This week, our music critics have picked everything from the New Pornographers and Diane Coffee to Mike Gordon to Emily King. 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 & culture critics' picks for the 53 best things to do this week.
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Art From Ashes
Music of Remembrance will present a free community concert in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with a historical emphasis on today's occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The musical program will feature music from the Terezín and Vilna ghettos, and selections by composers whose lives were impacted by Nazi persecution.
Nashville's Ron Pope will play an evening of emotive and folk-influenced rock. He might even play some songs off his forthcoming album Bone Structure, out in March.
Motion City Soundtrack
Minneapolis's Motion City Soundtrack will bring their Weezer-esque pop-punk to town on their Don't Call It A Comeback Tour.
Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, and Bill Stewart
Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, and Bill Stewart make up a jazzy organ trio that has pumped out 11 studio albums both under various members' names and as a unit. Their latest album on the Pirouet label, Ramshackle Serenade, is their first studio session in 13 years, and will be pulled from heavily in this show.
Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars
Cuban guitarist and vocalist Juan de Marcos González spent the better part of his career as a band leader—in Cuban folk band Sierra Maestra; in the indomitable Buena Vista Social Club, revivalists of prerevolutionary Cuban music (son, bolero, guajira, danzón, etc.); and in its spin-off group, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, which took the Club’s sounds and piled more modern Cuban music influences on top (chachachá, salsa, son montuno, timba, rumba, abakua). The Afro-Cuban All Stars also serves as a platform to showcase young, rising musicians along with its rotating multigenerational crew. This two-night stand will feature de Marcos’s latest batch of talents. LEILANI POLK
The High Council Party
Local reggae- and jazz-infused psych-rock band the High Council will jam into the night.
Bruce Phares and Overton Berry
Legendary pianist Overton Berry will team up with longtime collaborator, bassist Bruce Phares, for an evening of jazz.
Grace Stuewe, Sundae Crush, Save The Bees, Adele Soonthornyanakij
Chicago-born, Seattle-based indie songwriter Grace Stuewe will play tracks from her new album Face in the Crowd with support from pop-rock sweethearts Sundae Crush, sisterly folk outfit Save the Bees, and singer-songwriter Adele Soonthornyanakij.
When I was in the midst of deciding whether or not to move to Seattle, and flying out here to visit my lover, Radical Face (folktronic Jacksonville singer-songwriter Ben Cooper) was among the artists that always seemed to pop up on the Pandora stations I preferred at the time. I didn’t know Radical Face back then, but his youthfully high-toned vocal and finely wrought melodies always soundtracked my triumphant arrival (especially “Welcome Home, Son”) and forlorn departure, and will be forever tied to that period of time. Cooper is on the road behind the anniversary edition of his 2007 debut album, Ghost. LEILANI POLK
Initially notable for kicking Keith Sweat to the curb, the self-proclaimed "King of R&B" Jacquees is back in town to play tracks off his latest album.
I don’t love Michael Kiwanuka’s third and latest outing, 2019’s Kiwanuka, but I do love the British singer-songwriter with Ugandan roots, who enjoyed a fast come-up in the US after one of his tracks was tapped as the opening theme for smash HBO drama Big Little Lies. Don’t get me wrong, Kiwanuka is a solid effort of psychedelic soul that music rags are praising left and right, but I prefer the entrancing, deeply poignant feel of its predecessor, Love & Hate. One thing has remained intact on both: his elegant, rich, emotive, resonant vocals, lightly scratchy with a cadence that hints at his African heritage. LEILANI POLK
The New Pornographers, Diane Coffee
The 23-year-strong Canadian indie-pop supergroup New Pornographers are back in Seattle, headlining a tour in support of their most recent album, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. Headed up by Neko Case and Carl Newman, the record is the second without longtime (now former) member Dan Bejar, but sweet melodies and infectious guitar hooks still abound throughout. Some highlights: the seriously groovy “Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile” and the string-driven “Higher Beams.” JASMYNE KEIMIG
Rhythms That Bleed: Wizdumb, Astrament, DJ Veins, Guests
Veteran Seattle producer Wizdumb (aka Alex Hupp) is steeped in the values of golden age hip-hop, that time in the late ’80s and early ’90s when creatively transforming funky and eerie samples from obscure records into cinematic sonic experiences reached its zenith (think DJ Premier, RZA, Prince Paul, the Bomb Squad, et al.). His artful productions have laid head-nodding foundations for rappers such as MF Grimm, Moka Only, Silas Blak, Specswizard, and many others. Astrament (ex-Grave Babies member and Seattle musician Mitchell Saulsberry) has been creating fascinating electronic music for over a decade as Yoko Phono, Perpetual Ritual, and Astrament. Taking inspiration from non-Western rhythms, percussive timbres, and melodic structures, Astrament generates hyperreal mutations that are at once danceable and disorienting. He’s the closest thing Seattle has to Muslimgauze or Demdike Stare. (Full disclosure: I'm also DJing this event.) DAVE SEGAL
The Berries, Merz Band, Bad Luck, Great Spiders
There’s something ineffably Pacific Northwestern about the Berries, the project of singer-songwriter Matt Berry. Though the twang and sliding guitar evokes a dusty terrain, Berry’s voice grounds the sound here, among the evergreens. Reminiscent of the work of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt (and maybe a little of Mazzy Star-style melancholy), the Berries’ brand of alt-country and Americana is relaxed, exploring themes of love and relationships. Their most recent release, Berryland, picks up where their impressive 2018 debut album Start All Over Again left off. Be sure to check out “Fruit” and “Passing Scene.” JASMYNE KEIMIG
Australian-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Daniel Champagne will return to Seattle with his new album, The Nightingale Collections.
