The Short List: This Week’s Recommended Shows

Softly Now ~ Wednesday, August 5After McLeod Residence closed, Levi Fuller (the man who brings you Ball of Wax every three months) was forced to search for a new place to host Softly Now, his monthly showcase of quiet music. Well, after a few months' absence, it's nestled quite nicely into a new home at the Jewelbox, and this show features Unbunny, a local band with a folky sensibility that fans of the Weakerthans should enjoy, as its singer's reedy voice smacks of John K. Samson's. It's surprising to me that Unbunny's received so little attention from the local music press, because the band's best songs—"Pink Lemonade" is a good example, one you can stream on MySpace—exude a fragile poignancy that's utterly striking upon first listen. They play with The Crying Shame, a twisted country band with a dirty sense of humor and a singer whose low-slung baritone makes him sound like Johnny Cash's long-lost grandson. Jewelbox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 6 p.m. $5. SARA BRICKNERKimya Dawson ~ Wednesday, August 5Most people would agree that it's fair to characterize Kimya Dawson, and her entire musical career, as a fairly galvanizing phenomenon. With her (some think charmingly, some annoyingly) amateurish sound, her frequent use of 12-year-old-caliber humor (some find her fart jokes refreshingly anti-serious, others think she's just contributing to a lower level of discourse), and her fairly recent foray into the half-world of children's songs that are frequently too mature for actual children (yet not even remotely aiming for mainstream adult audiences), Dawson has a love-it-or-hate-it style. She's probably fine with that.In fact, that dichotomy has helped Dawson's recent resurgence through the widespread popularity of the quirky teen romance Juno and its soundtrack, for which Dawson provided seven songs (one with her erstwhile anti-folk outfit the Moldy Peaches).In both its narrative arc and its musical backdrop, that movie is, as AllMusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine so aptly puts it, all about "how the world-weary sarcasm of Gen-X rubs against the unapologetic quirkiness of Gen-Y." Clearly, Dawson finds her inspiration further along the alphabutt...er, alphabetical rift of the generation gap. Whether or not you commiserate is likely a sign of your mental age. With Paleface, No One & the Somebodies, Turbosleaze. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 374-8372. 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages. NICHOLAS HALLBOAT ~ Friday, August 7BOAT's third full-length on Magic Marker Records (its fourth in all), Setting the Paces, comes out at the end of October, and if you're already a BOAT fan, it's time to get excited. Because like everything else BOAT's released so far, Setting the Paces is bright, buoyant, and catchier than a baseball glove. But it's not just the pop melodies that recommend BOAT, whose whimsical lyrics mask a profundity that's easy to miss on the first few spins. "(Do the) Magic Centipede"'s charming refrain ("If you want to be a giant centipede, just clap your hands") comes sandwiched between lyrics about trying to get your childhood back (of course, it's not stated so obviously), but the song's cleverest aspect is its appropriation of the guitar hook from the Clash's "Career Opportunities," a song about dashed dreams that's so appropriate a reference that it proves there's more to BOAT's songs than that gleaming, hard-candy surface. With the Nightgowns, the Special Places, Ron Hexagon. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $8. SARA BRICKNERAmon Tobin ~ Friday, August 7There's a Brazilian film called House of Sand, about the immutability of the soul, set in a barren and parched desert wasteland where the longing cries of its characters cannot be heard. Amon Tobin should've done the score. Since the late '90s, the Brazilian producer has created compositions that fuse dark, meandering electronic frequencies with walking-dead drums: jungle meets bossa-nova meets jazz meets techno. The rise and fall of the sound corresponds with a listener's arching EKGs, making for a kind of full-immersion experience with only what's heard. Tobin's most recent album, Foley Room (titled after the place where sound recordings for films are made), saw the brooding artist in him in full evil bloom, as he incorporated found sounds from the world into his panoramic orchestrations. This is mood music for people who aren't in the mood. With Pitch Black, Dirty, and Grym. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. KEVIN CAPPCosmic Panther Land Band ~ Friday, August 7Not too much can be said yet about the Cosmic Panther Land Band, except that judging by their name, they don't take themselves too seriously. Essentially a pick-up band of players from the Moondoggies, the Maldives, Pica Beats, Widower, and Shim, CPLB formed in early 2009 and has played exactly one show so far. Jason Dodson (Maldives) and Kevin Murphy (Moondoggies) collaborate to write the band's songs. Sort of like the Maldives, the eight-person band operates on the idea that the more talented musicians included, the better. Judging from their affiliated groups, expect lots of vocal harmonies and that wall of countrified sound the Maldives have cultivated over the years. With Grand Hallway, Picoso, Benjamin