Winter is unofficially here, and whether that invokes within you a sense of celebration or derision, there is still a ton of great music around town waiting to be enjoyed regardless of snowdrift levels. This week, we've got everything from a career resurgence by an indie rock icon (Ted Leo & the Pharmacists), to twin titans of the millennial nostalgia machine (Ja Rule, Ashanti), to a posi vibe pop-rap powerhouse perfect for cheering you up over the holidays (Lizzo). Follow the links below for ticket links and music clips, and find even more on our music calendar.
Jump to: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday
The Weather Station, James Elkington, Michael Wohl
On her fourth (and first self-titled) album as the Weather Station, Toronto's Tamara Lindeman follows in the jazz-folk footsteps of Joni Mitchell and Elyse Weinberg, who both traded Canada for Laurel Canyon. The singer-songwriter floats through vowels and grazes consonants before landing in a lovely thicket of guitar and strings. UK-born, Chicago-based tourmate James Elkington has played with Richard Thompson, Michael Chapman, and Steve Gunn. His solo debut, Winters Woma, reveals a virtuoso guitarist with a persuasive baritone. When he sings, "Grief is not coming for you," it's hard not to think he knows something the rest of us don't. KATHY FENNESSY
The Bad Plus
Drummer Dave King, bassist Reid Anderson, and pianist Reid Iverson play jazz, but they take out their chops on classic rock, new wave, Nirvana—stuff you probably know from the radio and not from Bad Plus-ations. I fretted they’d amount to lounge, but King’s unpredictable, over-caffeinated fills calmed me down on that score. The Bad Plus take apart, for example, Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” mixing up the riffs, the bridge, the chorus, filtering it through substitute chords, arpeggios, simmering down to simplicity once more, but not the same simplicity. Shall you learn more about them, or about your favorite earworms? ANDREW HAMLIN
Nigeria-born, England-based singer Jacob Banks crafts modern soul music steeped in honesty and deep personal consideration that is influenced by the years spent teaching himself guitar and songwriting.
Ne Obliviscaris, Allegaeon, A Flourishing Scourge, Vesuvian, A Sense of Gravity
Whether or not you love Ne Obliviscaris’ grandiose metal, there’s one thing that’s undeniable: These beastly Australian shredders sure can play their instruments. On paper, a typical Ne Obliviscaris song seems a bit like “kitchen sink metal.” Just throw everything (and said sink) in there and see what sticks. But somehow these guys pull it off, weaving together elements of brutal death metal, Dream Theater-esque prog rock, and old-school thrash, with occasional jazz flourishes for good measure. I expect the pit to be equal parts hesher and prog nerd. KEVIN DIERS
Honestly, I haven’t listened to much of Ani DiFranco’s music in the last decade, but as a young woman coming of age in the 1990s I spent enough hours devouring and inhabiting her albums Imperfectly, Like I Said, Out of Range, and Not a Pretty Girl to last a lifetime—literally. DiFranco’s voice—by nature soft, high, and vulnerable—was always her most powerful (and political) weapon, and her aggressive approach to the folky acoustic guitar turned it into both a melodic and percussive instrument. When I listen to her more recent (and much more expansive sounding—is that a tuba I hear?) albums Allergic to Water and Which Side Are You On?, they sound completely foreign, but also deeply familiar. “Every woman has the right to become herself,” said DiFranco, who has released all 20-plus albums on her own independent label, “and do whatever she needs to do.” ANGELA GARBES
Emily Saliers with Lucy Wainwright Roche
Emily Saliers is no stranger to the stage, having been a part of the Indigo Girls for other 30 years. She'll be joined in this solo set by Lucy Wainwright Roche.
