The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

The Hackensaw Boys ~ Wednesday, July 22It's official: The indie-rock establishment has found "Americana" the way recovering alcoholics find religion. These days there are far too many bands successfully shilling lame-ass imitations of country music to all the tight-pants-wearing, Stereogum-reading, Devendra Banhart–loving hipsters like so many plastic crucified Jesuses. And the Avett Brothers, who play the Paramount on August 28, are a prime example. Listening to them is like drinking whiskey-flavored Kool-Aid. Sure, they're from North Carolina, as are the Hackensaw Boys, but authenticity is not dependent on a group's geographic origins (the Drive-By Truckers may be from the deep South, but somehow Patterson Hood's accent still manages to sound fake). The Hackensaw Boys, however, have maintained both Southern and country cred with a bluegrass sound that's influenced by punk rock but doesn't sound as if it's apologizing for its twang. Founded by Modest Mouse vet Tom Peloso and Robert "Mahlon" Bullington in 1999, the name of the band's most recent release, 2007's Look Out, now seems foreboding: The Boys are no longer listed on the roster of their longtime label, Nettwerk, possibly because they haven't done as well as former, like-minded labelmates Old Crow Medicine Show. Let's hope they can find a new label that appreciates their skill. With Charlie Parr. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave., N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$15 DOS. SARA BRICKNERSon Volt ~ Wednesday, July 22The music of Megadeth's Dave Mustaine and Son Volt's Jay Farrar couldn't sound less alike. However, the two share a unique kinship. Since being sacked from Metallica for hard livin' (which raises the question: How hard does one have to live to get sacked from early-'80s Metallica?), Mustaine formed Megadeth, a metal band which reached great heights, but never as great as Metallica. Farrar, whose wound was more self-inflicted, was the co-leader, with Jeff Tweedy, of Uncle Tupelo. Once Farrar sparked the dissolution of that seminal Americana outfit in the mid-'90s, he went on to form Son Volt, which has enjoyed a rock-solid career that has nonetheless been dwarfed by the commercial and critical superstardom of Wilco, the more adventurous band formed by Tweedy. But don't feel too bad for Mustaine and Farrar—the success they've enjoyed still puts them in the top half-percentile of folks who've ever strapped on a guitar. And despite Wilco's deified status, there exists that rare species of Uncle Tupelo fan who swears by Son Volt's adherence to the slide-guitar aesthetic over Wilco's stylistic polygamy. Son Volt's new album, American Central Dust, is relaxed and solid, but doesn't quite reach the peaks of 2007's The Search, which featured one of the best tracks, "Methamphetamine," recorded by any artist of any genre in any year. Add Cowboy Junkies to this Zoo Tunes bill, and you've got a match made in melancholic heaven. Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th St., 784-3640. 6 p.m. $22. All ages. SOLD OUT. MIKE SEELYPumice ~ Thursday, July 23Lo-fi, psychedelically inflected rock seems to be almost solely the province of one-man (or -woman) acts. Pumice is no exception to this rule; Stefan Neville uses the medium as his personal sonic laboratory, synthesizing various degrees of mind-warp that keep a foot in the honest-to-God psych camp as well as meandering into the honestly catchy world of quirky pop music. Neville's approach generally seems somewhat formulaic, but it's a successful formula: Take a straightforward melody or hook, twist it a bit by adding just enough blue notes to make it vaguely wince-worthy, wrap everything in a gauzy sheen of effects and feedback, then make it sound like the whole thing is being played on a turntable that's riding around in the back of a large sedan, shuddering and stutter-stepping over gravel and potholes. The effect created is that of pop music made by someone who's only ever heard it coming over a poorly tuned AM radio with blown speakers. This kind of intentionally ramshackle, chemically altered noise pop is all the rage these days (think Wavves, Vivian Girls, or Ariel Pink), and Pumice does it as well as any of them. With Arbitron, Liver and Bacon. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $7. NICHOLAS HALLThemselves ~ Thursday, July 23As the pioneering label Anticon celebrates its 10th anniversary, it's only fitting that standard bearers Themselves should return to action as well. And return they have with the no-cost mixtape theFREEhoudini, featuring everyone from Buck 65 to Busdriver to Aesop Rock. It's a family affair, sure, but it highlights the Beat-damaged, endlessly refracted take on hip-hop that brought the mohawked MC Doseone and the cunning producer Jel cult acclaim back when they were known as Them. Since then they've made a serious name for Themselves while also bringing their cryptic gifts to the full-band realm with the screwy ensemble Subtle and the Notwist collaboration 13 & God. Mixtape aside, there's a new and proper Themselves album on the horizon, and this string of West Coast dates to warm us up for it. After more than a decade at it, Doseone and Jel can be relied upon to whip up jagged creations that drag us into their world like so much quicksand. With Linda & Ron's Dad, Filkoe176, DJs Wd4d, and Introcut. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$14 DOS. DOUG WALLENJohn Pizzarelli ~ Thursday, July 23 through Sunday, July 26Like many before him, jazz guitarist/singer and Radio Deluxe podcast host John Pizzarelli is fond of flaunting his status as a native New Jerseyite. Lucky for him, Jerseyites seem innately adapted to do just that. As Pizzarelli makes abundantly clear, he is a fan of the Great American Songbook, which as far as he's concerned isn't making a comeback because it never left in the first place. Pizzarelli's enthusiasm for classic jazz standards and their place in American culture is contagious, separating him somewhat from artists who simply remove the mothballs before trotting out the tried-and-true tunes. His work, both as a performer and as a host on his charmingly homespun podcast, focuses on the aspects of jazz that have become embedded in Americana. He wears his love of swing, Sinatra, and style on his sleeve, and his cool, "late-night" brand of jazz is aimed at those who feel inclined to do the same. With Jessica Molaskey. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. Set times 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. Thurs., 8 & 10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 7:30 p.m. Sun. $26.50. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIAstronautalis ~ Friday, July 24Astronautalis' music seems to ebb and flow, high tide and low tide represented by soft, lo-fi indie rock and intelligently crafted melodic hip-hop. Along the trajectory traced by that push and pull, Astronautalis manages to work in a dizzying array of influences, from trance-inducing ambient soundscapes to lazy, countrified guitar picking to sultry R&B duets, resulting in one of the most eclectic sounds of any contemporary recording artist. This pulsing continuum is found not only across releases but even individual tracks, which frequently feature soft guitars strumming underneath a body-rolling beat and glazed in ethereal synth wash, all supporting a flow that somehow feels as slow as molasses, seeming to ooze from Andy Bothwell's mouth regardless of how sprightly the words might be. The most remarkable thing about this mish-mash is how organic it all sounds. If your ears weren't already attuned to the differences between genres, there wouldn't be any telltale incongruity to discover. It's as if Astronautalis has discovered exactly how the puzzle fits together to create a seamless picture, even though all the pieces come from different boxes. With Awol One, Ceschi, Filkoe. Lo-Fi Performance Gallery, 429 Eastlake Ave. E., 254-2824. 9 p.m. $7. NICHOLAS HALLBaroness ~ Friday, July 24Following a not-so-long but nonetheless distinguished tradition of heavy-as-shit bands with feminine names, this Savannah, Ga., four-piece finds the sweet spot between harsher, more modern brands of metal and the genre's tamer '70s prototypes. Arguably, though, Baroness hits an even more precise bull's-eye, and comes up with more compelling material, than its critically-hailed peers. (Insert references to fellow Georgia-based press darlings Mastodon and Torche here.) Epic song structures still represent a kind of Holy Grail for metal bands, and Baroness performs an unlikely coup by successfully taking you on long, rewarding journeys without making you feel like you had to burn calories and brain cells to get through them. And the band's songwriting skills elevate its work above mere genre exercise or retro guitar-tone fetish. Still, Baroness employs good taste, which is to say it rips when it should—and will make your ass work up a sweat. With Clutch, Lionize. King Cat Theater, 2130 Sixth Ave. 448-2829. 7 p.m. $20 adv./$23 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNITU ~ Friday, July 24Referring to themselves as "the two quiet King Crimson players," TU combines the formidable skills and fiercely experimental vision of multi-instrumentalist (and Robert Fripp disciple) Trey Gunn—who played in Crimson from 1994 to 2003, known primarily for playing the Chapman Stick—and percussionist Pat Mastelotto, who joined Crimson in the early '90s following his tenure in Mr. Mister. As TU, they sculpt engrossing, complex, breathtaking instrumental soundscapes—often improvised—that nod to their progressive-rock backgrounds, with forays into jazz-kissed IDM (not unlike, say, Squarepusher), reptilian prog-metal (which explains why they were once invited to open for Tool), and trippy, sample-flecked ambient and noise constructs. Musos will definitely cream their pants over this stuff, but TU's hardly alienating—there's enough melodic and compositional goodness here for all but the most closed-minded to grab onto. The Mix, 6004 12th Ave. S., #17. 9 p.m. $10 adv./$14 DOS. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGFuture of the Left ~ Saturday, July 25If Fugazi's Ian MacKaye or Guy Picciotto unveiled a new project, they'd undoubtedly have to endure endless comparisons to the legacy of their former band. That's got to be exhausting and irritating for any forward-thinking artist, but when your early work is so powerfully addictive, some fans—particularly punk fans—assume a rate of diminishing returns when a reconfiguration of the same players arises. Such was the initial obstacle for Future of the Left, the band frontman Andy Falkous formed after the demise of Mclusky. The defunct Welsh punk band had earned a rabid cult following that loved them as much for their brilliant way with titles (a strong case can be made that The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not on Fire is the best album title ever) as for their complex structures, ornery vocals, and brutish, angular guitar lines. Falkous returned with ex-Mclusky drummer Jack Egglestone; Future of the Left's 2007 debut, Curses, was a fine effort, but sounded like a faint photocopy of