The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

From Drive-By Truckers to Devo.

Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Show / Wednesday, March 9

As a living example of pre-Internet indie-rock success, the Elephant 6 Collective has come to represent that age-old concept of getting together with your friends to make music. That is what four teenagers from Louisiana did, spurring a mountain of creativity from their fellow musician pals throughout the '90s that produced one legendary album (Neutral Milk Hotel's Like an Aeroplane Over the Sea) before disbanding in 2002. But in 2008, the E6 ethos was resurrected via the annual Holiday Surprise tour. Members of Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power, Circulatory System, and the Music Tapes will play each other's songs, screen short films, and lead audience-participation games. Of course, many will be eager to see if reclusive NMH frontman Jeff Mangum (aka the Indie Rock Yeti) shows his face. So if you see some sketchy-looking dude hiding under a baseball cap lurking around the Vera Project, you might be in luck. Don't forget to alert Pitchfork! Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. Sold out. All ages. BRIAN J. BARR

Joshua Radin / Wednesday, March 9

Usually, any artist or band to place more than 75 songs in television shows or films would be considered quite the sellout. But most, if not all, of the artists and bands whose music pops up on Grey's Anatomy or One Tree Hill don't come across with the sincerity of singer/songwriter Joshua Radin. His pop songs are generally warm and inviting, his soft voice making you feel as if every song is between only you and him, and one thing is always for sure: His hooks will get you. It's as true as ever on his latest full-length, The Rock and the Tide, an optimistic, surefire, adult-contemporary pleaser. On it, Radin proves he's become a master craftsman. With Cary Brothers, Laura Jansen. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. BRYDEN MCGRATH

Simian Mobile Disco / Wednesday, March 9

Simian Mobile Disco is an electronic duo that sprang from an indie-rock group (named Simian; the "mobile disco" refers to the after-parties they threw on tour), so it makes sense that they've kept one foot in that world, producing and remixing acts like the Klaxons and the Gossip's Beth Ditto, and calling on their Rolodex of vocalists to act as guests on their pop-leaning 2009 album Temporary Pleasure. That might have been too generous a name for an album whose few charms wore thin so quickly, but thankfully SMD have followed it up with Delicacies, which sees them abandoning vocal hooks and indulging in the kind of hard, jaw-grinding techno that the best of their work has always bled into at the outer edges. Call it a permanent pleasure. Opening is DFA mensch the Juan Maclean, whose tastes as a DJ range from robotically jacking techno to leather-and-sweat disco to, of course, happy house. With Blondes. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $16. ERIC GRANDY

Diamond Rings / Thursday, March 10

In 2008, young Ontarian John O'Regan entered a hospital (for treatment of his Crohn's disease) as the guitarist and singer of a punk band called the D'Urbervilles. O'Regan spent much of his lengthy stay writing music, and emerged recreated as flamboyant synth-pop alter ego Diamond Rings. His sharp songs skew toward '80s New Wave a la The Human League— glamorously moody tones paired with deep, deadpan vocals—and O'Regan androgynously visualizes the retro feel with his rainbow eye shadow, bleached mohawk, and wildly patterned tights, as exhibited in his choreographed music videos. On the other hand, the bumping beats of songs like "Show Me Your Stuff" (unfortunately not included on Diamond Rings' full-length, last year's Special Affections) could easily pass for a sparkling and modern Robyn or Lady Gaga club-banger. In bringing out his more bombastic self, O'Regan's also created an intriguing synthesis of old and new. With Noddy, PS I Love You. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Junkie XL / Thursday, March 10

In another universe, Neumos could easily have been named something else—and for one night, it essentially will be. For a show themed around the graphic novel Shinjuku, illustrated by Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano and authored by Christopher "Mink" Morrison, the club will transform into one of the book's central locations, Poppies—complete with costumed actors and a signing by Mink himself. This benefit concert for local charity-focused nonprofit Noise for the Needy is headlined by the Grammy-nominated Tom Holkenborg, better known as Dutch electronic artist Junkie XL, whose remix catalog touches on the works of pop acts like Britney Spears and Elvis and has been featured in video games from The Sims to Need for Speed. The bill also includes Capitol Hill's hell-raising hipster-hoppers Mad Rad, playing their last show before May's Sasquatch! Music Festival. With Truckasaurus, Seattle Kokon Taiko. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $10. NICK FELDMAN

Civil Twilight / Friday, March 11

It's not common to catch a band whose songs sound more fitting for stadium settings in a small venue like Neumos. On its 2009 self-titled debut, Civil Twilight, a trio from South Africa, found themselves dabbling in momentous anthems ("Anybody Out There"), How to Save a Life–era Fray-like piano rock ("Next to Me"), and slow-building theatrics ("Quiet in My Town"). Specifically, to hear Steven McKellar's stunning vocal performance on "Letters From the Sky" bounce off the ceilings of domes or high-rising stadium walls would seem more appropriate, but for now, the intimate Neumos will certainly do. With A Silent Film, Ben Union. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 7 p.m. $10. All ages. BRYDEN MCGRATH

Uniquely Seattle / Friday, March 11

The title "Uniquely Seattle" doesn't really let you in on what the hell's happening at Chop Suey tonight, but the name is actually fairly apt. All the ladies on tonight's bill from headliner to host(ess) are truly one-of-a-kind. Kimberly Nichole, aka "the Rock Ballerina," is a Seattle girl who took a chance on the Big Apple that has paid off big-time. She is coming home, fresh from the pages of Vogue, with her tutu-clad, avant-rock-'n'-soul style. Equally, unequivocally fierce is Seattle vocal veteran Felicia Loud, whose voice and talents are among the Northwest's most underappreciated musical treasures. With Big World Breaks, Piece, Hollis Wong-Wear of Canary Sing. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $12. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

