This week, our music critics have picked everything from the Earshot Jazz Festival to Swedish sisters and harmonizing experts First Aid Kit (and Julia Jacklin) to Gary effing Numan. Follow the links below for ticket links and music clips for all of their picks, and find even more shows on our complete music calendar, or check out our arts critics' picks for this week.
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Loudon Wainwright III, Baby Gramps
There's a whole generation of folks (myself included) for whom Loudon Wainwright III is more familiar as an actor (having appeared in M*A*S*H, three Judd Apatow productions, and G-Force—2009's Jerry Bruckheimer production about guinea pig secret agents). Wainwright the actor, while delightful, is nowhere near as interesting as Wainwright the musician, who's been recording and performing sardonic folk commentaries since his beatific 1970s self-titled debut. His long and storied career is still going strong, even if his new material is no longer about growing old (like his early stuff was) so much as it just plain sounds old (now he sings about things like "Cash for Clunkers"). Still, it would be worth it to hear some of Wainwright's older gems. JASON BAXTER
Dream Perfect Regime (DPR)
Korean rapper Hong Da-bin—a co-founder of Seoul-based multi-genre music and video collection Dream Perfect Regime (DPR)—will perform solo on his "Coming To You Live" tour.
First Aid Kit, Julia Jacklin
First Aid Kit are fueled by the creative juices and ethereally piping vocal harmonies of Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, the former strumming guitar, the latter juggling keys, autoharp, and bass. They purvey that type of dusty, road-worn yet bright, melody-drenched and exquisitely textured indie folk, Americana, and Johnny Cash–style country. (Live, they’re joined by players on pedal steel guitar, drums, and keys, and, recently, trombonist Steve Moore.) First Aid Kit released five singles last year—“Fireworks” is the standout, with its heart-squeezing, minor-chord progressions and forlorn sweetness—and arrive in town a few weeks after issuing their fourth studio LP, Ruins. For fans of Joanna Newsom and Heartless Bastards. LEILANI POLK
Max Richter with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble
Now operating out of the UK, German-born composer Max Richter worked his way up from drum & bass (Roni Size/Reprazent) and IDM (Future Sound of London) collabs into the swanky world of Deutsche Grammophon releases and high-profile film scoring. As he’s progressed, Richter’s music has struck me as increasingly conservative and conventionally pretty, but always immaculately produced. For this date, Richter teams up with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble to perform the burnished, beautifully minimalist pieces he wrote for the HBO drama series The Leftovers. DAVE SEGAL
Gary Numan, Nightmare Air
It's Gary effing Numan. Oh, still need convincing? Okay. He was a catalyst in bringing British synth-pop to the mainstream following the release of his so-ahead-of-its-time-it-hurts 1979 LP The Pleasure Principle. His catalog is as forward-thinking and out-there as any other in the genre. Oh, and he's one of the most dynamic and under-heralded live performers around, who turned what could have been one-hit wonder success into a career replete with a massively dedicated cult following. So, yeah, it's Gary Numan, and you should definitely go see him if you've ever once sung along to "Cars" or "Are 'Friends' Electric?” NICK ZURKO
The Beths, Coach Phillips
Auckland, New Zealand’s the Beths are one of the most exciting new rock bands in the world. Their debut full-length, Future Me Hates Me, is a nearly perfect slab of Superchunk-indebted power pop. And unusually for a power-pop album, the lyrics here aren’t terrible—band singer-songwriter Elizabeth Stokes packs her ostensibly upbeat songs with pithy profundities, exemplified by the title track’s opening line: “I never wanted to, I didn’t want to fall. I just don’t believe that love’s a good idea at all.” The Beths’ marriage of impeccable pop songcraft with droll, self-deprecating lyrics brings to mind Guppy, the 2017 debut from like-minded punks Charly Bliss. Now there’s a world tour that needs to happen. MORGAN TROPER
Leslie Odom, Jr. with the Seattle Symphony
Grammy winner Leslie Odom Jr. is an acclaimed singer and dancer who has found mainstream recognition through his star turn as Aaron Burr in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton.
