Wednesday 7/13

Pocket Panda, the Trasholes, the Masques, Manson's Girls, Lindseys

(Vera) The cutest name in indie rock? Perhaps! But Pocket Panda deliver more than just an adorable visual—they also offer gentle indie-pop songs with breezy harmonies and a mini-orchestra of cello, violin, and bassoon. According to their website, the band's members have attended the Manhattan School of Music, the UW School of Music, and Cornish, and founder Eric Herbig has been studying classical piano since the age of 6. When I was 6, I was making (and eating) Play-Doh hamburgers. Pocket Panda win! MEGAN SELING

Gillian Welch

(Moore) Listening to The Harrow & the Harvest on CD or MP3 seems like heresy; there is a gravity to Gillian Welch's first full-length since 2003's Soul Journey that cries out for 180-gram vinyl. Yet for all this record's old-timey touches—letterpress inserts on heavy card stock, an instrumental credit for "hands & feet"—the music feels as vibrant and contemporary as the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers surely did in their heyday. The guitar and banjo performances, executed solely by Welch and longtime collaborator Dave Rawlings, resonate with the sort of deceptively intricate musicianship one finds deep in the grooves of the Anthology of American Folk Music. Anchored by the here-and-now wisdom echoing in Welch's voice and concise lyrics, originals like "Scarlet Town" and "The Way the Whole Thing Ends" sound timeless right out of the box, and will undoubtedly grow more lustrous with passing years. KURT B. REIGHLEY

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs

(Waterfront Park, noon) Fuck work. Seriously. That shit will be there in an hour. Get up, step away from your desk, and walk (or take a cab or a bus) to the waterfront and see Star Anna perform at noon. On her new record, Alone in This Together (released by Rachel Flotard's Local 638 label), Star Anna gorgeously sings affecting alt-country songs about going, leaving, and being left. Some are simple and bluesy and others are a little more aggressive, tinged with a whiskey-soaked courageousness (or, in some cases, desperation). There's one constant: her gorgeous voice, which can deliver about 200 emotions in a single line. SO JUST GO, for chrissakes. Those TPS reports can wait. MEGAN SELING

Thursday 7/14

So Pitted, Lovely Bad Things, Total Shit, WaMü

(Funhouse) So Pitted sent in a cassette a while back, but my tape player was packed away in storage until last week. Judging by the two songs on their Bandcamp page (, however, the Pitted Youth tape is the first thing going in the deck when I set it up. The 1:24 sound burst "Party Boyz Anthem" makes the best use of drum rolls in recent memory. "Heaven Sent," clocking in at only 1:09, sounds like a more fluid version of LA's the Lamps. GRANT BRISSEY

USF, Blouse, the Fascination Movement

(Crocodile) Blouse—who recently released the Shadow 7-inch on Sub Pop—play icy-cool, synth-laced pop topped by the frosty-piped Charlie Hilton's vocals. Blouse look good, sound good, and probably feel good. A lot of people under 23 are going to love their accessible, romantic music. The Fascination Movement hark back to that early-'80s moment when synth pop briefly captured the public imagination, only to fade out and then be fetishized 20 to 30 years later by people who worship synthesizers' "inorganicness." Like many other 21st-century musicians, the Fascination Movement emulate OMD and New Order with competence and slavish devotion. The most interesting group on the bill, Seattle duo USF, continue to grind on the live circuit, honing a tranquil yet dynamic sound that melds dream pop's florid melodies with IDM's abstract electronic coloration and tricky rhythms. DAVE SEGAL

Alkaline Trio, Smoking Popes, Dead Country

(El Corazón) I love Alkaline Trio—I have loved them since I was a teenager and, because they keep being good at doing the same thing, I will continue to love them. Sometimes ya just gotta get a little morbid and emotional without going completely goth, you know? But the Smoking Popes? Oh, the Smoking Popes. I once loved them, but their latest release, This Is Only a Test, is abominable. Loosely packaged as a concept record, the album attempts to recapture the emotions of high school. Fine. Whatever. But the result is a bunch of empty pop songs that make Owl City look emotionally mature. There is one song about not wanting to go to college (wahh!). There's another about having mono. Mono! YOU ARE GROWN MEN, SMOKING POPES. MEGAN SELING

