The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Hockey ~ Wednesday, January 13

Portland's Hockey is already a huge hit in the UK, and it probably won't be long before we follow suit over here. The quartet's music might be considered something of a cross between the Talking Heads and the Strokes, with its jumpy rhythms and singer Benjamin Grubin's mumbly, Casablancas-esque vocals. It's really too easy to see the appeal here—the exuberant groove of "Learn to Lose" and the irresistibly sexy shuffle of "Work" are seriously catchy, and kinda psychedelic and soulful enough to keep the hipsters happy. Hockey's already been billed as a New Wave revivalist band—and in a consciously self-aware spirit, tracks like "Too Fake" poke fun at the very sheen of cool that the song's pulsing beat exudes ("I've got too much soul for the world"), while "Song Away" name-checks Roxy Music and goes so far as to claim "I like to let you know I'll always be straight with you." It's all meta as fuck, but since these beats sound as good as they do, we'll bite. With Asa Ransom. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $9. All ages. E. THOMPSON

Blunt Mechanic ~ Friday, January 15

After prolific Portland act Kind of Like Spitting called it quits in 2006, frontman Ben Barnett began spending the majority of his time as the Music Director of the Paul Green School of Rock. For Barnett to take nearly four years between releasing an album—any album at all—must've been a serious shock to all the Kind of Like Spitting fans accustomed to the band's constant flow of releases. Happily, Barnett's back with a new band, Blunt Mechanic, and the band's first official effort, World Record, is uncharacteristically uplifting, which suggests that Barnett has come to terms with a few things and laid his penchant for pathos to rest along with his former band. World Record contains all the rough-hewn charm we've come to expect from Barnett, complete with the occasional burst of static. In other words, it sounds more or less like Kind of Like Spitting on Zoloft. With Mal de Mer. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. SARA BRICKNER

Jaguar Love ~ Friday, January 15

It's been some years since the whole post-hardcore/screamo thing died (Thursday? Taking Back Sunday? How quickly we forget... ), so it's nice to see Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato of Jaguar Love moving in a different direction. After exchanging third member J. Clark for a drum machine last year, the duo will release their second full-length this spring, an album promised to be less Blood Brothers, more Daft Punk and New Order. And if "Up All Night," the new track that hit the Web last fall, is any indicator, it's going to be one snappy record. It's a relentless song, intro'd by a squealing synth and completely dominated by Whitney's trademark shrieking, glass-threatening vocals—but there's more of a sense of control at work here, from the purposely agitating bridge to the way Votolato's sputtering guitar licks perfectly reinforce the melody's easy groove. Factor in the relevant lyrics—"We stayed up all night with 40s in our hands/Watching Paris burn and bombs fall on Afghanistan"—and it looks like we've got a new favorite party anthem. With Slender Means, Nazca Lines, and Blood Cells. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $6 adv./$9 DOS. E. THOMPSON

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band ~ Friday, January 15

Lyle Lovett has, for more than a decade, worked in a format he dubbed "Lyle Lovett and His Large Band," in which he performs brassy country music with a coterie of 15 or more musicians. The Indiana outfit known as Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band similarly takes a bit of license with the implications of their moniker, but in a decidedly more ironic way; no matter how you count, three people does not a big band make. But a big racket does, nonetheless, issue from the guitar-playing Reverend, his wife (who plays, uh, washboard), and his drummer brother. Their raw, hard-driving country blues is a far cry from anyone's expectations of a big band, but just as labelmates and patrons Flogging Molly have transcended Irish punk rock beyond Boston bars, the Peytons gleefully bash out numbers like "Wal-Mart Killed the Country Store" in a way that's both steeped in tradition and appropriate for this New Depression. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. JASON FERGUSON

Grudge Rock ~ Saturday, January 16

Grudge Rock defies the notion that battles of the bands invariably suck. In most instances, the term conjures a sad image of a bunch of horrible-to-mediocre bands for whom winning a cheesy contest is likely the highest level of acclaim they can hope to achieve. Here, two established bands attempt to win the crowd's affection in a Family Feud–style game-show contest. The winner gets the door money; the loser gets "cool prizes," which is better than nothing. This edition features synth surfers Head Like a Kite going head-to-head against the lo-fi pop buoyancy of BOAT. It'll be a close one, but no matter who comes out on top, it's safe to say that everyone will get to leave feeling like a winner. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $10 adv. SARA BRICKNER

