The New Law, PotatoFinger, DJ WD4D
(Neumos) Seattle's the New Law—Adam Straney and Justin Neff—produce deftly arranged, orchestrally inclined hiphop that evokes Ninja Tune's glory years and Portishead's doomed-romance aura (sans Beth Gibbons's ruined croons, obviously). Hints of J Dilla's clipped, staccato beatmaking also color the New Law's tracks, which often demonstrate a cinematic scope and keenly emotive sense of atmosphere. URB picked them for its Next 1,000 Artists feature, and damn if the L.A.-based mag isn't on point with that choice. Fellow local producers PotatoFinger (IDM, drum 'n' bass) and WD4D (hiphop, sampledelia) have earned much praise from this writer over the last year or so; suffice it to say, their tracks represent some of the loftiest peaks of this city's recent electronic-music output. DAVE SEGAL
Skeletons with Flesh on Them, the Purrs, Kids and Animals, the Royal Bear
(Crocodile) For 2009's Strangercrombie auction, Skeletons with Flesh on Them kindly donated an original song to be written about whatever the highest bidder desired. If I hadn't been so broke from all my holiday travel plans, I'd have gladly paid top dollar for this prize—and there are few local bands I'd trust with such a task. Skeletons with Flesh on Them fill their songs with humor, horns, and the occasional mention of animals. They're a little nerdy (singing about biology class and such), but they're the best kind of nerdy—the friendly everyman kind of nerdy, as opposed to the creepy, basement-dwelling, internet-stalker type. MEGAN SELING
Bryan Zentz, Electrosect, Ctrl_Alt_Dlt
(Church of Bass) See Stranger Suggests.
Kool Keith, Foreign Objects, Sonny Bonoho
(Neumos) Is there room for Kool Keith in a post–"Werewolf Bar Mitzvah" world? I mean, sure, the guy can still rap Ultramagnetically when he wants to, but now that Tracy Jordan has bitten his whole "harmlessly crazy black dude" shtick pretty much wholesale, is there really a point? Keith might be feeling a little existentially tenuous these days himself. His last time through town, he seemed a bit rote and unenthused, more interested in his stack of porns (as always) than in running through his equally stacked back catalog of raps. But Kool Keith on 5 is still as good as a lot of rappers on 10; the show will almost certainly be a weird, messy spectacle; and Keith's DJ KutMasta Kurt is the real motherfucking deal on the decks. Boys becoming men, men becoming diminishing caricatures of themselves—spooky, scary. ERIC GRANDY See also My Philosophy.
Champagne Champagne, They Live!, Wild Orchid Children, DJ Terry Radjaw
(High Dive) How can anyone be happy about They Live!'s name change? The talented duo (MC Gatsby and djblesOne) is now called Mash Hall, which is not bad, really, but it doesn't have anything like the significance of They Live!, the title of John Carpenter's wonderfully terrible, horribly brilliant, marvelously stupid 1988 horror flick. This association connected the duo directly to 1980s junk culture, the best of which they frequently and bluntly expropriate for their music and videos. They Live! was not just the name of the band, but the very meaning of their art, their approach to hiphop, which in some deep sense is the only way to properly approach hiphop—as a meta-art, an art about other art objects, pop sounds, and corporate images. They Live! took us all the way back to the core ethic expressed in Stetsasonic's "Talkin' All That Jazz." CHARLES MUDEDE See also My Philosophy.
NOMO, Orkestar Zirkonium
(Tractor) Ann Arbor/Chicago band NOMO trace their polyrhythmic drive and raging horn lines back to Afrobeat, yet they really shine when their updated highlife sound incorporates Krautrock's motorik groove and avant-garde penchants for scrap-metal percussion and handmade electronics. The result is both organic and mechanical, equal parts anthropological celebration and industrial reclamation. It takes either a brave or pretentious clan to juggle these diverse musical styles, but NOMO tackle the task with such skill, passion, and unassuming authority that even the most cynical blowhard would find it impossible to resist their pulsating arrangements. These aren't a bunch of music snobs flexing their obtuse repertoires. These are visionaries working together to create an entirely fresh sound out of old motifs and random hardware. BRIAN COOK
Partman Parthorse, Sex with Strangers, Scraps, Championship Belt
(Comet) Partman Parthorse singer Gary Smith recently slaved through an intensive hot-coal training in Los Angeles to become a Bikram Yoga instructor at the Sweatbox on Capitol Hill. Now he's back, performing in his underwear, stronger, more chiseled, as punk and sassy as ever, ready to climb walls, pick up speakers, and instruct the 26 poses of Bikram-sexed love rock. Look for a new Partman Parthorse EP—on which they cover Lil Wayne, the Lights, the Intelligence, and Unnatural Helpers—coming out soon on GGNZLA Records. Sex with Strangers are a Vancouver-based spread of he/she, new-wave, vocodered synth pop. They won't be able to handle the Bikram-heated Comet at 105 degrees. Look for them to pass out early. Gary, get your Sharpie. TRENT MOORMAN
(Triple Door) The cover of the Raggedy Anns' new self-titled album features the band in sunny, partially blurry repose on the footbridge in the Arboretum (the inset has them sprawled out on a lawn), and the image is a good fit for the band's brand of neatly bounded urban pastoralism. Or, to put it another way, it's the closest thing Seattle has to the village green of the Kinks. Beyond that obvious touchstone, the "one limey skank and four dirty yanks" of the Raggedy Anns (singer Tom Beecham has only a hint of an accent; Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong has sounded more British) also dabble in polite jazz and swing, sounding at times like nothing so much as a more mannered Squirrel Nut Zippers. The old-timey times aren't really my cup of tea, but this is pleasant enough stuff, well done and sufficiently rousing for a modest, modish hootenanny. ERIC GRANDY
