Why?, Mount Eerie, Julie Doiron, Generifus
(Vera Project) See Stranger Suggests, page 21.
Dirty Projectors, No Kids, Rafter
(Chop Suey) See preview, page 37.
Pigeon John, Braille, Ohmega Watts, Theory Hazit
(Nectar) See Album Reviews, page 45.
Daniel Johnston, the Dead Science, PWRFL Power
(Neumo's) Last year at SXSW, Daniel Johnston told a couple jokes. One was about Jews having a pajama party in a concentration camp. The blogs quickly boiled over with rumors that the mentally unstable singer/songwriter is an anti-Semite who thinks the holocaust is hilarious. Chances are, he's not. He told a joke, a bad joke, but one need only watch the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston to know that Johnston's crazy, that he often does and says weird shit for no reason at all. So while some might attend this show to witness what the unpredictable guy will do next, hoping for a meltdown, hopefully most of the crowd will be there because they actually appreciate the charm of his childlike voice and his peculiar, simplistic, sometimes bittersweet anthems. MEGAN SELING
CunninLynguists, Substantial, PackFM, Can-U, DJ Flip Flop
(Chop Suey) See My Philosophy, page 51.
Claymore, Red Museum, Castle Grey Skull, Ghidorah, the Final Collapse
(Ground Zero) It's been a long time coming. This weekend, Claymore, Bremerton's best thrash- happy metal band, play their last two shows ever. Claymore's death knell sounded when Aaron Yost and Jerome Sauer joined Kane Hodder. But despite two members pulling double duty, Claymore gave it the ol' college try before announcing their end nearly a year ago. Since the announcement, the band finished writing some new material and wrapped up recording that full-length they always promised they'd put out. They'll be giving the recording away for free at both farewell performances. Tonight's show in Bellevue could be great, but tomorrow's show at Jackson Hall in Bremerton will be nutso. Bremerton kids lose their shit, and Claymore's blasts of fury only eggs 'em on. MEGAN SELING
Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, the Quiet Ones
(Neumo's) Tonight, Fleet Foxes return from their first national tour (you can log on to www.the stranger.com/lineout to read a tour diary of their adventures), and it's a homecoming worth celebrating. Oh, how I've missed the boys' sweeping, four-part-harmony-laced songs about rivers and mountains and all the beauty found in nature. It hasn't been spring without it! But even more exciting about this show is that it's with Portland sextet Blitzen Trapper, who also summon the feel-good vibes of '70s sounds but boast a groovier "dancing in a fringed vest after a few beers" sort of energy. The Quiet Ones have a little twang themselves, but it's inspired more by Pavement than the Band. MEGAN SELING
Stars of the Lid, Christopher Willits, Lusine
(Triple Door) Thankfully, you can sit down for this one. Triple Door's cozy interior and readily accessible bar make it a prime location for savoring the rare live Stars of the Lid experience. The sweeping minimalist majesty of this Texas two-piece certainly requires a comfy seat and a stiff drink. The duo create a symphonic ebb and flow of droning tones through heavily effected guitar, keyboards, and piano that's accentuated in the live setting with string players and abstracted film-collage projections. Their output is so symphonic and lulling that at times it threatens to fall into that dreaded new-age camp, yet their affinity for tasteful instrumentation (no pan flutes or wind chimes, thankfully) manages to keep their soothing sounds in the realm of ambient music. BRIAN COOK
A-Trak, Sinden, Steve Aoki, Nick Catchdubs
(War Room) DJ A-Trak is proving an accomplished, multitasking hustler in the modern youth culture, a world in which hiphop and indie rock are beginning to eat each other's tails with gleeful abandon. With his Fool's Gold label, he has Svengalied the recent breaks of crossover stars like the infinitely crush-worthy Kid Sister and, among other high-profile gigs, he has been Kanye West's faithful running mate since 2004. On his website, A-Trak outlines his dramatic ascent in very simple and reasonably humble terms—he started young, practiced a lot, and, as a scrawny, screw-faced 15-year-old, took the DMC World DJ Championship. Generally eschewing some of the more sci-fi-sound-effect predilections of some DJs of the last decade, A-Trak is a turntablist of a pretty classic '90s mold, masterful at hyperactive beat juggling and Herculean scratch virtuosity. SAM MICKENS
(High Dive) The DT's are Bellingham's garage/soul band that fans of Thee Emergency probably already know about, not to mention the rock-loving denizens of Spain, Portugal, and parts of South America (not kidding). The DT's do not fuck around with unnecessaries. Featuring the head of Estrus Records and ex–Mono Man Dave Crider on guitar, the band understand dynamics verses tension, value the cowbell, and know how to play their instruments well enough to do so while drunk. Rock comes grinding out against Diana Young-Blanchard's raw vocals, which channel Janis Joplin in delivery and tone. The Valley and Iceage Cobra, both performers you do not trifle with, will have their work cut out for them tonight. MATT GARMAN
The Teenagers, Handsome Furs, Man Plus
