The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

Clues ~ Wednesday, March 4It's hard to fathom the influence MySpace has as a promotional tool in the music world. On an average day, Fleet Foxes' page is visited 19,000 times. Meanwhile, Lily Allen's music is played 255,000 times. Per day.But despite the obvious benefits of this formidable promotional tool, Montreal-based pop band Clues have chosen to avoid all social networking sites—MySpace, Facebook...any of it. Given that the relatively new band includes members of the Unicorns and Arcade Fire, two of Montreal's best pop bands in recent years, one has to assume they're using this dearth of information as a marketing gimmick in itself—drop a few rumors on the Internet, play some unadvertised shows, and let the music blogs buzz in anticipation.They have one song available online and an album out on Constellation Records, home of other off-kilter rock bands Tindersticks, Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Do Make Say Think, and Seattle's own Dead Science. In other words, to recommend Clues is to rely almost exclusively on its members' musical reputations. Clues member Brendan Reed describes the band as the type of project best suited for "weird house shows, home recordings, and toys for instruments." The only way to know what the band's really like, though, is to head to the show and see for yourself. With City Center, Iji, the Camellias. Vera Project, Seattle Center, Warren Ave. N. and Republican St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $9. All ages. ERIK NEUMANNDonavon Frankenreiter ~ Wednesday, March 4Donavon Frankenreiter is a surfer-turned-musician who mines the early-'70s folk-blues-soul-pop vein—a niche market that has become quite the fad these days, thanks to retro guys like Ray LaMontagne and Marc Broussard. If this overlooked genre has a designated godfather, it would be Stephen Stills, whom Frankenreiter seems most influenced by. He's got the sandy voice, the worn denim, the acoustic guitar, and the nostalgic warmth, but they're mixed with the soulfully nonchalant delivery of Boz Scaggs and Curtis Mayfield. His latest album, Pass It Around, is full of all the feel-good melodies—songs about relishing happiness and wanting happiness for others ("Life, Love, & Laughter," "Sing a Song"). But it breaks away from the Jack Johnson–ish monotony of his past work by diving even further into the 1970s via bold, full-band production. This is due in no small part to the presence of My Morning Jacket producer Joe Chiccarelli—a guy who knows a thing or two about making the past sound fresh again. With Gary Jules. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $18. BRIAN J. BARRBrujeria ~ Thursday, March 5Brujeria released its debut album Matando Güeros in 1993, before the advent of widespread Internet information dissemination. So when the group's label Roadrunner characterized its members as "Satanic, murderous drug dealers" and bilingual fans translated the violent lyrics ("Matando Güeros" = "Killing Whites," a title reinforced by an album cover depicting a decapitated head held by an off-camera hand), listeners naturally regarded this masked band with fear and awe. Eventually researchers pulled down Brujeria's bandanas, figuratively speaking, and the realization that these guys weren't witchcraft-practicing criminals (and some weren't even Mexican) disillusioned those who wanted to believe that real, exotic metal evil exists. For others, the musicians' prestigious identities more than offset the lost mystique. The death-grind outfit's current lineup includes Carcass' Jeffrey Walker ("El Cynico," on bass), Napalm Death's Shane Embury ("Hongo," on guitar), and former Cradle of Filth drummer Adrian Erlandsson ("Podrido"). Little is known about Juan Brujo, but recent performances have confirmed this ferociously guttural singer is in fact human, not a grizzly trained to growl in Spanish. With Skarp, Owen Hart, Super Happy Story Time Land. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $18 adv./$22 DOS. All ages. ANDREW MILLERPure Country Gold ~ Friday, March 6According to the band's history, Portland's Pure Country Gold was conceived as a much bigger band. When Jake Welliver and Patrick Foss—the band's only members—first starting writing their super-fast, blues-influenced punk songs, they envisioned a multimember revue to perform them. Foss even attempted to write for a horn section. But that larger backing band never really materialized, and the duo developed the sound Pure Country Gold is now known for: scratchy guitars high on reverb, dangerously loud drums, and throaty vocals. (The closest thing to a horn is the occasional harmonica.) The result is a sound so intense, so without constraint, that it's hard to believe only two men are responsible for it. Songs like "Setting Sun," from the band's self-titled EP, are deafeningly energetic. You can imagine two friends on stage, one beating the shit out of a drum kit, the other attempting a frantic pogo while playing the guitar—and all the while, the audience is dancing and shaking to Pure Country Gold's songs. With F-Holes, The Pack A.D., Aurora Roarers. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $7. PAIGE RICHMONDSXSW Send-Off Party ~ Friday, March 6South by Southwest's ability to make or break the fledgling artists who descend upon Austin in the hopes of hooking up with a piece of that fame pie exceeds that of any other music festival in the country. It stands alone as a testing ground for the entire music industry—the place where popular hometown bands take their first significant stab at going national, pulling out all the stops in the hopes of making the right impression on the multitudes of music critics and A&R reps in the audience. Unfortunately, because it's geared toward industry folks, SXSW is just as well-known for its steep entry cost; for a lot of us, that golden ticket costs as much as a month's rent. So if SXSW isn't in the cards for you this year, the Seattle SXSW send-off show is kinda like an abridged version of the South by Southwest day party. You may not get to stumble around Austin drunk on free beer for five solid days, but at least you can get drunk at the Tractor and show some love for some of the Seattle music scene's Most Likely to Succeed. Though all the bands on this bill happen to be excellent, I'd bet money that of the four—Hey Marseilles, Champagne Champagne, Battle Hymns, and New Faces—New Faces' youthful, approachable pop will be the sound to charm the music-industry establishment. Hey, maybe I should start a betting pool—then at least the lucky winner can spend the cash on a ticket to SXSW next year. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $8. SARA BRICKNERStephen Pearcy ~ Saturday, March 7In one particularly memorable scene from The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke's Randy 'The Ram' Robinson puts the moves on Marisa Tomei's Cassidy at a North Jersey dive bar while serenading her with RATT's "Round and Round"; both wax nostalgic about '80s hair metal until the Ram complains, "Then that Cobain pussy had to come around and ruin it all..." Dunno if RATT frontman Stephen Pearcy (whose face is looking almost as battered as Rourke's these days, at least judging by a recent appearance on VH1 Classic) feels the same way, but it wouldn't surprise me. In the nearly two decades since grunge dethroned hair metal, Pearcy's been through a handful of RATT breakups and reunions, RATT-related lawsuits, and a largely ignored solo career, but onward he goes. Like Randy the Ram, a Pearcy comeback seems unlikely; his persistence is noble but sometimes painful to witness. Yet he can still summon the strength to wow a crowd of the faithful, however small, and he'll probably die doing what he loves. Can't fault a guy for that. With The Jet City Fix, Atomic Outlaws, Space Cretins, Acid Angels. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $17 adv./$20 DOS. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGThe Von Bondies ~ Sunday, March 8Detroit-based rock band the Von Bondies set the music scene abuzz with their flawless 2004 debut album Pawn Shoppe Heart. Just a few months earlier, the band's lead singer, Jason Stollsteimer, had gotten his ass whooped by White Stripes frontman Jack White for talking smack. The high-profile altercation unfortunately overshadowed anything Stollsteimer and his bandmates did thereafter. But that could soon change, thanks to the Von Bondies' latest release, Love, Hate and Then There's You, an album filled to maximum capacity with pummeling bass, raucous guitar riffs, and killer hooks. Stollsteimer pisses and moans through quintessential garage-rock tunes like "Pale Bride" and "21st Birthday" that are destined to have listeners shouting along. Now all Stollsteimer has to do is keep his shit-talking to a minimum, and he and his band should be back on everybody's radar for all the right reasons by tour's end. With Nico Vega. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $10. ERIKA HOBARTRaul Malo ~ Sunday, March 8Country music is not known for great singing or ethnic diversity. But Raul Malo comes to us as a two-for-one package—a Miami-born Cuban with a crushed-velvet voice. The former frontman for Grammy-winning Nashville phenom the Mavericks, Malo makes countrypolitan music. Over the past few years, his albums have been like late-night Sinatra sessions, with Malo wrapping his husky vocals around traditionally twangy cover songs like "Take These Chains From My Heart" while the band frames him with lush, waltzy elegance. His forthcoming album, Lucky You, maintains that polished classiness (Malo will forever be the singer who presses his black denim jeans). In his first album of original material in nearly a decade, he applies contemporary Nashville production to '50s pop, Latin-flavored rock, and loungey ballads. The result, while exquisite, is a tad schmaltzy. His big, beefy voice—which recalls Roy Orbison, George Jones, and Chris Isaak—delivers songs that are akin to the drenched-in-sentiment pap trafficked by Hollywood and Hallmark. In real life, however, few desire to be loved to death by a man. With Shelby Lynne. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $28 adv./$30 DOS. BRIAN J. BARRThe Lazy Boys ~ Monday, March 9Jerry Battista, of Dusty 45's notoriety, really likes naming the cover bands he plays in after sedentary furniture. At the Rimrock on Wednesdays and the Little Red Hen on Sundays, he plays in a three-piece called the Davanos, and on every other Monday at Mr. Villa, he plays in an acoustic outfit called the Lazy Boys, with Fred Holzman on drums and Paul Huston on bass. Gigging at Mr. Villa is night and day from the more raucous Rimrock sojourns. Mr. Villa is a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant—a very good Mexican restaurant—that has sangria, tequila, and beer, but no bar to hunker down at. At the Rimrock, which is technically a steakhouse, food is something of an afterthought. At Mr. Villa, there are also small children. No one in their right mind would allow small children into the Rimrock's lounge, where the ever-animated, indefatigable Holzman is the undisputed ringleader, cajoling reluctant onlookers to join him in round after round of shots. At Mr. Villa, he nurses a salt-rimmed margarita and plays his drums softly, ceding center stage to Battista, a wonderful acoustic guitarist and vocalist who is as relaxed as Holzman is expressive. Holzman's voice is gravelly while Battista's is true, and a seamless segue between Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" and Crowded House's "Weather With You" one recent Monday showed just how deftly the pair trades singing chores. Their Rimrock gigs prove Battista and Holzman can light up a room, while the Mr. Villa gigs exhibit sterling musicianship. All in all, it's well worth catching them in such an unexpected, intimate light. Mr. Villa, 8064 Lake City Way N.E., 517-5660. 7 p.m. No cover (tips welcome). MIKE SEELYTina Dico ~ Tuesday, March 10Denmark's Tina Dico might be best known internationally for her contributions to downtempo English outfit Zero 7's second album When It Falls; she sang lead vocals on the dreamy tracks "Home" and "The Space Between." On their 2004 tour, the band filled the Showbox with enveloping trip-hop, and Dico possessed the crowd with fellow sirens Sia Furler and Sophie Barker. Like Furler, Dico applies pitch-perfect, crystal-clear, sultry vocals to soul-bearing lyrics. And like Furler, she's adorable. But Dico has a disposition of seeming reticence and shyness that remains only until she opens her cute little mouth. After that, she fills venues with her presence. A singer-songwriter at heart, Dico released her first solo album, Fuel, well before Zero 7 came knocking, and she's been recording and touring ever since. Her fifth album, A Beginning, a Detour, an Open Ending, comprises three independently recorded, different-sounding EPs in a full-length boxed set. For fans of bare-bones acoustic, lush arrangements, and dream pop, Dico carries herself with confidence and coveted vocal mastery. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. All ages. NEIL ESTEPPhosphorescent ~ Tuesday, March 10Playing off of Willie Nelson's tribute to his own hero Lefty Frizzell, Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, reaches deep into the Nelson archive for an homage of his own, the excellent To Willie. Though Nelson himself is in no danger of being forgotten (has a musician ever added so much to American lore?), a certain number of his songs are, having been inadvertently buried under the man's 70-year-old mountain of releases, which grows by nearly five albums each year. The songs Houck wrestles with are Nelson's plainspoken, bottomed-out country numbers, like "Reasons to Quit" (about addiction), "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way" (about infidelity), and "Too Sick to Pray" (spiritual exhaustion). Houck is successful in honoring Nelson because To Willie unearths Nelson's dustier, bleaker side. The band plays as if the songs are swimming through a hangover—woozy, cracked, and slowly swingin'. Houck also deserves credit for pulling off Nelson's slippery sense of musical timing, in which solos are delivered two paces behind the rhythm section and verses take wide leaps ahead of the melodies. It's not all stark, though. When Houck delves into upbeat honky-tonkers "Pick Up the Tempo" and "I Gotta Get Drunk," the effect is like listening to a sun-baked afternoon jam, with the band grinning and nodding wearily through a thick fog of marijuana smoke. Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $10. BRIAN J. BARR

 
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