The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

The Fall of Troy / Wednesday, March 31

After nine years and four full-length albums—not to mention a level of commercial success that saw their songs featured in Guitar Hero and the soundtracks of other video games—the Mukilteo-based mathcore trio is calling it quits. Though there's no big explosion and no plan to stop making music, their "Marked Men of 2010" tour is also a celebratory farewell for the still-young bandmates. And while they're touring on their most recent release In the Unlikely Event, it's really a catalogue stretching back to their debut material recorded when the guys were in high school. The band's technical rhythms and exhilarating guitar riffs layer with front man Thomas Erak's powerful vocals and penetrating shrieks for a hardcore experience enjoyable even to those who run from any genre with the suffix -core. With Envy on the Coast, Twin Atlantic. El Corazón, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 262-0482. 7 p.m. $13. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

John Mayer / Wednesday, March 31

John Mayer recently gave Playboy a salacious interview wherein he asserted, among other things, "My dick is sort of like a white supremacist," and casually dropped the n-bomb when asked whether he had a "hood pass." The public fallout from the interview thoroughly ridiculed Mayer and his eager, awkward grappling with his own celebrity. Because as much as he may fancy himself a rock star, Mayer's strength lies in acknowledging and indulging his delicate insecurity and soft-pop appeal. His latest album, Battle Studies, full of emotive ditties about regrets and heartaches, is exactly what fans adore about him, and showcases the vulnerability it seems he's attempting to escape. Mayer is an exceptional guitar player, and his live show promises to deliver all that an adult-contemporary arena affair should. The peanut gallery suggests, however, that Mayer take a cue from a man with a comparable style, Dave Matthews, and trade the L.A. arm candy and hubris for Birkenstocks and a stroll down Wallingford Avenue. With Michael Franti & Spearhead. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., 684-0761. 8 p.m. $34–$74. All ages. HOLLIS WONG-WEAR

The Paper Chase / Wednesday, March 31

Kill Rock Stars' The Paper Chase is not for the faint of heart. If John Congleton's strangled, slightly manic vocals don't turn you away; if you manage to listen through the nearly antagonistic bent of the fractured instrumental intrusions and dissonant structure; if you don't wince at Congleton's deeply troubled lyrical sensibility; if you've come this far, you've learned the secret of Congleton's genius—all chaos has some structure. Buried within Congleton's hammering pianos, sawing guitars, and cut-and-paste samples, layers of melody weave among the chaos, creating a tidal pull between the cacophonous and the downright catchy. With Kiss Kiss, At the Spine. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 8 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. NICHOLAS HALL

RA Scion / Wednesday, March 31

"I recognize the diminishing possibility of breaking into an industry driven and dominated by fresh, young talent," writes RA Scion, one of the city's most talented wordsmiths, on his Web site. It's the kind of admission/recognition that comes only with age. Though it has a melancholic flavor, there's a certain freedom involved in facing facts. And RA is about nothing but telling hard truths. He's best known, of course, for spitting complex, tangled lyrics over Sabzi's beats under the Common Market banner. But tonight, one suspects he'll perform songs from Victor Shade, his side project with producer MTK. The two cuts that leaked online prior to the disc's March 27 release date, "Soothsayer" and "Sway," have a much more aggressive vibe than RA's work with Sabzi, proving that while RA may be getting older, he still has plenty of energy. With Graves 33, Jewels Hunter, Xperience, Audio Poet, Nathan Wolfe, DJ 100Proof. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $10. KEVIN CAPP

Kidz in the Hall / Thursday, April 1

Kidz in the Hall (not to be confused with the Canadian comedy troupe) are hip-hop's equivalent of the cool kids in the gifted class. The duo blurs lines and pushes boundaries in a knowing, wink-wink sort of way, which is why they get slapped with the "alternative" label. Comprising MC Naledge and DJ/producer Double-O, the group dropped two critically acclaimed albums by 2008 before releasing Land of Make Believe in early March. Guests abound on the new disc, including Just Blaze performing producer duty and MC Lyte and Amanda Diva on vocals. The track "Traffic" nicely encapsulates what Kidz is all about: It has an almost epic sound and pulses with an addictive, chaotic blend of dance fever and hip-hop anthem. With 88 Keys, Izza Kizza, Donnis, Lacosa, Brothers From Another, Rain City Clique. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 286-1312. 7 p.m. $12 adv./$15 DOS. All ages. KEVIN CAPP

Owl City / Thursday, April 1  See Q&A.