Shannon and the Clams, Sávila, Bread & Butter
Oakland’s Shannon and the Clams are always a doo-wop delight. Between their jukebox-pop panache and tremolo licks, they’re a show you’re always finding yourself snapping and hip-twisting along to. They warm you up with their beachy balminess and make your palms sweat from their sanguine sweetness. Joining them are Portland’s catchiest cumbia outfit, Sávila, which is Brisa Gonzalez, Papi Frimbres, and She Shreds founder Fabiola Reyna. If you missed them when they opened for both La Luz shows this summer, then this is your chance. Power-pop locals Bread & Butter will commence their Tom Petty–nostalgic rock at Banana O’Clock. ZACH FRIMMEL
My memory is hazy on this matter, but I wrote a feature on the Suburbs for Creem magazine around 1986. I know that issue’s around here somewhere... Anyway, this Minnesota new-wave group—which flourished from 1977 to 1987 and then played sporadically thereafter until re-forming with a purpose in 2013—deserves much better than my absentmindedness. Their 1980 debut LP, In Combo, and 1981 follow-up, Credit in Heaven, give Devo, Pylon, and New Values–era Iggy Pop a run for their spazzy money. In 2017, the Suburbs released Hey Muse!, evidencing a slicker, more blatantly club-friendly sound—not too different from what Roxy Music did when they cut “Love Is the Drug,” or Simple Minds with New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), or David Bowie with Let’s Dance. Know what I mean? DAVE SEGAL
Pinch & Peverelist, CCL, plus ultra
The plucky guys of Pinch & Peverelist both hail from Bristol and have deep roots in assorted UK bass scenes. The latter, a record store manager (the few, the proud), still cuts his own dubplates. Let’s hope he threw some in his record bag for the duo’s In Deep tour, which takes them across North America to spread the gospel of grime and dubstep, with some techno and jungle sprinkled in for good measure. Hat tip to Shook!, the city’s new bass-music night, for landing P&P alongside Research, our reliable source for adventurous dance music. Research curator CCL, a former Bristolian, will set the stage for our guests. GREG SCRUGGS
The Vaccines, Jesse Jo Stark
British indie rockers the Vaccines will come to Seattle in support of their new album Combat Sports, which they describe as being composed of "guitars, brevity, speed, and breathless excitement." They'll be joined by Los Angeles singer-songwriter (and Bella Hadid's BFF, apparently) Jessie Jo Stark.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z
The Carters are an indisputable power couple, virtual hiphop royalty. Beyoncé has been flying up near the sun with her 2016 tour-de-force/Grammy-worthy/critically celebrated Lemonade, though her influence, talent, and sheer diva power were never in question before then. Jay-Z could probably retire, but he keeps kicking out albums—and even if I thought 4:44 was a yawn, it topped the charts and earned him a Grammy nom, so what do I know? The duo also released a collab this year as the Carters, Everything Is Love, which sounds pretty good, from what I’ve heard. Opening track “Summer” is sexy and funky and cinematic in a retro-soul kind of way. LEILANI POLK
Bob James Trio
Bob James wrote the theme to Taxi, which seals his fame in my book! No, but (more) seriously, he’s one of Quincy Jones’s discoveries, in a long Quincy Jones career of discovering people; James pioneered the use of electronic keyboards and synthesizers in mostly mainstream jazz; his fans include Ghostface Killah, Run-D.M.C., and LL Cool J, who have all sampled his revelatory cover of Paul Simon’s “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” (think of that tinkling groove you hear in Run-D.M.C.’s “Peter Piper,” LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells,” and, bless my soul, Missy Elliott’s “Work It”); and he titled his early albums with weird references to numbers. Check him out with guitarist Perry Hughes, drummer Billy Kilson, and bassist Michael Palazzolo. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear that “Rock the Bells” bit thrown in with a grin. ANDREW HAMLIN
The Esoterics: Consolo
For the first concert series in their 25th season, choral music group the Esoterics will perform Consolo, a program of contemporary works inspired by "seasoned love" by Rodney Sharman, Eric Barnum, Anna-Karin Klockar, Ily Matthew Maniano, Sarah Rimkus, and Dale Trumbore.
Too Many Zooz, Honeycomb
Normally, I’d give a wide berth to any entity calling itself “Too Many Zooz.” The number of great bands whose names end in “z” instead of “s” could fit in a minibus. However, this trio went from busking in New York’s subways to performing in legit overground venues with a manic, infectious sound that shoots urgent energy through weary travelers and club patrons alike. Using baritone sax, trumpet, and drums, Too Many Zooz harness the bustle and brio—and some of the griminess—of the Big Apple’s public-transit situation into songs that put a Russell Westbrook–like spring in your step. Too Many Zooz are like a reductionist Infernal Noise Brigade, but with a stronger interest in jazz and hiphop; check the cover of Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” for proof. DAVE SEGAL
Emerging Artist: Kandace Springs
Smooth alto songstress Kandace Springs has garnered acclaim for her Blue Note Records debut, Soul Eyes, which demonstrated her masterful ability to blend jazz, soul, and pop into one gorgeous and seemingly effortless sound.
