Thursday 1/13

Shrouded in Veils, He Whose Ox Is Gored, Smooth Sailing, Hello Charger

(El Corazón) Shrouded in Veils occupy a similar territory to groups like Mogwai or Maserati, but they have an informed approach that suggests they've merely tread a similar path as their crescendo-loving, distortion-and-delay peers, arriving at a similar musical conclusion without necessarily monitoring the progress or borrowing the ideas of their more prominent contemporaries along the way. There's a definite assertiveness and instrumental interplay that recalls Turing Machine, a grit and gnash that conjures the scuzz-math rock of Louisville's Rodan, and a driving pulse and cool precision reminiscent of Trans Am's "Afternight," but in the end, Shrouded in Veils still wind up sounding like their own unique concoction. BRIAN COOK See also preview.

Dashboard Confessional, Chris Conley, Lady Danville

(Neumos) It's been 10 years since Dashboard Confessional released Swiss Army Romance, a record that was basically the diary of every heartbroken kid in America. At the time, you either loved or hated Dashboard Confessional for the heart he unapologetically wore on his sleeve with lyrics like "Your hair, it's everywhere/Screaming infidelities and taking its wear." So if you drank the Kool-Aid and you care enough to attend the show, tonight will be either a satisfying dip into a pool of comfortable nostalgia or an unbearable evening of embarrassment that forces you to reflect on all the unrequited crushes, relationships, and records that you wasted your time on, forcing you to ask, "What the fuck was I thinking?" MEGAN SELING

Friday 1/14

Mikael Stavöstrand, Ctrl_Alt_Dlt, Albert

(Re-bar) See Data Breaker.

Sonic Youth Tribute Night

(Rendezvous) For 30 years, Sonic Youth have remained one of the greatest bands on earth, constantly morphing through retroactively identifiable stylistic phases while never sounding like anyone but themselves. Tonight, a rotating cast of SY appreciators takes the stage at the Rendezvous to attack the Sonic Youth songbook in all its feedback-and-cross-tuned glory. Among the performers at tonight's free show: Kinski, Rain Kings, the Skip Tracers, and Moronic Yoof (featuring members of Unnatural Helpers, Thee Sgt. Major, and the Dutchess & the Duke). DAVID SCHMADER

Dragging an Ox Through Water, U, Witch Gardens

(Cairo) Portland's Dragging an Ox Through Water throw some strange deviations into the oft-staid, reverential maneuvers of the flannel-bearded folk rock neotroubadour movement. On The Tropics of Phenomenon, group leader Brian Mumford comes off like a cross between Arthur Russell and Will Oldham. He veins his rickety, frayed folkish tunes with eccentric electronic currents, creating interesting incongruities in what could be overly familiar song structures. In this way, Dragging an Ox Through Water's music resembles Califone's subtle rupturing of folk rock's woodsy accessibility. Mumford understands that this kind of music needs textural edginess and dynamic surprises to avoid snoozy redundancy. DAVE SEGAL

The Head and the Heart, Lemolo, Curtains for You

(Neumos) Due to a shared hometown and historical overlap, the Head and the Heart are habitually lumped in with Fleet Foxes and Grand Archives. Like Fleet Foxes, the Head and the Heart are startlingly assured in their retro style; like Grand Archives, they have an abiding love of CSNY. Unlike either, the Head and the Heart juice their alt-Americana with Brit-pop melody, Tin Pan Alley hooks, and surprisingly twisty song structures. In advance of a European tour, the H&H commune with their adoring Seattle audience at Neumos, with openers Lemolo and Curtains for You. DAVID SCHMADER

Touch Me, Satan

(Black Lodge) Last month, a great video of Kathleen Hanna popped up on YouTube. She recently did a spoken-word-singing-performance bit for a club night in NYC called Our Hit Parade in which she told stories and sang parts of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl." Her baby-voice wailing on "Rebel Girl" hit me like a ton of bricks. I'd forgotten how much I loved that goddamn song. Where have all the NW rebel girls gone? At that moment, I decided I would find them. Surely there are still girls who love Kathleen more than Ke$ha—girls who know who Toody Cole is—girls who secretly listen to old Hole records when no one else is around. Now, I'm not saying that the new girl-fronted four-piece Touch Me, Satan are some kitschy riot-grrrl rip-off—I've never even seen them play—but after hearing their song "Trashy" online, I have high hopes. We need new rebel girls—some new queens in this neighborhood. KELLY O

Elk and Boar, Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts, Drew Victor

(Columbia City Theater) Elk and Boar are a newish Tacoma band (they were formerly known as Kristen and Travis, which makes them sound like a 1970s variety show) that is shaping up to get some huge attention in 2011. The key word here is "harmonies." He (Travis? Boar?) has a nice, somewhat gravelly voice, like Bonnie Prince Billy without the air quotes. She (Kristen? Elk?) sounds delicate yet sturdy, like a less vampy Dolly Parton. Their voices wrap together like velvet and burnished wood, and they sprinkle spare strings around everything. Quality songwriters, Elk and Boar are up-and-comers precisely because they sound like they've been doing this for decades. PAUL CONSTANT

Saturday 1/15

Kevin Saunderson, Michael Manahan vs. Nordic Soul

(Re-bar) See Data Breaker.

Charles Leo Gebhardt IV, Orca Team, Case Studies

(Cairo) See Stranger Suggests.

