This week, our music critics have picked everything from Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Earl Sweatshirt, and Thundercat to Seattle Men's Chorus: Summer of ’69 to Lucinda Williams. 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. Plus, check out our arts critics' picks for the 52 best things to do this week.
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Iconic Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi has topped the classical charts in 42 countries and recently released an album called Elements, which accompanied a video of him playing piano on an Arctic glacier. Before embarking on this North American tour, Einaudi additionally released a new seven-part album called Seven Days Walking (Decca Records/Universal).
Empire of the Sun
When Empire of the Sun made their US debut with 2008’s Walking on a Dream, I thought they were a joke band—like, quasi-earnest in the vein of Gil Mantera’s Party Dream, where taking themselves super seriously and being outrageously flamboyant with it is a part of the shtick. Nope. Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore are earnest-earnest Aussies making catchy-great synth pop, the former in some of the most fantastic costumery and head-dressery you’ll find outside of drag. This tour celebrates the 10th anniversary special-edition vinyl reissue of the aforementioned LP and its platinum-certified title track. LEILANI POLK
Aly & AJ, Armors, Jena Rose
Aly and AJ Michalka are a sisterly duo who were a part of the early '00s Disney Channel pantheon of smiling blondes in recurring cheerleader-girl-squad-escapade movie and TV roles who pursue a music career for no reason other than that they can. They're back on the scene under their original "Aly & AJ" moniker to celebrate the release of last year's EP, Ten Years.
Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World, Ra Ra Riot
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 with early '00s pop-punk-emo-rock hybrid group Jimmy Eat World and mid-'00s college radio favorite Ra Ra Riot.
Lowdown Brass Band, Lucky Brown and the S.G.s
Lowdown Brass Band deliver a fine and fiery fusion of hip-hop and frontline brass band music—built on trumpets, trombones, sax, drums, and sousaphone acting as bass, with a vocalist and MC, too. According to their bio, the 10-piece ensemble “deftly synthesizes the gritty sounds of Chicago with the high energy street beat of the Crescent City.” They also draw on elements of ska, Latin music, funk, and soul; have recorded with Roy Ayers (a revival of “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” on their 2014 LP); and are currently on the road behind 2018’s LowDown Breaks, which combines hip-hop breaks with live soul samples and deep cut instrumental grooves, and includes originals as well as covers LEILANI POLK
Great Women of Country Tribute Series: The Music of Patsy Cline & Linda Ronstadt
Tip your hat to two queens of country crooning, Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt, at this tribute show with artists like Annie Ford, Sue Quigley, Christy McWilson, Caitlin Sherman, Kelsey Sprague, and many other ladies.
Okkervil River, Christian Lee Hutson
Okkervil River’s third album, Black Sheep Boy, may not cut as deep as Big Star’s Third with its exposed-nerve laments about love, death, and love as death—but it comes close. Front man Will Sheff holds nothing back on the Austin sextet’s masterpiece, though what impresses some may merely exhaust others (one critic dubbed them “Overkill River”). It’s an understandable reaction, but for those drawn to Sheff’s destabilizing lyrics—“sometimes the blood from real cuts feels real nice”—and campfire-meets-concert-hall aesthetic, this show promises to be as revelatory as the new, extended version of the record with bonus tracks and covers of influences from Leadbelly to the Louvin Brothers. KATHY FENNESSY
Singer Sargent will "tell stories through music" at this acoustic set of rock and blues.
The Comet Is Coming, J-Justice
Another iteration of ascending London saxophonist/clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings’s fertile imagination, the Comet Is Coming—which also features Ibibio Sound Machine producer/keyboardist Dan Leavers and Sons of Kemet drummer Maxwell Hallett—have been injecting jazz with vital mutant energies for the past four years. As with a lot of the releases on the International Anthem label and those by fellow Brits the Heliocentrics, the Comet Is Coming’s output unconventionally fuses jazz with electronic, funk, Afrobeat, post-rock, and hip-hop elements. The title of their two transcendent albums—Channel the Spirits and Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery—could serve both as the Comet Is Coming’s MO and manifesto. This could be the show of the month. DAVE SEGAL
SIMF: Improvised Dance + Music
Stephanie Skura will curate a program of improvised dance and music featuring nine artists (including Linda Austin, Paige Barnes, Vanessa DeWolf, Nate Dryden, and Jordan MacIntosh-Hougham) using "minimal oxymoronic scoring."
Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Earl Sweatshirt, Thundercat
This bill is stacked. At the top is the current darling of hip-hop/soul/R&B crossover (and among my current faves), Anderson .Paak. He’s got that warm, sandpapery rasp of soulful greats like James Brown or Wilson Pickett, but in a higher register, and he’s more prone to slick rhyme-slinging and swinging amid the singing. Last year’s Oxnard was one of my favorites of 2018 (“Who R U” and “Mansa Musa” are bangers), while just-dropped fourth album Ventura is great, too, heavier on the Motown feel compared to Oxnard’s distinct hip-hop swagger. Live, the multi-instrumental Paak leaves the playing to his tight-ass band, the Free Nationals, though he sometimes jumps on drums. Fusion bass master Thundercat is another favorite, his creamy, falsetto-reaching vocals set against an intriguingly idiosyncratic mix of funk, acid jazz, neo-soul, electro, and R&B. He is toight. Not so much a fan of Odd Future collective rapper Earl Sweatshirt, but the kids sure do dig his lethargic, monotone, off-the-beat style, so who am I to judge? LEILANI POLK
Yungblud, Saint PHNX
If I were walking down the street in 2007 and someone was blasting Yungblud’s “Loner” out of their car, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. The artist otherwise known as Dominic Harrison sounds so ska-meets-suburban-brat-from-the-UK that he almost transcends time. And before you ask, yes, Yungblud does love Arctic Monkeys. Despite the rather exhausting image he puts out, Yungblud fancies himself a socially conscious singer. A cut off his latest studio album, 21st Century, called “Machine Gun (F**k the NRA)” is a comment on his feelings about gun culture in the US. He swings mainstream pop as well, appearing on “11 Minutes” alongside trashy pop mainstay Halsey and Travis Barker (?). Yungblud is supported by Glaswegian fraternal pop duo Saint PHNX. JASMYNE KEIMIG
You could pour everything I know about jazz into an airplane-size liquor bottle and still have room for enough bourbon to get a buzz going. And yet even my ignorant ass knows enough to know that Donny McCaslin coming to Seattle is an event. McCaslin and company were handpicked by David Bowie to help him create the sound of his triumphant final album, Blackstar—the majesty of which continues to deepen with age. And lest it seem gauche not to let more than two sentences of a McCaslin preview go by without mentioning the late great Mr. Jones, the band seems to have no qualms about embracing the association—their most recent album, Beyond Now, was dedicated to and inspired by Bowie. SEAN NELSON
Buildings, Haunted Horses, Marriage+Cancer, Drose
Minneapolis noise-rockers Buildings will bring big Midwestern energy to Eastlake with support from local chillwave outfit Haunted Horses and Portland duo Marriage and Cancer.
Select Level, Spesh, Aesthetic Mess
Select Level is where drummer Andy Sells forgoes the cerebral improvisational convolutions of his other group, the magnificent Afrocop, and dips into yacht-funk and glam-disco hedonism. Singing with a breathy savoir faire, Sells straps on his bass and tickles his keyboards—along with Afrocop bandmate Noel Brass Jr. and other top Seattle musicians—to create songs that beckon you to the dance floor and the boudoir with a suavity that splits the difference between Siren-era Roxy Music and the Sea and Cake at their swankest. This is the release party for Select Level's buoyant self-titled debut album, which should be soundtracking parties all summer. DAVE SEGAL
World Refugee Day Celebration with Ayron Jones, Ethan Tucker, Whitney Monge, Naomi Wachira
We're in for a treat from excellent local acts Ayron Jones, Whitney Mongé, Ethan Tucker, Naomi Wachira, and Kimo Muraki at this benefit concert for the NW Immigrant Rights Project, Refugee Women's Alliance, and Refugees NW.
Ludovic Morlot Conducts Debussy
This is your last chance to see Ludovic Morlot conducting live onstage at Benaroya Hall, at least in his capacity as Seattle Symphony's music director. Couldn't ask for better exit music, though. As a French conductor whose intellectual/artistic lineage traces back to Debussy, Morlot is the only person I ever want to hear painting with the watery colors of the French composer's Nocturnes. The evening also features a composition from Leoš Janáček called The Eternal Gospel. The dramatic piece is shot through with golden moments of pastoral tranquility. The Northwest Boychoir will join the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Symphony Chorale onstage for different parts of the party. RICH SMITH
Summer of Light Premieres
Take in an entire weekend of laser shows set to music you definitely know the lyrics to, including Ariana Grande (Fri) and the Beatles (Sunday).
