Thursday 4/23

The Last Club Pop Ever: Paparazzi, DJ Colby B, DJ Recess, DJ Reflex

(Chop Suey) See Stranger Suggests.

Leonard Cohen

(WaMu Theater) Permit me some star-fuckery: Once, at a book convention, I ate with Leonard Cohen. He was wearing this amazing earth-toned suit that followed every line of his adorably compact body. Cohen wasn't some rumpled goth or drunken douchebag. He was excited about everything. "Oh, really?" he said to one woman. "You're a blogger? Fascinating! Tell me more about that!" And when he talked about music, he looked like a sugar-addled kid on Christmas morning. He's not just a music legend: He genuinely loves music with a giddy newlywed's excitement. Not many people in their fourth decade of superstardom can say that. PAUL CONSTANT

James McMurtry, Tony Fulgham

(Tractor) In advance of writing this blurb, I spent a good couple of hours with Just Us Kids, James McMurtry's 2008 release and an impeccable collection of songs. Over sharp, sturdy roots-rock music made by an ass-kicking band (give the drummer some, seriously), this Austin-based singer-songwriter weaves precise, intricate tales of American life, with a literary skill that leaves even his most literate peers—Steve Earle, Todd Snider, Lucinda Williams—in the dust. Thirty seconds on Wikipedia provides clues to the source of this literary confidence and ambition: father Larry McMurtry, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show, who gave his son his first guitar when James was 7. Tonight, James McMurtry brings his songs and his band—the Heartless Bastards—to the Tractor for the second night of a two-night stand. DAVID SCHMADER

Friday 4/24

Meat Katie, Kid Blue, Rhines, Kadeejah Streets, Nordic Soul

See Data Breaker.

Lesbian, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Grayceon, Guns of Barisol

(Comet) Brothers of the Sonic Cloth deliver heavy, dense, metallic roundhouse punches. The Tad Doyle–led trio seem to be going for a spiritual sort of sonic brutality, bestowing bruises and enlightenment with equal earnestness—like Om, but with less repetition, more dynamics, and fewer polysyllabic lyrics. With a burly determination, and aided by new drummer (and Stranger designer) Aaron Edge, BOTSC strive for a majestic, methodical metal for the mature mensch, with side trips into spacier, psychier realms. DAVE SEGAL

Franz Nicolay, Mostly Dimes, Moneybrother

(Sunset) You may know Franz Nicolay as the mustachioed pianist for the Hold Steady. His perfectly groomed lip hair is as iconic as Craig Finn's glasses (and dance moves). As a solo artist (who's partnered up with folks like Demander and the Dresden Dolls), Nicolay tries on a few different hats. On his new record, Major General, he's got everything from anthemic blasts of rock and roll to a quasi lounge number replete with clarinet. The first single, "Jeff Penalty," is one part Hold Steady and one part Against Me! (with perhaps a tinge of Ted Leo). So of course I love it. Here's hoping the live show will be paired with the raw enthusiasm that such an anthem deserves. MEGAN SELING

The Lonely Forest, New Faces, the Globes, Wild Orchid Children

(Vera) The Lonely Forest were introduced to the world as John Van Deusen and the Lonely Forest—a piano-heavy pop project from Anacortes that was fronted by an endearingly awkward teenager (Van Deusen) and his swoon-worthy voice. After an impressive EP (and a quick snip on the name), the Lonely Forest released their debut, Nuclear Winter, in 2007. It was a solid effort, sure, but it was still dripping with youthfulness (it was a concept record about witnessing the end of the world... or something). But now the boys are proving they're all grown up with their newest (and strongest) release yet. On their second full-length, We Sing the Body Electric!, they've dropped all the conceptual crap and started to rock—while still showcasing Van Deusen's fantastic voice, of course. MEGAN SELING

Bloc Party, Menomena

(Showbox at the Market) Bloc Party's newest album, Intimacy, begins with a pair of terrible messes: the blustering "Ares," with its rubbery crybaby refrain of "war," and "Mercury," with its already stale pitch-shifted chorus (like that moment where Lil Wayne says "goblin," only gutless). Both songs incorporate busy D&B drum breaks, buzzing synths, and almost-rapped vocals, all to their detriment; "Ares" at least has a nice blaring guitar siren. They're hard songs to get past—"Mercury" doubly so, thanks to it being the album's lead single, even if elsewhere on the album things improve. The band sound best when they're neither cluttering their songs with electronic bells and whistles nor reaching for echoing, multitracked guitar atmospheres, but playing relatively spare, tightly wound post-punk. That approach is in short supply here, maybe because it requires a stronger or more urgent batch of songs. ERIC GRANDY

