Stellar OM Source, Pacific City Nightlife Vision Band, Brother Raven
(Gallery 1412) See Data Breaker.
Moon Duo, Du Hexen Hase, Midday Veil
(Rendezvous) If only it were 1965, LSD were still legal, and this show was at the Matrix in San Francisco. Not because I secretly wish these bands sounded like Jefferson Airplane. On the contrary, each of these acts excels in its own unique manifestation of elastic, spatial, hallucinatory sound. While the expansive synth-scapes of Midday Veil, the crawling sound collages of Du Hexen Hase, and the fuzzed-out washes of Moon Duo are perfectly suited to our uncertain and overstimulated current age, all three bands feel intriguingly alien, like they belong to another time and place. And given the task of prescribing an ideal context for this show, I'd elect to watch it unfold during the mass dosing of a bright-eyed, idealistic, Aquarian audience. BRIAN COOK See also Stranger Suggests.
Swollen Members, Potluck, Jay Barz, Cool Nutz
(Neumos) Vancouver, BC's hiphop kings Swollen Members don't sound anything like Seattle's big hiphop acts. They're more polished and mainstream-sounding (by which I mean they have big shiny beats and money-obsessed lyrics) than artists like Blue Scholars or Macklemore, especially on their most recent album, Armed to the Teeth. If there's one thing that earnest Seattle rap can learn from Swollen Members, though, it's how to have some goddamned fun. Their enjoyably dumb single "Bollywood Chick" (with a chorus that goes, "She sexy/She sexy/She sexy") is a party track if ever there was one. Even when they're talking semiseriously about rehab ("My Life"), Swollen Members excel at making your brain get freaky. PAUL CONSTANT See also My Philosophy.
Mash Hall, Sap'N, Darwin, Recess, Blondzie
(Chop Suey) In the early '80s, there was a moment when acts like Freeez, Key-Matic, Cybotron, Newcleus, Man Parrish, and Thomas Dolby more or less sounded the same. It was not easy to designate one act as hiphop, the other as new wave, and the other as techno. All had their roots in German synth-pop and post-Motown funk; all were about a futurism that had the vocoder as its defining equipment. Then things began to separate into distinct layers of hiphop, new wave, and techno. For example, Cybotron, which could not be separated from Newcleus, became Model 500, which was definitely not the same thing as Newcleus. I bring this up because this Mash Hall show has a lineup that feels like a resynthesis of hiphop, new wave, and techno into the original oneness of the early '80s. Mash Hall (hiphop), Sap'N (ecstatic new wave), Darwin (hiphop), and Blondzie (techno)—all are returning us to the paradise of electro. CHARLES MUDEDE
Seattle Improvised Music Festival: Chris Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh, Wally Shoup, Bill Horist
(Sunset) Local improv/free-jazz sax firebrand Wally Shoup and chameleonic guitar abstractionist Bill Horist can be counted on to kick off this huge bill with challenging tonal extremities and structural anomalies. Six Organs of Admittance cohort Chris Corsano is one of the world's most inventive and versatile percussionists, a sort of 21st-century Han Bennink, albeit not as zany (Corsano's recent collabs with Björk may change that, though). Check Flower-Corsano Duo's The Four Aims for an especially vigorous display of his talent. Anything can happen in a Corsano set, and it's usually stunning. Violinist C. Spencer Yeh, the catalyst behind maximalist-minimalist juggernaut Burning Star Core, forges some of the most exhilarating drone-based compositions ever to make your skull vibrate, in the febrilely intense tradition of Tony Conrad. DAVE SEGAL
Satchel, With Friends Like These, Stuck on a Bus
(Crocodile) After a 13-year hiatus, Shawn Smith and his band Satchel are back with a studio album called Heartache & Honey. It's definitely rock, churning and depositing boulders on a dime. Big rock, even, with arena prowess and Smith's golden, medicine man/soul exploratorium of a voice coating the edges. To put it plainly, Smith has power. It's like when he sees you, he will give you a magical chicken claw that enables you to fly in your dreams for the rest of your life. With Regan Hagar, John Hoag, and Jeremy Lightfoot in the fold, Satchel are reborn. Smith will be dispensing power from his keys and celebrating new songs like "The Return of..." and, let's hope, classics like "Suffering," "Not Too Late," and "Mr. Pink." TRENT MOORMAN
