DUBBLESTANDART, SYSTEMWIDE, DJ ELEVATE,
(Chop Suey) See preview, page 37.
UNITED STATE OF ELECTRONICA, ANNA OXYGEN, KANDY WHALES, B-18
(Crocodile) With the closest approximation of pure, unencumbered dance pop this side of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Anna Oxygen's soon-to-be-released debut record is a saccharine spectacle--a chorus of twinkled synths, lo-fidelity beats, and her distinct, milk chocolate alto. And it's good. Recorded by the great Justin Trosper (Unwound, Replikants), and featuring appearances by Nathan Howdeshell, Beth Ditto, and Kitty Jensen, Crystal Jumpsuit is aligned for release in early July. Until then, you're welcome to preview it at the finer drinking establishments of Pine Street, as they're sure to have it on heavy rotation through the summer. Just listen for the voice of a new wave angel. ZAC PENNINGTON See preview, page 35.
RADAR BROTHERS, LAURA VEIRS, KIND OF LIKE SPITTING
(Graceland) Since 1995 the Radar Bros have been hopping from one label to another in hopes of landing a host that can best nurture a three-piece dedicated to soft-spoken sadness and cinematic musical landscapes. And the Surrounding Mountains came out on Merge in 2002 and stands as the Los Angeles band's best, its laconic beauty surpassing that of such great slo-core bands as Acetone and Codeine. KATHLEEN WILSON
THE MU, THE NEW DEATH SHOW
(2nd Avenue Pizza) The Mu are a band transformed by amplification. When played through amps and PA systems, the relatively sedate combination of Kinski-esque noise pop and intricate math rock found on the local trio's self-released debut, To Be, To Be, Ten Made, To Be, gets hepped up like a sixth-grader at a slumber party. Tempos move from droning to practically bouncy: Guitarist Myron Basden sets up huge fences of distortion and then volleys over angular melodies and occasional power chords. Vocalist/bassist Makirh Basden sings with a starched accuracy that comes off as the voice of reason in a sea of chaos and clamor. This is music as it should be: loud, fast, and completely in control. TIZZY ASHER
STEVE WYNN & THE MIRACLE THREE, TOMMY WOMACK
(Tractor) Though at the time of its '80s heyday, Dream Syndicate sounded timeless and quite unlike anything else, pop any of the discs in the player today and you'll be forced to begrudgingly admit that timeless it ain't. But with his 2001 release Here Come the Miracles, Dream Syndicate songwriter/guitarist Steve Wynn brought his smart psychedelia to the present by adding weight and crunch and setting it to lyrics that sound like a collection of connected short stories describing the dirty noir of Los Angeles. If you've ever been a fan of Wynn's talents, you won't want to miss this show. KATHLEEN WILSONFRIDAY 5/30
CARISSA'S WIERD, HYPATIA LAKE, THE TERROR SHEETS
(Crocodile) See Stranger Suggests, page 19.
BERLIN, ANTS INVASION, THE SPEEDLES
(Ballard Firehouse) Long before they took your breath away, but shortly after riding on the metro, Berlin was a featured performer at the US Festival 1983, the second concert I ever saw. Also on the bill (shortlist): Divinyls, Missing Persons, U2, the Pretenders, Stevie Nicks, John Cougar (replaced at the last minute by Joe Walsh, but still...), and your headliner, David Bowie. Tonight, Berlin shares a bill with Ants Invasion, a topflight Adam Ant cover band, at the Ballard Firehouse. There's nothing funny about this story, so don't expect a punch line. SEAN NELSON
JUCIFER, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES, PLAYING ENEMY
(Graceland) Jucifer: two members and enough amps to provide for all the needy noisemakers in Seattle. The guitar/drums duo seems to come through here once a quarter to blow out one sound system after another, using thudding, repetitive riffage and amazon Amber Valentine's siren singing. Personally, I prefer the more intrusive energy of Playing Enemy, who don't prop their aggressive hardcore/metal mixture behind deadpan delivery. JENNIFER MAERZ
SONIC BOOM EMPLOYEE BAND NIGHT: ALIEN CRIME SYNDICATE, 6 MINUTE MILE, THE LASHES, HELLO FROM WAVELAND, FANDO LIS, THE PROCEEDINGS
(Sunset) Certain business establishments become staples for a city's musical talent, be they bars and restaurants (90 percent of the employees working at Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen and the adjacent Cha Cha Lounge play in local bands) or record stores, who tend to employ nothing but. Sonic Boom has so many band members in its employ that they've scheduled a whole night to show them off, with co-owner Nabil Ayers' power pop unit, Alien Crime Syndicate, headlining. KATHLEEN WILSON
THE BLACK-EYED SNAKES, JOEL R. L. PHELPS AND THE DOWNER TRIO, TREASURE STATE, EUCLID
(Crocodile) Writing a preview while a close family member is dying of cancer seems like a meaningless task--a distraction from the ultimate finality of death. But a minor form of consolation comes in the show previewed: Joel R. L. Phelps, Black-Eyed Snakes, and Treasure State fit together like parallel elements of my grief. Phelps writes songs that capture all the agony and joy of seeing a loved one's face transformed, while Treasure State's billowing rock is the sweeping mood shifts of bereavement. Black-Eyed Snakes, a bastard blues/noise punk band featuring Low's Alan Sparhawk (as his alter ego "Chicken-Bone George"), represent the moments when I want to discard everything and run headlong into the open air because killing hour after anxious hour is too much to bear. TIZZY ASHER
XIU XIU, BOBBY BIRDMAN, THE DEAD SCIENCE, Shlaze