Real talk: This world needs more disco. As tacky as that genre could be during its heyday, disco brought us love and light and sequined groove thangs and all of those things are to be cherished. Singing and dancing her way through tracks that could be mistaken for Donna Summer’s back catalog, Gavin Turek revives that feeling for a new age. Disco may be dead, but the internet offers instant reincarnation of all that once was lost, and Turek’s spangled body party provides a necessary space for both nostalgia and evolution. ¡Viva el nuevo disco! KIM SELLING
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Ian Sweet
Everyone is acting like Ted Leo is some kind of phoenix rising from the ashes or something. And while it’s true that the indie-royalty songwriter and Pharmacists frontman has reemerged from a hiatus of sorts with his first full-length solo album in years, and on the heels of personal tragedy, no less, it feels more like he’s circling back around from a long migration. And he’s bringing his knack for brisk, clean guitar hooks and lyrical introspection from the early-aughts, with a fair amount of new, adventurous material that dips into punk and reggae, too. AMBER CORTES
Tom Paxton, the DonJuans
Famed Greenwich Village 1960s folkie Tom Paxton—who’s nearly 80 and in “semiretirement”—is in town to share his fabulous story songs. When it comes to folkies, Paxton is a heavy: He performed at 1963’s Newport Folk Festival, was involved with the period’s civil rights movement, and fellow folkie Dave Van Ronk has said that Paxton started the “new song” movement, performing self-penned tunes before Bob Dylan even turned up. Tagging along tonight will be Paxton’s pals, the singer-songwriter duo the DonJuans. MIKE NIPPER
The Breeders, Melkbelly
Welcome to today’s Breeders Chat. Did you know that Pod was originally conceived of as dance music? Can you rave till dawn on “Doe”? I know I can. Is the Last Splash–era lineup still on board now that the 20-year brouhaha has died down and new music approaches? Why did nobody get me LSXX for my birthday? Did you hear “Wait in the Car”? (Did it make you, like me, think of Juelz Santana saying, “Sit in the car”?) Doesn’t it sound like vintage, hard-charging Breeds, Kim jolting us awake with a “Good morning” that’s more wood-chipper than chipper? Aren’t they just your favorite 1990s survivors? Why are you walking away from me? LARRY MIZELL JR.
The Clientele, EZTV
Seeing the Clientele in autumn is like catching the Sun Ra Arkestra on Saturn: Talk about perfect set and setting... I've racked my fevered brain to think of a rock band that more deftly evokes the gentle shivers and romantic tinge of a sunny fall day in the park, as well as the melodic grace of the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle customized for an era of diminished expectations. None compares. Music for the Age of Miracles, like all of the other six Clientele albums, is among the best of its given year (see “Lunar Days” for its apex). Miracles is an ice pack for your fretting mind, balm for this damned age of 24/7 anxiety. DAVE SEGAL
Diarrhea Planet, Chrome Lakes
At a certain point, you have to ask yourself the hard questions. Am I really a “progressive” if I express my dissatisfaction with the candidates by not voting? Will I ever really read all those articles I save for later on Facebook? And most importantly: What is the point of even trying to come up with a band name when the very quintessence of the art form has been realized, mastered, and transcended by one Nashville sextet? It would’ve been fine by me if a band called Diarrhea Planet wasn’t good, but it’s SO much better that they’re really, really good. I spent several miserable teenage years in Nashville before they had smart, hard, fast, fun, killer rock bands there, and so I’m predisposed to be on their side. But you would be, too, if you didn’t hate music. (And I know they’re probably sick of the name thing, but guess what.) SEAN NELSON
Familiars, Fabulous Downey Brothers, Sundae Crush
Tender-hearted fantasy rockers Familiars will spread a Northwest mist of indie experimental tracks over the stage at this release show for their latest album Digest Self, with Fabulous Downey Brothers and Sundae Crush.
Kinski, Man Forever
Man Forever is Oneida drummer Kid Millions (aka John Colpitts) working out his manic percussion ambitions within a maximalist-minimalist context. On 2013’s Pansophical Cataract, Man Forever’s penchant for repetition and nearly superhuman endurance propels the music into the drum kit equivalent of a Rhys Chatham guitarmy deployment; powerful and heady stuff. This year’s Play What They Want diverts wildly from that record, with guest spots from avant-garde queen Laurie Anderson, deft harpist Mary Lattimore, Trans Am guitarist Phil Manley, and indie-rock fixtures Yo La Tengo. Percussion is used much more sparsely in service of vocal-centric songs of arty and dainty melodiousness. It’s an unexpected departure that often pays serious dividends. DAVE SEGAL
Phantoms, Pusher, Metsa
LA electronic duo Phantoms look like nice, attractive young men, playing their sets in suits, using glow-in-the-dark drumsticks, releasing their music on the Universal Music subsidiary, Casablanca/Republic. As evidenced by their buoyant EP, Broken Halo, Phantoms are going to be festival fixtures, because festivalgoers love their sort of hooky, smooth, vocal-centric dance fare. DAVE SEGAL
Since the release of her debut solo album Ya Nass in 2013, Yasmine Hamdan has been bursting forth onto the world music scene with a truly modern take on Arabic pop.
