The Short List: This Week’s Recommended Shows

Mount Eerie ~ Wednesday, October 14"Wind's Dark Poem," the opening track from the double-album sprawl of Mount Eerie's recently released Wind's Poem, sounds a lot like a maelstrom. Heavily distorted guitars, thick washes of feedback, and crashing cymbals all whip around Phil Elverum's voice, which sounds a bit like a lost soul who's not really trying to be heard above the cacophony, as if he's speaking calmly from the center of the tornado that's about to toss him into the heavens. This dynamic interplay is how Elverum is able to indulge his black-metal ambitions without losing the intimate voice that so typifies Mount Eerie's recordings. Of course, not all of Wind's Poem is so brash. "Through the Trees" sounds a lot like a half-forgotten lullaby, with a gentle organ, softly brushed drums, occasional guitar, and an ethereal presence that only works because it feels so organic and personal, like the sound of your own breathing. These two tracks really act as signifiers for the entire album. Some songs are bracing and almost assault the ears, others are so gentle that you can almost forget that they exist external to yourself. The most amazing moments are when these two elements are inexplicably combined, which Elverum manages to do repeatedly here. A masterful album. With WHY?, No Kids. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 374-8372. 7:30 p.m. $13. All ages. NICHOLAS HALLThe Oregon Donor (CD release) ~ Wednesday, October 14It must be hard to be a musician from Anacortes, given that you will always live in the daunting shadow of the prodigy that is John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest. It's almost like being from Aberdeen and starting an angsty grunge band. That said, there's always room for more indie rock bands in the Northwest (right?), and the Oregon Donor recalls several of the area's established favorites—say, an earlier-era Minus the Bear or a less thrashy Thermals. The foursome formulates textured and jam-heavy songs complete with jerky guitar riffs, frontman Christopher Edwards' rubbery vocals, and a plethora of extended proggy interludes. The group's been working hard recording and playing shows for years now, and earlier this month finally released their third full-length, A Pageant's End. Tracks like "Morse Code" and "Hostages" highlight the Oregon Donor's friskier side, with picked-up, jittery tempos and echoing layers of vocal harmonies—definitely the band's sound at its best. With the Femurs. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $7. E. THOMPSONSpiral Stairs ~ Wednesday, October 14 and Thursday, October 15Now that news of the Pavement reunion is out of the bag, there's an electric buzz of excitement surrounding any activity by the band's individual members. If going to see Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs, once came with the painful baggage of mourning and wishful thinking, it doesn't have to anymore. But before we get ahead of ourselves, Kannberg has a new album coming out within days of his two local appearances. Of course, his opening slot for Bob Mould reads on the marquee like a summit meeting between two of indie rock's most celebrated icons, but watching Kannberg perform for free at a record store for an all-ages crowd is much more in keeping with the spirit he brought to Pavement in the first place. While Pavement eventually came to be dominated by leader Stephen Malkmus, Kannberg perfectly played the part of Malkmus' ideal creative foil, and his edgier, more out-there sensibility clearly helped shape the band's legendary sound. Like Malkmus, Kannberg has benefited greatly from taking a less-self-conscious approach to his post-Pavement output. His stuff was always pleasantly loose, even sloppy, but these days he sounds like he's having a lot more fun. And, yes, he does do Pavement tunes. Wednesday at Sonic Boom Records, 2209 N.W. Market St., 297-2666. 6 p.m. Free. All ages. Thursday with Bob Mould at Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15 adv. SABY REYES-KULKARNIMonsters of Folk ~ Thursday, October 15With Jim James, Conor Oberst, and M. Ward in the fold, Monsters of Folk includes three of the most recognizable voices in indie pop, and an argument could be made that combining the three of them inside one self-titled record would somehow magnify the experience of one of the artists' day jobs. But it doesn't quite work that way. What we get on an album that tries so hard to share the spotlight is an abbreviated go—a revue, if you will—with each of the dudes. There are moments of levity—"The Right Place" is a charmer, on par with anything the boys have done alone—and hearing each voice step up to the microphone provides a handful of Traveling Wilburys moments. All that said, Monsters is sure to take on a completely separate life on stage, with five bodies of work to pull from, plenty of ego, and a proclivity for musical hyperbole, as the band's name implies. The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 877-STG-4TIX. 8 p.m. $28–$40. All ages. CHRIS KORNELISDigital Leather ~ Friday, October 