Donald Glaude

(Last Supper Club) Thank Glaude it's Friday. Coming up through Tacoma and Seattle's rave scenes, Donald Glaude has developed into one of those house-music DJ lifers on whom clubbers can count to bring the populist dance jams. Glaude's own recent productions bear titles such as "It Was a Party Line" and "Drive Me Crazy," hinting at the escapist nature of his aesthetic. After nearly 25 years on the club and rave circuits, he has this rockin'-the-party thing down to a cheerful science, inspiring crowds as much with his infectious enthusiasm behind the decks as he does with his up-tempo selections. Anhedonia sufferers should stay the hell away from this gig. DAVE SEGAL

Atmosphere, P.O.S., Attracted to Gods

(Showbox Sodo) My only beef with Atmosphere's last record, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (2008), is this: Ant, the crew's producer, turned down the sampler and turned to a live band for the music. He isn't the first hiphop producer to make this mistake, and he won't be the last. Even nearly 25 years after "Sucker M.C.'s," live instruments exert a strong power over hiphop. What is this power? It is the power of authenticity. What a producer like Ant wants from live instruments is their truth, their immediacy, their naturalness. The sampler is nothing but a computer; the drummer is a person. But there's already enough (if not too much) truth in the raps of Slug, Atmosphere's other half. Against this truth, the truth of rapping, which is so much closer to talking than singing, an artificial background is better. Rapping against real music is too much reality. CHARLES MUDEDE

TeeBee, Noah D

(Contour) Norway DJ/producer TeeBee (Torgeir Byrknes) made one of the last drum 'n' bass albums I really loved: 1999's Black Science (with K). The disc's hard, malevolent aura stayed on the right side of chilling without tipping into the hackneyed Hollywood horror-flick or shoot-'em-up video-game shtick that infected much of the genre's '00s output. TeeBee combines No U-Turn's merciless power with Metalheads' lethal rhythmic complexity and fetish for sci-fi themes. I lost touch with him earlier this decade, but a crash course in his more recent work—including that with Calyx—shows that TeeBee is still a potent force, keeping his tracks hard and lean while infusing more soul and melody into the equation. DAVE SEGAL

Saturday 4/25

Buraka Som Sistema, DJ Sega, DJ Kid Hops

(Nectar) See Data Breaker.

Big Bully, Pantycontrol, Ctrl_Alt_Dlt, Leif

(Electric Tea Garden) See Data Breaker.

Black Lips, Flowers Forever, the Dutchess and the Duke

(Neumos) Hi, I'm the pilgrim hat (sometimes known as a "cockle hat" and/or "traveler's hat") that's currently on tour with Black Lips. I usually hang pretty tight with guitarist Cole "Oldkingcoleyounger" Alexander. Oh, the shit I've seen on this tour! There was Cole's penis in India, which sent us all on the run from the police, an amazingly stinky bag of weed at SXSW that was given to us by none other than Willie Nelson—which we later smoked with GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan—and that Circle Jerks set where Keith Morris yelled "Black Lips fucking rule!" in the mic (also SXSW). That night ended with me getting covered in a rainbow assortment of young girls' brassieres. This tour has been all love, man. I love these guys! THE PILGRIM HAT See also Album Reviews.

Bloc Party, Menomena

(Showbox at the Market) See Friday.

Dan Deacon, Future Islands, Teeth Mountain, Skeletonbreath

(Vera) Believe me, if Dan Deacon's new album, Bromst, were terrible, I'd be happy to say so. Sure, at first I was intrigued by Deacon's carefully zany live show, his Day-Glo abortion aesthetic, his happy hardcore electro pop, but I burned out on it all pretty quickly (to Deacon's apparent chagrin). So, I wasn't expecting much from this one—14-piece mallet orchestra or not. But what do you know? It's actually a fine album. In parts, it's as busy as anything Deacon's done, but those parts are layered and arranged in such a way as to make it almost more like an ambient album than like Deacon's previous spaz-outs. Deacon's melted-circuit-board synths are softened to make room for acoustic instruments, his muffled chants are as tribal as they are demented nursery rhyme, and his usual rhythmic hyperactivity blurs, hummingbird-like, into something like a smooth, illusory stillness. ERIC GRANDY See also Underage, page 56.

Peanut Butter Wolf, James Pants, Mayer Hawthorne, Dãm-Funk

(Chop Suey) This Valentine's Day, Peanut Butter Wolf dropped a mixtape via the Stones Throw podcast, on which he and Prince Paul (billed as Pimp Paul and Play Boy Wolf) let loose some of the most brilliantly insane electro-funk lover-man cheese imaginable. (The best moment by far: some found sound of a stalkery, monotone love letter interrupted by one of the mix's hosts telling the speaker that the way he's trying to kick game to the ladies is not going to work.) Beyond being a fun mix, this kind of lark is evidence of both the deep and obscure crates dug by Peanut Butter Wolf and company (including Spokane Stones Thrower James Pants) and the casual skill with which they curate and mix the odd gems they unearth. ERIC GRANDY