Shining Ones, This Blinding Light, Fawn, A Story of Rats
(Rendezvous) It's reassuring in our frantic age—where accolades are bestowed upon musicians for playing faster, cramming in more notes, and schizophrenically fusing ideas into some half-baked hodgepodge—that the deliberate, almost reactionary approach of doom metal is growing in popularity. Well, popular is a relative term. It's doubtful the masses will ever appreciate the prolonged moribund disintegrations of Seattle's doom-mongers Shining Ones. The group's sound—sustained discordant guitar chords deteriorating into amp-rattling feedback, drums pounding with more emphasis on violence than meter, and tortured, utterly miserable vocals—is destined to appeal to a limited audience. But for the handful of masochistic souls who derive pleasure from this kind of barbarism, it's a welcome respite, a meditative purging, and a therapeutic bludgeoning. BRIAN COOK
The Cute Lepers, the Tranzmitors, Jaguar Paw
(Funhouse) The Cute Lepers have a new page on their website called "Ask the Lepers." You can ask 'em annnything you want. Maybe you have questions about this record-release show, or maybe you wanna know something about Smart Accessories, the band's new album. You could write to see what it was like touring with the Buzzcocks, or find out how many times a day they mix up the guitarist Steve E. Nix with bassist Stevie Kicks, both of whom used to be in the Briefs. Um, you could see if they had any funny stories about Joan Jett, whose label, Blackheart Records, issued their debut, Can't Stand Modern Music. Or you could just tell them how badly the poppy-punky new track "No Escape" got stuck in your head that day they played it on KEXP. You can do any of these things. Power to the people! KELLY O
Prefuse 73, the Gaslamp Killer, VoicesVoices, Nordic Soul
(Neumos) "Hairy Faces (Stress)" (36 seconds), "NoNo" (14 seconds), "Half Up Front" (37 seconds), "Sexual Fantasy Scale" (45 seconds), "Get Em High" (30 seconds), "When Is a Good Time?" (47 seconds), "Oh Is It" (37 seconds), and "Fingertrip Trajectories" (41 seconds)—if each of these tracks from Prefuse 73's 2009 album Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian were expanded by three minutes, they would contribute to constituting the most important and lyrical record since Burial's 2006 debut full-length. Prefuse 73 has never failed us: All of his projects in the '00s were strong and beautiful, even his excursions into Catalonian pop as Savath y Savalas. But to run an amazing beat like "Get Em High" for just 30 seconds is wasteful and cruel. Do you know how many brothers would die to spit on a track like that? Please, let us never forget these important words: "Waste not, want not." CHARLES MUDEDE See also preview, and Stranger Suggests.
The Cribs, Jemina Pearl
(Showbox at the Market) Jemina Pearl was the sassy, adolescent frontwoman for Ecstatic Peace–approved Nashville brat punks Be Your Own Pet. Since that band's breakup, she's moved to Brooklyn and recorded a solo album, Break It Up, with some help from her old BYOP bandmate John Eatherly, and it's kind of a weird departure. Largely gone are BYOP's preternaturally spazzy punk freak-outs, replaced with glossy, only slightly rocky teen pop (Pearl's 22 years old). Pearl still lets out a righteous growl once in a while, but she mostly sings in a faintly twangy, sort of sneering voice, which has the effect of exposing some pretty wack lyrics. The Iggy Pop duet "I Hate People" is cute, a misanthropic love song set over what sounds like a lazy Strokes outtake, but mostly you just wonder what the fuck made elder punks like him and Thurston Moore sign on to Pearl's act. ERIC GRANDY
Hey Marseilles, Loch Lomond
(Crocodile) Local septet Hey Marseilles's songs are charmed with gusto and veered melodies, creating an orchestral-pop stomp aided by an electronic accordion (with MIDI). They've incorporated an upright bass into their show, and the associated Novoselic-esque bass tosses. Look for a vinyl remix of Hey Marseilles's full-length debut by Martin Feveyear in the spring. The band will also be heading to the East Coast, Canada, and SXSW for tours in the coming year. Mostly, though, they'll be working on bass tosses. Opening the evening of orchestral joie de vivre is Loch Lomond, a Portland group featuring mandolin, theremin, bass clarinet, and Ritchie Young's leaping vocals; their sound is arranged, emotive, and wizened from touring with the Decemberists. TRENT MOORMAN
The Lonely H, Massy Ferguson, SweetKiss Momma
(Sunset) Nobody bothered to tell the Lonely H that the country-rock craze of the 1970s ended. They haven't gotten the message that long-haired lead vocalists belting their hearts out about fucking and having fun has been frowned upon for at least 15 years now. The Lonely H's new album, Concrete Class, could have arrived in a time machine from the Lynyrd Skynyrd era. And you know what? You should really be okay with that. Certain things, like bandanna tank tops on way-too-tan blond chicks and lyrics like "Hey baby/Let me stomp on your boots/And make sure that they're worn" will never get old. PAUL CONSTANT
Pillow Full of Drone: Vox Vespertinus, Joy Von Spain, Phønøn, Celadon, Sataray
(Visionary Dance Studio) See Data Breaker.
