Thursday 5/14

Jeremy Enigk, the Lonely Forest, Baby Panda

(Neumos) Since Sunny Day Real Estate's breakup, frontman Jeremy Enigk has mastered the art of composing powerful songs that showcase sweeping, orchestral crescendos and his own resplendent, carnal croon. His fifth full-length, OK Bear, is no exception. Opening track "Mind Idea" starts with a nervous, racing piano line. Enigk's lyrics flirt with vague religious imagery—steeples and graves, sin and grace—and as the piano maintains its stride, the song dances in and out of turbulence. "Late of Camera" and "In a Look" also begin simply, but like "Mind Idea" and most Enigk songs, they build to fantastic climaxes that overflow with passionate and well-placed plosions of guitar, percussion, piano, horns, and strings. OK Bear is Enigk's strongest release since Return of the Frog Queen; jaws will be on the floor tonight. MEGAN SELING

Lawnapalooza: Hey Marseilles, Telekinesis, the Cave Singers

(UW HUB Lawn) Here's how it happened with Hey Marseilles: I'm a sucker for a cutesy name, and they had two—the band name and the name of their album, To Travels and Trunks. On first glance, Hey Marseilles seemed like they might be Seattle's own little Beirut; they sing maudlin songs about travel and distance and absence, and they accompany their folky, acoustic indie rock with orchestral elements. But by the time I finally got around to seeing them live, I'd cooled considerably to their album, and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it's that their attempts at pathos, their lyrics hinting at great hardship and loss, seem somehow too stagy and theatrical; maybe I just can't remember one of their melodies right now. Still, they're a rousing live act, and they should sound sweet on the UW lawn, where they'll be joined by two fine Seattle bands, sunny indie popsters Telekinesis and down-home howlers the Cave Singers. ERIC GRANDY

Ben Folds

(Paramount) I've always thought of Ben Folds as the poor man's Rivers Cuomo. Both frontmen wrote some stellar pop songs about being an awkward geek, and both could tap into teenagers' psyches and pen anthems that were comforting in the most uncomfortable adolescent moments (Weezer's "Why Bother?" versus Ben Folds's "Song for the Dumped," for example). Folds never got the same play Cuomo got, though. (Maybe because he didn't do nutty stuff like disappear for years, lengthen a leg, or have an infamous fixation on Asian women?) But now that Cuomo's catalog has failed to live up to the very high standards the band set with Pinkerton, it looks like the turtle has won the race. I gave up on Cuomo after "Pork and Beans," yet Folds is still writing tracks that are every bit as solid as his efforts in the '90s. Well done, sir. MEGAN SELING

All Bets on Death, RipSpacer, Indecisive Rhythm, Perfume

(Funhouse) The four dudes in Seattle's All Bets on Death grind out whiskey-and-cigs-breath punk metal with hedonistic abandon—think a more testosterone-saturated Nashville Pussy. You've heard it before, and, if you like this sort of thing, you'll want to continue hearing it till a heart attack or cirrhosis hospitalizes you. Local trio RipSpacer are a much mellower proposition, playing tuneful, semihard rock full of crunch and hooks. You may like them if you have Alice Donut and Apes in your iTunes or on your shelves. DAVE SEGAL

Friday 5/15

Lusine, Sweet Beets, Kid Hops vs. SunTzu Sound, Kadeejah Streets, Adlib

(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.

Jay Tripwire, Jeromy Nail, Chad Neiro, Don Tonic

(Deep Down Lounge) See Data Breaker.

Old Time Relijun, Constant Lovers, Blood Red Dancers, the Cold Cold Ground

(Comet) See Stranger Suggests.

The Abodox, the Curious Mystery, Lonesome Shack

(Sunset) Seattle K Records signees the Curious Mystery are the quartet of Shana Cleveland, Nicolas Gonzalez, Faustine B. Hudson, and Bradford Button. Tonight the foursome celebrate the release of their debut full-length, Rotting Slowly. It is an aptly titled album, sluggishly paced, full of cowboy-junkie country, psychedelic instrumental drones, and Beach House–style slowcore, all combined in songs that regularly ramble past the five-minute mark, whether they demand the length or not, often not building momentum so much as gradually drifting to rest. The hour-long album's overall somnolence is alleviated by Cleveland's sweet and slightly raspy singing (Gonzalez's vocal turns are less compelling), as well as Hudson's occasionally raucous drumming, which at live shows is apparently pretty damn ferocious. ERIC GRANDY

Manchester Orchestra, Fun, Audrye Sessions, Winston Audio

(El Corazón) Fun are a new project featuring Andrew Dost of Anathallo, Jack Antonoff of Drive-Thru Records' Steel Train, and Nate Ruess of the Format. I have liked exactly one of those bands, Anathallo, and that's the one that Fun sound least like. So. Whatever. But! To Fun's credit, the trio have done their damnedest to not be just another pop act. Their first single, "At Least I'm Not as Sad (as I Used to Be)" is a lighthearted take on a vintage Elton John track. It evolves into some island-vibed, steel-drummed party track you could hear in Disneyland's Tiki Room, and eventually wraps up by sounding like a vaudevillian version of Queen's epic "Bohemian Rhapsody." It'll either amaze or confuse the hell out of you. MEGAN SELING

