The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Miniature Tigers ~ Thursday, May 21Fake blood, haunted pyramids, baby dinosaurs, and cannibal queens: These are just a few sources of inspiration for the squeaky-clean, irresistible guitar-pop of the Phoenix quartet Miniature Tigers. Up there with Bishop Allen in terms of timeless simplicity, the fresh-faced young band slides through two-to-three-minute ditties as effortlessly as a comb through a pomaded pompadour on the jingle-jangle debut album Tell It to the Volcano. Leader Charlie Brand has an airy, relaxed voice and a knack for B-movie lyrics that jump out at us as if in 3-D, and the title track rattles happily along before sealing the tropical-island imagery with calypso backing vocals. Few bands this charismatic sound better with time, but Miniature Tigers somehow manage it. And as if that weren't enough, they do a perfectly sprightly cover of ABBA's "Mamma Mia" as well. With Kevin Devine, Brian Bonz, Honeydove. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 7 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. All ages. DOUG WALLENLady Sovereign ~ Thursday, May 21Lady Sovereign is the Punky Brewster of the British grime scene. The 23-year-old MC's throwback fashion sense and outré persona, which she dissected in "Love Me or Hate Me" from her 2006 debut Public Warning, is just as self-consciously her own as that of the '80s TV character. And that's OK. Although her independent streak doubtlessly contributed to her running through three record companies, Sov's third full-length, Jigsaw, released in April, sits on a far more upbeat plane than the first two—even if the first video still has all the production value of a student film. (Remember that low-rent half-take on "Thriller" for "I Got U Dancing"?) The ebullient single "So Human" samples the Cure's beloved "Close to Me," over which Sov celebrates her individualism and fallibility, while the title track finds her using a jigsaw puzzle as a metaphor for her busted heart. So pop, er, Punky of her. With Chester French, Hollywood Holt. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave. 8 p.m. $16 adv. KEVIN CAPPLucero ~ Friday, May 22Lucero's sweat-equity work ethic has been widely chronicled—since their inception in the late '90s, the Memphis quintet has released five studio albums, relentlessly toured the country, started a record label, and served as the subject of director Aaron Goldman's tour documentary Dreaming in America. And 2009 is shaping up to be another big year. Following the January release of frontman Ben Nichols' solo EP, Lucero will release a new full-length on Universal later this summer. The record, Nichols promises, will combine Memphis music history with the band's trademark tough-as-nails, rock-and-roll feel. Diehard fans and music critics alike have been touting the band as Memphis' answer to Bruce Springsteen for years now. The comparison isn't a stretch—Nichols' rasping vocals and sprawling melodies seem as centralized on Tennessee's heartland as Springsteen's did on Jersey. And yet the band's favorite themes—sweet hometown girls, late nights on the road, tempering loneliness and heartache with a bottle of whisky—speak to people all over America, not just Southerners. With Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $15 adv./$17 DOS. ERIN THOMPSONMike Watt and the Missingmen ~ Friday, May 22With a pedigree that includes the Minutemen and fIREHOSE, not to mention Banyan and latter-day membership in the Stooges, Mike Watt's current output is bound to be measured against his towering credibility. As always, however, Watt's new music as the leader of his trio the Missingmen comes off with an unassailable lack of pretense. Gloriously ratty and loose, the Missingmen incorporate everything you'd expect from Watt—remnants of the most inventive aspects of classic rock strained through a punk filter—but even these sometimes get tossed out the window in favor of just having fun. So many musicians' determination to maintain their underground aesthetic ultimately turns them into unwitting victims of their own integrity, their earnestness reduced over time to posturing. Watt, on the other hand, has avoided selling out and stuck to his guns, but has also managed to look perfectly natural in the process. In the end, his sense of ease invigorates the music, which is ultimately the listener's reward. With At the Spine. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave. 8 p.m. $13. SABY REYES-KULKARNINorthwest Folklife Festival ~ Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25The Northwest Folklife Festival interprets the word "folk" in its broadest sense. The generally accepted definition of folk music is songs written by and for a specific community, region, or ethnic group that are often passed down orally or anonymously. Today, though, folk music can encompass anything, from hip-hop to Appalachian bluegrass. But that's only a taste of what you can expect to witness at Folklife. From jug bands to local hip-hop, from South African folk song and dance to native Alaskan music to contemporary interpretations of hillbilly stomp, the sheer volume of performers is so vast that it's easy to get overwhelmed. No matter where you find yourself this weekend, though, you'll leave having experienced music and dance performances you'd be hard-pressed