(CoCA) "Walnut House," a song from Xiu Xiu's latest full-length, has the most uncomfortable lyric of any song I've heard recently: "My leather daddy dancing very near/like a sweetheart would/hurting my butthole/like a sweetheart would." It is more uncomfortable than El-P's freestyle about fisting a girl. There's just something about the matter-of-factness with which the word "butthole" is delivered, and its tons of painful reality piled over freight-train, creaky-pipe percussion and a beehive of nonsensical talking and rhythm. But that's what Xiu Xiu do best: They isolate creepy, graphic moments and make them casual--or vice versa. Countering this instinct is the very woozy, starry-eyed Portlander Bobby Birdman, whose nightingale warble is akin to a dream of floating through the '30s on a gondola. Straddling Bobby's romanticism and Xiu Xiu's hyperrealism are the Dead Science, who make fatally elegant music, and whose members also play in Xiu Xiu. JULIANNE SHEPHERD
BUILT TO SPILL, DRAW
(Showbox) There's no new album to obsess over or judge, but that's inconsequential when it comes to Built to Spill. The Boise-based band's cache of songs is gigantic and the thought of a show featuring all kinds of favorites and not-often-heards is a thrill and reason enough to drag yourself out to see the band once again. My choice for this three-night stand will be the show on Monday, June 2, when J Mascis is the special guest opener. Heaven. KATHLEEN WILSON
SOURCE OF LABOR, ONE MAN ARMY, ANTHEM, GREASY EARL, DHARMA, CYPHALLIANCE
(Vera Project) Source of Labor are, next to Oldominion, the most recognizable underground hiphop force in Seattle. They have been written about in all of the major hiphop journals and are well connected. The group is also very secure about its place in the Northwest, with songs celebrating the generations of black people who have struggled to make sense of their experience in this black, white, Mexican, and Asian outpost. Though not entirely without its melancholy moments, Source of Labor's music is much more positive than the "sombres et ténébreux" moods that define the sound of Seattle's underground. I honestly hope this show, the first of theirs in a while it seems, is connected with a forthcoming CD. A Source of Labor release is always a big event. CHARLES MUDEDE
MEA CULPA, THE GLORYHOLES
(Monkey Pub) You're wondering where all the protest songs have gone? With so many microphones given to so many young punks, it can be tough to find singers with something intelligent to say. Mea Culpa are Seattle's contribution to the crew that has brains under all those spikes, and their new Empty record, They Put You in a Mask, is jam-packed with anthems about nations under corporate control, the commodification of the DIY ethic, and wannabe free-thinkers who toe the line when push comes to shove. "Party Line" is the fist-waving sing-along of the month, especially when expressed through frontman Billy Fiction's (a frequent Stranger contributor) tough-as-nails vocals. JENNIFER MAERZ
COACHWHIPS, X27, MICHAEL YONKERS, THE LIBRARIANS
(Sunset) This is one of those perfect lineups where I can recommend every band on the bill--except the Librarians, who I've yet to hear. Coachwhips are a scrappy garage trio who refuse conventional performance. I've seen them play in between washing machines and on tabletops, but I've never seen them take an actual stage--that's the last play they'd want to make. Frontman John Dwyer's method is to always smash up the norm, and it makes his bands all the better for it. The Coachwhips have a great, primitive grind going on to boot. X27 are more of a post-punk act, slashing droning noise through staccato beats and effects that lash out like bad behavior. Their new Narnack record, Your Neu Favourite Band, is one of the sexiest things I've heard out of the Bay Area in a long time. JENNIFER MAERZ See preview, page 33.
JUNO, THE BEAUTY PILL, THE PROM
(Vera Project) I'm going to rip off my friend Alison here, because I think she described the Beauty Pill perfectly when she said, "They're like the boy who lures you in for a kiss, but then bites your lip." Yeah, sounds pretty sexy, huh? Well they totally are. They're on Dischord, so they're punk rockers, but not so much in sound (the punk rockness lies in the lyrics and ideas)--as their sound is much more gentle and pretty, with male and female vocals and a Wurlitzer. Plus, you should know (for hipster points) that Chad Clark (Smart Went Crazy) and Ryan Nelson (The Most Secret Method) are in the band. A new EP (You Are Right to Be Afraid) was released in May and will be followed up by the band's debut full-length later this fall. The Prom are the perfect opening act (sweet, swoony, piano-infused pop to prep you for Beauty Pill's kiss), and if you don't know about local band Juno, well I just don't know what to do with you. Great show all around, don't miss it. MEGAN SELING
It isn't every day you have an opportunity like this.
THE LILYS, SWIRLIES, EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, LAZARUS
(Crocodile) It's been four years since the fabulously talented Lilys unleashed a new collection of glittering semi-orchestral pop--far too long if you ask me, but 1996's Better Can't Make Your Life Better, 1997's Services (For the Soon to Be Departed), and 2000's Selected EP remained constants in my stack of favorite albums to play each week. The just-released Precollection elevates Kurt Heasley to Pop God heights and all I can say is OH MY GOD IT'S GORGEOUS. Heasley still conjures the Kinks, but songs like the pretty "Will My Lord Be Gardening" and the galloping and impossibly British "Squares" make Precollection an absolute gem that shines with variety. KATHLEEN WILSON
THE MARAZENE HEARTBEAT CLOCK, ROBB BENSON, JARED CLIFTON
(Showbox Green Room) Encompassing songwriting styles that span from fuzzy psychedelia to that great mid-'90s emo to exuberant power pop, the Marazene Heartbeat Clock play angular rock with pretty swirls and swells at just the right moments. "Runner Sled," with its crashing guitars, piano, and strings (from the forthcoming Phil Ek-produced The Hill) becomes almost epic at times but is saved from potential overwrought tendencies by a keen sense of timing, and I'm sure I won't be the only one who says their sound is reminiscent of R.E.M., only waaaay heavier. KATHLEEN WILSON