Thee Oh Sees, Urinals, Unnatural Helpers
(Funhouse) Recent output from San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees finds them expertly channeling droning garage ("Crack in Your Eye") or the Fall by way of good friends the Intelligence ("Spider Cider"). Regardless of form, John Dwyer et al. always deliver a total fucking blast live. Last time through town, they set up outside under the Funhouse's basketball hoop (which they eventually encouraged the audience to take shots at) and then delivered one of the most visceral sets of firebrand, crackle-and-fuzz garage rock in recent memory. Dwyer shrieks and hoots like a devil, drummer Mike Shoun punctuates everything with marksman precision, and Brigid Dawson's evocative wail lends everything a pleasant luster. Do yourself a favor and see it all live and up close, the way it's meant to be experienced. GRANT BRISSEY
Kim Ann Foxman
(Re-bar) It's been a turbulent couple of years for Hercules and Love Affair. The year 2008 saw their self-titled debut album—a reconfiguring of gay disco that was both classicist and utterly fresh—released to overwhelming critical acclaim (Pitchfork even named the Antony-assisted anthem "Blind" its number one song of the year). In 2009, though, the act canceled a scheduled appearance at Coachella and was seemingly splintering apart, with main man Andy Butler relocating to San Francisco and the touring band's players focusing on groups of their own. Still, while we wait for Butler to work out H&LA's second act, we can at least enjoy the DJ outings of "potentially ever-present" member Kim Ann Foxman (Butler is vague about the band's future lineup), whose crates contain a stylishly curated collection of classic house, disco, electro, freestyle, and beyond. ERIC GRANDY
Scraps, Watch It Sparkle, Panama Gold
(Sunset) There's something eerily familiar about the muted marimba-like melody that opens Scraps' self-titled GGNZLA Records EP on the song "A Salty Sea," but I can't place it. The rest of the song is just plain old eerie, though—a high/low, male/female vocal duet delivered via tinny, blown-out megaphone, tossed-about sprays of distorted guitar, crashing cymbals, and that unsteady melody, and all just barely anchored to a steady-pounding kick-drum beat. The rest of the EP is less unsettling but still striking, employing roughly the same strategy throughout. Watch It Sparkle do a kind of agitated garage rock marked by fun-house organs; cracked, wailing vocals; and caveman-crude rhythmic grooves. ERIC GRANDY
Young Fresh Fellows, Girl Trouble
(Tractor) Here we have two elder statesbands of the Pacific Northwest. Young Fresh Fellows have been pumping out the power pop since 1981; Girl Trouble have been making a garage-rock racket since just three years later. As they sneak up on their 30th anniversary, the Fellows don't show any signs of aging. Their latest album, I Think This Is, out on Yep Roc Records, is full of ably executed pop rock, heavy on the guitar jangle and sighing vocal harmonies, and tinted here and there with touches of country twang, British Invasion accents, and pop-punk sugar rush. If you think Young Fresh Fellows are well preserved, you should get a load of Girl Trouble's website, which looks like it was cryogenically frozen circa 1990. ERIC GRANDY
Bon Jovi, Dashboard Confessional
(KeyArena) In 1986, Bon Jovi rose from the swamps of New Jersey, climbed to the top of the glam-metal heap, and became one of the most prominent features on the pop charts. Then the '90s happened: Kurt Cobain, grunge, the year punk "broke." A pompadoured young man named Chris Carrabba, armed with an acoustic guitar and raised on Fugazi, capped off the decade that raged against the hair-metal machine by taking the new youth culture by storm. Dashboard Confessional's stint in the arenas was brief; like Bon Jovi at the end of the '80s, his overwrought romanticism fell out of fashion. But dollar bins be damned, Bon Jovi bounced back, and now they're dragging Dashboard Confessional along for a chance at redemption. BRIAN COOK
Bon Jovi, Dashboard Confessional
(KeyArena) See Friday.
