Thursday 11/20

Ballard Jazz Walk

(Various venues) See The Score.

Duo Juum

(Chapel Performance Space) See The Score.

Yeasayer, Icy Demons

(Neumos) My first exposure to Icy Demons was via Pink Skull's remix of their song "1850." It was not exactly a representative introduction. More helpful is the knowledge that this band share a key member with carny spazzes Man Man and now defunct free-form freaks Need New Body. Icy Demons' latest, Miami Ice, scans from faint, tropically inflected chill-outs ("Summer Samba," "Jantar Mantar") to coolly sedate electro pop ("Centurion") to cartoon psych pop (the aforementioned "1850"). Overall, I think I'd stick with the remixes. Yeasayer combine soft rocking vocal harmonies, gospel chants, creeping flashbacks of new-agey psychedelia, and the frail/anthemic interplay of contemporaries like TV on the Radio or Arcade Fire, only in service of less immediately catchy songs full of vague apocalyptic dread. ERIC GRANDY

Hauschka, Tom Brosseau, Rafael Anton Irisarri

(Triple Door) The prepared piano—where tones are altered by placing foreign objects (nuts and bolts, pencils, live mice) on or between the instrument's strings—can seem pretty gimmicky, even in works created by the man who popularized the technique, John Cage. Luckily, this is not true of Hauschka, aka Düsseldorf pianist and composer Volker Bertelmann, as evidenced by his new album, Ferndorf. Bertelmann relies on curious percussive textures that recall those of the kalimba (the African thumb piano), teased into minimal, bewitching melodies and intertwined with strings. The technical aspect might fascinate the academic set, but on a purely musical level, Ferndorf radiates otherworldly appeal reminiscent of Múm or Sigur Rós sans vocals. KURT B. REIGHLEY

The Hold Steady, Drive-By Truckers

(Showbox Sodo) Drive-By Truckers and the Hold Steady share enough in common for them to make sense as a package tour. Both bands mine the sounds of Americana—Southern-accented roadhouse blues for the Truckers, E Street bar-cum-arena rock for the Hold Steady. Both deal with similar themes—alcohol; the road; tragic romance; religion and its failings; the dark, sometimes criminal underbelly of American life. But their handling of these themes is a study in contrast. Drive-By Truckers plow into things head-on, or, if you prefer, no ice; the Hold Steady, on the other hand, approach their subjects with the gift of Craig Finn's literary remove and considerable lyrical wit, lending their down-and-out narratives as much sincerity as the Truckers', but also a winning mix of enthusiasm, grim humor, and a rewarding serial continuity and self-referentiality. Both shows should be great, but I know whom I'd pick as a headliner. ERIC GRANDY

White Rainbow, PWRFL Power

(UW HUB) The folkie formula is tried and true. Man, often bearded, hears the call of nature and writes a plethora of songs about spirits and being one with nature. See: Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective, and a smattering of Northwest groups. Because he's toured with Banhart and hails from the natural mecca of Portland, people may be inclined to pigeonhole Adam Forkner's solo unit White Rainbow into the influx of indie bands going green. But that would be misguided, as the versatile Forkner deftly experiments with sounds and effects to create complex and pulsing noise soundscapes one second, and touching, relatable love songs the next. To consider White Rainbow a simple tree hugger would be your first mistake, and missing this rare Seattle performance would be your second. CASEY CATHERWOOD

Friday 11/21

Lucky Dragons, Hecuba, Pit Er Pat

(Vera) See preview, and Album Review.

The Hold Steady, Drive-By Truckers

(Showbox Sodo) See Thursday's preview.

