Jason Creps

Thursday 6/4

Metric, Sebastien Grainger

(Showbox at the Market) Metric may not be the most popular act to emerge from Canada's storied Broken Social Scene—that would probably be unlikely iPod darling Feist—but they're certainly the most winningly poppy and polished. Their new album, Fantasies, is another fine collection of impeccably catchy, synth-tinged rock songs, kicked off by the truly killer single "Help I'm Alive," in which frontwoman Emily Haines sings about her heart "beating like a hammer," like some divine echo of the Breeders. Haines's voice is as alluring as it is authoritative, and her veteran band's arrangements are airtight. For big, glossy, whip-smart pop rock, you can't do much better. Best of all, Haines onstage is like a bag of Pop Rocks washed down with soda pop: sweet but dangerously combustive. ERIC GRANDY

Jens Lekman, Tig Notaro

(Crocodile) I was not entirely won over by my first exposure to Swedish pop dreamboat Jens Lekman, that exposure being his sophomore album, Night Falls over Kortedala. Sure, there are some improbable yet totally undeniable pop gems on the album (the awkward dinner date recounted on "A Postcard to Nina," the sweet, silly sentimentality of "The Opposite of Hallelujah"); Lekman ably twists golden-age doo-wop and soul to his own modern ends, and it's all endearing enough. But you have no idea how fucking endearing the guy actually is until you see him perform live, where he pairs his honey-dripping baritone with cutesy dance moves and utterly charming between-song banter. If you don't fall head over heels for Lekman upon seeing him play live, you have a heart of stone or, to quote the RZA, ears of corn. ERIC GRANDY

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Neko Case, Jason Lytle

(Paramount) I'm one of the tiny minority who didn't really enjoy Neko Case's 2006 album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. I could appreciate that it was musically an exceptional work, but I think my issue had mainly to do with the fact that I love her earlier, big, blowsy country numbers—Tammy Wynette by way of pulp-fiction crime novelist Jim Thompson—so fucking much that it hurts. But Case's newest album, Middle Cyclone, combines the folksier feel of Fox Confessor with her earlier vocal energy. She's ready again to lead the listener to deep pits of despair and to open her soul in a beautiful, aching howl. Both sides of Case, the country chanteuse and the more obtuse artistic songwriter, have been amalgamated into one beautiful being here. It all makes sense now. PAUL CONSTANT

Friday 6/5

L.A. Lungs, KRGA, Unicorns in the Snow, Mangled Bohemians

(Gallery 1412) See Underage.

Jens Lekman, Tig Notaro

(Crocodile) See Thursday.

Voyager One, Hopewell, This Blinding Light

(Comet) While it's not Hopewell's most consistent record, Good Good Desperation, the Poughkeepsie psychedelic-rock quartet's sixth full-length, boasts some undeniably powerful passages. (There's a reason they just toured with My Bloody Valentine.) "Stranger" is a hallucinatory gallop of swirling organ, ocean-sized feedback, and pummeling toms. "Island" sounds like the work of a psychedelic big band rather than four dudes with standard rock instruments, and the title track is the delirious soundtrack to your next morning-time, life-altering revelation. Just how all this big sound will fit inside the Comet remains to be heard, but hell, if Dark Meat can fit in there, anyone can. GRANT BRISSEY

Kinski, Eternal Tapestry, Purple Rhinestone Eagle

(Funhouse) Portland's Eternal Tapestry can sound like Loop at their most lackadaisical or Endless Boogie at their most cosmic; their psych rock is so downered, it comes out the other side as uplifting. They're on that Terrastock festival tip, brandishing passports for astral travel. Also, any band that draws frequent comparisons to Swedish trance rockers Pärson Sound demands inspection. If you don't know Kinski by now, you need to check out these Seattle mainstays, whose rock continues to bulk up even as it becomes catchier. Their latest inclinations find them enacting a swift breed of heavy metal with hooks and hairpin dynamics aplenty—plus, the occasional Oasis cover. DAVE SEGAL