Mandomorphosis ~ Saturday, January 16

Pop music has relegated the mandolin to sideshow status, an accompaniment for the likes of R.E.M. and Counting Crows, while alt-country and No Depression types give it more measured treatment. But MandoMorphosis, seven mandolins strong, shoves the instrument out front and center. Far from self-indulgent, MandoMorphosis' self-titled record (celebrated tonight) is far more melodic and controlled than a seven-member mandolin ensemble has any right to be. (It helps that the players double on instruments like violin and dobro.) There's a vocal quality to the lead parts, and each track on the 60-minute–plus album feels like a different scene from a suspense film. Tension builds and breaks, and on "A Minor Squabble," it's pretty clear that both parties go home a bit bruised. Empty Sea Studios, 6300 Phinney Ave., 8 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. CHRIS KORNELIS

Le Sang Song ~ Sunday, January 17

Le Sang Song is the solo guise of Seattle's Craig Chambers, who also fronts the noise-garage duo Love Tan and the more brittle trio the Lights. Although Chambers recorded his project's self-titled debut in 2007, it's only now seeing official release—thanks to the decade-old local label Dragnet, resurrected for this occasion. Limited to a vinyl pressing of 660, the album will hopefully find a curious audience via online word of mouth. Le Sang Song recalls early Smog in the best ways, tapping into something cryptic and insular on "Ring Ring" and "Gingerella." "Hot Reggae" melds a gurgling beat and repeated guitar riff, while "War" is more old-soul folk, underscored by a lonesome violin and whistling. Buttressed by Climax Golden Twins, this record-release show features Le Sang Song's live incarnation, a quartet with Love Tan drummer Matthew Ford, Dragnet head Min Yee (of A Frames fame), and Chambers' wife, Adria Garcia. May it provide the crucial first push this jittery, unique album deserves. With Climax Golden Twins. Jewelbox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 10 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLEN

Al Kooper ~ Tuesday, January 19

Al Kooper is revered for a lot of things. Among them, cooking up the instantly legendary organ howl on "Like a Rolling Stone," serving time in the mighty Blues Project, co-founding Blood, Sweat & Tears, and penning the oldies nugget "This Diamond Ring." My personal fave has got to be the blistering Super Session. Conceived by Kooper and guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, this album is one of the foundations of sweat-stained hard rock, right up there with the best of Cream and Hendrix. For all his accomplishments in the 1960s, more than a few critics feel Kooper's two most recent albums, Black Coffee and White Chocolate, are the very best of his career—exploratory fusions of blue-eyed soul, uptown blues, round-midnight jazz, country, and vintage rock & roll. There's really no stopping the guy, is there? Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $25. All ages. JUSTIN F. FARRAR

Nana Grizol ~ Tuesday, January 19

Charm can get one a long way, and Nana Grizol carries it for miles on its sophomore effort, this month's Ruth.While the charm of NG's debut, Love It Love It, came channeled through a raw immediacy bordering on amateurism, this time it's a bit more suave. Fuzzy guitars and simplistic melodies are still somewhat prevalent, but find a medium poised between eagerness and polish. The enthusiasm of the debut record still shines through Ruth, but it's as if this is the second, measured breath that comes after that first headlong downhill sprint. The new poise gives the band a chance to flesh out its arrangements a bit more, in particular to create a space for the horns and "non-rock" instrumentation to truly shine—and to sound more like proper elements of the music, rather than like something carelessly if effectively attached because "hey, we know some horn players who are pretty good." Of course, it doesn't hurt that those horns come courtesy of former Elephant 6ers Laura Carter and Robbie Cucchiaro, whose time with Neutral Milk Hotel left them with very particular ideas about how to cultivate band-geekism into full-fledged rock cred.Ruth doesn't treat that strength as a crutch, though, instead allowing the arrangements to grow and swell around and with the instrumentation, rather than being merely a vehicle for it. With the Max Levine Ensemble, iji, A MIllion Years. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $6. NICHOLAS HALL

 
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