Doerr. South Lake Union Discovery Center, 101 Westlake Ave. N. 7:45 p.m. All ages. Free. ERIK NEUMANNNebula ~ Friday, August 7By my sophomore year of college, the crew I hung out with had pretty much exhausted the following records: Blue Cheer's Outsideinside, Black Sabbath's Vol. 4, Mudhoney's Superfuzz Bigmuff, the Stooges' Fun House, and Kyuss' Welcome to Sky Valley. There was nothing wrong with those records (matter of fact, there's still nothing wrong with them), but after so many nights spent listening to the same-old-same-old while chugging Coors Light and prescription codeine, we needed a new taste. That's when Nebula's 1999 album came to us. A power trio comprising former Fu Manchu members, Nebula took pride in numbing eardrums with its fuzzy riffs, space-rock meanderings, and blues choogling. Though their music tasted much like those latter-day stoner greats, it was new and that's all we cared about. Since then they've barely strayed from that latter-day-psych formula, as evidenced in the band's latest, Heavy Psych. As the blatant title suggests, Nebula does what it does, and...well, if it ain't broke, why fix it? With the Entrance Band, Scott Kelly, A Storm of Light, Valis. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $12 adv. BRIAN J. BARRRod Stewart ~ Friday, August 7When he was in Faces, Rod Stewart rocked. He even rocked a little once he left Faces. But the Rod Stewart of today—basically a straight (maybe), watered-down version of Elton John—definitely doesn't rock. Know how I know? Let me tell you a little story. Friends of a friend were supposed to have their wedding at an über-edgy art space on Capitol Hill. Night before the wedding, they're informed the space is double-booked. Owing to well-heeled parents, they're somehow able to audible and move their wedding to a ballroom at the Edgewater. While the space is a lot more sterile than the one where they'd planned to bond for life, it was still pretty rad—until they received a visit from security telling them that a very important guest in a suite four floors up was upset with the volume at which their DJ was playing the music. That important guest was Rod Stewart. In other words, if you're going to skip a show this summer, skip this one. The fact that White River's traffic situation is the longest-running joke in concertdom should provide extra incentive. White River Amphitheatre, 40601 Auburn-Enumclaw Rd. 8 p.m. $45.50–$349. MIKE SEELYScreaming Females ~ Friday, August 7A little-known trio hailing from the New Jersey city of New Brunswick, Screaming Females might not have been the obvious choice to tour with Jack White and Alison Mosshart's new supergroup The Dead Weather. And yet the band did just that, tearing up the turf and building some serious buzz in the process. While frontwoman Marissa Paternoster does the band's name plenty of justice, bassist Mike Rickenbacker and drummer Jarrett Dougherty aren't in fact females at all. No matter. The trio's swampy garage punk is in fine form on their new third album, Power Move, on the New Brunswick indie label Don Giovanni. Guided by Paternoster's feral bark—and yes, that curdling scream—anthems like the album-opening "Bell" are shaggy triumphs of distortion and propulsion. As with Mosshart's regular gig with the Kills, Screaming Females' current tour is poised to make Paternoster a poster child for no-nonsense rock release. With Shellshag, Wildildlife, and Loving Thunder. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLENDinosaur Jr. at the KEXP BBQ ~ Saturday, August 8Dinosaur Jr. getting its original lineup back together in 2005, after years of acrimony between frontman J Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow (and to a lesser degree, drummer Murph)? Shocking! Dinosaur Jr. forgoing the "temporary" tag affixed to so many other alt-rock reunions of late, and remaining fully active four years later? Surprising! Dinosaur Jr. putting out two studio albums—2007's Beyond and the just-released Farm—that not only hold their own against the holy trinity of 1985's Dinosaur, 1987's You're Living All Over Me, and 1988's Bug, but which in more than a few moments are actually better than those recordings? Completely fucking stunning! Other than maybe Mission of Burma, Dino Jr.'s got to be the most satisfying and fruitful of all these recent reunions: Guitar god Mascis continues to bring the fury, and the trio's undeniable chemistry—despite whatever rancor there's been over the years—comes through in their sterling songwriting efforts and fervid live performances. Who knows, though: It could all blow up again, so I'd relish every chance to see 'em, especially since they're at the top of their game right now. With Viva Voce, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Japandroids, Born Anchors, Champagne Champagne. Mural Amphitheater, 300 Harrison St. 2 p.m. All ages. Free. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGSean Hayes ~ Saturday, August 8He's been touted by the likes of NPR. He's performed Irish music at folk festivals in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He's written an album based on a fortune-telling chicken he once saw in Alabama. He's played Jesus in the indie comedy Evolution: The Musical! Unquestionably, Sean Hayes is a musician with a wide range of backgrounds to draw from—born in New York City, he was raised in North Carolina and made San Francisco his permanent home after falling in with the Bay Area's music community. Hayes' songs reflect a similar freewheeling spirit—sometimes it bounces, sometimes it slows down and gets political. All of it manages to carry a sense of intimacy, particularly through Hayes' grainy, penetrating vocals; and his finger-picking skills, on guitar, mandolin, or banjo, are often astonishing. It's all soulful, likable music, and Hayes seems to be at his best when his songwriting is more confessional—as in 2007's Flowering Spade, which finds him singing "I'll gather your honey/I'll plant your seed/I'll be your harvest/Leave you my sting." A charming guy is appealing no matter what state you're in. With Cataldo and honey.moon.tree. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $10. ERIN THOMPSONSchoolyard Heroes ~ Saturday, August 8With lyrics like, "If I'm not mistaken I tore your heart out three times now," local darlings Schoolyard Heroes write unapologetic songs that delve deep into the grittiest human emotions. This high-energy band—led by tutu-donning frontwoman Ryann Donnelly—first made a splash in Seattle's music scene in 2003 when they won second place in the Experience Music Project's Sound Off! Competition. They have since released three CDs and completed a nationwide tour, all the while maintaining an engaging balance between adrenaline-fueled hardcore rock and complete basement-punk mayhem. And they've achieved a following despite—or perhaps because of—a petition signed by a group of overzealous parents claiming the band members were "avowed Satanists." But at the Seattle Tattoo Expo, that shouldn't make them any enemies. With Hellaphant, Dragstrip Riot, Op Ivan, Sean Wheeler (of Throw Rag), Fences. Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St. Noon. $15 adv./$20 DOS; 3-day Tattoo Expo pass (Fri.–Sun.) $45. All ages. MALIA MAKOWICKIToumani Diabate and Bela Fleck  ~ Monday, August 10 and Tuesday, August 11While kora players are generally known for their adherence to tradition, Toumani Diabate is widely celebrated for his distinctly progressive take on the instrument. Ever open to unorthodox collaborations, and to working in the contexts of blues, jazz, or flamenco, Diabate seems intent on achieving a kind of hybrid-happy liftoff from the previous 70 generations of kora players in his lineage—not so much released from as fueled by their combined history. He appears here for two nights duetting with none other than American banjo icon Bela Fleck. No stranger to free-for-all fusion himself, of course, Fleck, in a sense, has lately been on a quest to reconcile with his own musical ancestry by exploring the banjo's West African origins. In that regard, the kora, traditionally accompanied by banjo precursors like the akonting and ngoni, certainly represents the right instrumental choice. But Diabate's adventurousness makes him the perfect foil and spiritual co-pilot for Fleck's higher purpose. Long revered for his technique, Fleck is now out to capture the ancient soul of the blues. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. $35. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIDown ~ Tuesday, August 11Supergroups tend to be short-lived entities. Sometimes they split because a few members are "on loan" from other full-time musical endeavors, and sooner or later they have to go back. Other times—probably more often the case—all the supersized egos within the supergroup eventually clash, and the whole thing falls apart. Say what you will about the members of Down (especially frontman Phil Anselmo, who's reputed to be a first-class dickhead), they're a supergroup that's somehow made it work for close to 20 years, putting out some kick-ass, hard-charging power rock along the way. Including current and former members of Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, and Eyehategod, Down has issued three well-received albums. It's gone on a few lengthy hiatuses too, but its five members seem committed to keeping the thing going, and over the past couple of years have toured more heavily than ever. The members are also writing material for the next album, tentatively titled Down IV—there's a good chance you'll hear at least a few new songs tonight. With the Melvins, Danava, Weedeater. Showbox SODO, 1700 First Ave. S., 652-0444. 8:30 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGHarlem ~ Tuesday, August 11The exploration of minimalism in rock 'n' roll is hardly a new concept. Fuzzy ease has been in fashion since Lou stood on the corner waiting for the man, but in the past 10 years since the White Stripesproved massive sounds can come from little packages (yes, it's been 10 freakin' years, Gramps), their success has launched a slew of tiny comboswho make big noise their business. Austin band Harlem followed suit. Keeping it pure and punk byplaying raw, lo-fi, and vaguely rootsy on their debut Free Drugs, these kids haveperfecteda raucous, infectious sound.Down South these kids are getting lots of buzz, and since they've recently signed with Matador, it's only a matter of sweet time before the rest of the country is feeling them as well. With Consignment, Coconut Coolouts. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $6. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

 
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