Bumbershoot in a Box

Wish you could take Seattle's biggest arts and music festival home with you? Start with these four CDs' worth of music from this year's lineup — or use it as a guide to Bumbershoot's best.

Edited by Michaelangelo Matos

The idea was simple: From Woodstock to Barcelona's annual Sonar festival, lots of music festivals have released commemorative albums. What would a Bumbershoot disc look like? The answer, of course, is both "long" and "varied." So this year, we decided to put together our own conceptual package — which, as it turned out, took four CDs to house — that doubles as a highlights map and a go-to concert schedule. Rules were simple: one song per artist, from any point in their career. The result, a heady stew of rock, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, electronica, aural slapstick, and various combinations thereof, sounds pretty great — even if it isn't quite like being there.

DISC ONE

1. Nas, "Made You Look" (God's Son, Columbia, 2002) This opens with a gunshot and ends suspended in midair; in between, one of hip-hop's greatest and most uneven MCs gets hungrier than he's been in a decade. "You're a slave to a page of my rhyme book," Nas taunts, and between his vocal's steely menace and the deadly rhythm track (who'd have figured you could make a break as old and overused as "Apache" sound so new?), I'm guilty as charged. Welcome back. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Nas plays the Mainstage at 9:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

2. Public Enemy, "Can't Truss It" (Apocalypse 91 ... the Enemy Strikes Black, Def Jam, 1991) Halloween 1991: I sat with my headphones on as my father handed out trick-or-treat candy and kept rewinding this track. It was the most terrifying thing I'd ever heard. The opening is a seasick meshing of distant moans, screams, ship creaks, slave-ship statistics, and Malcolm X. Later, I heard Public Enemy do "Can't Truss It" live on TV; it wasn't half as powerful. Of course, this is the album where PE decided to streamline their hyperkinetic cut-and-paste as they got even preachier, a move that cost them their mass audience. JESS HARVELL

Public Enemy play the Mainstage at 8:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

3. Brother Ali ft. Slug, "Blah Blah Blah" (Shadows on the Sun, Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2003) Southern rappers compress everything into a couple slurrrrred syllables; Northerners E-NUN-CI-ATE every word. And Midwesterners like Minneapolis' Brother Ali and Slug find the sweet spot between the two. Producer Ant loops some Sanford and Son incidental music, while Ali decides, "I wear my toilet paper so that y'all can kiss my ass/With your tongue out and write a love song about it." Even heard right, it probably means nothing, but I think Joyce and Larry Flynt would understand. JESS HARVELL

Brother Ali plays the What's Next Stage at 7 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

4. Blue Scholars, "Blink" (Blue Scholars, www.bluescholars.com, 2003)

"Been fighting in the belly of the titan," MC Geologic notes on DJ Sabzi's leisurely, loping funk — the horns are breezier Pete Rock, the breaks nice and loose. Which isn't true of Geo's rhymes, especially when he gets specific: "America romanticize the old war story/Heroes, ammo, blood, guts, and glory/And no wonder the majority wants a war with Iraq/Even if only 15 percent can find it on a map." MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Brainstorm 4 B-Boy Battle Finals with Blue Scholars happens at the Center Circle Spin at 4:15 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

5. Ursula Rucker, "Circe (Jazzanova Remix)" (Jazzanova: The Remixes 1997 2000, JCR, 2000) Ursula Rucker may have top billing, but Jazzanova are the stars here. As part of the loosely knit broken-beat scene, the German collective with the most barf-bag-worthy name in dance music run the risk of disappearing up their own time signature, and Philadelphia poet Rucker's voice is deployed with as equally ruthless effectiveness as any other sample in their kit. But their fidgety polyrhythms are grounded by their flair for classicist song and vocal arrangement. And if a bunch of white German guys making reverent Afro space jazz makes you a little nervous (or queasy), it's also quite beautiful, whatever the melanin count. JESS HARVELL

Ursula Rucker plays the NW Court Lounge at 8:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4., and the Literary Stage at 2:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

6. Van Hunt, "Dust" (Van Hunt, Capitol, 2004) "I am dust blown away over the edge" is a sentiment that's easy to grasp, since an oversaturated neo-soul market has so far created more one-album wonders than career artists. But whatever happens to Atlanta's Van Hunt, "Dust" will live on: crackling guitar fuzz that keeps goosing the upbeat, fairy-dust synth sprinkles, the tightest drums this side of Kanye West, and Hunt and "a roomful of drunken fools" desperately hanging on to right now. MIKAEL WOOD

Van Hunt plays the Mainstage at 1 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

