The Short List: This Week’s Recommended Shows

David Sanborn ~ Wednesday, June 3 through Sunday, June 7As much as some jazz snobs like to disparage smooth, crossover, and pop forms of jazz, saxophonist David Sanborn has remained a household-name representative of those genres for three decades without having sold his soul. With his enduringly robust tone, Sanborn stands as a testament to the fact that you don't have to play like Kenny G in order to resonate with listeners on a wide scale. In fact, Sanborn has not only shown dexterity (and integrity) in his ability to play in blues, R&B, pop, and rock settings (as his numerous sideman credits with high-profile acts like Paul Butterfield, David Bowie, and Stevie Wonder demonstrate), but he has also at various points in his career proven that he still has an artistic hunger to throw curveballs at his audience. Case in point: Sanborn's latest album, Here and Gone, his spirited homage to Ray Charles' saxophonist and arranger Hank Crawford. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 p.m. Wed. & Sun.; 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. Thurs.; 8 & 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat. $32.50. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIFar ~ Thursday, June 4In the heyday of melodic post-hardcore—back in the late 1990s—Far was the protoype for mainstream and critical success. The Sacramento band's first release on a major label, Tin Cans With Strings to You (1996), is a combination of chug-chugging guitars, double-bass pedals, and lead singer Jonah Matranga's guttural screams. The music and vocals were much calmer on Far's next release, Water and Solutions: Songs like "Really Here" are slowed-down near-ballads that paved the way for Biffy Clyro and nearly every other emo band that's emerged in the past decade. The band disbanded in 1999 and—after Matranga's successful solo career of heartbreaking, semi-acoustic songs—reunited last year. Now Far is recording a new album on a much smaller label (Vagrant), and touring the U.S. after releasing only one single, a hardcore-influenced cover of Ginuine's 1996 single "Pony." Matranga's vocals even employ Autotune, Kanye West–style, on the chorus. While the song is undoubtedly different from anything else Far has created, "Pony" demonstrates that the band, to some extent, is still stuck in the 1990s—which is more promising for a reunion tour than for the creation of a new album. With 1939 Ensemble, By Sunlight, Colonies. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 7 p.m. $15 adv. PAIGE RICHMONDJason Lytle ~ Thursday, June 4While most of you already know that former Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle will be opening for Neko Case at the Paramount tonight, he'll also be making an appearance at Herman Jolly's Acoustic Coal Mine, a monthly unplugged showcase at Mars Bar in which both local and touring artists strip five of their songs down to the bare bones. Usually the showcase doesn't feature such well-known artists, but it's the perfect setting for an artist like Lytle, whose songs, while they sound nice augmented with all those instrumental accents, don't require fancy accoutrements to captivate an audience. He's an artist who's solid on the fundamentals, and that's what this showcase is meant to do: peel away a song's flesh and reveal the structure that holds it together. Though Grandaddy fans will surely be hoping to hear some old hits, Lytle's more likely to compile a set list of songs from his brand-new solo record, Yours Truly, the Commuter. With Herman Jolly, Rusty Miller, Hazelwood Motel. Café Venus/Mars Bar, 609 Eastlake Ave. E., 624-4516. 9 p.m. $10. SARA BRICKNERThe Wooden Birds ~ Thursday, June 4It's been four years since we've heard from Andrew Kenny, former American Analog Set frontman. But Magnolia, the debut LP from his new band the Wooden Birds, has proven to be worth the wait. Tambourines rustle like leaves, or like Kenny's hushed, raspy voice, which takes on an ethereal quality when he harmonizes with Leslie Sisson. Coupled with the syncopated guitar-top percussion that permeates the album, Magnolia evokes a warm, earthy mood as appealing and pervasive as the scent of the flower it's named for. Even at low volume, Kenny's melodies hang thick in the air, and his words seem weighted with metaphysical truth even when he's not singing about something serious. And while critics will decry Kenny's decision to recycle "Hometown Fantasy," a song from a split EP he once released with Ben Gibbard, it seems fair that Kenny—who was burned by bad record-label decisions while American Analog Set was active—wants to give the song (and himself) another chance with Barsuk. With Other Lives, Bryn Lumsden. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St. 324-8000. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. SARA BRICKNERJens Lekman ~ Thursday, June 4 and Friday, June 5Before Lykke Li swooped in to steal our undeserving hearts, we were all plenty busy being smitten with fellow Swedish import Jens Lekman, who sang about psychologically unstable women, his friend Lisa's birthday, a tram that goes all the way to heaven, and, well, wanting to be your dog. Comparisons to Jonathan Richman and Belle & Sebastian rightfully abounded, and Lekman followed up the gorgeous When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog with the winning singles collection Oh You're So Silent Jens and the more ambitious crossover success Night Falls Over Kortedala. Just as Lykke Li fuses pop, folk, and electronics until we no longer notice the overlap, Lekman enlists crackling samples in a way that's just as wistfully romantic as the angelic strings, coy-boy singing, and poised yet stinging lyrics that populate his records. According to one song, he'll hold your hair while you vomit, help brush your teeth, and even kiss your stomach afterwards. A total keeper, then. With Tig Notaro. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15 adv. DOUG WALLENCephalic Carnage ~ Friday, June 5Easily one of the most tripped-out acts in the history of grindcore, Cephalic Carnage taps the terrifying depths of real-life conspiracies and unexplained supernatural phenomena with a suitably mind-warping approach. The band members' avid enthusiasm for the high-grade weed that proliferates in their native Rocky Mountain region shows in both the rigorous technique of the music and the underlying paranoia that fuels frontman Lenzig Leal's lyrics. On the other hand, few if any bands could make subjects such as government experiments on civilians or getting sexually assualted by a ghost sound like fun, but that's exactly what Cephalic Carnage manages to do, strangely enough. And where so many grind acts turn their music into a flat, droning blur onstage, Cephalic's unbridled enthusiasm, kick-ass musicianship, and laugh-out-loud goofiness ensures a live show of an intensity matched only by the likes of the Dillinger Escape Plan. Infamous black-metallers Mayhem are also on the bill, so it'll be interesting to see if Cephalic performs its hilarious black-metal parody number in full costume. Keep your fingers crossed... With Mayhem, Marduk, Cattle Decapitation, Ceremonial Castings, Withered, Inquinok. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 286-1312. 5:30 p.m. $25 adv./$28 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIHopewell ~ Friday, June 5Like an artist dipping his brush into various colors and making delicate strokes with each, Hopewell leader (and Mercury Rev alum) Jason Russo is somehow able to draw from space rock, art rock, psychedelia, heavy rock, etc., without sounding quite like any of those things. At times, Russo weds melody with heaviness so seamlessly that one wonders why anyone ever bothered to make emo when they could have done something like this instead. Even if someone had, however, Russo's work would stand out. Like so many before him (and so many of his contemporaries today), Russo attempts to synthesize existing forms, but his subtle touch and distinct approach qualify him as a true visionary. Hopewell albums are filled with nuance, and as such they reveal their treasures over time even as their reference points may be somewhat apparent right off the bat. Majestic harmonies, finely crafted production, and songs that swerve gracefully from style to style are just a few of the methods this band uses to guarantee satisfaction and freshness over repeated listens. With Voyager One, Drug Purse, This Blinding Light. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $8. SABY REYES-KULKARNIPatrick Wolf ~ Friday, June 5Even with all his flamboyance, charisma, ability, and sexual ambiguity, American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert is Dave Matthews bland compared to outrageous—and outrageously talented—25-year-old British singer/multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wolf. A part-time model, full-time musician, and 24/7 glam-goth provocateur, Wolf's aiming to replace vintage Bowie and Madonna as the ultimate pansexual pop chameleon. Armed with a never-ending supply of hair dye and makeup and a wardrobe stuffed with feathers, leather, cloaks, capes, glitter, sequins, and more, his look changes nearly every time he steps in front of a camera or on a stage. Proficient on violin, viola, ukulele, theremin, guitar, all sorts of electronic gizmos, and more, Wolf romps through a multitude of musical styles, from baroque chamber-pop to industrial-tinged electro to traditional acoustic-folk to old-school Depeche Mode S&M synth-pop. Already massive in the U.K., it's hard to say if he'll become an American idol, too—you'll be able to vote yea or nay tonight. With Living Things, Plasticines, Jaguar Love. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $15. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGBilly Ray Cyrus ~ Saturday, June 6It's bad enough to have your career derailed because of the fickleness of a cross-genre fan base who only ever liked you for one song. But to have that career resurrected by your underage daughter's success as a Disney-pop sensation...Actually, I'm guessing Billy Ray's pretty OK with that turn of events. See, even at his chart-topping best, he was never much more than a novelty act. After all, it wasn't his relatively straightforward take on dusty country-rock and traditional country revivalism that brought Billy Ray to the masses. His biggest selling points were his hunky, urban-cowboy appeal and his undeniable ability to craft a two-stepping party anthem. Really, Cyrus and daughter are just two generationally separated sides of the same coin. Now that he's ridden Miley's miniature coattails back into the limelight, he's got a ready-made audience waiting for him in his erstwhile female fans, who've grown into the soccer moms who spawned Miley's tween worshippers. Emerald Queen Casino, 2024 E. 29th St., Tacoma, 253-594-7777. 8 p.m. $35–$70. NICHOLAS HALLRedwood Plan ~ Sunday, June 7The Cha Cha on Capitol Hill is typically thought of as a cavernous hipster hellhole, not a place where one would willingly go see a band. But it's unfair to write off the Mexi-kitsch-laden watering hole entirely, given that See Me River frontman Kerry Zettel—the handsome, tattooed fellow most likely pouring your drink upstairs—isn't just one of the nicest, most talented musicians in the city, but also a bona fide local music fan and the man who thoughtfully books the Cha Cha's occasional live shows. Tonight it's the Redwood Plan, Lesli Wood's smashingly successful new pop-punk configuration, and Hostas, the promising bass-heavy trio featuring Visqueen drummer Ben Hooker. Besides, it's a Sunday night: The douchebag quotient will undoubtedly be markedly lower. Cha Cha Lounge, 1013 E. Pike St., 322-0703. 9 p.m. HANNAH LEVINThe Slants ~ Sunday, June 7Sure, it's easy to dismiss the Slants as a novelty act. Simon Young (formerly of the Stivs) formed the band by posting ads in ethnic supermarkets across Portland calling for Asian musicians. Once the lineup was completed, the band began playing gigs at—where else—anime conventions. The approach earned them a devoted fanbase of Asians, Asiaphiles, and geeks galore. And it's actually well deserved, given the quality of their music. The Slants create synthesizer-driven songs drenched in sexy beats, erratic guitar riffs, and the occasional plucking of a koto. Their 2007 demo album, Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts—reworked and re-released last year—is a dark dance album comparable to records by electro-rock bands like the Faint and Depeche Mode. Many of the songs grapple with race relations, but even non-Asians can relate to their pain when they sing about loneliness and feeling like outsiders. With the New Up, Klover Jane. Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $6. ERIKA HOBARTStill Flyin' and Love Is All ~ Monday, June 8If your next bromance needs a soundtrack, look into Still Flyin's "Forever Dudes." And hey, it's not gender-exclusive; anyone is welcome to join the San Francisco party band's friends-forever jam. Gestating over a pair of shaggy EPs and including up to 20 members, Still Flyin' brought its overstuffed, reggae-scrambled pop to joyful fruition on the recent album Never Gonna Touch the Ground. Formerly a driving force behind the breathy Masters of the Hemisphere, leader Sean Rawls spins his weed-stoked daydreams into lackadaisical sing-alongs about haunted houses and Aerosmith. In their way, the results are every bit as nervy and erratic as the songs of tour mates Love Is All, who thrive on trebly squeals, shouts, and clatter. With two great albums behind them, the post-punky Swedes knock around like kids in an inflatable castle and like to cover Prince, A Flock of Seagulls, and Faith No More live. Melancholy-voiced singer Josephine Olausson holds together the tumult, and the band lives to jitter and veer another day. With TacocaT. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12. DOUG WALLENB-Real ~ Tuesday, June 9Cypress Hill stands as one of the most important hip-hop groups of the '90s. Powered by lyricist B-Real's pinched-nasal delivery and DJ Muggs' dark, hyperactive production, the L.A.-based foursome fired up the culture with paeans to bong hits and black-comedy riffs about being pushed to kill a man. That they were the country's premiere Latin group only added to their importance—and mystique. Then in February, nearly 20 years after Cypress Hill emerged on the scene, B-Real released his long-awaited solo debut, Smoke N Mirrors. Featuring guest spots by other West Coast rappers of that era, including Snoop Dogg and Kurupt, the disc finds B-Real cruising down familiar palm tree–lined lanes, from spitting odes to herb to warning of the perils of street life. Conspicuously missing from the disc are his Cypress Hill cohorts, especially DJ Muggs' beats—hard-driving hallucinations that gelled perfectly with B-Real's twisted-clown falsetto. Guess we'll just have to wait for the upcoming reunion album, set for release sometime this year. With Bizzy Bone, Bruce ILLest, Jay Barz, Sadistik, DIV. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 286-1312. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. KEVIN CAPP

 
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