764-HERO, TRISTEZA, THE MERCURY PROGRAM
(Graceland) Having recently signed to Tiger Style Records, 764-HERO shares this bill with new labelmates Tristeza and the Mercury Program. Gainesville, Florida's the Mercury Program proves that expansive, theatrically instrumental post-rock doesn't always have to hit listeners over the head with explosive waves of sound. The band's new album, All the Suits Begin to Fall, glistens with pretty yet propulsive songs whose strength is derived from subtlety. Even the song titles reflect the band's well-spoken argument that loud is not always better: "The Secret to Quiet," "There Are Thousands Sleeping in Peace," "A Delicate Answer," etc. The only drawback to this EP is its short, 30-minute running time. But having to break out of one's hypnotic trance to keep re-pushing the play button is a minor complaint. KATHLEEN WILSON
SWORDS PROJECT, THIS BUSY MONSTER, REVOLUTIONARY HYDRA
(Crocodile) Portland's Swords Project is composed of two drum sets, two guitars, keyboards, violin, accordion, bass, and flute, spread among eight musicians. The best part about it: Each instrument is actually played well. But the sound the band puts out, even in a live rock venue, is remarkably spare and simple--which is what makes Swords Project remarkably beautiful. In a Crocodile that boasts a great newly beefed-up sound system, perhaps you'll find yourself less quietly moved this time around. JEFF DeROCHE
DAANDE LENOL, FEATuring BAABA MAAL
(Showbox) Sometimes it's best to buck tradition. Senegalese pop star Baaba Maal, born (according to local legend) outside of the appropriate caste for a singer, began performing music in his teens, and played in groups in Senegal and Paris over the next few decades while acquiring a formal musical education. In the late 1980s he started his own band, Daande Lenol, and recorded several albums. Of these, this year's Mi Yeewnii (the title means "Missing You") is only the latest high-quality installment. Maal deftly combines the traditional music of his homeland with pop, reggae, and jazz in a winning combination; his music is accessible without being condescending, and executed with the kind of seemingly careless mastery that only years of experience can produce. GENEVIEVE WILLIAMS
POSEUR, KILL ME TOMORROW
(Sit & Spin) While there's no doubt that Poseur is a great band, the live shows can be hit-or-miss, depending upon the energy of band frontman and mastermind Brendan Titrud. This hyperactive singer/guitarist/knob-tweaker is often too distracted and fidgety to perform at his best. On such occasions, the band is only mediocre. When Titrud is completely present, however, he is a unique thing to behold, with Ween-like helium in his unpredictable voice box and a pocketful of outstanding pop songs. Poseur is Northwest-rock-inflected, giddily hook-laced and danceable, and unlike any of its Seattle contemporaries. JEFF DeROCHE
EAT THE STATE BENEFIT W/ THE PINKOS, MEA CULPA, AUGUST SPIES
(Gibson's) The Pinkos are the perfect commie-manifesto band to play this benefit for Eat The State. With a mere acoustic guitar (which guitarist Vanessa Veselka plays through a distortion pedal) and the more-than-able Steve Moriarty on drums, the Seattle duo manages to create a thick, spastic punk-rock sound, infused with smart, political lyrics, carried by enough energy to sustain good, hard rock and roll shows. Strong harmonies and plenty of pop smarts keep the Pinkos listenable, while an informed anger and sharp punk-rock aesthetic give audiences plenty of food for thought. JEFF DeROCHE
SCARED OF CHAKA, THE FATAL FLYING GUILOTEENS, FEDERATION X
(Graceland) Call it punk-pop or pop-garage, because it's a lot of both--with a big, accessible guitar sound, and catchy, resonant vocal hooks, Scared of Chaka vacillates between the two genres for a dynamic sound and aggressive live shows. The band recently moved here from New Mexico (with members in both Seattle and Portland), which is why you're seeing the name so much lately. And if you've seen the name but haven't seen the show, you are well advised to be at Graceland tonight. The new LP, Crossing With Switchblades (Hopeless Records), contains 14 songs that seem to go by in about three minutes, thanks to the band's abundant energy and pop palatability. With all the bent-up strings, staccato punk-rock rave-ups, and distorted on-key screaming, maybe you should think about buying the record, too. JEFF DeROCHE
DODI, THE LAWNMOWERS, WONDERFUL (CD RELEASE)
(Sit & Spin) Dodi, the crunchy, psychedelic, Pixies-esque glam experiment named after the most influential bartender in the history of alcoholism, is sadly calling it quits. Perpetually pajama-clad lead singer Archie O'Connor explains that he's going to pursue glam and hiphop while guitarist James Palmer is off to explore more Americana sounds in Andy Duvenhall's new band, the Lawnmowers. No hard feelings, though. The boys in both these bands have known each other for almost 15 years, and played together in countless beloved musical incarnations like Sycophant, Sister Psychic, and the Ottoman Bigwigs. I'm sad to see Dodi go, but psyched about the Lawnmowers, whose first show at the Tractor Tavern blew me and the rest of the packed house clean away. If I were the daughter of a filthy rich Hollywood movie producer, I'd beg to have the Lawnmowers play poolside at my Sweet 16 party. Dodi is dead! Long live the Lawnmowers! TAMARA PARIS
THE STROKES, THE TURN-ONS, THE LASHES
(Crocodile) See preview.
(EMP) See Stranger Suggests.
