The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Jega  ~ Wednesday, August 12

Now that we're a decade removed from the '90s electronica boom, electronic artists seem free to create ear-pleasing fusions without the pressure to innovate. Case in point: Manchester-via-L.A.'s Dylan Nathan, aka Jega. Returning to the scene with Variance, a sprawling new double album on u-Ziq's Planet Mu label that was nine years in the making, Jega's programming touch shows the natural ease of an artist who isn't self-conscious about his musical vocabulary. Whether that has any bearing on how deeply electronica has sunken into the culture at large is up for debate, but Variance is so smoothly executed it's easy to miss how masterful Jega is at extracting brilliant melodies from his soundscapes. His fondness for breakbeats aside, at its most expansive Jega's latest work evokes images of onetime labelmates Boards of Canada reinterpreting the Blade Runner soundtrack. Which is to say that Variance is a work of considerable dramatic beauty and power, but ultimately shaped by Jega's signature sense of discretion. With Obelus, ndCv. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $7. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

The Dutchess and the Duke ~ Thursday, August 13

One of the most reliable signs of genius pop songwriting occurs when the writer expresses a common—if not universal—human emotion in phrasing so classic and familiar that the listener is convinced they've already heard the sentiment expressed elsewhere. Dutchess and the Duke mastermind Jesse Lortz has this gift in such a rich degree that one fears it has a brief shelf life. When he and his collaborator Kimberly Morrison harmonize on the line "I can't win, I can't lose, and everything I do is wrong," on "Hands," the opening track from their sophomore album, Sunrise/Sunset, it's equal parts optimistic, downtrodden, and fiercely forthright. The entire record is so strong, it gives off a whiff of potency that makes you want to pay attention, simply because something with this much concentrated quality can't possibly be topped. I'd love to be wrong, because this is easily one of the best local records of the year, and The Dutchess and the Duke should eventually be worthy of an entire box set. With Fences. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. HANNAH LEVIN

The Dodos ~ Friday, August 14

Piss off hipsters using the transitive property. If A = the Dodos' most well-known song, "Fools," was used in a Miller Chill commercial last year, and B = hipsters who attend free Dodos shows have been known to leave right after the final beat of "Fools" is played, then C = a hipster is as laughably facile as a Corp. Corp.–manufactured bottle of douche beer. Now that those posers are gone, here's why you should stick around for the whole of the Dodos' appearance at the Mural: Because their indie-Afro-folk-pop sounds more authentically at home in the open air. Because percussionist Logan Kroeber's from-the-heart fervor is entrancing to watch. Because he and singer/guitarist Meric Long have added electric vibraphonist Keaton Snyder to the lineup, giving their pulsating tribal sounds pleasant new depths. Because you can bring your boomer parents, who will say that the Dodos' music reminds them of their CD copy of Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints. Because they'll likely show off new material from their upcoming, buzzed-about album, Time to Die. Because the Mural's beer garden doesn't serve douche beer. With Army Navy. Mural Amphitheater, Seattle Center. 6 p.m. All ages. Free. ROSE MARTELLI

Or, the Whale ~ Friday, August 14

Or, the Whale has a remarkable knack for sounding small.This may sound like a slight of the folksy Bay Area septet, but it's really a testament to their canniness at composition and arrangement. Seven players can get a bit unwieldy, the additions weighing down the sound rather than anchoring it, but that couldn't be further than the truth on Or, the Whale's eponymous sophomore album. The sound is lush and full, yet allows for space and subtlety when appropriate. Album opener "No Love Blues" weaves between the two, with vocal harmonies fading in and out on the chorus as the verses alternate between simple vocals and guitar and a full band sound with banjo and pedal steel filling in the gaps. "Count the Stars" is a slow simmer, focused entirely on the amazingly compatible vocals of Alex Robins and Lindsay Garfield, with bass and drums providing rudimentary structure. Pedal steel lines and simply strummed acoustic guitar barely brush the surface.Even the feedback-heavy "Black Rabbit," which does double duty as pseudo-psych and Neil Youngish country stomp, avoids a feeling of excess. Of course, the group still has seven members, so you never know when things will just explode with sound. With Conrad Ford, Jack Wilson. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $8. NICHOLAS HALL

Red Fang ~ Friday, August 14

If future Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme had chosen to invite Black Flag founder Greg Ginn and Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler to his legendary Desert Sessions back in the late '90s, the results probably would have sounded much like Red Fang today. Watching them peel the paint off the walls at the Comet last month felt akin to being fortunate enough to have caught Metallica play a small club while touring in support of their debut, Kill 'Em All. Opener Little Cuts is the extremely promising new punk project led by Dave Hernandez (Scared of Chaka, the Shins), with help from bassist Drew Church (the Cops and countless other local bands) and drummer Curtis James (Excuse 17, the Old Haunts). They're followed by Austin's Lions, longtime tourmates of Red Fang who have also shared the stage with logical matches such as Blue Cheer, Nebula, the Misfits, and Russian Circles. Anyone who appreciates the flashpoints where metal and punk intersect would be an utter fool to miss this show. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 10 p.m. $8. HANNAH LEVIN