Crutches, JFK aka Ninjaface, XPerience

(El Corazón) Last year, JFK (a Philippines-born local rapper with a long and productive career) dropped his debut solo album, Building Wings on the Way Down. The work contained five excellent tracks, one of which,"High School Sweetheart" (produced by Jake One), instantly became a local classic. It's now impossible for me to separate 2010 from the boom, swing, and crack of that summery track. Those dark, twisted worlds JFK rapped about on albums by the regional collective Oldominion and the nationally recognized Grayskul did not at all prepare us for the humor, Jamaican lustiness, and urban bawdiness of "High School Sweetheart." CHARLES MUDEDE

Peter Wolf Crier, Retribution Gospel Choir

(High Dive) Minnesota duo Peter Wolf Crier's melancholy, decidedly Midwestern earworm balladry sounds pretty good when it's constantly raining and the days seem to end before you've even woken up, but is listening to this stuff aiding or soothing the seasonal affective disorder? Verdict: UNKNOWN. Retribution Gospel Choir sound like frontman Alan Sparhawk's other, better-known outfit Low, only pumped full of antidepressant steroids. The stuff is hardly as inventive as Low's work and Sparhawk's vocals are rarely inspiring in this context, but maybe the guitars will be turned up loud enough to abate all that. GRANT BRISSEY

Grand Archives, Feral Children, Astronautalis

(Crocodile) Hiphop is lucky. Seattle's Astronautalis could have picked any genre to settle down in, but he chose the one with beats and rhymes. His beats straddle the fence perfectly between grim, exacting samples and organic instrumentation, and his honest and unfeigned rhymes are inscribed with his blood, sweat, and tears. Chances are most folks will be attending this show to catch Feral Children and Grand Archives. But just as likely they'll leave the show feeling as if both those groups were upstaged by the electrifying Astronautalis. From the moment his frail frame starts to shake and seizure behind the mic stand and his troubled, scratched, and strained warble of a voice emanates from the speakers, he's guaranteed to capture the attention of the room. Do yourself a favor and show up early to this show. KALEB GUBERNICK

Sunday 1/16

Expansions X Trust MLK Celebration

(Neumos) See Stranger Suggests.

We Hate the Desert, the Orchestrion, Thralls, Young Bear

(Comet) The most compelling part of indie-punk band We Hate the Desert—except their awesome name—is lead singer Lucas [last name unavailable]'s voice. At times, Lucas offers a hollowed-out wail, like he's been screaming for hours in a room before he even steps up to the mic. Other times, he rushes through verses like he's being chased by a bear, stretching coherence to the breaking point and adding a compulsive energy to the song. It's an awesome thing to see a punky singer use his voice like an instrument, experimenting with its limits and power. PAUL CONSTANT

Monday 1/17

Aurelio Martinez

(Triple Door) Honduran drummer Aurelio Martinez's Laru Beya, the second release on Sub Pop subsidiary Next Ambiance, is the end result of the terrible Middle Passage during which West Africans destined to become slaves on American soil would land on Caribbean islands and in Central America and mix it up with the locals. The cultural intermingling spawned some interesting musical hybrids, as Laru Beya demonstrates. Aurelio sets his paradoxically buoyant yet beautifully melancholic songs amid this tragic history, offering sonic sustenance and history lessons to those who sympathize with the plights of forcefully displaced individuals. With vocal help from Senegalese icon Youssou N'Dour, Balla Sibidé, and others, Aurelio creates vibrant Afro-Caribbean-Latin dance music with folkloric accents while spinning pathos-laden yarns into celebratory, deeply moving anthems. DAVE SEGAL

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Tuesday 1/18

Thirty Seconds to Mars, Middle Class Rut

(Paramount) Jordan Catalano didn't make a very good rock star. As a burnout high schooler, his band, the Frozen Embryos, never made it past practicing in ol' Tino's garage. Flash forward 15 years, and the actor who played that very stoner on 1990s melodrama My So-Called Life, Jared Leto, is doing a pretty bang-up job of it as vocalist for teen-heartthrob pop rockers Thirty Seconds to Mars. Soaring, anthemic choruses, heavy-handed use of Auto-Tune, nü-metal influences—these guys have "it all" (if by "it all" you mean everything that sucks; I'm sorry, "I felt like destroying something beautiful") but haven't quite climbed the charts high enough for household recognition. But maybe I'm not the right judge of that. For all the credit Thirty Seconds to Mars receive and every flashy T-shirt they sell in the local Hot Topic, to me, they're still just the vanity project of that dude who kept stealing his mom's TV for heroin. KEVIN DIERS

Wednesday 1/19

Crocodiles, Flexions, Dirty Beaches

(Crocodile) Let's get all the giggles out of our system first: Crocodiles at the Crocodile. Hardy-har. Finished? Swell, because apart from the excellent headliners, this gig's got some seriously talented acts in the way of dark-dub groovesters Flexions and Dirty Beaches, aka Canadian solo artist Alex Zhang Hungtai. Anticipation for Hungtai's forthcoming full-length, Badlands (which I hope pays homage to Terrence Malick's sublime 1973 film), has bloggers drooling all over their keyboards, even though it's a bit looser and less immediately satisfying than the vaguely Presley-esque glory of his "True Blue" single or the gloomier, scummy ramblings from his recent split cassette with Omon Ra II on Campaign for Infinity tapes. Hungtai's music is laudable and has a timeless quality; his alias, on the other hand, couldn't be more timely. JASON BAXTER