The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

From Gang of Four and Shabazz Palaces to Smith Westerns and Justin Townes Earle.

Gang of Four/Wednesday, February 16

While England's love of infusing punk with reggae influences is most often associated with The Clash and to a lesser extent with John Lydon, it's arguable that Gang of Four did the best job of rendering that chemical equation. Taking something as gently hypnotic as dub and massaging it into the sharp edges of their jarring, jittery dance-punk was a true stroke of genius that made what could have been a discordant shambles into a cerebral, confrontational dance party. While young Turks like Radio 4 and the Rapture do commendable jobs exhibiting Gang of Four's sizable influence, they can't compete with the original source. With Hollerado. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $27 adv./$29 DOS. HANNAH LEVIN

Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Thursday, February 17

Godspeed You! Black Emperor make music for eschatologists and movie lovers, and not just because their song "East Hastings" was the perfect choice for the opening scene in the post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare 28 Days Later. Their wildly imaginative topography of sound envelops listeners much as a darkened theater does, surrounding audiences with eerie, uneasy beauty that is transportive and often trance-inducing. Here's hoping that their work is powerful enough to override their unfortunate move from Showbox at the Market to the markedly less intimate Showbox SoDo. With Thrones. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 628-3151. 8 p.m. Sold out. All ages. HANNAH LEVIN

Shabazz Palaces/Thursday, February 17

Though Seattle hasn't stopped reeling from Shabazz Palaces' incendiary 2009 debut, their proper full-length debut on Sub Pop is already right around the corner (it's due out this spring). Hearing the recently mastered (and still tightly under wraps) recordings last week, a few things became immediately clear—primarily, that Shabazz has another mind-blower on their hands, but also that it's going to take several more listens to do any kind of justice to describing the thing. There is Shabazz's "usual" out-of-this-world bass, chanted anti-choruses, dislocated jazz and hip-hop, and poetry, but then there are also moments of almost "chillwave" ambience. Wild sonic invention abounds, and everything sounds simultaneously more plush and more sinister. It's going to make an outstanding sequel to 2009's two EPs, and tonight could be your first chance to hear the new material. Don't sleep on it. With THEESatisfaction. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15. ERIC GRANDY

Smith Westerns/Thursday, February 17

Sophistication isn't a word you'd normally associate with a group of 20-year-old boys, but the second record from Chicago's Smith Westerns, last month's Dye It Blonde, proves that polishing and glamorizing garage rock is possible—and fruitful. The aristocratic Dye It Blonde is one of the year's most breathtaking releases. On standouts like "Weekend" and "All Die Young," Max Kakacek's guitar rips and wails with a stately quality that complements frontman Cullen Omari's youthfully sincere vocals—because of his tender age, he can sing things like "Love and lust—how come that is such a must?" and still sound winsome and genuine. The band's lush and lulling atmospherics, bold guitars that riff grandeur and aplomb, and bleeding lyrics about the best years of young lives mean that somewhere, the ghost of Marc Bolan must be smiling. With Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Pharmacy. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $10. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Yo La Tengo/Thursday, February 17

If you're a fan of Yo La Tengo, you've probably already seen them—they've been around for 25-plus years and tour consistently. But just because they haven't released a new album since the last time they hit Seattle on the back of 2009's stellar Popular Songs doesn't mean tonight's show is going to be the same old, same old. In the interest of keeping things interesting, Yo La Tengo's bringing a fourth member on this tour—a giant spinning wheel that will randomly determine the band's onstage activity. Example: At a recent show in Chicago, the spinner hit "Sitcom Theater" and the band re-enacted the entire "Chinese Restaurant" episode of Seinfeld. Other options? They could end up playing songs from James McNew's Prince-covering side project, Dump, or excerpts from the instrumental documentary score they wrote in 2001, The Sounds of the Sounds of Science. Hopefully they'll find time to play "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind" among all the fun and games. With The Corin Tucker Band. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

The Presidents of the United States of America/Friday, February 18–Sunday, February 20

When I was in high school, or junior high, or whenever it was kids took Algebra II, I used to listen to the Presidents of the United States of America's self-titled debut every day when I worked on my homework. For a teenage kid with a palpable case of ADD, it provided a reliable sense of comfort and stability—and proof that songs about lumps, kitties, and getting naked and famous never get old. Fifteen years later, the band hasn't always been stable or comfortable, but they've reliably made music for people who just want to have fun, get drunk, or finish their Algebra II homework. It takes three nights to accommodate all of us. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. Sold out Fri. & Sat. Sun.: 8 p.m., $20. CHRIS KORNELIS

The Decemberists/Friday, February 18

Yes, Portland folk-rockers the Decemberists are coming through town . . . again. But for the first time since 2009, Colin Meloy and company aren't backing that year's atrocious The Hazards of Love. (Hallelujah!) Whereas that 17-part rock opera is lacking even one memorable song, the band's latest—last month's Billboard chart-topping The King Is Dead—acts as a redemption story. Full of rootsy, honky-tonk stompers like "All Arise!" and reliable R.E.M. imitations such as "Don't Carry It All" and lead single "Down by the Water," it's fair to say the Decemberists have their groove back. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $32 adv./$35 DOS. All ages. BRYDEN MCGRATH