Slum Village ~ Friday, August 14

The saga of Detroit rap group Slum Village is practically Shakespearean. While much media attention focuses on the fact that two of the group's original members have passed away in recent years, it's a haunting tale that deserves to be told. James "J Dilla" Yancey, one of the greatest music producers to ever live and cofounder of Slum Village, died at age 32 in 2006 from complications related to lupus. Just two weeks ago, Titus "Baatin" Glover passed away from unspecified causes at age 35. Rumors are circulating that Baatin's former drug addiction was to blame, but those are just rumors and it's yet to be proven. At this point, only R.L. "T3" Altman III remains of the trailblazing hip-hop trio that turned the world on its ear in the late '90s, with seminal classics like Fantastic Vol. 2 their magnum opus. Although they added firebrand Detroit lyricist Elzhi to the group in 2001, and he and T3 are more than capable of keeping Slum Village alive as a duo, true fans know a black cloud is hovering above the group—almost as if the trio once made a deal at the infamous crossroads and now The Maker is coming to collect the souls he's owed. It's not certain how much longer Slum Village will continue, so their performance in Seattle this week will be a piece of history. Baatin's funeral takes place three days before they play at the Showbox. Expect a tribute of grand magnitude to the fallen Slum Village members. With Eternal, Pete Rock, Slaughterhouse, Supernatural. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $28 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. JONATHAN CUNNINGHAM

YACHT ~ Friday, August 14

Perhaps like me you first stumbled across YACHT—aka Oregon native and longtime musician Jona Bechtolt, who's been in bands since junior high—a couple of years ago when he opened for LCD Soundsystem at the Showbox. Unsure at first what to make of the wide-eyed, bushy-haired 20-something who sang and spastically danced around the stage to the quirky electro-jams coming from his beat-up white I-Book, the crowd steadily warmed to his tunes and stage presence, and by the end of his short but memorable set, people were cheering him wildly. A bit has changed in the two-plus years since: Bechtolt brought his girlfriend, vocalist/programmer Claire Evans, into the YACHT fold. The duo signed to DFA Records, which just issued their new LP, See Mystery Lights. They developed a strange affinity for triangles (see their logo, album artwork, and press photos). And they've turned YACHT into a mysterious, quasi-mythical/mystical, manifesto-spouting band–cum–art project somewhere between Daft Punk and Lansing-Dreiden. Still, on the music front, not much has changed: It's still an odd, charming, and energetic mix of minimal electro, dance-punk, and indie pop. With Bobby Birdman. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 374-8372. 7:30 p.m. $11. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

Doe Bay Music Festival ~ Friday, August 14 and Saturday, August 15

The facial-hair volume at Doe Bay this weekend should be staggering, given the plethora of hirsute folk, rock, and alt-country talent involved in the second annual Doe Bay Music Festival. The Maldives, Slender Means, Long Winters, Hey Marseilles, the Moondoggies, David Bazan, and more than half a dozen other bands will flock to Orcas Island for a full weekend of camping, live performances, and the sort of organic spontaneity that arises when you transplant urban musicians to a woodland setting. "We are pretty much a sell-out as of last weekend," says festival organizer Chad Clibborn. "There are probably about 50 tickets left. The reason I'm so stoked for this festival is that it's the chance to see all these great local bands with only about 600 other people in a gorgeous Northwest setting...in a grass field in the middle of the woods. The cafe will have an ongoing open mike, and we'll be doing a big campfire every night. Last year the Maldives played an acoustic set overlooking the beach and the campfire was filled with guitars, and with this many great Northwest musicians in one place, who knows what might happen? Last year I was waking up to help the sound guys do a line check, and as I approached the stage, there were three deer just hanging out on the stage looking at my drums. It's that kind of place." Doe Bay Resort, 107 Doe Bay Rd., Orcas Island. 360-376-2291. 5:45–10 p.m. Fri., 12:45–10 p.m. Sat. $30. All ages. HANNAH LEVIN