Emerald City Soul Club 12th Annual Rare Soul Weekender
From 1973 to 1981, English youth boogied down to American soul music at a club called the Wigan Casino. Out of this industrial town near Manchester came the northern soul movement—essentially, a fetishizing of all things rare soul, not the Motown hits you might hear on oldies stations. With Capitol Hill’s Century Ballroom as a stand-in, the obsessive crate diggers behind the Emerald City Soul Club will do their best to re-create the 1970s vibe during their 12th Rare Soul Weekender, when the most passionate soul collectors from across the Pacific Northwest will converge for four days and nights of nothing but soul at a range of venues: Sugar Hill, Lo-Fi, Century Ballroom, and Revolver, plus a record swap at Vermillion. GREG SCRUGGS
Black Winter Hymnal with Naomi Wachira, Stephanie Anne Johnson, and Special Guests
Embrace the force of encroaching winter with this collective performance centered on songs of resilience, identity, and empowerment with major talents like Naomi Wachira, Stephanie Anne Johnson, and additional guests.
Chad VanGaalen, NE-HI, Jo Passed
Chad VanGaalen likes to play the harmonica. He also looks a lot like the young, cute Elton John. Sold! He started out in his native Canada doing self-released CDs, but he’s breaking big and bigger these days. His new Sub Pop album, Light Information, starts with those muskrat-climax noises Daryl “The Captain” Dragon cooked up for the Captain & Tennille’s “Muskrat Love,” but throws in eerie bass and pleading vocals. A little guitar jangle, a little more synth ping, more scary vocals, some concerning a campfire, and my golly, this fellow’s one to watch. ANDREW HAMLIN
Daniel Caesar with Snoh Aalegra
I'm inclined to root for any Toronto talent who isn't Drake, but Daniel Caesar sets himself apart anyway, with rich soul rippling through his vocals and a predilection for instrumental accompaniment that pulls from blues and Americana traditions. KIM SELLING
Halsey, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Charli XCX
Pop star Halsey went from "up and coming" to completely explosive in a matter of a few years. She'll take the KeyArena stage on her Hopeless Fountain Kingdom tour, flanked by PARTYNEXTDOOR and Charli XCX.
Ja Rule, Ashanti
I hated the heyday of Murder Inc.—it was the official Western Family version of the Bad Boy era, the Hydrox Ruff Ryders, if you will—but it was a little unfair what happened to them. I mean, not only were the Feds after them, but 50 Cent (and later, Eminem and all their attendant demons) just turned their cash cow into dry-ass, late-night AM/PM burger meat faster than J.Lo could delete Diddy from her Motorola two-way contacts. There’s been no more complete decimation in the history of the genre. Luckily, the Inc.’s two biggest stars (including Ja Rule), beloved survivors, aided by the hyperactive millennial nostalgia engine, are able to sidestep the casino circuit. Expect Ja Rule and Ashanti to rapturize a crowd full of ostensibly grown folks who are reliving their middle-school peaks with a hit parade of treacly rap&B dance hits. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Prom Queen, Edwin, Wildcat Rose
Seattle’s self-styled “doom-wop” purveyors Prom Queen are commanded and steered by Leeni Ramadan, whose vocals have a charming sweetness that shifts to slinky and sly to match the moodiness of her band’s music — a combination of ’60s surf pop and girl group doo-wop treated with noir-ish overtones and dramatic spaghetti western sonic flourishes and textures. Their rendering of Laura Palmer’s Twin Peaks instrumental motif as done in the style of S U R V I V E's Stranger Things theme is a must-hear. Look it up. LEILANI POLK
Wynonna and The Big Noise
Nashville country singing legend, famous redhead, and musical force of nature Wynonna Judd will throw down all the classics and some tracks from her latest release with her backing troupe The Big Noise.
