The Octopus Project, the Torn ACLs, Shotty
(Chop Suey) The Octopus Project are less like poking a murky sea creature and more like a rainbow wrapped in a glitter Snuggie waterskiing on skis made of keyboards over waves of lime margaritas while chocolate-covered theremins fly by. HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! Hailing from Austin, the Octopus Project create electropop that's predominantly instrumental, though cute and cartoonish voices occasionally wisp in and out of this humming dance machine. Also on the bill to assure you get your vitamin D dose for the entire winter are the Torn ACLs, a band that makes clean music for toe-tapping and hand-clapping—rays of sunshine and bushy-tailed squirrels LITERALLY shoot out of their guitars! EMILY NOKES
Orca Team, Branden Daniel & the Chics, the Shivas, Detective Agency
(Comet) Portland's glazy '60s surfers the Shivas deliver heart-shaped, incense-infused, lo-fi garage pop. They're capable of dispensing songs for both fast-dancing maniacs and slow-dancing romantics; you're sure to find a fuzzy groove that suits you. Also playing are Seattle's delightful Detective Agency, three ladies and a gentleman who play sweet garage-pop sleuth jams—it's no mystery (ha, I'm on fire!) that they'll put you in a good mood, or at least get you moving. With Orca Team (post-punk beach party) and Branden Daniel & the Chics (rock 'n' roll foot-stomping barbecue party). EMILY NOKES
Misfits, the Attack, No Buffer, Julio X, D-Town Rebels
(Studio Seven) Talk about living off of a legacy. For a short while in the 1980s, OG New Jersey horror-punk crew Misfits were at the top of their game, garnering worldwide recognition with lo-fi recordings of their sleazily awesome, morbid rock and roll. The music was straightforward and raw, yet vocalist Glenn Danzig brought a distinct Elvislike crooning style that set them apart from the rest of the pack. After Danzig left, the rest of the Misfits crew took a short break, and then returned in the mid-'90s with what seemed like Danzig impersonators, releasing a slew of albums that use the name, keep the campiness, but lack everything else. KEVIN DIERS
Graves33, Myka 9, Paranoid Castle, Shark Dentures
(Nectar) Myka 9 is a cornerstone of the Freestyle Fellowship, a West Coast original and hella influential stylist—so fuck with him. But let's speak on Banner for Boxed In, the most realized sounds yet from Beacon Hill's deeply prolific MC/producer/visual artist Graves33; something like a basement with a skylight, Banner bridges Graves's dusty DIY ethos to a lofty, ethereal new understanding. Evoking the best instincts of both vintage Oldominion and cold-swept Minneapolis weathervane rap, Graves33 has bottled the feeling of that uniquely autumnal ritual: heading indoors to create, going inward to take stock. Now that Onry Ozzborn—Seattle's dean of dark and thoughtful indie-hop—has at last found the light with his Dark Time Sunshine project, the city needs a moody craftsman like Graves33, who in 2012 has truly hit his stride. LARRY MIZELL JR.
The Polish Ambassador, Unlimited Gravity, Elfkowitz
(Barboza) See Data Breaker.
(Neumos) Youthful enthusiasm can carry you only so far in music. You gotta have catchy tunes, interesting dynamics, tight drumming, a deviously ingenious manager, and not be fugly. Fortunately, Vancouver duo Japandroids have most of these elements in place. Making anthemic rock in 2012 is fraught with the sense that so many other bands have done this very thing, and dealing with the stolid irony of modern listeners can be an insurmountable obstacle. But Japandroids mostly burst through the wall of jadedness and conjure through their super-charged melody waterfalls a glorious vista of sunshine, pumping fists, fast-moving vehicles, and sweaty hugs. It's like Bruce Springsteen filtered through Hüsker Dü at their most exuberant, but, you know, Canadian. DAVE SEGAL See also Stranger Suggests.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
(KeyArena) Fucking fuck yeah, the Chi Pepps (pronounced "Chai" Pepps) are coming through town! MAN, it's been a while since we heard from the funky monks, but you haven't forgotten them, right? That band that has an album called Freaky Styley? AND an album called The Uplift Mofo Party Plan? Go ahead and tell me all about how great whichever album was, and in return I shall quote lyrics from the song "Suck My Kiss," written by Anthony "No One Is More Annoying" Kiedis: "K-i-s-s-i-n-g/Chicka chicka dee/Do me like a banshee/Lowbrow is how/Swimming in the sound/Of bow wow wow/Aw, baby, do me now/Do me here, I do allow.../Your mouth was made to suck my kiss." EMILY NOKES
EXPO 90: Hausu, Dreamsalon, Witch Gardens, La Luz, FF
Glitterbang, DJ Res, DJ Amateur Youth, DJ Porq
(Chop Suey) See The Homosexual Agenda.