(Neumo's) The Teenagers' U.S. debut at Neumo's earlier this year was perhaps underwhelming—lead singer Quentin Delafon looked bemused at being onstage at all, and the band's newly added touring drummer and guitarist were listless, just barely keeping time. But they sounded fine, they're supercute, and the show was fun, especially when they pulled a girl out of the crowd for their smashing he-said/she-said single "Homecoming." That song is just unfuckwithable, and their debut album, Reality Check, remains a pleasing pop record—sassy, glossy, smeared with irresistible hooks. It's more than enough to forgive a slightly shaky premiere performance. What droney mopers and Wolf Parade offshoot Handsome Furs are doing on this bill is anybody's guess, but they should provide some welcome dissonance. ERIC GRANDY
(Vera Project) You miss the sadness of winter—the short days, the long nights, the weather only unpredictable in terms of how shitty it will be. I'm not sure what to do with all the sunshine either sometimes, which is why we should embrace this chance to escape the land of the bright, happy, and emotionally stable. Tiny Vipers' ethereal and haunting songs will leave you feeling like you're stranded in the middle of the ocean with no chance of rescue. J. Tillman's worn voice and heartbreaking songs are spiked with years of pain and wisdom (even though he's all of twentysomething). "Evans and Falls" is sad and simple, "Barter Blues" is angrier, and "Crooked Roof" is all melancholy piano and slide guitar. There's a little something for every dark corner of those bad moods you're hiding. MEGAN SELING
Caribou, Fuck Buttons
(Chop Suey) See Album Reviews, page 45.
(High Dive) Slow Skate singer Caitlin Sherman is patient. She has the control and uneasy grace of Portishead's Beth Gibbons, but she makes that unease sound effortless with her exacting shrill. In "Villain" she's poised in a Sleepy Hollow and sings, "Use your tongue to brand my skin." Slow Skate's shadowed minor compositions are filtered with electronics, upright bass, and the resonant shuffle of brush-glitched drums. Room sounds in the recording spell out hardwood floors and low-wattage bulbs overhead. Slow Skate's full-length, Trace the Lines, came out in February on the Seattle/NY label Conduit Records. It's a gathered and bold offering, a slow fade for your lulling. TRENT MOORMAN
Rilo Kiley, Whispertown 2000, Michael Runion
(Showbox Sodo) The first Barsuk, then Saddle Creek, and now Warner Brothers band Rilo Kiley have big name associations. They've played Conan and Kimmel, they've toured with Coldplay and Bright Eyes, and their songs are used regularly on Dawson's Creek, Grey's Anatomy, and the O.C. Rilo Kiley are big time. But they call themselves "indie." Major-label indie? It might be time to lose the tag. When your ginormo tour bus has an observation bubble and you've got complete Rolling Stone and Spin coverage, you're not indie anymore. Indie implies a DIY aspect and a rawness to your sound. Rilo Kiley's latest album, Under the Blacklight, is altogether polished. It's pristine. So own it, Rilo. You're huge, successful, and gosh darnit, people like you. TRENT MOORMAN
New Bloods, Flexions, Future Phones, Purple Rhinestone Eagle
(Monsterssori House) New Bloods' The Secret Life, out last week on Kill Rock Stars, is a wildly promising debut. The Portland trio—Cassia Gammill on bass, Osa Atoe on violin, and Adee Roberson on drums, all sharing vocal duties—draw inspiration from groups like the Raincoats or the Slits, pairing creeping, melancholy violin with dark, basement-rattling bass and drum punk funk. The vocals range from tuneful multipart harmonies to jagged yelps to calm spoken word, often overlapping. At 11 songs and just 23 minutes, their debut is urgent and haunted, pulse quickening and corners turning abruptly, grooves breaking and starting again. Great, evil stuff. Seattle dub punk duo Flexions should loosen things up nicely as openers. ERIC GRANDY
Excepter, Walrus Machine, Jeffrey Tayloer
(Rendezvous) As someone who typically views hot, hip bands from New York City with a bit of skepticism, it took me a while to admit that Excepter is actually pretty good. Their new album, Debt Dept. (Paw Tracks), recalls Wolf Eyes' prime from several years back with its fuzzed-out synths, cracked electronics, and tossed-off vocals. There are moments when their blasé demeanor comes across as forced (and a bit irritating), but there's also something compelling about much of this music, including the zombie-techno throb of "Kill People" and the doom-laden repetition of "Entrance." WILL YORK
The Raconteurs, Birds of Avalon
(Neumo's) Mr. White or not, I pity the Racounteurs for having to follow Birds of Avalon. Anyone that's seen BoA, or Paul and Cheetie's former band Cherry Valance, knows the heat them dueling North Carolina guitars bring. They make melodic, progressive 1970s rock sound so fucking immediate. Obviously then, being "progressive," BoA do have some serious chops. But their songs are written so clearly, even when piling years of rock history on all at once—which they do—the music doesn't get bogged down by thickheaded rock cliché. Honestly, it's kinda shocking how smart they are, and it makes those twentysomething long-hair, bearded "ros" attempting to pull off the same seem so silly. Hmmm, now what's the average age of a Raconteur? MIKE NIPPER
The Sword, Slough Feg, Children
(Neumo's) See Album Reviews, page 45.
