The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

From Bill Callahan to Sol.

Bill Callahan/Wednesday, June 22

"Everyone's allowed a past they don't care to mention," sings Bill Callahan on "America!", the distortion-driven and overtly political centerpiece of his most recent album, Apocalypse. In the context of the song, the line is likely a reference to the bloodier moments in our country's history, but it also aptly describes the singer/songwriter's career. Callahan used to record as Smog, releasing dissonant lo-fi cassette recordings that grew in fidelity and complexity as he signed to Drag City and eventually released his first album under his own name in 2007. On 2009's mellow and inviting Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, that past sound was hard to find, but it partially returns on Apocalypse, a rawer album that isn't afraid to compromise the smoothness of its predecessor. Callahan may not care to mention his past, but perhaps he should: It continues to inform his esoteric, beautifully fractured songwriting. With Michael Chapman. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. ANDREW GOSPE

. . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead/Thursday, June 23

Trail of Dead (Conrad Keely, Jason Reece, Autry Fulbright II, and Jamie Miller) got its first taste of success with Source Tags & Codes, which received Pitchfork's coveted 10/10 rating in 2002. For February's Tao of the Dead, the Austin, Texas, prog-rockers' seventh studio album, frontman Keely wanted to make an album that paid homage to his childhood influences. Tao, recorded in just 10 days, is divided into two parts, each with a special tuning (the first in D, the second in F). In Part I of this guitar-laden not-quite-concept-album, 11 chapters form one long song, and in Part II a 16-minute track is broken into six movements—a tribute of sorts to albums like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Rush's Hemispheres. With Ringo Deathstarr, Follow That Bird. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. JOE WILLIAMS

Mudhoney/Friday, June 24

When word came out late last month that a documentary chronicling the history of Mudhoney was in the final stages of production, it couldn't have been more welcome or overdue news. Frontman Mark Arm is the closest thing we have to our own version of Iggy Pop, albeit one with enough dignity to avoid ill-advised appearances on American Idol. While Arm and company are reliably riveting in a live context, tonight's show will no doubt be even more old-school-over-the-top with the augmentation of the Unnatural Helpers, Sub Pop sales director Dean Whitmore's ramshackle but tuneful garage-punk act, and former U-Men leader Tom Price's Desert Classic project. With Non! Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. Sold out. HANNAH LEVIN

Sondre Lerche/Saturday, June 25

Norwegian songwriter Sondre Lerche emerged a decade ago as a precocious and angel-faced teenager with Faces Down, a debut of simple yet sophisticated songs combining his guitar and sweet falsetto. He's since branched out extensively, dabbling in everything from jazz (Duper Sessions) to distorted rock (Phantom Punch) to orchestral pop (Heartbeat Radio). But his new, appropriately eponymous, album seems to ease up on the rambling experimentation, instead returning to where he started—clear, guileless guitar pop. It's a good niche for him. Songs like "Ricochet" and the ultra-catchy single "Private Caller" exhibit Lerche's greatest musical strengths, namely his warm, open, and charismatic delivery and his penchant for punchy melodies. With Nightlands, Kishi Bashi. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15. ERIN K. THOMPSON

NighTraiN/Saturday, June 25

Watching NighTraiN open for The Absolute Monarchs! at the Comet a few months ago will undoubtedly go down as one of the most moving musical moments I had in 2011. And by moving, I mean exhilarating to the point where I thought I might pass out from sheer joy. The band's caustic, engaging brand of soulful punk was still finding its footing, but the energy was off the charts in a way that bodes exceedingly well for the future. At the risk of sounding as if I'm ghettoizing them, our lily-white, pastoral pop–loving city can only benefit from a black, all-female rock band with as much potential as these women wield. Bring it, ladies. With Connerys, Atomic Bride, the Apollos. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $6. HANNAH LEVIN

RED: The Hottest Party of Seattle Pride/Saturday, June 25

Who doesn't love Pride, aka Gay Christmas? It's no surprise that tonight's party at Neumos, which bills itself as "the hottest in Seattle," is called RED! What better excuse to act like a ho-ho-ho? Gaga carols fill the air. Invisible mistletoe hangs in the doorway of every club. Sparkly glitter and twinkling lights reflect in wide pupils. And of course, as soon as it gets dark, there's lots of snow and red, red noses. It is the most festive of occasions, where both the naughty (especially the naughty) and the nice get to enjoy the foggy, giddy surprise of pulling back the bedding on Sunday morning and seeing whom Santa left between the sheets. It's truly the most wonderful time of the queer. With DJ Brian Gorr. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 9 p.m. $20. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Sol/Saturday, June 25