7. Adamski ft. Seal, "Killer" (12-inch, MCA, 1990) The billing says all you need to know. Adamski was a technohead who teamed with the then-unknown Seal to make a sinister record on the cheap; at a time when the U.K. was awash in smiley faces, it featured one of the most menacing bass lines ever heard on pop radio. It went to No. 1. Seal rereleased it a year later with supposedly beefier production. It went to No. 8. Still, he's had the hugely successful (if increasingly soporific) career; Adamski was most recently sighted in 2002, with a lame-joke electroclash cover of Wire's "I Am the Fly." JESS HARVELL

Seal plays the Mainstage at 2:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

8. Toots and the Maytals, "Time Tough" (Time Tough: The Anthology, Island, 1974) From his early-'60s ska sides to his recent comeback, True Love, Toots Hibbert has combined the gospel grit of Otis Redding, the ghetto realism of Curtis Mayfield, and the uncorked enthusiasm of Jackie Wilson — only when he and the Maytals sing "higher and higher" on this classic, they're talking inflation and unemployment. "Time Tough" was released as the global oil crisis and Cold War foreign policy catalyzed Jamaica's debt crisis. But its sheer exuberance transforms social pain into cathartic communitarian joy, which still pervades Hibbert's do-not-miss performances. JEFF CHANG

Toots and the Maytals play the Mainstage at 1 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

9. Burning Spear, "Civilise Reggae" (Social Living, Island, 1978) Social Living was one of Burning Spear's angriest albums, a manifesto aimed at critics of Rastafarianism. By contrast, its closer simply marveled at the power of Jah music: "Reggae in England, reggae in America ... reggae in Jamaica, reggae all ovah." It was the sound that won the argument: The Black Disciples band conjured a futuristic trance state, while Spear's languid, sonorous voice evoked the timeless mystery of Rasta mysticism. JEFF CHANG

Burning Spear plays the Bumbrella Stage at 8:45 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

10. Damian Jr. Gong Marley, "It Was Written" (Halfway Tree, Motown, 2001) The son of Bob Marley and former Miss Jamaica Cindy Breakspeare won a Grammy for his 2001 debut, Halfway Tree, and the tense "It Was Written" was the highlight, delivered over Stephen Marley's spare, slow, hip-hop-influenced track and complemented by dancehall firebrand Capleton and Ruff Ryder associate Drag-On. "Did you know I exist before the Earth?" asked Jr. Gong. "And did you know my eyes are window to the world?" JEFF CHANG

The Marley Brothers play the Mainstage at 3 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

11. Bebel Gilberto, "August Day Song" (Tanto Tempo, Six Degrees, 2000) Tanto Tempo made Gilberto a club favorite while staying firmly rooted in acoustic Brazilian styles. Daughter of bossa nova boss Joao Gilberto, she's an excellent writer as well as an evocative singer; "August Day Song" could pass for one of the genre's older standards. Her recent self-titled follow-up is just as assured, its version of tropicalia anthem "Baby" less a nod to the past than a promise for the future. RICKEY WRIGHT

Bebel Gilberto plays McCaw Hall at 4:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

12. Kultur Shock, "Too Late to Fornicate" (Kultura-Dikatura, Koolarrow, 2004) If the Magnetic Fields had issued a Baltic version of 69 Love Songs, this track by the local pop/punk/rap/folk/polka fusion kings would have probably come in at around 68. Over a warbling theremin and low-key guitar, Sarajevo native Gino Srdjan Yevdjevich sings, "I know how to say words like 'fuck' and 'OK' in my broken English way/And I know that it's sad, it's pathetic, and it's bad that I can't communicate." Whether it's a song about cross-cultural curfew crossing or deportation is anyone's guess. LAURA CASSIDY

Kultur Shock play the Bumbrella Stage at 6:45 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

13. Plastilina Mosh, "Alo" (Hola Chicuelos, EMI Latin, 2003) This Los Angeles via Monterrey, Mexico, duo's most recent album begins with an electrofied boast that "Plastilina has the beat... girls ... money" and, of course, "beers," before launching into a tour of sounds and styles whose fun is barely suggested by listing them — here, it's a party invitation, complete with cheerleading. Those who dug Caf?acuba's similarly all-over-the-place approach at last year's festival — not to mention fans of Manu Chao and Fishbone — won't want to miss these tricksters. RICKEY WRIGHT

Plastilina Mosh play the Bumbrella Stage at 6:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

14. Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited, "Serevende" (Chimurenga Forever: The Best of Thomas Mapfumo, EMI, 1995) Thomas Mapfumo became the voice of the Zimbabwean independence movement during the '70s with his chimurenga (struggle) music. With guitarist Jonah Sithole, he created a new pop sound by translating the music of the mbira (a traditional thumb piano) for a guitar-and-drum ensemble. The power of "Serevende," an allegory describing the devastation wrought by a border war between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, lies in the contrast between the gentle mbira rhythms and Mapfumo's anguished cry. Exiled by dictator Robert Mugabe in 2003, Mapfumo now resides in Oregon and continues to advocate for justice in his homeland. JEFF CHANG

Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited play the Bumbrella Stage at 9 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

DISC TWO

1. United State of Electronica, "IT IS ON!" (United State of Electronica, Mannheim, 2004) This generous Andrew W.K./Daft Punk synthesis is utopia recaptured for kids obsessed by The Mickey Mouse Club, where every day was a United State of PAR-TAY. Exclusion didn't enter into the picture at all, and neither does it here: When they illustrate that "everybody's singing along" by having a crowd take up the offer, it's simply a preview of the mayhem of the U.S.E. live experience. MICHAEL DADDINO

United State of Electronica play the Mainstage at 6:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

2. Walkmen, "The Rat" (Bows + Arrows, Record Collection, 2004) Don't hate the Walkmen because they're rich, handsome, well-dressed preppies riding the Strokes' coattails to hype heaven. Hate them because their music sucks. But sometimes good songs happen to bad bands, like this jolt of raging energy. Paul Maroon's frantic guitar and Walter Martin's organ bleed together into a soaring haze while frontman Hamilton Leithauser spews bile all over the place. For four and a half minutes, you, too, will believe these guys actually have something to be angry about. AMY PHILLIPS

Walkmen play the Backyard Stage at 8:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

3. These Arms Are Snakes, "Darlings of the New Midnight" (Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, Jade Tree, 2004) "At all our parties we use ... sign language!" Steve Snere roars over a precision punk-funk skeleton — just before Ryan Frederiksen endows the track with a Van Allen Belt of torrid guitar flesh. TAAS have an unusually organic command of time, but "Darlings" offers just enough mathematical medicine to help the sugar go down — in flames neatly fanned by Frederikson's measured wah wah inflected blasts. "Fuck you over there" indeed! ROD SMITH

These Arms Are Snakes play the What's Next Stage at 3:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

4. Himsa, "Kiss or Kill" (Courting Tragedy & Disaster, Prosthetic, 2003) "First you wanna kill me," Bruce Campbell infamously deadpanned to a medieval lass in Army of Darkness. "Now you wanna kiss me. Blow." Ah, the volatile extremes of love and hate. Who better to expound upon them via speed-of-sound fingering, spoken-word dementia, and throwdown breakdowns than local gothcore legends Himsa? John Pettibone's feral barks don't channel Campbell's ironic detachment, but bitter observations like "The warmth of desire, so transcendent and dangerous, when the risk of romance is ... so fucking hopeless" more than compensate. ANDREW BONAZELLI

Himsa play the What's Next Stage at 5:45p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

5. Schoolyard Heroes, "Blood-Spattered Sundress" (The Funeral Sciences, Control Group, 2004) No other song by this fast- rising U-Dub quartet is as galvanizing or reflective of their talent for taking hard lefts between genres and coming out in one piece. The pop pedigree of "Sundress" is surprisingly SoCal — think "Just a Girl" reimagined by Pretty Girls' Andrea Zollo and cranked by Green Day back when their shtick was fresh. Not a revolution, maybe, but certainly a revelation worth following. ANDREW BONAZELLI

Schoolyard Heroes play the EMP Sky Church at 2 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

6. Puddle of Mudd, "She Hates Me" (Come Clean, Interscope, 2001) This record probably isn't very good. In fact, it might well be terrible. Singer Wesley Reid Scantlin looks like every frat mook who wrote things on your forehead while you were passed out at a kegger; sonically, the whole thing leaves a bad taste in your mouth — stale menthol cigarettes, maybe. But the moronic, catchy chorus was an up on modern-rock radio at a time when everyone else was locked into the Creed slow dance, and it's hard to deny when it comes on a jukebox now. Ever wondered what happened to Ugly Kid Joe? Here's your answer. JESS HARVELL

Puddle of Mudd play the Mainstage at 7:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

7. Nickelback, "How You Remind Me of Someday" (MP3, 2004) "CREED!" America manfully belched, and Canada meekly replied, "Ummm ... Nickelback?" Then some anonymous Internet masher simultaneously funneled the 'Back's "Someday" through the left channel and "How You Remind Me" through the right, discovering that the verse progressions, stompbox explosions, and rueful bridges are very, very ... er ... not dissimilar. Not to be confused with the similarly thought-provoking "All Linkin Park songs sound the same." ANDREW BONAZELLI

