The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

Seattle Soundbite ~ Thursday, March 19In celebration of the restaurant industry's long tradition of being the bread-and-butter for struggling artists of all types—particularly musicians—Seattle Soundbite brings the musicians and the fancy food together in the second incarnation of what will hopefully become a longstanding tradition. Basically, some of Seattle's best restaurants will be hanging out at the SODO serving high-class street-vendor-style foods, while musicians with food-service backgrounds entertain the gorging crowd. Sub Pop band The Helio Sequence, the Portland duo of Benjamin Weikel (no doubt one of the happiest-looking drummers in the history of indie rock) and axe-wielding frontman Brandon Summers, headline the affair. Though the band's indie-pop constructions are perfectly pleasant in recorded form (their latest release is called Keep Your Eyes Ahead), onstage the two men manage to conjure more energy than most bands three times their size. Another notable act is the instrumental concept band Bird Show of North America, which plays dynamic songs named after birds while the band's full-time artist, Curtis Poortinga, paints pictures the audience can admire—and purchase for around $20–$40—after the show. With Sue Quigley, Doctor Doctor, and Puget Sound System with Truce. Showbox SODO, 1700 First Ave. S., 652-0444. 6 p.m. $15. SARA BRICKNERThe Academy Is . . . ~ Thursday, March 19If you trace the evolution of pop music in America, it's pretty easy to discern both a striking continuum and a web of diverging branches. The funny thing is, both the tangential and the linear are ultimately just different faces of the same geometry. As contemporary examples of this phenomenon go, it's hard to find better than The Academy Is.... TAI first appeared at the shiny intersection of emo and pop-punk championed by fellow Chicagoan Pete Wentz. They still toe that line, but have also stripped away some of both genre's more clichéd elements, focusing instead on pure pop songcraft. With their clean sound and glossy production, TAI could travel back in time and pass as pop-radio stars in any decade since the dawn of the rock-and-roll era. While this may point to a lack of originality, it also means that they have tapped into the musical zeitgeist not just of 2009, but of the past 50-or-so years of American musical history. Odd, then, that a band so tied to what has come before is now seen as redefining the same. With This Providence, Evan Taubenfeld. Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 7 p.m. $10. All ages. NICHOLAS HALLKatharine Hepburn's Voice (CD release) ~ Friday, March 20Shannon Perry and D.W. Burnam's brief electronic contemplations sound a little like what I imagine Ladytron's very first demos might've sounded like: lo-fi, synthesized pop. It's the kind of music that's well-suited for basements and bike shops—the first place I ever encountered the band—but KHV's bouncy little ditties will surely start attracting bigger crowds (and requiring bigger venues than 2020 Cycle) once the band's third full-length, Stand Up, hits stores. The album is 33.5 minutes of bedroom synth-pop songwriting a little like a less-polished, homegrown version of Stars; however, the short songs suggest a punk-rock aesthetic, which is only furthered by the band's DIY approach to packaging and marketing their music. But what I like best about KHV is this: While most electronic pop sounds like it's been made by robots, this band crafts introspective, emotive songs that are 100% flesh-and-blood. With Partman Parthorse, Mad Happy, the Geese, DJ Sam Rousso Soundsystem. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $8. SARA BRICKNERAriel Pink ~ Friday, March 20Let's rank the top five coolest lo-fi rockers of the past, say, five years: 1) Ariel Pink 2) Kurt Vile 3) Sic Alps 4) Pink Reason and 5) Wavves. It's a real toss-up between Pink and Vile—both are just great. But Ariel is a bit more psychedelic in a Skip Spence/psychotic kind of way. Plus, his tune "west coast calamities," off 2006's House Arrest, contains one of the most audacious lines in recent memory: "I want a chick who puts up with my shit and puts out." Probably the best thing about Pink is the way he's turned into a touring juggernaut. A lot of lo-fi studs suck at live shows, but not this guy. His band Haunted Graffiti are serious punch-the-clock rockers—kind of like the Cruisers, only different. With Duchess Says, Catatonic Youth. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. All ages. JUSTIN F. FARRAREleni Mandell ~ Sunday, March 22When Los Angeles songstress Eleni Mandell came to the Tractor Tavern in the summer of 2007 for an early-evening show in support of her just-released album Miracle of Five, it seemed as if she had to make her performance extra noirish and moody to compensate for all the distracting sunlight streaming in through the venue's open doors. That won't be a problem this time when she drops by The Triple Door to play songs from her new Artificial Fire, but hopefully she won't throttle down the delicious darkness that makes her such a magnetic performer. Mandell's rootsy pop tunes are packed with cheaters, death, and unrequited love, and she delivers them in a voice that's got shades of Patsy Cline, Chrissie Hynde, and Cat Power in it, backed by a band that adds elegance and bite to her dusky oeuvre. With Kelli Rudick. Triple Door Mainstage, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $14 adv./$16 DOS. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGBrian Jonestown Massacre Cover Night ~ Sunday, March 22To truly love psych-rock band Brian Jonestown Massacre, any fan has to overlook one major flaw: the personality of lead singer and founder Anton Newcombe. In the band's nearly 20-year history, Newcombe has managed to alienate other musicians with his eccentric behavior. Like that time in the mid-1990s when he picked a fistfight with his own band members onstage, or his ill treatment of the Dandy Warhols while filming the documentary DiG! Newcombe talks shit in almost every interview he does, even offering choice words about the death of Eric Clapton's 4-year-old son. So it's no surprise that Newcombe is the band's only original member, after nearly 20 musicians have abandoned the BJM mantle. And this is why a BJM cover night is such a brilliant idea: all the good songs with no Newcombe to screw things up. There's no denying that the Seattle bands covering BJM tonight have been heavily influenced by Newcombe's ever-changing sense of musical style: Seattle band Watch It Sparkle pulls off the same deliberate, mildly dissonant guitar sound that's become a staple in BJM's music, while This Blinding Light's music incorporates the same shoegazing solos that Newcombe adores. We hope these bands can prove that their lead singer's antics aren't what makes BJM a standout among experimental '90s bands; it's the music that deserves attention. With Kaliningrad, MiniRex, This Blinding Light, Imperial Legions of Rome, Webelos, Watch It Sparkle. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9 p.m. $6. PAIGE RICHMONDWhite Magic ~ Monday, March 23New York's White Magic aren't prolific, but they sure are ambitious. Over the past five years, the duo of Mira Billotte and Douglas Shaw (plus a revolving cast of extras) has been researching different ways to fuse moody acid folk, Kate Bush–inspired art pop, gothic country, and the trance-inducing exotica of their pals Gang Gang Dance. Sometimes they succeed; other times they don't. Yet the results are always worth investigating, especially in a live setting. Your typical White Magic set might open with delicately picked acoustic guitars floating about Billotte's deep, mournful wail, and end in a psychedelic wash of quasi-Eastern melodies, looped grooves, and shimmering piano. Then again, what's "typical" for a band touring the United States for the first time since 2007? With Mariee Sioux, The Lord Dog Bird. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison, 324-8005. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. JUSTIN F. FARRARRasputina ~ Monday, March 23The brainchild of Kansas-born, Brooklyn-residing singer-cellist Melora Creager, Rasputina is like one of Edward Gorey's wet dreams come to life: a captivating combination of chamber music, doomy goth-metal textures, corsets lifted from a Victorian boudoir, and loads of twisted black humor. An in-demand session cellist who's worked with the likes of Nirvana, Bob Mould, Belle & Sebastian, Marilyn Manson, and the Goo Goo Dolls, Creager founded Rasputina as an all-female, all-cello group in 1992. Since then the band has evolved to include percussion and male members. More than a dozen people have come and gone over the years; longtime drummer Jonathon TeBeest left at the end of 2008. As Creager once told me, "Often people think it's such a great project that it's about to get big, and they're gonna be there when it gets big, but it just doesn't go like that, and then they get disillusioned." Still, as long as Creager wants to keep Rasputina going, the shows should remain visually arresting and musically captivating. With Ruby Throat. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGOscillator X ~ Tuesday, March 24C89.5 FM was bombarded with listener phone calls after the first time they played Oscillator X's demo "Dynamo." The local electronic-pop duo, John Mendenhall and Kyle Ward, has actually been active for more than a decade, but only recently began drawing attention for their infectious tracks. The industry-savvy independent artists have managed to stay afloat for so long by licensing their tracks to video games for income, and by operating under a self-purchased label that allows them full artistic control. Now that they're finally being recognized for their addictive, up-tempo, Daft Punk–esque music, it's only a matter of time before some famous rapper (it's all you, Kanye) samples one of their tracks. With DJ Richard J. Dalton from C89.5. Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $5. ERIKA HOBARTMadeleine Peyroux ~ Tuesday, March 24An evening with lovely French-singing jazz chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux seems like an appropriate way to welcome the first hesitant signs of spring, and for good reason. Peyroux's career began suddenly at age 22—years before most jazz vocalists find half the soul Peyroux's voice has—and launched her into a stratosphere of recognition she wasn't quite ready for. Thirteen years and four albums later, she is touring in support of Bare Bones, her first album of completely original content. Peyroux melds her lofty alto around intimate, world-weary tunes that still possess an awareness of her general good fortune: "I sit here content, my thoughts and my feelings/Remembering who I used to be, the life I have now is much more appealing..." Bare Bones finds Peyroux's writing ability on par with her voice; with so much still ahead of her, you can't wait to see what happens next. With William Fitzsimmons. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $39–$55. All ages. RAECHEL SIMS

 
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