(Egan's Ballard Jam House) See The Score.
Feral Children, Loving Thunder, Mountain High, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death
(Comet) Feral Children's moniker proves to be appropriate in the first track of their latest full-length, Second to the Last Frontier. "Spy/Glass House" starts as an obvious nod to early-'90s Modest Mouse, but soon after, the band unleash something inhuman: the quick, growling yeahyeahyeahyeahs and the high-pitched ooh hoo hoos. It's wild and animalistic and, when witnessing it in person, unsettling. And it doesn't stop with that one song. "Jaundice Giraffe" has an eerie intro that, with its subdued, steady drumming and tribal background vocals, could be the soundtrack to footage of a zebra being hunted in the savanna. I can see the vultures rise up from the field as the lion strikes and the low drum beats on. MEGAN SELING
Stars, Think About Life
(Showbox at the Market) Canadian indie-rockers Stars share some, er, stars with the constellation that is Broken Social Scene, and they make similarly intimate and layered soft-rock epics. Stars err to the more traditional, though, with less of the ambling ambient passages and wonderfully cluttered crescendos, and more straightforward piano balladry and big, soaring—to the point of tacky Broadway bombast—choruses. But what the band lack in subtlety on last year's In Our Bedroom After the War, they make up for with a loose story arc, fleshed out by some seminarrative liner notes, which only heightens the sense of musical theater. With their themes of waking up safe and sound after a long international nightmare, the band could choose no more apt time to take the show back down to the states than our anxious election season (though they also have a new EP to promote). ERIC GRANDY
Laptop Battle: Kris Moon, Squid Leader, Incite
(Nectar) See Data Breaker.
(War Room) See My Philosophy.
Truckasauras, No-Fi Soul Rebellion, the Physics, Fighter X, DJ Trev
(Old Fire House) See Underage.
AFCGT, Octagon Control, Arbitron
(Funhouse) AFCGT = the combustible conjunction of Seattle avant-rock vets A Frames and Climax Golden Twins. When these volatile players congregate, dank air and bad (meaning good) vibes get pushed through speakers with savvy savagery. Linear noise-rock onslaughts alternate with ominous clouds of static and metallic ax-grinding. Thanks to the unit-shifting prowess of groups like the Shins and the Postal Service, Sub Pop can issue recordings by ornery, uncommercial ensembles like AFCGT; look for their album next year and get a preview tonight. Fellow Emerald City–denizens Arbitron play primitive, purgative rock that sounds very ready for the Amphetamine Reptile Records revival. DAVE SEGAL
Black Kids, the Virgins, Man Plus
(Neumos) Black Kids sound like they learned about the Cure by listening to Hot Hot Heat. They have a couple of briefly catchy but ultimately insubstantial songs—in any sane world, they would not be on a major label. But the music industry is kind of nuts right now, what with the internet and the Pitchforks and the "I'm a computer, stop all the downloading!"—and all it takes, apparently, is a prematurely effusive 8.4 review on said 'Fork and some pretty weak United Colors of Benetton co-ed charisma to land a record deal. So somebody at Columbia fucked up—it wouldn't be the first time, and despite the tailspinning of the music biz, it almost certainly won't be the last. ERIC GRANDY
Murs, Kidz in the Hall
(Nectar) Murs's new Murs for President contains 17 tracks, three of which were produced by the man who has connected his underground career to the surface of the mainstream, 9th Wonder, and one track (thankfully just one) features the contemptible rapper/producer Will.I.Am—who symbolizes all that went wrong with hiphop in the '00s. Overall, Murs for President is not that interesting or striking, and it suffers from an infestation of chipmunk soul—when will hiphop stop speeding up soul records? Nothing on this album shines like the work he's done with the Living Legends and Felt. To his credit, however, Murs recently contributed to Onry Ozzborn's massive hiphop project the Gigantics. CHARLES MUDEDE See also My Philosophy.
