So This Is Goodbye
After recording Last Exit in 2004, the electronica-pop duo Junior Boys (Jeremy Greenspan and Johnny Dark) parted ways. For 2006's So This Is Goodbye (clever), that left Greenspan with new recruit Matthew Didemus. And even though Dark was given most of the credit for Exit's masterful rhythm structures, his departure did not squash all hopes for Junior Boys' survival. It's hard to find a music reviewer who isn't embracing Goodbye as one of the best dance records of the year. And while their press hype sets them up as the next TV on the Radio, that's a bit of a stretch. This is not to discount Junior Boys' efforts. The two can hold their own in the realm of a more fitting reference (file under: LCD Soundsystem). Using drum machines, keyboards, and probably a laptop, they create a handful of interesting new wave–style musings. Their mellow dance numbers have them primed for all those indie hipsters who want to dance but are too pretentious for "dropping it like it's hot." DUSTI RHODES
Junior Boys play Neumo's, 925 E. Pike St., 206-709-9467, www.neumos.com. $10 adv./$12. 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 29.
Diamonds and Dirt
Punk and politics make bedfellows like a senator and his aide—that is, somewhat predictably. However, there's a difference between Gang of Four on election night 1980 and Michael Stipe moaning something about the weather and the government. The Lights, on their second LP, Diamonds and Dirt, fall a little too safely in between. The title conveys it pretty accurately: You gotta scour the ditches for the riches. The minor-key dirges, Acme-strength bass, and leaden drumming of "White Harlem" make for exemplary rock and roll, like their brother bands the Intelligence and Unnatural Helpers, but with lines like, "Who gives a fuck about the president?/Who gives a fuck 'bout/how the weather's been?" the song is a political pebble. And we can probably assume to what the "Eee-vil" refrain pertains ("There is some truth to what you say/but I can smell it from here—evil") in "Caged Man Blues." Opening with Dream Syndicate's droner "When You Smile," curiously, defies their scabrous punk MO. Its old-fashioned chorus ("It feels like the end of the world/When you smile"), like a bowed-fuzz Troggs single, and Craig Chambers' despairing and delightfully bored-sounding vocal make a pretty sweet little love song. Chambers' garrulous swipes at guitar on "Setting Sun" are indistinguishable from PJ Rogalski's metered kick-drum. "Suge Knight Sweetheart" swings like a '60s spy-movie theme, leading into the postmortem post-punk of "Up the Stairs, Out the Window." KATE SILVER
The Lights play Neumo's, 925 E. Pike St., 206-709-9467, www.neumos.com. $9 adv./$10. 8 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 28.
If there is any band that raises the question, is it music or is it noise, it would be Wolf Eyes. The Michigan group continues to eschew melody and aesthetics for cacophonous reverb, grating scratches, and ear-piercing sonic blips, but this time it's almost like the soundtrack of a horror movie you really don't want to see. The band spends almost the entire five minutes of "A Million Years of Graveyards" quietly building toward an apocalyptic climax that is nearly unlistenable, raising anticipation and fear in the same manner as a death scene. It's not all just noise. The recitation of words further darkens the center section of "Rationed Riot," interrupting the birdlike shrieks with evidence of human life. Wolf Eyes don't actually seem all that interested in settling the debate over where their music fits with this terrifying album. They're more intent on making sure you never want to be alone in the dark again after listening to it. EMILY ZEMLER
Why I Hate Women
Why would David Thomas hate women? After all, the latest from long-running avant-rockers Pere Ubu sounds more like celebration of the feminine, boasting a Nina Simone impression ("Blue Velvet") and Brill Building choruses built on theremin and electronics ("Babylonian Warehouses"). There's even a woman in the band: Michele Temple, on bass. Thomas' mewling "Caroleen" sounds like A Streetcar Named Desire's Stanley Kowalksi howling for his beloved Stella, showing his garage-band roots with Cleveland legends Rocket From the Tombs. Herein lies the method sustaining Pere Ubu on and off for more than 30 years: piecing together shards of pop iconography to a place where they're just barely visible—a Stax single here ("Flames Over Nebraska"), hair metal there ("Love Song")—and using Thomas's ethnomusicologist's ear with the probing POV of an extraterrestrial. "Blue Velvet" alone is enough to make you hope Thomas will drop the Cleveland funk altogether and take to covering standards like Cole Porter or Rod Stewart. "Is there a fire in your eyes?" he asks, in a refrain like sugared PiL, in front of Keith Moliné's velvety bass lines in "Two Girls (One Bar)," though Thomas doesn't drag on John Lydon's ellipses like unfiltered cigarettes. The band's guitar balladry manages to erase all that misogynistic implication and play like a love song, albeit the kind that says, "I hate myself for loving you." KATE SILVER E