John Chedsey

Thursday 10/7

Kurt B. Reighley's United States of Americana release party: Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, Cobirds Unite, Paula the Swedish Housewife, Miss Indigo Blue, Squirrel Butter

(Sunset) See Stranger Suggests and the Homosexual Agenda.

The Music Always Matters
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Frightened Rabbit, Plants and Animals, Bad Veins

(Showbox at the Market) Glasgow band Frightened Rabbit began as a pair of brothers—one on drums and one on guitars—but they expanded to a five-piece with what appears to be alarmingly little trouble. For a good introduction to their sound, try their poppy single "Swim Until You Can't See Land," a folky number that really pins down the essence of the band's songwriting appeal: It's propulsive, hook-happy, and clean. Then listen to something else by them—"Fast Blood," say—and you'll see how they've built up into a U2-cribbing mammoth. The crisp songwriting is still there; it's just grown into something bigger. Thankfully, the stadium-ready songs retain the same clarity as the stripped-down numbers: Really good pop music can expand and contract like that. PAUL CONSTANT

Nomeansno, Ford Pier, the Ruby Doe

(Neumos) Music writers are prone to hyperbole. It's in the genes. So take this with a grain of salt, but Nomeansno are the greatest living punk band. Seriously. The Canadian trio has leveled audiences with its cerebral prog-punk for three decades now. They're an institution. Folks talked about having to see Bob Dylan at Bumbershoot because, well, he's Bob Dylan and you have to see him while you still have a chance. You know what? Nomeansno don't have a Self Portrait in their repertoire. No Saved, no Knocked Out Loaded. With nary a stumble in their catalog, they've continued to deliver their syncopated, bass-driven progressive punk with the same tenacity and ferociousness that defined their music back in the early 1980s. Catch them while they're still running strong. BRIAN COOK

Bettie Serveert, the First Times

(Tractor) Bettie Serveert are the Dutch band forever enshrined in many indie rockers' hearts for their 1992 debut album, Palomine. Featuring the beguiling, Jodie Foster–esque vocals of Carol van Dyk, the LP boasted some of the most memorable tunes of the 1990s, especially "Tom Boy," "Palomine," and "Kid's Allright." Like a Dutch Blake Babies, Bettie Serveert charmed listeners with understated jangles and twinkles and perfectly timed, heart-catching key changes—all of which made them ideally suited to devote an entire album to Velvet Underground covers. Bettie Serveert's new album, Pharmacy of Love, shows the band in robust, tuneful form, their melodies as immediately appealing and well-contoured as ever—and the nine-and-a-half-minute-long "Calling" finds Bettie Serveert getting surprisingly epic without showing any strain. This is solid indie rock that probably won't change your life, but it will brighten your night. DAVE SEGAL

Friday 10/8

The Corin Tucker Band

(Showbox at the Market) See preview.

Alice in Chains, Deftones, Mastodon

(KeyArena) The return of Alice in Chains was one of the more polarizing music stories of 2009. Longtime fans and followers were split: Should we support Jerry Cantrell and company or dismiss their return as a cash-grab/slap-in-the-face to late vocalist Layne Staley? When the dust settled, and Black Gives Way to Blue was unleashed, we all remembered just how important Cantrell has been in the songwriting process the whole time. New recruit William DuVall's soulful voice proves a respectfully spot-on tribute to Staley's howl. Deftones are also no stranger to adversity. When founding bassist Chi Cheng fell into a coma in late 2008 (which he's still in), the band was forced to shuffle its songwriting approach tenfold, scrapping an entire album, only to emerge from the studio with Diamond Eyes, 11 tracks of blissful melodic heaviness you wouldn't dare label "nu-metal." Show up early for Mastodon or miss out on some crushing prog-metal brought to you by the beardiest of dudes. KEVIN DIERS

