Thursday 11/4

Kurt Vile, the Soft Pack

(Neumos) Most songs in any given genre are not amazing songs. Them's just the odds. Most acts are going to be just okay, fine, "satisfactory" as your report cards used to say back in grade school. But maybe it's the case that some genres' just fine stuff is finer, their middle sections more forgiving than others'. This is what I was thinking about listening to the Soft Pack the other day. The songs are fine, the music pleasant enough to listen to in the moment—driving little garage tunes, fuzzy pop rock, fun stuff—but none of it was so memorable that it left any kind of an impression after the record played out. Still, though, I think a just okay garage record is probably more fun than, say, a just okay pop/R&B song, a just okay rap, just okay metal or house. Those can be terrible. ERIC GRANDY

The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77

(Showbox at the Market) Their aggro, shtick-y jams might not be for everyone, but it's hard to deny that the Bloody Beetroots are, at least on a surface level, a really cool band. The Italian act juice their roof-raising electro bangers with iron-rich transfusions of heavy-metal riffage, and they wear matching masks that resemble the one that Black Spider-Man (or, if you prefer, shitty '90s nerd icon Venom) wore in the Marvel comic books. They recently added 11 characters onto the end of their name—not to mention a third member, live drummer Edward Grinch—to become "The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77." Little else has changed, however: TBBDC77 still definitely know how to work a beat, and their blistering, rebuilt-from-the-ground-up remixes feel as limber, muscular, and wisecracking as ever—just like your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. JASON BAXTER

Book of Black Earth, Wolvserpent, Story of Rats

(Comet) Wolvserpent are a duo from Boise, Idaho, who used to go by the name Pussygut. Following the welcome name change, Blake Green and Brittany McConnell have constructed Blood Seed: two hell-long instrumental songs—one to each side of the record—that sound like the soundtrack to a post-Halloween nightmare. Delicate, chilly violin sets the mood at the beginning of both tracks, and both eventually unfold into slow-burning, metal-riff chug and sparse percussion that leave everything sounding all the more sinister. This is cinematic stuff, and it should be a thrill to see live. GRANT BRISSEY

Friday 11/5

Aloe Blacc, the Grand Scheme, Maya Jupiter, DJ 100Proof

(Nectar) See My Philosophy.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Weekend

(Vera) Some albums open themselves up to you like a book, song by song, chapter by chapter; some albums just hit you like a wave. Weekend's Slumberland Records debut, Sports, opens with "Coma Summer," a steady-plowing, six-and-a-half-minute-long rave-up, broken at the 1:30 mark when the guitars invert from muted jangle to thin, white-blistering fuzz, and one long, formless yet piercing wail emerges from the reverb, stretching the word "awake" out to an "awaaaaaaa" that barely ever finds a hard consonant on which to land. From there on in, it's one squall of feedback and static and sad-sack moaning after another, making such a wonderfully blurry, bleary mess that you might miss the fact that you're listening to some damn fine shoegaze-y pop songs. ERIC GRANDY

Stew & the Negro Problem

(Triple Door) You know how some naive optimists are all, "We live in a post-racial world! It's amazing! ObaMAAAAAA!" and some culture-war junkies are all, "Fuck that! Racism is worse than ever! YOU'RE A RACIST FOR EVEN THINKING THAT!" Fact is, both are true. We live in a racist/post-racial world that is very confusing for everyone involved. And for all the noise aforementioned fuckers make about race/post-race, there's only one true poet of our world and his name is Stew. He is big, black, brilliant, and has a gap between his two front teeth (which is supposed to be a sign of passion and love and genius: Cleopatra had that gap, as does Madonna). He grew up in L.A. and didn't fit in—didn't like church, didn't feel especially black, didn't feel especially white, kept getting called names—so he split for Amsterdam, where he smoked grass and had complicated poly-racial love affairs that blew his mind. Then he went to Berlin to hang out with techno-anarchist freaks and had his mind blown in a different direction. Then he came back to the U.S. and made a hit concert/musical (Passing Strange) about the experience. Now he's doing what he had been doing throughout: touring with a band and his fantastically intelligent post-racial blues-rock-pop. You want a taste of Stew's brains? (Because you do.) Google his TED Talks performance "Black Men Ski." Woop! There it is. BRENDAN KILEY