16Though the name conjures something like biker techno, Digital Leather is closer to synth-punk, which still fits the name rather neatly. Burping synths, ping-pong beats, and fuzz-coated choruses guide multi-instrumentalist Shawn Foree to noisy, romantic epiphanies that can't help but be infectious. Visiting the same post–Jesus and Mary Chain realm of shoegaze and goth spillover as fellow fresh faces Crocodiles and Cold Cave, Digital Leather has landed on Fat Possum's swelling lineup to release the debut album Warm Brother, following a half-live, half-studio record on the ever-hip Goner Records. Foree has also covered/remixed the Raveonettes and expanded his one-man act into a full touring outfit, inspiring Jay Reatard to sign on as the band's manager. Before you accuse him of tapping the zeitgeist, note that Foree has been pursuing Digital Leather in one form or another since 2002. Hopefully he'll still be kicking it after the global fascination with bleary lo-fi comes to an end. With the Girls and Virgin Islands. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLENGrizzly Bear ~ Friday, October 16Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear spent last summer drawing inspiration and recording songs for the follow-up to 2006's critical smash, Yellow House, at a number of New England locales. One of them, a minuscule island off the coast of Massachusetts called Veckatimest, became the title of the band's new album. While richly innovative art can seem cryptic, even unapproachable, the 12 chamber-pop songs that emerged from these bucolic sessions are absolutely sentient and stirring, thanks to an airtight instrumentation of sparkling keyboards, strummed electric guitars, swirling string arrangements, and the occasional oboe or autoharp—to say nothing of Ed Droste's piercingly pretty falsetto and the omnipresent crooning harmonies, as sunny as any you'll hear on Pet Sounds. Veckatimest plays like an ocean of rolling waves, alternately swelling into action with the joyous pop choruses of "Two Weeks" and "While You Wait for the Others," then paring it down on wistful tracks like "All We Ask" and "Ready, Able." The album ends with a searing piano stunner, "Foreground," topping off what might prove to be this year's most spectacularly beautiful record. With the Morning Benders. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave, 443-1744. 8 p.m. $23. All ages. E. THOMPSONSunny Day Real Estate ~ Friday, October 16Any Sunny Day Real Estate fan knows the details already: The Seattle band that launched the '90s emo movement has reunited with its original lineup, 15 years after an acrimonious breakup. There's plenty of nostalgic appeal here, particularly for 20-somethings who loved SDRE as teenagers but never got to see the band play live. But there's another kind of appeal, too: curiosity about whether four musicians who once wielded both indie and mainstream musical influence can recreate that magic. It's one thing to hear lead singer Jeremy Enigk return to his trademark scream when singing favorites from Diary and LP2; it's another to see if he can incorporate the prog-rock-styled vocals of his solo work into the band's collective songwriting. During recent live shows, SDRE has performed a new track; rumors are circulating that a new album is in the works. In 1994, SDRE created an entirely original sound, simultaneously aggressive and heartbreaking, musically recreating the sense and feeling of angst. Whatever that new album sounds like—whether it's emo, straight rock, or something experimental—it will disappoint if it's anything less than explosive. With the Jealous Sound. The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 877-STG-4TIX. 8 p.m. $25. All ages. PAIGE RICHMONDdd/mm/yyyy ~ Saturday, October 17As evidenced by the calendar sequence they've taken for a band name, the members of dd/mm/yyyy are Canadian. Generally said aloud as "Day Month Year," the Toronto five-piece makes a habit of pursuing what's fun, whether or not it challenges listeners. Instruments change hands often, and although genres are resisted at all costs, the band's frantic, erratic output could loosely be labeled post-punk. This year's Black Square did well in Canada and was re-released stateside in September by the label arm of Impose Magazine, including a limited run on cassette. Song titles like "Infinity Skull Cube" and "Digital Haircut" point to the band's devilish glee, but the latter actually was picked as the official single of last summer's X Games. If a stop-start, metal-damaged oddity can become the temporary theme song of extreme sports, then having an unruly name and sound shouldn't stop dd/mm/yyyy from steamrollering to further glory. With These Arms Are Snakes and Constant Lovers. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 374-8372. 