Nickelback play the Mainstage at 9 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

8. Face to Face, "Disconnected" (Big Choice, Victory, 1995) Ah, '95. Mall punk and the Warped Tour were in their demonic infancies, 'zines huffily eviscerated Dischord and Lookout! refugees, and Cali's Face to Face merrily satirized the insanity. Not only was indie-EP standout "Disconnected" given an extreme makeover for Choice, they prefaced it with an "argument" with fictional producer "Phil." "No offense, Phil," one sellout-wary player blurts, "but there's no way in hell this song's going on this record" — just before the first familiar power chord. Underrated comic genius. ANDREW BONAZELLI

Face to Face play the What's Next Stage at 8:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

9. Against Me!, "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" (Reinventing Axl Rose, No Idea, 2002) The Emerald Isle's stout may make you strong, but its whiskey works quicker. So crank this cut and use the Guinness to chase shots of Bushmills because this Gainesville outfit's punk sing-along is as good as drinking songs get. Behind its double-time drums and strained vocal choruses, you can practically smell the beer on the floor and hear the glasses shatter from overzealous toasts. Cheers! JOHN COYLE

Against Me! play the What's Next Stage at 9:15 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

10. The Catch, "After Party (Fire! Fire! Fire!)" (The Catch EP, self-released, 2004) New wave? What's that? Oh, it's this thing smart-asses with rudimentary keyboard skills and a whole lotta attitude do. Like this all-woman four-piece, who after a minute suddenly go on guitar attack, obliterating the song's coyness ("We don't want to have to go home alone") and busting the party (before or after) wide open. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

The Catch play the EMP Sky Church at 2 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

11. The Girls, "Flesh" (The Girls, Dirtnap, 2004) This is why you're not likely to read a Girls notice that doesn't reference the Cars anytime in the near future. That's not entirely fair — the Seattle quintet flaunts a broader scope of garage influences — but it's certainly not a bad thing. Here, frontman Shannon Brown hiccups adroitly between Zache Davis' scattered power-chord crunch and keyboardist Eric Norlund's merry-go-round anchor work. It's airtight and not ashamed of its identity and upbringing, certainly two qualifiers for a great single. ANDREW BONAZELLI

The Girls play the EMP Sky Church at 12:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

12. The Killers, "Somebody Told Me" (Hot Fuss, Island/Def Jam, 2004) Drenched in more paranoid synth than an entire Faint album and armed with a pansexual, affected chorus that would drop Damon Albarn's jaw ("Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year"), this may be the Killers' key to car commercial riches circa 2015, but today it's disco-fever perfection. ANDREW BONAZELLI

The Killers play the What's Next Stage at 6:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

13. Ben Kweller, "My Apartment" (On My Way, ATO/RCA, 2004) The welcome flip side to the typical life-on-the-road lament, here Radish frontboy Ben Kweller recounts the charms of his small apartment in Brooklyn: "The home where I hide away from all the darkness outside." It's a jangly folk-rock gem remarkable for its unguarded sensitivity — the singer just wants to hang at home with his cat, "protected from pain." If life is a highway, stop this train; Kweller wants to get off. MIKAEL WOOD

Ben Kweller plays the What's Next Stage at 6:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

14. Aveo, "Laughter Leaves You" (Bridge to the Northern Lights, Brown, 2001) Though he has a tendency to mumble his lyrics the way one does when honesty becomes slightly uncomfortable, Aveo singer William Wilson's melodies and disarmingly angelic voice bear a striking resemblance to Morrissey's, but the band's catapulting chemistry makes the overall effect sound as much like Candy Apple Grey era H?D?RA CASSIDY

Aveo play the EMP Sky Church at 2 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

15. Turn-Ons, "P.S. I Love You" (East, Childstar, 2004) Some people ask that bands show their hearts, not their record collections. The Turn-Ons reveal both — one smoldering, the other effortlessly cool. "I'm not coming back to say I'm sorry," goes the best song on their self-released East. "I'm not coming back to say I'm wrong/I'm not coming back to say I miss you/I don't think I'm coming back at all." Swaddled in ribbons of hazy guitar, it's the sound of Seattle's biggest broken heart. DAPHNE CARR

The Turn-Ons play the EMP Sky Church at 3:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

16. Death Cab for Cutie, "Company Calls" (We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, Barsuk, 2000) Distance is to Ben Gibbard what cars are to Springsteen, too common to be a song's real subject. His distances cross-talk like party lines, and you start to wonder if the call in question (made on the company dime while hiding from the boss in a vacant office, psychoanalyzing a soon-to-be ex over the phone) was ever connected. If pop songs are self-absorbed, great ones fall in love with themselves while you eavesdrop. J. NIIMI