Mayhem, Marduk, Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation

(Studio Seven) A quarter century ago, Mayhem spilled the seed for the beast known and feared as Norwegian black metal (experts mostly agree that it don't come no blacker than the Norwegian brand of it). Injecting a malevolent chaos into metal, Mayhem blasted all the hammy camp out of it and forced it to wear a perpetual grim and gruesome expression. As an outsider to the genre, I confess that Mayhem and their black-metal ilk mostly sound like copious vomiting in a war zone while a warped Wagner LP spins forlornly in the distance. But in a live setting, there's no denying the unifying power of nihilism, blasphemy, and gore worship translated into sound and channeled through massive amps. DAVE SEGAL

If Bears Were Bees, Dylan Morrison, Generifus, Hurricane Lanterns, Novalis, Tony Kevin

(Q Cafe) If Bears Were Bees' lead singer, T. J. Grant, has the kind of nasal voice and lyric-heavy delivery most often connected with those annoying nerd-rock bands like They Might Be Giants or Ben Folds Five. It's hard to love that sort of thing, but when Grant really rears back and belts it out, that weird, ironic, smart-guy delivery gets delightfully lost in real emotion. It's probably amped up for theatrical purposes, but it's genuinely affecting. I defy you to listen to "Clean Getaway" and not get a little choked up. It's a ballad that you can imagine someone like Jack Logan really sinking his teeth into. That's something They Might Be Giants never managed to pull off, and that's why If Bears Were Bees' ironic quotation marks are so powerful: When they come down, you feel like you've been hit in the chest. PAUL CONSTANT

Typewriters, Mighty Tiger, Tim and the Time Machines

(Blue Moon) Hasn't there already been a band named Typewriters? And weren't they really good? And didn't they sound just like this band called Typewriters? It probably only seems like that, because this band is one of those weird musical mixes—a blend of Eastern-European oom-pah-pah beats and Violent Femmes–style quirky pop—that seems so obvious in retrospect. Typewriters come from a long, uncelebrated tradition of Seattle music exemplified by Presidents of the United States of America: It's poppy, and the musicians aren't afraid to do things like make weird, scat-like noises with their mouths to get a point across, but it feels like they're been making their music forever. In a really good way. PAUL CONSTANT

Kids and Animals, Ambulance,

Piko Panda

(Piecora's) Of course I'm going to like Kids and Animals—the Seattle quartet have been known to perform with stuffed animals displayed onstage and, c'mon, that's just cute. The music's not bad, either—singer Lee Corley has a voice that's warm and familiar, but I can't put my finger on whom it reminds me of. While the more quaint pop songs are enjoyable, my favorite Kids and Animals songs are the ones that rock out a little, like "Family Meal on the Green Mile," which starts with a plunking piano and turns into a full-on guitar onslaught by the chorus. MEGAN SELING

Handsome Furs, Cinnamon Band, Feral Children

(Neumos) Handsome Furs' new sophomore full-length, Face Control, is a startling, awesome album. Startling because while their debut, Plague Park, highlighted Dan Boeckner's quavering yet resolute voice and a certain brand of grim (North) Americana, it hardly hinted at the blood-pumping power displayed on Face Control. Boeckner and wife/bandmate Alexei Perry wed the former album's dour, sometimes folky rock to cold pulsing drum machines and increasingly electrified guitars, and the effect is frequently anthemic on an arena-ready scale. "Legal Tender" is raging, electronic, hand-clapping blues that sounds like a karaoke version of Bruce Springsteen in the best possible way. "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything" is the best Canadian appropriation of New Order's "Temptation" since the Weakerthans swiped its bridge for "Wellington's Wednesdays" (Handsome Furs instead reinterpret the verses.) ERIC GRANDY