Hot Chip, Free Blood
(Showbox at the Market) See Stranger Suggests, page 21, and preview, page 37.
Sasha and John Digweed, Kazell
(Showbox Sodo) From the UK come Sasha and John Digweed, DJs at the center of a progressive house and trance scene that had its moment in the sun in the mid-'90s. To go to this show is to go back to a time when the future seemed so promising. The '90s was a happy decade—America was making loads of money, the World Wide Web represented the universal mind that would finally realize utopia, and globalization promised to end poverty. Then came WTO, then came WTC, then the reelected regime of Shock and Awe, then the housing crash. Sasha and John's beat-positive spirit does not speak to this world of endless wars and relentless economic catastrophes. But reengaging with their music, dancing to it, allows one the opportunity to return to a time when things were bright and progressive. CHARLES MUDEDE
Yelle, Panther, Starfucker
(War Room) I took two and half years of high-school French (my senior year was kind of a bust), but unless French electro-popster Yelle decides to rap very slowly about the location of la bibliothèque, I'm going to be lost. Which is just as well, as being lyrically lost doesn't deflate the giddy joy of her club-friendly singles "Je Veux Te Voir" or "A Cause De Garcons." Yelle's pogoing cadences work fine without their literal meaning, becoming just more melodic and rhythmic decoration for her tracks' elastic bounce. Still, if you're fluent and familiar enough with French pop, Yelle delivers some zingers—"Je Veux Te Voir" playfully disses Paris hiphop crew TTC, cracking jokes about the size of rapper Cuizinier's penis and a bunch of other stuff that Babel Fish has no idea how the fuck to translate. ERIC GRANDY
The Death Set, Check Minus, PWRFL Power
(High Dive) The Death Set are originally from Australia, but they're now based out of Baltimore, where they fit in nicely with the town's current crop of art-stained noise-pop bands, even snagging Ecstatic Sunshine shredder Matt Papich to replace original guitarist Beau Velasco. Musically, the Death Set spring up in the void left by Japanther's recent relative inactivity (dudes used to tour through Seattle every three weeks—what happened?). Like that band, the Death Set combine tin-can beats and Casio presets with undeniable punk sing-along and distorted guitar. But the Death Set's new album, Worldwide, is less stubbornly lo-fi; their recordings are still clearly scraped together in the DIY style, but they're a little less messy. Their live shows look to be totally spaztastic. I'm stoked, but why aren't these guys playing in a basement? ERIC GRANDY
(Comet) Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst may have become the household name, but he owes a huge debt to wandering troubadour David Dondero. Even a cursory listen to one of the latter's fine solo albums reveals the inspiration behind Oberst's sensitive, intelligent warble—the shaky timbre of the voice and the way keen observations weigh on the narrator even when there's subtle humor involved. Oberst has paid off his debt to Dondero by releasing Dondero's last two records on his Team Love label and exposing one of his favorite artists to a whole new audience. If you're a fan of Cassadaga and its wide-eyed-but-not-quite-innocent musings, you'll want to jump on the Dondero bandwagon as well. BARBARA MITCHELL
(Tractor) The Color Bars relocated to Seattle from New York in 2005 or so, with an already-complete, already-terrific release, Making Playthings, in hand. The album of concise pop promptly turned the heads of many local lovers of Beach Boys–influenced songwriting, just in time for the band to disappear and go to work on their next release. Kairos at Infinity was put out on the band's own imprint late last year, revealing they have as much in common with Of Montreal as Brian Wilson. If you're looking for a local band to be your special secret, the Color Bars are it—for now. MATT GARMAN
Experimental Dental School
(King Cobra) Oakland trio Experimental Dental School (Ryan Brundage on drums, Shoko Horikawa on Casio and sampler, Jesse Hall on guitar and vocals) come from the same experimental musical school as fellow Bay Area bands Numbers and Deerhoof, whose Greg Saunier helped mix the band's new album, Jane Doe Loves Me. Like Numbers, EDS stick forks in analog synth sockets and gets nasty, electric sawtooth-wave shocks. Like Deerhoof, they pair their noisier bent with delicately off-kilter pop, switching from merry-go-round lilt to prog scales to punk gallop. But EDS's spark-spitting broken toys and rewired electronics give their songs a distinct peripheral flurry of buzzes, chirps, squeals, and burps. ERIC GRANDY