The Velvet Teen / Friday, March 11

How did The Velvet Teen never become one of the biggest bands in indie rock? They were in the right place (grimy rock clubs full of fresh-faced kids with disposable income) at the right time (the mid-2000s, pre-Internet-filesharing-oversaturation-chillwave-snarkboom), and every bit the right sound for the time. The Velvet Teen was writing the same caliber of frenetic and sweeping pop that their then-tour mates (Death Cab for Cutie, Minus the Bear) paid mortgages with. With a musical spectrum that's shifted with each subsequent release, they've conquered noisy indie pop (Out of the Fierce Parade), pristine piano balladry (Elysium) and math-y melodic experiments (Cum Laude). Currently touring on a self-released EP (No Star), The Velvet Teen are still masters of writing jagged, desperate hooks that soothe and snarl, balanced with winsome, sparkling moments steeped in an unironic, nostalgic bliss. With Themes. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Drive-By Truckers / Saturday, March 12

Drive-By Truckers leader Patterson Hood's fascination with noir and true domestic crime has been hinted at broadly in his previous works, surfacing in a sympathetic sketch of a young woman jailed for committing incest with her brother ("The Deeper In" from 2003's Decoration Day), or a horrifically detailed account of a wife driven to homicide by an abusive husband ("The Wig He Made Her Wear" from last year's The Big To-Do). While scratching the underbelly of society is hardly an unprecedented approach to coaxing out compelling songs, Hood's deft ability to tell these stories with a seamless mix of humility and fearlessness sets him apart from the average gallows-haunting artist. He and his equally capable bandmates own that nuanced vantage point completely on Go-Go Boots, an eerie and unflinching album that draws from Hood's obsession with a late-'80s Alabama murder case involving a preacher who hires a hit man to execute his estranged wife. With Heartless Bastards. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $25 adv./$28 DOS. HANNAH LEVIN

AZ / Sunday, March 13

Possibly the most underrated rapper of all time, AZ never achieved the fame or fortune of his collaborators Nas and Foxy Brown, who together formed hip-hop supergroup The Firm in the late '90s. In fact, the Brooklyn rapper's greatest success came with his 1995 debut Doe or Die, an integral piece of the East Coast's Mafioso-rap heritage led by infectiously hooked single "Sugar Hill" and the MC's smooth flow—not to mention production from the likes of Pete Rock. And though he's released seven proper records and a handful of compilations since then, Doe or Die remains the greatest testament to AZ's street-minded storytelling abilities. Touring on his signature record's 15th-anniversary edition, sprinkled with new tracks and reduxes, AZ has to know it's better to have one classic record than none at all. With Luck One, Quarter After, DJ Gumbeaux, DJ Seabefore. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $10. NICK FELDMAN

Onra / Monday, March 14

French producer Onra and Seattle collective SunTzu Sound start with similar musical sources, but where they go from there is decidedly different. Onra plucks samples from everything from early-'80s NYC disco to Brazilian funk records to, on the album Chinoiseries, Vietnamese pop, then reconfigures them into Dilla-esque instrumental hip-hop suites, choppy, heady, grooving like a skipped record. The beats are brought to the fore, but underneath Onra keeps a layer of soulful vocal muffle and melody. SunTzu Sound brings a similarly soulful vibe, but where Onra slices and shuffles into slurred hip-hop patterns, SunTzu nudges things up into house and "broken beat" territory, doing their rhythmic juggling and melodic cutups over a steady 4/4 bass pulse. It's electronic music with a fluttering human heartbeat, done two ways. With DJ 100Proof. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. Free. ERIC GRANDY

Devo / Tuesday, March 15

Devo is unlike many nostalgia acts in that it was originally conceived as an outfit so futuristic that it could consistently outpace whatever decade it chose to reassert itself in. So as the band pushes 40 and its members prepare to spoil broods of grandchildren, Devo can still credibly lay claim to the vanguard with Something for Everybody, its first studio album in 20 years. Its signature mix of performance art and synthesized music has never really waned—one could argue that the likes of Lady Gaga, Gorillaz, and certainly Daft Punk owe it a point on every release. What separates Mark Mothersbaugh's troupe from its debtors is that Devo is sort of the Pee-Wee's Playhouse of bands—innovative and bizarre without coming off as the least bit threatening. With The Octopus Project. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510. 7:30 p.m. $38–$100. All ages. MIKE SEELY

Tera Melos / Tuesday, March 15

The Sacramento three-piece Tera Melos plays that precarious game of trying to balance wildly complicated instrumentals topped with pop melodies and brashly presenting that swirling melee to the public. Some of the band's earlier output is too math-ily twisted to be any kind of accessible, but Tera Melos' latest full-length, last year's Patagonian Rats (released on Sargent House, the label that launched fellow noodlers Maps & Atlases), shows some promising signs of an easier merger between lawless and listenable. Songs like "Frozen Zoo" and "Aped" have chant-worthy choruses and bright tones, as well as maniacal guitar riffs and jarring structures—all of which makes them the perfect openers on this tour for the hot goddess of shred, Marnie Stern. With Kinski, Dog Shredder. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $13. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

 
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