Ellen Allien, Sascha Funke, Jacob London
(Chop Suey) See Bug in the Bassbin, page 51.
Colin Meloy, Laura Gibson
(Showbox at the Market) See Album Reviews, page 45.
Vampire Hands, PWRFL Power
(Vera Project) See Stranger Suggests, page 21.
Wanda Jackson, Marshall Scott Warner, the Kid in Black with the Roy Kay Trio
(Tractor) Wanda Jackson is known as the first lady of rock 'n' roll and the queen of rockabilly—a couple of pretty impressive titles. She started out playing country and gospel in the '50s, singing with Hank Thompson's band. She then befriended and dated Elvis, who encouraged her to drop the country and embrace the rock, which she did, wonderfully (no thanks to the male-dominated rock scene that pushed her aside). She makes her sweet voice growl and crack and pop on swinging songs like "Fujiyama Mama" and "Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad." Today, at age 70, she hasn't lost a bit of her edge; she's still as feisty and bawdy as ever, and she still knows how to rock and put on a hell of a good show. KIM HAYDEN
(Comet) If you're holding out for a TAD reunion (maybe to be announced as part of Sub Pop's 20th anniversary party?), stop. When I interviewed frontman Tad Doyle back in February, he shot down any chance of his old, drunk, loud-as-fuck band re-forming. "My heart's just not into that anymore," he said. "I've put that period of my life behind me." These days he's focusing on his new band, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. They have only a few songs posted on MySpace, but by all accounts, Brothers are as heavy and commanding as you'd expect, with Doyle finding new inspiration in dark metal and experimental noise. Approach it just as you would a TAD show—with extra earplugs and ready to headbang. MEGAN SELING
(Lo_Fi Performance Gallery) See preview, page 39, and Stranger Suggests, page 21.
(King Cobra) Brent Amaker and the boys are just back from their second European tour. They played full-security Antwerp prisons, fiddled with bidets, and found purple dildos under their pillow. The Rodeo, always in rodeo attire, are converting the world to their Western twang rock. Amaker says, "Europeans love cowboys, cowboy hats, and the Wild West. They also love rock and roll. We satisfy all those needs for them. There's always someone in the back yelling, 'Fuck You America,' though." The jangle of Shane Tutmarc's Traveling Mercies is a bit darker, with a gospel and preaching vibe to the songs. "Across the River" shows Shane getting dreamy and seasoned with patterns of warm acoustic guitar being picked behind his striking and resonant lyrical call. He's a singer, through and through. TRENT MOORMAN
(Old Fire House) The traditional high-school prom—bad DJs, wilting corsages, tacky photo backdrops, dresses uglier than the sequined shit beauty queens wear—sucks. Thankfully, kids have started taking matters into their own hands and putting on alternatives actually worth going to. There are many versions in many cities across the country, and Seattle's not without: The Old Fire House's annual Punk Rock Prom has been a spring mainstay for years. And 2008's PRP keeps up with the grand (new) tradition, with music by the feel-good, dance-enhancing Little Party and the Bad Business, Joey Casio, and Deer City. There will be cupcakes, punch, fortune-tellers, a photo booth, and if you get gussied up (flaunting whatever prom flare you like, of course, not just the mall's definition), you get a buck off the $6 admission. Way cooler than hanging out in a crepe-papered gymnasium. MEGAN SELING
DeVotchKa, Basia Bulat
(Showbox Sodo) Think of DeVotchKa as the musical equivalent of Esperanto—a vibrant form of communication that cuts across linguistic and national borders, albeit one that actually works. Or think of them as the band at the end of a Balkan-American-Mexican wedding, drunk on red wine and romance, and whole-heartedly serenading what's left of a similarly intoxicated multigenerational, multicultural crowd who's joining in the late-night sing-along. Or, better yet, don't think, just get swept up in the band's beguiling and bewitching brand of gypsy-tinged brilliance. It's ecstatic and almost heartbreakingly beautiful. BARBARA MITCHELL
Arthur & Yu, the Shaky Hands,
(Vera Project) The brand-new, buzz-laden (and buzz-worthy) Portland band Tu Fawning were founded with what seems to be great vision and enthusiasm by Rose City musical veterans Joe Haege (most notably of Grand Guignol prog band 31 Knots) and Corrina Repp (the Hush Records singer-songwriter). Both Haege and Repp have put their well-respected other ventures temporarily aside to invest themselves in the pursuit of the direly romantic Tu Fawning. Based upon the bare-bones showings of their initial demos, Tu Fawning's songs sound generally like a more spare, if no less vibe-fogged Portishead, with Repp's theatrically inflected coo standing atop antique-feeling, moribund constructions. Undoubtedly, however, their forthcoming performances and recordings as a fully fledged quartet will greatly recast and illuminate the still-unfolding, dusky character of Tu Fawning. SAM MICKENS
(Comet) See preview, page 41.
Mac Lethal, Grieves, Type, Approach, DJ Sku
(Chop Suey) See My Philosophy, page 49.