Amy Denio just keeps rolling. She got mocked by a KCMU honcho, but she’s outlasted KCMU, and most of the folks who remember KCMU. She beat cancer. She plays every instrument known to the solar system. She writes, sings, and composes, and she took a group to Turkey last year. The “Truth Is Up for Grabs” project involves war, the news, the poet Pablo Neruda, and a band running to 15 pieces, if I’m counting correctly. Viva the creative mix and mush! ANDREW HAMLIN
Beach Slang, David Hause & The Mermaid, Hannah Racecar
Poignant tunes sung with Paul Westerbergian gruffness should make Beach Slang instant winners in ’Mats’ fans ears and others’ partial to Midwestern, blue-collar rock ’n’ roll. DAVE SEGAL
Daniel Johnston & Friends
Daniel Johnston’s upcoming Hi, How Are You tour will be a national parade for pariahs. It’s a rosary of reverence for those who have been indelibly influenced by his outsider fortitude, like the members of Wilco, Built to Spill, and Fugazi, who will be playing with him on select dates. It was news to even Johnston himself that this tour was going to be his swan song, but it wasn’t even his idea. “Why would it be?” he told the New York Times. Whether it is or not, it’s going to be a devil town celebration, so don’t chance it! ZACH FRIMMEL
The Devil Makes Three, Scott H. Biram, Ditrani Brothers
If the Coen brothers made a sequel to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, it might resemble Redemption & Ruin, the new covers collection from Bay Area trio the Devil Makes Three. Over 12 fiddle-driven tracks, they extol the virtues of rambling and gambling with assists from Emmylou Harris and Duane Eddy. It's the kind of outlaw music that could make a country fan out of a metal nephew or a punk niece. Even conservative cousins might appreciate the sprinkling of sin-atonement numbers. On Scott H. Biram’s latest, The Bad Testament, he explores similar themes with equal vim and vigor. KATHY FENNESSY
Lizzo is an unforgettable performer—she’s compelling, entertaining, and always feeling good as hell. Lizzo sings and raps about body positivity, independence, and self-acceptance better than anyone, and her beats are next level. On stage, Lizzo is joined by the Big Girls, two of the most fabulous backup dancers, and the ultra-chic DJ Sophia Eris. The four of them combined make for a powerhouse of pop, from Lizzo’s speaker-blasting rhymes to the choreographed dance routines. You’ll leave this show feeling so empowered, you won’t remember life pre-Lizzo. ANNA KAPLAN
Research: Objekt, 214
TJ Hertz, who produces electronic music as Objekt, has a reputation as a precise aural technician, due in no small part to his background as an engineer of audio software. The same sort of knowledge and attention to detail is evident when he DJs. Over the years, Hertz’s sets have evolved from relatively straightforward techno and electro into something less conventional and more expressive: a mix of genres and tempos replete with inventive transitions that create unexpected shifts in mood. Purists who care about mixing technique and forward-thinking clubbers who want to cut loose will be equally satisfied. ANDREW GOSPE
Taylor McFerrin, SassyBlack, Noel Brass Jr.
Son of polyphonically adept jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin, Taylor McFerrin has carved out a niche as a smooth R&B crooner who’s equally as facile with his vocal tics and falsetto while producing tracks that skitter and ooze with panther stealth. Taylor’s 2016 LP, Early Riser, serves as a seduction aid with its laid-back tempos, crisp beats, Vaseline-lensed synth washes, and McFerrin’s pillow-talk-toned singing. Seattle’s SassyBlack offers similar vibes, but from a lesbian sci-fi nerd’s perspective. Fellow local Noel Brass Jr., the Afrocop and Select Level keyboardist, just released his debut solo LP, Broken Cloud Orchestra. It’s a profound exploration of tranquil ambience, its 11 tracks twinkling like jewels in deep space. (Disclosure: I wrote liner notes for it.) DAVE SEGAL
Curtis Harding, Guests
As evident on his debut album Soul Power as it is in each of his performances, guitarist and singer Curtis Harding has seemingly been tasked by a higher power with an innate ability to craft bold, earthy soul music.
Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy is back for some reason!! Go celebrate the emotional freedom of canonical emo-rock in the boons of Lower Queen Anne with your fellow rabid fan base members in the wake of FOB's M A N I A Tour.
Hot Snakes, Hurry Up, Dreamdecay
Those fortunate enough to have scored tickets to this sold-out show will find themselves in a serpentine lock of noisy rock tonight. Post-hardcore titans Hot Snakes' gloriously riff-intensive, weirded-up Wipers vibe expands on the unrelenting force of members' other bands Rocket from the Crypt (John Reis) and Drive Like Jehu (Reis and Rick Froberg). Hot Snakes fans have been starved since their 2011 reunion tour, with the first new record since 2004 expected on Sub Pop next year, along with the release of their discography: Audit in Progress, Suicide Invoice, and Automatic Midnight. Show up early for Dreamdecay, one of Seattle's most artfully cathartic noise-rock acts. BRITTNIE FULLER
Third Eye Blind
Led by Stephan Jenkins, '90s pop-alt rockers Third Eye Blind (or 3EB if you're a real fan) achieved wide success during a bizarre time in the post-grunge music scene. They performed at the 2016 Bumbershoot, and will return to Seattle again for a night of classic singles.