In the afterglow of Valentine's Day, it's time to bounce back and return to your weekly routine of listening to our critics and hitting up some great music around town. Our best shows this week include a wide range of artists, from the fifth member of thrash metal's Olympic pantheon to the funkified future of Wes Anderson's film soundtracks to a rap group too real for the radio but just real enough for Broadway. See all these shows and more on our music calendar.
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Hurry Up, Split Single
Split Single’s Jason Narducy is one of those players who’ve always hovered in the background of more prominent musicians’ scenarios: He’s worked with Bob Mould, Superchunk, Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard, and Seattle’s Telekinesis. With Split Single, Narducy is joined by Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Superchunk’s Jon Wurster, and all three savvy veterans maximize their pop smarts into songs that blossom in the places you expect them to blossom, but they still nudge the corners of your mouth upward, despite the familiarity. Tempered ebullience, sonorous guitar tones, and heartfelt white-guy vocals permeate Split Single’s Fragmented World and Metal Frames albums. You’ve heard this kind of voluble power pop hundreds of times—if you’re of a certain age, it’s almost become Muzak. But when it’s done well, as Split Single demonstrate, it still inspires goose bumps. DAVE SEGAL
Los Campesinos! with Crying
Former Stranger music editor Eric Grandy's favorite lovelorn mope-rock band Los Campesinos! are finally back in town after years of ignoring their sad sack PNW fans, and they'll be crashing their sounds against opener Crying (natch).
An Acoustic Evening with The Joy Formidable
For those who find the xx too reserved to compel full engagement, the Joy Formidable are here to fill your guitar-based art-pop hole with an impressive droney racket. DAVID SCHMADER
Clipping. with Baseck
Stranger readers may be familiar with Tony Award–winning Broadway musical Hamilton, the hiphop-plus-horn-section phenomenon that’s made a star of creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Less known, though the better MC by a margin, is Daveed Diggs, who starred alongside Miranda as Thomas Jefferson. But did you know Diggs has a band? More importantly, did you know Diggs’s band is not just great, but on the cutting edge of experimental hiphop? Said project, clipping., blurs the line between industrial and noise. Diggs will spit over feedback loops, or the sound of a hundred cell-phone alarms ringing, and then make a concept album out of it. That concept album, Splendor & Misery, by the way, is about a slave escaping his captors on a sentient spacecraft. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Earshot Jazz Presents: Ralph Towner, Anja Lechner, François Couturier
A Chehalis native, Ralph Towner started out as a child-prodigy pianist in a musical family, swapping piano out for guitar, pioneered the use of overdubs on jazz records, spent a long spell in the prominent progressive folk band Oregon, toured through Indian music and free jazz, refusing to use amplification live, and had not one but two craters of the moon named for his compositions. Anja Lechner and François Couturier play cello and piano duets, emphasizing space, precision, and some of their favorite esoteric composers, including G.I. Gurdjieff. I’ll let you look up G.I. Gurdjieff for yourself. I don’t go along with his beliefs, although he makes interesting parsing. But the music supersedes any didacticism. Whew. ANDREW HAMLIN
Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles
Rain is a "psychedelic" multimedia tribute to the musical legacy of The Beatles and the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band—a note-for-note theatrical reproduction of the album in its entirety that's as close as you can get to seeing the real thing without having to resurrect anybody.
An octet of Seattle Symphony musicians will play night music selections from the repertoires of Franz Schubert and William Bolcom.