Vetiver, Kelley Stoltz, H Is for Hellgate
(High Dive) There's a peaceful easy feeling that pervades the music of both Vetiver and Kelley Stoltz. The former are the neighbors of freak-folk: a breezy, laid-back collective who borrow the back-porch aesthetic without sacrificing tunefulness or melody. The latter is Sub Pop's criminally overlooked pop troubadour. You're unlikely to find a record as buoyantly sunny as Stoltz's recently released Circular Sounds. It's got a golden '70s AM-radio glow that radiates simpler, more innocent times—a carefree, slacker vibe that saturates some finely written pop nuggets. If you're looking for an evening of warm, unfussy music, this double bill hits a grand slam. BARBARA MITCHELL
VHS or Beta, Tigercity, TacocaT, DJ Julia
(Nectar) I hate asparagus—except I don't. I only ever remember that I love asparagus when it's plated in front of me unexpectedly and I'm forced to try it. Then I can't get enough, despite the well-known pee-smell side effects. VHS or Beta are the asparagus of the music world for me. Until I hear their aggressively poppy, dance-on-the-moon jams, I all but forget what they even sound like. Then songs like the hook-ridden "Burn It All Down" and the über-catchy "She Says" come up on my iTunes or a record store's PA and I fall for them all over again. Their catalog, including latest album Bring on the Comets, isn't strong enough to remind me it's good when it's gone, but when it comes around, it's magic. Speaking of urinary tracts, TacocaT are opening. MEGAN SELING
Elbow, Air Traffic
(Showbox at the Market) Generally speaking, when words like "majestic" and "magnificent" are used to describe a band, it means they're pretentious and bloated. Add "prog" to the mix, and you'd be excused for running to the door—or the toilet. Somehow, Elbow manage to be all of that and still make music that's warm, seductive, and real. Their brand-new album, The Seldom Seen Kid, is a knockout: the kind of record that holds you in its hypnotic, cinematic sway from start to finish. And speaking of seldom seen, it's rare for Manchester's Elbow to make a stateside appearance, so don't miss the opportunity to fall under their grand and gorgeous spell. BARBARA MITCHELL
Northern State, the Trucks, Team Gina
(Chop Suey) Can we all agree that, in the age of Ego Trip/VH1's Miss Rap Supreme and Queen Latifah's Cover Girl commercials and M.I.A., we are no longer shocked (shocked!) by the idea of female rappers? Good. So, sans any antiquated shock value, are Team Gina and Northern State worth messing with? (Excuse the Trucks from the rap discussion.) Scream Club scions Team Gina get an A for punch lines but maybe a B- or a C+ for delivery (not a terrible GPA, but not great). The duo's rhymes are clever enough, but their cadences stay invariably locked to the beat, old-school '80s hiphop–style, rather than maneuvering more complexly around their rhythms. Northern State's latest album, Can I Keep This Pen?, released last year on Ipecac, deservedly garnered similar criticism. Hiphop has evolved; this shtick is retrograde. ERIC GRANDY
Dream Theater, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Three
(WaMu Theater) I recently had a conversation with the director of a rock-band summer camp. The program brings teenagers with varying degrees of musical ability together and, with the guidance of musician counselors, helps them form bands. He spoke very highly of the experience, though the conversation took a sharp turn when he asked if I was familiar with Dream Theater. I admitted a vague familiarity. "I fucking hate Dream Theater," he continued. "Our biggest problem kids are the ones who think they're better musicians than everyone else, and they always cite Dream Theater as one of their favorite bands." The Stranger's music staff frequently deals with accusations of musical snobbery, but I submit that those who have this show marked on their calendars are the true elitists. BRIAN COOK
Yo Majesty; Does It Offend You, Yeah?; Champagne Champagne;
(Neumo's) Okay, so points deducted for excessive punctuation and evoking Austin Powers, but Does It Offend You, Yeah? for the most part, don't. (And they claim the name is David Brent from BBC's The Office, anyway.) "We Are Rockstars" is a convincing declaration, switching abruptly but satisfyingly from cowbell and synth gnarl to an insanely hooky vocodered chorus. Elsewhere on debut album You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into, the band flirt with pretty vapid runway rock ("Dawn of the Dead"), Daft Punked electro vamps ("Weird Science"), and Rapturous punk-funk howl ("Let's Make Out"). Nothing impresses anywhere near as much as that chorus on "We Are Rockstars" (you are humming it right now), but I bet it all looks pretty good on the dance floor. ERIC GRANDY
(Showbox at the Market) Funplex is the first record the B-52s have released in 16 years, and songs like the title track, "Dancing Now," "Keep This Party Going," and "Love in the Year 3000" prove that the band haven't lost their knack for a good party. The whole album is about dancing, shaking, shimmying, and turning on everyone and everything around you. But the songs aren't as memorable as the band's goofier early work, when they took bigger chances, writing songs about rock lobsters and tin-roofed love shacks. The biggest chance they take with Funplex is releasing it at all after a decade and a half of silence (save for the Flintstones movie). Still, there are some lyrical gems buried in their reliable but safe party anthems. My current favorite: "Tell your skirt to take a hike!" demanded by Fred Schneider in his trademark campy drawl. MEGAN SELING
Prize Country, Sirhan Sirhan,
(Funhouse) Nostalgia isn't a healthy habit, but neither is turning one's back on the past. The '90s certainly had its share of cultural embarrassments, but a certain brand of underground guitar rock from that decade remains pretty crucial. One only needs to look at the Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go rosters from that decade for affirmation of the lasting relevance of that era's trademark ugly guitar noise. Prize Country apparently share that sentiment. They manage to channel the same driving gutter sounds that made bands like the Jesus Lizard, Hammerhead, and Drive Like Jehu institutions, while tourmates Sirhan Sirhan tread a similar line but opt for a campier brand of nihilism. BRIAN COOK
There is no happy here.