The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

The Fiery Furnaces ~ Wednesday, November 18The Fiery Furnaces can't seem to decide what kind of band it wants to be. From the beginning, its sound has been informed by the simple and evocative melodies of finely crafted pop songs, but the band also has a penchant for playing with the basics, taking a straightforward tune and sending it skittering in a thousand directions at once. The tug of war between the band's classicist inclinations and experimental aspirations is a constant, but on the most recent several releases, it seems the mad scientists have been winning. This past summer's I'm Going Away pulls the band in the other direction. If the Fiery Furnaces needed proof that it hasn't gone too far afield, this album is certainly it; it's focused on simplicity and the perfection of form. Fortunately, the Friedberger siblings couldn't completely eliminate the quirkiness that so typifies even their most straightforward efforts. Melodies occasionally turn serpentine, form studies turn in on themselves, and stabs of jazzy mayhem punctuate the overall soft sound. With Cryptacize, Dent May. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $15. All ages. NICHOLAS HALLRussian Circles ~ Wednesday, November 18A bit like fellow Chicagoans Pelican, the instrumental trio Russian Circles simultaneously draws from two traditions: the post-rock of Slint, Polvo, Mogwai, et al., with all the attendant knottiness, dynamics, and unorthodox melodies and structures; and the progressive metal of Tool, Neurosis, and Isis, who offer heaviness and crunch, though often in atmospheric, experimental ways. Formed nearly five years ago, Russian Circles play with the tightness, awareness, and nuance of a band that's been together three times as long. As exhilarating and epic a live rock act as you'll see, they'll dazzle you with beautiful passages and wallop you with doomy ones—often within the same song. Oh, and if that bassist looks familiar, that's because it's Brian Cook of These Arms Are Snakes and Botch fame. Bottom line: If you ever fell hard for Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky, or Mono, and yet secretly wished they were just a tad heavier, you will not want to miss Russian Circles. With Young Widows, Helms Alee. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12 adv. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGReptet ~ Thursday, November 19On its 7" vinyl debut, Agendacide, Seattle jazz ensemble Reptet enlists two of the genre's most underrated virtues: brevity and tuba. Sure, brevity is a given on seven inches, but it's worth noting that Reptet is putting its best foot forward with Agendacide, a record that teases at a poppier, more accessible Critters Buggin' before revealing itself as a smoother orchestra equipped with lush sax solos that give way to coordinated hysteria on all fronts. But in just 12 minutes, Agendacide doesn't give Reptet away, leaving enough to the imagination to make this record-release show something worth anticipating, not predicting. With Orkestar Zirkonium, DJ Derek Mazzone. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. CHRIS KORNELISThunderheist ~ Thursday, November 19Happy accidents have been the origin of some of the world's greatest recipes, discoveries, and a majority of its siblings. In what could have been the greatest of uh-oh moments, a mis-shared computer file, Canadian electro-hop duo Thunderheist were born. Best known for their track "Jerk It" (featured in The Wrestler) and a video (produced by Seattle team That-Go) that won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW '09, producer Grahm Zilla and MC Isis began their collaboration via the Internet: She accidentally received an incomplete mp3 of a Zilla track and rhymed over it, making musical magic. The act's self-titled debut is chock-full of infectious dance grooves, clever rhymes, and a smart, party vibe that can turn your boring shindig into an off-the-hook freak fest with just one press of the play button. Catch them while they're still flirting with the underground. With Winter Gloves, DJ Colby B. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $10. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARBuilt to Spill ~ Thursday, November 19 and Friday, November 20Like all great bands, you know Built to Spill within seconds of hearing them. The great Idaho concern creates music as sprawling, soaring, and wonky as the Western U.S. territory they call home. Their latest album, There Is No Enemy, offers some of their most muscular and anthemic work balanced with some truly lovely balladry. "Aisle 13" shoots for the sky much as "The Plan" did on Keep It Like a Secret, with Doug Martsch's aimless guitar solo lagging perfectly behind the beat (Martsch is a master of I'll-get-there-when-I-get-there detachment). Overall, they sound familiar and well-worn—a good thing when it comes to Built to Spill. After all, since Martsch & Co. practically invented their own musical language for the modern West, they have every right to keep speaking it. With Disco Doom, Finn Riggins. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. [Friday's show is sold out.] BRIAN J. BARRLovvers ~ Friday, November 20Kept primitive and aggressively lo-fi, songs often hover around the two-minute mark on Lovvers' new album OCD Go Go Go Girls. The English quartet may be signed to Wichita, home of the Cribs and Bloc Party, but such bratty nuggets point to the recent proto-punk revival. They can sound a bit like Jay Reatard, only with hooks—and there are some killer hooks—and Shaun Hencher's sloppy shouts utterly buried. With songs so short and similar, the album blurs into a there-and-gone haze. The almost-title-track "OCD Go Go Girls" is the standout, the lead single, and also the longest track at 3:47. Elsewhere there's the titular Minutemen ode of the laid-back instrumental "D. Boon" and the shambling slow burn of "Golden Bars Blue." Lovvers can seem like they're trying too hard to not try at all, but it's about time some Brits answered Times New Viking and Wavves. With The Intelligence, Past Lives, Crime Wave. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLENMt. Fuji Records Showcase ~ Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21You know your little label is doing OK for itself when you need two nights to showcase all its talent. Former Cop (as in "the Cops") and Mt. Fuji label head Mike Jaworski has successfully carved a niche for his once-humble label by signing great Northwest bands, from the moody alt-country stylings of the Maldives to the sexy, sweet punk of the Whore Moans to Portland act Point Juncture, WA's bright synth-pop. They may vary in genre, but the members of Mt. Fuji's roster are similarly matched in talent and edge. Finally, while the Cops are no more, Mike Jaworski's new Cops-ish band, Virgin Islands, will unveil their EP in conjunction with this evening's festivities. Also featured is label newbie Spiral Stairs (aka Scott Kannberg), formerly a member of a little band you may have heard of called Pavement. Friday: Spiral Stairs, Weinland, Maldives, and Point Juncture, WA. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $10. Saturday: Virgin Islands, Whore Moans, Black Whales and Mr. Gnome. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $8. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARLevi Fuller (CD release) ~ Saturday, November 21Those savvy enough to pick up each edition of Ball of Wax, Levi Fuller's quarterly compilation albums, already know that in addition to having excellent taste, Fuller is a member of the fabulous Seattle alt-country band Pufferfish (who will be performing tonight) and a talented and astoundingly prolific songwriter on his own. His solo offerings have matured with each release, and his latest, Colossal, is a striking collection of minimalist acoustic songs. Fuller arranges his instrumentals carefully, doing a lot with a little—say, a cello and an acoustic guitar—and making it fill up an uncommonly large space. Which is why Colossal is such a perfect name for this album: In its modest instrumentation, it captures an emotional resonance as full as a symphony orchestra's. With Emiko Blalock. Conor Byrne, 5140 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-3640. 9 p.m. $7. SARA BRICKNERThose Darlins ~ Saturday, November 21Mainstream country music stars reality-show blondes with streaky highlights and shrieky voices overemoting through ballads so leaden and unimaginative they sound more like hair bands than hillbillies. Gin-you-wine country music isn't dead, though; it's just been holed up in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where Jessi, Nikki, and Kelley Darlin—sisters in stage names, if not blues-roots kinship—have resurrected its rockabilly twang and sass with their raucous, self-titled first album. Lead singer Kelley's powerful contralto conjures Patsy Cline—but a post-millennial Patsy, with elements of Patti Smith and Patty Smyth. On barn-raising ditties like "Wild One," in which the Darlins tease in three-part harmony, "If you can't handle crazy, go ahead and leave," you hear proof that country music hasn't gone anywhere. With King Khan and BBQ Show. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 9 p.m. $12. ROSE MARTELLIJulian Casablancas ~ Sunday, November 22Part of Julian Casablancas' reputation as the Strokes' frontman has always been his bratty nonchalance—it's something of a surprise, then, to discover that his solo album, Phrazes for the Young, is fairly surging with exuberance. Phrazes' songs are brassy and confident in ways that the Strokes' more recent efforts were not; eschewing the dirty garage-rock sound that made Casablancas famous, the record's first single, "11th Dimension" is hook-happy and synth-heavy, effusive and delightful. Amid the music's polished texture, Casablancas' trademark sleepy croon even sounds newly energized—his voice has a vivre we rarely heard on any Strokes record. Phrazes is no one-trick pony of flashy electronic beats, though; "Ludlow St.," an ode to nights out on the Lower East Side, features banjo solos, and indeed sounds like a sloshy tune you'd belt out with your drinking buddies at the neighborhood tavern. "River of Brakelights" then switches to tripping drum machines and weird little synth-riffs—the song longingly trills, "Waving goodbye, your young heart cries for you"—but in Casablancas' case, maturation has only brought good things. [See interview.] With the Strange Boys and Rainbow Arabia. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $20 adv./$22 DOS. All ages. E. THOMPSONFolklife CD release ~ Sunday, November 22Because of the Northwest Folklife Festival's unfortunate timing—Memorial Day weekend, just like another certain Washington music festival at which Pavement will headline in 2010—it's safe to say that a large portion of Seattle's music-loving populace regularly misses out on one of its best music events. Fortunately, there's a way you can catch up on some of what you missed—get yourself a copy of Folklife's new compilation album, Live From the 2009 Festival, 13 recordings of live performances. Zoe Muth, a talented country songwriter with an Emmylou-esque voice and a knack for composing stellar, deceptively simple songs, is on it, as well as Amateur Radio Operator, an incredible Seattle alt-country band whose moment in the spotlight is long overdue. One of Folklife's best assets is its ability to bring unsung Seattle talent out of the woodwork, and if you can't make the festival, you'll at least want to capitalize on the festival organizers' expertise at this release show, where a smattering of Folklife vets will be strutting (and strumming) their stuff. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 7 p.m. $8. SARA BRICKNERStryper ~ Sunday, November 22Mark Driscoll, controversial cool-guy pastor of Mars Hill Church, plays guitar. Pretty hip, right? But how many of you Mars Hill-ian youngsters out there know about Stryper, the wildly popular Christian hard-rock band from the '80s? Like Driscoll, Stryper looked and sounded like the era's secular favorites, but preached a message of salvation. Truly ahead of their time, they threw copies of the New Testament to the audience and embraced "777" as their trademark in opposition to metal's ubiquitous "Number of the Beast." They sang lyrics such as "Speak of the devil/He's no friend of mine" and referenced Isaiah 53:5 in their name and on their album covers. Having disbanded in the '90s, they're back celebrating their 25th anniversary with not only a tour, but a brand new album, Murder by Pride. Thank you, Holy Spirit! With Flight Patterns, Manic Drive. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. BRIAN J. BARRThe Hidden Cameras ~ Monday, July 23Playing a sort of loping, ecstatic folk-pop, Toronto's Hidden Cameras have always resisted firm contours. They're unpredictable as a rule, with leader Joel Gibb the constant in a shifting lineup that can swell to great numbers. The band's fifth album, Origin:Orphan, begins with a long wash of ambience; Gibb's voice finally enters to mingle with a weirdly tuned violin, suspenseful percussion, and yelps escaping from the backdrop. It's a grand announcement of ambition, not that the Hidden Cameras were ever slackers. Yet that unwieldy first song gives way to the jumpy, synth-dipped "In the NA," an effortless single in line with such previous triumphs as "Ban Marriage," "I Believe in the Good of Life," and "Awoo." Sex and religion have long competed for attention in Gibb's lyrics, and parts of "Kingdom Come" and "He Falls to Me" aren't easy to assign to one realm or the other. But this album seems more about coalescing sounds than words, and that often translates to a prolonged head rush. With Gentleman Reg. The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $15 adv./ $18 DOS. All ages. DOUG WALLENThe Books ~ Tuesday, November 24The Books has kept active over the past four years—touring and releasing a DVD as well as composing elevator music for France's Ministry of Culture—but is taking its sweet time making a new album. The follow-up to 2005's Lost and Safe is said to be nearly finished, and the process has been understandably laborious—Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong famously take recycling to a whole new level by combing thrift stores for discarded cassettes to be culled and sampled in their music (all of which is mixed and mastered on their home PCs). Live performances are synched with a backdrop of videotape projections, which are of course more secondhand finds. The Books' music is thus less a collection of songs and more a group of adventurous, overarching sound-and-speech collages, structured with mellifluous cello and guitar. Zammuto's vocals may have to share face time with speech clips of Einstein and Auden, but are enticingly silky when they do appear. The combination of all these effects is euphonic and truly otherworldly—it's the music you hear in your dreams. The Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7 (all ages) & 9:30 p.m. $15. E. THOMPSONMunicipal Waste ~ Tuesday, November 24Of all the bands currently riding the "New Wave of Thrash Revival"—Warbringer, Bonded by Blood, Evile, and others—Virginia Beach's Municipal Waste is not only the best but the most broadly popular. And it's easy to understand why; beyond the chunky, metronomic efficiency of guitarist Ryan Waste's riffs and Tony Foresta's in-your-face crossover vocals, Municipal Waste boasts a wide-ranging and authentic grasp on the past two decades of hardcore and metal, and puts all that's good about them into recordings and performances. Take for example the band's tour mates: legendary SoCal crustcore punks Phobia, legendary Seattle crossover thrashers The Accused, and Canadian power-metal revivalists Cauldron (who, swear to God, have a song called "Chained Up in Chains" that they introduce with "This is about your girlfriend"...honestly, I'm not sure they're not a performance-art act, they're so awesome). Each of those bands plays into their niches beautifully; Municipal Waste plays into all of them...drunkenly. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. All ages. JASON FERGUSON

 
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