Justin Townes Earle/Saturday, February 19

It seems like just yesterday that No Depression was still a magazine and alt-country was a nascent genre. Now No Depression is a website and a festival, and some of that once-nascent genre's forefathers have produced offspring old enough to enter the genre themselves. None has a more daunting pedigree than Justin Townes Earle. He's Steve Earle's son, was named for Townes Van Zandt, and his stepmother is Allison Moorer. Factor in that JTE—seemingly genetically incapable of resisting the self-destructive behavior that landed his dad in prison for a spell—has struggled to stay clean after epic bouts with various narcotica, and you've got the makings of a clichéd career that should have ended before it started. But sheer talent has a funny way of overcoming seemingly formidable obstacles, and JTE's been blessed with chops to burn. He's simply one of the finest Americana artists in circulation today. With Dawn Landes. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15. MIKE SEELY

Seattle Rock Orchestra/Saturday, February 19

Arcade Fire, the Beach Boys, and David Bowie? Check, check, and check. After three critically acclaimed tribute shows, volunteer community orchestra SRO is setting its sights on Radiohead and two of the finest albums ever made: 1995's The Bends and 1997's OK Computer. With guests ranging from Rachel Flotard of Visqueen and John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest, SRO announced via its Facebook page that Posies frontman Jon Auer will appear with the message "Three words: Fake. Plastic. Trees." Throw in other classics like "Street Spirit (Fade Out)," "Paranoid Android," and "Karma Police," and you've got yourself a show full of symphonic excitement that won't leave you high and dry. With Jim Antonio of the Purrs, Joshua Morrison, Tom Beecham of the Raggedy Anns, Kaylee Cole, Michele Khazak, and Noah Gundersen of the Courage. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $18. All ages. BRYDEN MCGRATH

Seattle Soul on Blast/Saturday, February 19

Though it may have slipped under your radar, Seattle's swelling pocket of soul vocalists is a force to be reckoned with—and this showcase hosted by leading lady Choklate is a can't-miss taste. The deep lineup is headlined by Darrius Willrich, a trained jazz pianist who uses his background to spice up a vocal performance already rich in the trappings of love and lust. Also on the bill are Dice, a young MC and singer known for her glaringly honest and sonically powerful songwriting, and even younger songstress JusMoni, who turned heads with her impressively intimate December debut Ready for Life. With Zach Bruse, Vitamin D. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$15 DOS. NICK FELDMAN

Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death/Saturday, February 19

Earlier this year, Triumph of Lethargy frontman Spencer Moody told SW, "Triumph is not for listeners. Triumph is for the people playing the music, and it's for our listening." It's a sentiment a lot of artists pay lip service to, but in the case of Triumph it rings (and howls, bellows, and grates) true. Moody and guitarist Corey J. Brewer, plus a rotating cast of collaborators, make consistently abrasive albums which lurch from painfully stripped-down dirges to explosions of brittle, bitter noise. Their latest, Some of Us Are in This Together, shows no sign of making any concessions to the hypothetical listener. It's 10 songs of spittle and bile from Moody's beard to your face, propelled by rumbling drums and dissonant guitars, with song titles like "Hey Asshole" and "No Hope Here." As ever, Moody is more likely to assault his audience than indulge it—and that's exactly why we love him. With Blood Red Dancers, John Atkins. JewelBox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 10 p.m. $7. ERIC GRANDY

Cave Singers/Tuesday, February 22

On paper, Cave Singers sound like what we've come to expect from Seattle's boots-and-buckle set: precious, pretty, somewhat folky, pleasantly country, easy-on-the-ears dust rock. But on their third release, No Witch (out today), we're reminded that what distinguishes the trio from the rest of the class is their urgency: the load-bearing beauty of Derek Fudesco's guitar, Pete Quirk's desperate vocals, and Marty Lund's uncomplicated hustle and stomp behind the drums. No Witch has more rounded corners than its predecessors, tastefully accomplished by employing a low-key string section at the top of the record. Soft and light, though, is not the base on which a Cave Singers record rests, but on dark and intense grooves and howls, which the band gladly delivers early on the likes of "Black Leaf" and "Falls," while also introducing the electric guitar more liberally ("No Prosecution if We Bail"). At times, No Witch sounds as though it could have been made 10 minutes after their 2007 debut, Invitation Songs. But further investigation reveals a band growing comfortable with the idea of expanding their definition of sparseness. Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St., 691-3279. 7 p.m. Free. All ages. CHRIS KORNELIS

Murs/Tuesday, February 22

Responsible for more than 30 albums and EPs in the past 15 years—and that's just his solo work—the dreadlocked Los Angeles–based rapper and Living Legends crew member Murs has undeniably established himself as a fixture in the annals of West Coast underground hip-hop. And though he briefly made the major-label leap with 2008's Murs for President, his most recent record For Never reunites him with North Carolina producer extraordinaire 9th Wonder for the fourth time—an always exciting pairing of skills that nearly offsets his ambitious but failed promise to drop 10 records in 10 months. A talented lyricist when it comes to comedy, social analysis, and the storytelling that ties them together, it's most heartening to hear that Murs is once again comfortable in his own shoes. With Tabi Bonney, Whole Wheat Bread, Ab-Soul, DJ Foundation. El Corazón, 109 Eastlake Ave., 381-3094. 7 p.m. $15. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

 
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