The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Susan Tedeschi ~ Wednesday, August 19While most great musical partnerships are forged before the parties go down solo paths, Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks are working in the opposite direction. They're in bed together, they're raising a family together, they've toured together, and they've made appearances on each other's records. But they've never made a proper album together. It's an inevitability with the potential to be greater than anything the two have ever accomplished on their own. Tedeschi brings a beautiful, gravelly voice, Southern charm, and pop sensibilities pinned on her vest; Trucks sings through his slide guitar in a voice of his own, but has been pushing increasingly onto the fringes of popular music on a crash course toward self-indulgent experimentalism. Together on a full-length, they could play to each other's strengths, temper their vices, and make the record their fans are begging for. Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th St., 684-4800. 7 p.m. $22. All ages. CHRIS KORNELISPete Yorn ~ Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20It's pretty common knowledge that Jersey-born singer-songwriter Pete Yorn dated Winona Ryder back in the day. And while he somehow managed to avoid the full brunt of the infamous Winona Curse—under which so many of the musician dudes she dates have watched their careers crumble (see Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins, Jamiroquai's Jay Kay, etc.)—it may have touched him at least a little bit: It's not as though Yorn's career has exactly been on fire following his touted 2001 debut, musicforthemorningafter. What's perhaps less known is that a few years ago, Yorn had a dalliance with another hot actress: Scarlett Johansson. Well, creatively, that is. The pair collaborated on a sultry duet album called Break Up, which is finally getting released next month. Maybe it was Johansson who reversed the curse, because lately Yorn's profile has been on the upswing. He's been opening for Coldplay this summer, and just put out an excellent and well-received new album, Back and Fourth, a collection of rainy-day roots pop and folk rock helmed by Saddle Creek Records magic-maker Mike Mogis. Judging from recent set lists, Yorn in concert has been drawing primarily from his debut disc and the new disc. Nothing from Break Up thus far, but you never know if Johansson will make a surprise appearance to make things extra-interesting. With Zee Avi and J.D. King Wed. (all ages) and Juliette Commagere Thurs. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $22 adv./$25 DOS. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGRicardo Lemvo and Makina Loca ~ Thursday, August 20Salsa music works because it follows a formula, but after a couple of hours that formula can sometimes be a bit much, even for the diehards who frequent Century Ballroom's regular salsa nights. Ricardo Lemvo's band gives you the best of multi-worlds, mixing salsa motifs with a pan-African sound that is both varied and uniformly irresistible. Afro-Cuban connections have been explored by many, many artists in recent years, but few have done it with as smoothly ingratiating a feeling as Lemvo (whose band's name is an Africanized misspelling of "crazy machine" in Spanish). He goes down easy, like many of his Putumayo-style world-music brethren, but when you're trying to execute those steps, rough edges aren't what you need. Dance lesson starts at 9. Century Ballroom, 915 E. Pine St., 324-7263. 9:30 p.m.–1:30 a.m. $20–$25. All ages. MARK D. FEFERBlack Sun Morning ~ Friday, August 21I have to admit that my first feeling regarding tonight's "tribute" show, featuring the music of some of the most revered bands to come out of Seattle, was to be extremely icked out. The overtly obvious names of the bands playing conjured images of dudes in appropriately worn flannel, bad wigs like the one Matt Dillon rocked in Singles, and glued-on goatees, trying in vain to summon the ghost of a very dead scene. But done correctly, without imitation of the original artists (assuming Jerry Cantrell's playing stance, for instance) or the artifice of costume, it may not be a total flop. By focusing solely on playing the fuck out of some really great songs—instead of on the aesthetics and all the other external crap that would eventually end those bands' time in the spotlight—this whole thing could come off without a hitch. And to be fair, it takes a colossal pair of balls to cover bands whose members could show up at your gig and throw things at you. With Jar of Flies (Alice in Chains tribute) and Superunknown (Soundgarden/Temple of the Dog tribute). Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $10. All ages. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARKarl Blau ~ Friday, August 21For an artist for whom "lo-fi," "indie," and "freak folk" are common labels, Karl Blau's forthcoming Zebra is both surprising and natural. Though he clearly continues to favor a fairly basic production philosophy, Zebra is downright slick in comparison to the general gestalt of bedroom-style recording. It also eschews some of the genre's freakier and folkier elements, preferring to dabble in dreamy pop, psychedelia, and surf rock, with influences from African music and its far-flung descendants. The album opens with the chiming bells and island-lounge chic of "Waiting for the Wind," skronks out on the jazzy (and most stridently lo-fi) bluster of "Crucial Contact," and surfs through the Luna-esque beach-bum shimmer of "Apology to Pollinateurs," which also brings exotic flair via a wind instrument (kazoo? sax?) that sounds as though it'd be more at home in a Moroccan bazaar than in Anacortes. That's just the first three tracks. Elsewhere are bluesy Hendrix riffing mixed with proto-grunge ("Flood"), minimalist British Invasion flourishes ("Welcome to NW"), and reverse looping (the trippy spoken-word piece "Shovel Song"). Accompanying Blau tonight is LAKE, sweet indie popsters and K labelmates for whom Blau has produced two albums. With John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest, Goldfinch. Q Café, 3223 15th Ave. W., 352-2525. 7:30 p.m. $7. All ages. NICHOLAS HALLThe Flaming Lips ~ Friday, August 21When we started dropping bombs on Baghdad in 2003, the first music that helped my stomach stop churning was the Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Its burbling outer-space sounds were somehow more human than anything TV was offering; its attack-of-the-robots motif came across as surprisingly tender. It's that kind of paradox—brainy yet immediate music, its intimacy built on synthetic sweeps and computerized drum loops—that makes the shows of this reliably weird Oklahoma City band so alluring. Well, that and singer Wayne Coyne's life-size hamster ball. With Stardeath, White Dwarves. Marymoor Park, 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy. N.E., 205-3661. 7 p.m. $41.50. All ages. JONATHAN HISKESThe High Strung ~ Friday, August 21The High Strung is a trio from the greater Detroit area that plays quick, fast, straightforward, and very good rock and roll. These days, such a no-bullshit M.O. is almost revolutionary, but what's genuinely groundbreaking about the band is its affinity for playing the quietest of sanctums: the public library. Four years ago, they were touring with the Brian Jonestown Massacre when a Detroit-area librarian/former college-radio DJ named Bill Harmer invited them to play a free show for teens. They did, and then did more like-minded gigs, eventually capturing the interest of NPR's Ira Glass, who devoted a This American Life segment to the High Strung's bibliophilic tendencies. Since that airing, the band has barely been able to keep up with bookish demand; that it's able to squeeze an actual nightclub gig into its schedule here is a small miracle. But if you're over 21 and live on the grittier side of 520, that's frankly the show to catch. The band's music was meant to be digested alongside copious amounts of cheap beer. Detroit Rock City, baby. These boys don't let you forget it. Redmond Public Library, 15990 N.E. 85th St. Free. 4 p.m. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. $8. 10 p.m. MIKE SEELYPissed Jeans ~ Friday, August 21Comprising four guys whose greatest accomplishment is the ability to bang out rudimentary rock, Pissed Jeans doesn't have a lot to say. In fact, they have nothing to say but insist on saying it anyway. Yeah, that's right: anti-message music. Usually, anti-anything is irritating. Anti-cool, anti-intellectualism, anti-fun...all that calculated, self-important naysaying gets wearisome. The difference here is that there's nothing calculated about it. The songs are not designed to tell a story, or convey any real meaning beyond the immediacy of a bunch of kids who have nothing to do and nowhere to go. The funny thing is, by defining a world in which nowhereness and nothingness are increasingly the norm, gussied up as "lifestyle" choices like what coffee to drink and where to work out, the anti-message becomes a sort of actual message. Using stomping drums, caterwauling guitars, sinister bass, and guttural howls, the band crashes through tracks like "False Jesii Part 2," "Half Idiot," and "Human Upskirt," relying on speed and force to quell the growing sense of nothingness. Covering the other side of boredom, the band revels in the blind stumble of meandering tracks like "Request for Masseuse," "Dominate Yourself," and "Goodbye (Hair)." The music too carries a secret, perhaps half-intended message: Underneath and among all the noise are moments of subtle grace and beauty. Not bad for a bunch of ham-fisted rockers with nothing to say. With Suck Machine. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. NICHOLAS HALLCrocodiles ~ Saturday, August 22Being in a tribute band is like being a porn star: Once you get famous for doing it, that's it. Sure, you can try to cross over and make original music, but no one will take you seriously, and you'll always be remembered as "that dude who was John Bonham in Led Zepagain" or whatever. Now, while there's little wiggle room in porn—either you fuck on camera or you don't—there's loads of leeway for the tribute-band-inclined who want to be in an actual "real band." You can blatantly rip off the sounds, moods, melodies, lyrical ideas, production style—all of it—from the band you love. All you have to do is write some new words, change the order of the chords ever so slightly, slap on some different song titles, and voilà! you're an original band! Which brings us, finally, to San Diego's Crocodiles. The band, its fans, its members' families, friends, and significant others, and its record label can protest all they like, but Crocodiles sound exactly like The Jesus and Mary Chain. Same psych-reverb noise-pop, same barbed guitars, same quasi-malevolent vocals, same mechanized beats, same goddamn everything. By rights, they should be billed as "Psychocandy: The Jesus and Mary Chain Tribute Band," but they're not. They're Crocodiles. So, yes, no tribute-band/porn-star stigma for them. Shrewd move. But we know what you're really about, Crocodiles. With Pens, Graffiti Island. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $10. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGElvis Costello and the Sugarcanes  ~ Sunday, August 23He was obsessed with traditional country music before he was known as Elvis Costello. In the mid-'70s, young Declan MacManus discovered the genre indirectly, through his interest in seminal country/bluegrass-influenced groups like the Byrds, the Band, and yes, even the Grateful Dead. The English pub rock he later co-opted and infused with his unique brand of vitriol had its roots in country as well. Costello was writing credible country tunes as early as 1978's "Stranger in the House," and traveled to Nashville to record an entire album of covers, 1981's Almost Blue. Nearly three decades later he returned, teaming up with longtime collaborator T Bone Burnett for Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, a 13-track collection of acoustic songs released in June that will make up the bulk of tonight's set. With backing from the Sugarcanes, a string band comprising Nashville's top veteran session men, the stripped-down, rootsy music includes numbers written with and for Loretta Lynn and two originally written for Johnny Cash, and brings to mind 1986's King of America, also produced by Burnett. If you go, don't expect anything like the Attractions or the Imposters—it's not supposed to rock. And wish Elvis a happy birthday; the onetime "angry young man" turns 55 two days after this show. Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14111 N.E. 145th St., Woodinville, 425-415-3300. 7 p.m. $40 GA/$65 res. All ages. MICHAEL MAHONEYExistereo ~ Sunday, August 23The L.A.-based Existereo has performed with a bunch of groups, including 2Mex and the Shapeshifters, and his experience, both in terms of years in the game and number of collaborations (being in a group teaches you how to edit), shows in his cyanide-laced jokes. Existereo blends the rebellious juvenilia of Sage Francis with his own sorta class-clownish vibe. It's hard to take what he says that seriously, but his talent is apparent: He actually enjoys both writing and rapping. Veteran underground hitmaker Deeske knows how to inject wiggly lines and ragged edges into the beats on Existereo's last disc, 2007's Hopeless Crooks With Open Books, to complement the MC's weird predilections. There's even a Northwest connection: Barfly of Oldominion guests on "Ol' Fashioned Hard Livin." With Tullie the Rapper, Rheteric Ramirez, JFK, DJ WD4D. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $6 adv./$8 DOS. KEVIN CAPPfun. ~ Tuesday, August 25Supergroups seem back in vogue these days, from Tinted Windows to The Dead Weather to Them Crooked Vultures. Add fun. to that list. Despite the lower-case lettering, the trio of Nate Ruess (ex–The Format), Andrew Dost (ex–Anathallo), and Jack Antonoff (Steel Train) projects a huge sound on Aim and Ignite, its over-the-top debut. Produced by Red Kross' Steven McDonald, the album explodes with hooky, harmony-happy power pop in the vein of the Raspberries, Big Star, and Badfinger. The robust tunes come front-loaded with piano, horn, and string sections, gospel-style backup singers, and other gaudy adornments to match Ruess' theatrical singing, pitched between Broadway and Queen. There are highlights galore, from the Weezer-indebted midsection of opener "Be Calm" to the smoldering beauty of "The Gambler." As power pop goes, you can't get much more reverent than a song like "All the Pretty Girls," and fun. reveals the true extent of their bombast on the nearly eight-minute finale, "Take Your Time (Coming Home)." It's a blast. With Hellogoodbye, Limbeck, My Favorite Highway. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 6 p.m. $15 adv. All ages. DOUG WALLENTerence Blanchard ~ Tuesday, August 25 and Wednesday, August 26A household-name figurehead of the mainstream jazz vanguard led by the Marsalis brothers, trumpet player Terence Blanchard is perhaps best known as Spike Lee's go-to guy for film scores. Given the peer group he's most often associated with, it goes without saying that Blanchard's approach is marked by technical proficiency on a highly cerebral level and an unmistakably traditionalist mentality. But though Blanchard has always demonstrated a penchant for melodies, he is in a sense a changed man since the Katrina disaster. Through his naked, radiantly mournful playing on Spike Lee's documentary When the Levees Broke, Blanchard sought to connect more deeply with universal themes—and succeeded by cutting through the bravura and aiming straight for the listener's heart. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave. 7:30 p.m. $21.50. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

 
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