(Showbox at the Market) STS9 (formerly Sound Tribe Sector 9) want to take you on a journey—a very long journey; hence, no opening acts for them. The Santa Cruz, California, quintet has become a bankable entity on the ever-lucrative jam-band circuit with the sort of gritless, exploratory space funk one can languorously shake one's dreads to. STS9's new studio album, Ad Explorata, sounds vaguely similar to the interstellar overdriving electro jam-athons sluiced out by Ozric Tentacles; it's... okay. Admittedly, hearing STS9 on one's office computer is a drag; experiencing the band on a good system in a club or outdoor fest while tripping nads has the potential to be a wow-intensive time. But STS9 lack the mad-scientist inventiveness and spirit to surreally take you to the other side. DAVE SEGAL
Alkaline Trio, Cursive, the Dear and Departed
(Neumos) Alkaline Trio aren't your average pop-punk band. While their melodies are fine-tuned, their production is pristine, and their harmonies are spot-on, there's always been a thin layer of impenetrable mystery surrounding them. Blame it on the morbid, Misfits-inspired lyrics and the rumors of selling their souls to Satan. Since 1996, vocalist Matt Skiba's heart-on-sleeve crying/drinking anthems have inspired hundreds worldwide to brand their bodies with the band's easily distinguishable logo—a simple line drawing of a skull inside a heart. Let's hope that the band's seventh studio album, due later this month, satisfies the diehards, or we might have a couple hundred regrettable tattoos in the near future. KEVIN DIERS
Past Lives, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death, Naomi Punk
(Black Lodge) Here's how it works: You join a punk band when you're a young firebrand. You're pissed, you're chomping at the bit, and even the most rudimentary assemblage of three chords is somehow distinctly your own. But then you grow up and form a new band. All of a sudden you're left with the task of reigniting that flame and rediscovering the mystery of making music. It's a daunting task, and many folks aren't up for it. They fall back on old habits or retire. But there's that rare breed of bands like Past Lives and Triumph of Lethargy, composed of old punk veterans who have managed to successfully reinvent themselves. Both bands are every bit as jagged and jarring as their past projects, and a little wiser at the same time. BRIAN COOK
Tiny Vipers, Dave Knudson, Demian Johnston, Dull Knife, Crystal Hell Pool
(Josephine) Local duo Dull Knife sculpt caustic waves of noise using rudimentary analog tools. Their sonic maelstroms are womblike, enveloping. It's filling-rattling, amp-exerting black magic, and member Adam Svenson is no doubt one of the Northwest's most prolific auditory magi (he also plays in improvisational drone group Du Hexen Hase and drums for PDX spazzes Little Claw). When it comes to local apocalyptic and alien musical undertakings, his résumé is nearly unparalleled. So it's only fair that Dull Knife are in such good company on this Josephine bill, which reads like a checklist of the city's most haunting artists. The palette these five acts will collectively provide (encompassing everything from hungover folk to ambient to full-on noise blitz) will make for a heady, heavy night of music. JASON BAXTER
Virgin Islands, Western Hymn, Little Cuts, Sharpening Markers
(Comet) Seattle whiners—"Look, it's raining! Look, there's condos!"—can drink a cup of shut-the-hell-up for a minute. Why? For one: Little Cuts. I keep seeing this name pop up. This new band with members of the Shins (Dave Hernandez), the Cops (Drew Church), and Old Haunts (Curtis James)—these guys are the real deal, Seattle forever-heavies. We live in a city where you can't throw a rock without hitting a musician. If Little Cuts really are as gritty and scrappy as they sound on MySpace, then they're ones to watch in 2010—at least for fans of "La Roche de Garage" (I think that's French for "rock made in garages"). KELLY O
Valentine's Is Over: Sean Nelson, Erin Jorgensen
(Sorrento Hotel) Because of an unfortunate linguistic accident, the sirens of the Odyssey (those bird-women who sing so beautifully, men will jump to their deaths to be close to them) and the sirens of the city (ambulance, air-raid) are a pair of homonyms. Because of this accident, people everywhere subconsciously think of the singing sirens as loud and brazen, busty lounge singers wrapped in red velvet. One dose of Erin Jorgensen's quiet, mellifluous voice—accompanied by her marimba, perhaps singing "My Lady Heroin" in French—will cure you of this notion. She's a tiny woman who plays an enormous instrument so sweetly, you'll want to dash yourself against the rocks. (In your drink, if not in the ocean.) She'll be playing the cozy Fireside Room in the Sorrento Hotel with Seattle's other sweetest songbird, Sean Nelson. BRENDAN KILEY
(Showbox at the Market) See Saturday.
