AMON TOBIN, KJ SAWKA, KID HOPS
(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker, page 51 and Stranger Suggests, page 25.
AQUI, THE EMERGENCY, THE VICTOR MATURE, APE CITY R&B
(Fun House) See preview, page 39.
THE COMAS, VIETNAM, TOURIST
(Crocodile) Hey, I know who the next Bob Dylan is. Fuck Bright Ass… dude, it's all about Vietnam. They have a guy who plays the beanbag chair. Well, he doesn't actually play the bean bag, he just sorta sits on it while Vietnam jam through some heavy, psychedelic, Velvet Underground-like, 10-minute songs and this guy, he's wrapped in an afghan and he hits his maracas against the bean bag for half the show and wraps himself in the blanket and hides like a little bearded turtle going back in its shell for the other half. And then at the end of the show he hits the beanbag so hard all the little white insides roll across the stage. Or at least he did all that when they played at Chop Suey. But forget the beanbag. Even if their merch guy doesn't perform the same way every time, Vietnam are a good band--they make you want to smoke weed till you can't remember if you've walked to the store and back or have been sitting in the exact same spot for an hour, staring at the wall and thinking about microwave pizza. JENNIFER MAERZ
THE DEAD SCIENCE, DIVISADERO YELLOW SWANS, CHUCK BETTIS, BONUS
(Gallery 1412) New York-based laptop savant Chuck Bettis is one of those dozen-projects-at-a-time multi-taskers. He recently shared studio space with some experimental-music ringers (Ikue Mori, Tim Barnes, Mick Barr, etc.) for the intriguing Community of Commotion CD (Northeast Indie), whose eerie, pointillist sound paintings leave you pleasantly scramble-egg-headed and eager to investigate his entire canon. And Bettis' titles rock: "Playful Moaner," "Atheist Revolt," "Deathmetal Dancehall," etc. Portland's Yellow Swans produce well-organized noise riots that bring out your inner antisocial shit-stirrer. They make the air around you vibrate with hate. The Dead Science are suave diplomats bridging the gap between Seattle's rock and avant-garde scenes. Their creepily seductive art rock will give your brain goosebumps. DAVE SEGAL
ASHLEE SIMPSON, THE PEPPER'S GHOST, THE CLICK FIVE
(Paramount) Despite all the criticism and fuck-ups, Ashlee Simpson just keeps on going. Her Ashlee Simpson Show (a guilty voyeuristic pleasure of mine) recently started its second season, and the girl just launched her first real tour. Tonight, she's going to get on that stage and sing (well, kind of screech) her heart out. You have to admire that. Or at least check it out for the imminent train wreck. Those are always fun to watch. AMY JENNIGES
THE HOLLOWPOINTS, AMAZOMBIES, THE INSURGENCE, BAD OTIS
(Vera Project) See preview, page 37.
KEY NOTE SPEAKER, DEAR DARLING
(Cafe Venus) Dear Darling's upcoming record, Stories of Friends and Family (due out this Spring), sounds like the result of a sad soul being locked in a cold studio apartment with a few bottles of cheap liquor after a party where everything went wrong. It's a somber album but it's one that also possesses a beautiful sort of bitterness. And just like selfish depression itself, the band's melancholy batch of simplistic, honest indie rock is both comforting and tragic. At times, Jesse Smith's vocals come close to breaking, but they never actually do, and the guitar and bass intertwine, taking turns in the driver's seat while the drumming remains steady and grounded. Had I heard this record in December, when it was dark by noon and almost too cold to breathe, I might never have survived the winter. MEGAN SELING
SCHOOLYARD HEROES, THE DIVORCE, MON FRERE, RAZREZ
(Old Fire House) You've no doubt heard by now that the three finalists in The Stranger's Big Shot showcase are Schoolyard Heroes, Razrez, and Mon Frere. Razrez play dirty post punk, Mon Frere have a jazz influence to their synth rock, and the Schoolyard Heroes kick ass with radical zombie rock (all three finalists will be playing the free Big Shot show at Neumo's on March 4, where we'll also announce the big winner). The only problem is the Big Shot show (also featuring USE, the Saturday Knights, and a bunch of DJs) is 21+. Big bummer. Old Fire House to the rescue, because tonight's lineup features all three winning bands as well as the Divorce, so if you're too young to get into Neumo's next week, this unofficial Big Shot pre-party is a great way to avoid missing out on the fun. MEGAN SELING
MATES OF STATE, AQUEDUCT, SMOOSH
(Chop Suey) See CD Reviews, page 40.