Wonder-Full: A Tribute to the Wonder of Stevie
During his 1960s and ’70s peak, Motown superstar Stevie Wonder infused soul, R&B, and funk with melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic complexities while still appealing to millions, filling dance floors, and enhancing romantic scenarios. The world has been basking in his audacious innovations—aided by the synthesizer/production wizardry of Tonto's Expanding Head Band members Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil—for more than 50 years. And the appreciation continues with this night helmed by DJs Spinna and Supreme La Rock. You can expect to hear dozens of Stevie hits and—let's hope—deep cuts such as the mutant-disco oddity “Race Babbling,” the fusion ripper “Contusion,” and the spectral ballad “Black Maybe,” written for the great vocalist Syreeta. DAVE SEGAL
Research: Octo Octa, Physical Therapy
Seattle can’t get enough of Octo Octa (aka New Hampshire producer/DJ Maya Bouldry-Morrison) as she makes frequent stops at our city’s electronic-music mecca, Kremwerk, to flaunt her vibrant, eclectic dance music. On the decks, she’s a skilled selector of high-quality, sensuous house music, while live she heads into more challenging territory. In Octo Octa’s productions, sumptuously dreamy atmospheres coexist with complex beat science, giving equal weight to dance-floor imperatives and emotional resonance. Check out 2019’s sublimely vaporous “I Need You” for exemplary proof. DAVE SEGAL
Kool Keith, GLENN, Bruce Leroy
Bronx-residing underground rap legend Kool Keith, the founding member of Ultramagnetic MCs, will grace Tacoma with his presence with additional support from GLENN and Bruce Leroy.
Wu-Tang Clan concluded the most important and innovative period of hip-hop that began with Run-DMC’s 1984 eponymous debut. That movement—which includes albums by Eric B. and Rakim, Public Enemy, NWA, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and Gang Starr—closed in 1997 with Wu-Tang Clan’s "Triumph"/Wu-Tang Forever. After that, hip-hop innovation went either downhill or into the underground. If Wu-Tang Clan had appeared in the first decade of the present millennium, their commercial success would have been that of LA’s Lootpack—mad-innovative but with no mass appeal/appreciation. Wu-Tang Clan represent a moment in hip-hop when black genius was rewarded as much as black stupidity. Those days exist, sadly, only in the past. CHARLES MUDEDE
Judas Priest, Uriah Heep
Picture this: rural Northern California in the mid-1990s. A passel of children tangled together in the back seat of a minivan, slowly cruising up a wooded interstate. They’re on their way to a church youth camp; it’s been an overly hot and dusty summer, and restlessness reigns. Each child is screaming at the top of their tiny lungs. Are they, perhaps, possessed by the majesty of the Holy Spirit? Nope—they’re gang-shrieking the lyrics to Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law.” The reach and influence of the British band, widely claimed to have originated heavy metal itself (alongside Black Sabbath, of course), is such that it hits even the hearts of doe-eyed youngsters, and it hits hard. Almost 50 years into their career, Judas Priest can still wrangle a fiendish, otherworldly energy from even the most unexpected of listeners, like 10-year-old me and my young covenant group. KIM SELLING
Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Swing revivalists and zoot suit lifers Cherry Poppin' Daddies, gathering their sound through combining Tin Pan Alley, swing music, and glimpses of the great American songbook, will roll through Seattle.
Finn Andrews of the Veils
If you watched the 2017 Twin Peaks reboot, you'll recognize Finn Andrews and his band the Veils as one of the groups that play at the Roadhouse during the closing credits. The New Zealand-raised musician was also commissioned by the Belgian government to write a 20-minute orchestral piece to commemorate the Antipodean dead of World War I. He'll come to town in support of his debut solo album, One Piece at a Time.
Little River Band
Melbourne rockers Little River Band achieved modest success in their home country of Australia, steadily gigging since 1975. Now they're back to tour the United States with a renewed sense of vigor.
Leave it to non-Seattle band Ramonda Hammer to bring back grunge with their modern Los Angeles take on the movement, churning out swift, exciting tracks that both bark and bite. KIM SELLING
Sera Cahoone, Bryan John Appleby, Lana McMullen
Sera Cahoone's innate language is that of heartbreak, of knowing what you have in this life is perfect, or as perfect as humans can access, and there's no way it could ever last. No matter how many fairy circles you happen upon or gentle brooks lapping at your Chaco-nestled feet, this love will end, and in that finale lies your inevitable destruction. The soft, throaty Cahoone will bandage your wounds while examining her own fault lines, drawing attention to each facet of surface tension. We could all be better, we could all be more pure and good, and Cahoone's willowy, honest attempt to understand human nature uncovers more than you thought of your own experiences at first blush. KIM SELLING
Malaikat dan Singa, Afrocop, UbuludU
Malaikat dan Singa of worldly punk-rock band Arrington de Dionyso will bring you "trans-utopian world music that exists in fever dreams and hallucinations."
Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti & Spearhead
The honest, upbeat rhythms and lyrics of Ziggy Marley are more on-point than ever with his last album, Rebellion Rises. With a list of tracks dedicated to the struggle, strife, and salvation of social justice (and the world at large) in 2018, such as “See Dem Fake Leaders” and “I Am a Human,” Marley’s harmonic voice carries through with powerful vulnerability. However, these songs are not all about what Marley thinks—he wants you to be a part of this too, offering songs that invite the listener to push back against the status quo. With a menagerie of musical textures supporting each message of resistance, you’ll sway and dance along to a shared truth with Ziggy. SOPHIA STEPHENS
Seattle Men's Chorus: Summer of ’69
Look, I didn’t live through 1969, but I’ve sure heard about that year my entire life. There was Woodstock and Vietnam. And, as you’ll be hearing about all Pride Month this year, there was Stonewall. It’s now been 50 years since the Stonewall uprising that is often credited as launching the modern gay-rights movement. The Seattle Men’s Chorus will celebrate the anniversary by singing through all that rebellion and change, featuring the year's chart toppers and also introducing new musical theater work Quiet No More, about the Stonewall riots. CHASE BURNS
If we’re talking surface-level critique, LANY’s name alone (which stands for, you guessed it, Los Angeles New York) made me melon-ball my own eyes out of their sockets and throw them into the ocean. One level below that, their softboi charm extends further, to some malleable electro pop almost entirely cookie-guttered into oblivion. Tethered to some mythically dense assumption of what early-20s sentiments should sound like in song, each track on their record kinda reeks of exactly that: an entrenched effort to seem attainably cool, as relevant and earnestly mature as possible but with wide post-teenage eyes backlit by summer fireworks. Real talk, is this like a Noxzema commercial or what? KIM SELLING
Bill Callahan has a deep, warm, gentle baritone that feels like a cozy sweater of sound curling around your consciousness, and his stripped-bare folk songwriting is acoustic-guitar-driven relaxation. You just want to snuggle up in it and take a siesta. He’s been around a real long time, formerly performing under the Smog moniker (you’ve heard "Cold Blooded Old Times"—it was tapped in the High Fidelity soundtrack), until re-assuming his given name with 2007’s Woke on a Whaleheart. This tour falls behind his new Drag City full-length and 17th studio outing overall, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. LEILANI POLK
The Felice Brothers, Johnathan Rice
All the way from the Catskills, the Felice Brothers play folk and country rock. They'll roll through town in support of Undress, their first album since 2016's Life In The Dark, with support from Scottish-American singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice.
Beluga-entrancing, rape-culture-hating, ukulele-ing Raffi upholds his many decades of creating foundational children's music for his 42nd anniversary on the road.
Dave B, Jak Knight, U Moore
Listen, y’all, Dave B is good—really fucking good. Hailing from Renton, the rapper won MoPOP’s Sound Off! competition in 2013, performed Macklemore’s hit “Corner Store” alongside Travis Thompson on The Tonight Show in 2017, and dropped a new album in June called Bleu. Dave B’s third LP finds the rapper doubling down on what makes him such a standout: witty lyrics, a flow that alternates between soulful singing and incisive rapping, and excellent production. Be sure to listen to “CPU LUV,” a funny rumination on love in the digital age. He’ll be joined by Seattle-born, LA-based comedian Jak Knight. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Evan Flory-Barnes Trio
Local bassist and composer (and Stranger Genius) Evan Flory-Barnes leads a trio with pianist Jeremy Bacon and drummer Chris Patin. Join them for a night of jazz.
Charly Bliss, Emily Reo
Brooklyn's Charly Bliss describe their sound as "bubble-grunge"—muddy guitars with candy-pop vocals and melodies. They'll pass through Seattle on their Young Enough Tour with support from Emily Reo.
Clyde Petersen: Drone Butch Blues
Drone Butch Blues, the latest release from Your Heart Breaks (a pop project fronted by queer/trans artist Clyde Petersen) takes its inspiration from LGBTQ+ writers from throughout history, from David Wojnarowicz to Joan Nestle. Stretch out on the grass and hear the album in its entirety.
