(Neumo's) Here's the story of Piebald (or as much of a story as I can tell about a band in 125... now 104 words). They started long ago, in the late '90s, as a hardcore band, playing New England basements and singing songs that were melodic, but in a dark, muddy, aggressive sort of way. They were a hardcore version of the good kind of emo, basically. The boys grew up a bit, started writing pop songs, and put out a record called If It Weren't for Venetian Blinds It Would Be Curtains for Us All, and it was sloppy, but pretty good. They continued to grow, continued to release records that continued to get poppier, more produced, with dumber lyrics. And that brings us to now and their latest release, Accidental Gentlemen, which has some rock guitar, some poppy melodies, but nothing memorable or remarkable about it. Which makes it feel like the band keeps going not because they have something to say but because they just can't stop. MEGAN SELING
SING SING: TUSSLE, FOURCOLORZACK, PRETTY TITTY
(Chop Suey) See preview, page 35.
GERALD COLLIER GROUP, ANNA COOGAN & NORTH19, CARRIE AKRE
(Tractor) See preview, page 37.
FLASH HAWK PARLOR ENSEMBLE, HORSE FEATHERS, TOM HEINL
(Crocodile) Portland's Horse Feathers keep it simple. For the band's first album, Words Are Dead, Justin Ringle wrote a group of quiet, dark songs to which Peter Broderick added evocative strains of cello, violin, and mandolin. The two make music that wouldn't be out of place in a lonely cabin in the scrub pine forests of Georgia, sometime in the late 19th century. The songs tell stories of sickness and death, tribulation and joy, and Ringle's hushed vocals follow the keen of Broderick's strings as they scuttle in the low registers before ascending toward an unseen sky. At their best, on songs like the meditative, melodic "Finch on Saturday," Horse Feathers provide a tuneful reminder of our own mortality. CHRIS McCANN
(Neumo's) Terms such as "experimental" and "unconventional" are often red flags indicating that the music being described is probably a little, uh, "confusing" to "untrained" ears. Portland trio Menomena get tagged with those adjectives quite a bit, but there's a palpable sense of playfulness—not to mention a solid underlying pop sensibility—that makes the band straight-up fun. Loop-y and horn-y (and quite possibly loopy and horny as well), Friend and Foe has earned high marks from every hipster blog, website, and publication on the planet and caused an actual organic industry buzz at this year's SXSW—which, of course, means nothing to "untrained" ears. It doesn't matter. Just one listen and you'll fall for them like everyone else. BARBARA MITCHELL
VOXTROT, SOUND TEAM, AU REVOIR SIMONE, THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION
(Crocodile) Yes, summertime; yes, sprawling shamelessly in the grass; yes, wide-eyed, mushroom-enhanced afternoons and bleary, dusky sunsets; yes, the Phoenix Foundation. The New Zealand sextet have long been bubbling Down Under, but their 2003 debut, Horsepower, was only released this year here in the States. Often blissful, occasionally bittersweet, Horsepower is the sound of languid sunshine daydreams and humid sleepless nights, dappled with chromatic harmonies and druggy reverb, shifting through grinning electronic undercurrents, acoustic and slide guitars, and lazy percussive accents. Perfect for wasting away all the ephemeral beauty of the season, the Phoenix Foundation take flight on their first full U.S. tour, most likely their last supporting such a haphazard bill. JONATHAN ZWICKEL
UNSANE, 400 BLOWS, MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT
(El Corazón) Realistic depictions of danger usually trigger longer-lasting emotional aftershocks than far-fetched scenarios, which is why plausibly plotted killing-spree films leave deeper memory-bank imprints than monster movies, and why Unsane's album covers, which feature convincing ersatz cadavers and blood-splattered bumpers, disturb more than Cannibal Corpse's graphically mangled caricatures. Soundwise, Unsane achieves heaviness through similarly organic means, not with high-speed shredding but instead through demonically possessed blues chords. On their recently released album Visqueen, the New York noise/hardcore hybrid plods like a wounded, bloodthirsty beast through sludgy grooves. Chris Spencer's roars provide an intimidating facsimile of intense anger, and his slow, fuzzy leads follow intricate patterns, like half-speed surf-guitar melodies. Live, the trio smothers their creations with dense feedback, rendering them as menacing as fog-obscured apparitions. ANDREW MILLER
THEE OHSEES, THE DEAD SCIENCE, THE INTELLIGENCE. TALBOT TAGORA
(Vera Project) Any of John Dwyer's bands—from garage punks Coachwhips to neon monsters Pink and Brown to evil gay electro meisters Zeigenbock Kopf—could be described as noisy or lo-fi. His latest project, Thee Ohsees (formerly OCS), is the first of his bands that you might also conceivably call mellow. Originally started as a mostly solo recording project for Dwyer, Thee Ohsees have expanded to include Brigid Dawson on vocals, Patrick Mullins on drums and various instruments, and Petey Dammit on guitar. Their songs range from stoned, medicated blues to demented dream pop to freaked folk to gorgeous, droning ambient passages. Their latest album, Sucks Blood, tends more toward their pop and blues side and less to their gentle psychedelics (check out The Cool Death of Island Raiders for that), but even their relatively straightforward songs display the sonic weirdness and noisy guitar outbursts that Dwyer is known for. ERIC GRANDY
GEORGETOWN MUSIC FEST: THE SUPERSUCKERS, IDIOT PILOT, THE LONELY FOREST, CENTRAL SERVICES, FOR YEARS BLUE, THE LOOK, PATIENT PATIENT, THE YOUNG SPORTSMEN
(Various venues) See Underage, page 53, and Stranger Suggests, page 25.
