SEVERNA PARK, THE CAPILLARIES, TALES FROM THE BIRDBATH
(Crocodile) See Stranger Suggests, page 23.
WHAT THE HECK? FEST: THE BLOW, MIRAH, THANKSGIVING, BADGER KING, D+, THE GIFT MACHINE, LITTLE WINGS, KIMYA DAWSON, AND MANY MORE
(Various Anacortes venues, July 15-18) See preview, page 38.
JAPANESE KARAOKE AFTERLIFE EXPERIMENT, UNICORN HARD-ON, YUMA NORA, lakes, bonus, NOGGIN, WITHDRAWL METHOD, titanus
(Drone Hill) If you've yet to hit this Beacon Hill all-ages house-party space, tonight's your last shot, as Drone Hill is shutting down operations for good after this. As their final blowout, they're hosting Japanese Karaoke Afterlife Experiment, a band that's played shows with Lightning Bolt, Wolf Eyes, and other members of the experimental noise spaz crew. Fans of Friends Forever should pay special attention to these fascinating fringe freaks. JENNIFER MAERZ
ROSIE THOMAS, JON AUER
(Showbox) Rosie Thomas is a woman with a sweet voice, one that's prettier than just about any other in Seattle. She'll make you feel exalted, melancholy, hopeful, sad--a whole range of emotions can be gleaned from her gorgeous, often personal songs that make her albums on Sub Pop, When We Were Small and Only with Laughter Can You Win, shine. When We Were Small (2002) is the best, in my opinion, because of its overall feeling of freedom, while 2003's Only with Laughter Can You Win is more openly spiritual. Auer, of course, is another songwriter with a sweet voice, both solo and as Ken Stringfellow's partner in the Posies. And if I'm not mistaken, by the time you read this, he'll be a newlywed. Congrats! KATHLEEN WILSON
LORD OF THE RINGS SYMPHONY
(Benaroya Hall) Beneath The Lord of the Rings' grunting hordes of murderous Orcs, endlessly stampeding hooves, thooming castle gates, and, of course, dialogue, lurks a lush, gleaming orchestral score by Hollywood film composer Howard Shore. Unlike most music, film scores often remain submerged, except for the all-important opening theme, crucial climax, and valedictory moment. Can Shore's six-movement suite drawn from the Lord of the Rings trilogy transcend film music's predilection for short, catchy cues shorn of any surprising structures or overarching dramatic interest? With Shore himself leading the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Symphony Chorale, it's a good chance to find out. (Also Fri-Sat July 16-17.) CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI
SUICIDE GIRLS, BLOOM, PILOT TO GUNNER
(Crocodile) Though the headliners are surely the drawing act of this bill, something must be said of the openers. Raved about in a striking amount of press, the Brooklyn-based band Pilot to Gunner manages to hit on bits of the D.C. punk sound and angular rock without coming off mathy, yet remaining tight as hell with a guitar-heavy sense of melody to their songs. Come early, you won't be disappointed. KATHLEEN WILSON
KUMA, INFOMATIK, THE JEUNES, TOURIST
(Graceland) Both Kuma and Infomatik bring to mind the tighter moments of Joy Division and other bands of that genre. The difference between the two local groups isn't just the obvious, though--Kuma is fronted by a woman--but instead that Infomatik sounds much more modern and optimistically inventive in its approach. KATHLEEN WILSON
POINT LINE PLANE, GORGE TRIO, CHEVAL DE FRISE, BLACK: JAPAN
(Hideaway) In the late 1970s the quickly putrefying promise of prog rock (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, et al.) was shunted aside by the onslaught of punk. Gorge Trio brings the best elements of prog-supple song structures and an array of weird sounds, including vintage video-game bleeps, and creepy crepitating digital crackles-to punk-inspired guitar riffs, frenzied drumming, and short, nimble tunes. Thankfully this trio, comprising members of the Flying Luttenbachers and Deerhoof, generally steers clear of singing, so you won't be marked for life with monotone Yes lyrics. With Cheval de Frise, an instrumental duo from France. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI
(Sunset) Power pop gets a bad rep, probably because most of the music it's attached to is all pop with very little power. That's definitely not the case with Dorkweed, who are celebrating the release of their fine new album Sometimes Animals Die tonight at the Sunset. Dorkweed are power pop with balls. And bite. And, um, creamed corn? As the name (and the song about creamed corn) suggests, Dorkweed have a slightly skewed view on life and how to react to it--which makes their highly infectious songs that much more satisfying to sing along to. And you will. BARBARA MITCHELL
THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT, THE DETROIT COBRAS, THE 45's