Descendents, A Wilhelm Scream, Audio Karate
Back in the early 1980s, Descendents were one of the first bands that turned many kids on to hardcore. It was kinda easy, as they were one of the only bands that were somewhat melodic, hooky, and sang about the issues most weirdo suburban teenagers had to deal with: alienation, authority, dead-end wage-slave futures, and asshole jocks—and identifying with ’em was all too easy. Oh, and Descendents made fart jokes. So they were PERFECT. Their current live set list contains all, no ALL, the hits, shits, and a couple new jams. Yeah, “new jams,” as they’re touring in support of their last LP, Hypercaffium Spazzinate. The album is good, it sounds like the Descendents, so no surprises! MIKE NIPPER
5 Seconds of Summer, The Aces
Outrageously popular Aussie boybanders 5 Seconds of Summer will ignite their legions of screaming TigerBeat fans in Seattle once again on their Meet You There Tour.
It seems as if Japan’s Kikagaku Moyo are going to keep playing Seattle till you slow learners finally awaken to their many splendors. Graduating from Barboza and the Sunset to the bigger Neumos, these deft psychedelic shape-shifters prove that their relentless touring and increasingly engrossing, mind-expanding songs are reaching receptive cortexes. From woozy, waltz-time charmers to solemnly pastoral-folky to incendiary freak-outs, Kikagaku Moyo find manifold ways to trick your brain into believing in paradise. All this, plus a bangin’ cover of Ananda Shankar’s “Streets of Calcutta.” DAVE SEGAL
Robyn Hitchcock & the Nashville Fabs
Englishman Robyn Hitchcock has made a respectable living squeezing whimsy from his John Lennon and Syd Barrett influences, tweaking the surrealism closer toward his own home blend, and swirling in some nihilism, understandable since, at 65, he’s seen much more of the real world than either Barrett or Lennon ever did. But he’s never less than warmly charming; if the “Devil’s Radio” plays, it kicks out a sing-along chorus to playfully counter the radio devils, a great grating chorus of worst wheels ratcheting toward the worst noise. He’s calling his band the Nashville Fabs, so expect nods to the Beatles and Buck Owens. ANDREW HAMLIN
Alina Baraz, Lolo Zouaï
Singer-songwriter Alina Baraz, who collaborated with Denmark electronic artist Galimatias on her successful debut EP, Urban Flora, will bring her R&B-tinged songs to Seattle after an opening set from NYC-based R&B/soul artist Lolo Zouaï.
For two nights, Australian psych-rock group the Church will play Starfish in its entirety to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary. It makes sense to do this in the elegant setting of the Triple Door, as Starfish epitomizes a strain of rich yet understated ’80s rock that gently transports you to a dreamy destination without freakish highs or harrowing lows. (This music pairs well with the subtle Asian-fusion cuisine Wild Ginger serves to club patrons.) Nearly everyone knows and loves the hit single “Under the Milky Way,” with its spangly acoustic- and liquid electric-guitar latticework and phantasmal “bagpipe” solo. But the album is a remarkably consistent amalgam of somberly sweet melodies and translucent guitar textures, shot through with the maroon-velvet lassitude of post-Syd Pink Floyd, which somehow translates into glimmering gravitas. DAVE SEGAL
The gentlemen of Bristol-based IDLES’ boots are made of concrete anthems that graciously stomp all over the world’s daily fuckeries. IDLES’ brutally honest words unmask a false sense of masculinity in rock music and inject it with coping mechanisms for grief through their new release, Joy as an Act of Resistance. Southern gothic-rock outfit Bambara have a similar mission to uncover the everyday ugliness with their dramatically dark storytelling that playfully nods to Nick Cave’s 1980s outfit the Birthday Party. Bambara’s third LP, Shadow on Everything, unveils magnificent descending chords that will singe the crowd at this sold-out show. ABBIE GOBELI
Jessie J, Ro James, Kiana Ledé
London-based songwriter Jessie J, who won Critics’ Choice at the BRIT Awards, will play new songs about "realizations, obsessions, sex, and empowerment" off her latest album, R.O.S.E..
A Place to Bury Strangers, Kraus, somesurprises
In Martin Scorsese's extravagantly violent Casino, the sun-blasted desert outside Las Vegas turns out to be a (fantastic) place to bury strangers. Add a few capital letters, and it's also the name of a famously loud Brooklyn trio (Oliver Ackermann, Dion Lunadon, and Robi Gonzalez) who take their Wall of Guitar cues from the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. Over the course of four full-lengths, including 2015's Transfixiation, a Place to Bury Strangers haven’t exactly reinvented the wheel, but the way they give their handiwork a darkwave twist rescues them from the ranks of the revival act. Their squall is so deep, rich, and all-encompassing, you could lose yourself in it for days. It's an acid trip without the paranoiac side effects. KATHY FENNESSY
Join the denizens of Georgetown for a celebration of a tried-and-true Northwest standby, Rainier Beer, with live music from Northwest rock groups the Helio Sequence, the Moondoggies, and Smokey Brights. The brewery has promised an all-night party in the heart of the neighborhood, with plenty of Rainier to drink for everyone (over 21 years of age, of course).
