Thursday 4/8

The Ruby Suns, Toro Y Moi, U.S.F.

(Chop Suey) See preview.

S

(Sonic Boom, Capitol Hill) While we're all weeping with excitement for the recently announced (but as yet unscheduled) Carissa's Wierd reunion, let's not neglect the ongoing solo endeavors of that band's sunken-hearted siren, Jenn Ghetto. Her recordings under the S moniker have remained truer to that band's bleak, beautiful spirit—if not its orchestral ambitions—than anything the other members have yet gone on to produce. On her latest album, I'm Not as Good at It as You (out today on Own Records), Ghetto whisper-sings starkly revealing lyrics about lost loves, hard drugs, and other equally heavy burdens over little more than nervous but graceful electric-/acoustic-guitar picking. It is the kind of album that will break your heart over and over again and then remind you, like Cap'n Jazz said, how lucky you really are to have had a few great heartbreaks. ERIC GRANDY

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Friday 4/9

Spoon, Deerhunter, Micachu & the Shapes

(Moore) To be perfectly honest, Texan veterans Spoon are the kind of band I could've just ignored forever if it wasn't my job to try not to ignore bands. There's nothing wrong with them—hell, they're very good at what they do—it's just that what they do is the kind of back-to-basics, stripped-all-the-way-down, meat-and-potatoes rock that has a hard time standing out amid the endless torrent of new releases. (The music critic's dilemma: The more we listen to, the weirder a signal it takes to cut through the noise sometimes.) "The Way We Get By" was an insistent exception, a song that pierced the popular (as well as this critic's) consciousness with undeniable swagger. New album Transference is by all accounts their barest recording yet, but it's enough to make me think I may have been missing out on something—even if it's just rock basics done just right—for too long. In stranger signals: the dreary, dreamy, Sonic Youth–ful noise of Deerhunter and the grimy, art-school snot-rock racket of Micachu & the Shapes. ERIC GRANDY

The Church

(Showbox at the Market) Australian quartet the Church have been making elegantly crafted, subtly catchy psychedelic rock and jammy prog for 30 years. You probably know them for their hit "Under the Milky Way" off 1988's Starfish, or maybe via their earliest breakthrough song, "The Unguarded Moment," or from their most exciting song ("Tantalized") from their best album (Heyday). There's nothing spectacular about the Church. They simply write fairly conventional rock songs that spangle, jangle, and shimmer with understated poise and beauty. Singer Steve Kilbey possesses a pleasingly glum, anonymous croon that brushes your ears like swaths of gray silk while guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper erect opalescent, Pink Floydian arcs of six-string majesty. Bands like the Church don't flame out; they age gracefully and slowly dissolve. And that's lovely. DAVE SEGAL

Jonsi, Death Vessel

(Showbox Sodo) As the lead singer of Sigur Rós, Jon Thor Birgisson mewls epics in a made-up elfin language (called, with impossible preciousness, Hopelandic) over glacially moving orchestral passages and rock rendered as ambient whale song. For his solo project Jonsi, Birgisson often ups the tempos and even tasks his tongue with singing in English, and the results are surprising and immensely satisfying, whatever your attachment to his main gig. "Animal Arithmetic" is a thrilling charge, percussion thundering like a stampeding herd, Birgisson running down a litany of vivid sensations, concluding, "We should all be (oh!) alive!" Elsewhere, his debut album, Go, approaches the grander sweep and slower pace of Sigur Rós, but it's fair to say this is his "pop" record, and it's an absolutely outstanding one. ERIC GRANDY

Little Dragon, VV Brown

(Nectar) Late pass me, but I didn't really pay much mind to Little Dragon until lead singer Yukimi Nagano's voice hit me on the excellent new Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach, where it provides a crystalline, insect-small, and ultimately hopeful counterpoint to the album's engrossing world of sad synthetic flotsam and junky (not junkie) jams. She's hardly the only bright spot there, but she is one of the brightest. Revisiting the Swedish band's 2009 album, Machine Dreams, finds Nagano fronting a band that ably alternates between propulsive electro rock and understated, unconventional R&B, her vocals achieving an alluring balance between icy malaise and intimate coo. It's chart-topping pop from an alternate universe, far more alien than anything inhabited by other Northern European pop outsiders like Robyn or Annie. ERIC GRANDY