Death Cab for Cutie play the Mainstage at 7:45 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

17. Five for Fighting, "Superman (It's Not Easy)" (America Town, Columbia, 2000) This Top-40 smash's genius is how well Los Angeleno John Ondrasik's music reflects the lyric, in which Superman admits, "I'm only a man in a funny red sheet." The song is half-digested Dave Matthews mush every bit as average and tentative as Ondrasik's narrator insists he feels, so the song ends up achieving a rare kind of thematic gestalt that soothed many a shaken post-9/11 soul. That Ondrasik is still paying his bills with "Superman" just adds another layer of extramusical oomph. MIKAEL WOOD

Five for Fighting play the Mainstage at 1 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

18. Liz Phair, "Jealousy" (Whip-Smart, Matador, 1994) Between 1993's much-loved Exile in Guyville and her shiny, shameless, self-titled latest, Phair's second album often falls through the cracks, dismissed as solid but lackluster. It's not. The jittery "Jealousy" is Phair at her venomous best: "I can't believe you had a life before me," she growls in a voice so toxic you hope the guy will have one after her. Like the emotion itself, "Jealousy" keeps building and building ... with no payoff. AMY PHILLIPS

Liz Phair plays the Mainstage at 2:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

DISC THREE

1. Pixies, "Planet of Sound" (Trompe le Monde, Elektra, 1991) It starts like a regular Pixies song, meaning like rock music with something a little wrong with it, namely Black Francis, whose unhinged shtick seems especially acute here, particularly since he comes on like a weather reporter on a bender. Then the guitar whoosh they'd mined forever comes crushing in — smoother than usual, thanks to the budget, but also giddier. It's over too quickly, which is why you keep going back to it. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

The Pixies play the Mainstage at 9:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

2. Briefs, "New Shoes" (Hit After Hit, Dirtnap, 2001) "The best things in life are free" is a lie. They may be simple, but nothing's free. Another proverb says that shoes make the man. Now we're getting somewhere, somewhere the Briefs have distilled into sonic purity. The guitar licks echo the Buzzcocks, the attitude screams, "I don't care," and the execution is crushing. New kicks don't, as this track purports, really make anyone better, but sometimes it feels that way, and sometimes that's enough. JOHN COYLE

The Briefs play the EMP Sky Church at 3:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

3. Drive-By Truckers, "Heathens" (Decoration Day, New West, 2003) Patterson Hood, the most prolific of the three singer-songwriters who alternately front Alabama's Drive-By Truckers, sings the chorus to this gently rolling tune about the sorry inevitability of misbehavior just once. "We were heathens in their eyes at the time," he laments in an uncomfortable high register — Hood's way of garnering sympathy for a narrator the rest of the tune fills in details about, like a van in a ditch and a wrinkle in a forehead. "I guess I am just a heathen still." MIKAEL WOOD

The Drive-By Truckers play the Backyard Stage at 7:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

4. Built to Spill, "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain" (Live, Warner Bros., 2000) Doug Martsch doesn't need two extra guitarists onstage with him, but he sure can use them — for texture, a lot of the time, or to shore up a sound fearsome in its sheer size, as on this song, originally recorded by his side project, the Halo Benders. When the guitars downshift, it's like being caught in a hurricane's eye; the solo that follows, like the waves crashing ashore. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Built to Spill play the Mainstage at 8 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

5. Black Keys, "Have Love, Will Travel" (Thickfreakness, Epitaph/Fat Possum, 2003) Crawling up from the mean streets of Akron, Ohio, the Black Keys are the latest white men with the down-and-dirty blues. Here, they bash out a cover of Richard Berry's '50s R&B single even skuzzier than the Sonics' 1965 version. Singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach's slurred holler and fuzzy riffing are coated in swamp scum, while drummer Patric Carney thumps his way through the primordial ooze. Just imagine what these 20-somethings will sound like in 40 years. AMY PHILLIPS

The Black Keys play the Blues Stage at 6:15 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

6. Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "Frosty" (Texas Swing, Rounder, 1987) One of the weirdest bluesmen working the circuit, Gatemouth scowls at the audience throughout his shows — typically, bluesmen act like Vegas showmen. The guitarist- violinist is plenty respected, giving him a kind of freedom in a genre that is often pro forma guitar wanking. "Frosty" is an instrumental, and Brown's guitar work is all over the place stylistically, the pace is moderate, and the horn players take actual solos. It doesn't overwhelm — instead, it just creeps into you. PHILIP DAWDY

