The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Blonde Redhead / Wednesday, November 24

The disappointment was palpable and heavy this July when, at the last minute, Blonde Redhead cancelled their highly anticipated set at the Capitol Hill Block Party due to an illness in the band. The dreamy New York shoegaze-pop trio retains a devoted following of captivated fans, even though their latest album, September's Penny Sparkle, is something of a disappointment. The band's soothing melodies are still there, and Kazu Makino's glittering vocals still take precedence, but much of Penny Sparkle is just too restrained and low-energy, ironically lacking the sparkle of their previous releases, 2007's exquisite 23 and 2004's spellbinding Misery Is a Butterfly. Regardless, there are some standouts on the new album—like the excellent lead single, "Here Sometimes"—and seeing them play anything from 23 or Misery is worth the ticket price alone. With Olof Arnalds. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20 adv./$23 DOS. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

J. Cole / Wednesday, November 24

It's hard enough to catch the eye of a guy like Jay-Z doing just about anything, so to be the first artist signed to Hov's Roc Nation label as both an MC and a producer—that's impressive. But North Carolina–born J. Cole deserves his own spotlight. Lyrically, he's responsible for aggressive 16-bar flows and cerebral verses that refrain from succumbing to tired-sounding verbal laziness, and sonically he's classic yet impressively nuanced. Fresh off his stellar Friday Night Lights mixtape and in advance of delayed debut full-length Cole World (now expected sometime in December), you can bet on a set filled with the earnest, honest, pure music that catapulted J. Cole to hip-hop's forefront. With K. Michelle, CJ Hilton, Cool Nutz. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $21. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

The Brothers Balthazar Post-Thanksgiving Hootenanny / Thursday, November 25

I hate the holidays like Sarah Palin hates Planned Parenthood. I've learned it's all about timing your exit: you know, long enough after the Bacchanalian gorging to be polite, but before your stepmom/dad/nosy aunt gets loaded and starts ranting about how you shouldn't have broken up with your ex. So God bless the Blue Moon not only for staying open on the holidays, but for holding fun events you might actually want to attend. Billed as a Thanksgiving hootenanny with "the Brothers Balthazar," this event actually features a variety of rotating secret musical guests playing things like blues and rock and holiday standards. As the bar's booker Jason Josephes says, "I'm not saying former Monkees frontman Micky Dolenz is stopping by to sit in with them, but I'm also not saying that he isn't. Only one way to find out, kids!" Blue Moon Tavern, 712 N.E. 45th St., 675-9116. 9 p.m. Free. SARA BRICKNER

Knut Bell & the Blue Collars / Thursday, November 25—Saturday, November 27

Seasoned country musician Knut Bell has plenty to be thankful for, and he's the first to admit it. After a hellish few years battling a staggering assortment of personal demons both chemical and spiritual, the Skagit County native began a road to recovery and has arrived in a remarkable place of peace, but he's still armed with no shortage of badass showmanship onstage. This weekend's Thanksgiving shows at the Little Red Hen will no doubt spill over with a collective sense of euphoric gratitude—from both Bell and the Hen's salty and spirited regulars who will be dancing away any tryptophanic effects from the day's feast. Little Red Hen, 7115 Woodlawn Ave. N.E., 522-1168. 9 pm. $3–$5. HANNAH LEVIN

No Age / Friday, November 26

No Age's third LP, Everything in Between, is a big, beautiful racket. Drummer Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall create crashing, expansive layers of sound that make No Age sound like a quintet instead of a duo, with the help of loads of screeching reverb. The music is propulsive, even urgent, but not so unruly that it bowls you over in a confusing, meaningless blast of noise. Actually, despite all the fuzz and feedback, songs like "Glitter" and "Common Heat" are solid and hooky, sometimes touchingly emotive, and always firmly defiant. "I don't fear God," Spunt sings on "Glitter." "I don't fear anything at all." With White Boss, HPP. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

The Physics / Friday, November 26

Seattle's skies may have turned awfully gray, but if anyone can revive a feeling of good times and sunshine it's Justo, Thig Natural, and Monk Wordsmith. Both of the Physics' recent laid-back, soulful FreEPs—last year's High Society and this May's Three Piece—are must-have artifacts of the local scene, and the band's since been hard at work in the studio tackling their sophomore full-length, Love Is a Business. Even more uplifting, this show benefits All as One, an organization dedicated to empowering a self-sufficient people in Sierra Leone and supporting its orphaned children. After watching their Bumbershoot set back in September, I remain convinced the Physics are still one of the best feel-good hip-hop groups I've seen—in Seattle or elsewhere. With Sol, Jake One, Yirim Seck. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $10. NICK FELDMAN

A Tribute to Harry Smith / Friday, November 26

You might not know who Harry Smith is, but folk music would not be what it is today—or even what it was 50 years ago—without his quintessential six-album Anthology of American Folk Music, which he composed out of his own personal record collection. Of 78s. Of music recorded between 1926 and 1932. As in, pre–Woody Guthrie. Now that's old-timey. For this tribute show, some of Seattle's finest country singers will perform some of those ancient tunes, which likely would not have survived if not for Smith's obsessive record-collecting. Make sure to catch Zoe Muth, whose Emmylou-esque songs sound as if they could've been recorded during the first folk revival of the '60s, and Pufferfish, one of Seattle's most underappreciated Americana outfits. Also on the bill: songwriter Levi Fuller (also a member of Pufferfish) and GravelRoad, which has served as backing band for legendary bluesman T-Model Ford. Columbia City Theater, 4816 Rainier Ave. S., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $8. SARA BRICKNER

