The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Prong ~ Wednesday, October 7

Throughout their initial run, 1986–97, Prong repeatedly redefined the parameters of metal and, in six landmark albums, subverted the genre's limits in a perpetual search for fresh hybrids that sound remarkably cohesive and vital today. The earliest material by Prong—originally formed by two CBGB employees and a former Swans member—came off as little more than a quick-and-dirty amalgam of thrash and hardcore. But the band's ultimate strength lay in its ability to radically reconfigure the thrash template, yet still retain a definable thrash essence. Moreover, guitarist/bandleader Tommy Victor underlined nuances in the expression of angst that few headbangers have revisited since. For all their vitriol, Prong (unlike the majority of their peers) never came from a place of sheer aggression. Victor's frustrations instead seemed driven by powerlessness, and the band's claustrophobic, cowed, and—by Victor's own description—vulnerable music paradoxically captured the anxiety and danger of urban life without explicitly referencing the gritty environment it was born from. In 2000 Victor revived the band with all new players; now, with a stable lineup more or less intact, Prong verges on recapturing the fiercely enterprising spirit of its classic catalog. With Soulfly, Cattle Decapitation, Mutiny Within. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 6:30 p.m. $20 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

Nomeansno ~ Thursday, October 8

"Greatest Punk Album of All Time" is about as controversial as declarative statements about music can get, but I have no trouble tossing NOmeansno's 1989 masterpiece, Wrong, into the ring with Never Mind the Bollocks, London Calling, and Ramones. Songs like "The Tower" and "Rags and Bones" haven't lost one iota of their cathartic, cacophonous potency over the years, and the same goes for the musicians who recorded them. After 30 years of existence, NMN remain inexhaustible onstage, and sets are known to surpass the two-hour mark. Though the band tours quite frequently, Seattle stops are mysteriously rare; that they're finally playing a sonically suitable space like Neumos is a treat. With the Pack A.D. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $13 adv. HANNAH LEVIN

Juliette Lewis ~ Friday, October 9

You can connect Juliette Lewis to the near-criminal negligence of her music career in two steps: She was in Natural Born Killers with Rodney Dangerfield (he played her dad, 'member?), who says he don't get no respect—just as her cat-scratched vocals, debauched lyrics, and Joplin-meets-Cobain stage persona have never received their rightful due. Backed by a new band (she formed the New Romantiques after the Licks broke up earlier this year), her reinvigorated histrionics make the case in favor of the actor-turned-singer trope. Jared Leto hangs gilt-framed platinum albums in the halls of his douche palace, but Lewis only now gets her first headlining American tour? Tell 'em, Rodney. With the Ettes, the American Bang. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 9:30 p.m. $15 adv./$18 DOS. All ages. ROSE MARTELLI

Trannyshack ~ Friday, October 9

Brace yourselves, party people of Seattle: It's that special time of year again. Though not a federally recognized holiday (yet), this magical night uses more makeup than Halloween, more booze than New Year's Eve, more explosions than the Fourth of July, more glittery sparkle than a Christmas tree, and more tucking, binding, and prep time than a 30-pound Thanksgiving turkey. That's right, kids: It's time for Trannyshack, the San Fran–based tran-o-rama that has now become an international phenomenon with Trannyshack UK. Mistress Heklina and her cast of characters (including our own incomparable Ursula Android and an assortment of some of the Emerald City's classiest ladies) has turned her once-weekly event into revolving nights all over the country, flipping the big old bird to the stereotypical Whitney-synching beauty/drag-queen routine, and exalting in the downtown-and-dirty tradition of Warhol's superstar queens. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9:30 p.m. $12. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Ellom & Serena ~ Friday, October 9

A natural fit if there ever was one, Estonian poet Elo-Mall Toomet (Ellom for short) and local (Port Townsend) cellist/composer Serena Tideman come together for a special one-off performance. Even by experimental standards, Tideman and Toomet share an affinity for the fringe, and one can only imagine that together they'll come up with delightfully edgy results. Both have a flair for turning melodrama into sound portraits of cracked, almost disturbing beauty. In her own words, Toomet plumbs dark emotional spaces in order to draw maps for people to find their way back from them. But both artists also rely on sturdy rhythms and a winking sense of humor to warm the mood a little and keep their work somewhat grounded. In a sense, Tideman makes poetry of her own with the cello, her lines flowing with the lyricism, tension, and punch of well-crafted verse. Having worked with staunchly original acts like Rasputina and Múm, Tideman is uniquely positioned not only to support but to expand upon Toomet's one-of-a-kind vision. Jewelbox, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 7:30 p.m. $7–$11 sliding scale. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