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown plays the Blues Stage at 8:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

8. Nancy Sinatra, "So Long Babe" (The Hit Years, Rhino, 1965) After a series of early flops, Nancy Sinatra partnered with industry vets Lee Hazlewood and Billy Strange for a string of country-tinged doozies like "So Long Babe" and the proto riot grrrl "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." ("Don't sing it like a child," Hazlewood told her, "do it for the truck drivers." It went to No. 1.) Sinatra appears at Bumbershoot with a comeback album with songs by pal Morrissey, Bono, Thurston Moore, and others in the pipeline. RICKEY WRIGHT

Nancy Sinatra plays McCaw Hall at 3:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

9. Sebadoh, "Hung Up" (7-inch, Vertical, 1991) It said "Sebadoh" on the hand- decorated cover, but 1991's Asshole EP was really just the emotionally forthright Lou Barlow on this side, his early bandmate and foil Eric Gaffney on the other, before the band became indie-rock standard-bearers. "Hung Up" was one of a suite of red-raw songs Barlow wrote about his resentment over J. Mascis kicking him out of Dinosaur Jr. When Barlow sings, "Why don't you like me?" it's a quote from a Dinosaur song J. wrote for him to sing. DOUGLAS WOLK

Lou Barlow performs at the Literary Stage at 8:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

10. American Music Club, "Apology for an Accident" (Mercury, Reprise, 1993) In which Mark Eitzel dispenses venom as readily as he takes it, claiming repeatedly that his ex's most toxic offenses are "a little weak for my taste." By the time this obsessive sucker for punishment coos, "I can see you try and put me in my place," you can feel Eitzel's hand ripping right through the cross' nail for the biggest bitch slap of his career. ROD SMITH

American Music Club play the Backyard Stage at 3:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

11. Crooked Fingers, "When U Were Mine" (Reservoir Songs EP, Merge, 2002) It's pop-music law that you can't make a bad version of this song — Prince's original may be his greatest recording, and Cyndi Lauper and Mitch Ryder have taken it to the bank. But it took Eric Bachmann's doleful, cello-and-banjo version to bring out its doomy heart. No surprise — all of his records as Crooked Fingers have explored desolation and sometimes laughed at it. This one does a little of both. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Crooked Fingers plays the Backyard Stage at 6:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

12. Mindy Smith, "Come to Jesus" (One Moment More, Vanguard, 2004) Vanguard has been selling clear-voiced singer- songwriter Smith to country audiences through her cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," but most of her impressive debut is introspective coffeehouse fare. And then there's "Come to Jesus," a harrowing gospel-blues meditation on death and faith, whose video portrays Smith as a pouty diva, thoroughly undercutting the song's mixed message and tortured execution. Smith sings like a restless ghost rather than a true believer; maybe Vanguard should be targeting PJ Harvey fans. AMY PHILLIPS

Mindy Smith plays the Backyard Stage at 5:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

13. Natalie MacMaster, "Space Ceilidh" (In My Hands, Rounder, 1999) Purists sneered at MacMaster's sci-fi take on Cape Breton fiddling, but she was on to something; the same year Hands came out, Irish fiddler Eileen Ivers released her own fusion-tinged album, sporting tracks like "Whiskey & Sangr?" But "Space Ceilidh" isn't multiculti cross-pollination — it actually feels like something new. Call it Astro Celt Sound System: The fiddle medley's bounding tunes get a major lift(off) from programmed laser sounds and the funky electric guitar uncoiling beneath. NEAL SCHINDLER

Natalie MacMaster plays McCaw Hall at 8:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

14. Josh Ritter, "Harrisburg" (Golden Days of Radio, Signature, 2000) This song's central villain, the train, evokes the mid-19th century, when the Central Pacific Railroad was decimating everything in its path. Against a dusty campfire guitar melody, Ritter makes his antihero, Romero, a victim of his own shortcomings. The hapless family man leaves his brood in the lurch and sets out for Harrisburg (and his inevitable demise), and Ritter tells it so richly, with such economy of language, that it humbles you — and makes you hungry for s'mores. NEAL SCHINDLER

Josh Ritter plays the Backyard Stage at 2:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

15. Pedro the Lion, "April 6, 2039" (Control EP, Suicide Squeeze, 2000) Since 1998, Seattle's Pedro the Lion have mixed beautiful, melancholic, downer-vibe music with compelling, melancholic, downer-vibe lyrics. Like the underground comic books of Dan Clowes and Adrian Tomine, singer-songwriter David Bazan's vision may be misanthropic and idiosyncratic, but his work is somehow totally accessible, and the band's gotten even better since adding songwriter T.W. Walsh to its ranks. This vaguely "folktronic" tune has one of my favorite indie-rock lines ever: "Your father drank a little/You're on liver number two." MIKE MCGONIGAL