Kirby Krackle and the Nerd Rock Orchestra, Lofts
Kirby Krackle, the self-proclaimed "nerd-rock pioneer" who has collaborated with Marvel Comics, will sing songs about comic characters, video games, and other geeky pop culture subjects with the Nerd Rock Orchestra. Local indie-rockers Lofts will provide additional bill support.
Mark Hilliard Wilson: The Presence of Absence
Mark Hilliard Wilson, the official cathedral guitarist for St. James, will play a concert comprised of music from the Wandelweiser collective, including Jürg Frey's "Guitarist Alone" and Eva Maria Houben's "Aeolian Island," both of which explore "ideas of stillness and motion, of the color of notes and the lightness of silence between the sounds."
THURSDAY & SATURDAYCLASSICAL
Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1
One of the best things about having Thomas Dausgaard as Seattle Symphony's music director is that we now get to watch him conduct the music of his Danish compatriot, Erik Nielsen, all the time. His Symphony No. 1 is a thrilling epic, full of intense moments that could score a viking raid. With Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto also on the menu, the Nielsen work will add some much needed excitement. The program also features Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46, which is one of those pieces of classical music you've heard a million times without knowing the name of it. Looney Tunes used the first movement, Morning Mood, extensively, so it's buried deep in your childhood brain. RICH SMITH
There is no disputing the funk fusion greatness of War, the multi-racial band that came up in the ’70s and enjoyed their first career high with The World Is a Ghetto, their 1976 fifth LP, its title track a classic slice of swaggering wah-wah Afro jazz-rock with vocal harmonies that are at turns sweet, gospel-soulful, and deeply commanding, while its other hit “Cisco Kid” is the grooviest funkin’ jam, and one you should know as well as you likely know their cruising, best-known hit, “Low Rider,” or the upbeat shout-calling of “Why Can’t We Be Friends?,” or the ducking organ-driven groove and talk-sung storytelling of “Spill the Wine.” They’re all good, and those are just some of the charters. Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan is the only original member in the current seven-member lineup that’ll be playing this four-night, five-show run. LEILANI POLK
Nightlife Relief Fund Presents Lifeline with Sunshine Jones and Guests
The bartenders, bouncers, DJs, door people, and sound crews who work their assess off so we can escape from the shitshow that is reality can't wait for Medicare for All. That's why Seattle's most dedicated nocturnal mavens are fundraising to cover nonprofit incorporation fees for the Nightlife Relief Fund, which will provide financial support for nightlife workers who fall on hard times (think medical emergency) while lobbying city hall and Olympia for policies that benefit the industry (think no dancing ban ever again). Any night out with DJ Riz is already golden, but sweeten the pot with an all-time West Coast legend, Sunshine Jones—one-half of Dubtribe Sound System and a man who has thrown a rent party or two in his day—and you might just have the most important night out in Seattle all year. GREGORY SCRUGGS
Mallory, Atrocity Girl, No Baby
Local punk trio Mallory will rip through Seattle Center for an all-ages show with fellow all-female thrashers Atrocity Girl and supergroup No Baby.
Sydney-born, LA-based singer-songwriter Ben Lee will make a stop in Seattle for some J Mascis- and Grateful Dead-inspired jams.
BlackHot Birthday Benefit! Adra Boo, Silk Safari, Mirrorgloss, Bess & Amber
This birthday party and rent benefit will feature a burlesque performance from local Adra Boo, live music by Mirrorgloss (voted "Best New Band of 2014" by the Tacoma Weekly) and neo-soul duo Bess and Amber, and a live DJ set from Silk Safari.