THE FALL OF TROY, MON FRERE, CLAYMORE, GET DRESSED
(El Corazòn) See All Ages Action, page 52.
SAGE FRANCIS, SOL.ILLaQUISTS OF SOUND, JARED PAUL
(Showbox) See preview, page 35.
BIG BUSINESS, SOMERSET, POMERANIAN, SUN VOW, JOY WANTS ETERNITY, PANDA AND ANGEL, GUESTS
(CHAC) See Stranger Suggests, page 25.
THE EVENS (FEATURING IAN MACKAYE AND AMY FARINA), CALVIN JOHNSON
(The Vera Project) Ian MacKaye has a new band. Words enough to plunge the lives of the Fugazi faithful--spine-worn copies of Dance of Days in their nightstands like bibles--into a sudden wash of all sorts of meaning and purpose again. The Evens, a duo featuring MacKaye on guitar and longtime woman-friend Amy Farina (the Warmers), had been privately playing together for roughly two years before their 2003 live debut--and since then, the twosome have played a fair number of shows around the country, recorded an album (due out March 8), and created something of a noncommittal buzz 'cross the 'Net. Despite all that, though, no one seems to really be saying anything about what they actually sound like. So here's what I do know: There are two people in the Evens. Both members sing, and they do so through guitar amps. The Evens often challenge the confines of the venues that they play in. The Evens are quiet. The Evens are playing at Vera this Saturday. The Evens are Ian MacKaye's new band. You are already there. ZAC PENNINGTON
THE LASHES, IDIOT PILOT, THE COPS
(Studio Seven) Last year both Idiot Pilot and the Lashes moved up from comfortable indie label homes and signed deals with the dev… ahem, excuse me, major labels. Idiot Pilot went with Reprise (a party of Warner Bros.) while the Lashes joined team Columbia. Now the two wait for their records to see the light of day, fingers crossed that it'll actually happen (Idiot Pilot's been waiting for almost a year for the rerelease of their debut Strange We Should Meet Here). While I love IP's badass mix of electronic rock and hardcore--and their record, which I've said many times before, is still a favorite of mine--the Lashes' past efforts weren't as exciting. After getting an advance peek at their new record, though (which is rumored to have a summer release), I realize the Lashes are everything they ever promised to be--a fun, catchy power-pop band who don't take themselves too seriously. They'll be YM magazine darlings in no time. MEGAN SELING
GET HUSTLE, INDIAN JEWELRY, MURDEROUS COPULATION OF BIRDS
(S.S. Marie Antoinette) A combination of Eno's opiate ambience and James Chance's clever contortions, Indian Jewelry lose listeners in a dense thicket of no wave and electro punk. The Houston/L.A. act smear disaffected death-disco vocals across shuffling drum-machine beats, constellations of malfunctioning machinery, and distant guitar wreckage, setting up a post-apocalyptic landscape through which the trio recklessly wade, tripping feedback wires and burping the laptop baby until it releases crass electronic emissions. In other words, this is the good shit, so don't miss it. JENNIFER MAERZ
SOUND OFF! FINALS: HANDSHAKES, THE LAST ROMANCE, GRUFF MUMMIES
(EMP Sky Church) The EMP Sound Off! semi-finals are over, and the young finalists have been chosen. No doubt there are butterflies fluttering through the stomachs of electronic pop duo the Handshakes, emotionally heavy indie rockers the Last Romance, and the hilariously glam Gruff Mummies, as these three acts prepare to wow the judges one last time in hopes of taking home the grand prize. The winning package includes free studio time, new equipment, an opening slot for the Presidents of the United States of America, and a performance at Bumbershoot. Well, that, and of course all the fame and admiration that goes along with being number one. MEGAN SELING
BLESSED LIGHT, GRIZZLY BEAR, THE DEATH RYDER BAND
(Fun House) See preview, page 35.