Astronautalis, Dark Time Sunshine
(High Dive) Astronautalis is a one-man, storytelling, fog-swirled rap eccentric named Andy Bothwell. His songs are composite, well-crafted oddballs produced by John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, Modest Mouse, Polyphonic Spree). Dampened, tight beats lay the footing for Bothwell's offhand, low-pitched lyrical delivery. His grunted refrains tell the myth of Persephone in a folksy, swashbuckled meter. The most interesting Astronautalis concoction is the collaboration with Minneapolis rapper P.O.S. on "Story of My Life." Bothwell recounts, "I was born in a boxcar, color-blind, pigeon-toed, pockmarked/Twisted figure, broken heart they'd fixed up with monkey parts." If the Titanic sank now, the band playing and quirk-rapping on the deck in the drowning end could very well feature Astronautalis. Bothwell is that dedicated. TRENT MOORMAN
The Spits, Personal & the Pizzas, Coconut Coolouts, the Pranks, DJ Kurt Bloch, Danger Nunn
(Chop Suey) See Stranger Suggests, and preview.
People Eating People, Pepi Ginsberg, Pepper Rabbit
(Crocodile) If you haven't yet listened to People Eating People's recent debut, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. It's the first release from local pianist Nouela Johnston since leaving the promising blues-tinged piano-rock band Mon Frere in 2007. For her solo effort, she proves she can do so much more than play overdriving keyboard riffs. On the self-titled release, she flirts with lounge, blues, and her first love, jazz piano, playing everything from swelling, emotional ballads to pounding and aggressive rock songs. Unlike her days in Mon Frere, Johnston has also used the songwriting to help her sort out life's dilemmas—unrequited love, selfish friends, other usual suspects—making the songs not only technically impressive, but supremely relatable as well. MEGAN SELING
The Magnetic Fields
Four Tet, Nathan Fake, ER DoN
(Chop Suey) See preview.
(Triple Door) See Stranger Suggests.
The Magnetic Fields
Goodie Mob, Helladope
(Neumos) See My Philosophy.
The Wayward Girls, Konny Kindlund, Sweet Spots, Luke Beetham
(Funhouse) Seattle has cultivated a proud community of strong female country-music singers, from Neko Case to Zera Marvel, and the Wayward Girls are another great addition to the civic tradition. The Girls are folksier than, say, Jesse Sykes—a couple of their scratchier laments, like "Little Did He Know," wouldn't sound out of place in an anthology of country-bluegrass field recordings from the mid-20th century—but they've got an undeniable ache that cuts the heartstrings in just the right way. The Wayward Girls could use a few ripsnorting Corn Sisters–style barn burners in their repertoire, but for right now, in the middle of the winter, we can all use some of their heartbroken ballads to get us through the night. PAUL CONSTANT