Spread Presents: Samara Lennoxx
Local sultry-voiced singer-songwriter Samara Lennoxx will headline just days before the release of her new single and music video, In the Dark Times. She'll be joined by Manica, Da Qween of Everything, Britt Brutaly, and DJ Archie.
Sexy-poignant R&B jam "Distance" has more than 11 million plays on Spotify, but I bet you've never heard it, and maybe you haven't heard of Emily King, either. "Distance" is about fighting and making up and making a relationship work when there's distance in the middle of it, about living apart and getting back together, with a rather sweet refrain ("Oh, love is always better / When we take time to get back to who we are / When we are apart / Distance makes the heart grow / Even when I'm lonely / Happy knowing that your love is never far"). The NYC singer-songwriter has soulful, breathy-husky yet sweetly melodic and confident vocals (I'm reminded of Tina Turner, if not in sound, then definitely in spirit). LEILANI POLK
Seattle Women's Chorus: Revolution 2020
The Seattle Women's Chorus will honor women's suffrage on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment with lively renditions of classic songs like "The Times They Are A-Changin'," "R.O.C.K. in the USA," and "Revolution."
Excision: The Thunderdome
This electronic music extravaganza boasts two days of artists from all over the place performing back-to-back sets, from 12th Planet, Tramp, and Champagne Drip (Fri) to Liquid Stranger, Sprag Heddy, and Lucii (Sat).
Homeboy Sandman, Nacho Picasso, Onry Ozzborn, DIVEYEDE, Quelle Chris
Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist Homeboy Sandman, who's been enjoying success from his recently released his ninth album, Dusty, will come to Seattle with support from Nacho Picasso, Onry Ozzborn, DIVEYEDE, and Quelle Chris. "On any of Sandman’s songs, there are moments that can make you marvel at the wit of his wordplay or the detailed arrangement of his raps themselves, their sequence and structure," wrote Pitchfork.
Slapshot, Tuning, Land of Wolves, The Stuntmen
Boston-based hardcore punk band Slapshot, who in 2018 returned after a hiatus with their politically charged album Make America Hate Again, will celebrate their 35th anniversary on a West Coast tour with Land of Wolves and the Stuntmen in tow.
Dude York, Guests
Self-described “America’s band” Dude York is back and it feels like we are in sincere need of one of their raucous live performances. Composed of guitarist Peter Richards and bassist Claire England (who trade vocal duties), and held down rhythmically by drummer Andrew Hall, the trio delves into themes of love and heartbreak over anthemic, up-tempo, punk-fueled tracks. The Hardly Art label signees dropped their third album Falling last summer, its standouts the bright, energetic “Box” and Veruca Salt-vibing “Should’ve” (my favorite contraction). Perfect to get you through the coldest month of cuffing season. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Juliana Hatfield in Concert
Former Blake Babies front woman Juliana Hatfield has her thing honed to a science. That thing—which she’s been doing since 1987—is indie rock that unfailingly finds the golden mean between sweet and tart melodies, with her endearingly pleading voice lending everything a diaristic feel. The last few years have seen Hatfield on a prolific roll, including a savage Trump diss song (“Short-Fingered Man”), surprisingly enjoyable full-length tributes to Olivia Newton-John and the Police, and the 2019 solo joint, Weird, another sparkling power-pop effluence that proves her inspiration’s still running high all these years later. DAVE SEGAL
The last time Mike Gordon came to Seattle, he both dazzled and baffled, and I say that in the best way possible. The low-end aficionado of Phish—who also plays a mean banjo—delivered two sets worth of his original material, a quirky-fun, groove-hawking mix of psychedelic rock, cow funk, and space-pop, studded with the occasional Phish joint and the odd cover. And I do mean odd: Rancid’s “Ruby Soho,” and an encore of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.” Seriously had a few moments of that aforementioned bafflement. But Gordon’s band is made up of pros (keysman Robert Walter, belter and electric guitar ripper Scott Murawski, drummer John Kimock, and percussion/n’goni/programmer Craig Myers), their chemistry was palpable, and I was still getting the fuck down, as was everyone else in the packed room, so I guess it worked. LEILANI POLK
Irish singer-songwriter Keith Harkin takes his modern-day minstrel sensibilities on his still-running 2019 World Tour.
Live Nation Presents: An Intimate Evening With Sarah McLachlan
Grammy- and Juno Award-winning Canadian treasure Sarah McLachlan will jump out of her heart-wrenching ASPCA commercial for an evening of angel-voiced songs.