THURSDAY 8/10

WHIP, TART, DENELIAN
(Mars Bar) With kudos from the Wire magazine and folkadelic progenitor Tom Rapp (Pearls Before Swine), Whip has reason to puff out his chest. On his 2005 album, Atheist Lovesongs to God, Whip (Brooklyn-based Jason Merritt, also of Timesbold) kicks up the same cinematically windswept dust as did mid-'90s Palace/Will Oldham and early-'60s Bob Dylan. Whip's songs are spare, bone-dry, and mostly forlorn expressions of spoiled faith. One exception is "16th Mission," which rollicks and careens like an Appalachian Pogues. Another is the beautifully oneiric, Mercury Rev–like ballad "While." But Whip mostly works in the raw folk tradition; he's an adept craftsman who does his influences proud. DAVE SEGAL

AUGUSTANA, LUKE TEMPLE, ROBERT STILLMAN
(Crocodile) Robert Stillman's Horses captures the Portland, Maine, native's intimate, graceful take on cool jazz tempered by a wistful Americana undercurrent. The saxophonist/pianist/drummer recorded and produced his album at Seattle's Avast Studio with help from engineer Troy Tietjen, mixer Mel Detmer, and five sensitive musicians, including bill-mate Luke Temple on guitar. Understatement and dignified melodies prevail in this charmingly meditative album. Temple is a heartfelt singer-songwriter who makes soothing, morning-after music filigreed with subtle textural quirks and frail, Paul Simon–oid vocals. One Ben Gibbard says Luke has "one of the prettiest voices in all of indie rock." DAVE SEGAL

KANE HODDER, FALL FROM GRACE, STALINS WAR
(El Corazón) As senselessly hard as Seattle makes it, why does anyone bother throwing all-ages shows? This monumental effort is put forth because the people in the know realize that kids raised on great live music grow up to make it. Case in point, Kane Hodder, whose smart, sweet twist on Botch-tastic emocore have made them shining stars among generation Vera. Hey, you little punks, while you're watching KH's smoking new lineup bring the house down, please appreciate your right to rock. In the Midwest somewhere, kids your age are listening to "this great new band" the Killers and tipping cows. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

DAVID MEAD
(Chop Suey) Nashville singer/songwriter David Mead falls somewhere in between the supercharged sugar-rush of Fountains of Wayne and Ed Harcourt's swooning chamber pop—effortlessly tossing off near-perfect pop songs. It's a mystery why intelligent, heartfelt, superbly crafted pop remains a tougher sell than lo-fi indie rock or lowbrow emo; in a parallel universe, Mead would be bigger than Coldplay (and John Kerry would've won the last election). BARBARA MITCHELL

WORLD PARTY, ELVIS PERKINS
(Neumo's) World Party's Karl Wallinger has never been a prolific songwriter, but I'll gladly sacrifice quantity for quality, which Wallinger delivers in spades. A meticulous songwriter with a superb intellect, he manages to distill a comprehensive knowledge of music, a master's degree's worth of heady subjects, and a lifetime's worth of triumphs and disappointments into supremely beautiful, timeless pop. If he's not a genius, then he's at least a master craftsman. BARBARA MITCHELL

FRIDAY 8/11

THE GOODBOYS, TALL BIRDS, GO FEVER, NEW FANGS
(Comet) See Rocka Rolla.

TEX, SOME BY SEA, CAVALIER, SPEAKER SPEAKER
(Hell's Kitchen, early) "You've got a pretty throw but you've got no arms," intones Tacoma band Tex in their latest MySpace download "You're on Our Band." The song typifies this four-piece indie group: charming, melodic, self-deprecating, and catchy as all get-out (or as they self-describe, "Psychedelic folk rock with a hint of fuck you.") Make sure you catch this show—it's your final chance to hear the dreamy pop of Tacoma's Some by Sea, who have sadly called it quits. DANA BOS

SATURDAY 8/12

LUDICRA, MIDDIAN, SKARP, GREY
(El Corazón, late) It's rare to see gender-integrated metal bands, let alone ones that don't tout the "hot chick" angle to fuel their promotional machines. Such is not the case with Ludicra, one of the best "extreme" bands existing today. Singer Christy Cather's guttural presence is anything but feminine, her cracking howls and epic Valkyrie hails are likely to make even the most bearish metal dude feel awed and inadequate. The band's latest Alternative Tentacles release, the almost cruelly titled Another Great Love Song, seamlessly creeps from anthemic, black-metal storm fronts to eerie chamber-folk recesses, often within the same song. Ludicra's personal manifesto to "crush eardrums and destroy petty boundaries" is well demonstrated. JOSH BLANCHARD

DEVOTCHKA
(Neumo's) See Rocka Rolla.

DAVE ALVIN & THE GUILTY MEN, HACIENDA BROTHERS
(Tractor) Last time Hacienda Brothers passed through Seattle, the gig went unmentioned in this rag—and a regular Border Radio reader took me to task for that oversight. Oh, have I seen the error of my ways; the Haciendas' sophomore full-length, What's Wrong with Right, is one of my favorite records of 2006. This Tucson, Arizona, quintet marries the best of country and old-school soul, with able assistance from producer Dan Penn (who authored such classics as "Do Right Woman" and "Dark End of the Street," as well as the Box Tops' "Cry Like a Baby," which the guys give a good going-over live), propelled by the complementary rough and smooth vocals of Dave Gonzalez and Chris Gaffney, plus the liveliest accordion this side of prime-era Los Lobos. If you miss this show, you better have a doctor's note ready come Monday. KURT B. REIGHLEY