to witness at any other festival in Seattle. For a complete schedule, visit nwfolklife.org and download the .pdf from their aggravatingly old-school Web site. Various locations, Seattle Center. All ages. SARA BRICKNEREpik High ~ Saturday, May 23Since their 2003 debut Map of the Human Soul, South Korean hip-hop trio Epik High has maintained a strict focus on socially conscious, but highly danceable, music. Comprising lyricists Tablo and Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz, the group is reminiscent of stateside acts such as Digable Planets, who have a similar awareness not only of hip-hop culture but of those aspects of the larger culture which influence it. Look no further than songs like "Believe" and "Cipher," both of which revel in hard-nosed funkadelic atmospherics, for proof. Epik High's latest release, the anime-influenced book/album Map the Soul—apparently available only via their Web site (mapthesoul.com)—gave them the excuse they needed to tour beyond the Pacific Rim. We're lucky one of those stops is here. With Far East Movement. King Cat Theater, 2130 Sixth Ave., 448-2829. 7 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. KEVIN CAPPBlank Its ~ Saturday, May 23What passes for punk rock on commercial radio these days is the musical equivalent of Trader Joe's sushi. Sure, it's made of seaweed, rice, and "fish," so technically you can call it sushi, but anyone who's ever set foot in so much as a Blue C franchise could spot that shit's bland inferiority 10 miles away. Tonight's show features four equally awesome Northwest variations on, shall we say, the "Iggy Roll"—an über-fresh feast beginning with Vancouver's Modern Creatures (an appetizer worth getting to the show early for), then some electro-tinged post-punk from Twin Crystals, succulently paired with our own superb up-and-comers Blank Its and the best noisy catch of the day in Seattle right now (in my opinion, anyway), Le Shat Noir. Bon appetit, rockers, bon appetit. Bit Saloon, 4818 17th Ave. N.W., 782-1680. 9 p.m. $5. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARWindy and Carl ~ Saturday, May 23Windy and Carl's sleepy, sustained drone stretches all the way back to 1993, when spouses and record-store owners Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren began recording gorgeous, molasses-paced soundscapes. With just bass, guitar, the odd synth, Weber's occasional singing, and a pile of disorienting pedals, Windy and Carl's records were the quietest, most serene entries in Michigan's so-called "space rock" scene of the '90s, and they remain influential. Following a five-year hiatus at the start of this decade, the duo re-emerged with a string of polished but no-less-syrupy releases on the venerable Kranky Records label and their own Blue Flea imprint, initiating a new generation. Even when summoning dense rainfall and vast tundra, there's always been something undeniably romantic about their seemingly endless work. With White Rainbow, This Blinding Light. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 10 p.m. $10. DOUG WALLENThe Them ~ Tuesday, May 27The concept of cliché is so rife with meta-irony that it makes poster children such as the Them seem downright erudite in their application of hackneyed punk-rock swagger—aside from the fact that they mean every word of it, of course.There's no posturing to be found here, only (as the band puts it) "four maniacs making music." As for the music, it's a high-octane blend of punk and its trailer-park cousins. Lead singer Joseph Christ's voice is the sonic embodiment of straight whiskey and filterless cigarettes, a guttural, throat-scraping rumble to wake the dead and kill the living. The rhythm section keeps things tight and propulsive, with surprisingly nimble bass lines underscoring the rock-steady drumming and straight-ahead guitar onslaught. The Them's lyrics are just what you'd expect from a band "coagulated from a puddle of vomit, beer, and semen." Sex, death, and getting fucked up, alone or in various alloys, gild the wilted lily. Live, the pulse and swagger coalesce into a firestorm of hedonistic punk-rock mayhem. To those in the front row: You will get wet. And you might get set on fire. With Bastard Child. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $5. NICHOLAS HALLZony Mash ~ Tuesday, May 26Putting Briggan Krauss and Skerik on the same stage sounds less like a meeting of peanut butter and chocolate and more like a collision of Pop Rocks and Hot Tamales. Definitely a mouthful, but will these two great tastes taste great together? If anyone can make it work, it's Zony Mash, one of Wayne Horvitz's longest-running Seattle units, which was born under the viaduct at the old OK Hotel and has reared its head on an unpredictable schedule in the years since. Combining swamp funk, Fillmore jams, and country ballads, Zony Mash is a quartet at heart, with the always-brilliant Tim Young on guitar. But Horvitz fills out the front line with horns on festive occasions. As the band heads out this week for a few European shows, it's got a full lineup, with trombonist Steve Moore and a pair of tenor saxophones: Krauss, a fierce animatronic improviser, and Skerik, an equally powerful but more soul-grounded player. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $15. MARK D. FEFER

 
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