(Showbox) The Detroit Cobras have now become the Motor City's most overhyped, underwhelming band to get lumped into that town's retro-rock revival circuit. There was a time when frontwoman Rachel Nagy's gorgeous croon and her garage-style backing band were an interesting cover act, plucking rare soul, gospel, and R&B for stylized new millennium reinterpretation. But three years after Love, Life and Leaving came out, the band's performances have been lackluster at best, and their material had yet to even be updated when they played Chop Suey last December--which shouldn't be that difficult a feat when you only sing songs other people wrote. The Cobras recently released a new record, Seven Easy Pieces, which I've yet to hear, but the fact that one reviewer already called it "castrated trust-fund apathy blues, sterile and learned" (In Music We Trust) doesn't give me much hope. JENNIFER MAERZ
B-BOYS GONE WILD 3: ORBITRON, SOUL ONE, IGUALES, BLUE SCHOLARS, 3 ON 3 BATTLE
(Vera Project) A certain local hiphop columnist has called the emerging Seattle Blue Scholars duo "not [his] can of beer." Actually Blue Scholars have nothing in common with the plebian pleasures of canned beer but are more like a complex wine (and not an expensive wine, but a reasonably priced one). The reason why this certain columnist doesn't like Blue Scholars is because he lacks anything that at all resembles refinement; hiphop has to be at the bottom of a gutbucket or in the gutter if he is to have anything to do with it. True, the gutter and the poverty it represents are facts of life, but if you happen to be in that unfortunate situation at least, like Oscar Wilde, be looking up at the beauty of the stars. CHARLES MUDEDE
CAMERA OBSCURA, HEATHER DUBY, TULLYCRAFT
(Neumo's) See preview, page 47.
PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES, THE GOSSIP, THE NEW MEXICANS, COUNTDOWN TO ARMAGEDDON
(Showbox) See Stranger Suggests, page 23.
DALE WATSON, WEST VALLEY HIGHWAY, KENNETH BRIAN
(Tractor) See Drunk by Noon, page 53.
KEXP BBQ W/AVEO, THE RUBY DOE
(KEXP's parking lot, 113 Dexter Ave N) To help raise money for this city's only independent radio station (and really, along with the classic rock further up the dial, the only Seattle station worth a damn), KEXP is holding its second annual BBQ fundraiser. Set in their parking lot, you'll get musical entertainment from local melodic math rockers the Ruby Doe (whose next album I'm anxiously awaiting) and heartbreaking pop from Aveo, as well as the usual assortment of dogs and beer, for 10 bucks. JENNIFER MAERZ
SAETA (CD RELEASE), BLACK CAT ORCHESTRA, ASAHI
(Cafe Venus) Though summer may be sweltering, put on the new LP by local band Saeta, We Are Waiting All for Hope, and you'll swear you can see your own breath. The perceptible chill arises from the austerity of the cello, piano, and guitar arrangements, and the emotional nature of Matt Menovcik's lyrics. The problem, of course, is that if you're not in a brooding mood, this record, Saeta's third full-length, may feel oppressive. However, like any good stint in melancholy, Hope contains great dynamic swells, and, thanks largely to Steve Albini's production and Lesli Wood's agile piano-playing, it sounds fantastic. One sour note: The record contains two covers (Magnetic Fields' "Grand Canyon" and the Smiths' "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"); while fantastic, I'm just not sure what they're doing on this LP. SEAN NELSON
THINGSOME Q w/CHRISTIAN ASPLUND
(Polestar) This string ensemble was fabulous at the recent Seattle Improvised Music Festival. Led by one of our burg's boldest improvisers, Tari Nelson-Zagar and Co. mock and re-mold the string-quartet tradition by blending elements of jazz, punk, and 19th-century German chamber music with folk fiddlin' from rural America and Eastern Europe. With this group, anything can happen: Gently bowed tones, cello burps, satirical jabs at Brahms, spiky pizzicati, and schmaltzy vibrato clash and cavort in sumptuous polyphony. Seattle Experimental Opera cofounder and violist Christian Asplund joins the fray for what should be an evening of succinct, topnotch improvised music. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI
CYNDI LAUPER, PEGGY PLATT
(Pier 62/63) It's a glorious thing when a woman who began her career in the '80s remains thoroughly badass to this very day, and Cyndi Lauper is one of those women. She's proudly kept her unmistakable accent and vibrant, punky hair, her attitude is still opinionated yet fun, and her voice has remained as shaky and exuberant as ever. She put on a perky, memory-filled act when she opened for Cher's initial Farewell Tour, which, incidentally, has turned out to be the longest of all long farewells. KATHLEEN WILSON
SMOKE AND SMOKE, MARKED MEN, STAB MASTER ARSON
(Sunset) Featuring ex-members of the Reds and one current Riverboat Gambler, Texas' Marked Men are a punk band high on both energy and melody. With a vocalist who often sounds like one-time Scared of Chaka/Broadcast Oblivion singer Dave Hernandez, the band mixes the musical recipes of the Ramones and the Jam into a dish less reckless than the Gamblers but just as tasty. Their new Dirtnap release, On the Outside, gets four stars for the vocal harmonies alone. JENNIFER MAERZ
(Consolidated Works) See All Ages Action, page 63, and Stranger Suggests, page 23.
