FAITH & DISEASE
Tractor Tavern at 9 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 30, with Euclid and John Massoni. $6.
Seattle's own Faith & Disease still have firm roots in their overtly U.K. goth-styled start. It's the source of their striking cover of the Cure's "All Cats Are Grey" some years back, to pick one example. On the new Passport to Kunming (Projekt), the band's inspirations are plain: The rich, rolling bass that Eric Cooley plays on the lead single, "She's Got a Halo," draws on that of not only the Cure's Simon Gallup but many of his post-punk peers as well. Vocalist Dara Rosenwasser doesn't belt, but her voice has a rich beauty that's neither fragile nor thin; its tone calls to mind fellow travelers- in-black This Ascension or Faith and the Muse. However, Faith & Disease have seldom simply looked 20 years back; they find their inspiration elsewhere, specifically in country and folk. Collaborations with members of the Walkabouts, reworkings of classic murder ballads, and, on Kunming, a fine version of Jesse Sykes' "Made of Wood" demonstrate their sound's unexpected variety. The drowned romanticism of early Mojave 3 surfaces on "Lost in Translation," whose calm guitar reverb is set against an almost subharmonic drum beat, and "Girl at the Window," with its quietly dramatic opening piano. Fully arranged and balancing majesty with subtletythe strong instrumental break on "Between the Folds" perfectly balances impact with quiet volumeit's the sound of a band coming into its own. NED RAGGETT
Chop Suey at 9 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 31, with Electrelane. $12 adv.
The difficulty with bands like Broadcast is that oftentimes their consistent tranquility makes them maddeningly difficult to rate. HaHa Sound (Warp) is the second outing for the British electro- ensemble, but where 2000's The Noise Made by People was populated by all manner of spooks and phantasms, this one is characterized by a warm, yuletide cheeriness. It's hard to talk about HaHa Sound without at least acknowledging Stereolab, the groop Broadcast most directly recall, especially live, where both bands really get going, subsuming their impeccable recorded detail in nonstop groove. But where 'Lab folk Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier were more concerned with aping Krautrock's standoffishness, Broadcast opt for sugarplum geniality. "Colour Me In" opens the record with music box organs pirouetting like tiny ballerinas around Trish Keenan's angelic alto, while percussion winds and pounds like assembly-line elvesit's like stepping inside an old Rankin/Bass Claymation Christmas special. The synths float down snowlike on the delicate "Valerie" and sparkle like ornaments strung throughout "Lunch Hour Pops." Everything hums and twinkles, and you half expect Burl Ives to rise from the grave for a duet. Which is ultimately the best and worst thing about HaHa Sound. It's bright and enchanted and agreeable, but it can also be familiar to the point of superfluity, and while its consistency and lack of tonal variety make the disc cohesive, they also limit its life span. Like the season it recalls, HaHa Sound is inviting and frequently magical, but somehow you're not complaining when it finally comes to an end. J. EDWARD KEYES
Showbox at 6:30 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 3, with Rx Bandits, Mae, the Format. $16 adv./$18.
Now that they've made the leap from Drive-Thru to Geffen, will this quintet of hopeless piano bar romantics prove adroit enough to change their moniker to Something Credible, revise to the more telling Something Narcoleptic, or stubbornly, quasi-ironically adhere to the status quo? Yeah, the current name pretty much tears the lid off our trusty vat of ultratoxic, I-don't-even-need-to-hear-a-note critical vitriol. Too bad these SoCal Ken dolls had to make their little joke; they're as cute and harmless as baby harp seals decked out with Gibsons, Tamas, Hurleys, and Pumas. SC's career began with affable fuck-the-bully single "If U C Jordan," an ivory-tickling Ben Folds Five clone that seemed destined for modern-rock novelty purgatory. It could have ended there, but goddamn if Emorica didn't lose their shit, gobble up the rest of 2002 debut Leaving Through the Window (and just-released follow-up North), and deify yet another Weezer-worshipping ladies-nite anthem machine fronted by a "sincere" Rivers clone that sings shit like "I am a butterfly, but you wouldn't let me die." Yup, mop-topped dork dreamboat Andrew McMahon brings Tori Amos keyboard humping to the thick-rimmed masses as his band fires tepid, straight-arrow hooks along the lines of Saves the Day and Hey Mercedes. McMahon and crew claim to count Billy Joel, Elton John, and Coldplay among their muses, which is kind of like Good Charlotte babbling that "we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for friggin' Nirvana, bro!" Take heart, haters: Some corporate things weren't meant to last. ANDREW BONAZELLI