Friends of Slats Present: the Clorox Girls, the Rough Kids, the Greatest Hits, the Girls, Chemicals, Broken Nobles, Pain Cocktail

(Merchants Cafe) Through an odd confluence of events and editors, I wound up touring Europe with the Clorox Girls for two months in the winter of 2007 for a story that never got written—but goddamn it was a good (and smelly and cold) time: the gruff meth-punks of Potsdam's squats; the elegant, absinthe-drinking rockers of Marseille; the totally bananas, cocaine-and-glue-huffing greasers in Spain... sweet memories. And there's no band I would've preferred to watch play every night for two months in that vast spectrum of circumstances more than the Clorox Girls. Their peppy, catchy, high-energy rock is a shot in the arm: a little bit Beach Boys, a little bit Buddy Holly, and a whole lot Ramones. You can't not dance to the Clorox Girls. (Dear God: Please, please, please let them play their cover of the 1979 French pop smash "Banana Split.") Also in that stinky little van in 2007: Holy Ghost Revival, the forerunner of the mellower, folkier Broken Nobles (both fronted by little brother Conor Kiley), who'll play tonight's varied lineup as well. The whole party is presented by the friends of the late, great Chris "Slats" Harvey as a benefit for his family. BRENDAN KILEY

Captured! by Robots, BloodHag, Stovokor

(Funhouse) Remember back in the late '80s when Chuck E. Cheese's had that terrifying animatronic band—those robots in stuffed-animal clothing—that would "sing" the happy birthday song for little kids? Ooh, and/or the competing animatronic band over at Showbiz Pizza, "The Rock-afire Explosion"? Captured! by Robots is essentially the same idea, only with the terrifying factor turned up 666 percent. C!BR is a robot band made up of two stuffed monkeys on cymbals, a severed doll's head on drums, a googly-eyed robot on bass, three bloodied headless "hornsmen" on brass, and one actual human (covered in chains and his own intestines) on vocals. Part performance art, part experimental metal concert, C!BR is truly a sight to behold... and the stuff of nightmares. KELLY O

Saturday 4/10

Jonsi, Death Vessel

(Showbox Sodo) See Friday.

Thomas Fehlmann, Shen, Lusine

(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.

Dillinger Escape Plan, Darkest Hour, Animals as Leaders, 7 Horns 7 Eyes

(El Corazón) New Jersey math-metalers Dillinger Escape Plan have hit a fair share of speed bumps in their 14-year ADD-fueled music career. Constant injuries and changes of labels and lineups can break down even the most tight-knit band, but not Dillinger. Instead, on both 2007's Ire Works and their recently released Option Paralysis on Season of Mist (a label best known for releasing black metal), the band has only grown tighter, injecting Trent Reznor–like harmonies and huge, soaring choruses into their already well-crafted Converge-meets-Mr.-Bungle audio assault. Onstage, Dillinger add to the wreckage with intricate light shows, and they even occasionally blow fire over the crowd. Go ahead, enjoy the show—just don't wear anything too flammable. KEVIN DIERS

Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO, Ludacris

(Tacoma Dome) Watching music nerds freak out over the species-incriminating awfulness of the Black Eyed Peas reminds me of nothing so much as watching Yes fans getting their prog-rock panties in a bunch over the species-incriminating awfulness of the Ramones, another act blessed with a preternaturally deep understanding of what makes a pop song worth falling in love with. Like the Ramones, the Black Eyed Peas aren't afraid to look stupid, and like the Ramones, the BEPs are idiot savants in their ability to clobbers listeners' pleasure centers in a way that's almost pornographic. As for the villainous Will.i.am: He's as rapacious a recycler as the music-nerd-approved Girl Talk, only canny enough to secure songwriting royalties for himself. Which is some kind of genius. (Opening the show: Ludacris, whose filthy and ridiculous "How Low" remains one of the highlights of the KUBE 93 universe.) DAVID SCHMADER

Sunday 4/11

Freeway & Jake One, Fatal Lucciauno, J.Pinder, Logics

(Crocodile) See My Philosophy.

