The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Thunderbird Motel ~ Wednesday, May 27Thunderbird Motel plays the kind of blues-inspired, rootsy rock that once monopolized your father's teenage record collection. If this band had existed 30 years ago, your dad would have been hanging out in his best friend's Midwestern basement sort of stoned, trying to cue up his record player to play "Witchy Ways," a down-and-dirty track off TM's soon-to-be released album. When the song finally started, that smoky basement would have been filled with Who-inspired bass lines, Steve Miller Band–style guitars, and throaty vocals belting out lyrics like "Let me pour some funk on you!" It's the sort of garage rock that sounds like it actually was written in someone's garage. But to say TM is simply a '70s throwback band would be shortsighted: The band hails from Seattle, after all, and there are slight tinges of grunge in TM's heavy guitars and drums. There's just a hint of '90s alternative rock, too: The lead singer—identified as "Captain Morgan" on the band's MySpace page—sounds a little bit like Scott Weiland on songs like "Fire and Water." It's the perfect formula for out-of-control, sweaty rock music—and there ain't nothing wrong with that. With the Ironclads, the Magic Mirrors. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $7. PAIGE RICHMONDThe Devil Makes Three ~ Thursday, May 28If you think the use of banjos, musical saw, slide guitar, and upright bass is enough to consign the Devil Makes Three to the creaky realm of nostalgia, give a listen to the trio's new third album, Do Wrong Right, which took the top slot on Billboard's bluegrass chart. Equipped with a dark and rascally wit, singer Pete Bernhard conjures a skeletal crack-addict mother within the album's first 30 seconds and proceeds to romanticize hard drinking with a wink and a grin on "Gracefully Facedown." Hailing from Santa Cruz, California, of all places, the off-kilter outfit made a name for itself by pairing a reverently old-world sound with downright irreverent lyrics. Touring through the summer, the Devil Makes Three will be pushing Do Wrong Right until autumn, when Bernhard will release his second solo platter. Remember: Any bluegrass band with a live album is worth beholding firsthand. With Hillstomp. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15. DOUG WALLENFinal Spins ~ Thursday, May 28Hold on to your hearts, kids, because tonight's bill is chock full of music made to make and fall in love to.It's all too easy to get swept up in the pretty pinings of the fabulously melodic Final Spins, who are celebrating the release of their debut album, This Is Then, That Was Now, tonight. Fronted by former Throw Me the Statue member Joe Syverson, their approach is pure power pop, but they sound more like a slightly twanged-up affair between Built to Spill and Magnetic Fields, making for a swooningly memorable first-kiss soundtrack. Supporting band Battle Hymns comes off like the audiotastic love children of a short and stormy marriage between Smog and Interpol (performed by the Reverend Jay Farrar), and may cause you to call that certain ex and bemoan your relationship's tragic end. The most potently romantic danger, however, may be that of Arthur and Yu's Grant Olsen, whose dreamy music is like a trip to the Hazlewood Underground.His music's heart-melting magic, combined with a bottle of champagne, the right partner, and a rainy afternoon, actually got me pregnant. Don't say you haven't been warned. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $7. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARChain and the Gang ~ Friday, May 29Chain and the Gang is the latest incarnation of musical brilliance from D.C. rabble-rouser Ian Svenonius—part Prince, part Iggy, part Chomsky, part Andy Kaufman—who's previously bestowed upon the world such deliciously caustic, sonically arresting bands as Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, and Scene Creamers/Weird War. Svenonius has been called "a Marxist version of Stephen Colbert" for the anti-authoritarian, anti-bourgeoisie, conspiracy-theorist rhetoric and ideology he barks in songs and interviews—and commits to print in such fascinating tomes as his recent essay collection, The Psychic Soviet—that blurs the line between righteous indignation and pure satire/parody (like Kaufman, it's virtually impossible to tell when he's dead serious or pulling your leg). Whether or not Svenonius' provocative sociopolitical stance makes you think "Yeah, yeah! Down with the Man!" or makes you want to punch him square in the face, there's simply no denying the power and entertainment of C&tG's blend of jailhouse blues, trash punk, funk, and soul. With Hive Dwellers, Wallpaper. Vera Project, Seattle Center, Warren Avenue North and Republican Street, 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $9. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGCotton Jones ~ Friday, May 29Seattle dwellers new to Michael Nau might find Maryland band Cotton Jones sounds a little like the Dutchess and the Duke's East Coast–dwelling country cousin. Both bands rely on male-female duets—in Cotton Jones, the voices belong to former Page France frontman Nau and Whitney McGraw—and like the Dutchess and the Duke, Cotton Jones masters that gritty '60s pop aesthetic. Paranoid Cocoon, Cotton Jones' debut (Suicide Squeeze), is a summery piece of roots pleasantry that showcases Nau's songwriting as well as the popular Page France once did—if not better. Last year, Nau laid it to rest to focus on Cotton Jones full-time, and what was once a side project effectively replaced Page France in Suicide Squeeze's stable. But Page France fans shouldn't despair, because Cotton Jones doesn't deviate too far from the folk songwriting Nau's known for. And since this folk revival we're experiencing doesn't appear to be slowing down, there's plenty of time for Cotton Jones' music to worm its way into the hearts of all those West Coast hippies' children. With Lightning Dust. Triple Door Mainstage, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 9:30 p.m. $12. SARA BRICKNERDJ Dan ~ Friday, May 29Contrary to our culture's high priests of taste and morality, the early-'90s L.A. rave scene did more than produce kids swaddled in glowing necklaces and gassed on designer drugs. Indeed, the reason we still talk about that countercultural moment is the same reason we still talk about, say, the punk scene of '70s New York: the music. One of the artists to emerge from Hollywood's all-night warehouse parties with all his major appendages was DJ Dan. Since then he's gone on to remix for A Tribe Called Quest, maintain a demanding roster of international gigs, and produce club anthems like "Loose Caboose." But to prove he still remembers his roots, DJ Dan has started The Future Retro Mixtape Series, a project designed to digitize and distribute, via his various social-networking sites, dance-music classics dating back to his nights working the rave circuit infused with his trademarked funky electro and breakbeat sound. It's a scholarly endeavor we should all cheer. Tonight you'll have your chance. With Cybersutra, Richard J. Dalton, Aurora Diving Club. Heaven Nightclub, 172 S. Washington St., 622-1863. 9 p.m. $15. KEVIN CAPPFriday Mile ~ Friday, May 29Friday Mile's "Lives of Strangers" is the sort of song that grows on you. The melodic track starts out a little sparse and slow, with only lead singer Jace Krause's strummed guitar and vocals. About 30 seconds in, vocalist Hannah Williams unexpectedly joins in, harmonizing with Krause on a few choice words and lines. It's not until 30 seconds later that the song begins to flesh out with drums, guitars, pianos, vocal harmonies, and an occasional trumpet. And much like "Lives of Strangers," it takes a few listens before Friday Mile makes musical sense. Maybe that's because the music is startlingly simple: There are no gimmicks with this band. Krause and Williams defy standard notions of what a male-female indie-rock pairing should sound like, eschewing the dancy pop of Mates of State or the girl-in-the-background setup of White Stripes in favor of shared vocal duties. Their voices are best showcased on songs like "Curtain Call," in which Williams is clear and on-pitch and the harmonies are center stage. It's hard to stop listening to music that sounds so effortless. With Pickwick, Telegraph Canyon. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 9 p.m. $10. PAIGE RICHMONDSugar, Sugar, Sugar ~ Friday, May 29The non-musical highlight of last year's Capitol Hill Block Party had to have been an incident I witnessed in the lovely posh-ness of the artist/VIP tent.One of the members of a band playing tonight sat among a who's-who of the Seattle music community, oblivious to his surroundings or to any camera phones that might be present, picking his nose with the gleeful, carefree abandon of a toddler. Not a discreet flick of an unsightly little itch, mind you, but a genuine pickathon, knuckle-deep, that went on for a good 30 minutes. It was like a car accident or an episode of Rock of Love: insanely disgusting, even horrific...and yet it was impossible to look away. Whether an act of coked-out stupidity or the most punk-rock, fuck-all-ya'll action ever taken, I've yet to determine, but it's etched on my memory for eternity. Anyway, boogers be damned, this show is a rocker! Go early for the up-and-coming brilliance of Bellingham garage/noise combo Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, who get my personal "pick" tonight. With Thee Emergency, Strong Killings. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $7. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARTaking Back Sunday ~ Friday, May 29Amityville, New York's emo-rock band has gone through more lineup changes over the years than Destiny's Child. And the consistency of its music has suffered because of it. It's been quite some time since TBS created an album as memorable as their vitriolic debut Tell All Your Friends, on which frontman Adam Lazzara—who looks sort of like an unkempt Ashton Kutcher—screamed the best two lines in fucked-up-relationship-song history: "The truth is you could slit my throat/And with my one last gasping breath, I'd apologize for bleeding on your shirt." Luckily, fans will find that 2009's New Again lashes out with equally potent verbal venom. The lucky victims are Lazzara's ex-fiance and the band's ex-guitarist Fred Mascherino, who recently left to pursue a solo career. The raw, emotion-wracked material proves that TBS hasn't completely converted to a pop-infused hardcore band for pussies—at least not yet. With Anberlin, Envy on the Coast. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 652-0444. 7 p.m. $25. All ages. ERIKA HOBARTOzric Tentacles ~ Saturday, May 30If you're going to follow in the footsteps of Hawkwind and skip merrily down the hallucinogenated astral pathways of psychedelic and space rock, then you'd damn well better be audacious about it. And what could possibly be more audacious than playing all-instrumental music to boot? Ozric Tentacles (whose members reportedly met at something called the Stonehenge Free Festival!) is now marking 25 years of going strong with exactly that approach. And as the band's 30-ish albums prove, the Ozrics' glorious, unabashed presence, not to mention their strong British flavor, have contributed greatly to the band's enduring appeal. These days the Ozrics find themselves coasting, thrusters still ablaze, in a kind of time-space fold, their sound somehow a complementary fit with jamtronica, space rockers, and neo-proggers alike. Interested parties can climb aboard the band's long, strange trip via the new album/transportational-device Yum Yum Tree. With Voyager One. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 9 p.m. $15 adv./$17 DOS. SABY REYES-KULKARNIThe Aggrolites ~ Saturday, May 30Over the past seven years, the Aggrolites have established a reputation for being a bit retrograde. Though this has occasionally earned them some degree of critical scorn, the band wholeheartedly embraces their throwback aesthetic, choosing to act as if they're one of the original reggae/ska/funk acts to whom they so frequently draw comparison. Rather than using their influences as a jumping-off point, they have chosen to become their influences. This sense of pure musical continuity is readily apparent on The Aggrolites IV, soon to be released on Hellcat Records. From the funk swagger of album opener "Firecracker" to the breezy reggae feel of the aptly titled "Reggae Summertime," the album veritably sweats classic reggae, ska, and soul. For those craving something a little different, the sweetheart-of-the-(reggae)-rodeo feel of "Brother Jacob" should fit the bill, with its swinging shuffle and mournful saga of love, death, and vengeance. Though the Aggrolites may not be out to reinvent the wheel, the one they're turning sounds pretty damn sweet. With the Georgetown Orbits. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $13 adv. NICHOLAS HALLJenny Lewis ~ Sunday, May 31Last fall, I watched Jenny Lewis and her backing band, which includes her boyfriend, singer/songwriter/guitarist Johnathan Rice, put on a tremendous, impassioned performance in a theatre on the outskirts of Philadelphia that wasn't even half full. The tickets weren't particularly expensive, the weather wasn't atrocious, the parking there isn't a nightmare. I thought to myself, "Why aren't there more people here? Are they mad because they think she's destroying Rilo Kiley with this solo career of hers? Are they sad that she ditched the Watson Twins? Are they tired of people hyping her up and insisting how 'hot' she is? Is she just the poor man's/woman's Neko Case?" And then I went home, thought about her amazing voice and the excellent show she just put on, listened to her then-new Acid Tongue and its stylin', captivating '70s Laurel Canyon country-pop, and came to the only conclusion possible for the lousy attendance: People can be really fucking stupid. Seattle, don't be stupid. Just go. You'll thank me. With the Sadies, Mimicking Birds.Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$22 DOS. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGMount Eerie ~ Monday, June 1Phil Elverum has gone by any number of aliases during his 10-plus years of making music. A few years ago, he even changed the spelling of his last name. (It used to be Elvrum.) He was known as the Microphones until 2003, when he released an album titled Mount Eerie. Since then, he's been using that as his moniker. When Elverum released a 7-inch in 2007 and credited it to the Microphones, rumors started floating that he'd again drop the Mount Eerie handle. He's unpredictable in other ways, too: A prolific songwriter, he's known for recording short-run singles that are only available for purchase at his live shows. A few years ago, he performed five shows in one day in Portland, at a number of mystery locations around town. But whatever he calls himself—and no matter how unusual his musical career—Elverum's music has remained the same. On some compositions, there are electronic drum kits keeping a tinkling beat; on others, it's just the Anacortes native and his guitar. But every song is identified by Elverum's slightly off-key half-singing, half-talking vocals. "What I am going to do with my life/Now that you're gone?" he sings on "Who," a Mount Eerie tune. These are haunting compositions about life's unbearable weight, and there's no better musician than Elverum to carry that load. With Clues, Aqueduct. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12 adv. All ages. PAIGE RICHMOND

 
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