The Short List

Michael Schenker Wednesday, July 8 With his signature black-and-white Flying V in hand, Michael Schenker has easily put as much, if not more, of a stamp on heavy rock as his more visible older brother, Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker. His flightiness as a member of Scorpions and UFO (as well as missed bids to join Aerosmith and Ozzy) sealed Schenker's fate as a cult act in the U.S. But that's not a bad thing, as the artistic integrity of his body of work still stands. Unlike the majority of his guitar-shredder brethren, in his prime Schenker had a knack (not unlike Ronnie Montrose) for showcasing the interplay of his supporting musicians, rather than shredding to the detriment of the music. Which is not to say that Schenker didn't shred, just that he was able to tuck his technical chops into the invigorating drive of heavy blues-rock. The inclusion of one of his songs on the Metallica edition of Guitar Hero isn't likely to make Schenker a household name anytime soon, but a recent clip of a young girl rocking his "Captain Nemo" on a Japanese TV show hints at his renown in other markets. With Doug Doppler, A Lesson in Chaos, Choker. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 286-1312. 7 p.m. $23 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNI The Gourds Wednesday, July 8 and Thursday, July 9 House-party novelty jams, especially those soaked in roots-rock twang, have never totally appealed to me—too corny. Yet there's no denying "Gin and Juice," the opening track off the Gourds' 2001 album Shinebox. Lyrics don't get any raunchier than these: "Two in the mornin' and the party's still jumpin' 'cause my momma ain't home/I got bitches in the living room gettin' it on/And they ain't leavin' 'til six in the morning/So what you wanna do/I got a pocket full of rubbers, and my homeboys do, too." Now in all fairness, the tune is a tongue-in-cheek ode to Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the pop-culture mythology surrounding gangsta rap. That said, if you're easily offended, pay attention only to the music. That's because the Gourds can totally jam. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $15. JUSTIN F. FARRAR Natalie Portman's Shaved Head Thursday, July 9 Party people always come in crowds—take Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, a posse of five kids who love all things neon and funky. NPSH's hook-filled electropop shook up Seattle last year with the release of Glistening Pleasure, an exultant array of vocals, keyboard, claps, guitar, and shakers. Fast-forward a year: The band has now completed a tour with Lily Allen, won praise from The Village Voice and SPIN, and inked a deal with Warner Bros. Records. Outwardly, NPSH's dance tracks are nutty little odes to everything from voyeurism ("You should really close the blinds/Whose fault is it, yours or mine?") to the dos and don'ts of facial hair ("Eat with it, but don't get messy/The only rule is, keep it classy"), but somehow the songs are able to relate back to tangible themes of youthful rapture and coming of age. Whatever your interpretation, it's music that always makes for a bitchin' party. With Hey Champ, Glint. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $12 adv. ERIN THOMPSON Blutonium Boy Friday, July 10 German jock Blutonium Boy's granite-hard sound is made for after-hours parties: Only the truly twisted are capable of appreciating it. This isn't to say that he's unlistenable, but that his interpretation of electronic music is tough stuff. It drives deep and stays there. Thing is, he's probably just as well-known for his forays into trance under the alias DJ Session One, which may be his way of admitting that the fascistic, power-mad style he rocks under his other moniker is difficult even for him to swallow. His bass-centric productions made him a hit on the European rave circuit, and one suspects that much of his fan base still comprises many of these folks: all-night wackos whacked on pharmaceuticals. Which means that, yes, Blutonium Boy knows how to put on a show that appeals to more than just your ears. With Flarup, Used and Abused, DJ Ryle, Nympho, J Renegade. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $20. All ages. KEVIN CAPP Girl in a Coma Friday, July 10 It's quite fitting that Joan Jett and Morrissey were both instantly impressed by Girl in a Coma. (Jett signed them; Morrissey invited them to open for him.) Like both those icons, Girl in a Coma keeps one foot planted in crunching punk 'n' roll and the other in dreamy pop. The difference: Frontwoman/songwriter Nina Diaz possesses a powerhouse voice that rivals rock's all-time greats. Diaz's sultry, rich singing is extraordinary unto itself, but she also excels at throat-scratching grit, mixing the two styles so that they go together as naturally as chocolate and peanut butter. Diaz allegedly knocked her two bandmates dead with her abilities at the ripe old age of 12. Now 21, the wisdom and craft in her songs still belies her age. She titled the band's 2007 debut, Both Before I'm Gone, for example, after James Dean's quote about learning to be an artist and a person. With Veritas, Miss Derringer, Roxy Epoxy & the Rebound, Pedestre. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNI Pterodactyl Friday, July 10 Bassless Brooklyn trio Pterodactyl doesn't waste any time before tearing into flinty, precision psych rock worthy of Oneida, to whose Brah Records imprint the band is signed. Swarming with spitfire guitars and overactive drumming, every song is a mad jumble of off-kilter warbling and smeared reverb, exactly as much disorienting fun as you'd expect. Between a self-titled outing in 2007 and this year's more evolved Worldwide, Pterodactyl has refused to suffer the primitivist confines suggested by their name, instead pursing an artful ruckus that's reliably packed with intricate melodies and shuddering shifts. Dig into a fraught anthem like "First Daze" (free for the grabbing at pterodactyl.info), and just see if you don't feel yourself coursing with restless energy afterwards. Now picture Pterodactyl live, with such eerie vocal harmonies and math-damaged density climbing ever toward the heavens. With Man Party. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 8 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLEN The Veils Friday, July 10 Sophisticated and tuneful yet incurably downcast, London's the Veils have an intriguing frontman and mainstay in Finn Andrews, son of former XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews. A trio of albums on Rough Trade, including last spring's Sun Gangs, made the most of Andrews' tortured unease, all while their backdrop shifted from baroque torch songs to jerky post-punk and ruddy rock. Joining the Veils on this tour are L.A.'s Foreign Born, who landed on Dim Mak in 2007 with a proper issuing of the band's self-released debut, On the Wing Now. Yielding the indelible opener "Union Hall," it promised great things. Now on Secretly Canadian, the quartet comes dangerously close to fulfilling that promise on the new Person to Person, which doles out charming licks of both afrobeat and '80s Britpop like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera. Still syrupy with reverb, Foreign Born are up there with White Rabbits in the race to match the Walkmen's brooding appeal. With the Other Girls. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 9 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. DOUG WALLEN Robin Pecknold Saturday, July 11 If Fleet Foxes represents the post-Napster generation's reclamation and reimagining of wide-eyed '60s folk mysticism and the lyrical American pastoral, FF frontman Robin Pecknold is the thing itself. Functioning as a living fake book of classic American folk-rock, Pecknold's solo work (frequently performed under the moniker White Antelope) doesn't put much stock in creation, instead preferring to pay homage through subtle reworkings of timeless classics such as Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe." Fleet Foxes' proclivity toward baroque embellishment is strikingly absent in Pecknold's solo material, both by design and delivery. It's hard to craft elaborate song structures complete with contrapuntal harmonies when you're creating songs for voice and acoustic guitar. Besides the physical limitations, Pecknold seems intent on a sparser sound with this material, focusing on a song's essential elements rather than its sonic possibilities. Distillation is a tricky thing, though; when everything else is evaporated off, the resulting spirit is subject to heightened scrutiny. Picking such iconic artists for his solo oeuvre is, in that regard, a risky venture with huge promise. With Throw Me The Statue. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. NICHOLAS HALL The Slackers Saturday, July 11 Ska is a musical genre that hasn't changed much in the past two decades. Sure, there are variations within the genre: Some ska bands are punk-influenced while others carry a heavy reggae beat; some bands feature a near-orchestra of backing horn players, others only a trumpet; some abandon their ska mantle when it's convenient—No Doubt, I'm looking at you—and pick it up again years later. But listening to the Slackers' latest release, Self Medication, it's clear that the New York–based six-piece hasn't changed its game since the release of Redlight in 1997. Lead singer Vic Ruggiero tinkles his keyboard and sings stories about world-weary and sometimes criminal characters while a trombone and sax chirp out steady beats. It's reggae-rocksteady-sultry ska—unwavering and uncompromising. With Skavenjah, the Diablotones, Rude Tuna, Dicktionhead. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m., $15 adv./$17 DOS. All ages. PAIGE RICHMOND Azure Ray Sunday, July 12 The opening lyrics of "November," the title track of Azure Ray's 2002 EP, have been weirdly prophetic for the the dreamy, lyrical pop duo. "So I'm waiting for this test to end/So these lighter days can soon begin/ I'll be alone but maybe more carefree/Like a kite that floats so effortlessly/I was afraid to be alone/Now I'm scared that's how I like to be," sings Maria Taylor, backed by Orenda Fink, her partner in sad, soft, imaginative songwriting. Two years later, Taylor and Fink—who started recording music together nearly 20 years ago, when both were 15—went their separate ways. Alone, they made music unlike their collaborative efforts: Taylor joined fellow Saddle Creekers Now It's Overhead, playing trance-y guitars, while Fink claimed to have a spiritual awakening in Haiti that influenced her band Art in Manila. But the band reunited last year, and are now working on a new album. Again, the words from "November" ring true: "But I'm about to give this one more shot...I'll find it in myself." Neumos, 925 E. Pike St. 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12 adv. PAIGE RICHMOND Fear Before Sunday, July 12 Even armed with a clever, roll-off-the-tongue band name like Fear Before the March of Flames, and snappy song titles such as "Hey Kid. I'm a Computer. Stop All the Downloading," it was only a matter of time before this Denver metalcore outfit had to cease hiding behind its wit and grow a heart. Which is exactly what the band did by its third album, The Always Open Mouth. Sure, songs about doing lines of coke out of a partygoing coed's exploded rib cage certainly have their place, but Fear Before's crunching assault hits harder now that the band (which shortened its name in time for last year's self-titled fourth album) has let its guard down enough to reveal earnest concern as the source of its agitation. Alongside peers like Between the Buried and Me, Fear Before has demonstrated a mind-boggling knack for evolution that has, over just a few albums, profoundly transcended the more genre-typical approach of overstimulating the senses. With Oceana, Memphis May Fire, Of Machines, This Time Next Year. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 7 p.m. $12 adv. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNI Indian Jewelry Monday, July 13 No doubt Texas combo Indian Jewelry makes intoxicating recordings: Relentlessly severe post-punk and menacing drone-rock are occasionally shot through with crosscutting electronic noise, tribal drumming, and No Wave horn skronk. The band's attention-grabbing compositions reference Suicide, the Velvet Underground, Throbbing Gristle, early Butthole Surfers, and Swans, among others. But to see them live is a life-altering experience: I recently witnessed them play a sub–street–level record store in Philly, pitch-black save for a couple of strobe lights that slow-motioned the two-guy, two-girl ensemble as they unleashed a primal, hypnotic noise-groove assault. It felt like being swallowed by a whale, in the best possible way. With Psychic Ills, Backward Masks. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $7. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG The Handsome Family Tuesday, July 14 It's easy to play the Gothic-country card when discussing the Handsome Family, given Brett Sparks' tar-like singing and his wife Rennie's knack for tragic lyrics that often linger on murder ballads. In a nod to the couple's 20th wedding anniversary, however, the Sparks have turned their keen attention to love songs on their recent eighth album, Honey Moon. It suits them, and within the usual heightened-Americana vibe, there's a renewed reverence for lost classics befitting a long-running band that actually knows who Jim Reeves and the Mills Brothers are. "My Friend" is set to a late-night organ crawl, "When You Whispered" manages yet another heartsick duet in a long line of them, and most memorably, "Darling My Darling" ekes emotional resonance out of bizarre lyrics about the mating rituals of insects. Whether performing as a duo or a larger ensemble, the Handsome Family are, now more than ever, an underrated musical institution that feels like a secret shared in hushed tones. With Daniel Knox. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$15 DOS. DOUG WALLEN Men Tuesday, July 14 Contrary to popular belief, Le Tigre has not broken up—they're simply on a long-ass sabbatical, as leader Kathleen Hanna explained in a MySpace blog post this spring, and the trio has reportedly been in the studio with none other than Christina Aguilera within the past month (can't wait to hear that collaboration). Still, it might be a while before Le Tigre reactivates; in the meantime, you should enjoy Men, the equally feminist and sociopolitical disco-pop/electro-rock outfit formed in 2007 by Hanna's bandmates JD Samson and Johanna Fateman that sometimes comes across like an even more LGBT-friendly New Order. Of late, the Men's live configuration has been Samson plus Michael O'Neill and Ginger Brooks Takahashi, while Fateman's taken a more behind-the-scenes (i.e., she's not really touring these days) writing/production role. Regardless, when Men take charge, it's bound to be a hell of a party. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

 
comments powered by Disqus