Red Sparowes, Russian Circles
(Neumo's) See Stranger Suggests, page 21.
Zion I, Mistah Fab, J. Pinder, Scribes, DJ Sean Cee
(Chop Suey) See My Philosophy, page 45.
The Black Ghosts, the Fading Collection, Head Like a Kite, DJ Recess
(Nectar) Breezy, easy-to-miss British indie-pop band Simian didn't score their greatest hit until after they broke up. The hit was, of course, Justice's rework of Simian's "Never Be Alone Again," retitled "We Are Your Friends," a track that catapulted one half of Simian into the club world's strobing limelight as Simian Mobile Disco. The Black Ghosts are the new project from singer Simon Lord, who hails from Simian's other, less recently operative half, along with Theo Keating. Black Ghosts songs come closer than SMD to traditional vocal pop, only with drum machines and synthesizers as their primary instruments. "Face" is perfectly glossy and fun—it's probably a mobile-phone or car commercial already in England—but other tracks, such as "Anyway You Choose to Give It" and "Something New," aren't quite as winningly giddy. ERIC GRANDY
Hadley Caliman, Joe Locke, Tom Marriott
(Tula's) See The Score, page 52.
Boredoms, Human Bell
(Neumo's) See preview, page 37.
Mad Professor, DJ Kid Hops, Everyday Prophets
(Nectar) After the Scientist, the third and last dub master of the Jamaican period (1970 to 1982), there is Mad Professor. He and Adrian Sherwood inaugurate the British period of dub's 40-year history. Mad Professor has produced an entire dub universe that has its core in roots reggae but also contains numerous encounters with hiphop, soul, punk, lovers rock, and triphop. Indeed, his most famous work on this side of the Atlantic is his remix of Massive Attack's second album, Protection. His version is called No Protection, and like all great dubs, it outdoes the original. Mad Professor launched the ordinary beauty of Massive Attack's album into a vast sky that it exploded with fancy lights and falling stars. Get this record; watch this show. CHARLES MUDEDE
Jason Collett, Burning Rivers, Great American
(Sunset) Andrew Whiteman has Apostle of Hustle; Kheaven Brereton performs hiphop as k-os; Leslie Feist is, well, Feist. Almost everyone in Broken Social Scene has a solo project and Jason Collett is no exception. He recently released his new album, Here's to Being Here, on Arts & Crafts. Collett's songs walk the line between singer/songwriter, folk, and joyful rock. Think Wilco with some Tom Petty flourishes. Catchy choruses invite you to sing along, guitars beg you to move, and the drumming fights to keep you smiling, even through lyrically bittersweet tunes like "Out of Time," and "Sorry Lori." MEGAN SELING
Kaki King, Matt Sheehy
(Tractor) There are a lot of reasons you might be wary of Kaki King—the NYU student busking, the major-label deal with Sony (now expired), the session work with Northern State and Tegan and Sara, the glowing endorsements from Dave Grohl, the occasional precious song titles such as "Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers" or "Can Anyone Who Has Heard This Music Really Be a Bad Person?" But you would be wrong, and you would be doing yourself a grave disservice. King is, as Grohl attests, a "really fucking good" guitar player, and her songs, whether vocal or instrumental, are indisputably well-crafted. Her new album, Dreaming of Revenge, emphasizes the catchy vocals but it's not without its pretty instrumental passages. ERIC GRANDY
The Blow, Pica Beats
(Triple Door) See Stranger Suggests, page 21.
