Save the Date(s): Mick Collins, the Kills, and Glenn Branca

One mad week in May.

It strikes me as rather bizarre that a performance by a founding Clash member could end up flying almost completely under Seattle's radar, but somehow it did just that on Sunday night when Mick Jones played Chop Suey. Maybe that club needs to be working much harder to promote its shows, or perhaps this city's music journalists need their collective antennas tuned up. Either way, it's a shame more people didn't know that Jones was in town with longtime comrade Tony James (Generation X) to promote the debut of their joint project, Carbon/Silicon.Sadly, I was out of town and unable to witness the show for myself. I'm a bit of a travel junkie and hit the road as often as my life allows, but if one week this spring is guaranteed to keep me grounded locally, it's the rich stretch between May 13 and 16. Fans of top-notch garage rock, provocative post-punk, and groundbreaking No Wave art should block out that Tuesday through Friday on their calendars now, because it's shaping into a helluva week.The inimitable Mick Collins finally returns with the Dirtbombs to Neumo's on Tuesday, May 13. Their new album, We Have You Surrounded, is probably the best thing they've done to date. All the signature elements are there: Collins' delicious, gilt-edged bark, the seductive, take-no-prisoners low end provided by dueling bassists Ko Melina and Troy Gregory, and it's still all anchored via switch-hitting drummers Ben Blackwell and Pat Pantano. However, whether it's due to stylistic refinement via the passage of time or a pure stroke of concentrated creative luck, this is a band that is definitely firing on all cylinders in a way it never has before. The songwriting is as tightly focused as the performances, with Collins getting deliriously postapocalyptic and veering stylishly from classic man-vs.-machine fears to tense, jittery rants imbued with just enough of their signature deeply seared R&B flavors. To put it more succinctly, the shit simply KILLS. Snap up your tickets now, because the Dirtbombs have a pretty impressive Seattle fan base.Kindly giving us one night to recover after that, the Kills will roll into town on Thursday, May 15, to play Neumo's in support of Midnight Boom, their long-awaited third record. While the druggie tone and jagged shape of singer Alison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince's first two records had a certain Royal Trux-channeling charm, the refreshing and smart developments that color Midnight Boom elevate them dramatically out of the one-trick-pony farm. Purportedly inspired by an obscure '60s documentary about inner-city schools called Pizza, Pizza Daddy-O, Mosshart and Hince have deconstructed their solipsistic side, pulling in a hypercreative array of samples and disarmingly tuneful arrangements that result in tightly seamed songs instead of simplistic, sordid yarns. Mosshart pushes her voice into sunnier patches on occasion, but hasn't lost sight of her mean side in the slightest, and the total package feels like that of a band aiming for much more longevity than they initially promised.Longevity is something avant-punk composer Glenn Branca has definitely achieved since his early-'70s days in the No Wave scene in New York City. It's often said that Sonic Youth wouldn't exist if it weren't for Branca's adventurous influence (particularly his short-lived early group, Theoretical Girls), and that's a very legitimate path to draw. Much of his recent work has involved symphonies composed exclusively for large numbers of guitar players, and now Seattle is lucky enough to have Branca bring this massive undertaking to the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park on Friday, May 16. His Symphony No. 13 ("Hallucination City") will be performed as part of SAM's "Party in the Park" fund-raising event celebrating the museum's 75th anniversary. The only catch now is that Branca needs to recruit 80 guitar players and 20 bass players to perform the symphony with him. "We've already got a number of pretty cool people who want to do the gig, but we need a lot more," says Branca via e-mail from N.Y.C."It's not an easy piece to play." Indeed, participants must be able to read standard staff notation and follow a part measure by measure. What's more, they have to be available for two rehearsals on May 14 and 15, each lasting from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. That said, it promises to be an unforgettable experience, and any interested musicians are encouraged to contact Branca directly at glenn@glennbranca.com.rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

 
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