The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Stone River Boys ~ Wednesday, July 1The Hacienda Brothers were sweet. They could achieve these peak moments ("A Lot of Days Are Gone" is my personal fave) when co-founders Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez channeled the ghosts of Doug Sahm and Gram Parsons. Unfortunately, liver cancer claimed Gaffney's life in 2008, shortly after the release of Arizona Motel, arguably the best album the Haciendas ever recorded. By all accounts, Gonzalez was shattered. To cope, he has done what all great musicians do: bury himself in his music. The Stone River Boys have yet to ink a deal, but a handful of MySpace tracks sound pretty f'n killer. Not unlike the Haciendas, Gonzalez fuses country-and-Western and funky Southern soul into a gnarly brand of roots rock. As always, one of the main attractions is the dude's masterful guitar work. It's truly awesome. With Chuckanut Drive. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $15. JUSTIN F. FARRARGrand Hallway ~ Thursday, July 2Grand Hallway is a name that evokes eminence, a kind of timeless grandeur. Such is the quality of the octet's sprawling orchestral pop music—it's stately without being stuffy, dreamy but not too distant. Grand Hallway's songs are built upon layers of guitar, violin, piano, and percussion—all showcasing frontman Tomo Nakayama's smooth, exquisite tenor. (Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger dubbed Nakayama's "the most beautiful singing voice in Seattle"). The craftsmanship that went into putting these songs together is apparent—some of the lush melodies are stop-in-your-tracks gorgeous, even more so when coupled with the swelling strings and tinkling piano keys—and lyrically, too, they're packed with stirring, picturesque emotion. "When you're lying next to me, I'm a hibernating grizzly bear," lilts Nakayama on "Blessed Be, Honey Bee," a track on Grand Hallway's forthcoming LP, Promenade. Refreshingly, the music lacks tired irony or any other superciliousness; instead, these are simply dazzling and eloquent love songs. With Friday Mile, Apple War, and carcrashlander. Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $7. ERIN THOMPSONBill Patton ~ Friday, July 3Bill Patton claims that he is a "sad bastard singer-songwriter who lives in Seattle, as so many of them do." True, the Emerald Shitty has produced a rather large and stinky pile of this particular brand of weepy white boy. But, as with all niche genres, some performers are better than others. Bill Patton is one of them. A classically trained composer and music teacher, Patton plays songs that are pensive, murky, and atmospherically akin to those early Iron & Wine demos. Yet his lyrics tell stories that are, for all their drizzly mystery, plainspoken and crystal clear. He also covers Black Sabbath's "Fairies Wear Boots," transforming the stoner anthem into a bit of Clarence Ashley–esque hillbilly surrealism. Joining Patton is Mike Dumovich, a Vashon Island native whose music I will forever champion. Like Patton, Dumovich sings pensive songs, delivering them in a matter-of-fact voice and with radiant guitar plucking that can put you in a trance. His lyrics are weighted down with chilly imagery and a very Pacific Northwest gloominess. Dumovich is an idiosyncratic character whose music and personality cannot be neatly boxed up—which is to say, he's a true artist in a music scene full of phonies. With the End of the Night, Sugar and Hate. Jewelbox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 10 p.m. $5. BRIAN J. BARRThe Dirty Projectors ~ Friday, July 3Considering how difficult it is to come up with a decent band name, it's always impressive when a chosen moniker is not only memorable but also legitimately evocative of an artist's sound. Dirty Projectors mastermind Dave Longstreth has a notorious proclivity for schizoid genre-surfing. Whether he and his rotating cast of accomplices are helming a concept album about Don Henley (2005's The Getty Address) or a nearly song-for-song "re-imagining" of Black Flag's Damaged (2007's Rise Above), Longstreth obviously takes great pleasure in screening the art of others through his own filthy lens, even if the results are as likely to be as unlistenable as they are brilliant. However, with his most recent release, Bitte Orca (Domino Records), Longstreth seems to have found an almost breezy middle ground, infusing a brisk degree of pop melody into a cohesive collection of smartly structured songs without compromising his love of the art-damaged, angular, or abrasive. With What's Up? Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $12. HANNAH LEVINInfected Mushroom ~ Friday, July 3Infected Mushroom has the kind of genre-spanning sound that finds critics deploying so many hyphens, their copy looks like a wrinkled-carpet portmanteau. (See what I mean?) The scribblers call it psy-trance, thrash-and-metal-something-or-other, and a lot of other essentially meaningless phrases. So let's call it what it is: electronic music. (After all, the essential jock resource DJ Mag saw fit to throw the duo among its 10 best.) Since their breakout disc, 1998's The Gathering, Israeli-born Amit "Duvdev" Duvdevani and Erez Eisen have studded their hallucinatory melodies with angry guitars and wailing vocals as well as more cosmopolitan influences, especially the music of their Middle Eastern homeland. Their upcoming album, Legend of the Black Shawarma (which drops in September on Paul Oakenfold's label, Perfecto), features guest spots by Perry Farrell and Korn's Jonathan Davis. To what extent Infected Mushroom has expanded, or maintained, its embrace of other sounds on their new album isn't known. Let's see what the crits call it. With Gunslinger, Osiris Indriya & Amanita (aka Future Nurses), Johnny Monsoon, DJ Patrick Walen. Showbox SODO, 1700 First Ave. S., 652-0444. 