Big Business by Robin Laananen

Thursday 11/5

Mem1, Wyndel Hunt, Steven Barsotti, Tiflin

(Rendezvous) See Data Breaker.

Big Business, Thrones

(El Corazón) Live, Big Business are a powerhouse of deafening bass chords and dexterous drums. Yet the band have repeatedly recruited indie-pop producer Phil Ek—the man behind records by Fleet Foxes and the Shins—to lay these barrages to wax. It's as if the Biz were hearing something more elaborate and nuanced in their sound, something that the two members couldn't channel alone. Enter Mind the Drift, their third album with Ek and their first featuring new member Toshi Kasai on guitar. The record retains Big Business's unrelenting percussive energy and gargantuan overdriven bass, but adds grandiose Brian May–inspired guitar, transforming their sound into an amalgam of triumphant arena rock and irreverent punk fury. Is this the sound to which they've always aspired? If so, more power to them. BRIAN COOK

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X-Ray Press, Marasol, Post Harbor

(Sunset) Seattle's X-Ray Press rock with controlled chaos. Their songs bluster, pause, bristle, and vroom with unpredictable vigor. The singing's agitated, the guitars caustic and bruising, the drumming George Hurley–swift and –brutal. Anyone with Slint, Don Caballero, Minutemen, or Upsilon Acrux releases in their collection will find X-Ray Press a welcome addition to this angsty, angular canon. San Diego's Marasol and Seattle's Post Harbor are more conventional rock bands with arena-size aspirations. Those comfortable with the collected works of Jane's Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pearl Jam will snuggle up to these acts' XXL, emote-to-the-rafters jams. DAVE SEGAL

Friday 11/6

Sun Circle, Story of Rats, Eric Ostrowski, Aures

(Josephine) See Data Breaker.

John Abercrombie Quartet

(Triple Door) In the '70s and '80s, guitarist John Abercrombie recorded for the impeccable ECM label, abetted by phenomenal players like drummers Billy Cobham and Jack DeJohnette, keyboardist Jan Hammer, bassist Dave Holland, guitarists John Scofield and Ralph Towner, and brass specialists Randy and Michael Brecker. On records like Timeless and Gateway, Abercrombie flaunted a fluid, crystalline style that could chill and enflame with equal adroitness. His work is marked by subtle melodic beauty and a quiet intensity that recalls Terje Rypdal's own ECM output. With his latest quartet, Abercrombie tempers some of his peak era's more outré excursions for a more refined, trad-jazz (and folk) approach. But his gorgeous, icy tone and incredible dexterity remain, making the man's live performances an exquisite pleasure. DAVE SEGAL

Symphony of the Superhero: Cut Chemist, Mateo Messina, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra

(Benaroya Hall) Born in Seattle, Mateo Messina makes his living as a soundtrack composer in L.A., where he's written music for such films as Juno and Thank You for Smoking. Once a year, Messina returns to his hometown, to write and produce—along with the Symphony Guild—an annual benefit concert for Seattle Children's Hospital. For the 12th annual benefit, Messina's presenting Symphony of the Superhero, a "magical musical journey" through heroism, featuring performances by Cut Chemist, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Chorale, Northwest Boychoir, and more. DAVID SCHMADER

Ghostland Observatory

(Showbox Sodo) This one time, a couple of Daft Punk's interns were messing around in their recording studio in Paris, working on some synth pads for the new Tron movie or whatever, when a mangy alley cat snuck in. They called the Parisian equivalent of animal control, they tried to get rid of the thing themselves, but nothing was working. After days of this cat interfering with their productions and knocking around in their synthesizers, the guys finally were forced to beat the animal to death with the cheapest, crappiest keyboard they could find. The cat squealed and howled and made an awful racket; the keyboard broke apart, making terrible bleeps and burbles; both poor things eventually died. Some tapes of the incident got out and so inspired Ghostland Observatory that the Texas duo re-create the sound live onstage, with the bonus of goofy outfits and lasers. ERIC GRANDY

The Raveonettes, Crocodiles

(Neumos) One St. Patrick's Day, I ended up alone on a friend's couch, in a dark room, peaking on psilocybin, listening to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska on an old turntable. There was a large dust ball on the needle, and those haunting reverb-soaked melodies struggled to peek out beyond the fuzzy blocks of white noise. In that altered state, I'd never heard anything more beautiful—a lonesome, nostalgic cry that only periodically popped through the static, as if projected from some distant radio tower. The Raveonettes come close to harnessing that sound. Their charming '50s pop melodies run through a filter of skuzz and distortion, producing something that's simultaneously reminiscent of oldies radio and the haze of seedy, late-night soundtracks. BRIAN COOK

Saturday 11/7

David Bazan, Say Hi, the Sea Navy

(Neumos) David Bazan has always been one of the most fascinating Christian musicians, owing largely to his ongoing public crisis of faith. Under the moniker of Pedro the Lion, Bazan frequently expounded upon his issues with Christianity. His somber songs ranged from austere hymns to indictments of corrupted men of God. Compared to the sparse and downtrodden tone of Pedro the Lion, Bazan's debut solo full-length, Curse Your Branches, is an uplifting and lush work. But the more elaborate and stirring melodies aren't the only new development to his work. Judging from the lyrical nature of the album, it appears that his spiritual underpinning has finally faltered, as if his years of soul-searching have officially swayed his vote. He seems happier for it. BRIAN COOK See also Stranger Suggests, page 21.