Lesbian, Patrol, Bronze Fawn, Wildildlife

(Sunset) Tonight we celebrate the release of Patrol's second full-length, Zirconium, which is a must-hear for fans of Helmet, Tool, and/or Deftones. The most gripping song on the record is the turbulent "Summer of Violence," which is (at just under five minutes) also the shortest song on the record (there are at least three songs over 10 minutes long—you ADD suffers have been warned). Speaking of new albums, opener Bronze Fawn will probably be releasing something before the end of the year, too. They're currently in the studio with local super-producer Matt Bayles, who'll no doubt make their technically proficient and fluid instrumental tunes sound even more vivid. MEGAN SELING

Saturday 6/6

Camera Obscura, Agent Ribbons, the Lonely Forest

(Showbox at the Market) See preview.

Paintings for Animals, Derek M. Johnson, Daedelum, the Precambrian

(Gallery 1412) See Underage.

Ear Pwr, Alexis Gideon, Grrr, Elephant Kiss?

(Healthy Times Fun Club) If there's a style of music made for the (nice) kids who flock to shows at nonprofit venues, it's bands like Ear Pwr who come to mind. So it makes a lot of sense that these Baltimore spazzes will be playing HTFC tonight. On their debut disc for Carpark Records, Super Animal Brothers III, Ear Pwr play a hyper, candy-coated electro pop with cutesy male/female vocals, like if B-52s regressed to middle school, got hip to Italo disco and Bis, and consumed gallons of Jolt instead of Tony Montana–sized mounds of coke. Fizzy and frolicsome as they wanna be, Ear Pwr make Dan Deacon sound like Sunn 0))). DAVE SEGAL

KEXP's Audioasis: Wow & Flutter, Katharine Hepburn's Voice, Man Plus, Team Gina, Hoquiam

(Sunset) Grab a copy of Katharine Hepburn's Voice's new album, Stand Up, and head to the beach or a park or a plot of grass in the sunshine, spread out your blanket, lie down, and enjoy. There's barely a song over three minutes, but the smooth electronic beats bleed into one another between soft, poppy songs about falling in love and loving love and dancing and the other fine parts of life. The warm sun will kiss your face, KHV will whisper into your ear, and it will be the most sublime way to spend a warm spring evening. MEGAN SELING

Sunday 6/7

Lamborghiniz, Atomic Bride, the Hacks

(Funhouse) Lamborghiniz is the ridiculous-ass electro-rap act of "Dirty" Jeff Albertson of the Lights, "Silky" Pete "Za-Party" of the Coconut Coolouts, and two guys whom I can't identify, but who are credited as "Mixmaster Countache" and "Jizznazium (El Diablo)." They have a song called "Chunky Babies," which takes its title and lyrics from some typically amazing daytime-talk-show paternity-test babble, and a song about cruising cougars that manages a sly nod to the Murder City Devils' "Another Round on You" ("They're buying me drinks/And they're giving me winks"). All this over lo-fi but surprisingly convincing booty-bass beats. Truly the fifth wave of 206 hiphop (fuck four, we're going straight to five). ERIC GRANDY

Monday 6/8

The Juan MacLean, the Field, Nordic Soul

(Nectar) See preview, and preview, and Suggests.

311, Ziggy Marley

(WaMu Theater) This comparison will immediately make sense to those who have read Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Ziggy Marley, the eldest son of Rita and Bob Marley, is to his father what Nwoye was to Okonkwo. Nwoye, Okonkwo's eldest son in Achebe's groundbreaking 1958 novel, is much, much softer and more sensitive than his father, who is a roaring lion of a man. This is Ziggy's situation. As a singer and celebrity, he's much more sensitive than his father, the conquering lion of reggae and an international music god. Ziggy has even released a reggae album for kids called Family Time. This is where his heart is: in home, with children, reading books, telling stories. This private place is far from the one in which his father thrived, the realm of mass production, mass distribution, and mass consumption. CHARLES MUDEDE

