Camden Hackworth

Thursday 4/29

Green Pajamas

(Showbox at the Market Green Room) Why are Green Pajamas playing a CD-release party in the minuscule Green Room 26 years into their career? This just seems wrong. Perhaps Seattle's most overlooked psych-pop group (despite penning one of the most beautiful songs ever, "Kim the Waitress"), Green Pajamas tonight celebrate the reissue of their 1987 album, Book of Hours (retitled for the expanded version The Complete Book of Hours by Green Monkey Records). It's yet another collection of literate, acutely crafted, achingly wistful songs that quickly embed themselves in your pleasure centers. Even their last album, 2009's Poison in the Russian Room, shows none of the usual signs of rock-band aging. And yet... the Green Room. Huh. DAVE SEGAL

Red Sparowes, Caspian, Fang Island

(Neumos) L.A.'s Red Sparowes don't make post-rock so much as they make post-traumatic-rock. Their sweeping, roiling, and violent crescendos seem primed to soundtrack a complete psychological breakdown—and their mellower compositions, brined in pedal-steel rootsiness, set the perfect mood for dissolving one's ego. It's beautiful stuff, to be sure; full of brawny grandeur and overdubbed fretwork, Red Sparowes' music is perfectly enjoyable even with your sanity intact. At times they very closely resemble some of their post-rock contemporaries, but refreshingly, there are fleeting moments on their newest album, The Fear Is Excruciating, but Therein Lies the Answer, more redolent of master guitarist Bill Frisell's contributions to the last Earth record than of Earth themselves. JASON BAXTER

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Messin' with Texas: Seattle Bands Sing Songs of the Lone Star State

(Tractor) Tonight the biggest, weirdest state in the nation gets the musical tribute it deserves, as members of some of Seattle's most beloved bands—including the Presidents of the United States of America, Visqueen, SHIM, Pablo Trucker, Thee Sgt. Major III, Widower, Barton Carroll, and more—take to the stage of the Tractor to bust out songs of Texas. Does that mean songs about Texas, like Marty Robbins's "El Paso"? Or songs by Texas-born songwriters, like "What I Am" by Edie Brickell? Or songs made famous by Texas bands, like Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious"? My Magic 8 Ball says, "Yes!" DAVID SCHMADER

Saucy Yoda, Mythological Horses

(Funhouse) Much like centaurs, hippogriffs, Sleipnirs, and the Pegasus, the band Mythological Horses are a somewhat mysterious creature. Portland anti-folk weirdo/singer Shawn Holley and his forever-changing backup band write peculiar little ditties about love, snow cones, drugs, vagina trees, and come Dumpsters. The music sounds like what might happen if you invited both Ween and Kimya Dawson to a picnic. Have to say, though, until I see them live and in the flesh, I'm not sure if I believe that they're really real. KELLY O

Friday 4/30

Eluvium, Benoît Pioulard

(Vera) See preview.

Sleepy Eyes of Death, Feral Children, Talkdemonic

(Neumos) On their new mini-album, Toward a Damaged Horizon, local synth-rock quartet Sleepy Eyes of Death continue to do what they do best: epic, mostly instrumental scores that evoke French band M83 in their old John Carpenter–worshipping phase (rather than their more recent John Hughes mode). "The Sound of Light Breaking Down" leads with a burbling then glittering synthesizer arpeggio strung across a steady-driving live drumbeat—it's a little bit Knight Rider and a little bit Blade Runner, and it's probably destined for some slick remixes. Throughout the album, gaseous crescendos are broken up with drumrolling rock, give way to tightly sequenced motorik grooves, or are pierced by vocals vocodered until they sound like knives being sharpened. Live, SEOD back their high-volume assault with colored gels and much smoke, and it makes for one big, moody spectacle. ERIC GRANDY

The Beets, German Measles, the Coconut Coolouts

(Funhouse) The Beets are yet another Brooklyn band doing a bong-smoke-hazy take on classic '50s pop and the softer side of '60s garage rock—like a puckish punk band (their debut is called Spit in the Face of People Who Don't Want to Be Cool) playing an under-the-sea prom, but doing it more or less by the book. A lot of this stuff strikes me as incredibly lazy and boring—which, really, is kind of the vibe it's going for—but the Beets clearly have some quality hooks hidden under their mildly obfuscating reverb and tape hiss. German Measles are yet another another another another such band, a little messier and wilder, with songs like "Wild Weekend": "C'mon baby and party with me/Take some drugs and party with me/We're gonna have a wild weekend/Hey baby it's party time." The Coconut Coolouts would also like to party with you. ERIC GRANDY