Taylor Swift, Kellie Pickler

(KeyArena) What were you doing when you were 19? Getting stoned and listening to Physical Graffiti? Getting stoned and listening to Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)? Getting stoned and listening to Merriweather Post Pavilion? Well, 19-year-old Taylor Swift is selling out arenas on a national tour in support of her best-selling second album, the 13-track Fearless, of which an astounding 11 have hit the Billboard Hot 100. She writes her own songs, she plays her own guitars, and she keeps her clothes on. Even if you don't respond to the music—glossy country-pop of the first order, for what that's worth—you've gotta respect the girl. DAVID SCHMADER

The Kills, the Horrors, Magic Wands

(Neumos) Recently, a friend was raving to me about the new Horrors single, "Sea Within a Sea," saying that it would totally win me over to this band that I'd previously dismissed as little more than hair, eyeliner, and a phoned-in Chris Cunningham video. And what do you know? The song is truly great, and a promising change of course for the band, dispensing with their old, screechy goth punk for a Joy Division melancholia and a glossed-up, spaced-out Suicide-al motorik groove that goes and grows and glows darkly for eight whole minutes, guitars and vocals smeared with reverb, organs shuddering and evaporating rather than stabbing you in the face, keyboard arpeggios fluttering toward the end, bass and drums interlocking like clockwork. I don't know what these guys did to the Horrors, but I sincerely hope they keep it up. ERIC GRANDY

Night Beats, the Slags, Doctor Doctor

(Blue Moon) This is important: Unlike every other band in the universe, Night Beats, in my estimation, are not intolerable when they jam. They sound astonishingly like a '60s garage band playing on a beat-up record player that's been placed at the bottom of an oil drum, and there's something about the sleazy guitar riffs crashing around from somewhere deep down there, frolicking with the go-go drumbeats, that sounds just about perfect to me. It's the soundtrack to a dirty, drunken striptease, and I wish it would go on forever. PAUL CONSTANT

Saturday 5/16

Obits, the Lights, Unnatural Helpers

(Neumos) See preview.

The Dead with the Allman Brothers Band, the Doobie Brothers

(Gorge Amphitheater) I'm not a Doobie Brothers purist. My interest in the band begins with what many argue is their downfall, Michael McDonald, who joined the group after lead singer Tom Johnston fell ill. You cannot miss the difference between Johnston's Doobie Brothers and McDonald's. If you're a rock head, you will prefer the former; if you're an R&B head, you will prefer the latter. Essentially, McDonald made the white Doobie Brothers black, and consequently, much of their music occupies the same area of popular music with the Average White Band and Hall & Oates. The current Doobie Brothers are sans McDonald. Johnston has returned and now leads a band that has two distinct identities. CHARLES MUDEDE

Yarn Owl, the Terrordactyls

(Full Tilt Ice Cream) Yarn Owl, a four-man outfit from Pullman, must be pretty secure in their masculinity. They've got a gentle, playful sound and a near-falsetto set of lead vocals that a lot of bands wouldn't dare try onstage. Not many groups could pull off a sweet, soft relationship song like "Rubik's Cube" (a song that, by the way, rhymes "Yahtzee" with "not see," which is an automatic win) and make it work. They are utterly adorable, and I mean that as a compliment. Good job, men. PAUL CONSTANT

Sunday 5/17

The Beats, Man; Child Bite; Nazca Lines; Premise Beach

(Comet) See preview.

Conrad Ford, the Crying Shame, Shenandoah Davis

(Sunset) Secret Army is one of those albums that you just can't stop listening to. The smoky vocals and plodding, country-music beat (like Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter) paired with a more modern ambient background music makes for a laid-back, sorta-sad-making musical experience. Conrad Ford wear their Townes Van Zandt influence on their sleeves. This isn't alt-country or some other lame country-fried affectation. It's storytelling, and it's beautiful. PAUL CONSTANT

The Detroit Cobras, Dex Romweber Duo

(Neumos) The Detroit Cobras infuse garage rock with soul and rough up soul with garage rock. It's thoroughly retrosexual, but it's executed with utmost passion, sincerity, and skill, so it's hard to fault. Because soul and garage rock are inherently righteous genres, and because Rachel Nagy can sing her ass off, the Detroit Cobras merit your attention and sweat. Speaking of Detroit, that city's Jack White hails Dex Romweber as a key influence on this whole stark neo-blues-rock shit. The White Stripe/Raconteur also produced and played on Dex's latest 7-inch, Last Kind Word Blues, due in late May. Respect must be paid. DAVE SEGAL

Saigon, Dyme Def

(Chop Suey) I cannot stop listening to Dyme Def's Panic EP. The record, which was released last month by the young crew of three, has convinced me that the most exciting music in hiphop is happening in our town. Panic is at once political, innovative, traditional, and connected to the current streams of pop music. It is an amazing (even heroic) synthesis of elements that seem irreconcilable. Sooner or later, Seattle has to realize that it doesn't have to look elsewhere for quality hiphop. If you live in this city, you can relegate the rest of the nation to secondary status. All the hiphop you need is right here, right now. CHARLESMUDEDE See also My Philosophy, page 47.

