The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Talbot TagoraWednesday, December 23The problem with covering someone else's song—in this case, Talbot Tagora's superbly murky, sexed-up cover of Elastica's '90s staple "Connection"—is that its familiarity will inspire in your audiences a wave of either sticky, warm nostalgia or irrational ire with the potential to overshadow your own songs, no matter how killer they are. Talbot Tagora, whose members call the band a "three-person project from Seattle who create and produce art and nonfiction" combat this problem on their latest release, Lessons in the Woods or a City, by creating complex and unpredictable art rock full of growling sludge that makes like a hybrid of Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, and some of K Records' weirder artists. With Cold Lake, Naomi Punk, Eel Easter. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7 p.m. $6. All ages. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARThe CornerFriday, December 25By now, anyone who pays attention to hip-hop in Seattle knows about The Corner, a monthly showcase organized by Oldominion MC Candidt that combines well-established local talent with relative unknowns. The show takes place on the last Friday of every month, which this month happens to be Christmas. Most organizers would cancel or reschedule, but instead Candidt's lined up a roster at least as good as his non-holiday shows, offering a welcome escape from Yahtzee and A Christmas Carol with the fam. You should recognize Khingz, an MC who's established himself as one of Seattle's foremost rhyme-slingers, and it's likely that you've encountered Beacon Hill dweller Orbitron. But you'll also want to check out Jarv Dee, a skilled MC who's also a member of the B.A.Y.B. crew, and Cloud Nice, a South Seattle artists' collective that counts Helladope among its members. Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without a cameo from Mr. Claus, who we can only hope will have enough energy after dropping off all those toys to get up and show off his mad skills on the mike. With DJ Nanino. Jewelbox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 10 p.m. $5. SARA BRICKNERDan InfectoSaturday, December 26To me, accomplished Seattle bassist and vocalist Dan Infecto has always merely been half of the dark, rumbling alt-metal duo Me Infecto, a great band that's been lumbering around these parts on and off for years. But as it turns out, he's much, much more. Recently he's been playing upright bass with local country-punks Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies; now he's put together his own outfit (under the Dan Infecto moniker) in a somewhat similar country vein, but even more stripped-down and old-timey—typically consisting of Dan's deep, gritty voice and acoustic-guitar strums, accompanied now and then by organ, a bit of electric guitar, and rudimentary percussion in a manner that occasionally nods to vintage Johnny Cash. It might not be as loud as Me Infecto, but it can be just as heavy. With Bob Wayne & the Outlaw Carnies, the Shivering Denizens. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 9 p.m. $8. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGPufferfishSaturday, December 26Sure, Pufferfish's second full-length, Swell, is chock-full of banjo solos and lively traveling songs that command a dose of cheer. But the record's most striking track is its saddest: "Wrecking Ball"'s mournful refrain, "I am gone, I am gone," resonates with emotional weight, and that heavy feeling makes it one of the best alt-country songs released by a Seattle artist this year. So far, Pufferfish has swum pretty well under the radar, and the unfortunate timing of this album's release may mean that it'll take a while for Swell's simple beauty to sink in. Yet there's no doubt it should. Jonah Baker's voice shares elements of its timbre with Jay Farrar's, giving Pufferfish the potential to appeal to alt-country devotees everywhere—not just the plaid-shirted urban cowpeople milling around Ballard Avenue. With Star Anna, Kristen Ward. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $7. SARA BRICKNERSpace CretinsSaturday, December 26Black leather jackets, shades, and blistering riffs go a long way, as any Guitar Wolf fan knows all too well. The heartfelt locals of Space Cretins boast these three in spades, as well as a directive to play "big dumb rock" without overthinking things. There's no danger of that in the band's curt, strapping anthems, which lift goofy themes from science fiction, comic books, and glam rock but don't disguise a lust for the one-note thrill of the Ramones or classic KISS. In Space Cretins' ludicrous world, a song called "Guantanamo Bay" is simply a vehicle for the roughriding chorus "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, baby." Risen from the ashes of frontman Paul "Ace Diamond" Blow's glam-damaged Ace Diamond Bimbos, this quartet of grizzled rock survivors should survive for years. With Indecisive Rhythm, Baby Gramps. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9 p.m. $7. DOUG WALLENJoshua MorrisonSunday, December 27I have to imagine that being in the military keeps you pretty busy, what with drilling and training and being shipped off to the Middle East every now and then. It's nothing short of miraculous, then, that U.S. Army soldier Joshua Morrison funnels all his spare time into another energy-consuming project—writing and recording some truly beautiful and evocative lo-fi music. Morrison's songs, gentle melodies carefully picked out on acoustic guitar and sung in whisper-soft vocals, have an aura of precision about them that demands they be taken seriously. Encouragingly, his music lacks overtones of aggression or bitterness or any other emotion stereotypically linked with military men; it focuses on the dichotomy between Morrison's dual careers rather than attempting to meld the two. Listening to Morrison's music, particularly in a live setting, thus offers a unique perspective into a man's endeavor to confront his worldly fears and carve out concurrent lives of service and artistry. With Cataldo and Jennifer Hopper. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. E. THOMPSONSquirrel Nut ZippersMonday, December 28There's retro and then there's retro. The re-emergence of mid-'90s alternative bands is of course natural, as a generation who thought they'd be forever post-adolescent is now bumping up against their 40s. But a mid-'90s alternative band re-emerging with music that, even when new, nodded toward prewar swing . . . well, that's a whole different degree of meta-reflection. But what's even weirder about Squirrel Nut Zippers' return is how absolutely timely their sound is now. The band always was about reconfiguring folk music—blues, jazz, klezmer, etc.—but now, mellowed by a half-decade of activity, those strains come together in a much more cohesive and fluid way that will be right at home on KEXP's playlists. SNZ's recent live album, Lost at Sea, is a pretty good indication of where the group's at these days; you'd be well-advised to leave the flapper dress at home. With Steve Soto & the Twisted Hearts. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7 (all ages) & 10 p.m. $28 adv./$30 DOS. JASON FERGUSONWinter WonderfuckMonday, December 28This showcase is a chilly homage to Seattle's varied flavors of rock. Henry Boy brings the pop to the party. The 79ers are a patchwork act boasting members of The Enemy, The Dynette Set, and The Frazz. The excellently executed (and named) Spooges—a Stooges cover band consisting of Rob Morgan and local luminaries the Fags (whose bio claims they're only one or two degrees of separation from every even vaguely influential Seattle band of the past 25 years)—promise to be "no fun." Glam-punk headliners the Girls call this a reunion show. But considering they've been around forever and have an incalculable number of ex-members—a few of whom are, shall we say, disgruntled?—an actual "reunion" could take at least six or seven hours and involve two or three fistfights, making the "wonderfuck" part of the evening worth showing up for by itself. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 8 p.m. $6. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARJello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of MedicineTuesday, December 29Jello Biafra knows you're a fucking phony. Possessed by possessions, slave to your laptop, worshipper of shitty indie-pop bands (as he says in "Dot Com Monte Carlo"), he sees you as you truly are: wrapped in a cocoon of blind consumerism, sipping a latte in complete complacency as the atrocities of the world pass you by. He wants to recruit you anyway, and he's going to scream and shake his naked, middle-aged belly in your face 'til it happens. The Audacity of Hype, Biafra's latest effort with the Guantanamo School of Medicine, is a rallying cry that wants to rip you out of that cocoon and turn you into a free-thinking butterfly with anarchy emblazoned on your wings. "We stopped Vietnam/Got civil rights and New Deals/'Cause we kept a blowtorch up their ass/All that stands in the way/Of more wars and Abu Ghraibs/Ain't Messiahs/It is us," he rages on "I Won't Give Up." Here's hoping he doesn't, because these days we need Jello more than ever. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $17 adv. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARNoah Gundersen and the CourageTuesday, December 29At a certain age, agonizing over the existence of God and the purpose of life is pretty universally routine—and if you're there, you might as well make something of it. That seems to be the tactic of Centralia's Noah Gundersen, whose acoustic music is both stark and soulful; his favored lyrical topics include categories of sin and staving off the devil. And at 20, his songwriting shows him to actually be incredibly in touch with heavy feelings of solitude and sorrow in a way that recalls a nascent Rocky Votolato. Gundersen also happens to be a strikingly talented musician, with a gravelly, affecting voice frequently offset by pretty vocal harmonies from his sister Abby. On "Moss on a Rolling Stone," from his 2009 EP Saints and Liars, Gundersen best displays his spirit and boldness addressing life's weightiest issues, as he sings "I believe God is a bigger man than me/But sometimes I think that I can fight him." Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages. E. THOMPSON

 
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