Mark Sultan, Branden Daniel and the Chics, Dude York
(Rendezvous) Mark "BBQ" Sultan has a new single, available for free download on In the Red Records, called "The War on Rock 'n' Roll." Is there really such a war happening? Only in Sultan's mind—his personal battle, to maintain his position as the most prolific, gimmick-free, soul-singing one-man band rages on! AND HE IS WINNING. No other band-of-one comes close to his skills, his sincerity, and/or his songwriting. In other great news, Sultan has recently made peace with former bandmate Arish "King" Khan, and the two will reunite for a mini-tour, called Anal Apocalypse 2012. There are no Seattle dates scheduled for it (yet!), but now there's a glimmer of hope to see that reunion sometime this year, too. KELLY O
Beat Connection, SORNE, Odesza, Lila Rose
(Neumos) See Sound Check.
(Washington Hall) See Stranger Suggests.
Tiny Knives, Kristin Allen-Zito, Tyson Ballew, Forrest Baum
(Hollow Earth Radio) See Underage.
EXPO 90: USF, Hair & Space Museum, Stephanie, the Numbs, Brain Fruit, Baby Guns
(Cairo) See Underage.
Foreign Beggars, Pendulum
(Foundation) See Data Breaker.
Santiago Salazar, Tyler Morrison, Ctrl_Alt_Dlt, Roddimus, Eugene Fauntleroy
(Electric Tea Garden) See Data Breaker.
The Coup, Hi Life Sound System, Kung Foo Grip
(Crocodile) See My Philosophy.
Sweatson Klank, WD4D, Introcut, Kid Smpl
(Lo-Fi) See Data Breaker.
BOAT, Tokyoidaho, the Soft Hills, Kingdom of the Holy Sun
(Comet) Forlorn fans of former Seattle space-rock VIPs Voyager One can take solace in the rise of Tokyoidaho. Featuring guitarist/vocalist/Moog-manipulator Peter Marchese, bassist Jasun Hadaway, and drummer Elliott Nutt, Tokyoidaho have a new self-titled album on a new label, Neon Sigh. The disc is packed with elegantly crafted rock songs bathed in romantic ache and swathed in stardust, like peak-era Church crossed with that short-lived UK space-prog band Levitation (which featured the House of Love guitarist Terry Bickers). With a host of riveting live shows and three releases this year alone (start with Pharmacokinetics), Kingdom of the Holy Sun have become one of the city's most interesting psych-rock groups. With subtlety and taste, KOTHS create serpentine songs that radiate an opiated bliss. "Spread Your Heaven Like Love" is their definitive song title and an apt summary of their mission statement. DAVE SEGAL
Fearce and Bean, the Bad Tenants, Irukandji Physics of Fusion, Global Heat
(Nectar) Those who know Dyme Def certainly know the local rapper Fearce and producer Bean- One, and those who know Fearce and BeanOne also know that it is almost impossible for either to make bad or unpolished hiphop. Fearce, one of the three MCs in Dyme Def, has more than paid his dues, and BeanOne, Dyme Def's main producer, has made beats for almost every major crew in this city. Earlier this year, Fearce and BeanOne released a mixtape, There Goes the Neighborhood, which stands as one of 2012's best recordings. Do the right thing: Download the mixtape and go to the show. CHARLES MUDEDE See also My Philosophy.