MOUNTAIN CON, EVANGELINE
(Tractor Tavern) Evangeline's songwriter/guitarist Chris Cline has his ear perfectly attuned to the early '70s songcraft of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He can pen heartbreaking ballads that peel back romantic regret and betrayal to reveal pure sorrow, as on "Freeway Lullabye," then turn around with twangy rockers about wanderlust and survival, like the brand new "Little World." The quintet's secret weapon is singer Jennifer Potter, whose gorgeous voice can belt one moment and channel the bruised angelic lilt of Emmylou Harris circa Elite Hotel and Luxury Liner the next. Add to that her between-song stage patter, which could make Sophie Tucker blush. Evangeline's Felt Like Home was last spring's sleeper gem, and the band's newer material finds it moving toward a spacious country-rock hybrid. NATE LIPPENS
(Gorge) The best line in the John Mellencamp installment of VH1's Behind the Music series is when his wife, Elaine, describes the singer/songwriter as "a really great date." What sweeter, more meaningful testimonial could a man receive? Chivalry, grace, intelligence, humanity, and a sense for making plans and then seeing them through, as well as a flair for spontaneity--these are all components of a truly great date. Musically, Mellencamp is a great date as well. His shows are exciting, full of feeling and sentiment, graceful, laced with history and nostalgia, and full of surprises. He's a keeper, that John, and should be an inspiration to both musical and non-musical males everywhere. God willing, that mold has not been broken. KATHLEEN WILSON
(KeyArena) Stevie Nicks' first solo album in seven years, Trouble in Shangri-La, is a testament to her enduring vocal style--warm and quavering--and her deeply introspective and often autobiographical lyrics. Even after all these years, she's still got something to say about her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham ("I Miss You"), and though it's in true easy-listening ballad style, the song's honest and vulnerable questions will wrench the heart of anyone familiar with the couple's romantic past. This kind of nostalgia and dedication is what makes Nicks' career (and her live shows too, I'm guessing) so important. If you've ever been a fan of Nicks, or of strong survivors, you won't want to miss this show. KATHLEEN WILSON
CARISSA'S WIERD, KILL ME TOMORROW
(Sit & Spin) [Insert more press from The Stranger for Carissa's Wierd here.]
POISON, WARRANT, QUIET RIOT, ENUFF Z 'NUFF
(Snoqualmie Amphitheater) How obnoxious that Quiet Riot, author of 1983's Metal Health, has been so reduced by the decade-plus-long fall from grace that metal has seen. Tonight's bill, sadly, has Poison and Warrant in the top slots, leaving Quiet Riot at the lowly bottom of the bill next to the never-were/never-will-be hacks who inhabit the most poorly named "metal" band ever, Enuff Z 'Nuff. While I haven't seen Quiet Riot in about 19 years, as a long-running (over half my life) fan, I have to say this one thing: The members of Poison are a bunch of fagits. JEFF DeROCHE
Shhhh. Be cool.
(Showbox) See Stranger Suggests.
31 KNOTS, MARAZENE HEARTBEAT CLOCK, FEAR OF LITTLE MEN
(Crocodile) See preview.
THE DIRTBOMBS, THE INTELLIGENCE, GET DOWN SYNDROME
(Crocodile) Damn, baby! Get to this show early for Get Down Syndrome, a bent-up Seattle garage rock hootenanny. See preview. JEFF DeROCHE
THE BUILDING PRESS, THE TERROR SHEETS, ANGEL DRAG
(Graceland) Like later, instrumental Fugazi perhaps--if Fugazi were suddenly to become so enamored with math that it no longer believed in bombast or gratifying swells--the Building Press is founded on gentle, repetitive bass patterns and the guitar lines that crash up against those patterns (à la Andy Gill of Television). To say this is not to mention the drumming, of course, which is austere and elegant. I'm sure that bands like this grow tired of being labeled "math rock," but for those of us who weren't smart enough with math to differentiate between trig and calculus, what else could we possibly call it? Best I could do is to call it dark, sexy aesthete music that I only ever listen to when I'm lying down--otherwise I get a headache from straining. JEFF DeROCHE
BLOOD BROTHERS, RED LIGHT STING, TRUE NORTH, AKIMBO, CAESURA
(Paradox) It's been said here before, and I'll shout it to the rooftops once more--the Blood Brothers are among the best things to come out of Seattle in a long time. Like Fugazi and Sleater-Kinney, this band is a thrill live, if only because everyone is playing their hardest, with absolute focus and flair. Hardcore is merely the genre the Blood Brothers start from, and having just about exhausted its musical vocabulary, they are preparing to set off in new and wildly different directions. Anything they do will be terrific. Their (still) small, fierce shows are a cauldron of noise, emotion, and the pure, bitter vitality of youth. GRANT COGSWELL
(Pier 62/63) This is the lady who's "Gettin' tired of yo shit" because "you don't evah buy [her] nothing....". And she's really good at what she does if you're into that jammy, self-indulgent R&B/soul thing she puts out. While Badu has, to her credit, a great voice and some strong, soulful recordings, I was once repeatedly tortured by the presence of her fucking live CD (in the jukebox of a bar where I worked), and I don't believe I am being unfair when I say, "Girl, I wouldn't buy you shit. Now quit your damned squawkin' and go get yourself a day job." (I realize that she could buy and sell me at this point, and really doesn't need my advice.) JEFF DeROCHE
(St. Clouds) Barry Ingle, a man who could easily be called "twee," is among Seattle's most talented and charismatic singer/songwriters. Monastery, his debut LP, is more sophisticated and introspective than much of the work in the current Northwest Top 20. While his gentle piano ballads will likely never make him beloved by Seattle's music scene, my bet is that he'll transcend his city in a few years and be picked up by a major label, at which point he will be loved by tender, fragmented souls across the country. Meantime, he does his gig in Madrona where he performs haunting, meditative music to people shoveling food into their faces. JEFF DeROCHE