The Short List

Highlights-and otherwise-from this week's music calendar.

Wednesday, January 17

Al Kooper

Al Kooper deserves a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than anyone else. Not only is he an exceptional organ player, composer, and producer, his track record in the music biz is nothing short of spectacular. He played with Dylan when Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival. He helped found two of the 1960s' greatest, yet short-lived, R&B-infused rock outfits: Blood, Sweat & Tears and the Blues Project. He "discovered" Lynyrd Skynyrd and produced their debut, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd. ("Freebird" wouldn't be "Freebird" without Kooper.) For many years, Kooper stayed out of the public eye, though his music has lived on, most notably in hip-hop. Beastie Boys sampled Kooper's "Flute Thing" for their own "Flute Loop," and DJ Shadow's "Hindsight" and Jay-Z's "Soon You'll Understand" both contain a sample of "Love Theme (From The Landlord)." In 2005, Kooper released Black Coffee, his first solo album in nearly 30 years, which still showcases a funky R&B swagger that's truly defined Kooper's brilliant, if a bit reclusive, career. TRAVIS RITTER Triple Door, 7:30 p.m. $25

Patient Patient + Man Plus + Chapstick

As anyone who has spent a few hours reveling in the majesty of The Bends will understand, there's a broad crop of precocious, overly earnest pop-rock bands wearing their Radiohead influences on their sleeves with about as much subtlety as a hot pink corsage. Occasionally, a promising—if bashful—student shows up at the prom, willingly acknowledging Thom Yorke's angst-pocked pageantry while simultaneously showcasing their own hard-won classical talents. Demonstrating a minor-chord-driven, urgently paced sound that they could eventually claim as their own, Bellingham-based act Patient Patient wield sweetly serrated melodies against softly curved song structures with an impressive, unencumbered grace that hints at more unique endeavors to come. Now all they need is a wise chaperone to push them out of their comfort zone. HANNAH LEVIN High Dive, 9 p.m. $5

Thursday, January 18

Concorde + the Awkward Stage + High Page Delay

Only the privileged few can say they've been at the controls of a flying Concorde—history (actually, the Museum of Flight down on Marginal Way) tells us there have been more U.S. astronauts than pilots of the permanently grounded supersonic airline fleet. Likewise, Concorde the band is helmed by a handful of elites: His Lordship Jack Durban (vox/guitars), Lady Starkat of West Durham (vox/keyboards), Duke Xavier of Barcelona (bass), Baron Buggy Sampson (guitar), and General Train (drums). On their debut album, Mess I'm Made Of, this über-stylish ensemble—members resemble KGB agents, Eastern European femme fatales, and '70s porn stars—sounds as chic as it looks. Midnight guitar chords brush up against slinky bass lines, new-wavey synths, refined six-string melodies, and the scintillating vocal interplay between Durban and Starkat (think Billy Corgan romancing Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell) to swank, sexy ends. It's so solidly constructed, it seems unimaginable Concorde will crash and burn in the live setting. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG Sunset Tavern, 9 p.m. $7

Mama Tried + Chelsea Speed Party + the Harborrats

It was late night at Hattie's about a year ago. I remember it as a blur. Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher were in one corner, Jared Clifton from the Radio Nationals in another. Owner Kyla Fairchild was keeping an eye on things, and Ben Shepherd from Soundgarden/Hater was slumped over the bar with Mike Dumovich close by. All of a sudden, some guy starts running his mouth in my face, saying, "We play all Merle Haggard songs." Huh? Where did he come from? "What's your name?" I asked this stranger. "Don't know yet. But probably Mama Tried." Wow, I thought . . . all Merle Haggard covers. Possibly the most perfect cover band of all time. "Do you do any other covers? Hank? Cash?" I asked. "Nope, just Merle," he said, waving his hand at such a silly suggestion. "We haven't played any shows yet, but we should be pretty soon." We shook hands. I told him that no other cover band would ever hold a candle to one that plays Merle Haggard covers. It was a perfect concept. And I still believe it. BRIAN J. BARR Funhouse, 9:30 p.m. $5

