The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

Jeremy Enigk ~ Thursday, May 14In the past 15 years, Jeremy Enigk has presented himself as a handful of different musical personalities. First there was the enigmatic frontman of Seattle's emo heroes Sunny Day Real Estate. (The band members granted few interviews, and once famously sent fake versions of themselves to pose for a Nordstrom print ad.) There was Enigk's first solo effort, Return of the Frog Queen, a series of orchestral compositions that distanced his high-pitched voice from the screaming vocals and aggressive guitars that had defined SDRE. When the band finally broke up for good in 2001—because Enigk converted to Christianity, it's rumored—Enigk fronted The Fire Theft. With a similar sound and some of the same lineup as SDRE, it's no surprise that The Fire Theft's only full-length album, released in 2003, sounded like The Rising Tide redux. Gone was the emo angst of SDRE's first album, and in its place was the melodic prog-rock style that has continued to define Enigk's solo work. Since then, Enigk's work has stayed in that same vein, and the soon-to-be relased OK Bear isn't much different. So there's no chance that Enigk is going to bust out "In Circles" during a live show; instead he'll strain his vocal cords pushing to a near-falsetto and making up words like "darium" and "mondrary." Then again, he might have created an entirely new identity, equally full of surprises. With the Lonely Forest, Baby Panda. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15 adv. All ages. PAIGE RICHMONDLal Meri ~ Thursday, May 14Formed by a trio of musicians from various backgrounds, including multi-instrumentalist Ireesh Lal and Niyaz's Carmen Rizzo (who has also worked with the likes of Seal and Coldplay, to name a few), this newcomer band mixes pop, electronica, jazz, and Middle Eastern sounds into one cohesive package, as heard on their self-titled debut. Rounding out the group is lead vocalist Nancy Kaye, who brings it all together with her nasal Natalie Merchant–meets–Nelly Furtado vocals. In a live setting, the band sounds incredibly tight. Kaye exudes a lot of charm as a frontwoman, while the oud and tablas give their music an exotic, worldly feel. If music fans are willing to give this pop-fusion group a chance, they might be poised to change popular music as we know it with their spiced-up sounds. With Govinda, Carmen Rizzo, Anomie Belle. Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St. 632-2020. 9 p.m. $8. ERNEST BARTELDESYouth Group ~ Thursday, May 14Youth Group is a terrific indie-pop quartet from Australia that may remind you of a good many good things: the melodic power-pop of mid-to-late-period Teenage Fanclub; the refined art-rock of the Church; and the jangly dream-pop of a slew of Flying Nun bands from the '80s and early '90s (the Chills, the Clean, Volcano Suns, et al.). And frontman Toby Martin's engaging, dramatic vocals have bits of Morrissey and the Shins' James Mercer floating around in them, too. While they're showing signs of synthesizing that stuff into their own sound and style, it might take another album or two before casual listeners are able to distinguish Youth Group from its obvious influences. Still, those particular influences—and the way Youth Group absorbs them and spits them back out—are great enough that you certainly won't mind being held under their sway live. With Wallpaper, Blue Horns. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 9 p.m. $8. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGThe Curious Mystery ~ Friday, May 15Listening to the Curious Mystery's K Records debut, Rotting Slowly, is like taking a hit of the purest sonic LSD. Frontwoman Shana Cleveland croons languid vocals that flow thick and slow like molasses. While her voice is definitely the icing on the cake, Cleveland, the child of country and blues musicians, also plays banjo, guitar, and autoharp proficiently. Guitarist (and maker of original homemade instruments) Nicolas Gonzalez sometimes takes over the vocals, too, while bassist Bradford Buttons and drummer Faustine Hudson—whose complete absorption in her task and seductive hair-tossing makes her one of my all-time favorite drummers to watch live—fill in the rhythm section. Sounding something like a mix of the Velvet Underground, Earth, and Black Mountain, the Curious Mystery's transcendental songs owe their intoxicating effect to a seamless stitching of honky-tonk country, gospel, ambient post-rock drone, and Eastern sounds. But while the band cherry-picks elements of sounds from artists all over the world, it's the way it patches those elements together that makes it stand out. With the Abodox, Lonesome Shack. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W. 9 p.m. $7. SARA BRICKNERJeff Samuel ~ Friday, May 15Between his rearing in Cleveland and his relocation to Berlin, minimalist jock and producer Jeff Samuel did a stint in our humble gloomsville, where he worked as a sound-effects designer in the video-game industry. His inner tech-nerd, however, is largely hidden in his tracks, which despite their bare-bones structures have a funky bounce and luminescent melody. This is doubtless one of the reasons why so many more well-known DJs, from Ricardo Villalobos (who remixed Samuel's Digital Self EP) to Francois K, spin his cuts when on the circuit. Since releasing his critically garlanded full-length Step in 2006, he has maintained a heavy international touring schedule. The Capitol Hill classic "Broken Disco" event is a perfect spot for the former local's return. With Lusine, Pezzner, Sweet Beets, Kadeejah Streets, Kid Hops, Suntzu Sound, Adlib. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $7 before 10 p.m. KEVIN CAPPKristeen Young ~ Friday, May 15Two years ago, Kristeen Young stood on the stage of the Paramount in heels and a dress made entirely of plastic bubbles, pounding on her keyboard to make distorted melodies pour out and wailing her powerful, unsettling, sexually charged tales like a deranged hybrid of Tori Amos, Siouxsie Sioux, and Polly Jean Harvey, while drummer "Baby" Jef White bashed away on his kit to her right. They were opening for Morrissey, who had hand-picked them for a year of touring—an odd combination, but then again, as a master of theater and spectacle, the ex-Smiths singer knew a kindred spirit when he saw one. Several months afterward, though, Young was fired from the tour for making what was perceived as an insulting comment about the Moz onstage (she allegedly said something along the lines of "Morrissey gives good head, I mean, er, cunnilingus.") That experience seems to have informed her raw, dramatic new album, Music for Strippers, Hookers, and the Odd On-Looker, at least judging by this quote from the album's press kit: "For the first time in my life, someone was very giving and loving toward me in a very obvious and public way. It softened my heart a bit. And then, when things went the other way, it destroyed me. I'm better and stronger now. But, during the year it took me to recover, I made this record and it represents the arc of that time." A cover of "Girlfriend in a Coma" probably won't be happening tonight... With Killola, Furniture Girls, Switchblade and the Surgeon, Shotty. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 286-1312. 8:30 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGRichard Cheese ~ Saturday, May 16When you think about the lyrics to Nirvana's "Rape Me," do you ever find yourself swinging your hand back and forth with a gentle snap of the fingers? Richard Cheese does. Since the first time someone staged a rock show by banging on a hollow log while their friend wailed on a conch shell, there have been spoof covers. Most are of the Weird Al variety—same instruments, same chord changes, just replacing lyrics like "ridin' dirty" with "white and nerdy." And then there are acts like Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, who take '60s protest ballads and amp them into punk covers. But only Cheese and his band Lounge Against the Machine has had the cojones to take garage, punk, and hip-hop anthems, soak them in cheap gin, and strain them out as leopard-print-blazer lounge fare. Cheese is stopping by El Corazon as part of his Martini Tour. To really get the full effect, drink several before he takes the stage. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $38 adv./$45 DOS/$100 VIP (onstage). LAURA ONSTOTJustin Townes Earle ~ Sunday, May 17What's more difficult than having a famous father who named you after a songwriting legend? Releasing albums of your own that are guaranteed to be judged before being listened to! Justin Townes Earle is the son of outlaw troubadour Steve Earle, and was named in honor of lyrical genius Townes Van Zandt. Last year, young J.T. released The Good Life, an album steeped in rudimentary country and folk forms. Very little about it was outstanding, but one thing was clear: He was a pretty sharp guitar picker...but no Steve Earle or Townes Van Zandt. This turned out to be a good thing, because it at least lifted the burden placed on him by critics and fans of his father and his namesake. His follow-up, Midnight at the Movies, is further proof that Justin's his own boy. A collection of after-hours honky-tonk and smooth countrypolitan tunes, the mood here is one of cool, jazzy heartache, pulled from an era when cigarettes were classy and men wore suspenders without irony. But the music is still bursting with twang. If you can imagine Old Crow Medicine Show at a black-tie affair or Randy Newman at a barn dance, you'll have a good idea what I'm getting at here. Northshore Performing Arts Center, 18125 92nd Ave. N.E., 425-489-6018. 7 p.m. $15–$26. All ages. BRIAN J. BARRTwiztid ~ Sunday, May 17It's tempting to dismiss Detroit horrorcore hellions Twiztid as a goofy novelty act, a self-conscious bizarro sideshow for the underdeveloped. But like their mentors Insane Clown Posse, Jamie Madrox and Monoxide's propensity to play dress-up and pick at the scabs of propriety has a place in hip-hop specifically and music generally. Since their 1997 debut, Mostasteless, Twiztid has provided an ironic if unsophisticated service to the same fanboys who once geeked out at grindhouse flicks: escape from the very real madness of the world to the very artificial madness of other people's, uh, twisted creations. It's called catharsis. Twiztid's latest disc, W.I.C.K.E.D., released March 17, promises more of the same, which is as it should be. With Boondox, Potluck, Prozak, Moonshine Bandits. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $20 adv./$23 DOS. All ages. KEVIN CAPPCar Bomb/Gojira ~ Monday, May 18A godsend for metalheads sick of listening to the same old tired shit about Satan and gore, this bill pairs two of the most inventive, intellectually stimulating metal acts on the scene today. Opener Car Bomb, hand-picked by headliner Gojira, essentially puts into sound what its members do in their day jobs: astronomy, quantum physics, computer programming, and graphic design. On its 2007 debut Centralia, the Long Island quartet draws from aspects of all those fields for a technically rigorous and chaotic—yet strangely orderly, even graceful—sound. In an era when bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan, Cephalic Carnage, Meshuggah, and Fantomas have raised the bar so much already, it's saying a lot that Car Bomb takes tech-metal to a new extreme. But it says even more that the band does so with unprecedented cohesion. At times, Car Bomb's relentless guitar crunch and bass-drum thunder sounds like a squad of helicopters crashing in succession—as such a scene might unfold choreographed by a skilled action director. Which means that often the band's command of timing and nuance trumps its ability to cram your synapses with as much information as possible. Meanwhile, France's Gojira brings its own distinct brand of environmental concern to progressive death metal. Gojira certainly has physiological obsessions and a preoccupation with mortality, but on its latest album, The Way of All Flesh, the band gets metaphysical by presenting death as a doorway into the life force that runs through everything. With the Chariot. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $17 adv./$20 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIThe Purrs ~ Monday, May 18Seattle-based quartet the Purrs got their big break a few years ago when KEXP caught wind of their psychedelic pop-rock and placed it on heavy rotation. The boys have since embarked on several national tours, and are currently in the studio completing the follow-up to 2007's The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together, a woozy Velvet Underground–inspired record heavy with delay loops and reverb. The Purrs meditate mostly on love and liquor, ideal focuses for a band whose frontman, Jima, often sounds like he's knocked back a few too many. It's that extra touch that makes these whiskey-drenched melodies all the more engaging. With Army Navy, My Favorite Girl. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 7 p.m. $5. ERIKA HOBARTHappy Apple ~ Tuesday, May 19Critics who rave about bands for bringing "punk-rock energy" to jazz always give me a migraine. I mean, is that really so hard to bring off? Is that a musical accomplishment to rival, oh, I don't know, being able to play "Giant Steps"? Any drunk drummer can pull off "punk-rock energy," but to do it in a way that's intelligent, unforced, and earned—that's another thing altogether. And that's where Happy Apple offers a happy example. David King was drumming in this Minneapolis trio well before he hit it big with the Bad Plus, and his group has some of the latter's controlled abandon—but with sax instead of piano and electric bass instead of acoustic. Its music is driving, impulsive, and wry, touching on everything from '60s free jazz to TV jingles. Punks may like it, but luckily it's got more to recommend it than that. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $15. MARK D. FEFERDave Samuels & the Caribbean Jazz Project ~ Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20It is definitely not easy to adapt the complexities of John Coltrane's "Naima" to the rhythms of the Caribbean, but this is exactly the kind of thing vibist and bandleader Dave Samuels has proposed to do since the inception of the Caribbean Jazz Project in 1993: blend the improvisational nature of jazz with tropically flavored beats. On his latest release with the group, the Latin Grammy–winning Afro Bop Alliance (Heads Up), the Project plays originals and a handful of covers, including very creative rereadings of Dizzy Gillespie's "Soul Sauce" and Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing."Samuels was a member of Spyro Gyra (regarded by some as "the Led Zeppelin of jazz") for almost two decades until 1994, when he decided to leave to pursue his own projects. He is an educator, and has published a few books on the art of jazz; he has also performed as a bandleader and sideman with the likes of Frank Zappa, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, and many others. No wonder he's currently regarded as one of the best vibists of his generation. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 p.m. $24.50. All ages. ERNEST BARTELDES

 
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