Triumph of Lethargy..., Past Lives, Loving Thunder, the Human Echo
(Comet) When any creatively ferocious and well-liked band ends and its members splinter into new groupings, the musical progeny unavoidably receive a good deal of attention, both positive and negative. Cannily, Past Lives, a quartet featuring three-fifths of the recently dismantled Blood Brothers and guitarist Devin Welch (formerly of Shoplifting, Chromatics, and others) have somewhat short-circuited this nigh-inevitable pigeonholing by casting themselves as a return to and reemergence from their collective artistic cradle. Rekindling the Bros' youngest days, back when Welch was still in the fold, Past Lives presents a sort of alternate-universe version of what path these musicians might have taken together had circumstances been different. The inference is that these dudes, by re-forming from the foundation up, may build something both truly independent of and at least as strong as their former projects. All context aside however, the four young men of Past Lives truly form like Voltron and go deep like a baby seal. SAM MICKENS
Asunder, Middian, Indian, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
(El Corazón) If you're a fan of doom, Asunder are for you. Comprising members of crust kings Dystopia and Oakland crust/metal lords Skaven, Asunder don't sound much like either band, leaving behind the blast beats and tremolo picking for heavy, doomy metal. Yes, there is some occasional borrowing from their former bands—a faster pace here, black-metal leads there—but mostly it's slow and hard, with superlow, growling vocals. It's not the most exciting music to listen to at home, but live, it rocks crushingly hard. KIM HAYDEN
Dengue Fever, Black Moth Super Rainbow, FCS
(Neumo's) It's hard to write about Dengue Fever without mentioning their unusual lineup: four (sometimes five) American musicians fronted by a Cambodian chanteuse. The L.A.–based outfit began earlier this decade as a cover band focusing on '60s and '70s Cambodian pop songs (which is what led them to recruit vocalist Chhom Nimol in the first place). Since then, though, they've grown into a "real" band, writing original songs (with vocals still mostly in Khmer) that build on the surf, go-go, and (of course) Southeast Asian elements in the music they used to cover. Like their entertaining live show, their new album, Venus on Earth, features plenty of vintage reverb and Farfisa tones to go along with Nimol's star-quality vocals and Zac Holtzman's always-clever songwriting. Black Moth Super Rainbow and FCS also play. WILLIAM YORK
Born Ruffians, Cadence Weapon, the Village Green
(High Dive) Cadence Weapon is the nom de rap of Rollie Pemberton of Edmonton, Alberta—son of pioneering Canadian hiphop radio DJ Teddy Pemberton. The prodigal young Pemberton began rapping at 13 and started writing record reviews for Pitchfork while still a teenager. Predictably, Cadence Weapon boasts both a historical understanding of hiphop (and pop and indie) but also a sharply attuned critical wit—cred academic rather than hood. His delivery is all wordy, indie-rap aggression (listen for Atmosphere's Slug in his hard, stretched Rs), rhymes alternately landing squarely on 4/4 beats and straining with obscure references and multisyllabics; on new album Afterparty Babies, his hyperactive flow is intensified by his slightly sinister electro-carnival productions. Countrymen Born Ruffians are a light, jangly folk-rock trio whose more unhinged moments suggest just a touch of Animal Collective's raucous wilding out. ERIC GRANDY
The Velvet Teen, Aloha, the Sea Navy
(Sunset) Just days ago, spring officially began—so our feet and souls can finally start to thaw from the cold, long winter. Of course, this is Seattle, so realistically "spring" is still at least a month away and our feet will freeze through March. But we can pretend, for one night, that the sun is starting to chase away the chill with Aloha's warm and luscious gentle rock. And the Velvet Teen, how I love the Velvet Teen. Sometimes their songs, quick-moving beats under distorted vocals, will make your heart beat faster. Sometimes, though, with mesmerizing strings and sad, somber singing, they'll make your heart almost stop completely. MEGAN SELING
Evangelicals, Headlights, Southerly
(Nectar) Like every band in the world, Evangelicals just spent a few days in Austin, Texas, playing over and over again for a slew of drunken music-industry types who may or may not remember their name in the flurry of free drinks, Lou Reed sightings, and taco gorging. Luckily, Evangelicals are memorable, even in the face of such damning circumstances—their music is unabashedly enthusiastic, a recipe of dramatic glam and playful rock. Singer Josh Jones is comfortable with the quirks his voice is capable of as it shifts from low to high, and he flaunts it with confidence while the music takes a turn for the surreal. Compositions are lush with harmonies and layers of guitar that float around a spacey new place thanks to ethereal synthesizers. MEGAN SELING
El Olio Wolof
(Sunset) The town of Merced is a pretty wonderful jewel in California's otherwise somewhat culturally harsh central valley, an agricultural nexus point that has yielded unimaginable bounties of earth-sprouting goodness for the whole world. From its trophy-shop- and rice-field-laden climes hail El Olio Wolof, undoubtedly one of the most singular and touching bands in recent Golden State history. Their music winds from lightly brushed jazz waltzes with heartbreaking children's story lyrics to more dramatically rocking songs sometimes reminiscent of the livelier moments of the Black Heart Procession. They are a band possessed of earnest tenderness, an unwinking affection for fantasy, and a patient attention to musical detail, all qualities somewhat too rare in the modern indie strata. They appear here in support of their new, self-released album, A Tedious Task. SAM MICKENS
Justice, Diplo, Fancy