DJ Krush, Foscil, SunTzu Sound
(Neumos) Countering the technology-obsessed mindset of his home city of Tokyo, DJ Krush's music sounds as if it comes from the uncomplicated earth itself. He has an uncanny knack for bringing elements of nature into his work. Just listen to "Jugoya" from Milight, an album dropped during his stay on Mo' Wax, the Britain-based label known for its extensive and amazing instrumental hiphop, triphop, and electronic offerings. The track starts with a babbling brook and soft birdcalls weaving around each other before it's ultimately enveloped by an airy piano loop and a rock-solid drum beat. His music appears simple at first, but complexity abounds underneath—like nature itself. And as in nature, expect Krush's show to maintain a delicate balance between chaos and calm. KALEB GUBERNICK
Team Gina, Punk Bunny, Black Barbie, Sap'N
(Comet) Tonight, local lesbian dance duo Team Gina play their last show ever. Gina Bling is, she says, going to "focus on my domestic duties—embroidering baby onesies and U-Hauling with my girlfriend," while bandmate Gina Genius is, well... unreachable for comment. According to the hilarious press release announcing their breakup, she's somewhere on the side of the road, begging for money. Anyway, the two had a pretty good run while it lasted, releasing two full-lengths and packing venues across the nation with their synchronized dance moves, neon leotards, and synth-heavy songs about the incestuous nature of the lesbian dating scene, among other topics. RIP, Team Gina. We'll wear black bars on our leg warmers in your memory. MEGAN SELING
Flexions, Bronze, Silk Flowers
(Black Lodge) Bronze are a Bay Area synth-and-drums trio whose songs typically feature eerie, spacey analog tones, bass drones, and rough, jazzy breakbeats, with echoing vocals floated over the top. They bring to mind Suicide or Silver Apples, although their songs tend to stretch out into more syrupy slow motion and reveal less clear hooks. NYC band Silk Flowers are equally synth-obsessed, but where Bronze sound thick and full and, well, good, Silk Flowers' recordings just sound like shit rattling around in a tin can. The drum-machine beats are impossibly thin, the synths skuzzy beyond tonality, their singer's Ian Curtis impersonation making Warsaw sound downright hi-fi—which is a shame, because the songs could actually be kind of good; it's hard to tell. With local dub-punk deconstructionists Flexions, which are now rounded out on drums by Truckasauras/Foscil's highly capable Tyler Swan. ERIC GRANDY
(Tractor) Seattle three-piece the Fiasco play that good old rock 'n' roll, as if punk never happened. You're probably about to move on to the next blurb now, but please hold up a sec. Robert Stewart (vocals, guitar), Keith Wright (guitar, vocals), and Cameron Williams (percussion) infuse those hoary, boogie-fied tropes with surprising quantities of hazel-eyed soul, lissome melodies, and nuanced instrumentation (they bill themselves as a "loudly amplified acoustic trio," but you probably won't need earplugs at their gigs). There's something in this group's music that recalls the Grateful Dead at their most intimate, but without that outfit's millions of obsessive fans and auxiliary drug ecosystem. The Fiasco are doing a video shoot at this show, so get your groom on before heading out to the Tractor. DAVE SEGAL
(Kirkland Performance Center) See The Score.
Softly Now: Lincoln Barr, Michael Jochum, Norman Baker
(Rendezvous, 6 pm) Softly Now is a semiregular theme night featuring performers playing quiet music. "Quiet" doesn't always mean "acoustic"—at the last Softly Now, a couple of the acts plugged in, but played their electric guitars, you know, quietly. Tonight, Red Jacket Mine's Lincoln Barr will rock the mic in a soft kind of way, and it should be a memorable show. Softly Now puts the focus squarely on the lyrics and vocals of the performer, and Barr's compositions for Red Jacket Mine are beautifully put-together objects. The quiet composition should bring out the raw ache of each song to great effect. PAUL CONSTANT
Elton John, Billy Joel
(KeyArena) Easy as it is to make fun of these dinosaurs for any number of reasons (duff lyrics, come-on-already cultural ubiquity, fake hair, bad plastic surgery), it's also kind of nice to see anyone of such stature not just willing but eager to put camaraderie before superstar ego. Granted, Elton and Billy have been doing this pretty consistently since 1994, so attending this is an exercise in nostalgia in more ways than one. But both of these venerable pop classicists have more than enough catalog by themselves for an enjoyable evening's entertainment, and sometimes two really is better than one. MICHAELANGELO MATOS