June's been a big month for Seattle rapper Sol—aside from being named to the Bumbershoot lineup, a longtime goal, the self-proclaimed academic graduated with honors from the University of Washington. And since he dropped one full-length album and two EPs during his four years there—with another EP, the phenomenal five-track endpiece Dear Friends, Vol. III, on the horizon for July—it's only right he adds another achievement as the EMP sponsors its first hip-hop "After Hours" lineup: his first headlining gig. While the entirety of the EMP will be open to concertgoers, the main attraction will definitely be in its Sky Church; support comes from a familiar presence in Grynch, aka the King of Ballard, as well as some of the scene's most exciting, fresh faces in smooth-flowing Kirkland duo Kung Foo Grip. With DJ Nphared. Experience Music Project, 325 Fifth Ave. N., 770-2700. 8 p.m. $10. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

Blonde Redhead/Sunday, June 26

What unites two such disparate artists as perfectly symmetrical avant-popsters Blonde Redhead and introspective bass-music producer Nosaj Thing? Not their labels—Nosaj records for L.A.'s omnivorous Alpha Pup, Blonde Redhead for the inimitable 4AD (and formerly for Touch and Go). Not their cities—Nosaj hails from Los Angeles, Blonde Redhead reps NYC (by way of Italy and Japan). No, what unites these tour partners is a certain aesthetic sensibility, a shared taste for delicate sonic details and for juxtaposing the rough with the smooth. Nosaj's productions, whether his own or remixes for Drake or the xx, fuse sub-woofing beats with beautiful melodic work; Blonde Redhead coat their noisier instincts with the sugar lacquer of Kazu Makino's cooing and the Pace twins' synth and guitar melodies. Together, they make for one sweetly strange bill. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $20. ERIC GRANDY

My Morning Jacket/Sunday, June 26

Over the past 12 years, My Morning Jacket has gone through the kind of perfect, organic growth that you wish every band would. Starting as a ragtag bunch of longhairs from Louisville, Ky., who loved Skynyrd and Neil Young alike ("Southern Man" be damned), the musicians proved early on that they could balance warm folk balladry in front of a wall of Marshall stacks, with singer Jim James' heavenly voice suited perfectly to either speed. While MMJ could easily have stayed in that comfortable territory and made a decent run of it, they've constantly pushed themselves into exciting, beautiful, and just plain weird sonic lands. Their newest LP, Circuital, is a playful, soulful album full of anthemic rockers and torchy slow burners which finds James stepping out from behind his trademark wall of reverb, letting the guitars and keyboards provide the colorful, swelling atmospherics that make seeing My Morning Jacket a massive and ethereal experience. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 467-5510. 7 p.m. $41. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Dropkick Murphys/Monday, June 27

The spirited brand of Celtic punk-rock Dropkick Murphys have been playing for 15 years should be instantly recognizable to anyone who's celebrated a St. Patrick's Day or come into contact with anything from Boston—thanks in no small part to decidedly anthemic songs like "Shipping Up to Boston" and Red Sox victory tune "Tessie." Their seventh LP, March's Going Out in Style, continues the tradition of shout-along choruses and no slight tendencies toward whiskey, Guinness, and fistfights. Concertgoers might be wise not to make any plans for the next day that a handful of bruises or a hoarse voice would interfere with. With Chuck Ragan. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 682-1414. 7:30 p.m. $26.50. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

Two Gallants/Monday, June 27

Looking back now, Two Gallants seem like one of those acts that come up ahead of a trend, inadvertently paving the way for lesser imitators and middle-of-the-road muck. In the early '00s, these two scruffy San Francisco punks were playing bristling, ragged folk ballads in basements and on street corners, well before popular culture—via the likes of the Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons, and The Head and the Heart—was growing beards and yearning for boxcars. Ironically, the band released their last album in 2007 and went on hiatus in 2009, right around the time their sound was beginning to gain significant ground. Perhaps that's partly why they reunited earlier this year to tour and begin work on new material: Someone has to show those softies how it's done. With the Mumlers. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. ERIC GRANDY

Sonny and the Sunsets/Tuesday, June 28

Prolific San Francisco troubadour Sonny Smith spent much of 2010 working on 100 Records, a project in which he wrote 200 (!) songs for 100 fictitious artists. This year he's back to focusing on his garage-pop outfit, Sonny and the Sunsets. The band—which includes Sub Pop–signed songwriter Kelley Stoltz—just released Hit After Hit, the full-length follow-up to their charming debut, Tomorrow Is Alright. The retro songs of Hit After Hit are as peppy and saucy as the title, all driving beats, jangly guitars and tambourines, and smirking, insouciant lyrics (the wry opener "She Plays Yoyo With My Mind" and the swaggering "Teen Age Thugs" are standouts). It's the ideal soundtrack for an all-day summer beach party. With the Sandwitches, Seapony. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $8. ERIN K. THOMPSON

 
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