John Scofield's 'Country for Old Men' with Vicente Archer, Larry Goldings, and Bill Stewart
Venerable jazz-rock guitarist/composer John Scofield is one of those musicians who put me at instant ease. His playing is liquid and adept but free of heavy frills, his tone is warm and comforting, and his style is laid-back while still feeling dynamic. He’s also prolific as hell; since the late 1970s, Scofield has released nearly 50 albums as band leader and head collaborator (1998’s A Go Go with Medeski Martin & Wood is a particular fave), and he’s appeared on a mess of others—including Miles Davis—as sideman. This is the second of a two-night stand in Seattle behind 2016’s Country for Old Men (which won two Grammy Awards), and he’s backed by Vicente Archer (bass), Larry Goldings (organ/piano), and Bill Stewart (drums). LEILANI POLK
Overkill, Nile, Kill Closet, Salem Knights
Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax are universally known as thrash metal’s “Big Four.” No debate. The real question is, if there were a fifth spot, who would occupy it? Some say Testament, others Exodus. My vote goes to Overkill. Characterized by vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s over-the-top wail, these NYC metalheads have been at it since 1980. Their new album, The Grinding Wheel, is a 10-track middle finger to anyone who claims thrash is dead. Make sure you show up early enough to watch their tourmates Nile, one of death metal’s sickest bands today. KEVIN DIERS
Los Lobos with Future Stuff
To most punters, East LA giants Los Lobos are best remembered for their 1980s Top 40 version of Ritchie Valens’s “La Bamba,” but, y’all, they were playing well before that hit and have continued on since with a brilliant catalog of cool, sunshiny SoCal mix of rock, soul, and Tejano jams. As I’ve written in this space, “Loving Los Lobos has never been a stretch, as they’ve proved to have remarkably consistent top-class songwriting skills,” thus this Triple Door residency should prove to be nothing less than total greatness. Duo Future Stuff are set to open for them—they do a contemporary take on the last decade’s popular singer-songwriter folk styles, but Future Stuff provide a little more of a kick. MIKE NIPPER
Chicano Batman, 79.5, Sad Girl
Like a cuddlier, more radio-friendly Budos Band, LA’s Chicano Batman hybridize Latin soul, funk, and faint hints of psychedelia. They specialize in feel-good music that classily uplifts while flirting with schmaltziness. The band’s new album, Freedom Is Free, offers a showcase for vocalist Bardo Martinez’s Mayer Hawthorne–esque falsetto and suave loverman vibes to shine. Don’t be surprised to hear Chicano Batman’s amiable songs appearing in Wes Anderson or Jim Jarmusch films in the near future, when they need to soundtrack a sense of hard-won pleasure and sweet romance. DAVE SEGAL
Dude York, Mommy Long Legs, Lisa Prank
Dude York (who celebrate the release of their new Hardly Art album, Sincerely, tonight): a doll and two dudes playing what would be orchestral pop if they had a bigger budget, but it sounds just ricky-tick with a shitload of echo instead—hyperactive drumming, annoying (in a charming manner) male vocals, edgy female vocals, 1980s power-pop tightness. Mommy Long Legs: four females and a clown with a beard (I’m wondering what the clown plays) who like to sing about things they disdain and shoving things up assholes, who obviously like old horror movies, which is a good thing. Lisa Prank: more polished than either of the others, plenty of girl-group slow-burning sass, guitar snarl, traces of Cub and Josie Cotton. ANDREW HAMLIN
Sound Cipher with Nordra
Free jazz pioneer Skerik helms Sound Cipher with a bevy of talented musicians including Tim Alexander of PRIMUS and Timm Mason of Master Musicians of Bukkake, and an opening set by Stranger favorite Nordra.
Longtime soulful crooner Bobby Caldwell, best known for his 1978 song "What You Won't Do for Love," brings his smooth talents for jazz and R&B back to town for a four-night set.
Brenda Xu Album Release Show with Tomo Nakayama and Shenandoah Davis
Brenda Xu presents her new album, Overflow, at this show. She’s folky, impeccable, bringing in strings à la Nick Drake, a rich and sinister ambience throughout. Tomo Nakayama is one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets, although it might help if he made more albums under his own name! I discovered him right after 9/11 and felt such a relief that folks were writing such perfect pop songs—some guitar-driven, others on keyboard—about snow, rain, snowmen, darkness, regret, and fragility. Shenandoah Davis blends her classical influences with tart vocals and pointed lyrics to manifest a spritely chamber pop. ANDREW HAMLIN
The intellectual folk-rockers from L.A., fresh from the September release of their new album We're All Gonna Die, will play their rich acoustic Americana.
