The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Evangelista ~ Wednesday, December 9One of the most important yet unsung women in rock 'n' roll, Carla Bozulich, is back with her umpteenth project, Evangelista, a masterful experiment in heavy, edgy wonder. Having proven herself as frontwoman for some of the most influential underground bands around—i.e., pioneering electro-noise combo Ethyl Meatplow, the twisted gothic twang of the Geraldine Fibbers, and her Northwest conceptual work as Scarnella—Bozulich has also taken on balls-of-steel solo projects like a song-for-song cover of Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger (to which Nelson himself contributed some vocals) and fostered collaborations with the likes of Mike Watt, Lydia Lunch, and Thurston Moore. By remaining fearless and unpredictable and never allowing herself to be pigeonholed, Bozulich is one of those rare working musicians who makes art for the sake of art—commercial viability be damned. With Thrones, Two Ton Boa, Resistor. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $10. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARGrave Babies ~ Thursday, December 10Everytime I gear up to hit Seattle, I put together a short list of the bands I've got to check out while I'm there. This week, a crazy, sinister little rock duo called Grave Babies has crept to the top of my list. Identifying themselves only as Evil Danny and Evil Tyler, these spooky dudes meld metal, punk, and edgy electro riffs into a beautiful mess of crazed darkness that makes your hands instantaneously form devil horns. One of those upstart bands you're always happy to stumble across on MySpace, Grave Babies perform twice this month with fantastically like-minded purveyors of hard noise, Arbitron. You can throw on your blackest T-shirt and catch them tonight at the Comet, or on Dec. 29 with me at the Funhouse. If you like them, keep an eye out for their debut Deathface online or soon at Sonic Boom. With Prison, Cat Band. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $6. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARMew ~ Thursday, December 10Denmark's Mew gives prog rock a good name—their 2005 release, And the Glass Handed Kite, a critical success, was atmospheric and moody in a beautifully spacey way. Despite its melancholy poem of a title, this year's No More Stories/Are Told Today/I'm Sorry/They Washed Away//No More Stories/The World Is Grey/I'm Tired/Let's Wash Away is actually brighter, lighter, and even more earnest than previous efforts. On "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy," frontman Jonas Bjerre accurately sings, "Don't you know sometimes/When it feels like someone put a hex on you?"—and the music that accompanies his words is in fact spellbinding. Backed by springy synths, clean dance beats, and the occasional hard-rock riff, songs like "Beach" and "Repeaterbeater" have a simplicity that makes them engaging—the songs are ardent but avoid being bombastic. Mew is definitely a band that takes itself very seriously—a fact that could be annoying if its songs weren't so huge and so cinematic. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $14 adv. E. THOMPSONJ. Tillman ~ Friday, December 11The musical sensibilities of the two Tillman brothers have one clear thing in common: an understanding of both silence and stillness. J. Tillman, both a guitar player and drummer (with Fleet Foxes), seldom clutters his songs with heavy instrumentation. Instead he just sort of croons in his deep, breathy voice, letting a small-sounding guitar or brushed drums play behind him. When he's not singing—in those seconds between lines, or even between words—he lets the sound fall away, creating pockets of quiet in his songs. But for all his folk influences, there's a subtle pop sensibility in the title track of this year's Year in the Kingdom. You can almost hear where a little more electric guitar and a tambourine would fit in—and you can tell J. Tillman chooses not to fill that space. Zach Tillman, the creative force behind Pearly Gate Music (opening the show), is like the Neutral Milk Hotel to his brother's Neil Young. His recorded songs jangle and shake at times, rounded out by sounds like whistling and hand-claps layered among his voice and instrumentation. He fills in the gaps where his brother wouldn't. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $10. PAIGE RICHMONDThe Dandy Warhols ~ Friday, December 11Chances are the last Dandy Warhols album you bought was Welcome to the Monkey House. Maybe you were surprised by it, especially if the only Dandy Warhols song you had really liked was "Bohemian Like You" on the earlier Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia. "Bohemian" is filled with Velvet Underground–style guitars and lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor's apathetic vocals, but Monkey House is less garage and way more synth-pop. Taylor-Taylor says, according to the band's Web site, that 2003's Monkey House did so poorly (the lone single, "We Used to Be Friends," failed to chart) and sounded so different because the band's label, Capitol, remixed the songs all on their own. Damn those major labels, right? So six years later Taylor-Taylor and crew have re-released the album, in the original mix by soul engineer Russell Elevado, as The Dandy Warhols Are Sound. But maybe Capitol was onto something: Monkey House was unique and experimental, but Sound is stripped down, all the electricity and energy removed; it sounds exactly like any other Warhols record. And if you haven't bought one in six years, you're not going to buy this one either. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $20. PAIGE RICHMONDMelt-Banana ~ Friday, December 11Rare is the band that can extend its reach over multiple genres with as much dexterity, originality, and charm as Melt-Banana. Any attempt to describe this Tokyo quartet in familiar terms inevitably falls short of doing justice to its body of work, to say nothing of the sheer, almost rapturous power of its live shows. If you've already seen Melt-Banana in person, words can only scratch the surface of what you already know. If you haven't, Melt-Banana plays an art-damaged, cartoonish variation of grindcore (that's, um, Napalm Death–ish speed metal to you), which it always manages to load with more texture, color, personality, and joy than should ever have been possible in music that goes by at such a blur. This feat seems all the more extraordinary when you consider that Melt-Banana has pushed well past the 15-year mark but continues to put fresher, more startling twists on its sound with each subsequent release. For its latest, Melt-Banana Lite Live: ver. 0.0, a three-piece, sample-based mutation of the band ventures further into the abstract than the band has yet gone—and as usual, emerges from the noise with highly compelling, delightfully listenable results. Both versions of the band will appear at this show. With Tera Melos. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison, 324-8005. 9 p.m. $12. SABY REYES-KULKARNIPierced Arrows ~ Friday, December 11It's true: Fred and Toody Cole are punk icons. The Portland married couple's first band, Dead Moon, known for its garage-meets-country-meets-punk sound, released 17 albums and was covered by Pearl Jam. It broke up in 2006, but didn't exactly die. It was reborn as Pierced Arrows, essentially Dead Moon Redux. (There's a different drummer, but the Coles are still front and center.) Maybe Pierced Arrows is a little more garage and a little less punk, but no one except diehard Dead Moon fans will notice. But maybe it doesn't matter if the Coles are rehashing old ground, when they're the only ones doing it well these days. There just aren't that many true punk bands left, so the Coles are charged with keeping the dream—and the sound—alive. With Cripples, the Chemicals, Thee Headliners, Don't. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9 p.m. $8. PAIGE RICHMONDZero 7 ~ Saturday, December 12Losing longtime vocal collaborator Sia must have forced Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker of Zero 7 to reformulate their music. While they've spent their career employing guest singers for their trip-hop songs, it was really Sia's raw and emotive vocals that put Zero 7's opulent music on the map. For this year's Yeah Ghost, Binns and Hardaker brought in British-Zimbabwean powerhouse Eska Mtungwazi; while Zero 7's familiar sound has always mixed sleepy and sexy, Mtungwazi brings the new songs a crackling energy. Yeah Ghost focuses heavily on the rhythm section, with tight drumbeats and steady bass lines, and Mtungwazi's flexible vocals bounce right along with the melodies. Still, the record's greatest success is the single "Everything Up (Zizou)," with Binns himself jubilantly singing "Yes we can, imagine it if you can." In the past, Binns has expressed a reluctance to sing, but his sweet voice lends a certain ease to the warm sound that made Zero 7 such a wonder in the first place. With Phantogram. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$23 DOS. E. THOMPSONBob Schneider ~ Sunday, December 13Bob Schneider is living disproof of the old aphorism "You can't polish a turd." Not, of course, that Schneider himself is a turd; I'm referring to Schneider's tangential relationship to the adult-alternative genre, that cookie-cutter schlock that so plagues the airwaves and whose just-gruff-enough pretty-boy singer/songwriters provide steamy fantasy fodder for top-40-listening 30-somethings across America. You see, Schneider takes the framework of adult alternative and imbues it with life, conflict, and a sense of quality craftsmanship that defies the genre's standards but bears enough surface similarity to it to have infiltrated its listenership. Call Schneider a musical guerrilla-saboteur. His tweaking is gentle yet insistent, using many of the same tropes as his genre-mates but substituting clever, insightful lyrics for trite Hallmark-level sentiments and quirky, well-conceived melodies for reductionist pop songcraft. He's kind of like an outsider artist on the inside. From that position, Schneider plies his trade admirably, adding a mix of eclectic and well-constructed tunes to the body of fluff it both recalls and leaves behind. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $20. NICHOLAS HALLEl Vez ~ Monday, December 14It's never quite Christmas without a run-in with El Vez, the self-billed "Mexican Elvis." All wry gimmicks and sly puns, the bilingual troubadour has been repurposing classic music for his cartoonish persona since the '90s. His mutant covers work as more than novelties, though, perhaps because they're bolstered with such affection. In El Vez's hands, "Suspicious Minds" becomes an immigration anthem set at the Mexican border on Christmas Eve, while "Woolly Bully" and T. Rex's "20th Century Boy" are downright re-ignited. If his records—mainly released on Sympathy for the Record Industry and more recently his own Graciasland imprint—are good cheeky fun, his live show is a sweaty romp that's part rockabilly revelry and part stand-up comedy. Oh, and he's got his own backup singers, the Elvettes. This being the holidays, expect such treasures as "Santa Claus Is Sometimes Brown," "Brown Christmas," and of course "Feliz Navidad." With Los Straightjackets and King of Hawaii. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $17 adv./$20 DOS. DOUG WALLEN

 
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