The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

Darrius Willrich ~ Wednesday, April 29Keys-and-voice guy Darrius Willrich does "grown and sexy" R&B with semi-hard beats, kind of like Quiet Storm hip-hop. It's a mature style, churched-up and with a jazzy edge, and takes urban sounds to warm, elegant heights. Not elegant new heights, mind you—female Seattle sensation Choklate delivers similar music to audiences all across town, sometimes with Willrich onstage—but it's still top-shelf soul. It's also all-local, from schooling (Willrich went to Cornish) to producing (backdrops are courtesy of local guy Vitamin D, an erstwhile hip-hop star) to recording (across the street from The Seattle Times, at the Woodshed on Fairview). Triple Door Mainstage, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. ANDREW MATSONVivian Girls ~ Thursday, April 30Brooklyn guitar-rock group Vivian Girls has a no-skills sound, something you don't nail down so much as try on, getting by on "a certain chemistry." The band's shitty rock jaunts might soundtrack flirty fun, a killer high-school movie montage, or any random bikes-in-the-kitchen Central District house party taking an unexpected turn for the fun. Or Neumos. There's a twist: When a few girls sing at the same time, and through a car wash of reverb, their voices ring and chime. Not exactly the band the world needs most. Doesn't matter. An aura is created, and the aura is bitchy/bored. With Abe Vigoda, the Girls. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12. ANDREW MATSONSleepy Sun ~ Thursday, April 30Everything you want to know about Sleepy Sun is revealed in the band's name. The music is slow and lazy, with a tired—but not bored—quality. It's also bright and buoyant, with warm vocals: Singers Bret Constantino and Rachel Williams complement each other on "Sleepy Son," a particularly melodic song that features a harmonica solo. For all the stirring instrumentals—Matt Holliman and Evan Reiss often break from their mellow guitars into heavy riffs—Sleepy Sun is better defined as a jam band than a psych-rock outfit. True, the members sometimes hit a perfect harmony: On songs like "Lord," Constantino drags on the end of his words, slurring his lyrics over hazy music. Other times, it sounds as if every band member is pushing for a solo. Even a beautiful song like "Sleepy Son" attempts to fit together harmonic sounds and over-the-top ones, making it less a singular piece of music than a conceptual musical experiment. This means Sleepy Sun will appeal most to those listeners with plenty of patience: It may take a few spins of the self-released Embrace to really understand that this album is more than just an accidentally recorded band practice. With Blue Light Curtain. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $8. PAIGE RICHMONDCoffins ~ Thursday, April 30In a 2004 interview, Coffins guitarist/vocalist and Tokyo-scene grindcore veteran Uchino explained his group's plodding, fuzz-smothered sound: "I felt fatigue for playing in fast band." Coffins' high-viscosity doom rumbles like an engine that left the lot in 1996 (the year of the trio's formation) and hasn't had a tune-up since: The sludge buildup is astonishing. But while the bungee-plunge tunings and Uchino's thunderous grunts remain constant, Coffins incorporates some unique wrinkles, like the surf-punk solo that slices through "Deadly Sinners." Coffins embarked on its first overseas tour exactly a year ago, and while this return engagement is most welcome, future sojourns from Japan shouldn't be taken for granted. For people who like buying gory T-shirts at metal shows, Coffins delivers gnarly horror-movie-inspired merch. Others will leave with a subtler souvenir, having been slathered in filmy sonic crust. With Stormcrow, Skarp, Grey. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7:30 p.m. $12. All ages. ANDREW MILLERGhost ~ Friday, May 1I don't know who's responsible for introducing LSD to the Japanese, but I'm glad they did. A collective of like-minded musicians, Ghost plays free-range psychedelia. Under their cosmic spell, genre boundaries dissipate into thin air (picture Amon Duul, Blue Cheer, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Floyd, and the Velvets all hanging out in the ruins of ancient Buddhist temples). Playing off our Western obsession with the "mysteries of the Orient," Ghost does not often tour, nor does the group record much. Thus, when it does, it feels monumental, as with 2007's In Stormy Nights. Reveling in the act of creation, Ghost can shift from medieval wistfulness to sky-melting ferocity, the music aspiring for the heavens as the musicians attempt to steer it back to earth. Sharing the bill is our own psychedelic genre-smasher, Six Organs of Admittance (aka Ben Chasny), who has recently completed a new record with West Seattle–based producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth). Chasny says he's eyeing an August release date for the new jams, but it's a good bet you'll be able to catch a preview or two tonight. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave. 8 p.m. $12. BRIAN J. BARRThe Tea Cozies ~ Friday, May 1It's natural to expect bouncy, upbeat pop from a band with an adorable name like the Tea Cozies, and the band's brand-new record Hot Probs—produced by local pop music savant Erik Blood—delivers just that. But while bright ditties like "Pretty Pages" and "Corner Store Girls" have a lot in common with the sweet, summery songs that Michigan band Saturday Looks Good to Me does so well ("Underwater Heartbeat" comes to mind), the Tea Cozies aren't all cotton candy and rainbows. Numbers like "Huffy Walrus" start out like a cleaned-up Bikini Kill demo, with screaming vocals and lots of distortion. But the band doesn't sustain that hard edge; later on, the song breaks into a chorus of "oh ah oh"s, a shtick that's just about as pop as it gets. It's a deliberate, exciting juxtaposition that proves that the Tea Cozies' three founding ladies, and their lone bass-playing gentleman, know exactly what they're doing. With Katharine Hepburn's Voice, the Ironclads. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 9 p.m. $7. SARA BRICKNERSportin' Life vs. Focused Noise ~ Saturday, May 2Tonight's show features mano-y-mano performances by MCs from Seattle's Sportin' Life Records and Portland's Focused Noise Records. The show is divided into three sets that include the revolutionary-minded Mic Crenshaw (Focused) versus the party-minded Spaceman (Sportin'), and, for the night's closer, hipster troublemakers Animal Farm versus the imposing, Biggie-esque D. Black. The highlight, however, may just be the opening joust pitting Serge Severe against Fatal Lucciauno—but not because of the controversy surrounding local rapper Lucciauno recently getting booted off the Dyme Def show roster at the Croc. Rather, it's because Severe and Lucciauno have near-dichotomous styles. Both serve heavy doses of swagger, but Severe's centers on a jazzy-funky sensibility, while Lucciauno is pure street. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 9 p.m., $8. KEVIN CAPPBellRays ~ Sunday, May 3Even if it's partially true, California's BellRays—the core of which is the married duo of singer Lisa Kekaula and guitarist Bob Vennum—hate, hate, hate it when you say they're "like the MC5 fronted by Tina Turner." Fair enough, since their furious and delectable garage-rock-'n'-soul is infused with the grit, hooks, and passion of so many other classic acts from the annals of punk, Motown, and '70s arena rock—too many to name here, but what's important is: 1) the quartet has distilled those influences into a sound and vibe they can rightfully call their own, and 2) they're one of the most blazing, swaggering, soulful live acts you'll ever experience. Kekaula's enormous 'fro and even bigger voice tangles with Vennum's explosive riffs, and in tandem with the rhythm section's righteous wallop, the BellRays can kick out the jams with the best of 'em. With the Boss Martians, the Devli's Club, Stone Axe, the Knast. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m., $8 adv./$10 DOS. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGThe Grouch & Eligh ~ Sunday, May 3Along with their fellow Living Legends crew members, the Grouch & Eligh have played pivotal roles in the development and dissemination of an underground West Coast sound that's emphasized the "hip" in hip-hop. They've ground the goofier gangstas into a fine powder and huffed and puffed them away with a fun-loving style that combines Cali's funkadelic production with lyrical odes to independence, both as soloists and a duo. (See the Grouch's '08 Show You the World for a recent solo example.) Their third disc, Say G&E!, released April 24, continues this proud tradition. The spaced-out title track recalls OutKast's ATLiens punctuated with low-rider cool, as does the even more interstellar "Comin' Up," though it has a far more serious tone, befitting such an important outfit. With Afro Classics. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. KEVIN CAPPMarianne Dissard ~ Sunday, May 3French singer/lyricist Marianne Dissard says that all her songs start out as lullabies "until we put them in the suitcase and they become something else." For listeners familiar with Dissard's debut album, l'entredeux, the songs actually start out as a hybrid of Americana and traditional cabaret/chanson (French vocal-oriented lounge) music, outfitted in dense, jazzy arrangements courtesy of Calexico's Joey Burns, who also wrote all the music. The racy video for "Les Draps Sourds," which begins with a couple having sex in a bed and adds a new person to the mix every few minutes, works as a fitting metaphor for the music itself. In concert, however, Dissard and her backing band (which now includes violin, bass, guitar, and drums) shake off the album's elegant reserve for a rowdier, more driving approach that still retains traces of its jazzy roots. With French singing often unfairly consigned as either kitsch, passing trend, or both, Dissard manages to avoid novelty par excellence. As she channels the American West through a French-vocal lens, she makes both forms fit as if they'd always been meant for each other. With Shane Tutmarc, Andrew Colberg. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $6. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

 
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