Pierced Arrows / Thursday, April 1

Clearly, Fred and Toody Cole were never meant to stroll off into the land of elderhostels, early-bird specials, and shuffleboard, even when they retired their long-running and much-revered cult rock band Dead Moon a few years back as they were approaching their 60s. Nope, the Coles are lifers. While they're not dwelling in the exact same spot as Dead Moon, the trio's craggy, gutsy blues-punk certainly lives in the same neighborhood—and that's nothing but tremendous news for everyone who's followed the Coles for 40 years and is on the hook for 40 more. With Lullabye Arkestra, The Gloryholes, Ape City R&B. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $10. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

Philip Glass / Friday, April 2

Welcome to the Bizarro World. If our world is a sphere, the Bizarro World is a cube. In the Bizarro World, icons of contemporary music don't perform in hip Seattle. They remain unbooked, ignored, by Benaroya Hall, McCaw Hall, or Meany Hall. In the Bizarro World, these icons perform in the suburbs. They perform at the Kirkland Performance Center, which hip Seattle, when it thinks of the venue at all, probably thinks of as a home for touring productions of Annie. But in the Bizarro World, Seattle gets Annie while Kirkland gets Philip Glass. He'll talk about his music and play a selection of his solo piano works—slender, gemlike pieces that seem to distill the propulsive exuberance of his dance or film music, the splashy color of his orchestral works, and the otherworldly spectacle of his operas into something inward and ascetic. Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave., 425-893-9900. 7:30 p.m. $50 (sold out at press time). GAVIN BORCHERT

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground / Friday, April 2  See article.

The Morning Benders / Friday, April 2

The Morning Benders' new record, Big Echo, is garnering praise for its sunny and sparkly-clean sound, a palpable shift from their jangly 2008 debut, Talking Through Tin Cans. Some of the songs on Big Echo—impeccably produced by lead singer Chris Chu and Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor—are positively lilting, full of orchestral swells and swooning vocals, much of it modeled with Phil Spector's Wall of Sound in mind. The music washes through you like the white-capped ocean waves on the album cover. The Morning Benders cut their teeth sharing the stage with Grizzly Bear, Yo La Tengo, Death Cab for Cutie, and MGMT, among others. These days, on their current tour, the trio is getting used to selling out shows with their own name atop the bill. With Miniature Tiger, BOAT. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $10. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Black Prairie / Saturday, April 3

If you've ever wondered what the Decemberists would sound like without Colin Meloy—if all the nasal vocals and songs about pirates are just too much for you to handle—then you'll be surprised at the style and sound of Black Prairie. The band boasts three Decemberists—Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and Chris Funk—and two other Portland musicians, but their music bears little resemblance to Meloy's lush ballads. Black Prairie's songs are primarily instrumental; it sounds like an ambient country jug band with a fondness for slide guitar. There's no orchestral storytelling here; the few songs with vocals on Black Prairie's upcoming full-length, Feast of the Hunters' Moon, are old traditionals like ""Red Rocking Chair." Conlee's vocals on that track are downright fantastic. She slurs her words in a sultry way, making lyrics like "Ain't got no use for your red rocking chair/Ain't got a baby now," sound sexy instead of sad. Black Prairie refuses to be condemned for their other band's sins. With Mimicking Birds. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $12. PAIGE RICHMOND

Citizen Cope / Saturday, April 3

One morning last year, I was getting coffee at the Starbucks in South Lake Union when I spotted a tall man with a familiar-looking dreadlocked ponytail. I eyed him suspiciously. "What's your name?" He shyly avoided my eyes and mumbled, "Clarence." "Are you Citizen Cope?" Clarence smiled at me. "Yes, I am." Unassuming yet confident—Citizen Cope's music has always struck me in a similar way. His songs have got to be bold, mixing as they do the soul of bluesy rock and roll and the edge and rawness of hip-hop. The Rainwater LP is Cope's latest record and the first to be released on his own label. It's a change in business plan, but the music sounds much the same: "Healing Hands," the first single, is part love song ("What's a pocket full of gold without a woman that could you hold?"), part political treatise mourning a history of corruption, and all thrumming rhythms and smoky vocals. Citizen Cope will play a three-night stint at the Showbox on April 1–3 (the 2nd and 3rd are sold out), but if you can squeeze into Easy Street's in-store, it's free and much more intimate. Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St., 691-3279. 3 p.m. Free. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Coolout 19 / Saturday, April 3  See B-Sides.