Mountain Music Festival ~ Saturday, August 15

Acoustic tunes of tweeful woe provide an effective soundtrack by which to pick up a kinda-hot chick still getting over her freshman-year insecurities. Now imagine being granted a six-hour musical score by which to score. Your bag-a-gal game plan at this year's Mountain Music Festival begins by eschewing the opening act, 22-year-old Matt Hires, whose John Mayer looks (heavy-lidded, tousle-haired) and John Mayer hooks (he actually sings a song called "Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song") are plainly too much competition for you. Better to start making your moves when doe-eyed L.A. songbird Meiko takes the stage. She'll croon about "Boys With Girlfriends," and you'll assure your target that you are in fact as single as a dollar bill. (Also, the song's not half-bad.) By the time Ingrid Michaelson begins her nighttime set, prepare to seal the deal by gazing into your chosen lady's eyes and lip-synching along to the chorus of her eponymous Old Navy–ad ditty: "And yoo-ooh-ooh-ooh, take me the way I aaammm..." Headliner David Gray's just there to offer some great make-out music. (It is: We've made out to it before.) Marymoor Park, 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy. N.E. 4 p.m. $49.50. All ages. ROSE MARTELLI

The Pine Hill Haints ~ Saturday, August 15

Alabama iconoclasts the Pine Hill Haints released a small mountain of obscure records this decade before jumping to K for 2007's Ghost Dance. Its title is a nod to the troupe's self-described genre of "ghost music," and that album exposed a wider audience to leader Jamie Barrier's hard-bitten drawl and able trafficking in bygone sounds. His wife Katie plays washboard and mandolin, while other members contribute a shoestring backdrop of accordion, snare, singing saw, and so-called "washtub bass." The Haints' new To Win or to Lose is as good a place as any to start, touring diverse terrain as it does. "Bordello Blackwidow" could only be described as back-porch calypso, whereas "Je Passe Devant Ta Porte" detours into breezy French singing and "Never Cry" is a conspiratorial slice of rockabilly. There's at times a Pogues-ish quality to Barrier's ragged throat and love of traditional tunes, but he comes into his own on such creepy standouts as "Revenge of the Spider Web Boy" and "How Much Poison Does It Take." With Touche Amore, Battle!, Little High Little Low, Like Claws! El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E. ) 381-3094. 4 p.m. $8. All ages. DOUG WALLEN

Rocky Votolato ~ Saturday, August 15

It's hard to imagine Seattle's music scene without Rocky Votolato. His seminal Makers was a masterpiece of acoustic songwriting, and despite its exquisite, low-key beauty, was all about death. 2007's The Brag and Cuss then took a near 180, with its themes of travel and memories reflecting an optimism about life, as well as showcasing a full band and a style that was more country than folk, perhaps resonating back to Votolato's Texas roots. It will be interesting, then, to see what direction his new album, due early next year, will take—and fans will get to find out on his current West Coast tour, where he'll preview several new songs. Although his shows sell out across the country, Votolato is a perennial favorite here—at once tenacious and gentle, heartbreaking and enlightening, accessible yet highly personal. Previous Votolato shows have benefited education reform and Puget Sound restoration—all the proceeds from this show will go to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), currently campaigning to save the world's remaining elephants. With the Terrordactyls. The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 8 p.m. $15. All ages. ERIN THOMPSON

Sounds Outside ~ Saturday, August 15

Players in Seattle's creative-music scene can most often be heard in two types of venues: austere, low-budget rooms like Gallery 1412 or high-minded, august recital halls like the Good Shepherd Center. That's why the Sounds Outside festival is such a welcome antidote. For once you get to enjoy some of Seattle's most remarkable musicians while stretched out on the lawn with a breeze between your toes. And it's free! This second and final concert of the fest features several players from Monktail, the collective that spearheads the event—including a strange and beautiful trio led by clarinetist Beth Fleenor. Other woodwind innovators on the bill include Greg Sinibaldi, who'll have a quintet of top Seattle jazz partisans, and the indomitable Skerik, leading a saxophone quartet. The day closes with a 7 p.m. show from Bert Wilson, the wheelchair-riding alto-sax legend from Olympia, who rarely resurfaces and whose performance at the Bellevue Jazz Festival almost 30 years ago is burned into my memory. Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave. 1 p.m. Free. All ages. MARK D. FEFER

Emiliana Torrini ~ Monday, August 17

In 1999, singer Emiliana Torrini burst out of her native Iceland with the ethereal, trip-hoppish Love in the Time of Science, which garnered rave reviews and inevitable comparisons to Björk (which had more to do with geography than vocal or musical style), as well as to Beth Orton and Liz Fraser. However, tragedy struck shortly after—her boyfriend was killed in an auto accident and she dropped out of music entirely for several years to deal with her grief. Eventually she was pulled back into writing and recording, first in collaboration with Thievery Corporation, then by director Peter Jackson, who asked her to pen the closing theme ("Gollum's Song") for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Finally, in 2005, she released her stunningly lovely second album, Fisherman's Woman, and now she's built on that comeback with the equally gorgeous Me and Armini, which like its predecessor offers plaintive folktronica and breezy pop, plus a bit of the electronic bite of her debut. With Anya Marina. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15 adv. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

 
comments powered by Disqus