Mark Sultan, the Fucking Eagles, So Cow, Radio Shark

(Funhouse) It's been quite the year for Mark Sultan, aka BBQ, aka Kib Husk, aka Blortz, aka Celeb Prenup. There was a new album with Montreal crazy man Bloodshot Bill, as the Ding-Dongs; there was Coachella with King Khan and Black Lips, under the name the Almighty Defenders. There was controversy after a very wild (and very naked) show in San Francisco; there was more controversy (and more nakedness) with Lindsay Lohan at the Cannes Film Festival; there was a flying snake and an eighty-sixing (but no nakedness) when Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson flew Sultan and King Khan to Australia to play for them at the Sydney Opera House. The past year also saw the untimely death of King Khan and BBQ as a band. And a new solo album called $. Some of these things were very good. Some of these things were very bad. $ was, and is, one of the things that's very good. "I'm playing as a one-man band on this tour," says Sultan, "supporting $, but also playing stuff from the last 10 years of different incarnations." This show will surely be a history lesson—told by the highly esteemed professor and inventor of punk-rock doo-wop. KELLY O

El Ten Eleven, Baths, Sister Crayon

(Sunset) L.A.-based El Ten Eleven are the finest instrumental (post-rock?) duo you will see this year. They are absolute and crystalline loop-makers. A loop is made, layered under another loop, then another, until it's four or five layers deep. Then, on the one, it cuts out completely, drops into a new section, and gathers for five measures until—bang!—all the prior loops come back in. No beat is lost. No loop sags. As instrumental music, it has a picture-making capacity, meaning you envision something when they play. Like a film of a snowflake playing in reverse, so the snowflake falls upward. Their sound approaches that of instrumental greats Trans Am or Tortoise. Kristian Dunn (a pilot by trade) plays a double-necked guitar/bass while his feet tap effect pedals. Drummer Tim Fogarty is exact, conjugating on acoustic kit, electric drums, and keys. No duo anywhere is melded tighter than these two. TRENT MOORMAN

Saturday 10/9

Guided by Voices, Times New Viking

(Showbox Sodo) It could be that my memory is fuzzy, but I swear the last time I saw Guided by Voices—at Neumos, some years ago—the band had a big garbage can full of beer cans and ice onstage with them. (Perhaps they'd forgive a fuzzy memory.) If that's how the recently re-formed GBV "classic lineup" rolls, I wonder how they'll deal with Seattle's lately stringent ban on onstage drinking, a ban that continues to make our city look more like Salt Lake City than Austin. Probably they'll be fine; maybe they'll crack wise. Doubtless, they will tear through a couple hours of short, sweet, and spiky songs from their extensive catalog, almost any combination of which should provide well beyond a beer bucket's worth of little thrills (one request: "Surgical Focus"). Their tour kickoff reportedly included three encores, no "Surgical Focus," and fine, fuzzy opening act Times New Viking showing the good sense to count down every song remaining until GBV took the stage. ERIC GRANDY

AIDS Wolf, Wet Paint DMM, Gape Attack!, Mountainss

(Black Lodge) Montreal's AIDS Wolf conduct catastrophes in sound. Descendants of New York's no-wave anti-movement, they favor feral, primitive outbursts of prickly noise, clattering drums, and mangled guitar notes, all of which tornado through your headspace, leaving a trail of deeply bruised neurons. AIDS Wolf make an incorrigible argument for creating music that's untamed and untutored—the squall of the wild. Locals Wet Paint DMM work in similar unruly territory, but they're much more varied with their rhythms and arrangements, allowing more space and silence amid their tempestuous instrumental thrusts and female vocal ejaculations. Full of ordeal-y drama, weird guitar timbres, and unpredictable drum barrages, Wet Paint DMM's brief songs frazzle you in a most exhilarating manner. DAVE SEGAL