Pedro the Lion play McCaw Hall at 8 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

16. Nick Lowe, "What's Shakin' on the Hill" (Party of One, Reprise, 1990) Like Claudine Clark shut in her room by an overprotective mama on "Party Lights," Lowe enviously overhears a nearby bash. Except here, the singer's own soulful sulkiness denies him admission: "It isn't allowed ... to be seen with a tear in your eye." There'd be other weekends for Clark, but it's clear Lowe's resigned to a partyless existence, his only company a jazzy guitar and a forlorn grace he captured only fitfully after moving on to torch-song nostalgia. KEITH HARRIS

Nick Lowe plays the Backyard Stage at 4:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

DISC FOUR

1. Robyn Hitchcock, "Viva! SeaTac" (Jewels for Sophia, Warner Bros., 1999) Hitchcock's everything-but-the- Frasier-Crane tour of Seattle slips your espresso a roofie. His terminally upbeat observations — "The Space Needle's such a nice guy!" "All the Norwegians, man, you should see them!" — taste like lithium for those accustomed to rainfall one-third of the year. Beyond Hitchcock's drowsy Syd Barrett psyche-swing are a few admonitions tipsier than the Central Library, like the claim that Seattle has the best "computers and coffee and smack." KATE SILVER

Robyn Hitchcock plays McCaw Hall at 9:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

2. Sun City Girls, "Uncle Jim" (Sun City Girls, Placebo, 1984) In the annals of music, "This is your Uncle Jim speaking, fellas/Nothing in this world is free/You fellas spoke pot?" is one of the weirder opening lines. Then again, we're talking about Seattle-by-way-of-Arizona avant-art punk outfit Sun City Girls here. Like a Beat poet's lounge act, "Uncle Jim" is a shuffle of a spoken-word song story backed by pitter-patting drums, lazy guitar strings, and the occasional sax blast. For the Girls, it's hardly strange at all. LAURA CASSIDY

The Sun City Girls play the EMP Sky Church at 5 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

3. Dr. Lonnie Smith, "Seven Steps to Heaven" (Live at Club Mozambique, Blue Note, 1970) Smith, like many tough, lyrical organists, pounds the Hammond B-3 with forceful imagination. But unlike many others, he creates texture at all costs. This tune evolves from loose to rugged; at 3:54, a swing unfolds with an astonishing amount of crackling intensity. And beyond the false ending, Ronnie Cuber's wailing saxophone and Joe Dukes' chaotic, confrontational drums await a final liftoff. DANIEL KING

The Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio play the NW Court Lounge at 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3, and 2:15 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

4. Galactic, "My Little Humidor" (Organ-ized, High Street, 1999) The mighty New Orleans quintet — minus vocalist Theryl DeClouet, who must have been rooting from the corner — create excitement on this spare, midtempo groove. Drums, sax, bass, and guitar allow Hammond B-3 burner Rich Vogel to reach a grumbling, swampy depth. They improvise entirely; but where many Galactic tunes use a loud horn, this one cuts to the chase: low-register climax, laid-back coordination, percussive attack, and riff-driven repetition. DANIEL KING

Galactic play the Bumbrella Stage at 5:15 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

5. Bad Plus, "Iron Man" (Give, Columbia, 2004) This should play as a gag, and in some jazz circles it actually does. The premise: acoustic jazz trio that occasionally covers something the kids would be into (Nirvana, Aphex Twin, or, as here, Black Sabbath). But no one with even a shred of contempt for the material could attack it with the uncool abandon the Bad Plus do here, the toxic churn of the main riff replicated with simple acoustic piano, bass, and drums. It's about as close to "Symphonic Metallica" as Louis Armstrong was to Al Jolson. JESS HARVELL

The Bad Plus play the NW Court Lounge at 8 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5, and 1:45 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

6. Hard 'n' Phirm with Chris Hardwick & Mike Phirman, "Rodeohead" (MP3, 2004) If the Philharmonic can do Radiohead, why can't the Comedy Store? A few banjos, a few fake plastic trees ... pure comedy! Hardwick, veteran of ditzy dating programs Singled Out and Shipmates, draws in the doe-eyed with Jimmy Fallon esque frat-boy charm, and along with buddy Mike Phirman (and hired pickers), they appropriate Thom Yorke's bestial vocals with Queen harmonies on a Ween budget, scoring gold with the Dr. Demento crowd. KATE SILVER

