Earth, Sir Richard Bishop, James Blackshaw
(Tractor) Earth's shift from ambient-metal dirge-aholics to sensei of twangy, desolation blues has been remarkable. Their thing has always been rock minimalism, but how they've transformed it testifies to Dylan Carlson's disciplined approach to composition, instrumentation, and arranging. Where Earth once meditated in the dense muck, they now do so from the mountaintop. Sir Richard Bishop—now a solo artist after the Sun City Girls' demise—tours the globe as a versatile guitar virtuoso who can slay you with his fleet-fingered playing and between-song banter. His encyclopedic musical knowledge, phenomenal dexterity, and ability to shift from reverence to irreverence while avoiding kitsch always makes for riveting live entertainment. If you ask nicely, he may even play "Esoterica of Abyssinia." DAVE SEGAL See also preview.
Club Pop: TacocaT, Broken Nobles, Braidstorm, DJ Reflex, DJ Recess, DJ Expendable Youth
(Chop Suey) Last year, Holy Ghost Revival relocated to London, England, to break out across the pond. Their drunken "ugly American" antics garnered them some high-profile press and attracted a few rabid fans, but then the money ran out, their label folded back into its parent company, and the band came home and promptly broke up. Now, Holy Ghost Revival frontman (and Stranger nepotista) Conor Kiley has formed a new band, Broken Nobles, whose sole published song, "Tin Soul Jazz," points toward more subdued, melancholy moods and acoustics than theatrical rocking. Still, it's only one song, and theatrical rocking seems pretty deep in that boy's blood, so who knows? As for TacocaT, rumor is that the band have been talking to Kill Rock Stars, which would of course be the ideal home for them. ERIC GRANDY
Police Teeth, the Bismarck, Arbitron
(Sunset) See Album Review.
Kinski, AFCGT, Treetarantula
(Comet) Over their 11-year existence, Seattle quartet Kinski have become titanic riff merchants, rocking with aerodynamic efficiency, ballistic power, and hairpin dynamics, while going off on the occasional spacey, abstract interlude. At their best, they're one of the most exhilarating hard-rock groups in the city. Bonus: Their song titles are among the funniest around. Fellow Seattle quartet Treetarantula play what people inevitably will call "stoner rock," and they're extremely adept at it, delivering repeated psychedelic knockout blows until you understand the true meaning of "wah-wah." It's raw, dude. AFCGT have received much praise from this writer lately, and it's all deserved. DAVE SEGAL
The Spits, Partman Parthorse, Steel Tigers of Death, Meteorites Attack, One Million Teeth
(Funhouse) See Stranger Suggests.
Emeralds, Kane Hodder, Black Houses, Patrol, Teens in Heat
(El Corazón) Chances are you have no idea who Teens in Heat are. And that's okay! They're new. The trio—featuring Christen Shaw of Man Plus, Nouela Johnston of People Eating People (and formerly Mon Frere), and Sage Gatzke of Black Houses—will take you back to the days of pre-glam Hole. You know, when Courtney Love had a real nose and didn't constantly blog about nothing. Teens in Heat's few demos available online aren't the best quality, but they showcase the same raw, haunted vibe that made Love and company so magnetic. MEGAN SELING
Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death, Battle Hymns, Transmography
(Full Tilt Ice Cream) Now that Spencer Moody and Dann Gallucci have gotten the Murder City Devils reunion out of their system (the band wrapped up a short jaunt down the West Coast last week), the two return to their weird, arty ways with Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death (also featuring Andrea Zollo of Pretty Girls Make Graves and Joel Cuplin of Suffering and the Hideous Thieves). The band are far from palatable on first listen—a noisy mélange of saxophone, keyboard, sludgy bass, and vocals that alternate between howling and disparaging. It's not for everyone. But tonight, some of Full Tilt's ice cream may make it go down a little bit easier. MEGAN SELING
Antony and the Johnsons, Johanna Constantine
(Moore) See preview.
