The Short List: This Week’s Recommended Shows

Times New Viking ~ Thursday, October 22Ah, Times New Viking—they haven't changed a bit. Born Again Revisited may be the Ohio trio's fourth album, and second for the indie kingpins at Matador, but it's still a trash-or-treasure pile of absolute no-fi shrillness. Punch-drunk keyboard lines knock against constant squalls of distorted guitar and hoarse boy-girl shouts, while somewhere beneath it all a drummer pounds out bruised rhythms far past the point of collapse. It's such a visceral thing, guaranteed to jar awake anyone sleepwalking past indie rock's more immaculate practitioners. Even though a slew of bands have adopted the "shitgaze" sound or some like-minded permutation in the four short years since Times New Viking crashed onto the scene, they've still got the ability to shock us. And yet as always, melodies peek out everywhere, albeit bleary-eyed and nursing a hangover. Once you realign your senses to fit the band's brash, reeling output, there's a certain beauty to so much white noise and buried ambition. With Herr Jazz. Vera Project, 300 Warren Ave. N., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages. DOUG WALLENYo La Tengo ~ Thursday, October 22Yo La Tengo's 12th album, this year's Popular Songs, is yet another near-perfect marriage of lo-fi easy-listeners and heavily distorted psychedelic jams. The record's last four epically shoegazing tracks could almost make up an EP separate from the first nine fuzz-pop tunes, but it's just that magic mutability that has kept Yo La Tengo so interesting and endearing after all these years. And while Popular Songs is certainly less aggressive than the untouchable I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, it's still characteristically replete with capricious touches, from the organ riffs of "Periodically Double or Triple" to the Motown feel of "If It's True." The album's first track, "Here to Fall," opens with rich string arrangements and familiar droning guitar and basslines as Ira Kaplan sings, "I know you're worried—I'm worried too/ But if you're ready—I'm here to fall with you." With Jackie-O Motherfucker. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 382-7877. 8 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. E. THOMPSONGossip ~ Friday, October 23Contrary to popular belief, most pop-culture critics worth their salt enjoy admitting they're wrong. "Heavy Cross," the first single from Music for Men, Gossip's Rick Rubin–produced debut for Columbia, initially hit my ears in all the wrong ways. It's a shiny, precisely engineered dance-floor anthem that lacks the grit and soul that originally attracted me, nearly a decade ago, to now-iconic frontwoman Beth Ditto. It sounds like a thinner, user-friendly version of "Standing in the Way of Control," and was such a turn-off that exploring the rest of the album took me several months. Glad I finally dug in, because the opening track alone makes Music for Men entirely worth the investment. True to its title, "Dimestore Diamond" is indeed a dark, glorious jewel masquerading under the simple but entirely riveting percussion work of drummer Hannah Blilie, the group's long-underappreciated anchor. I now stand in solidarity on the dance floor, happily corrected. With MEN, Champagne Champagne. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$22 DOS. All ages. HANNAH LEVINLittle Pieces (EP release) ~ Friday, October 23Little Pieces' upcoming EP, Vampires Fill Their Waterbeds With Blood, is a quirky, off-kilter selection of infectious, instantly appealing songs that take a few listens to really be absorbed. The first track, "I'm a Bull," swings like a surf-rock garage band, while "Windless," the EP's other notable track, shows Little Pieces' sunnier side. Herman Jolly's distinctive voice—a cross between Elvis Costello and Ted Leo—is an acquired taste, but a few listens should remedy any misgivings about his utterances. That's also about how long it takes to notice that Jolly's unusual way of turning a phrase doesn't always make much sense. Not that he doesn't know how to intrigue a listener: The EP contains several inexplicable references to an albatross that may or may not be the same albatross each time. Whether it's your thing or not, it's to Jolly's credit that his music is a far cry from standard singer/songwriter fodder. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St., 233-9873. 10 p.m. $5. SARA BRICKNERBrandi Carlile ~ Saturday, October 25When Brandi Carlile sings "The Story," the title track from her 2007 album, her voice strains and pulls. She belts out, "All of these lines across my face/Tell the story of who I am"—and the pain Carlile feels is palpable and raw. The Ravensdale, Wash., native sounds more polished on her latest release, Give Up the Ghost, produced by hit-maker Rick Rubin, known for his ability to blend vocals and instrumentation seamlessly. Even if her instrumentals are a little more pop and less country this time around, Carlile's lyrics are still as heartwrenching as ever on Ghost, an album about unmet expectations and dreams deferred. She's the kind of songwriter who opens her emotional veins wide: "I close my eyes, I think of you/I take a step, I think of you/I catch my breath, I think of you," she sings on "Looking Out." Yet her swirling guitars and brushed drums are so charming, it's tempting to forget the emotions Carlile is laying bare. But then there's a song like "Dreams," the album's single, where she belts out "I have dreams" with a conviction that verges on desperation. Suddenly her pain is all too real, her songs all too beautiful to forget. With Katie Herzig. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 683-1414. 8 p.m. $27.50. All ages. PAIGE RICHMONDAlela Diane ~ Saturday, October 24Alela Diane sings folk music in a vocal twang not unlike Jolie Holland's or Karen Dalton's—earthy and lived-in, with a catch in her throat on the high notes. At first blush, I took her for just another among any number of women out there armed with acoustic guitars and "quirky" voices. But then I saw her live and realized she wasn't pretending to be anything other than what she was—a West Coast girl from a hippie town encouraged to play music by her hippie parents. As a result, what she brings to the table is somewhat akin to the Grateful Dead—a languid blend of old American music, equal parts parlor, campfire, coffeehouse, and indie-rock club. Her latest release, a split 10" with Alina Hardin, features a cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Rake" that chills to the bone. With Marissa Nadler, Barton Carroll. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9:30 p.m. $12. BRIAN J. BARRGhostface Killah ~ Saturday, October 24"Hurry home so you can rub my big belly and kiss it," Ghostface Killah raps on "Baby," the first single from his latest release, Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City. One of the best storytellers in all hip-hop and by far the most talented MC/writer of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface ventured out to the ragged edge of his already twisted, often comic mind for his latest disc, an R&B effort spiked with the kind of dirty talk that would turn Roman Polanski on. The above-quoted line is about as tame as the album gets. Just ask Natalie Portman, apparently the inspiration for "Stapleton Sex," a greasy XXX romp. Tonight, however, Ghost fans will probably want to hear less about his sexual exploits set against soul-inspired beats (the album falls short of its ambitions) and more from his past efforts, especially 2006's Fishscale. Cocaine, not cunnilingus, inspired that one. With They Live!, Animal Farm, Cheezealeo. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$23 DOS. All ages. KEVIN CAPPPelican ~ Saturday, October 24Though a precursory loud-to-soft template had been well established by groups such as Isis and Neurosis when Pelican came along in 2003, the Chicago instrumental quartet nonetheless stands out for its distinct brand of melodic heaviness. Much like those metal innovators, Pelican makes expansive, brooding, long-winded music. But the similarities end there. For one thing, Pelican leans more toward the non-distorted, winding guitars made famous by its hometown's post-rock community (see Tortoise). More remarkable, though, Pelican sounds way natural in both modes, and its transitions between the two don't sound as forced as do those of the majority of the band's influences and peers. Bands on either side of the post-metal/post-rock divide tend to make ponderous, showy displays of their mood, but Pelican rolls through its music, sounding loose and carefree as it goes. Meanwhile, the band's refreshingly sincere, irony-free nods to classic rock help tie its sound together into a cohesive whole. Look for fresh material on the grand, just-out-of-the-oven album What We All Come to Need, sure to be a late-inning contender for the title of most absorbing start-to-finish heavy-rock album of the year. With Black Cobra, Sweet Cobra. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 5 p.m. $12 adv./$14 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIBlitzen Trapper ~ Sunday, October 25Blitzen Trapper's songs sound as if they were written 35 years ago—by Steve Miller, while he was living alone in a cabin in the woods, with a banjo his only friend. There's an enchanting, simple quality to the Portland band's music, but something absolutely weird about it too. The video for "Furr," the title track on the band's 2008 Sub Pop release, is a perfect example of this: Sepia-toned paper cutouts act out the story of a 17-year-old boy who runs away into the woods, becomes a wolf, and learns something about life in the process. Lead singer Eric Earley appears from time to time, earnestly crooning the chorus: "You can wear your fur/like a river on fire/but you better be sure/if you're making God a liar." The beauty of both the song and the video is that beneath all the imagery and metaphor, they feel honest and true. The stories in Blitzen Trapper's songs, like the murder mystery in "Black River Killer," might be fantasy, but they're not about escape—they're about finding meaning in reality. With Wye Oak. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $14 adv. PAIGE RICHMONDHelladope ~ Sunday, October 25Buoyed by MC/producer Tay Sean's hypnotic, whimsical production and MC Jerm's easy delivery, Beacon Hill's Helladope has emerged as one of local hip-hop's most original talents—on a trip that people like to call "interstellar" or "space-age." If this is an apt description of cuts like "Thee Trip," with THEE Satisfaction, and "This Is My Planet," with Jarv Dee, it's also true the duo has other things on its mind. "Out Here Doin' It," for example, featuring another inventive MC, GMK, finds Helladope pushing the outer limits not of the stratosphere, but of Southern hip-hop. It's a just-cruisin' jam that recalls early Outkast. In short: Tay and Jerm are not one-note wonders. With TC Izlam, Spaceman, Avatar. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. Free. KEVIN CAPPAmy Millan ~ Sunday, October 25Amy Millan has a résumé most musicians would kill for. The Toronto-bred indie-rock princess sings with the bands Stars and Broken Social Scene, and boasts a successful solo career as well. On her new album, Masters of the Burial, Millan steers clear of the punchy beats and synthesizers characteristic of her collaborative efforts, instead utilizing acoustic guitars and muted horns. The delivery is sweet and slow without ever being sluggish. Millan's sultry voice, much like that of her friend and colleague Cat Power, is ideal for mulling over brooding subjects like mortality and lost love, and her exquisite rendition of Death Cab for Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" gives Ben Gibbard a run for his money. With Bahamas. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. All ages. ERIKA HOBARTThe Sounds ~ Tuesday, October 27Swedish synth-poppers the Sounds first burst onto the scene in 2002, proclaiming themselves the vanguard of some sort of New Wave revival—in everything from the opening riffs of their hit single "Seven Days a Week" to lead singer Maja Ivarsson's CBGB-bleached-blonde, Blondie-redux style. The quintet's newest album, Crossing the Rubicon, shows a more serious Ivarsson, with more tattoos and less girlish chutzpah, but make no mistake, this is still a straight-up thumping dance record—the kind you're required to groove to when it plays at your friends' parties. Ivarsson's vocals still retain that punky '80s spirit, keyboards groove along in the background, and the songs are still plenty synth-happy and punctuated by claps. Live, Ivarsson is a force to be reckoned with—crowd-surfing, swearing, and fist-pumping all over the stage. And that's the type of thing the Sounds bank on: that such energy is infectious. With Semi Precious Weapons and Foxy Shazam. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $20 adv./$22 DOS. All ages. E. THOMPSON

 
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