Black Breath, Christian Mistress, Anhedonist, Swörming, Ubik

(Black Lodge) There's no question that at the end of the year, Black Breath's newest LP (and Southern Lord debut), Heavy Breathing, will earn top rankings in many a best-of list. With Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou working the knobs on the recording at his world famous GodCity studios, the Seattle band has channeled their love of Swedish metal riffing harder than ever before. But don't worry, Black Breath still ply a sound best described, by guitarist Zack Muljat, as "equal parts Motörhead and Discharge." And they'll continue to do so all over the world when they hop on a U.S. tour with Converge and Coalesce next month. Tonight's your chance to catch these dudes before the entire world knows their name. KEVIN DIERS

Saturday 5/1

The Stranger Gong Show

(Crocodile) See Stranger Suggests.

Liars, Fol Chen, Flexions

(Neumos) Liars keep on pushing for the darkness. The veteran trio's fifth album, Sisterworld, isn't as propulsive as previous efforts, but it's a seriously heavy and moving work. The record's mournful, neo-Gothic beauty evokes Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but with less bluesy melodrama. Although the album was recorded in several Los Angeles studios, it feels arboreal and Mitteleuropa. Liars may have mellowed slightly, but they're no less interesting for it at this late stage in their existence. L.A. sextet Fol Chen gallivant in the possibility-laden space where rock and electronic music intersect. On their forthcoming album, Part II: The New December, they combine enigmatic whimsy with baroque melodic sweetness and interesting, vivid textures. Fol Chen should well complement Liars' more morbid explorations. DAVE SEGAL

Everybody Was in the French Resistance... NOW!, Tea Cozies

(High Dive) Everybody Was in the French Resistance... Now! are a new duo led by Art Brut wag Eddie Argos dedicated to righting the wrongs of pop songs past, in the fine, storied tradition of "answer songs." So, their "Superglue" is a riposte to Elastica's "Vaseline," explained thus: "If Elastica had used superglue instead of Vaseline (or for that matter, heroin), maybe they would have stuck together." Har. Here's one I'd like to pitch: On Art Brut's "People in Love," Argos rationalizes breaking up by saying, "People in love lie around and get fat/I didn't want us to end up like that," which of course is a terrible reason to break up. Why can't people in love join a gym and get fit? Call the French Resistance song "People in Shape." Eddie, call me if you need a ghostwriter. ERIC GRANDY See also preview.

Jackie-O Motherfucker, Blood Red Dancers, Geist & the Sacred Ensemble, Brother Raven

(Chop Suey) Portland improv folkadelic ensemble Jackie-O Motherfucker make the slack jam a transcendental experience. These space cadets transform instrumental meander into grandeur. Follow their sinuous peregrinations and become enlightened. Seattle organ/drums/bass trio Blood Red Dancers play bruising rock for boozers. The drama runs thick in their tumultuous songs, with vocalist Aaron Poppick often opting for the "harrowing" setting on his cords. Imagine the Doors and the Stranglers fighting to a draw in a drunken bar brawl. Geist & the Sacred Ensemble tap into a pagan-folk vibe that's more Wicker Man than Burning Man—thankfully. They're what the Cave Singers would sound like if they swapped moonshine for magic mushrooms. Local synth duo Brother Raven repurpose the music of the spheres for isolation-tank listening. DAVE SEGAL

The Lights, Thunder Buffalo, Butts

(Sunset) Seattle trio the Lights have followed up their excellent 2006 album Diamonds and Dirt with the long-awaited Failed Graves (Wäntage). Whereas the former is a tightly wound, highly torqued suite of gruffly tuneful post-punk, the latter is slightly larger-sounding and more polished (Erik Blood produced both). But worry not: The Lights—Jeff Albertson, Craig Chambers, and P. J. Rogalski—still rock hard, but now the definition is clearer and the attack punchier. Chambers's guitar clangs and surges with Youthful Sonic vigor and his lively deadpan vocals—snarling somewhere between Bob Dylan and Mark E. Smith—complement the low-end pummeling bassist Albertson and drummer Rogalski dole out. The slashing, hooky songs on Failed Graves should come to vibrant life onstage. Dig it. DAVE SEGAL