Ozomatli

(Showbox Sodo) For 14 years, the L.A.-based, Grammy Award–winning Ozomatli has been stirring up dancehall, Latino hiphop, and politically charged funk-rock with brass. Obama is a fan and has been known to "funk out" at their shows. The admiration is reciprocated, as Ozomatli played Obama rallies for the 2008 election. Obama's moves are more popping than dancing, but he feels the Ozo just the same. Presidential popping is a staid form of waist-up break moves, quick elbow freezes, and self–cheek slaps that say, "I may be the most powerful man on the planet, but I can still motherfucking get down—and if you're not careful, I'll robot on your ass after I read this speech off the teleprompter." This year, Ozomatli released their fifth studio album, called Fire Away. In the Ozomatli merchandise booth, you will find Fire Away Zippo classic refillable metal lighters. Obama probably picked up a couple. TRENT MOORMAN

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Song Sparrow Research, Ships, UniLingual

(Healthy Times Fun Club) Three years ago, when Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground first burst onto Seattle's music scene in a flurry of flowers and paisley and psychedelic pop jams, I was more annoyed than impressed. So much whimsy! So many chimes, horns, and hand claps! Choruses that sounded like the Polyphonic Spree! I'm happy to report, though, that after seeing them live a few times, they've ultimately won me over. Their chilled-out, happy vibe seems genuine, their songs are playful and memorable, and their live shows leave you feeling light and warm. Kay Kay are like sonic antidepressants—there are some side effects at first, but once they kick in, the pleasure they bring is undeniable. With an inevitably long winter looming over our heads, who couldn't use a good dose of that? MEGAN SELING

Saturday 11/6

Tim Kasher, Darren Hanlon, Themes

(Tractor) See preview.

Marnie Stern, Witch Gardens

(Vera) Rumor has it Marnie Stern got signed to Kill Rock Stars by sending in a demo with a cover letter that stated, matter-of-factly, "I'm a female DIY shredder." The shoe fits—Stern's lightning-paced, off-time, finger-tapping riffs and 33-rpm-record-played-at-45 vocals make her an immediate force to be reckoned with. Like the work of her occasional collaborators in Hella and Tera Melos, Stern runs off of a frantic ADD punk energy but has gradually shifted focus from idiosyncratic technical wizardry to more conventional rock structures. Her latest self-titled album is downright catchy, perhaps a little less dazzling for the guitar geeks but certainly more appealing to fans of scuzz-pop acts like Wavves and No Age. Regardless, her live shredding will still leave you dizzy. BRIAN COOK

Girl Trouble, the Moonspinners

(Lo-Fi) Girl Trouble. Goddamn! I can't believe the Tacoma garage-rock KINGS (and Queen) are STILL at it. Twenty-six years, baby! Twenty-six years since a boy named Kahuna took a guitar he built in his high school shop class, his sister Bon Von Wheelie and her lil' Sears drum kit, his school buddy Dale and his fake Fender, and one tall skinny kid named K.P. Kendall, who could really sing, to the Ft. Steilacoom Community College Battle of Bands. According to my friend Joe Newton, former drummer for Gas Huffer, "no other band, Northwest or not, has survived so long while maintaining such a strict code of idealism and fun." He also tells me the Cramps-sounding local legends still have an infinite and inexhaustible power to make you dance. "K.P. dances onstage like he's partnered with an invisible Ann Margaret... right out of Viva Las Vegas. Madcap, hilarious, and fun." I like the sound of that. KELLY O

Sunday 11/7

Mayer Hawthorne & the County

(Neumos) Like Raphael Saadiq (but Caucasian), Mayer Hawthorne makes an utterly convincing case for the legitimacy and primacy of devout soul revivalism—while wearing ties, to boot. When you can sing like these guys—all buttery croon and beautiful yearning—why not rekindle those Motown and Stax flames? Hawthorne's the Ann Arbor, Michigan, singer/songwriter who won over the discerning ears of Stones Throw Records' Peanut Butter Wolf, and the strange arrangement has proved fruitful for both parties. Whether singing in brokenhearted or love-swoon mode, Hawthorne hits all the right notes with grace. One hesitates to use such a moldy adjective, but there's no denying that Mayer Hawthorne's music oozes class. DAVE SEGAL

Glasser, Beat Connection

(Crocodile) Glasser's Ring is one of the finest debut albums of 2010. The solo artist's voice is both classically "pretty" in that unattainably distant white-woman way and also prone to quirky, Björk-like tangents and swoops. With production help from Ariel Rechtshaid, Glasser (aka Cameron Mesirow) buttresses Ring's elegant, soaring melodies and intricate vocal arrangements with exotic timbres that tilt the music away from Euro-American parameters and chunky, resonant beats that sometimes appear to be slammed on redwoods. In gross terms, Ring is tribal gothtronica but shorn of the clichés that description might imply. Think of Glasser as a Zola Jesus for people who like to smile once in a while. DAVE SEGAL