Junior Boys ~ Saturday, October 10

Living in the aftermath of a brilliant single is a tricky corollary of success in the music world. Hot Chip probably felt it after the smashing impact of "Over and Over," Matt and Kim will feel it after "Daylight," and Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus of Junior Boys must have felt it after "In the Morning," the masterfully infectious hit on 2006's So This Is Goodbye. The song's combination of sharp synthesizers, tense percussion, staccato rhythms, and Greenspan's breathy, sexy vocals won over clubgoers and indie kids alike. It was somewhat of a surprise, then, when the duo's follow-up, this spring's Begone Dull Care, seemed to take a step back from all the hype. The record has been criticized for its slower tempos and scrupulous attention to detail rather than reproducing the energetic melodies of the past two albums, and yet it's those careful nuances that make the songs so sleek and impossible to write off. "Work," for example, is an incredibly sensual song featuring surging layers of sound, including a pulsing synth and Greenspan chanting, "Work it, baby, work it." You'll be hypnotized within seconds. With Circlesquare. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $15 adv./$18 DOS. E. THOMPSON

The Pogues ~ Saturday, October 10

Their name comes from the Gaelic póg mo thóin, or "kiss my ass," which was Anglicized to Pogue Mahone, then shortened to the Pogues to satisfy BBC censors. Their sound was revelatory when they broke out of North London in the mid-'80s: an unholy fusion of punk and traditional Irish folk music, often chaotic and always electrifying. Frontman Shane MacGowan reached new highs (and lows) nightly, snarling, howling, and spitting venomous lyrics while fighting a losing battle with the bottle. Their legion of fans included Elvis Costello, who married original bassist Cait O'Riordan, and the Clash's Joe Strummer, who subbed for guitarist Philip Chevron, produced their fifth album, Hell's Ditch, then took over MacGowan's vocalist duties for a spell. They're kicking off a short U.S. tour here with their ideal eight-man lineup—MacGowan and Chevron, plus Spider Stacy (vocals/tin whistle), Jem Finer (banjo), Andrew Ranken (drums), Darryl Hunt (bass), Terry Woods (mandolin), and James Fearnley (accordion). At their best, they hit you like a pint of Guinness with a shot of Jameson back, followed by a punch in the nose. Even given these prices (and this venue), you'll kick yourself if you miss them. With Swingin' Utters. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 382-7877. 7 p.m. $50 adv./$55 DOS. MICHAEL MAHONEY

School Of Seven Bells ~ Saturday, October 10

Lush vocal harmonies and yawning chasms of effects are at the forefront of School of Seven Bells, the Brooklyn trio comprising former Secret Machines guitarist Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza (formerly of On!Air!Library!). The dreamy sheen and smoothly integrated electronics of the band's first album, Alpinisms, were enough to secure release on Ghostly International, a label that knows more than a little about those things. And yet the album's subsequent re-release on Vagrant gives an idea of its accessibility. School of Seven Bells is the kind of band that on paper looks all too icy, but Alpinisms is in fact warm and full-blooded, with as many sharp pop hooks as ethereal studio feats. While that balance may recall 4AD's classic roster, there's an almost alien newness about the band that's hard to come by these days. With The Depreciation Guild , War Paint. Neumo's, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 9 p.m. $12. DOUG WALLEN

Passion Pit ~ Sunday, October 11

All right, youthful zeitgeist. We know you. We know you need a new favorite In band every time you turn a corner. We know that by now you're ready to shelve your Vampire Weekend records. Cue Boston's Passion Pit, the current musical obsession for all you hip kids. Passion Pit—an exhilarating mishmash of keyboards, drums, samples, more keyboards, and lead singer Michael Angelakos' skyscraping falsetto—fits the bill on every count. They're cute, they're catchy, and, yes, they even speak to your souls. Take "The Reeling," the standout track on the group's debut album, Manners. It's an exuberant burst of disco-pop, complete with thumping percussion and throbbing synths; close your eyes and you can almost see the strobe lights flashing. And with such importunate lyrics like "Here I am, here I am/When will someone understand?," how could it be anything but an anthem for sentimental youths? And yet the best part of Passion Pit is the agreeable message that comes from matching their pensive lyrics to their glitzy melodies: Life is hard, but let's party anyway. With Fascination Street, E-603. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. All ages. E. THOMPSON

Glenn Tilbrook ~ Monday, October 12

If you like tight, smart, melodic, meticulously crafted pop bursting with hooks, you can't do much better than spend a couple of hours with Glenn Tilbrook. Best known as Squeeze's lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter in a career dating back 35 years, he's a warm and generous performer, as anyone who witnessed his most recent solo show here, seven years ago at the Crocodile, will attest. Onstage, he can draw from Squeeze's dozen studio releases, a mid-'80s collaboration with writing partner Chris Difford, two solo albums from earlier this decade, and his newest album, Pandemonium Ensues, released this past April with his backup band the Fluffers (yes, the Fluffers). His latest effort is a cover of "You Never Give Me Your Money" for MOJO magazine's Beatles tribute album marking the 40th anniversary of Abbey Road. Oh, and he'll be flying into Seattle from Africa, where he's climbing 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro with a group of 25 musicians and cancer survivors from the Love Hope Strength Foundation, raising money and awareness to fight cancer in East Africa. So cut him a break if he's a little tired. With Marianne Keith. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $20. MICHAEL MAHONEY

