The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Fruit Bats ~ Friday, January 22

Multi-instrumentalist Eric Johnson may have spent the past few years moonlighting as a member of the Shins, but right now for him it's all about The Ruminant Band, the album released last fall by Johnson's primary vehicle, the Fruit Bats. This new music is a marked step in a different direction from the Bats' standard indie-folk fare—and it's proven to be a fruitful transition. On one hand, the record's got enough jangly piano and down-home country sing-alongs to give it an Old West barroom feel, but at heart it's a superb '70s reference, enticingly reflective of those days of light hearts and free love. Johnson's vocals, in previous records so mellow and almost sleepy, are taking bigger and giddier jumps, and his piano sprinkles along with the genial melodies, softly interjected with hazy slide guitars. Neil Young could claim "Primitive Man" as his own and get away with it. You can practically see the hippies swaying along with it all. With Sonny Smith and Tu Fawning. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $15. E. THOMPSON

Narrows ~ Friday, January 22

Considering Botch's esteemed place in the hardcore canon, it's surprising that frontman Dave Verellen's subsequent project, Narrows, hasn't received more attention. They have a self-titled EP and one full-length under their belts, and most recently recorded two smashing new songs with sludge-savvy producer Chris Common. Verellen's signature full-throttle, pitch-perfect growl is up front as always, but the guitar work of Ryan Frederiksen (of recently disbanded These Arms Are Snakes) is particularly inspired, curving tightly around Verellen's vocals with a surprising degree of elegance. Those new tracks will take up one side of a forthcoming split 7" with another underappreciated act, Heiress, also in fighting shape thanks to the recent addition of fleet-fingered guitarist Josh Freer. With Constant Lovers, Countdown to Armageddon. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. All ages. HANNAH LEVIN

Pure Prairie League ~ Friday, January 22

There's a good reason why the first two Pure Prairie League albums aren't mentioned alongside country-rock standards like Grievous Angel and American Beauty. Shortly after the release of Pure Prairie League and Bustin' Out in 1972, chief composer Craig Fuller, a conscientious objector, was forced to leave the music biz and work in a VA hospital for the duration of the Vietnam War. Without its top talent at the helm, the band eventually descended into soft-rock hell. To this day, this is the stuff most folks remember. After several false starts, Fuller eventually rejoined the Prairies and released 2005's All in Good Time, the first album in more than 30 years to include music by Fuller. The production is a little too wedding-band at times. Oh, well. The tunes are just fantastic. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 8 p.m. $35 adv./$40 DOS. All ages. JUSTIN F. FARRAR

Supervillains ~ Friday, January 22

Orlando-based ska-funk act the Supervillains certainly aren't on a mission to raise any IQ points; in fact, the group's repeated pro-weed pronouncements make it quite clear they're in the business of bubbling off as many brain cells as possible. While the idea of post-Sublime skunk rock may be somewhat less than appealing to those who enjoy keeping their hipster radar on at all times, the Supervillains manage to front a rollicking, party-hearty atmosphere while dishing out some surprisingly intricate brass-flecked punk jams. Sure, they manage to, er, bluntly squeeze a reefer reference into nearly every song they play (when they're not getting stuck in juvenile raunch), but as sellout crowds across the Southeast will attest, these guys bring a ridiculously fun live show. With Mike Pinto, Dat Fiya, Rude Tuna, Camp10. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 286-1312. 7 p.m. 10 adv./$15 DOS. All ages. JASON FERGUSON

Adam Franklin & Bolts Of Melody ~ Saturday, January 23

Shoegaze bands can sometimes approach a standstill, dousing any momentum with noodling and effects. Not Swervedriver, who plowed ahead in a fashion befitting the British quartet's name. Despite settling into quieter, melancholy terrain since that band's '90s life span, frontman Adam Franklin has often returned to the idea of motion. Case in point: the name of his backing band, Bolts of Melody, and last year's Spent Bullets. Considered alongside 2008's Swervedriver reunion and his more cinematic output as Toshack Highway, Franklin is simply exploring another side of the dreamy textures and splintered pop he's loved all along. Without Swervedriver, of course, there wouldn't be bands like Deerhunter and A Place to Bury Strangers. In case you still doubt Franklin's place in the lineage of great psych rock, he may be kind enough to provide a loving cover of Syd Barrett's "See Emily Play" or Pet Sounds–era Beach Boys. With Black Nite Crash, Nightmare Air, Bronze Fawn. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 7 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLEN

Witchburn ~ Saturday, January 23

Witchburn only proves further what we already knew: Seattle is a big, gaping vortex for stoner rock, doom, and sludge. Sure, the group has released just a single EP to date, but it's a real keeper. Dreadlocked guitarist Mischa Kianne (who's hot and who apparently plays fiddle as well) unloads one gnarly riff after another. Jamie Nova, meanwhile, howls about the kind of positive things teens into cigarettes and skipping class need to hear, like taking control, not taking shit, and standing up for your rights. Though the group totally worships the Melvins, its sound is a little more Fu Manchu and Acid Kind—that is, a little more bar rock. Which is just fine by me. Watching beautiful women rock out while drinking beer is one of life's great joys. With NighTraiN, Secret Shoppers. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St. 324-8000. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$15 DOS. JUSTIN F. FARRAR

Har Mar Superstar ~ Sunday, January 24

At first you think it's just shtick. We get it—a fat, balding, completely unsexy white guy crooning lascivious, funky R&B while stripping down to his tighty-whities is funny. That much is undeniable. Then it sinks in: You're actually really digging it, maybe even kinda turned on. It's a bit like laughing at some fajita-stuffed beignet/double cheeseburger monstrosity on thisiswhyyourefat.com, then realizing that it's making you really, really hungry. Of course it's not your fault. Har Mar actually knows what he's doing, and he's pretty damn good at it. Underneath all that nasty is a talented songwriter and a damn decent voice. That's when you start wondering exactly what Har Mar intends for you to get out of his twisted striptease revue—at once a mocking send-up of some of the more ridiculous elements of modern R&B and a celebration of the more elemental ones, which makes Har Mar's relationship to his chosen medium a bit difficult. It's probably safe to say that he wouldn't do it without a deep affection for the music, but couldn't do it without the madness. It is his blessing, and it is his curse. Fortunately for his audience, both sides are enjoyable. With Team Gina. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$12 DOS. NICHOLAS HALL

Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard ~ Sunday, January 24

Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) met for the first time over drinks, the day before their first day in a recording studio to work on One Fast Move Or I'm Gone, the soundtrack to the documentary of the same name. Brought together by a mutual appreciation for Jack Kerouac, One Fast Move is the two artists' attempt at paying tribute to Kerouac's Big Sur, a novel about drying out in the midst of a storm brought about by fame. An unlikely pairing, Farrar and Gibbard have helped to update and redefine (for better or for worse) one of Kerouac's more vulnerable moments. Full of lyrics derived from Kerouac's work, One Fast Move manages to give Kerouac (long associated with beat culture and jazz) a new voice. With John Roderick of the Long Winters. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. All ages. SOLD OUT. GREG FRANKLIN

Julie Doiron ~ Monday, January 25

With her 2009 release I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day, Julie Doiron continues the sonic arithmetic she began in 2007 with Woke Myself Up. She once again joins former Eric's Trip bandmate Rick White for an amalgam of the low-key folk meanderings common to her earlier solo work and the up-tempo indie-rock numbers that recall her time as one of Canadian indie rock's leading ladies. As a folk artist, Doiron is understated and graceful, using simple song structures and unabashedly personal lyrics to complement her homey, familiar voice. When she indulges her inner rock star, she manages to do so without losing the charm and wit that shine through when it's just her and an acoustic guitar, always coupling them with the verve and hooky pleasure of electric guitar–driven indie pop. The combination's at once cozy, intimate, and thrillingly uplifting, making you want to curl up with a cup of tea and dance around the room in equal measure. With Bowerbirds. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. All ages. NICHOLAS HALL

Movits! ~ Tuesday, January 26

One of the more unlikely groups ever to drum up a cult following in the States, Movits! hails from a sub-Arctic city in northern Sweden, raps and sings in their native language, and fuses Benny Goodman–style swing with acoustic hip-hop. Though it seems odd on paper, the band's appeal lies in the quirky catchiness and international zest of its songs. Lo and behold, that ticklish combination caught the ear of Stephen Colbert, who invited the band on his show last July. A digital release of the debut album Äppelknyckarjazz followed on Comedy Central's label arm, peaking at #2 on the iTunes hip-hop chart. Decked out in suspenders and bow ties, the dapper Swedes are now touring behind the horn-hooked single "Ta på dig dansskorna," a worthy successor to their breakout "Fel del av gården." In the wake of such fluke exposure and YouTube-aided ascendance, anything is possible from here. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 8 p.m. $10. DOUG WALLEN

 
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