Electric Guest with Nine Pound Shadow
The tinkling keys, shimmying beats, and creamy falsetto of ear-wormy “This Head I Hold” put Electric Guest on the map. Danger Mouse at the production helm of said track and the rest of 2012 debut Mondo gave them instant indie street cred, and the album itself proved a fine fusion of funky Motown and R&B with boppin’ synth-pop and easy-strutting Cali psychedelia. The LA band—composed of Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton, who are joined by auxiliary players when touring—is on the road again after a break, and they have a new single out (the vaguely retro echo-hazy “Back for Me”), arriving in Seattle fresh off releasing Plural, the sophomore album that spawned it. LEILANI POLK
Juliana Huxtable, Yves Tumor, Nordra/Tengu Yawn, Howin, CCL
Juliana Huxtable straddles the art, fashion, and dance-club worlds with queer-WOC radicalness. Her eventful 2016 Boiler Room DJ set includes cuts by Rabit, Arca, Death Grips, Trina, Rainbow Arabia, and remixes of Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” and the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Enigmatic, Italy-based producer Yves Tumor records for the unimpeachable PAN label and specializes in pantheistic, avant-electro weirdness. DAVE SEGAL
Meatbodies with Guests
Chad Ubovich, the driving force behind LA quartet Meatbodies, plays guitar in Mikal Cronin’s band and bass in Ty Segall’s Fuzz. His output doesn’t mark a break from his associates’, except he coats his revved-up rock in glitter, from spaced-out vocals to floor-shaking bass. On sophomore release Alice, he pays tribute to horror-movie monsters and women who may or may not exist (the title character is a “master of the animals”). Throughout the album, guitar effects suggest sparks flying through the air and rockets hurtling past the stars. At its worst, it’s cartoonish; at its best, that’s precisely the point, as Ubovich takes cues from larger-than-life glam rockers like Marc Bolan and Alice Cooper. If any musician deserves a comic-book adventure series, it’s Ubovich. KATHY FENNESSY
Weyes Blood with Fatal Jamz
After what was surely a powerful and deeply personal performance from Angel Olsen last week (I couldn’t go, too busy crying [not kidding]), can Seattle handle, emotionally, the gorgeous grievances of yet another touring ghostly alto? Of course it can. We’re only five months into our nine-month SAD cycle, and there’s no way we’re going to get through even next week without the cathartic, maudlin vox of Natalie Mering (aka Weyes Blood). Like a sky full of huge cotton-ball clouds, the songs in her latest record, Front Row Seat to Earth, are towering monuments to insecurity. This power/fragility paradox musically plays out in one of the best tracks, “Used to Be,” a piano-driven moper that opens up into big ballad about a lover closing themselves off: “It’s getting hard to get along with your new/love song so soon, can it really be true?” Live, look for these songs to bloom wildly like the fields in the 1960s pastoral-folk records they recall. RICH SMITH
Blake Shelton with Raelynn
Dad-joke-shiller and ex-mulleted country crooner Blake Shelton bends the Dome to his Top40 appeal with special guest The Voice star Raelynn on their Doin’ It To Country Songs tour.
International Guitar Night: Debashish Bhattacharya, Lulo Reinhardt, Luca Stricagnoli, Chrystian Dozza
Besides having one of the coolest names in all of music, India’s Debashish Bhattacharya is a master of the Hindustani slide guitar and, no disrespect to the other players on this bill, he’s the real reason I’m excited about this show. Upon hearing his 2008 album Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide-Guitar Odyssey, I became enthralled with this sorcerer of some of the most blissful and beautiful tones in which my cynical ears had ever been bathed. Perhaps one key to Bhattacharya’s exquisite tapestries rests in his self-invented, hollow-neck instruments: the 24-string chaturangui, the 14-string gandharvi, and the four-string lap-steel ukulele. Whatever the case, Bhattacharya’s unbelievably delicate and graceful calligraphy and angelic cries on his axes should make for a blessed escape from your earthly concerns. DAVE SEGAL
Luv' Ladder: A Celebration of Black Power & Funk Music From Yesteryear
Move your gams to joyful jams all the way up the Luv' Ladder, with tunes by DJ Kirky and DJ Witchell Smell, gogo vibes from Leola and Randy, and a special feature by Adé, singing songs of black power and timeless funk and soul. Drink, dance, celebrate Black History Month, and enjoy the sacred queer spaces in Seattle.