Steely Dan ~ Monday, October 12 and Tuesday, October 13

"The Cuervo Gold. The fine Colombian. Make tonight a wonderful thing." Set to a jazzy, mellow beat, these lyrics from Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen" encapsulate what was arguably popular music's most decadent half-decade, the late '70s, as well as any words ever recorded. After the Band and its tired, rootsy cohorts retired to the infamous White Room after their Last Waltz in '76, it was the likes of Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac that steered rock in a decidedly more polished, superficial direction. Credit Steely Dan, master ironists that they are, for not getting defensive in the face of this perception; the high-water mark of their commercial success was marked by an unabashed commitment to the studio and a rejection of the road. Their creations were so technically adroit that they often get "credited" with helping to spawn smooth jazz. Whatever aversion to touring Messrs. Becker and Fagen had in their youth has thankfully vanished with age. Their Seattle stop finds them continuing one of the most welcome trends in live rock: "album" shows, in which the band will perform Aja and The Royal Scam in their entirety on back-to-back nights. Expect the Aja showcase to pack more intrigue, as the economical album featured but seven tracks, including "Peg," "Black Cow," and "Deacon Blues." With all that extra time, let's hope the sublime "Pearl of the Quarter" and "Dirty Work" get pulled into the set. The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 877-STG-4TIX. 7:30 p.m. $60–$175. All ages. MIKE SEELY

A Hawk And A Hacksaw ~ Tuesday, October 13

The man behind the drum kit on Neutral Milk Hotel's famed In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Jeremy Barnes is now half of the duo behind New Mexico's idiosyncratic A Hawk and a Hacksaw. True to the longtime Eastern European fascinations of Barnes and co-conspirator Heather Trost, the band's new album, Délivrance, was recorded in Budapest with various Hungarian musicians. Barnes sings and wields accordion and drums while Trost locates the violin's more exciting possibilities. It's to their immense credit that it's so tough to tell the album's traditional numbers apart from the originals. While not entirely authentic, the music isn't simply fawning over multicultural offerings or, worse, spiking it with indie-rock earmarks. Rather, it's a kind of blanket osmosis, soaking up the distinct sounds of so many countries and styles in a way that makes the results fresh, ductile, and worthy of a hearty jig around the room. With Damon & Naomi. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $13. DOUG WALLEN

Satyricon ~ Tuesday, October 13

Black metal is a good example of the "You'll never know unless you try it" routine so favored by moms of picky children. It's an easy genre for the uninitiated to dismiss. Like lima beans, or tofu, it simply has an unappetizing name, and people who are fanatical about it always come off a bit strange. Who wouldn't rather listen to (or eat) something with a nice, normal-sounding name like rock (or pizza)? Of course, your mom also likely knew that if she swathed the offending foodstuff in something easily recognizable and sufficiently cheesy, you were likely to eat anything. That's where bands like Satyricon fit in. While it started as about as darkly pure a black-metal outfit as you're likely to find, the group has chosen a somewhat controversial path on their past few releases. Along with blast beats and Dark Lord-with-laryngitis vocals, Satyricon also makes room for some fairly straightforward rock structures and plenty of melodic passages, creating an energetic push and pull in their music that sometimes lures unsuspecting listeners with its relative accessibility, then reverses direction, using eclecticism as a method of focusing on the more extreme elements of the band's delivery, which stands in often-stark contrast to the genre-crossing elements. You didn't think a black-metal band would ever be more inviting than that, did you? With Bleeding Through, Cthonic. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. All ages. NICHOLAS HALL

Stefon Harris and Blackout ~ Tuesday, October 13 and Wednesday, October 14

In the realm of smooth jazz, you have people like George Benson and Herbie Hancock, phenomenal musicians who at some point decided to play way below their level. Then you've got the masses of smooth-jazz stars who sound as if they couldn't play anything more interesting even given the opportunity. And then you have guys like Stefon Harris and Blackout—great players who've chosen to bring smooth jazz up to their level. Gone are the brain-dead melodies and soporific stick-tracks. In are sophisticated, jazz-infused soloing, creative voicings, virtuosic grooves, and instrumental funk that—like the best fusion music of the '70s—wakes your body and soul. Harris, on vibraphone and marimba, is a perfect example of how to be a smart populist in jazz. His playing is technically amazing, cliché-free, and terrifically fun. Another Blackout standout is drummer Terreon Gully, a master of snare thwacks and jagged fills who probably could have swept the recent Animal drumming competition at EMP. With their new disc, Urbanus, on Concord, this band proves that reaching out to the masses doesn't mean losing your dignity. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 p.m. $22.50. All ages. MARK D. FEFER

 
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