Shadow Dancer, Sleepy Eyes of Death, Milkplant, C-Leb

(Chop Suey) Shadow Dancer (British producers Paul and Al Farrier) bring their Boys Noize–affiliated electro rock to Seattle for the first time. You know the drill: distorted bass corkscrewing in your face, coked-up 4/4 rhythms, suggestive vocal snippets, frayed tones haunting the periphery and hinting at chaos. This is definitive mid/late-'00s hipster party musique. Allowing for the usual cultural lag time, next year's Hollywood flicks should be lousy with it. Seattle techno knob-twiddler and recent Data Breaker subject Milkplant (Justin Pennell) drops heady, high-definition techno with the sort of rugged Midwestern flavor that's been making the world sweat for decades. Grandiose, drone-y synth purveyors Sleepy Eyes of Death are one Seattle rock band that can hang tough with the electronic bods. DAVE SEGAL

Deerhunter, Times New Viking, Past Lives

(Neumos) Deerhunter's new album, Microcastle, is ostensibly the band's "pop" album, although astute listeners will have discerned a steady pop sensibility underneath even their most shoegazey layers of overdriven effects on Cryptograms. Still, Microcastle is a far more simple, straightforward affair, putting the guitar washes and reverb further in the background of slightly sweeter though still plenty melancholy songs, the most outstanding of which is the fuzzy Sonic Youth daydream "Nothing Ever Happened." Where Deerhunter are carefully composed and artfully layered, Times New Viking are gleefully raw and rough around the edges, all buzzing lo-fi punk sing-along and ramshackle rhythm and melody. The counterintuitive pairing should make for a great show. ERIC GRANDY

Goodness, Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts

(Tractor) What freezes you about Daniel G. Harmann's music is the expanse—a quietly loud expanse. It scans across a highway bridge at night. Someone driving realizes the perfection of hands. Harmann's songs transition and cut from quiet and clean to loud and distorted. They're like fall: muted but loud, sad yet uplifting. The clean, introspective sections of his sound long in a way that makes you long. The louder, voluminous sections of his distorted songs drive in a way that makes you want to drive. You'll see your hands on the steering wheel and realize how perfectly they are designed. When Harmann and his band (the Trouble Starts) get loud, it's more a movement to volume, a use of light and dark they wield well. TRENT MOORMAN

Saturday 11/22

Adam X, Bryan Zentz, Mathew Anderson, Brandon Plank, Spirals

(Undisclosed Seattle warehouse) See Data Breaker.

New Kids on the Block, Natasha Bedingfield

(Tacoma Dome) See preview.

Minus the Bear, Annuals, Helms Alee

(Showbox at the Market) Seattle has such a fucking fantastic music scene. And I'm not just saying that through rose-colored hometown-pride glasses—the rest of the nation recognizes what talent exists here, too. Minus the Bear, for example, are finally coming home after being on the road since early October—with much of their 39-date tour being sold out, they're clearly no longer our little secret. Tonight's openers, Helms Alee, are newer to the scene, so they don't quite have the rest of the world hypnotized by their epic, guitar-heavy rock (yet), but their impressive debut, Night Terror (Hydra Head), has maintained a spot on my top-10 list for 2008, so it's only a mater of time before they're crossing the country on sold-out tours of their own. MEGAN SELING

Sunday 11/23

Love Is All, Vivian Girls, Nodzzz

(Nectar) See preview.

Sisters of Mercy, Romance

(El Corazón) Even I have a soft spot for British gothic rock—for its evil passions, the blood, the hunger, the bats that have "fled, fled, fled." Especially for Sisters of Mercy's second album, Floodland (1987), a delicious feast of dark pop. How can one ever get enough of "Lucretia My Reflection," "Dominion/Mother Russia," and "This Corrosion"? How can one ever get enough of the order "Give me the ring!"? The power of those words send me back to a dawn in 1989: I had just left a party in North London, entered a tube station, and found on both platforms hundreds of vampires waiting for a train. The men and women had also just come from a party, a satanic party, and were now returning to their caves in East London. CHARLES MUDEDE

Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, Conrad Ford, Star Anna

(Chop Suey) Her nom de plume might suggest a delicate, gamine gal, but the musical Holly Golightly exudes a tomboyish strength and a delicious diamond-in-the-rough charm. On her new album, Dirt Don't Hurt, she and her musical partner/Brokeoff Lawyer Dave use their wonder-twin powers to deliver a classic country/blues album full of sparse, dark, timeless classics. If Golightly's voice sounds familiar, it should—she dueted with longtime fan Jack White on "It's True That We Love One Another" off the White Stripes' Elephant (as well as with Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner on his second solo album). If you like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, but wish they were rougher around the edges, you'll love Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs. BARBARA MITCHELL

Monday 11/24

El Guincho

(Nectar) See Stranger Suggests.

ohGr, American Memory Project

(El Corazón) Skinny Puppy member Nivek Ogre has gone on to do some fairly interesting solo and collaborative work after the SP mothership first disbanded in 1995. OhGr (Ogre and Mark Walk) have released two albums that rummaged in IDM's warehouse of oddity with rewardingly eerie results. Their latest opus, Devils in My Details, occasionally pounds some Nine Inch Nails into your cranium, albeit with vocals less bombastically nihilistic than Trent's. Still, ohGr convey requisite electro-goth hostility through clenched-teeth vocals, belligerent beats, and fuck-off synth emissions. Baroque, tuneful art-rock also seeps into proceedings, reflecting ohGr's fondness for early Genesis and Alan Parsons Project. With acts like ohGr, apocalypse is always imminent, horror is the mind's default mode, and weird, hard electronic music is omnipresent, like Muzak's evil doppelgänger. DAVE SEGAL

Tuesday 11/25

AIDS Wolf, Arrington de Dionyso, Midwife

(Vera) See Album Review and Underage.

M83, School of Seven Bells

(Neumos) Pretenders to the My Bloody Valentine throne have been plentiful since Loveless exploded in 1991, but nobody's really usurped them as the reigning shoegaze rockers. Brooklyn trio School of Seven Bells certainly come close to attaining MBV's melodic grandeur, but they don't quite achieve Kevin Shields and company's innovative guitar tone mutation. SVIIB's debut album, Alpinisms (Ghostly International), is more of a conventionally moody rock album than it is a Loveless-like banquet of innovative textures, although its mellifluous, fuchsia melodies and frilly femme-goth vocals from sisters Claudia and Alejandra Deheza are definitely top tier. And SVIIB can even pull of epic techno trance-outs, as they do on "Sempiternal/Amaranth." Prefuse 73 and Blonde Redhead are fans. Pneumatic Frenchies M83 have their own MBV issues. DAVE SEGAL

Wednesday 11/26

Kraak & Smaak, Nordic Soul, Michael Manahan

(Nectar) See Data Breaker.

Support The Stranger

Henry Rollins

(Moore) Henry Rollins has been a most notable figure over the course of his now nearly 30-year career in the realms of punk rock, spoken word, and as an "alternative" celebrity. He's done everything from spoken-word appearances such as this one to publishing books of prose and anecdote to driving the bumpy tattoo van in Jackass. The fact that he hasn't really done anything good since he was barely out of his teens in Black Flag has proven moot in the ever-steamrolling Rollins creative machine. Perhaps most inscrutable of all of his maverick moves, however, was his contribution to The Crow soundtrack, which was a grindingly literal song about a wholly unrelated comic-book character, Ghost Rider. What's the science, Henry Rollins? SAM MICKENS

Partman Parthorse, A.H. Kraken, Love Tan

(Funhouse) French noise-rockers A.H. Kraken create static, unwavering, bass-heavy tangents of raucous punk—think Arab on Radar meets Public Image Limited meets A Frames, or just think: really fucking good. If you're not interested yet, here's the band's own description of their sound, translated from French by the magic of the internet: "The border between experimentation and the does not import what is thin... to the two-thirds of the concert lacks it idea shows does me to lean for the second option. The minutes pass and the group resembles more and more to a band of junkies to the psychotropes improvising a substitute of music." Or maybe they're talking about someone else. GRANT BRISSEY