Riff Raff with DJ Afterthought, Owey, Dollabill Gates, Komplex, youngster jiji, Nauticult
Inexplicable pop culture juggernaut Riff Raff takes his candy-colored interpretation of hiphop culture to the Croc stage, with extensive bill support from DJ Afterthought, Owey, Dollabill Gates, Komplex, youngster jiji, and Nauticult.
Temples, Night Beats, Deap Vally, Froth, JJUUJJUU
Desert Daze presents a handy micro survey of twenty-teens psych rock. All five acts here are solid practitioners of the venerable art, if not particularly mind-blowing or form-dissolving. Instead, Temples (England), Night Beats (Seattle), Deap Vally, Froth, and JJUUJJUU (the last three hail from LA) operate within well-established parameters that privilege songcraft and indulge in judicious use of effects pedals, with sporadic forays into more expansive freak-outs when the drugs kick in. This is the sound that Tame Impalas have taken to the bank, albeit without the big-budget production of that Australian group. As someone who’s spent decades listening to psych rock, I wish these younger bands would slither their way out of the threadbare paisley shirts their forebears wore. But for all their obeisance to tradition, they do execute the moves with panache. DAVE SEGAL
Handel's Tenor: Beard's Beauties
English tenor James Beard acted as Handel's vocal muse, as many pieces were written with his talents in mind. This artistic partnership will be showcased here, with Grammy Award-winning tenor Aaron Sheehan taking over Beard's role in illustrating the most glorious moments of the English Oratorio.
Los Angeles artist Miya Folick has an eerily Arcadian sound that wouldn’t be out of place at Lilith Fair 1997—if Lilith Fair took place on the bridge of a pastel grid space station. Folick’s music is tender and emotionally candid without being precious; each song showcases a diamond-sharp vocal tone, and many harbor almost Heartless Bastards–adjacent moments with throaty power vocals and heart-thumping atmosphere. Her booking at Timbre Room is well-placed, as the neon urban terrarium vibe of the venue will surely lend itself to her electrified pop sculptures. KIM SELLING
National Geographic Live: The Risky Science of Exploration
Follow along with environmental anthropologist Kenny Broad, National Geographic’s 2011 Explorer of the Year, as he takes the audience and the Seattle Symphony on a story evolution of his global journeying.
Pickwick, Telekinesis, Porter Ray, Jason Dodson, Grand Hallway, Erik Blood, Beat Connection
Tender-hearted, soulful-toned indie rockers Pickwick take on the Croc for a night of expansive Northwest talent, with support from Telekinesis, Porter Ray, Jason Dodson, Grand Hallway, Erik Blood, and Beat Connection.
Seattle to Akron 2 Live with Ampichino and Guests
Anthony “Ampichino” Hunt is Akron, Ohio’s most nationally visible rapper. Part of the reason he became so was via his run of collaborations with the Jacka, the brilliant Bay Area rapper, tragically murdered in 2015. Their underground-sensation Devilz Rejectz mixtape series is not just notable for containing some of “the Jack’s” best work, but because it also showcased the a-alike chemistry between him and Ampichino, whose own unique voice and style have made him a standout. He’s also a part of the Regime, an informal rap conglomerate that draws membership from both the Bay Area and the Midwest—disparate regions that maintain a highly active connection via their overlapping scenes of hardcore, noncommercial gangsta rap, the stuff that remains, as the late great Mac Dre said, “Too Hard for the Fuckin’ Radio.” LARRY MIZELL JR.