H Is for Hellgate, Mighty Shiny
(Comet, 5 pm) H Is for Hellgate—the Seattle poppy-post-punk outfit powered by singer-songwriter- guitarist Jamie Henkensiefken—are gaining national attention for their new record, Come for the Peaks, Stay for the Valleys. But the track that most caught my attention is "Tina Fey," an as-yet-unreleased track I found on the band's MySpace page. Over a sprightlier-than-normal pop-punk riff (one of the band's key traits is their way with slower, heavier tempos), Henkensiefken lays out her deep personal love for the woman who's become America's Sweetheart. "Why did you marry some guy from the SNL band? I think we could have worked it out. If you wanna hook up with a real musician who won't knock you up..." The cute is kept in check by the creepy—the song ends with our frantic-with-desire frontwoman cozying up to her amazingly lifelike Tina Fey Real Doll. DAVID SCHMADER
Speaker Speaker, Flora v. Fauna, the Vague Prophets
(marsBar) Unwound bassist Vern Rumsey has a new trio called Flora v. Fauna. If the two songs on their MySpace page are indicative, the Olympia band come at you with a post-punk severity and controlled scrappiness that won't alienate longtime Unwound aficionados. This is a very good thing. As you probably know by now, Speaker Speaker create tightly wound, peppy pop-punk for the youthful at core, making early Buzzcocks sound like Melvins. Speaker Speaker understand the importance of being earnest. DAVE SEGAL
Michna, Eliot Lipp, Linda and Ron's Dad
(Chop Suey) Eliot Lipp loves underground hiphop and futzing with '80s-era electro signifiers. Sometimes he kills it enough to impress Prefuse 73's fussy fans; sometimes he plummets into the cheesy mire of TV-movie-theme wackness. You never know with this guy. Formerly of dope Schematic hiphoppers Secret Frequency Crew, Brooklyn-via-Miami producer Michna is now Ghostly International's bright new hope, debuting with a sweet batch of ultravividly melodic electro on his wonderful LP Magic Monday. Get there early for locals Linda and Ron's Dad, whose wonky hiphop productions could give Dr. Octagon about eight more degrees of weirdness. It's not left field; it's out of the freakin' ballpark. DAVE SEGAL
Pain Cocktail, Atomic Bride, the Heels
(Funhouse) They've got a dude playing bass, but the Heels remain straight-ahead, lusty eyeliner rock: "Even a lady could use a good cow-poke/I'm fired up/Saddle up, boy." The songs are Buzzcocks pop-punk, but simpler—two-to-three minute bursts of rhythm and booze with ragged chords and tough-girl (if not exactly Pulitzer-quality) lyrics. A dose of hair spray, fishnets, and sneering, the Heels make angry make-out music for the drunk and the desperate. BRENDAN KILEY
Leeni, Voicechanger, 5H1F7Y
(Sunset) When I saw Leeni perform a few years ago, she was kind of folky, and I really liked it: In my review, I described her songs as "loopily beautiful." Since then, she's gotten into eight-bit music—basically singing along to new compositions that resemble soundtracks of classic Nintendo video games. This kind of very particular conceit doesn't usually do it for me—while listening, I can't help wondering what the artist's next step is going to be—but Leeni imbues each song with a beauty and personality that surpasses kitsch. That's real songwriting talent. PAUL CONSTANT
(Showbox at the Market) British R&B sensation Estelle broke out with last year's Kanye West–assisted international flirtation "American Boy," a simultaneously breezy and robotically stomping dream of a romantic holiday whose success culminated with the pair's appearance at the Grammy Awards, where they picked up a trophy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Beyond "American Boy," Estelle is a refined singer with more than a hint of Lauren Hill's classicist soul sound. It's a voice that, "American Boy" aside, her recent album Shine mostly flatters with fairly traditional instrumental treatments, as with the light reggae lope of "Come Over" or the vintage soul tones of "No Substitute Love." Opening is Seattle's own (only?) world-class R&B singer Choklate. ERIC GRANDY
N.A.S.A., Staxx Brothers
(Nectar) N.A.S.A. are the fabulously well-connected L.A. duo of pro-skateboarder Ze Gonzales (aka DJ Zegon) and Sam Spiegel (aka Squeak E. Clean, aka brother of hot-shit director Spike Jonze). Their debut effort, The Spirit of Apollo, collects guest spots from a ridiculously long list of big names—Kanye West, David Byrne, Method Man, Santigold, M.I.A., Karen O, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Tom Waits, Kool Keith, Sizzla, Scarface, and on and on and on—and, well, doesn't do a whole lot with them. The productions range from wanly sunny funk to down-tempo breaks to stoned hiphop to Diplo-esque world-party electro, but few songs really stick. And while some guests turn out fine if unremarkable deliveries (M.I.A.'s hooks are piercing as ever), several seem squandered or painfully out of place (pity Waits's appearance here). Presumably, none of these famous friends are actually on tour with N.A.S.A., so expect to see a couple dudes just doing a DJ set. ERIC GRANDY See also It's a Hit, page 41.
Michael Gira, Larkin Grimm
(Tractor Tavern) See Stranger Suggests.
Clues, City Center, Iji, the Camellias
(Vera Project) Clues are the new band from Alden Penner, aka that one guy from the Unicorns who didn't go on to form Islands following the former band's demise. Not much evidence of Clues exists out there so far, but one MP3, "Perfect Fit," hints that Clues will be hewing a lot closer to the Unicorns' haunted-organ-driven, cartoon psych pop than do any of ex-bandmate Nick Thorburn's many current projects. Keyboardist Bethany Or and drummer Brendan Reed (formerly of Arcade Fire) fill out Clues' lineup. Live, the trio appear to ricochet between hard-hitting, sinister ragers and sweetly odd pop ditties, and in fact, video clips of Clues performing live are making me really excited to see this band. Like, "forget about that last disappointing Islands record" excited. And then some. ERIC GRANDY
Lambchop, Anna Coogan
(Triple Door) Kurt Wagner and his revolving-door big band Lambchop have been making codeined-out alt-country music for 15 years. These Nashvillians have got their spare, moody art down pat. Lambchop will be supporting their latest album, the intimate yet lush OH (ohio), tonight. On that disc, Wagner pens a mellow, laggard paean to a pencil titled "A Hold of You." "This pencil has a nice feel to it," he begins. Genius. DAVE SEGAL