Partman Parthorse, Consignment, Witch Gardens

(Funhouse) Witch Gardens are not nearly as fearsome as their name might suggest. Their music reveals no predilections toward dark magic or the gothic look and sound of so-called "witch haus" bands. Rather, this local girl-girl-girl-guy group specializes in a desaturated, dreamy kind of garage pop built from beguiling harmonies and simple Autoharp, bass, and guitar melodies. At times, their songs reach bleary, gorgeous heights—as in the last half of "Shelly," where the harmonies soar over drummer Sara Beabout's propellant percussion. (On cassette, this track is preceded by a beautiful, afterword-ly passage of slap-backed drone.) Songs like "Baby Got a Haircut" are bright and bubblegummy, and one might mistake the similarly catchy "I Wanna Get Sick" as being just as wide-eyed and pure, but the lyrics ("I wanna get sick/So I/Will die") betray its clandestine darkness. Maybe they're a little goth after all. JASON BAXTER

Kultur Shock, Sage, Mal De Mer

(Neumos) Upon unearthing my copy of Sage's 1994 record Forked from beneath a thick layer of dust, I was able to reaffirm several things. One: Marc Olsen's vocals still sound haunting and urgent. Two: Coupled with those vocals, the instrumentation throughout still reminds me of indulging in hallucinogens around a campfire somewhere in Eastern Washington. Three: I still like the record (but that may have more to do with nostalgia than the actual quality of the record). Four: I have still never seen the band live but am interested to know how they would sound. GRANT BRISSEY

Sunday 10/10

Ty Segall, the Girls, Basemint, Diver Down

(Chop Suey) Not to be mistaken for the Van Halen tribute band from Dallas, Texas, of the same name, Seattle-based Diver Down is the duo of Diver D (vocals/guitar) and Diver S (drums), who penetrate the veins that flow from your garage-rock-loving heart and consume your body with a raw energy needed to carry you through the night. Diver D is no Diamond Dave in terms of frontman mastery (needs more spandex and power kicks), but what Diver Down lack in terms of technical flare and over-the-top theatrics, they make up for with discordant punk hooks that sound like rough, early Wipers demos. Tonight, they open for prolific young SF garage Svengali Ty Segall, whose latest LP, Melted, showcases the cool, the mean, and the sweet all in one hefty knock upside the skull. TRAVIS RITTER

PS I Love You; the Beats, Man; Ladyfriend

(High Dive) The early press on Canadian guitar and drums duo PS I Love You all talks about the band representing a resurgence of true-school '90s indie rock—the sort with rough edges, messily distorted guitars, and a real sense of animating angst, as opposed to the Starbucks-sampler-ready soft-rock snooze that "indie rock" has lately come to encompass. The early press is pretty much right on in this case. On Meet Me at the Muster Station, singer/guitarist Paul Saulnier plays with the kind of hot fuzzing guitar static that sounds as if the instrument's always just about to swing recklessly out of his hands, and he sings in a choked, straining wail that, though it often sacrifices a consonant here and there, gets his feeling across. Last time we checked, the Beats, Man were making harmlessly goofy but ultimately insular electro-folky joke rap. Kind of an odd choice for an opening act. ERIC GRANDY

Monday 10/11

Dan Black, Copy, Beat Connection

(Chop Suey) Portland keytarist Copy's new album, Hard Dream, sounds very much like Copy's last album, which is not at all a bad thing. There are the same '80s drum-machine kicks (and claps and snares), the same buzzing arpeggios and thick bass synths, the same hooky melodies. (There's also some more ambitious scope; the album leads off with the self-/Daft Punk–deprecating "One Less Time," an eight-minute track that's as close to brooding as Copy's propulsive electro is likely to get.) Beat Connection are an on-the-rise local duo whose attention-getting Surf Noir EP ranges from muffled surf guitar and drum breaks that sound almost like washed-out Big Beat to bedroom Balearica and pop that would make them the ideal local openers anytime Delorean roll through town. It's chill, sure, but it's got enough beat and groove (and one dubbed-out Beyoncé sample) to kick it in the club with flair. ERIC GRANDY

Tuesday 10/12

Drumsicle, the Marrying Type

(Comet) See Data Breaker.