Extreme Animals, Brain Fruit, Sam Rousso Soundsystem, Bankie Phones, Wiir

(Electric Tea Garden) Very few musical acts live up to their name, but Extreme Animals are one of them. Since 2002, the kinetic duo of Jacob Ciocci and David Wightman have assaulted ears and eyes with a kaleidoscopic hemorrhage of visuals, chaotic percussive racket, and hyperactive circuit-bent electronic rave-ups that inspired acts like Dan Deacon and Eats Tapes. Extreme Animals' music might seem like mindless fun, but it's not dumb (Wightman holds a PhD in music composition). Within the coalescing mess of sound, a vast array of influences and styles emerge, as Extreme Animals skirt the lines between high art, pop culture, and academic noise. Local globetrotters Brain Fruit, Sam Rousso Soundsystem, Wiir, and primordial dank-wave enthusiast Bankie Phones help instigate the night's mental inferno. TRAVIS RITTER

Jason Webley, Jeff Suffering

(Rendezvous) Jason Webley has enough road dust and tobacco residue in his larynx to yield the inevitable comparison to fellow vagabond troubadour Tom Waits. To be fair, Webley's throaty foot-stompin' tirades may rely on a similar haggard storytelling style, but he's also a master on the accordion, meaning there is another formidable side to his craft. Jeff Suffering's suave and gloomy songs also have a traceable lineage—there is a strong element of Nick Cave's rural gothic sophistication in Suffering's work. The most prominent difference this time around has less to do with instrumentation and more to do with philosophy; while Cave doesn't believe in an interventionist God, Suffering is full of Old Testament reverence and penitence. If we could just find a worthy disciple of Leonard Cohen, this bill would be complete. BRIAN COOK

Friday 7/15

The Avett Brothers

(Comcast Arena, Everett) See Sound Check.

Substrata Festival: Oren Ambarchi, Eluvium, Marcus Fischer, Crys Cole

(Chapel Performance Space) See Underage and Data Breaker.

Strong Killings, Hounds of the Wild Hunt

(Rendezvous) After what has been a rather long wait, Strong Killings have finally finished their self-titled full-length, due out July 19 on Don't Stop Believin' Records. Production credit presumably goes to Father Time, who did a bang-up job. Strong Killings is fun, punchy, and crisp punk—much like a Strong Killings show. Couple this release set with brash rockers Hounds of the Wild Hunt, and the Jewelbox may just spontaneously combust. GRANT BRISSEY

Saturday 7/16

Jail Weddings, Broken Nobles, Koko and the Sweetmeats, Red Liquid

(Comet) See Stranger Suggests.

Liturgy, Tecumseh, Thou Shall Kill, Evilsmith

(El Corazón) See Underage.

Substrata Festival: Biosphere, Nils Frahm, Benoît Pioulard, I3O

(Chapel Performance Space) See Data Breaker.

The Shpongletron Experience, Beats Antique, Random Rab

(Paramount) See Data Breaker.

Parenthetical Girls, Extra Life, Sam Mickens

(Highline) Parenthetical Girls are the Portland indie-pop band that takes record-release fetishism to new heights—their new full-length, Privilege, will be released as an "extremely limited" box set of five 12-inch EPs numbered with the blood of the band's members. Tonight, the Girls bring their adamantly askew pop tones to the Broadway bar/vegan restaurant Highline, where they'll be joined by two fellow travelers on the pointy-headed perverse-pop highway: Brooklyn's Extra Life and Dead Scientist Sam Mickens. DAVID SCHMADER

Alvarius B, Finger, Liver & Bacon

(Josephine) Alvarius B has been ex–Sun City Girls bassist/vocalist Alan Bishop's plaything for at least the past 17 years. Under that handle, he's honed a kind of cracked bedroom-loner persona (think Syd Barrett or Jandek), loosing spidery, beautiful/homely songs into the ether with casual brilliance. Alvarius B's latest full-length, Baroque Primitiva, is his idea of a sincere "pop" album, although it's still slyly perverse. Bishop filters songs by Ennio Morricone, Brian Wilson, and John Barry through his skewed vision, haloing familiar pieces in an odd, lo-fi nimbus. Bonus: With Bishop, the witty between-song banter matches—and sometimes surpasses—the music. DAVE SEGAL