Minus the Bear, Cursive, Girl in a Coma
(Showbox at the Market) I was skeptical when Seattle mainstays Minus the Bear released "Lonely Gun," the first single from their new album, Infinity Overhead. It wasn't that I thought the song was bad, it was just... okay, no, the song is bad. While the lyrics and chorus have familiar Minus the Bear flavor, the song feels like an out-of-place remix, layering the vocals over some canned electronic bits—wiry synth and dance beats. And then there is saxophone! Why is there saxophone? Thankfully, the more mellow follow-up single, "Steel and Blood," is less, um, confusing, and a better overall representation of Infinity Overhead. MEGAN SELING
Gamelan Pacifica with A. L. Suwardi
(Cornish) The local traditional Indonesian orchestra performs with one of Indonesia's most famous composers and performers of both traditional and contemporary music. JEN GRAVES
People Under the Stairs, Kublakai, Luke Rain
(Neumos) See My Philosophy.
(Crocodile) Since their band name is virtually ungoogleable, most familiar with the Internet (see?) already know vocalist/producer Sydney Bennett as "Syd tha Kyd," Odd Future's touring DJ and older sister of the skatepunk-rap collective's group toady Taco. While her effortlessly cool singing voice is one of the main draws of the group's future-lounge sound, the importance of producer Matt Martians is usually underestimated. A quick listen to either of Martians's releases with his other OF satellite the Jet Age of Tomorrow shows his penchant for spaced-out, jazzy, Neptunes-style production heard in much of the Internet's smoother neo-soul sound. Bonus fact: Kendrick Lamar's Section.80 hit "A.D.H.D." sampled Martians and the Jet Age of Tomorrow's "The Knight Hawk." How about that? MIKE RAMOS See also My Philosophy.
(Triple Door) Oh, man, did the Bangles' All Over the Place rule my world for a few months in 1984. I reviewed it for my college paper and surely embarrassed myself with some hyperbolic babble about the California band's soft-sike-pop genius and intricate, pulchritudinous vocal harmonies. Besides her key contributions to the Bangles, guitarist/vocalist Susanna Hoffs went on to do some solid solo work and two engaging albums of covers with Matthew Sweet as Sid n Susie (both artists have great taste in vintage pop), and even her late-era material surpasses expectations for '80s pop stars in the 21st century. Go for "Manic Monday," stay for "Live"—and don't shout for "Walk Like an Egyptian," you goober. DAVE SEGAL
(Emerald Queen) I was turned on to the high-quality early rock of Alice Cooper (as opposed to the cartoonish later schlock of Alice Cooper) by one of his biggest fans: Joey Ramone, who listed Cooper's Love It to Death as one of his favorite albums. So great was my love of Joey Ramone, I bought Love It to Death on his say-so. So great was my love of Love It to Death, I happily bought a couple other early Cooper records (Killer! Billion Dollar Babies!) and loved them, too. These days, Cooper's essentially a male Elvira, but his early songbook will provide him high-quality rock fodder until we're all dead. DAVID SCHMADER
Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde Live, Project Lionheart
(Neumos) Twenty years ago, four young rappers and a producer released what was at the time the most advanced hiphop album the world had ever heard, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. It's a record that time will never touch or rust. The LA rappers (Fatlip, Slimkid3, Imani, Bootie Brown) and producer (J-Swift) superpacked each track with surprises. Nothing on Bizarre is flat. Everything pops. On top of all that, a number of the then-major schools or branches of hiphop are mocked: gangsta rap, conscious rap, hippie rap, R&B rap. This show is two of Pharcyde's original rappers (Fatlip, Slimkid3) and the producer (the genius J-Swift—his life, sadly, has not been easy; he's gone in and out of jail, on and off the streets) celebrating one of the most remarkable albums in the 34-year history of hiphop. Yeah, I want the farmer man. CHARLES MUDEDE See also My Philosophy.
The Breaklites, Brainstorm, John Crown, Nu Era
(Crocodile) See My Philosophy.
Diminished Men, Cactus Truck
(Royal Room) At first blush, Diminished Men at the Royal Room would seem like something of an anachronism. That is, until you consider the venue's already-venerable pedigree of sophisticated talent—it's by no means just a jazz club. Diminished Men's subdued works of big-hall (in an effects sense) guitar twang should swirl that room with a supernatural presence. This stuff blends surf, psych, and a whole lot of less-identifiable influences into a seductive bleakness that's almost visual in its ability to provoke mood. Something something, an Ennio Morricone reference. GRANT BRISSEY