Friday, January 19

The Black Lips + Invisible Eyes + the Tall Birds

SEE FEATURE (Black Lips), P. 51. Crocodile Cafe, 9 p.m. $10

The Divorce + Head Like a Kite + Cave Singers + Whalebones

SEE FEATURE (Cave Singers), P. 47. Comet Tavern, 8 p.m. $7

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

There comes a time in every avid indie rocker's life when enough is enough: enough with the impenetrable, obscure lyrics, enough with the discordant tunings, enough dancing around like idiots in raincoats. I recall this turning point in my life every time I hear the name Stephen Malkmus, which in my brain is followed with "Maybe someone's gonna save me/My heart is made of gravy. . . . " Luckily for Malkmus and his Portland-based band the Jicks, there are many more indie rockers who haven't entirely turned to alt-country or jazz or electronica to soothe their confused, tired ears with a bit of plain language and/or meditative repetition. In the mental compendium of Artists Who Matter, some of us file Malkmus away with our now-dusty copies of Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, but more are entertained—and impressed—with Malkmus' prolific and increasingly interesting solo work (the most recent album was 2005's Face the Truth) with the Jicks. This tour sees former drummer John Moen, who has joined the Decemberists, replaced by the kick-ass ex–Sleater Kinney member Janet Weiss. With Entrance (SEE FEATURE, P. 50.) RACHEL SHIMP Neumo's, 8 p.m. $15

Saturday, January 20

Downpilot + Weary + Swaybacks

It's a rare occurrence when a mature singer-songwriter sounds as optimistic and fearless as he is world-weary and calloused. Downpilot frontman Paul Hiraga channels both sides of life in the here and now, shooting broken and occasionally brittle heartstrings of feedback through classically constructed melodies, creating a warm and insightful brew of Americana-tinged pop that will please anyone whose media library includes Matthew Sweet, John Cassavettes, or Denis Johnson. The bittersweet tangents provided by violinist and occasional backing vocalist Anne Marie Rujlancich (previously heralded for her work with Jesse Sykes and Gerald Collier, among many others) only add more moving melancholy to the mix without weighing down the material. Despite all those laudable, populist attributes, Downpilot remain an unexcavated local treasure, as are minimalist alt-country trio the Swaybacks. HANNAH LEVIN Cafe Venus/Mars Bar, 9 p.m. $6

Emily Haines

Like her good pal, sporadic collaborator, and fellow Canadian Amy Millan (of Stars/Broken Social Scene fame), Emily Haines recently took some time away from the band she fronts (the dance-punky Metric) to record a comparably low-key solo album. Knives Don't Have Your Back—her second disc if you count 1996's pre-Metric, self-released Cut in Half and Also Double—isn't so much the folk-country of Millan's Honey From the Tombs as an exercise in straight-up soft-pop singer-songwriter-ing; Haines tones her voice down to a captivating purr, waxing introspective and accompanying herself on piano while her crack backing band, the Soft Skeleton, keeps things plaintive and classy. This show, like the disc, promises to be quite elegant. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG Crocodile Cafe, 8:30 p.m. $15

Speaker Speaker + Mon Frere + Wallpaper + Blue Skies for Black Hearts

Seattle trio Speaker Speaker don't screw around with formalities—like any good power-pop band they get right to the crunch, right to the hooks, and right to the melodies that usually stick in your head for hours, if not days. Singer-guitarist Colin McBride, bassist Danny Oleson, and drummer Jasen Samford spike their punch with familiar spirits: the punky thrust of Buzzcocks and early Elvis Costello; the "magnetism of Robin Zander and the charisma of Rick Nielsen" (as Damone put it); the busy bass lines and speedy drumming of such melodic hardcore groups as Dag Nasty, Descendents, and All; and the strangled croons and howls of countless emo/screamo outfits of the '90s and '00s. Speaker Speaker spent last summer recording their full-length debut, Call It Off, with esteemed producer-musician J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels, etc.), but the threesome has yet to find a label to release the finished disc. A handful of the new tunes are available on their MySpace page, and you'll hear plenty more earworms tonight. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG Comet Tavern, 9 p.m.

 
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