Ulrich Schnauss, Soundpool, Hypatia Lake

(Sunset) Ulrich Schnauss masterly marries idyllic IDM to shoegaze rock. At times his music has an icy majesty that can drift into saccharine new age–isms, but at their best, Schnauss's compositions combine unexpectedly funky beat programming with the sort of lush synth and guitar textures and wistful melodies that make you want to slowdive with your bloody valentine. After two outstanding albums—Far Away Trains Passing By and A Strangely Isolated Place—Schnauss dropped a dud with Goodbye, but his live shows supporting that 2007 album were much more sublime than that weak release would lead you to believe. Three years later, it's hard to know what to expect, but as Schnauss was picked to open for Chapterhouse on their recently postponed U.S. tour, we might just get rocked right down to our soles. DAVE SEGAL

Manu Chao

(Paramount) Manu Chao is the septualingual citizen of the world born in France to Spanish parents and renowned all over the globe for his thrilling sound amalgamations, in which far-flung samples, rhythmic chants, found sounds, and Chao's own singing/songwriting collide to create ridiculously hypnotic dance music. Seattle is one of only four cities Chao is visiting on his quick-hit U.S. tour, and fans of globe-trotting musical intoxicants would be fools to miss it. DAVID SCHMADER

Liz Phair

(Crocodile) Liz Phair doesn't give a fuck what you think. Or maybe she "feels the fear and does it anyway." Whatever the case, after happily captaining one of the most widely derided sellouts in history—with 2003's The Matrix–enhanced Liz Phair—Phair devoted herself to the art of the sellout, composing scores and theme songs for a handful of television shows. When that failed to satisfy her, she flipped the fuck out, releasing her latest EP, Funstyle, with the following caveat: "You were never supposed to hear these songs. These songs lost me my management, my record deal and a lot of nights of sleep. Yes, I rapped one of them. I'm as surprised as you are. But here is the thing you need to know about these songs and the ones coming next: These are all me." Judging by the evidence of Funstyle, the full Liz Phair is something closer to the godmother of Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic than kid sister to Sheryl Crow, and she's deeply, playfully weird. Tonight Phair entertains from the stage at the Crocodile. DAVID SCHMADER

Wednesday 10/13

Deadmau5, Die Antwoord

(Paramount) Oh. Wow. Okay, so, headlining, you have Deadmau5, the Canadian progressive techno/trance house producer with the iconic illuminated mouse head, last seen as the in-house DJ for the MTV Video Music Awards. Opening, you have Die Antwoord, the South African WTF rap crew responsible for making "Enter the Ninja" and "zef" overnight memes. Imagine an Afrikaner version of Eminem's white-trash trailer-park steez, only as acted out by media-savvy art-school alumni and backed by beats that recall Modeselektor at their Puppetmastaz-collaborating goofiest. It's like the When Great Gimmicks Collide tour 2010! But if you look past the giant cartoon mouse mask and the perfectly winking Vanilla Ice T-shirt, there are some big, stupidly fun tunes to be had here. And there's always the possibility that Die Antwoord might MC over some Deadmau5 tracks, like they recently did with... Aphex Twin?! Mos zef. ERIC GRANDY

Holy Fuck, Indian Jewelry, ClipD Beaks

(Neumos) Man, what a stacked bill. I've rhapsodized about Holy Fuck countless times in The Stranger and Line Out; read the archives. Suffice it to say, they are the most exciting rock band from Canada since Simply Saucer. Indian Jewelry flirt with industrial rock until they seduce it to take a hit of acid the size of your laptop. The results are disorienting, dirty, and dark. If you have any sensitivity at all to Royal Trux's Twin Infinitives, Jesus and Mary Chain's Automatic, Chrome's early LPs, or Suicide and Siouxsie, you will get hard/moist to Indian Jewelry. ClipD Beaks work in the same eerily lit, abandoned buildings that Liars and HEALTH figuratively occupy. Their brooding rock clambers for the shadows and makes you feel bracingly uneasy—an all-too-rare feeling in today's rock landscape. DAVE SEGAL