Monday 5/18

Booker T.

(Triple Door) See Stranger Suggests.

Gojira, the Chariot, Car Bomb

(El Corazón) French quartet Gojira make medium-sized waves in death-metal's turbid, roiling waters. Uvula-corroding vocals pepper their Sturm-und-Drang klang; the sound is heavy and ponderous, striving for a heroic muscularity, which it sometimes achieves. New York's Car Bomb thrash more frenetically than Gojira, and their vocals—by Michael Dafferner—attain a more strenuous, on-the-verge-of-vomiting tenor, which in death-metal terms equals deeper artistic commitment, I believe. (If your singer can still talk after a gig, he/she fails, right?) Car Bomb bassist Jon Modell informs that "we have a bunch of new material we will be debuting, and our show is crazier than ever." DAVE SEGAL

Tuesday 5/19

NOMO, Sly Lothario

(Crocodile) See preview.

Modeselektor, Apparat, Truckasauras, Nordic Soul

(Neumos) See preview.

Scott Weiland

(Showbox at the Market) Who the hell is Scott Weiland? Starting out as an Eddie Vedder impersonator with Stone Temple Pilots, Weiland parlayed that gig into stints as a Jim Morrison impersonator with the remains of the Doors and an Axl Rose stand-in with Slash's GN'R spin-off Velvet Revolver. The closest thing to a constant: Weiland's well-documented love affair with Sweet Lady H, which I guess counts as a sort of Layne Staley impersonation. Tonight, Weiland performs in support of his 2008 solo release, "Happy" in Galoshes. DAVID SCHMADER

Black Breath, Lesbian, Funerot, the Helm

(Chop Suey) It's easy to forget that punk and metal used to be opposing forces. Black Flag's long hair and guitar dexterity used to flabbergast audiences. Similarly, SSD and their Boston peers bummed everyone out by going metal in the '80s. This rift was generational, though, and tonight's show is proof. Black Breath exemplify the bridging of the gap with their brand of d-beat hardcore—equal parts Motörhead and Discharge. Lesbian combine the sounds of earlier crossbreeds like Melvins and Neurosis with a hearty dose of psych and prog. Funerot blur the lines with their modern take on crossover thrash. The Helm marry the down-tuned sludge of Eyehategod with the wrath of '90s power-violence. It's a new era, folks. Bring earplugs and air freshener. BRIAN COOK

Support The Stranger

Wednesday 5/20

Doves, Wild Light

(Crocodile) In the wake of Coldplay's massive success, a deluge of emulators (Travis, Elbow, half of Astralwerks' '00s roster) followed, seemingly hell-bent on compromise. It's as if these groups formed with the express purpose of putting rock fans to sleep under a large, beige blanket. Doves hover somewhere in the middle of this muddle. They create mediocre, pleasant stadium rock that wouldn't dare color outside of the lines or get too raucous, although "Winter Hill" from the new Kingdom of Rust is decent Spiritualized lite. Such an approach is always a safe bet for a band: The world overwhelmingly consists of people content with colorless, flavorless, frictionless music that emits faint signifiers of sonic excitement—an orderly bombast that won't ruffle or moisten expensive couture or coiffures. One shouldn't be surprised by the popularity of bands like Doves, but it's nevertheless baffling that anyone gets excited by—and pays good money for—such utter blandness. DAVE SEGAL

DJ AM, Matt & Kim, Drop the Lime

(Neumos, free) For some dumb reason, when I first scanned this lineup, I read it as saying "DJ A-Trak" rather than, as is in fact the case, DJ AM. Bummer, because while both are what you might call celebrity DJs, they are of vastly different class. Ah well, in any case, Drop the Lime is good, bassbin-rattling fun, if you didn't make it off the Hill to catch him at See Sound Lounge a few weeks ago. Matt & Kim are a fine punk-pop singles band, even if I can't quite sit through a whole album (haven't checked my stamina against their live set in a while; maybe I should). And, hell, the whole thing's free (on Bacardi and VH1's dime) if you go and submit some personal information (presumably for marketing/demographic purposes) to www.getpartytickets.com, where you'll also note that L.A. gets Tiga and James Murphy for their affiliated party. Dang. ERIC GRANDY