Mclusky. However, sophomore release Travels With Myself and Another brings a much fresher, confident sound into sharp relief, with Falkous' caustically charismatic vocals still the main star, but with thoughtful, muscular songs to back them up. Welcome back, boys. Capitol Hill Block Party at Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 9 p.m. $23 adv./$25 DOS. HANNAH LEVINPhenomenauts ~ Saturday, July 25Phenomenauts seems like it should be nothing more than a joke band, conceived while inebriated (or more likely stoned) and realized onstage in the same condition. Either that, or the house band at a sci-fi convention. Either of these could easily be the case. Somehow, though, the band manages to transcend the '50s-space-epic costumes, techno-babble lyrics, and general geekiness, mostly by virtue of embracing them with straight-faced sincerity. Call them meta-geeks. It certainly doesn't hurt that they pair their geek-chic homage with (now laughably obsolete) future-shock imagery with equally cheesy punk-edged synth music that owes a heavy debt to New Wave. I would say the Phenomenauts are one of life's ultimate guilty pleasures, except that the band's sound, style, and philosophy seem to have one guiding principle: There are no guilty pleasures. So slap on a homemade Geordi La Forge VISOR, rename yourself Captain Capacitor, and get ready to rock your way back to the future. With the Re-Volts. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. All ages. NICHOLAS HALLNobunny ~ Sunday, July 26Who is the surreptitious avant-tard darling known as Nobunny? I have a few theories. Perpetually clad in a rabbit mask, his tighty-whities, and little else, he could be a serial killer in a C-grade holiday slasher flick (Tag line: "You think you're alone, but Nobunny's home..."), or an off-season mall Easter Bunny on a meth bender, or a loony-bin escapee with a plushy fetish—or maybe he's a pervy, sloshed superhero sent from planet Thumper to save the San Francisco scene, then the entire world, from our own boring selves. Regardless, his recorded music is so lo-fi it borders on offensive; live, it can be beautifully, brilliantly messy or an out-and-out train wreck, straddling the line between anti-folk and performance post-punk so masterfully you think he'd want the whole world to remember his glorious face and not just his ever-present package. With Rock-n-Roll Adventure Kids, Blank Its, Ape City R&B. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $7. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARGomez ~ Monday, July 27Even after a blatant move to accessible, radio-friendly pop upon signing to Dave Matthews' ATO label, British five-piece Gomez still has some tricks up its sleeve. For starters, the band's songwriting remains a clever, seamless amalgam of rock, folk-rock, blues, and psychedelia—all toned down into a palatable pop blend. It is somewhat unfortunate that Gomez has shorn off its rougher edges on its past two albums, because the band was initially poised to bring some much-needed respectability back to pop music. Gomez's resident songwriters nonetheless still demonstrate so much skill at putting twists on pop formula that one barely notices the depth of what they manage to slip in. Gomez's ingenuity is even less noticeable these days, but should still grab the attention of even the most pop-averse listener. With Mother Hips. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$23 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIGlitch Mob ~ Tuesday, July 28With the recent departure of Matthew "Kraddy" Kratz, laptop hellions the Glitch Mob are down to three members. One hopes this doesn't muck up the sub-genre-defying electronic act's notoriously boisterous live shows (which have ruined the ability of other laptop jocks/producers to use their screens as scrims for their lack of interest in the audience). The beautiful, bass-y noise these West Coast–based boys create, and the almost feral visual antics that accompany it, seem so reliant on all four members that to hear/see only three sorta breaks the chain. Man down, man up. The remaining three Glitch-sters will doubtlessly bring the pain tonight: Their electro-infused, hip-hop-tinged, glitched-out concoctions and their self-proclaimed ability to "slay crowds," as headlined on their MySpace page, make it a necessity. In the meantime, get familiar with their sound via the endless remixes (from STS9 to Evil Nine) on their site. With Nosaj Thing, Daddy Kev. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15 adv. KEVIN CAPPRodent Emporium ~ Tuesday, July 28Scottie hotties Rodent Emporium aren't your regular, run-of-the-mill, 1-2-3-4 Ramone-a-bes. Track to track, these boys teach a history-of-punk class that wisely"borrows" from the likes of the Replacements, Black Flag, and the holy trinity of "Dead" bands (Boys, Kennedys, and Milkmen), infused with a little ska, a little reggae, some C & W, and a heaping helping of satirical wit. Take their homage to Rollins and Co., "Sports." Sung by a guy who looks like the love child of Elvis Costello and Johnny Rotten and sings with a soaring falsetto, the song is fueled by sports-rock clichés like the arena-wowing keyboard intro (a la the starting lineup at basketball games) and Bon Jovi–esque solos; the chorus is a grunted chant of "SPORTS, SPORTS, SPORTS." It is so well-executed that it'll probably go right over the heads of the jocks it mocks and become their adopted ironic anthem. With One Undone. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $5. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

 
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