(Showbox Sodo) Don't call it a backlash, 'cause it's not like that. Diplo's great—a restless remixer, a clever producer, and a mind-blowing, party-rocking DJ (when he starts scratching classic music videos on those DVD turntables, your stoned dome will explode). And Justice are just as good at what they do—plowing heavy-metal synth riffs into stomping drum-machine beats and dressing up disco/funk samples with digital distortion to make insanely catchy club pop. Fancy, a bratty French glam garage band (and not the dude from Fannypack), are a toss up. It's just... the MySpace Music Tour? At the Showbox Sodo? No matter how much you like these guys, do you really want to go see them with 2,000 of your douchiest MySpace "friends"? No, you don't. ERIC GRANDY
Black Horse, Supernaughty
(Comet) You remember, back in the day, when badass music didn't necessarily mean diddling, ridiculous shit like DragonForce and Rhapsody of Fire? Black Horse have that kind of 1990s pre–power metal dirty-rock vibe. Their songs have choruses of "fuck yeah!" built into them, and it's shouted with the energy of someone who really believes in the power of a good cathartic "fuck yeah!" Black Horse's guitar riffs are crunchy, postglam blues-fed headbanging monsters, but this is no retro act: The interplay between April Goettle and AP Schroder's lead vocals, combined with the drum machine that makes up the third corner of the trio, makes the band feel like a sort of rock-and-roll Le Tigre: part irony, part sincerity, all motherfucking hook. PAUL CONSTANT
Jens Lekman, the Honeydrips, Marla Hansen
(Neumo's) As I listen to Jens Lekman, it's hard to digest the fact that the man is, in fact, younger than I am. Born in 1981, Lekman has the catalog, spirit, and wit of an older man who's been singing his stories for decades. His voice is smooth and deep like Jonathan Richman's. "The Opposite of Hallelujah" is delivered with soaring strings, tinkering bells and piano, handclaps and tambourine, and Lekman's soft, romantic croon. "Friday Night at the Drive-in Bingo" is even more playful. Over a bordering "smooth-jazz" saxophone, Lekman tells a story about a Friday night of "riding on his moped, looking for fun." If that doesn't get you to crack a smile, the fact that he rhymes "ring" with "bingo" probably will. MEGAN SELING
The Cult, the Cliks
(Showbox at the Market) Let's not forget the Cult. You've heard the song "Wild Flower"; you recognize the guitar riff. Der der-der DER! In 1981, the Cult formed and became a pre to the post, as in predecessors of postrock. A psychedelic Native American goth punk was their sound. Their story is classic VH1 Behind the Music: band gets huge, sells millions of records, gets hooked on drugs, starts to hate each other, breaks up, goes into rehab, deals with lawsuits, reforms, then has their singer front the Doors. In the process, they've gone through 21 band members. But singer Ian Astbury and guitar player Billy Duffy have been there all along and "Wild Flower" still makes you get up and want to kick shit. The riff remains the same. TRENT MOORMAN
Gravy Train!!!!, New Bloods, Joey Casio
(Vera Project) You know when you meet that girl at a party who's really comfortable talking about sex? She's all over the place talking about boobs and dicks—and it's totally cool, right? The always-controversial Gravy Train!!!! at the sterile and family friendly Vera Project is like taking that girl home to meet your parents. While Dad might love it when she shakes her ass and talks about her farts, Mom could be seriously offended when she asks her what's up with her unbleached mustache. With the band's notoriously sex-driven, in-your-face electro pop covering all of the hot and nasty topics previously mentioned and more, tonight at Vera could be an educational and uncomfortable time for all. CASEY CATHERWOOD
Vampire Weekend, YACHT
(Neumo's) It's hard to listen to YACHT's I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real. at the office and not lose the thread of whatever it is you were doing—you find yourself sliding backward into Jona Bechtolt's glitchy, burping, sibilant universe, full of happy synth lines, herky-jerky rhythms, bright guitars, techy vocals. The songs are marvels of construction; they feel sturdy, built, welded together. And yet they have the goodly magic of things that have always existed. I really like this album, okay? CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE See also preview, page 35.
Bon Iver, Phosphorescent
(Nectar) It seems hype and altitude go well together, as Bon Iver has already landed on airline radio stations. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin, native was featured on American Airlines' "indie" station last month, sandwiched between up-and-comers Destroyer and... Ringo Starr? Way to go, American. Still, it's worthwhile placement—particularly because lead singer Justin Vernon's earnest delivery and palpable lyrics overcome both the usual expectations of blue-eyed soul and the noisy din of a 737. Same can be said for the band's SXSW showcase, nearly ruined by a thousand chattering Californians. But even over loud attempts at networking, Vernon's memorable cries—"I told you to be patient"—won out. For those who attended the show for reasons other than hype (or frequent-flier miles), patience paid off. SAM MACHKOVECH
Johanna Kunin, These United States
(Sunset) These United States' Jesse Elliott has a voice that invites a lot of comparisons—most of them, so far, to M. Ward, although there are touches of Devendra Banhart's frail cracking croon and Nick Diamond of Islands' calmer, half-sung/half-spoken cadences. It's a great voice—lovely, really, although "lovely" sounds somehow pejorative for a man. On "First Sight," Elliott spills words out over popping-bubble keys, quiet but propulsive drumstick clicks, and muted electric and acoustic guitar strumming. Other songs are less delicate pop, more joyously drunk folk or rootsy barroom sing-along, but all feature Elliott's able singing and songwriting. Johanna Kunin is a local singer/songwriter who has recorded with the likes of Karl Blau and Tucker Martine. The songs on her 2006 solo debut, Clouds Electric, contrast icy cold instrumentation—mostly piano, but also some guitar, strings, and woodwinds—with Kunin's soft, thawing breaths. ERIC GRANDY