Coheed and Cambria, Mastodon, Every Time I Die
Move over Rush—Coheed and Cambria could very well be the nerdiest band on the planet. How else would you describe a progressive-rock band that writes concept albums based on a science-fiction story line? The albums are but a gateway to the “Amory Wars” tales that lead vocalist/guitarist Claudio Sanchez portrays in both comic- and full-length book form. Sanchez’s distinctive high-pitched voice is a unique characteristic of Coheed and Cambria, especially when partnered with their often huge, Zeppelin-like riffs. Regardless of how much commercial success C&C attain, their die-hard fans will keep this wonderfully quirky band going as long as the story line permits. KEVIN DIERS
Although he's released several critically acclaimed records and is an immensely talented and downright charming performer, British singer-songwriter David Gray seemed destined for "huge in Ireland, invisible in America" status—until Dave Matthews stepped in. Gray's album, White Ladder, was released on Matthews' label, According to Our Records. BARBARA MITCHELL
Deep Sea Diver, Sloucher, Ben Von Wildenhaus
Catch Seattle doo-wop revivalists Deep Sea Diver in Tacoma with Sloucher and Ben Von Wildenhaus.
Goth Babe, Sea Salt
LA slacker rocker/dream-popper Goth Babe (aka goth babe Griffin Washburn) will be welcomed with an opening set from shoegaze-y local pop band Sea Salt.
Rooney's harmless retro-rock sounds like the Strokes if they'd cut their teeth playing beach parties, whereas solo, Schwartzman indulges in more ELO-styled keyboard and synth flourishes. (Fun fact: Schwartzman also played Michael, Anne Hathaway’s love interest in The Princess Diaries, in which the band also had a cameo role as fictional band Flypaper.)
Three Dog Night
Sixties-bred pop-rockers Three Dog Night are back on tour, and Jimmy Greenspoon, Joe Schermie, Michael Allsup, and Floyd Sneed will be stopping in Tacoma to bring you hits like "Easy to be Hard" and "Pieces of April."
Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band, Penny & Sparrow
Renaissance man Josh Ritter manages to be both a celebrated singer-songwriter and a New York Times bestselling novelist. Join him and his Royal City Band as they play songs from their latest album Fever Breaks, which Rolling Stone called "classic Ritter on Muscle Shoals-bred steroids."
Lucinda Williams, Cass McCombs
“You wait in the car / On the side of the road,” Lucinda Williams sang, and we all agreed that she had a voice like rusty velvet. “Let me go and stand a while / I want to know you’re there / But I wanna be alone.” And another friend said how apropos, how important, that she wanted her own space. She promised to return. But “don’t go and try to find me.” Then another friend quit returning phone calls. He quit returning e-mails. When his child was born, he took the mother home but refused to hold his baby. I know he’s alive, but we had to quit trying to find him. On the new album, Williams sounds drunk. But I can’t tell if she drinks to find someone or to refuse. ANDREW HAMLIN
Storied bluesman Sonny Landreth will play a two-night residency downtown.
Sublime with Rome, SOJA, Common Kings
Put on your baja and longboard down to Redmond for a Sublime reunion show (R.I.P. Bradley), with Rome, SOJA, and Common Kings.
The Messthetics, Hurry Up, Time Pieces
Fugazi's rhythm section—bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty—compose two-thirds of the Messthetics. Now that I have your attention, you need to know that the DC trio’s self-titled 2018 debut album instantly asserted itself as one of the greatest releases in Dischord Records’ storied history. Bolstered by the fiery, intricate riffing of jazz/experimental guitarist Anthony Pirog, the Messthetics mostly purvey whirlwindy math-rock instrumentals that’ll have you banging your head in 7/4 time—although “Your Own World” and “The Inner Ocean” are slowcore beauties. These guys transmute Fugazi’s anthemic energy into more cerebral, but no less intense, expressions of rock bravado, sans the declamatory vocals. DAVE SEGAL
Soundgarden: Live From the Artist's Den
In advance of the release of their first studio album in 16 years, be the first to see Soundgarden perform King Animal in its entirety at a screening of their 2013 Live from the Artists Den performance.
Lion Babe, Sebastian Mikael
New York duo Lion Babe is composed of performance artist Jillian Hervey and instrumentalist and producer Lucas Goodman, who take inspiration from everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to "Sergeant Pepper-era Beatles." Join them on their Cosmic Wind Tour with Swedish R&B singer Sebastian Mikael.