Love Is All, Still Flyin', TacocaT

(Neumos) Taking their name from a slogan scrawled across a hippie compound in an episode of Man from U.N.C.L.E., Love Is All are a punky Swedish quintet that, like the punky Welsh septet Los Campesinos!, seem to compress several decades of alternative rock into each of their hit-and-run songs. What Love Is All have that the Welsh farmers don't: lead vocalist/keyboardist Josephine Olausson, who hollers and frets and searches (there's a reason the latest record's called A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night) like a long-lost daughter of Liliput; and multi-instrumentalist James Ausfahrt, whose saxophone blasts lend songs a perfectly fitting X-Ray Spex-iness. Tonight, Love Is All tear up Neumos, with support from the sprawling San Francisco collective Still Flyin'. DAVID SCHMADER

Balkan Beat Box, the Bad Things

(Showbox at the Market) Formed by Ori Kaplan (ex–Gogol Bordello) and Tamir Muskat (Firewater), and including MC/percussionist Tomer Yosef, Balkan Beat Box create some of the most pleasurable music on the planet, an intoxicating mix of klezmer; traditional Balkan, Mediterranean, and Arabic musics; and hiphop that will enrich your life immeasurably. Both of BBB's studio records—2005's Balkan Beat Box and 2007's Nu Med—are classics; the new remix album, Nu Made, is a welcome gift for all of us who have played the official releases into the ground. Live, BBB create a world-music-laced hiphop throwdown that melts Seattle's antidance tendencies like butter in the sun. DAVID SCHMADER

Tuesday 6/9

B-Real, Bizzy Bone

(Studio Seven) B-Real of Cypress Hill is a hiphop legend. The trio he formed with Sen Dog and DJ Muggs in the late '80s was absolutely original. It was a singular event that seemingly came out of nowhere. Where did B-Real's nasal form of rapping originate? And no one else in the industry was blending gangster themes with experimental boom-bap (Mobb Deep would follow this path). Then came "Insane in the Brain," which connected the violent energy of death rock with the violent energy of gang banging. Cypress Hill, the first Latino crew to go big, also helped transform weed smoking into a hiphop practice. CHARLES MUDEDE

Wednesday 6/10

Skream, Dirty, Taal Mala

(Trinity) See Stranger Suggests.

Support The Stranger

Telepathe, Nite Jewel, Joey Casio

(Chop Suey) Brooklyn duo Telepathe's beguiling, swirly electro pop conflates Williamsburg boho 'tude with early-'80s synth-wielding and romantic glamstanding. TV on the Radio's David Sitek produced their new album, Dance Mother, which displays more melodic finesse and much tighter rhythms than what Telepathe recently exhibited at Neumos (that show, frankly, was a shambles). Think of them as Gang Gang Dance's more conventional siblings. Another female twosome, L.A.'s Nite Jewel mirror many of Telepathe's dreamy/dance-y tendencies. Their coy, concise electro ditties soundtrack champagne living on Kool-Aid money. The transition from Nite Jewel to Telepathe on Chop Suey's stage will be damn near seamless. DAVE SEGAL

Bat for Lashes, Hecuba

(Crocodile) Bat for Lashes (Natasha Khan) creates lavish goth rock that doesn't irk, a major accomplishment in 2009. Her marvelous voice possesses a well-tempered power and beauty, not unlike Sinéad O'Connor in her prime. Bat for Lashes' latest album, Two Suns, sounds as expensive as a Hollywood blockbuster, but the songs are classically artful and pretty, ripe for Tori Amos's disaffected fan base to embrace. The one time I caught L.A. duo Hecuba (Isabelle Albuquerque and Jon Beasley) on their home turf, they ran through a baffling array of styles, sounding like six different bands in 45 minutes, messing with genres with inspired gusto. Their new mini-album, Paradise, tones down their stylistic promiscuity into sophisticated, subdued electro lieder. It's good, but not as fun as Hecuba's previous Sir EP, with its Raymond Scott/Laurie Anderson shadings. DAVE SEGAL

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