Surfer Blood / Sunday, April 4

Based on name alone, Florida's Surfer Blood conjures up carefree summer moments ("Surf's up, dude!") mixed with horrific tragedy ("...and that's how I lost three of my fingers."). What their dorm-room-recorded, scholarship-money-funded debut, Astro Coast, lacks in grisly tragic moments, it makes up for with spaced-out, fuzzy summertime anthems mixed with just enough seasick reverb and somber, shoegazey guitar to give some gravity to their levity. Cheeky and loose in all the right places, Surfer Blood cherry-picks from their favorite genres (surf, shoegaze, power pop, post-rock, and a heaping helping of mid-'90s college rock) and effortlessly glides between them to make an eclectic, ambitious record of criminally infectious major-chord rock equally suited to major ragers or parties of one. With Turbo Fruits. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Eighteen Individual Eyes / Monday, April 5

Maybe it's because Eighteen Individuals is an all-female band, but there's something unexpectedly soft about their brand of ambient prog-rock. Even between the dark, droning guitars of "Rosebud Youth," Irene Barber's melodic, lovely vocals are front and center. It's just one example of the Seattle four-piece's ability to dance delicately between darkness and light. The rollicking, bouncy guitars in the middle of "Treeform in Darkness" would fit right in with doo-wop vocals—but those chords are quickly replaced with fuzzed-out licks. This lightness is clearer on the band's EP, Slightly Frightened, Mostly Happy, where the instrumentals find perfect balance and allow Barber's voice clarity. But even then, there's a persistent toughness to EIE's steady drums and distorted guitars. These musicians will toy with traditional femininity, but they'd rather sound interesting than pretty. EIE will push the envelope before being pushed around. With Skeletons With Flesh on Them, Blood Red Dancers. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $5. PAIGE RICHMOND

Sea Fever / Monday, April 5

Local indie-pop outfit Sea Fever is a young band, but they've already endured enough rock-and-roll-style drama to last them a few years. Formed at SPU by vocalist/guitarist Andrew Zook and bassist Chris Hanson, Sea Fever has undergone some shifts and losses in their lineup, including their former drummer, arrested and jailed in Kitsap County last fall under multiple allegations of providing alcohol to underage females and statutory rape. In their current incarnation, the band played this year's Sound Off! but didn't move past the semifinals. Sea Fever isn't letting all that hold them back, though. They've played such major venues as the Moore and just recorded their first single, "Born in Spain," an animated pop song driven by saccharine vocal harmonies. What's the music business without a scandalous setback or two? With The Fragrance, Valhalla Hall. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $7. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Paul Wall & Chamillionaire / Monday, April 5  See B-Sides.

John Hiatt / Tuesday, April 6

John Hiatt has released nearly 20 studio albums since the mid-'70s. He's seen his songs covered by Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop as well as, um, Paula Abdul. Hiatt's latest, The Open Road, is a worn-in travel record that's as much about looking back as plowing ahead. Like 2008's Same Old Man, it was recorded in Hiatt's home studio and features vocals from his daughter on one song. Most prominently, though, an electric backing trio gives the songs a bluesy kick, from the feisty "Go Down Swingin'" to the lust-inspired escape of "Haulin'." And yet fans will be pleased to learn that Hiatt's throaty, garbled voice still sounds like he's singing through steel wool. He'll likely slip back into acoustic mode to sample songs from The Open Road for this Easy Street in-store, at which you can enter to win a guitar signed by the man himself. Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St., 691-3279. 7 p.m. Free. All ages. DOUG WALLEN

 
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