Tinariwen, Master Musicians of Bukkake

(Neumos) Tinariwen have been instrumental in bringing the soulful, trance-inducing sound of the Tuaregs—who hail from the Sahara Desert in northern Mali—to the West. On albums like Aman Iman: Water Is Life and Imidiwan: Companions, Tinariwen infuse the blues with rigorous, uplifting rhythms and mesmerizing, cyclical guitar motifs over which spirited vocals (often shadowed by massed chants) flow like medicine for the heart. Check out "Imidiwan Winakalin" and "Tenhert" for perhaps the most deeply stirring examples of Tinariwen's restorative genius. Sublime global-music chameleons Master Musicians of Bukkake offer the ideal local support for Tinariwen. DAVE SEGAL

David Bazan + Band, Quasi, Rocky Votolato

(Showbox at the Market) It was shocking to realize that David Bazan has only been performing as a solo artist since 2006, because the man is a veteran of the Seattle scene—a talented presence that has existed since (what feels like) the beginning of time (or, at least, since the beginning of when I started to care about music, decades ago). Of course, he is also known for his efforts in both Pedro the Lion and Headphones. And he was in that band Coolidge way back in the day (with Damien Jurado, even!). But! As David Bazan, as the solo singer-songwriter, we've only had him for half a decade, yet his very small solo catalog has already left a huge impression (pick up this year's Strange Negations ASAP). That, my friends, is the making of a legend. MEGAN SELING

Sunday 7/17

Eric Burdon & the Animals

(Snoqualmie Casino) Many OG British Invasion blokes can't resist those easy paydays in the States, so here we have Eric Burdon (now 70) and the Animals gigging at a fookin' casino outside the big city. The Animals were solid second-tier '60s rockers, and a glance at recent tour set lists reveals crowd-pleasers galore: "When I Was Young," "Don't Bring Me Down," "Sky Pilot," "Spill the Wine" (which Burdon cut with War, of course), "Boom Boom," "House of the Rising Sun," and many more. Most of these songs have stood the test of time with nary a wobble, and they will sate nostalgic urges with plenty of rousing choruses and touching, soulful melodies. DAVE SEGAL

INXS, Terri Nunn, Berlin

(Chateau Ste. Michelle) INXS were bigger than life in the bigger-than-life '80s. The Australian band's sixth studio album, 1987's Kick, dominated every pop chart in the world. Then came the dark '90s, the decade that contains Michael Hutchence's suicide. The pop god had serious problems. He was getting old, fame was fading, and death was the only way out of his increasing misery. In the middle of the first decade of this century, a reality TV show returned some light to INXS. Vocalists competed for Hutchence's vacated post of lead singer—if you won, you got to fill Mr. Hutchence's shoes. J. D. Fortune, a Canadian (it's always a Canadian), won this competition. The relationship between INXS and the new singer, however, has proven to be rocky. Fortune may or may not sing at this show, but who cares? Without Hutchence, one of the sexiest singers in pop history, this band is dead to me. CHARLES MUDEDE

Monday 7/18

High Class Wreckage, Pouch, Your Mother Should Know

(Funhouse) High Class Wreckage are the quintessential meat-and-potatoes Northwest rock-and-roll bar band. No corny gimmicks or stage personas, no kitschy costumes or theatrical mid-set speeches—just three dudes with guitar, bass, and drums, churning out heavy yet catchy "big riff" rock songs. Led by vocalist/bassist Aaron Krause, High Class Wreckage have been playing around for three solid years, showcasing their musical badassery and beer-drinking skills at dive bars throughout the 206. Fellow Seattleites Pouch inject a dose of unadulterated energy into an already lethal formula of blues-influenced stoner metal. The riffs, maaaaaan, the riffs. KEVIN DIERS

Tuesday 7/19

Eric Johnson

(Triple Door) Back in the late '80s/early '90s, I used to work at a Detroit reference-book publisher with Thomas Ligotti, one of the world's most respected horror-fiction writers: Critics compared him favorably to H. P. Lovecraft. Despite possessing one of the darkest literary imaginations ever, Ligotti had a predilection for mild-mannered, virtuosic electric guitarists including Eric Johnson, especially his 1990 LP, Ah Via Musicom. Maybe Johnson's music offered Ligotti respite from the macabre trains of thought racing through his fevered brain. Or maybe he—a guitarist himself—just admired Johnson's vaulting dexterity and sweet, nuanced tones. Whatever the case, the fact that Johnson could earn the fandom of a nihilistic man like Ligotti speaks highly of his eclectic six-string talents. DAVE SEGAL