Helms Alee, Mico de Noche, Patrol, Lozen

(Rendezvous) Tonight's show is billed as Verellen Amplifier Night. And while the local amp company cranks out some amazing machinery and amp designer/Helms Alee guitarist Ben Verellen is certainly a formidable force in both his electrical constructions and his electric compositions, the show could also be billed as Hozoji Matheson-Margullis Night. After all, she's pulling double duty with sets in both Lozen and Helms Alee. In Lozen, Hoz is the sludge-rock incarnation of PJ Harvey, singing and wielding both guitar and bass to wring out ominous, lurching, and assertively feminine attacks. In Helms Alee, Hoz takes over the drum duties with unorthodox hooks and ruthless pummeling—the perfect complement to the band's blend of dreamy guitar pop and massive fuzz riffs. BRIAN COOK

Sunday 11/8

Swollen Members, Common Market, Big B, Bliss N Esso

(Neumos) See preview.

Devo, Reggie Watts

(Moore) See Stranger Suggests, and preview.

Dinosaur Jr., Lou Barlow + the Missingmen

(Showbox at the Market) For me, it's all about Dinosaur Jr.'s 1993 opus Where You Been: the light-headed intro lilt of "Start Choppin'," the solemn dirge of "Not the Same," and the unforgettable screaming, high-note guitar lines of "I Ain't Sayin'" stuck with me long after the excitement of grunge faded. If it seems like J Mascis's guitarwork on Farm doesn't burn as brightly as it did on albums like Where You Been, maybe it's just a function of nostalgia. While Farm doesn't quite carry the same impact for me yet, songs like the raucous "Friends" and the riff-heavy "I Want You to Know" suggest that one day it might. GRANT BRISSEY

Devo, Reggie Watts

(Moore) See preview.

Venetian Snares, Wisp, NAHA, Cyrusrex

(Nectar) Winnipeg is a cold, intimidating place. Stranded in the void of the prairies, prone to strange bouts of erratic violence (as seen in last year's gruesome Greyhound beheading), and struggling to assert its modernity in a province plagued by rampant poverty in its northern settlements, Winnipeg hardly seems like a city that could foster one of the strongest modern IDM musicians. Yet Venetian Snares—the project of producer Aaron Funk—thrives in the inhospitable climate of Manitoba's capital. Geography inevitably plays a role in sculpting an artist's soul, and Winnipeg's harsh attributes lend an alien and adversarial air to Funk's breakbeat science. There's a cold hostility to his art, a deliberately difficult precision. It's impressive work from a hardy individual. BRIAN COOK

Electric Tickle Machine, the Flight of Phanuel, $2,000 Puma, the Wheelies

(Comet) Like many bands today, Electric Tickle Machine play exuberant, scrappy garage pop. Does anything in ETM's exuberant, scrappy garage pop distinguish it from the plethora of similar-sounding groups? Not so much, really. Their new self-released debut album, Blew It Again, suggests that they're good at this sort of thing, and Matt Boynton (Bat for Lashes, Gang Gang Dance) has given the songs on it an appealing cavernous feel, while sensibly keeping the feral-boy-ish vocals from stealing the show from the fuzzy keyboards and crashing, jangling guitars. It's all solid enough, and one wouldn't be at all surprised if Animal Collective tapped Electronic Tickle Machine to open for them on their next tour. DAVE SEGAL

Tuesday 11/10

The Mountain Goats, Final Fantasy

(Showbox at the Market) See Stranger Suggests, and preview.

Little Dragon, DJ Topspin, THEESatisfaction

(Nectar) Gothenburg, Sweden's Little Dragon have garnered plaudits from TV on the Radio's David Sitek and influential KCRW program Morning Becomes Eclectic, while placing a track ("Twice") on Grey's Anatomy. All of which should make one skeptical of the group's merits. But Little Dragon's Machine Dreams full-length on Peacefrog Records emanates a winsome charm, thanks largely to Yukimi Nagano's cute-secksy (faux?) naïf vocals and the group's Yellow Magic Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (although Light would be more apt). Their instrumentation strikes a pleasing balance between organic and synthetic while in service of melodies that insinuate themselves into your mind with understated insistence. Little Dragon are just quirky and inventive enough to avoid kitsch overload and tasteful blandness, common pitfalls in synth pop. DAVE SEGAL

They Might Be Giants, the Guggenheim Grotto

(Showbox Sodo) In September 2009, epochal geek-rockers They Might Be Giants released their 14th album: Here Comes Science, a collection of songs for kids about chemistry, paleontology, astronomy, and evolution. For tonight's "adult show" at the Showbox Sodo, the Johns will be pillaging their decades-spanning songbook with help from a full band and a mixed-media stage show. Opening the evening (so feel free to show up late): Dublin's impossibly bland Guggenheim Grotto. DAVID SCHMADER