RJD2, Bus Driver, Happy Chichester

(Neumos) The four most influential underground hiphop labels of the '00s are, of course, Rhymesayers (Minneapolis), Stones Throw Records (Los Angeles), Quannum Projects (Bay Area), and Def Jux (New York). Let's focus on Def Jux. Its peak period was between 2000 and 2005, and in that peak period, we find two albums by the producer RJD2. One of the albums, Deadringer, is a masterpiece of '00s hiphop; the other, Since We Last Spoke, is an interesting failure. After his moment with Def Jux, RJD2 released a very weak album, The Third Hand, with XL Recordings (like so many hiphop artists of the previous decade, RJD2 thought the solution to hiphop's creative inertia or slump was to turn to rock and live instruments). However, RJD2's latest work, The Colossus, which he released on his own label (RJ's Electrical Connections), is without a doubt his best solo album since Deadringer. The beats and performances (by rappers and singers) are consistently strong. The Colossus is RJD2's return to the production of good hiphop music. Let's celebrate this return. CHARLES MUDEDE

Akron/Family, Baby Gramps

(Vera) A few facts about Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock: He was born in Knoxville in 1882, ran away from home to join a circus, worked as a mule skinner in the Philippines, wrote as a foreign correspondent covering the Boxer Rebellion in China, and then returned to America to write "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" and take to the road as an IWW minstrel. Imagine Seattle's sweet, eccentric Baby Gramps as McClintock's weirder, slightly more decadent, long-lost cousin. His beard is gray and long, his voice is growly and gravelly, and his syncopated guitar picking is bluesy and folksy and circusy all at the same time. God bless the old local legend: He's like nobody else and nobody else is like him. Headlining band Akron/Family are a three-piece from New York and Pennsylvania whose members play lots of instruments. They live in the center of a Venn diagram with three sets: freaky folk, (light) psychedelic rock, and improvisational art-rock. As you can probably guess, they're not afraid of a little glockenspiel. BRENDAN KILEY

Monday 4/12

The xx, jj, Nosaj Thing

(Showbox Sodo) See Stranger Suggests.

Beach House, Bachelorette

(Neumos) Depending on your perspective, the third Beach House album, Teen Dream, is either an assured, poppy expansion of the Baltimore duo's sound or another muted exercise in heavy-lidded tedium (I lean toward the former). Regardless, their popularity has reached a new high point, and recent live sets have answered this rise in esteem with practiced and confident musicianship. It's a relief that all the Sub Pop–funded window dressing (backing musicians, borderline preposterous stage decor involving feathers) manages to complement more than it distracts. Beach House's music continues to negotiate an awkward compromise between sleepiness and wakefulness, but it's a solid bet that the crowd at Neumos will be wide-eyed and watchful. JASON BAXTER

Tuesday 4/13

King Khan & the Shrines, the Fresh & Onlys, Unnatural Helpers

(Neumos) See Stranger Suggests.

The Soft Pack, Male Bonding

(Chop Suey) If you go to this show—and any self-respecting fan of bands like Mika Miko, Vivian Girls, No Age, Strange Boys, and Dum Dum Girls really should—be sure to look for Male Bonding's "tour CD-R" on the merch table. It's only available at shows, and it features the UK noise-poppers covering songs by Flipper, Mission of Burma, Blur, and GG Allin. Male Bonding are a pretty newish band, and this is the kind of rare stuff that you really need to start collecting now before it goes all Action Comics No. 1 on your ass. Plus, the CD-R will hopefully tide you over until the band's debut full-length, Nothing Hurts, is released on Sub Pop next month—fans of the aforementioned bands should prepare to fall in love with the album and enjoy an exciting new bromance. KELLY O