(Temple Billiards) See Stranger Suggests, page 23.
KEN STRINGFELLOW, BRIDGET ST. JOHN
(Crocodile) Ken Stringfellow's new album, Soft Commands, is a mature crop of piano ballads occupying the rare crossroads where lyrical composition and studio play embrace. But the current expatriate doesn't have a whole lot of time to support it. Myriad commitments (namely R.E.M., Big Star, and fatherhood) have put a chokehold on his spare time. Still, he's managed to squeeze in a precious few summer solo dates. His last Seattle show was intimate as Stringfellow laid his songs bare while hunched over the keyboard--expect another very personal performance this time around. BRIAN J. BARR
GOMEZ, THE THRILLS
(Showbox) Gomez is a hard band to sustain a grudge against for attempting to sound American when they're a bunch of Brits. Bring It On (1998) was sick with intentionally retro-sounding blues and 1999's Liquid Skin poured it on with a defensive-feeling amount of shiny professionalism that only made it sound even more like an attempt at Americanization. As of 2004, I've ceased to give a shit one way or the other whether they're Brits aping America with so many other bands currently trying to do the very same thing--like Trembling Blue Stars, for example, as well as openers the Thrills, who are from Ireland. Eh, I give up. KATHLEEN WILSON
THE BLESSED LIGHT, THE PLAINS, ROCHESTER FOSGATE, HARD MONEY SAINTS
(Chop Suey) You never know what you're going to get when the Blessed Light takes the stage. With each show the band sounds revived and anew, whether stripped down to acoustic rawness or fully lush with instrumentation. Whatever the case, Toby Gordon's voice has become more assured over the years and over the course of two very different albums. While 2000's For Love and Preservation rocked the blues at times, 2004's Love Lights the Way is a sparkling example of how bittersweet songs can lift an entire audience's mood. KATHLEEN WILSON
STEVE BURNS, SEAN NELSON AND JEFF J. LIN, TENNIS PRO
(Crocodile) It can't be easy to be a former kiddie-TV-show host whose sweet face is branded on the consciousness of millions of former babies and their parents AND be a legit indie rocker. But both those things are true of Steve Burns, whose album, Songs for Dust Mites, enlists Okie homies like the Flaming Lips and Starlight Mints to create some sweet, smart indie pop. Opening will be Sean and Jeff from Harvey Danger (a band that once hosted its own kiddie show, called Flagpole Sitta), trying out both old and new HD material rearranged for piano and vocals (with a few surprise guests), and Seattle's own budding prep-core heroes, Tennis Pro. FRANKIE CONNER
THE ICARUS LINE, BATTLES, THE EVAPORATORS
(Crocodile) See preview, page 38.
CHROMEO, THE SATURDAY KNIGHTS, PLEASURECRAFT, DJ PORQ, DJ COLBY B
(Chop Suey) See preview, page 44.
AQUABATS, PETTY BOOKA, BAD CREDIT
(Graceland) If at any point this week you're feeling kinda cranky, give your mood over to Petty Booka, the Japanese ukulele ladies who strum tropical sunshine into every room they play. At times backed by a small band, the duo turn everything from punk, bluegrass, country, and jazz to Christmas carols and Burt Bacharach classics into Hawaiian pop songs, dressing in muumuus and leis to further enhance the vacation vibe. And oddly enough, they have quite the cult following at their Seattle shows, as evidenced by their last packed gig at the Sunset. JENNIFER MAERZ
DAVE DAVIES, JON AUER
(Triple Door) Though he's certainly the less famous of the two Davies brothers, Dave Davies nonetheless formed one half of the nerve center of the Kinks, and is therefore one of the 10 most important figures in rock 'n' roll history. Discuss. Actually, no need. (It's a fact.) Just remember that D. Davies is a lot more than just a lead guitarist and his solo catalog is just as strong as the great Kinks songs ("Death of a Clown," "Susannah's Still Alive," "Living on a Thin Line") you forgot that he sang. A must-see. Plus, Jon Auer opens. Duh! SEAN NELSON