Experience a musical mashup of Dusty Springfield, Nancy Sinatra, and the Ronettes at a release show for soul artist V. Contreras' new album. She'll be joined by her full band, as well as special guests Okanomodé (who collaborated on Ahamefule J. Oluo's great 2014 album Now I'm Fine), Eric Jaegar of Children of the Revolution, and others.
When John Dwyer revamped his avant-garage outfit Thee Oh Sees after relocating from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, their music took on more of a motorik dimension. Since dropping “Thee,” however, things have been getting metallic. Granted, this isn’t the metal of the modern era, but the proggy prototype of unkempt longhairs from Atomic Rooster to Hawkwind. While Dwyer has often created the band’s artwork, for this year’s Smote Reverser, he tapped fantasy illustrator Matt Stawicki to craft the terrifying creature on the cover, a callback to the D&D aesthetic of Dio and other devil-horn-wielding rivet-heads of yore. KATHY FENNESSY
Shellac, Buke and Gase
Shellac are many things. They’re the Chicago-based trio of indie-rock innovator and guitarist Steve Albini, fellow engineer and bassist Bob Weston, and the inimitable drummer that is Todd Trainer. They make math rock sound funky and funk sound insane. They’ve released seven albums in 26 years, all essential. They don’t tour much, but when they do, it’s utter mayhem. And they’re infinitely more interesting than 99 percent of the drivel on YouTube at the moment. So do yourself a favor and bathe in the sound of finite combinations and frequencies rendered infinite once again. NICK ZURKO
Lovefingers, Heidi Lawden
Andy “Lovefingers” Hogge is a veteran, with two decades of experience as a DJ and label-head behind the weird music imprint ESP Institute. A native Angeleno, he relocated to his hometown just as LA began taking off as the de facto North American capital for underground dance music. His voracious taste is hard to describe, but if you spend some time in a SoundCloud wormhole under the “Balearic” tag, you might get an idea of the vibe he’ll bring to the Loft on a Sunday night with his partner-in-crime, Heidi Lawden, who hosts the Magic Roundabout show on dublab.com. GREG SCRUGGS
Anyone that delighted in the doomy instrumentation and murky production idiosyncrasies of Portishead’s Third is strongly encouraged to investigate British electronic outfit BEAK>. Guided in part by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, the group summons the meditative propulsions and stripped-down synth explorations of krautrock with the ominous melodies and textural dissonance of the art metal scene. Further cementing the krautrock aura, BEAK>’s songs are generated from off-the-cuff studio jams and edited down to hook-driven compositions much in the same way Holger Czukay spliced the early CAN classics together out of taped snippets of protracted improvisations. Be prepared for an aural trip. BRIAN COOK
Earshot Jazz Festival
This year at the Earshot Jazz Festival, there is an emphasis on youth and women. Not saying that the festival has neglected young and female players. It has not. And the 2018 edition of Earshot seems to feature less huge names and more names you may not have heard of and need to discover. For example, there is harpist Brandee Younger, who’s worked closely with Ravi Coltrane and is certainly influenced by the musicians John Coltrane worked with in the last period of his musical career (1965–1967). Younger plays the kind of music that clears your brain and soul. Then there is Jane Bunnett and Maqueque. Bunnett is a pretty well-known Canadian saxophonist, but Maqueque, a superb band of Cuban women, is not. And there is also Helen Sung, a pianist who plays with a mesmerizing (and at times mind-boggling) mix of density and clarity. There’s the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra, Samantha Boshnack, Sarah Manning, Madison McFerrin, and SassyBlack (formerly of THEESatisfaction). And there is much, much more. CHARLES MUDEDE
Sons of Kemet
Man, it feels good to see new jazz artists getting major media attention and significant bookings in America and elsewhere. Sons of Kemet leader Shabaka Hutchings recently appeared on the cover of taste-making English magazine the Wire, and now his group is touring the US behind the renowned Your Queen Is a Reptile LP. Using an unusual lineup of clarinet, saxophone, tuba, and two drummers, Sons of Kemet alchemize jazz, rock, and myriad African and Caribbean folk styles in a crucible of daring and effusive instrumental telepathy. Not unlike the great ensembles currently working with Chicago’s International Anthem label, Sons of Kemet compose tracks that combine the cerebral with the visceral, resulting in fresh mutations that are too sweaty and raw for jazz’s Marsalis-brothers contingent. DAVE SEGAL