(Sonic Boom Ballard) My favorite track on tender singer-songwriter Damien Jurado's new Caught in the Trees album is "Go First." While other songs on the disc stay true to the course they set within the first minute or so, "Go First" bears a few surprises. First, there's this great, unexpected cresting guitar part that kicks in at the beginning of the chorus. But the best bit comes nearly two minutes in, where a lush, electric moment breaks away from the song's stride, shifting focus onto single, playful plucks on an acoustic guitar. You can hear Jurado's fingers slide up and down the strings over soft hits on the drum. Those 45 seconds feel so out of place from the rest of the song, they make this passage the highlight of the disc. MEGAN SELING
Wallpaper, the Glasses, Bumtech
(Mars Bar) Remember the '90s? Good times, for sure. I'm not talking about the grunge '90s, though. I'm talking about the unaggressive nerd-rock '90s, the Pavement '90s. I'll tell you who remembers those formative years for "alternative" music: Wallpaper. Everything about their catchy, jangly pop rock suggests they should be playing in a garage on The Adventures of Pete & Pete. They've got everything you need to bring you back a decade and a half: clean guitars, bowl haircuts, that "we don't care about anything" attitude. Even though a lot of the time it sounds like they're trying to be the Kinks, it's attempted with such Gen X disillusionment that you could never really call them a '60s revival band. Fittingly, Wallpaper's new album, On the Chewing Gum Ground, will be released next month by K Records. JEFF KIRBY
Born Ruffians, Plants and Animals, Nurses
(Chop Suey) Plants and Animals almost won $20,000 when their album Parc Avenue was short-listed for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, for which a panel of more than 170 writers, broadcasters, and bloggers selects the best Canadian albums released in any given year. P&A's sound is anthemic, touching on Queen's grandiosity, with the stoic piano/vocal homage of Chris Martin. Forgive the reference to the overreferenced Coldplay, but P&A singer Warren Spicer sounds a bit like Martin; see the longing refrains in the song "Bye Bye Bye." Reverb-steeped guitars and a sense of cold, atmospheric curving also exist within P&A's guitar-picked, drifting numbers. TRENT MOORMAN
Weirdlords, Flaming Fire, Hands of Kali
(Funhouse) It's tempting to compare Weirdlords with Joy Division. They both employ bass-driven, lo-fi punk primitivism to drive their dark dirges. Yet you won't find Weirdlords' performances interrupted with epileptic fits, though their sets have been known to end abruptly with drunken destruction. Likewise, Weirdlords don't seem encumbered by Ian Curtis's brand of romantic morbidity. Their predilection toward the strange suggests that a tragic finale is more likely to occur through unfortunate experiments with psychedelics than with suicide. So while there may be sonic similarities, these Seattle boys are on a completely different trip than their Manchester forefathers. And it's certainly a weird one. BRIAN COOK
Giant Sand, Chad VanGaalen
(Triple Door) Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb has been crafting moving, moody rock for mature listeners since 1985. He has his desolate, prairie-twang thing down, and at this late date his loyal if modest fan base will eat up anything he brings to the stage/recording format. It's all a bit too dusty and dry for me (I prefer Calexico), but respect to anyone who can keep plowing for as long as Gelb has without crying into his diminishing royalty statements. Calgary's Chad VanGaalen creates a more dynamic, animated brand of modern-rock troubadourism that springs out of new-wave quirkiness and bedroom psychedelia. The music's melodic brashness sometimes contrasts with VanGaalen's patience-trying yelp, which conflates Mark Mothersbaugh's spazziness with Neil Young's fragility. DAVE SEGAL
Monday 10/13 Mammatus, Wildildlife
(Wall of Sound) See Tuesday's preview.
Mammatus, Wildildlife, Emeralds
(Funhouse) Another gaggle of grandiose longhairs from Holy Mountain Records' stable of heavy psychedelia, Cali trio Mammatus forge an expansive, serpentine jammage that inspires as much headbanging as it does mind expansion. Their self-titled 2006 album best captures Mammatus's mammoth, prog-metallic maneuvers, but 2007 sophomore LP The Coast Explodes boasts a better title and suitable-for-framing cover art. Mammatus create sprawling, spiritual songs to which you can still throw devil horns. Seattle's Wildildlife have quaffed from the same bong-water-laced Kool-Aid bowl as Mammatus, so they should ably complement the trio on their quest for higher unconsciousness. DAVE SEGAL
The Dead C, Six Organs of Admittance, Kinski
(Nectar) See Preview.
Cappadonna, Spaceman, Fatal Lucciauno, DJ SwerveWon
(Chop Suey) Cappadonna never made it to the core of Wu-Tang Clan. Though his career, which began in 1995 with a guest appearance on one of the best hiphop tracks of that period, "Ice Cream," owes everything to the RZA, it always orbited rather than constituted the Clan's dark and once-fertile planet. Cappadonna's solo CD, The Pillage, was released after Wu-Tang Forever—after the Wu-Tang went into decline (the Clan's peak occurred from 1993 to 1997). The Pillage is not a part of the Wu-Tang canon, and there's nothing remarkable about Cappadonna's style. He is not crazy like Ol' Dirty Bastard or intellectual like GZA or a superhero like Method Man. Cappadonna is just Cappadonna. So, why this tour? Because where he goes, he will surely find a market of Wu nerds. CHARLES MUDEDE See also My Philosophy.
The Builders and the Butchers, Hey Marseilles
(Neumos) Hey Marseilles share some members with Seattle's surprisingly adept Anniversary knockoffs Man Down Medic, but they set their sights on another sound with this act. Namely, their debut full-length, To Travels and Trunks, finds the band stowing away on Beirut's international freighter—not only for its allusions to scenic world traveling, but also for its lush orchestration, which is marked by string sections, trumpet, and accordion. But bandleader Matt Bishop has a far more straightforward, articulate, and upbeat pop vocal style, and his lyrics read less like they're scrawled on postcards than carefully composed in marble-bound notebooks. They're currently looking for a new drummer, and their ad says they value "women, mustaches, chops, experience, old clothes, jazzy drumming, multi-instrumentalists, intelligence, history books, free markets." ERIC GRANDY