BEAT BACK BUSH, ROMANTEEK, BEYOND REALITY, SEATTLE WHAT, DJ BGIRL
(Ethnic Cultural Theater, 3940 Brooklyn Ave, AKA Vera Project) The band formerly known as Romantic Retard Nation changed their name after protesters at 2004's Homo-a-Gogo accused them of being oppressive (ah, Olympia, how I miss you). Luckily, political correctness hasn't blunted Romanteek's musical prowess. Their damaged cabaret crooning recalls the less freaked-out moments of Get Hustle, with elements of R&B, post-punk, jazz, and hiphop all getting along in their poppy, personal/political arrangements. Live, they aim to "bring the love" and start the dance party, occasionally incorporating members of Scream Club to form the supergroup Club Romanteek. Loosen up, dance along, and ("oppression" be damned) get retarded. ERIC GRANDY

ENDFEST: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, THE MARS VOLTA, SNOW PATROL, WOLFMOTHER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL, ROCK KILLS KID, NINE BLACK ALPS, THE SUBWAYS, THE GOSSIP
(White River Amphitheatre) Endfest's original lineup included Modest Mouse as co-headliners along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but as soon as the show was announced, news broke that Isaac Brock and Co. were canceling a number of shows to finish recording the band's new album. Forgivable, since the new record will feature new guitarist... Johnny Marr of the Smiths. Holy shit. Anyway, while I absolutely loathe the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 107.7 The End salvaged the show by bringing on the Mars Volta to replace the Mouse. Mars Volta undoubtedly will destroy all and wipe out the Peppers' aged, frat-boy funk rock. MEGAN SELING

SUNDAY 8/13

JOY WANTS ETERNITY, FROM MONUMENT TO MASSES, UNWED SAILOR, MARS ACCELERATOR
(El Corazón) Seattle's Mars Accelerator offer sport-tops and film backdrops behind a passive-aggressive arsenal of slanted song structures and anti-pop stage presence. Their over-thought math rock is a Pacific Northwest take on Slint and Don Caballero, ignoring the all-instrumental temptation with production trickery, a bored-to-screaming frontman, and random bursts of restless hardcore dissatisfaction. While others have made the soft/loud dynamic as predictable as married sex, Mars Accelerator do it enough in any one song to keep up the energy, appropriately underachieving and occasionally dull in an interesting way. GUY FAWKES

THE OLD HAUNTS, COCONUT COOLOUTS, THE LIGHT YEAR, THE SNAKEBITES
(Funhouse, early) While not quite as infectious as their debut full-length, the Old Haunts' sophomore effort, Fuel on Fire, solidifies the Olympia/Seattle trio as purists dedicated to their sound. Fire also finds the band with its original and now-permanent drummer, Curtis James, present throughout the recording. The sound, tagged by the band itself as "Swamp Rock," is frequently dark and even eerie, thanks mostly to an emphasis on minor-key, note-heavy riffs and Craig Extine's ghostlike vocals. Live, the trio can get the crowd moving, even in this city. It's like a graveyard dance party at midnight under a full moon. GRANT BRISSEY

KEXP SUMMER BBQ: GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY, THE LONG WINTERS, GUESTS
(South Lake Union Discovery Center) See preview.

MONDAY 8/14

GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY, PARIS SPLEEN,SLEEPY EYES OF DEATH
(Crocodile) See preview.

TUESDAY 8/15

NUDITY, BLOOD MERIDIAN, THE KING'S ENGLISH, SO SAID THEY
(Comet) Fans of '70s space travelers like Amon Düül II and Hawkwind can find a good excuse to fire up the bong with Olympia's Nudity. Featuring members of heavyweights like Tight Bros from Way Back When and Growing, Nudity put on a live show that's a full-throttle odyssey through rock's cosmic fringes, complete with sitars, congas, flutes, and seizure-inducing lights. The five-piece boasts not only dueling lead guitarists, but also two drummers who bypass jam-band wankery to double up the foundation for this interstellar monolith. On a much mellower tip are Canadians Blood Meridian, who marry classic country-rock licks with indie flair, not unlike Steve Malkmus fronting Exile on Main Street–era Rolling Stones. JOSH BLANCHARD

JAPAN AIR TRANSFER, COCK AND SWAN, Daguerreotypes
(Crocodile) I never thought I'd use the words "brilliant" and "from Bothell" in the same sentence, but here goes. Bothell's Cock and Swan are absolutely brilliant. An electronic duo whose sound is reminiscent of a female-fronted Clientele or Boards of Canada, Cock and Swan's rich, hauntingly pretty melodies will have local rock snots' jaws on the floor. If they are able to capture half of the sumptuous intensity on their recent, perfectly produced Noon Hum EP in a live setting, this is going to be a great show and a huge band. Someday you'll tell your friends you saw them at the Crocodile on a Tuesday. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

THE FRENCH KICKS, MATT & KIM
(Neumo's) See preview.

WEDNESDAY 8/16

GORILLA BISCUITS, SINKING SHIPS, SHOOK ONES, THE VOWS
(El Corazón) See Underage.

SHAPES AND SIZES, THE LONELY FOREST
(Sunset) British Columbia's Shapes and Sizes produce a beautiful purée of pop confection, Brechtian theatrics, and propulsive guitar—sometimes all in the same song. The contrasting vocal styles of singers Rory Seydel and Caila Thompson-Hannant bring about moments of fascinating tension, while Jon Crellin's rock-solid drums and the creative bass lines of Nathan Gage provide firm backbones for the intricate compositions. In the last song on the album, Seydel offers, "If you'd like to rent my life I'll leave out all of that ugly strife," but it's exactly that tension that keeps things interesting. Long live strife; long live Shapes and Sizes. CHRIS MCCANN