Sunday 5/2

Javelin, Weekend

(Vera) Javelin are a Brooklyn-based pair of cousins who make mashed-up, loop-heavy, lo-fi found-sound dance movements. They stack banged-up boom boxes five high and light them up with crafty MPC work, Casio synths, and drum pads. Javelin are crate diggers and cassette-shelf miners who can take bad waiting-room Muzak and bird-sounds CDs and turn them into an unstoppable improv breakbeat jam. Javelin's uniqueness is the strength of their ear and their ability to find and radically work over a sample. It's lighthearted at first listen but seriously moving on the dance floor. The live setup is a table full of Frankensteined gear, plastic artifacts, and buttons to push. Now with Thrill Jockey in the picture, look for the Javelin to never land. TRENT MOORMAN

Aquaserge, Casper & the Cookies, Midday Veil, Angelo Spencer et Les Hautes Sommets

(Comet) The thing I love about Aquaserge is their questing through sounds to find something worthwhile. In "Visions," they start with something that sounds like the breakdown of a free-and-easy Chicago song, continue with falsetto vocals, and then try some sound collage and clashing guitars for a while. Occasionally, they'll let a John Zorn–style cacophony ride, bumping into genres and backing away slowly. Then they've got songs like "Retrovailles," which, with its flighty horns and "La-la-la" vocals, could be a Bird and the Bee track, with some underlying sonic messiness to keep things interesting. They're smart shoppers at a sonic junk shop where every sound has something unique and worthwhile about it and the best finds are hidden deep. PAUL CONSTANT

Monday 5/3

LMNO, Kev Brown, JFK, All Flags Burn

(Chop Suey) Long Beach, California, rapper LMNO (aka James Kelly) and producer Kev Brown are touring under the banner of "The James Brown Show" (a conflation of the former's first and the latter's last name). The handle also spotlights the duo's commitment to honoring old-school hiphop's roots; Kev Brown's a disciple of Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and J Dilla while LMNO spits positively and politically charged verses for the Visionaries crew. The twosome aren't doing anything innovative, but they've got their beats and flows down to a beneficial science—plus, LMNO's plan to release 10 albums—each with a different producer—in 2010 is proof of an admirable work ethic and deep industry connections (dude was tight with Eazy-E back in the day). DAVE SEGAL

Tuesday 5/4

Los Campesinos!, Signals

(Showbox at the Market) See Stranger Suggests and Fucking in the Streets.

Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins

(Tractor) Richman and Larkins have been touring off and on for a while now, and they've long ago hit that musical sweet spot that every performer wishes for: They're comfortable enough together to mess around onstage (they reportedly closed a March show in Nashville with a tribute to Keith Richards, you know, just because) and not sound amateurish about it. Richman's voice still has that slightly smoky, lived-in sound; he still ably tweaks the nose of pop conventions at every opportunity ("Parties in the U.S.A." is a classic of musical sarcasm); and he's having fun with a trusted friend and able musician. What could be better than a guaranteed good show? PAUL CONSTANT

High on Fire, Priestess, Black Cobra, Bison b.c.

(Chop Suey) There are hundreds of contemporary metal bands more popular than High on Fire. There are bands of similar breed that garner more elaborate prose from the critics. There are kindred acts that amass more hype, scoring short-lived accolades from cultural tastemakers. But for the last 12 years, no band in the realm of heavy music has matched High on Fire's track record for consistently unleashing no-frills, full-throttle, bottom-heavy masterpieces. For all the fads of the last dozen years, the Oakland band's brand of gravel-throated howling and thunderous driving guitars has never gone out of style—yet it's never quite extended beyond their small but feverishly devoted fan base. Their latest offering, the uncompromising Snakes for the Divine, and their upcoming tour dates with Metallica might just change that. BRIAN COOK

Wednesday 5/5

Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins

(Tractor) See Tuesday.

The Antlers, Phantogram

(Neumos) Barsuk-signed duo Phantogram are sort of like a Tobacco for folks who'd prefer slightly more straightforward pop songs in their analog, beat-heavy electronics. Singer/ keyboardist Sarah Barthel sings with a sweet if rather stock sort of triphop sexiness, giving voice to occasionally goofy lyrics like "Wake up/You're getting high on your own supply"—this over a buzzing, bending synth line on the song "Mouthful of Diamonds." Bandmate Josh Carter's quasi rapping on "Turn It Off" is less successful, although "Running from the Cops" squiggles his voice appealingly, as though it were being recorded off a shaking piece of sheet metal. Naming your album Eyelid Movies just begs for a crack about it putting listeners to sleep, but Phantogram's palette of sounds—especially their breakbeats and synth gurgles—keeps jolting you awake, even when the songs get mellow. ERIC GRANDY