Monday 11/8

Masaki Batoh, Tiny Light, Jabon

(Comet) Has it really been three years since the Japanese experimental rockers Ghost released an album? Time flies when you're getting stoned, I guess. While we've been camping out around the bong, founding Ghost member Masaki Batoh has recorded an album with Espers cellist Helena Espvall (who joined Ghost on their 2009 U.S. tour). Tonight, Batoh is captaining a solo mission that will navigate high-flying listeners through a stretched-out tapestry of hypnotic, transcendental guitar pieces and turbulent percussive fragments. Opening the show are Seattle's own metaphysical occultists Tiny Light and the mysterious experimentalist Jabon, who will be joining Batoh on the West Coast leg of his tour. Immerse yourself in a sonic vortex that'll run laps around your brain for hours on end. TRAVIS RITTER

Neutralboy, Shoot the Hostage, Omega Moo

(Chop Suey) You know, if something's not broke, why even THINK about fixing it? Neutralboy is a classic Northwest band that started in ye olden times of nineteen hundred and ninety-two. Three-chord shit-punk magic. Eighteen-plus years playing the same three-chord bangers—the same shit-punk songs from records with shit-punk titles like Everybody Dies, Best Sex Ever, and the newest, From Normal to Weirdo in Minutes. They play fast and they play hard. They call people "fuckers." They once had a band T-shirt that simply said, "DICK TO CRY ON." At this point, they're not gonna change or make any compromises. And, truth is, they don't need to. KELLY O

Tuesday 11/9

Matthew Dear

(Nectar) See Data Breaker.

Trans Am, Nice Nice, Jonas Reinhardt, Sleepy Eyes of Death

(Chop Suey) Incredible bill here. Trans Am used to trigger debates about whether they were serious or a joke... because sounding like a witty collision between Kraftwerk and ZZ Top just wasn't acceptable in the mid-'90s, when TA started to blow up. Even if they do play with one eye perpetually winking, Trans Am continue to make gripping music some 20 years into their career. Their latest batch of electronic rock, Thing, exhibits surprising menace, daring, and power for a band that should, logically, be in decline. Portland's Nice Nice proved at their last Seattle show and with their Extra Wow album that they're stylistically diverse sorcerers of high-energy kosmische sound, evoking such extreme excitement-bringers as Battles, Lightning Bolt, and Boredoms. S.F. quartet Jonas Reinhardt—featuring Trans Am's Phil Manley—plunge headlong into the florid Tangerine Dream–y glories of synth-oriented prog-rock. Their valiant keyboard flourishes and metronomic rhythms should come equipped with wind machines. Locals Sleepy Eyes of Death also know how to make abstract-expressionist keyboards and guitars swell to bombastic yet not hollow hallelujahs. DAVE SEGAL

Small Black, Young Prisms, Class Actress

(Vera) Small Black's self-titled debut EP is a dizzying, foggy mess of effortlessly catchy songwriting (see especially "Kings of Animals"). The internet tells me this is what the kids are calling chillwave. Our resident chillwave expert, Jason Baxter, has seen them live and reported: "Perhaps the most surprising element of Small Black's set was how forceful it was. They played loudly and enthusiastically, and were, unquestionably, a band. No shit, I know, but three of the other four "true chillwave" bands out there are solo acts..." Small Black's subsequent album, New Chain, doesn't come close to the addictiveness of that EP, but it's still a fine listen stoned and alone on a cold fall night. GRANT BRISSEY

Fitz and the Tantrums

(Crocodile) Los Angeles–based Fitz and the Tantrums sprang to mild notoriety a year or so ago based largely on the quality of their lead-off single "Don't Gotta Work It Out," which is a damn fine revival of the soul-pop from which it descended. It's their best work, but almost anything from their catalog will get my lazy ass moving. Michael Fitzpatrick, aka the founder/singer/songwriter with the weird hair, has a decent voice and range, but the real treat here is co-vocalist Noelle Scaggs, whose onstage charisma and charm may be worth the price of admission alone. Be sure to get there early to hear Mike Nipper on the phonograph machines. He is a secretary who writes for some music blog or something, and his knowledge of the music that influenced this band is peachy. GRANT BRISSEY

Support The Stranger

Wednesday 11/10

Junip, Sharon Van Etten

(Neumos) See Suggests.

Snowman Plan, Goat, Operation ID, Wah Wah Exit Wound

(Comet) See preview.

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