Unsane / Friday, October 26

Helmet, schmelmet. When it comes to influential, New York-based, hardcore noise-rock bands, Unsane were the kings of that late-'80s and early '90s scene (though often holding court with a similar degree of reigning authority as the like-minded Cop Shoot Cop). Without their gripping combination of tunefulness and grinding sludge, we wouldn't have had bands like Girls Against Boys or, arguably, the Northwest's iconic hardcore touchstone, Botch. Show up early for rising local act Cold Lake, whose petulant post-punk will likely please the ears of the bill's revered headliners. With Android Hero, Great Falls. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $12. HANNAH LEVIN

David Bazan & Band / Saturday, November 27

For a while, it was impossible to talk about David Bazan without addressing his well-publicized wrestling with what was once the cornerstone of his songwriting—his uncomfortably intimate observations of religion and faith. Thankfully, the brouhaha over Bazan's beliefs has settled down a bit, and his songwriting is moving further from his struggles with the big guy in the sky and nearer his struggle with his teetering belief in humanity and himself. All Bazan's songs have at least one turn-of-the-screw moment; it's easy to get caught up in his lovely melodies only to suddenly realize his warm, throaty voice isn't singing sweet nothings, but painfully sarcastic confessions of shortcomings and everyday hypocrisy. Currently soliciting fan donations to help fund his new record and preparing for a winter tour with Jimmy Eat World, Bazan is sharpening his skepticism to take on bigger, broader territory than ever before. With Damien Jurado, The Head and the Heart. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $15 adv./$17 DOS. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Grinderman / Saturday, November 27

Let's face it: At this point the cult of near-mystical devotion that surrounds Nick Cave could enable the latest Grinderman album to be little more than this patron saint of pale, intellectual pervs slowly burping the alphabet on repeat for 50 minutes over some warbled drum loops, and his rapid disciples would still flock to devour it. Fortunately, Cave and company aim higher on Grinderman 2, fusing synths, tribal beats, Cave's signature baritone rants, and guitars searing with sexual implication for a record (and noteworthy remix EP) worthy of all the ballyhoo and fervor the eternally cool Mr. Cave inspires. With Armen Ra. King Cat Theater, 2130 Sixth Ave., 448-2829. 8 p.m. $25. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Horace Pickett / Saturday, November 27

If the psych-pop Elephant 6 collective ever starts accepting applications for a satellite chapter in Seattle, my vote goes to Horace Pickett to serve as its founding fathers. Falling somewhere between of Montreal's abstract art-rock musings and Beulah's strummy twang and jangle (but adding a healthy dose of ramshackle, vaudevillian, travelin'-family-band vibe), Horace Pickett writes songs that are immediately hummable but still manage to be challengingly poetic. While many groups have chartered the vagabond/gypsy band territory, Horace Pickett's songs are masterfully crafted; even though the band's wheelhouse is fantastic, over-the-top stories, they still manage to convey humble and heartfelt universal truths. Live, Horace Pickett pulls no performance punches, parading through joyfully loose sets that celebrate their imaginative songs as much as their wild-eyed, circus-sideshow eccentricities. With Ryan Purcell, Gunstreet Glory. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $6. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Jason Bonham: The Led Zeppelin Experience / Saturday, November 27

Jason Bonham is certainly not a bad drummer. Technically he could, fairly, be described as great. If talent is at all related to genetics, his advantage is absolute. That being said, he also has to be a masochist of scrotum-torturing proportions to want to make his profession strapping on a pair of impossibly big shoes and running full-tilt in the wake of his father's gonzo ghost. He's like the Hamlet of buttrock. Eventually, all three living members of Zep's moats will require dredging and a reunion will be born. Poor Jason Bonham will still be on his psychological treadmill, and Dave Grohl's smiling ass will be behind the kit. WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S., 381-7555. 8 p.m. $35–$45. All ages. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

GWAR / Sunday, November 28

And you thought KISS went all out? Extraterrestrial metal band GWAR has taken the whole costume/performance-art/shock-band thing to a new level over the past 26 years. But behind the costumes and celebrity ridicule of their live shows, the group, led by Dave Brockie's "Oderus Urungus," remains a consistently great metal band. Their 12th studio album, Bloody Pit of Horror, was released earlier this month. Nevertheless, the best way to fill your mind with scenes of blood, piss, and vomit—aside from a 3 a.m. stroll through Pioneer Square—is to see GWAR a few blocks down the road. With the Casualties, Infernaeon, Mobile Deathcamp. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 628-3151. 6:30 p.m. $22.50 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. BRYDEN MCGRATH

Passion Pit / Tuesday, November 30

Sensitive male hipsters love Michael Angelakos' electro-pop band for the following reasons: The ladies dig anything resembling The Postal Service; the ladies fall for Angelakos' falsetto vocals, which hide lyrics full of misery; and you can shove Passion Pit's debut Manners in any Owl City–loving teenybopper's face. Best of all are Angelakos' grief-stricken rhetorical questions, like "We're swimming in a flood, you know?" and "Whose side are you on?/What side is this anyway?" (Double whammy!). Admit it: Bouncing around to 8-bit video-game music with wails of heartache triggers memories of playing Nintendo while thinking about that one girl who already had a boyfriend. With Mister Heavenly, We Barbarians, Pepper Rabbit. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 877-784-4849. 8 p.m. $27.50. All ages. BRYDEN MCGRATH

 
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