Music Previews

SOLEDAD BROTHERS

Showbox at 8 p.m.

Sat., Nov. 8, with Spiritualized. $17.50 adv./$20.

Recently, a musician friend called me from Detroit, where his band had a tour stop. "This city is pretty proud of itself right now," he remarked. Among those basking in the Motor City's rock revival are Soledad Brothers, who after three albums have demonstrated a certain something. More than a sound, it's a looka glance from one barfly to another that suggests we should share a whiskey and a dance . . . and then we should cut to the chase. This is devil-may-care music that gave the finger to Mama when she told you that you'd better shop around. That's because she should have also mentioned that you shouldn't trust a man named after a liquor bottle. There's an evil spirit down Soledad Brothers guitarist-vocalist Johnny Walker's gullet; it makes him bellow the blues, pummel the harmonica, and talk trash, something he does to half-cocked perfection on Soledad Brothers Live (Dim Mak), released last February and a warm up for Voice of Treason, which Universal has released overseas but not yet in the States. On Live, Walker mainlines a chugga-chugga guitar rhythm on "Goin' Back to Memphis" that evokes the very heartbeat of roadhouse blues. Meanwhile, Brother drummer en Swank adds a little extra kick and stomp. "Teenage Heart Attack" may ache like classic Johnny Thunders"This is a song about a gull," Walker intonesbut it still struts like the Stones' "Brown Sugar" while Walker wheezes out a little of Johnny Rotten's acidity through his harmonica. Meanwhile, gulls line up to light his cigarettes. My friend was rightDetroit should be proud. KATE SILVER

CONFERENCE CALL

Seattle Asian Art Museum at 8 p.m.

Thurs., Nov. 6, with Wally Shoup Trio. $12. Part of the Earshot Jazz Festival.

Among his many great strengths, Gebhard Ullman has that quality so sadly rare in jazz circles and so key to saxophonists like Sonny, Dexter, and Branford: a sense of humor. He puns on corny melodies, indulges his sense of whimsy, and generally brings a kind of Rollins-like jollity to the stage that makes his somber moments all the more affecting. As with Sonny, there's nothing lightweight in his lightheartedness: Ullman's brilliantly effusive with song, his every solo a patchwork of spontaneous melody lines, his toneespecially on soprano sax and bass clarinetunique, humane, personal. Dividing his time between Berlin and New York, Ullman has hooked up with a ton of the avant/Euro scene's usual suspects, and in that milieu he stands out for making music that doesn't mind reaching out to the crowd. His American quartet, Conference Call, has two CDs out, featuring ingenious pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, who can change the whole feeling of a passage with one single unexpected note, and bassist Joe Fonda, a broad-shouldered player with earthy power who has worked closely with Stevens for years. The drummer throne has been somewhat in flux; for this show, Gerry Hemingway sits in. Lightning swing, arch polka, elegiac balladry, free formsthis band covers a scenic waterfront with great wit and open heart. MARK D. FEFER

THE PAPERBOYS

Tractor Tavern at 9 p.m.

Fri., Nov. 7, with Night Driving. $12 adv./$14.

Vancouver's Paperboys have come a long way from their first Seattle support slot seven years ago. These days they're a guaranteed club filler across the U.S. and Canada. They've won a Juno Award (the Great North's equivalent of a Grammy), tour constantly, and pack them in at festivals all across North America and Europe. And they've kept growing from their Celtic party-band beginnings. The personnel has changed, allowing songwriter and frontman Tom Landa the chance to explore a lot more ground, whether it's the Latin roots he exposed on Postcards or the Western snapshots that make up the band's ambitious new double CD, Dilapidated Beauty (Stony Plain). The first disc, subtitled "Night Driving," is fragmentary, a series of evocative rural images from places like "Omak Hotel" and "Lillooet." Disc two, "Saturday Afternoon," catches its breath, clinging to visions of home on songs like "It Takes So Long" and the achingly gorgeous "What Would I Miss," before returning to the road at the end with "Windshield Cracks." There's still a Celtic heart beating under it all, as evidenced most strongly by the instrumental "If I Could Be There," but it's muddied over here in prairie dust for a coating that verges on alt-country. Landa is rapidly developing into a world-class songwriter, and the band is keeping pace with him, spreading its wings and flying to a place where anything seems possible. The Paperboys definitely deliver. CHRIS NICKSON

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