KIM WARNICK ROAST
(Neumo's) See Stranger Suggests, page 25.
ROBBERS ON HIGH STREET, SOME BY SEA, GRAM RABBIT
(Crocodile) Don't be surprised if Gram Rabbit's music turns up in Quentin Tarantino's next film, especially "Kill a Man," a sweet, Galaxie 500-ish paean to gratuitous violence. You can imagine the retro- kitsch-loving director falling head-over-smirk for this California trio's eclectic blend of dusty, Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood-style balladry, high-lonesome electronic blues, and mellow loungetronica, as heard on their debut disc, Music to Start a Cult To (Stinky Records). You probably won't want to start a cult to Gram Rabbit, but you'll pleasantly tap toes and sip cocktails to 'em. It's a start. DAVE SEGAL
PAT METHENY GROUP
(Paramount) Pat Metheny Group have been operating for 28 years and remain one of the few critically respected jazz units able to fill large venues. PMG's new effort for Nonesuch, The Way Up, draws on masterly minimalist composer Steve Reich's mesmerizing repetition and bassist Eberhard Weber's solemnly uplifting melodicism, while retaining Metheny's far-ranging stylistic forays on guitar. (One wishes our water and air were as clean Metheny's guitar tone.) His fluid, crystalline motifs will have the guitarists in the house oohing and ahing, but Metheny's group (including keyboardist Lyle Mays, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and trumpeter Cuong Vu) work their own subtle magic, too. DAVE SEGAL
A GIRL CALLED EDDY, KEREN ANN
(Tractor) See Border Radio, page 45.
MASTER MUSICIANS OF BUKKAKE, THE YOUNGS, TUNA HELPERS
(Sunset) It would be easy to call Master Musicians of Bukkake seminal… so I will. The sublimely ridiculous sextet are wild cards on the local avant-rock circuit. Their debut disc, The Visible Sign of the Invisible Order (on Abduction Records), refracts ancient, exotic trance music through a modern prism and then sprinkles peyote dust over the serpentine results. Or, they might hit you with a sloppy-drunk Beefheartian blooze bender… with brilliantly Dada observations from behind bizarre masks. The Youngs (multi-instrumentalist husband/wife duo Tim and Eryn) play heartfelt, slow-pulsed country-esque rock that makes melancholy seem as natural as childbirth. DAVE SEGAL
THE GOLDEN REPUBLIC, JENS LEKMAN, THE IMPOSSIBLE SHAPES
(Crocodile) The grunge era had its Stone Temple Pilots, we have our Golden Republic--the bands that are just this side of write-by-numbers alt rock, peppered with the correct amounts of catch genres of the moment (a little glam here, a little new wave there). It's a formula for sure, but it works--just look what happened to the Killers. Mediocrity and a couple of catchy choruses will get you everywhere. JENNIFER MAERZ See preview, page 39.
DAVE DOUGLAS & NOMAD
(Triple Door) Dave Douglas has been christened the successor to Miles Davis' trumpet throne. All Music Guide calls him "the most original trumpeter/composer of his generation." No question, Douglas' composing and improvising chops are as extraordinary as his emotional depth. One listen to any of his plentiful albums will make the hype totally digestible. Douglas is touring behind Mountain Passages, issued on his new Greenleaf label. DAVE SEGAL
WEST INDIAN GIRL, BRAZILIAN GIRLS, MERCIR
(Chop Suey) The most interesting thing about vanilla L.A. psych-poppers West Indian Girl is that their name derives from a form of LSD that triggers "tribal hallucinations." Brazilian Girls play fashion-boutique funk, faux-reggae, and cosmopolitan loungetronica that's half as sexy as Pizzicato 5 and the Gentle People. BG frontwoman Sabina Sciubba's comically awkward vocals ("How long can you dance on the battlefield with your Sunday clothes on/How long can you go along with this shit with a straight face on?") are forgiven for her ability to make you weak-kneed when she switches to French. DAVE SEGAL