Hard 'n' Phirm play the Charlotte Martin Theater at 2:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3; 7 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4; 5:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5; and 4 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

7. Kiki & Herb, "People Die Medley" (Do You Hear What We Hear?, People Die, 2000) In which the cabaret kamikazes pair "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with "Suicide Is Painless," aka the theme from M.A.S.H. But beyond irony, Kiki & Herb give Nirvana's best-known work a shticky spit polish no listener sees coming. At first you think the duo are wrecking the song; then you realize they're merely paying whacked-out homage to lyrics and a melody that could go through a power mower without losing their angry beauty. NEAL SCHINDLER

Kiki & Herb play the Bagley Wright Theatre at 5 p.m. Sat., Sept. 4.

8. Laura Veirs and the Tortured Souls, "Rapture" (Carbon Glacier, Nonesuch, 2004) Local guitarist-songwriter Laura Veirs' latest, released first in the U.K., is warm and comfortable but also peculiar enough to set her apart from the mainstream. In this strange dream of a song, the velvety-voiced singer wonders whom we might blame for the rapture — Monet, Virginia Wolfe, or Kurt Cobain, "junk coursing through his veins" — over a shy whistle, cautionary violin strings, and her own plaintive finger-picking. LAURA CASSIDY

Laura Veirs & the Tortured Souls play the Backyard Stage at noon Sat., Sept. 4.

9. Harvey Danger, "Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo" (King James Version, London/Sire, 2000) Best known for their 1998 hit "Flagpole Sitta," locals Harvey Danger released a smart, sharp, follow-up album, and nobody cared. "Sad Sweetheart" should have been another winner, with its big, careening guitars, in-your-face bass line, and singer Sean Nelson's snarky lyrics, but by 2000, the post-grunge boom was history and the band dissolved back into the Seattle indie scene — though they're reportedly working on new material, so anything could happen. AMY PHILLIPS

Harvey Danger play the EMP Sky Church at 5 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

10. The Presidents of the United States of America, "Peaches" (The Presidents of the United States of America, Columbia, 1996) Did it really happen? Did a trio of goofy nerds from Seattle shouting about animals, candy, and dune buggies sell 2 million copies of an album that cost $8,000 to make? Was a vaguely sexual, hyperactive, three-part mini-opera devoted to harvesting and eating a certain fruit truly an honest- to-goodness Top-40 hit? And they're still at it with a new album and everything? Are you sure it wasn't — isn't — just a dream? AMY PHILLIPS

The Presidents of the United States of America play the Mainstage at 9:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 3.

11. The Fitness, "Phone Sex" (Call Me for Together, the Control Group, 2003) The Fitness are the grease on the tracks of Berlin's "Metro" or the beat bouncing behind the jukebox of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock N' Roll." On "Phone Sex," Bree Nichols' pissy punk-chick vocals rub the distorted guitar and thin drum machine raw, so maybe it's best that the partner's out of scratching distance. Live, the Less Than Zero style soundtrack turns into a sweaty dance party worthy of all those tracksuits the electro set (wrongly) supposes is part of their shtick. DAPHNE CARR

The Fitness play the What's Next Stage at 2:45 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

12. Popular Shapes, "Refrigerators Too Large" (Bikini Style, On/On Switch, 2003) Abrasive guitars, off-angled drumming, asylum vocals, and razor bass are part of a tradition including Big Black, Men's Recovery Project, and now Seattle's Popular Shapes. I keep listening to the crazy stop-go blitzkrieg of "Refrigerators Too Large," but it's too mad, too hot, too frantic to understand. What the hell is Nick Brawley singing about? "Defrost, defrost!" "Then throw it all out"? It's like Eno's "Baby's on Fire," only it actually sounds like it's on fire, and like someone's groceries are getting fucked. What more could you want in 1:26? DAPHNE CARR

The Popular Shapes play the EMP Sky Church at 2 p.m. Sun., Sept. 5.

13. Photek, "The Water Margin" (12-inch, Photek, 1994) With his surgical steel surfaces and his textures as smooth as a flour-dusted glove, Rupert Parkes, aka Photek, as much as anyone, killed jungle. By then the genre was already being called "drum and bass," the name alone draining the life, funk, and rawness from the genre like Tom Cruise in pancake makeup and fake fangs. At his best, though, as on "The Water Margin," Parkes turned his OCD engineers credits (all those hours laboriously tweaking drum fills) into a thrilling paranoia, a music of rigorous control, a puppeteer working a dance floor's responses down to every last twitch. JESS HARVELL

Photek plays the EMP Sky Church at 9 p.m. Mon., Sept. 6.

 
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