The Intelligence, Ononos, Le Sang Song

(Wildrose) The Intelligence's fourth full-length, Fake Surfers, is something of a return to form for the prolific Seattle post-punk outfit (aka Lars Finberg and whoever happens to be playing with him at the time). From the first seconds of the title track, Surfers recalls the otherworldly melodies and off-kilter rhythms of the band's debut full-length, 2004's Boredom and Terror—by no means a bad thing. Finberg has a knack for writing tremendously catchy material—often simple guitar/keyboard progressions that demonstrate how powerful simplicity and repetition can be when they're done right. Live, this all translates into one hell of a good reason to jump around and spill your beer all over the place; this reviewer has yet to see an Intelligence set that disappoints. Tonight is the de facto album-release show and will be the only chance to pick up Surfers before its official May 19 release date. GRANT BRISSEY

Sunday 4/26

Joe Lally

(Vera) A lot of old punk-rock dudes from the '90s have grown up and done the same thing—pick up the acoustic guitar and write gritty alt-country songs. Chuck Ragan from Hot Water Music, Tim Barry of Avail... even Seattle's Rocky Votolato had a hard-rock history before focusing full-time on his gorgeous solo material. Fugazi bassist Joe Lally breaks that mold... slightly. While his solo material isn't as explosive or ferocious as anything in Fugazi's catalog, he's not exactly sitting on top of a bar stool with a six-string, either. Lally's songs are carefully structured pieces of art—feedbacking guitars, buzzing bass, and animalistic beats offset Lally's eerily calm voice. There's something to be said for a great ballad, but what Lally delivers is more interesting. MEGAN SELING

Kreator, Exodus, Belphegor, Warbringer, Epicurean

(El Corazón) German thrash-metal group Kreator have been whipping dudes into hair-flipping frenzies since 1982. Suffice to say, they know what the hell they're doing onstage. They'll be supporting their new album, Hordes of Chaos. San Francisco's Exodus work in the same speed-kills/thrills mode as Kreator, and their vocalist Rob Dukes sings in a similar angry-all-the-time-at-everything vein as Kreator's Mille Petrozza. It must be a bitch dealing with the wear and tear of such a larynx-straining style night after night—and it's probably not very good for their blood pressure, either. You gotta admire the sacrifices these strident frontmen make for their fans. DAVE SEGAL

Monday 4/27

My Bloody Valentine, Brightblack Morning Light

(WaMu Theater) See preview.

Chris Cornell

(Showbox Sodo) I like Soundgarden as much as the next person raised on Led Zeppelin, but never cared enough to develop expectations of their individual members. Not so with the Soundgarden faithful, many of whom have greeted Chris Cornell's aiming-for-the-mainstream solo career with disdain, which was upgraded to outright mockery upon the release of this year's Timbaland-produced Scream. Over radio-ready beats that could've been made for Nelly Furtado, Cornell belts out lyrics about love and bitches, and it's perfectly harmless and completely unnecessary. Once upon a time, Cornell wanted to be Robert Plant; now he seems to be aiming for Power Station–era Robert Palmer. Pertinent fact: Tonight's show has been sold out for weeks, so all us haters can suck it. DAVID SCHMADER

Tuesday 4/28

Winter Gloves, Man Plus

(Tractor) Yet more catchy, new-wave-slanted pop from Montreal? Okay, we'll take it, if it's going to be as immediately pleasing as Winter Gloves' clutch of concise mind-colonizers. The foursome's songs sound intimate yet fun, energized by peppy, danceable beats and flashy keyboard exclamations, and topped by Charles F's breathy, paradoxically winning whine. Seattle's Man Plus complement Winter Gloves with a slightly darker take on hook-intensive songwriting. Vocalist Jared Mills has one of those gritty, naturally morose voices (think early Neil Diamond, but not as deep) that make you unquestioningly believe whatever words come out of his mouth. Man Plus create good KEXPop™. DAVE SEGAL

Wednesday 4/29

Ghost of Kyle Bradford, Michael Vermillion, Zoe Muth

(Chop Suey) It's hard to do that kind-of-folky acoustic-guitar-and-voice thing. You have to be able to sound earnest without becoming one of those turtleneck-and-cardigan-wearing pseudo-Christian schmucks whom everybody loathes. Ghost of Kyle Bradford have the kind of brutal, literary lyricism that makes folk matter: Bradford sings about the lowered expectations of drunks who can't stand themselves with a pretty voice and spare arrangements. His songs are as real and as raw as a Raymond Carver story—sad, violent moments captured gorgeously in amber. PAUL CONSTANT

Darrius Willrich

(Triple Door) Darrius Willrich is a trained jazz pianist who performs with local jazz bands and hiphop/funk groups like Jambalaya. His solo albums, however, are all about R&B. Not R&B and jazz, or R&B and hiphop, but an R&B that's strictly R&B. Can't Get Enough is Willrich's latest album, and because I'm not a huge fan of R&B, I'm not the best critic to examine the substance of this work. To my ears, it sounds like the real deal, as good as any R&B you could find in L.A. or NYC. It's smooth, soul positive, and has grooves that remind you of "summertime, summertime in the park." CHARLES MUDEDE