies, one of Amphetamine Reptile's ugliest noisemakers who peddled their scorch during the first Bush administration. Mike Hard was the face and soul of the band, as demented a frontman as any, and he's still making people uncomfortable with Thrall. Musically, Thrall hawks up a black, slimy rock, a decidedly unsexy swing that is nonetheless sickeningly, obscenely alive, like a jellyfish that sprouts legs, crawls out of the ocean, and burrows into the sand. Hard lurches above the scree, sinking his growl into the muck as he holds forth on the redemptive power of blasphemy and apocalypse, falling into frightening trance states and careening across the stage into unsuspecting spectators. His contortions might be more cathartic for himself than the audience, but as long as witnesses leave bewildered and disturbed, Thrall can claim success. FRED BELDIN
THE BADGER KING, MOUNT EERIE, DISPLAY, NIKAIDOH KAZUMI, GHOST TO FALCO, GUESTS
(Luscious Studios) See Stranger Suggests, page 25, and Underage, page 55.
THE WEIRDOS, THE SKULLS, THE GIRLS, DEK
(Graceland, early) See preview, page 37.
LEATHERBOY, XXX AUDIO, THE BLANK-ITS
(Fun House) Remember "college rock"? That was what they used to call alternative music before it went all mainstream and boring--back when bands like R.E.M. and U2 were considered kinda weird. XXX Audio hark back to that time, cranking out tunes that are raw, driving, sexy, and sorta dangerous. In other words, really good and really fun. Former Delusion Denise Maupin and company are seasoned enough to have lived through the college-rock era, but their energy level and obvious joy in being onstage and playing these songs should be enough to send any young whippersnappers scurrying to the herbal-energy supplement section of the local market. In fact, their adrenaline rush is downright contagious--as are their songs. One exposure to the winding, pounding, strangely haunting "Static" should be enough to permanently lodge it in your long-term memory. Unafraid to hold their heads up and rock you like a hurricane, XXX Audio prove that confidence is HOT. BARBARA MITCHELL
JUCIFER, HARKONEN, RACEBANNON, BRASKI
(Hell's Kitchen) If the cement doesn't buckle for this show, it's only because the folks at Hell's Kitchen have reinforced the place. Jucifer comprises one man, one woman, and a wall of amps so oppressive they could demolish a condemned building with one well-placed riff. Harkonen are Tacoma's awesome hardcore heroes and Racebannon are so feral and noisy I can't stop screaming their praises. (Think math punk plus turntables of white noise plus a singer rambling in a warbling voice like an asylum escapee.) A good, abrasive palate cleanser if you've been digesting bad conversation with the relatives all week. JENNIFER MAERZ
BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE UNDERDOG, THE CRIPPLES, THE FAMILIARS, DJ TIM "PURPLE" HAYES
(Sunset) Beneath the Valley of the Underdog don't have a familiar-sounding name, but I'm willing to bet you've heard them before, as the group is the, um, alter ego of a Seattle rock band still worshipped worldwide. In fact, without BTVOTU, there probably wouldn't be bands like the Catheters, the Hunches, and the Stooges--oh no, wait, the Stooges came first. Well there probably wouldn't be bands like the Familiars at least, who just sent me their Jack Endino-recorded demo of canine punk so drenched in the dirty aesthetic, your hair gets greasy and your shirt beer-stained if you turn it up too loud. Along with the Cripples' infectious synth pop, we also have DJ Tim Hayes coming out of hiding and on vinyl patrol. Really, what else do you need? JENNIFER MAERZ
NEW MODEL ARMY, CASEY NEILL
(Tractor Tavern, early) I honestly didn't know New Model Army were still together. This was a group, this is a group, that reared itself out of early-'80s post-punk culture with aggressive, powerful new wave melodies (singable!) and a political confidence that railed and grew darker and progressively more interesting over the last 20 years. They were Britain's answer to Midnight Oil, and I always wanted the chance to fiddle with them in my head again. Damn, their fans are loyal. New record! Singles collection! Side projects! Tour! Should I've seriously known better? DEAN CARLSON
FUTURE SOUL: AC LEWIS, ATLEE, DR. J, J-JUSTICE, MIKEY
(Baltic Room) The vocals of Kim Nauman, the percussions of Jayson, and the turtablisms of SunTzu Sound DJs (AC Lewis, Atlee, Dr. J, J-Justice, and Mikey) form what is called Future Soul--Seattle's version of the international dance-music movement known as broken beats. It is not easy to describe this type of music, as it is many things (hiphop, house, soul) that are connected by an idea or a kind of attitude toward the beats. You have to hear it as a whole to adequately understand what is going on. Some if it is funky, some of it is simply beautiful; other times it is political and cosmopolitan, and often it is futuristic. Although the rhythms tend to be complex, they never really fall apart--you can still recognize and submit your body to the warped system of the groove. CHARLES MUDEDE
THE SPITS, SECRET GUESTS
(Sunset, early) So I can't tell you just who these "secret guests" accompanying the Spits are, but I'll give you some hints. They're "weird" and from back in the day, and you're very unlucky if you miss them, because who knows when they'll decide to tour this way again. It took the force of a "neutron bomb" to get the L.A. trio here in the first place. Okay, enough hints. If you know who I'm talking about, you'll want to be there. JENNIFER MAERZ
THE TWILIGHT SINGERS (FEAT. GREG DULLI), GUESTS
(Chop Suey) See preview, page 39.
ALKALINE TRIO, REGGIE & THE FULL EFFECT, NO MOTIV, GUESTS
(Showbox) There are only a handful of "funny bands" that I like. You know the kind--the bands that write stupid funny lyrics for their stupid funny songs, really doing nothing but recording their goofiest moments in the studio. I love the Aquabats, for example. They write songs about "Pizza Day" at school, and about how "dogs are way sweet" (woof woof!). It's silly, it's fun, and it certainly isn't something to take too seriously. Reggie & the Full Effect are another band of that nature. They definitely have their goof-off moments, but peppered among their "joke" songs about jazz hands and dwarf invasions are some truly catchy and legit pop tunes. The one time I finally saw them live, they were outrageous and entertaining, dressing up with fake mustaches and matching suits and putting more effort into making the show a spectacle than actually playing the songs well. It was fun to see, no doubt, but I don't recommend you go expecting to hear a flawless version of "Thanx for Stayin'." It's more about being up front, singing along, and not taking anything too seriously. It's all about having fun. MEGAN SELING
OKKERVIL RIVER, ZYKOS, BIOGRAPHY OF FERNS
(Crocodile) While most musicians are lucky enough to garner a three-star review for distilling complex feelings into a few succinct rhymes and a catchy chord progression, Okkervil River favors the opposite, less-popular approach on its third full-length, Down the River of Golden Dreams (Jagjaguwar). Driven by vintage keyboards, banjo, and mandolin, and buttressed by chamber-sized brass and string accompaniments, the melodies of this Austin, Texas, quartet expand and contract, race and then take respite, all in service of the literate lyrics of Will Sheff, who captures the minute subtleties of his battered, brokenhearted characters with the precision and colorful flair of an Old World cartographer. Amid its whirl of emotional turns and vibrant musical and lyrical components, Down the River... still leaves room in its tales for listeners to draw their own conclusions, and, in sustaining that delicate balance for three-quarters of an hour, achieves the status of minor masterpiece. KURT B. REIGHLEY