FLAMMABLE: DJ MINX
(Re-bar) Detroit's "First Lady of Wax," Minx is one of the D's finest house DJs, splitting her time between touring as part of the Hitgirl! collective and handling her label, Women on Wax (you'll never guess the gender of most of that roster). Her appearance breaks up the rotation of locals and San Francisco DJs that usually play Flammable, Seattle's longest running house weekly (and the best club night in the city, period). The night marks a partnership between Flammable and Hot Mess, so the intensity should be taken up a few notches. Fuck 11, this teaming guarantees the gay knob's gonna be turned up to 12, but as always, that shouldn't deter the hetero masses from coming out for house music all night long. DONTE PARKS
BRAKESBRAKESBRAKES, PELA, ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE, THE HANDS
(Chop Suey) The UK's got a knack for turning out addictively good indie rock made by siblings: first Noel and Liam, then the Cribs (twin singers) and the Magic Numbers (two sets of sibs), now Electric Soft Parade. Comprising brothers Alex and Tom White, Brighton's ESP were up for a Mercury Prize in 2002, but their latest CD impresses with a mix of clangy guitar, tidy melodies, and a touch of that signature Brit-pop fizz—block the exits if they try to leave Chop Suey without playing "Cold World," a brilliant piece of piano pop. Some might say it's Oasis-meets-the-Strokes, but the influences really aren't all that obvious sounding. Recorded for next to nothing, No Need to Be Downhearted is a stellar example of the wonders that shared DNA can bring about. As for us Yanks, don't tell me Good Charlotte and Donny and Marie are the best we got.... MAYA KROTH
KILLAH PRIEST, VAST AIRE, THE WISEMEN, RUDY AND THE RHETORIC
(Nectar) Wu-Tang alum Killah Priest's shining moment came in the 1999 samurai-gangsta classic Ghost Dog. Forest Whitaker—as Ghost Dog—steals a Lexus, slips in a CD, and cruises nighttime city streets. The song that plays is KP's "From Then Till Now": "We was the wisest and the richest, now we turn to snitches/Women turn to bitches, in the time of harvest/We was the smartest, worshipped wisdom like the goddess/Now we act retarded, forsook the wisdom of the fathers." Metaphysical, historical, and hyperliterate, Priest's husky, monotone flow has always been one of the Wu's secret weapons. JONATHAN ZWICKEL
THE RAVEONETTES SPECIAL ELECTRIC DUO, MIDNIGHT MOVIES
(The Triple Door) The Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, better known as the Raveonettes, revive simple, classic '50s and '60s pop and imbue it with a certain amount of lyrical darkness and postmodern wink. They've collaborated with originators like Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes, Martin Rev of Suicide, and the Velvet Underground's Maureen Tucker. Though they occasionally play and record with other musicians, their songs frequently cede instrumental duties over to electronics. And for this tour, the band are performing as a "special electric duo," which suggests that at least some of the rhythm section will be held down by drum machines. L.A.'s Midnight Movies reference similarly faded pop standards, but with considerably less energy and charm. ERIC GRANDY
(KeyArena) About three-quarters of the Police's 44 summer shows are already sold out, including two this week at KeyArena. Tickets average around $150 each. The band haven't played together in 20 years. Add it up and that's a lot of people with a lot of money and a lot of faith. No doubt the chaps are healthy: Their too-brief cameo at the Grammys in February revealed a preternatural buffness, and they were unafraid to stretch "Roxanne" into risky space-dub territory. Of course, a backlash has developed, leveling charges of greed and opportunism, and, worse yet, rescinding the band's once-unassailable influence and acclaim. It's moot: This tour will bolster the believers and naysayers both. JONATHAN ZWICKEL
THE HANDSOME FAMILY, ROSYVELT, THE MALDIVES
(Tractor) There's a lot to be said about the Jayhawks, Wilco, or North Mississippi Allstars, but one of the traps with bringing indie routines under the sway of dust-bowl country music is that the latter's often lost, leading to a real whiff of rock band about it all, with leg-splayed onstage performances and fantasies of famous authenticity. The Handsome Family, meanwhile, are just one guy and a girl. They dress like a black-and-white western and don't do a whole lot. Lonely and low-key, they draw crude, near-prose pictures of bottomed-out isolation, Midwest revenge, and a forgotten America with a romantic bluegrass minimalism. Tragic in small doses, it's wry and damaged work, hypertraditional with a feel for homicide. DEAN FAWKES See also Stranger Suggests, page 25.