Lover!, Bass Drum of Death, Fried Pony

(Funhouse) Once upon a time, a boy named Rich Crook met a boy named Jay Reatard. We're not sure if they fell in love, but they did make very lovely music together, both as the Lost Sounds and the Reatards. Eventually, a new flame, Matador Records, whisked the boy Jay far, far away, never to return. Rich sought solace first with Jack Oblivian as the Knaughty Knights, and then with a new power-pop outfit named Lover! With Lover!, this boy named Rich leaves behind his drum kit and gets to stand right at the front of the stage—where he can sing and dance and play his guitar till his heart's content! Could it be that Rich is finally in love? We think so! The End. KELLY O

Puscifer

(Moore) Maynard James Keenan (vocalist for Tool and A Perfect Circle) works out his poontang- centric impulses in his Puscifer side project. On releases like V Is for Vagina and the C Is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE) EP, Keenan indulges in a kind of cabaret-ish, chamber triphop with recessive metallic genes. It's not a million miles from the later work of Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell and Luaka Bop recording artist Jim White. Freed from Tool's meticulous convolutions and heavy bombast, Keenan as Puscifer explores a more intimate sound that exhibits greater seriousness and emotional heft than his cuntroversial record titles would lead you to believe. (A $125 ticket allows you to enjoy a tasting of Keenan's "new wine." Yep.) DAVE SEGAL

WD4D, Dead Noise, DJ Introcut, Hideki, Sean Cee

(Lo-Fi Performance Gallery) Local DJ/producer WD4D (Waylon Dungan) has been grinding fine and often at Lo-Fi, Grey Gallery, and in opening slots on choice bills around town, while also DJing for Gabriel Teodros and THEESatisfaction. Joining him on the bill is fellow Seattleite Dead Noise, who's made beats for Khingz's From Slaveships to Spaceships and Kail's True Hollywood Squares (Big Dada). Tonight is the release party for After School EP1 (Fourthcity), which sports three cuts from each producer. Dead Noise and WD4D dwell in hiphop's more scientific and spiritual hoods while allowing room for whimsy and, of course, a daring, sampledelic funkiness. These MC-free pieces stretch out and luxuriate in an eccentric creativity that adds yet more credence to the argument that Seattle's hiphop scene is scaling a new peak. DAVE SEGAL

Wednesday 11/11

Immortal Technique, Diabolic, Poison Pen, Chino XL, Swave Sevah

(Neumos) Harlem's life-of-the-party, one-man-terror-cell Immortal Technique is about to bring his incendiary (vocal) devices to the other Washington, along with Poison Pen and Sevah, both members of his fearsome NYC-based Stronghold crew. But Chino XL? He's a fuckin' L.A. original (though he was born in either Jersey or the Bronx) who got 2Pac mad enough to shoot him half a bar on the end of one of the most scathing—shit, downright scary—disses ever, the Biggie- aimed "Hit 'Em Up." Ads for his '96 debut, Here to Save You All, consisted of pages printed with his audacious punch lines, such as, "Evil tendency, strong like Miles Davis's heroin dependency," which even had Quincy Jones pissed. Oh, well. LARRY MIZELL JR.

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Mission of Burma, Explode into Colors

(Crocodile) Mission of Burma are a well-known quantity at this point, but openers (and recent Kill Rock Stars signees) Explode into Colors might not be—at least not yet. The Portland trio of Claudia Meza (baritone guitar, ex-Japanther), Heather Treadway (percussion, melodica), and Lisa Shonberg (drums) make rickety, rumbling dub punk that sounds like a more scattered, spooked-up echo of the Slits. On the song "Heat," over fraying, high-frequency delay; a sparse, funky bass line; and some tumbling drum clatter, the band break into a spectral chorus of "bombs over Baghdad" that lands as credibly as Dungeon Family appreciation as it does as inscrutable war protest. Righteous XX-chromosome post-punk may not be uncharted territory—what is in 2009?—but Explode into Colors tread it artfully. This is their first Seattle appearance outside of playing house shows—don't miss it. ERIC GRANDY

The Black Heart Procession, Bellini, El Olio Wolof

(Chop Suey) Music crit fail: I briefly had the Black Heart Procession confused with Godspeed You! Black Emperor—not really a fair comparison, so I won't belabor it here, but suffice to say, that was a grave error. Anyway... it shouldn't be too hard to keep straight from now on, as the Black Heart Procession are about as aptly named as a band can get—dark, sometimes gothically heartbroken, sometimes noirishly seductive, and as heavy- burdened and slow-plodding as a pallbearer. Bellini can march at a similarly funereal pace, only with a more malevolent bearing, but they're just as likely to back singer Giovanna Cacciola's sultry vocals with jagged guitar shredding and pulse-quickening rhythms. El Olio Wolof combine melancholy, old-timey arrangements (accordion, woodwinds, tinkering percussion) with fey lyrics and the occasional burst of rock muscle. ERIC GRANDY

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