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages. DOUG WALLENJay-Z ~ Saturday, October 17Jay-Z is arguably the most successful artist and entrepreneur in American hip-hop. His net worth is over $150 million. His new album The Blueprint 3 is his 11th release to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard 200. He's also undeniably talented, which can't be said of all of the genre's superstars. This is an MC who creates his rhymes sans pen and paper, instead listening to tracks again and again until the witticisms, double entendres, and hooks emerge on their own. The result this time around may not be as groundbreaking as the albums he released in the late '90s, but it's a sleek commercial effort packed with radio hits and collaborations with big names like Kanye, Rihanna, and Alicia Keys. Most impressive is that Jay-Z, pushing 40 in an industry obsessed with fresh talent, keeps up with—and often surpasses—his younger peers' performances without ever breaking a sweat. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., 628-0888. 8 p.m. $33–$123. All ages. ERIKA HOBARTLow Anthem ~ Saturday, October 17Thanks to the wide array of organic instruments its members use, the Low Anthem is often referred to as a "folk" group. And perhaps in the strictest sense of the word, "folk music" is indeed the music the Low Anthem makes, in that the group's songs draw on decades of American music for inspiration. However, the presence of acoustic guitars, pump organs, harmonicas, mandolins, and, yes, cowbells should not trick you into thinking that the Low Anthem conducts some sort of traditionalist foray into the sounds of the backwoods and hollows. Their latest album, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (recently reissued on Nonesuch) is a decidedly modern take on acoustic music; the group's studio-as-instrument philosophy morphs any folksiness into a warm, ethereal sound, emotionally engaging and often sonically challenging. Live, the Low Anthem brings a full complement of instruments for the three members to play, resulting in a crowded stage and an occasionally frustrated sound engineer, as well as a much more visceral take on their music. With Ryan Montbleau Band. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. JASON FERGUSONThe Fresh & Onlys ~ Sunday, October 18For a band not even 2 years old, the Fresh & Onlys have had a phenomenally fruitful year, touring on their own behind a fistful of LPs, EPs and singles, in support of Stephen Malkmus, and as an occasional backing band for resurrected underground psych-folk artist Rodriguez. Purveying a unique brand of surrealist, acid-soaked garage rock that's equal parts light and dark, leader Tim Cohen adroitly draws the line between avant-innovation and retrospective reinvention. Tonight they're logically paired with like-minded locals Idle Times, who essentially sound like what might happen if Flaming Lips leader Wayne Coyne and former Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard decided to forge a more perfect, lo-fi, and lysergic union. With Dan Melchior und Das Menace. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $7. HANNAH LEVINAstronautalis ~ Monday, October 19Whether living in the ocean-sprayed suburban sprawl of Florida or the grey-skied city of Seattle, where he recently relocated, Astronautalis blurs lines. Although he canceled his REVERB gig, we won't hold that against him, because there's no denying it: Dude's got skills. Astronautalis (real name, Andy Bothwell) works from an array of influences—shoegaze, rock, experimental—all underpinned by hip-hop. As evidenced on last year's Pomegranate, this hydra-headed sensibility makes for a kinda quirky sound. Guided by producer John Congleton (whose previous credits include Modest Mouse), Astronautalis made an eclectic album that showed his ability to combine intelligent, dynamically delivered lyrics (he's a wicked freestyler) with diverse sounds. There's country, indie, and a whole lot more here—something, in other words, for everyone. With Sole. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $8 adv. KEVIN CAPPIslands ~ Monday, October 19After the bombastic yet oddly leaden feel of last year'sArm's Way, "Switched On" comes rushing out of Vapours' starting gate like a rush of held-in breath, as if even Islands itself was wondering what its third release would bring. The answer comes with insistent drums, gorgeous vocal harmonies, and an instantly catchy melody complemented by pulsing bass and synths that would be cheesy if they weren't so perfectly pitched. Nearly every track on the album is instantly alluring, with head-nodding standout moments in the Talking Heads intro, the slight Afropop lean of the title track, and the '70s pop keys, ebullient melody, and rhythmic thrust of "Disarming the Car Bomb." More subtle gems include the sparse drum machine, plinky keys, and chunky staccato guitars of "No You Don't" and the epic sweep of "Tender Torture." Some may find the weightier, minor-key drama of "Shining" a bit overblown, but it also stands as a nice contrast to the light-headed airiness of the rest of the album. A heady mix of relief and excitement, Vapours is quite likely the band's best work to date. With Jemima Pearl, Toro y Moi. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $14 adv./$16 DOS. All ages. NICHOLAS HALL

 
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