8 p.m. $25 adv./$35 DOS. All ages. KEVIN CAPPGreen Day ~ Friday, July 3With 2004's American Idiot, Green Day executed a near-genius punk-rock opera with balls, intellect, and genuine heart. It spoke eloquently to the generation unlucky enough to be hitting puberty with the stench of war in the air, and was so overtly anti-Bush that you could practically feel Joe Strummer's posthumous, approving gaze from above. When one sells nine zillion records using this approach, it's undoubtedly tempting to repeat that formula, which is precisely what Billie Joe Armstrong and company have now done with 21st Century Breakdown. Unfortunately, it misses the mark entirely, sounding more like one of their young fans trying to emulate them than a 22-year-old band building on lessons accrued. Furthermore, while it's common knowledge the trio's friendly with Kathleen Hanna, that the drum intro to the album's first single ("Know Your Enemy") sounds lifted straight from Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" feels both disrespectful andlazy. All that said, if Green Day's only function in this world is to be the gateway band that makes kids fall in love with punk rock and eventually go out and buy London Calling, then they get a pass for now. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., 684-7200. 8 p.m. $25–$49.50. All ages. HANNAH LEVINDouble Dagger ~ Sunday, July 5Yet another cult commodity from Baltimore, Double Dagger has finally been doused in the national attention it deserves with the May release of More by the ever-trustworthy Thrill Jockey. Unwieldy on paper but effortlessly catchy on record, the trio constructs brainy post-punk anthems as sturdy as steel girders with just a bass, drums, and Nolen Strals' shouted vocals. Bringing an art-school inventiveness to the brawny speechifying of hardcore, Double Dagger lunges into each song with a wolfish hunger, Bruce Willen's swaggering bass blurring with distortion and activity while Denny Bowen's drums work themselves into dizzy flurries. It's a rare band that can bridge the gap between No Age and Wilderness while still warmly reminding us of the Minutemen and the Fall. Even potentially self-serious entries like "Luxury Condos for the Poor," off 2007's Ragged Rubble, and More's "The Lie/The Truth" find unlikely life as infectious near-pop delights...at least until you notice the lyrics. With Arbitron, Chk Minus, Brain Fruit. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 8 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLENThe Rural Alberta Advantage ~ Monday, July 6Take a look at any review of The Rural Alberta Advantage's 2008 LP debut, Hometowns, and the ready-made witticism "What's the advantage to living in rural Alberta?" is sure to pop up. It doesn't seem that the proud Albertans mind the question; rather, they invite and attempt to answer it withthoughtfully composed, heavily nostalgic vignettes of life in, around, and away from their own hometown. The other near-surety is the comparison, especially of RAA singer Nils Edenloff, to the fuzzy, slightly manic folk rock of Neutral Milk Hotel. While there are certainly comparisons to be made with Edenloff's gruff, wholly unselfconscious braying, and RAA's melding of gentle sweep and balls-out rush certainly evokes the ebulliently ramshackle nature of NMH's best material, this is certainly no rip-off tribute band. For one thing, Hometowns is a simple album, with no hint of cryptic mysticism or vague lyrical suggestions. Edenloff is a storyteller, William Carlos Williams to Jeff Mangum's T.S. Eliot. Then there's the sheer pop-ness of RAA. Yeah, there's a hefty dose of lo-fi folk punk, but also a lot of straightforward melodicism and catchy pop hooks to balance the clattering surge. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $7. NICHOLAS HALLMantic Ritual ~ Tuesday, July 7Let's set the record straight: though famous metal musicians would have us believe otherwise, the rise of Nirvana did not precipitate the demise of thrash metal, the thrilling heavy-metal sub-genre launched by Metallica, Exodus, Megadeth, and Slayer. Most likely, the music's sudden erosion occurred from within. And Mantic Ritual clearly felt the pain. The band's production values, guitar riffs, and lyrics are all micro-tailored to make its 2009 album, Executioner, sound as though it'd been recorded 25 years ago, when the genre was still more raw than progressive and had yet to surge in popularity. Hell, it's a surprise the label didn't airbrush some acne into the band's photos to mimic the back cover of Metallica's Kill 'Em All. By presenting thrash as an embalmed museum piece, Mantic Ritual sheds zero light on why this most vital of styles barely evolved past 1993. But, of course, fans who pine for the glory days of leather and jean jackets will throw their horns up anyway. Like Twinkies, at least you know exactly what you're going to get. With Pro-Pain, Sworn Enemy, Sojourner, Crooks to Kings. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $15 adv./$17 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNICracker ~ Tuesday, July 7In 1990, when the legendary Camper Van Beethoven broke up, it must've seemed inconceivable that singer/guitarist David Lowery would ever front a band as initially straight ahead–sounding as Cracker. While Camper was known for its zany, offbeat wit and rollicking stage presentation, Cracker's demeanor points 180 degrees in the other direction. On first listen, Cracker, with its bountiful hooks and smooth country-rock guitar, sounds tailor-made for radio. And the ubiquitous hit "Low," which has probably been played in every shopping mall across America, only seems to cement that perception. Since Camper re-formed 10 years ago, however, it's gotten easier to regard Cracker on its own merits—and to recognize the songwriting strength behind Lowery's deceptively accessible songs. In retrospect, it's remarkable not only that he was able to reinvent himself and sneak some hits down the mass-appeal chute, but that Cracker would have such longevity and age so well. With Victor Krumnenacher. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $18 adv. SABY REYES-KULKARNIShemekia Copeland ~ Tuesday, July 7 and Wednesday, July 8While it's definitely a pleasure to listen to the recently released Never Going Back, or to the handful of other discs Shemekia Copeland's put out over the past decade, they only hint at the dynamic voice and compelling presence the 30-year-old Harlem-born soul/blues powerhouse brings to the stage. I had the great fortune to catch Copeland (daughter of the late, renowned blues singer–guitarist Johnny Copeland) live a couple of months ago, and she brought down the house with her potent, clarion pipes, clearly inspired by Etta James; her grasp of classic soul chops; and her and her razor-sharp backing band's ability to push those vintage sounds into the modern arena without watering them down or cheesing it out. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 p.m. $23.50. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

 
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