Delorean, We Are Wolves

(Vera) There's an adult innocence to this Spanish and French bill, as if these bands can't help but be worldly and elegant, but wouldn't mind being a little less so. Delorean are four guys from the Basque region laying sweet (but never dopey) indie-pop melodies alongside insistent but slender dance beats. There's a wistfulness to the whole project: In their latest video, washed-out beach scenes that look bleached with time crash over each other in layered waves, and a bottlenose dolphin cavorts, and it all happens under the faraway, electronic loop of a woman's voice singing. The Europeans and the French Canadians: so chic. We Are Wolves (a gaggle of Quebecois) are rockier than Delorean but arty, with a little bit of the Talking Heads plugged-in pluck in there somewhere. JEN GRAVES

Chick Corea and Gary Burton

(Jazz Alley) The flamboyant fleetness and incredible tonal intricacy of keyboardist/fusion deity Chick Corea (Miles Davis alum, Return to Forever leader) merged with the fluid, crystalline precision of four-mallet-wielding vibraphonist Gary Burton promises a potentially exhausting night of instrumental virtuosity—or maybe a soothing, meditative chill-out session—or possibly both. The two jazz icons cut Crystal Silence for ECM in 1972 and have sporadically hooked up for studio and live recordings since, including 2008's The New Crystal Silence. These musicians—whose collaborators could fill a couple of wings in the Jazz Hall of Fame—excel at pointillistic coloration and an intimate melodic grandeur. Their two-night stand at Jazz Alley is going to be trés classy and glassy. DAVE SEGAL

The Growlers, the Nightbeats, Empty City

(High Dive) Costa Mesa, California's the Growlers were one of the few rock bands that made my brief stint in Orange County bearable. They started out playing a rough-hewn, good-time brand of rock that neatly combined drunken bonhomie and grim hangover within its confines, like a West Coast Man Man. Their new, more refined album, Are You In or Out, sounds like they should be opening for Cave Singers or Moondoggies on their next cross-country jaunts. Seattle's the Nightbeats are two young transplanted Texans who wrangle lean, raw rock that either bluesifies psychedelia or pyschedelicizes the blues. Whatever the case, you will be filled with fierce energy by their careening, blearing songs that eschew bullshit as they stir shit up. DAVE SEGAL

Wednesday 4/14

Chick Corea and Gary Burton

(Jazz Alley) See Tuesday.

Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jogger, AM

(Crocodile) Here is a fact: Serge Gainsbourg was the coolest motherfucker on the planet. And while cool motherfuckers do not always pass their coolness on when they fuck the mothers of their children (Frank Sinatra Jr. is the patron saint of these walking cool-bortions), when Serge Gainsbourg fucked Charlotte Gainsbourg's mother, he must've done something right. She's got the feminine version of her dad's voice—disaffected enough to make you feel slightly blown-off, but sexy enough to keep you interested. But just mimicking someone else's sound isn't enough, and that's why her new Beck-produced album, IRM, is such a monumental step for her. Her voice dives into ripped-up loops of sonic collage, and she emerges as something new: a 21st-century siren who stacks up with the coolest motherfuckers on the planet. PAUL CONSTANT

Love Is All, Princeton

(High Dive) Post-punk is supposed to be scrappy and scraped together on a shoestring, indie-pop shambolic and endearingly sloppy—but Love Is All approach these genres with the kind of sweet precision we've come to expect from Swedish musical exports, from ABBA on through Peter Bjorn & John. Which is not to say Love Is All are all polish and professional cool, though. On their latest, Two Thousand and Ten Injuries, the quintet allow themselves ample room to screw around within their grooving, ingratiating new-wave-inspired songs—a little drumstick-clicking breakdown here, a woozy saxophone blurt there, and always frontwoman Josephine Olausson's charming, Sugarcubes-sweet singing voice, alternately purring and stage-shouting over a bed of sharp, spiky guitar lines. They also make some successful forays into more classical sounds here, from the soft-edged '60s pop harmonies of "Kungen" to the interpolation of Pachelbel's Canon on album closer "Take Your Time." For such pros, they're still an adorably animated racket live. ERIC GRANDY