The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

From Das Racist and Hull to Lights and Chali 2na.

Das Racist/Wednesday, November 9

Like some lovable supervillains, Spin "comedy issue" cover boys Das Racist move into stage two of their plan for world domination with new album Relax. This is their first commercially available release (following two excellent mixtapes charting their rapid growth in 2010), and it sounds like it; there's a concerted effort to make the hooks bigger, the catchphrase choruses irresistibly dumber, the hard raps harder, and the pop songs poppier—from the EL-P–featuring mean-mugging of "Shut Up, Man" to the goofy, triumphant singalongs of "Michael Jackson" and "Brand New Dance" to the breezy, ecstatic love letter "Girl." This last is an especially unexpected triumph, the sort of thing that should seal a million romance-kindling mixtapes this year. All of which is not to say the group has lost their free-associative stoner wordplay, deep rap and academic references, or wildly inspired punch lines—or what to expect from their notoriously unpredictable live show. With Danny Brown, Despot. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15. ERIC GRANDY

Unknown Mortal Orchestra/Wednesday, November 9

It's rare that a band can make the past sound novel, but Unknown Mortal Orchestra's self-titled debut does exactly that. Released in June, the album combines the freewheeling guitar experimentations of psychedelia with breakbeats and tightly wound, krautrock-leaning song structures to produce 30 filler-free minutes of music. But for better or worse, all this gets overshadowed by the band's backstory. Much like the similarly '60s-pop-influenced Cults, Unknown Mortal Orchestra seemingly emerged out of nowhere a year ago after posting a demo of "Ffunny Ffriends" on its Bandcamp page. However, unlike many bands that rapidly gain blog buzz, Unknown Mortal Orchestra has the collective chops to back it up—evidenced by Ruban Nielson's effects-laden guitar work and Julien Ehrich's rock-solid drumming. Expect an exercise in distinctly futuristic nostalgia. With Gauntlet Hair. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 8 p.m. $12. ANDREW GOSPE

Hull/Thursday, November 10

If you feel the earth shaking on Capitol Hill tonight, it's not the fabled big one, but the H-bomb that is Brooklyn's Hull. They bring it all fierce and brutal, so naturally they garner comparisons to Neurosis and Mastodon. Which is not a bad club to be in, but these boys' take on new metal is wholly fresh, avoiding the trappings less-imaginative bands in their genre tend to fall into. Each song on their latest, Beyond the Lightness, varies in tempo, song structure, and intensity, creating an edgy anticipation for the next track powerful enough to stay with you even after multiple listens. Much of this is due to the band's triple guitar assault. These kids realize there is more than speed to metal-guitar work, and throw out inventive, unexpected riffs that create a musical story of their own. With Adora, Bell Witch, Aerial Ruin. Highline, 210 Broadway Ave. E., 328-7837. 9 p.m. $5. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Lights/Thursday, November 10

Valerie "Lights" Poxleitner is a diminutive young Canadian whose girly voice was meant to be layered over lush electronic backgrounds and danced to in gay nightclubs forever. Her synthed-out, Erasure-esque songs are also perfect for Gossip Girl, Real World, or any number of coming-of-age television shows. She's mysterious and foreign enough to one day achieve the stature of, say, a Robyn, and already wipes the floor with the likes of Britney Spears or whatever Kardashian sister is attempting to break into the music biz at any given moment. Dismiss Lights as a lightweight if you insist, but this 2009 Juno Award winner's compact songs are pleasant at worst, infectious at best. And she's super-cute too, which never hurts a live performance. With Rubik. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7:30 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. All ages. MIKE SEELY

Trip Fantastic #1 Release Party/Thursday, November 10

Jason Baxter is half of local electronic duo USF, Hardly Art's newest publicist, and now a published comic-book author. Trip Fantastic, a fantasy series Baxter co-wrote with Mac Hamilton, debuted online in September. It's spectacularly illustrated by New York–based graphic designer Derek Charm, who depicts in bold colors and flashing neon lights the life of ultra-famous daredevil Trip Fantastic, a sort of futuristic, sexier Evel Knievel who lives in a world that runs on things like antidepressant soft drinks and exclusive lists of the 600 most famous people in the world. Tonight, Trip Fantastic #1 will be available in physical form for the first time, in a limited run of 30 issues. The event will also feature refreshments, the silk-screening of Trip Fantastic T-shirts, and a live DJ set by Self Actualized—the solo DJ alias of Beat Connection's Reed Juenger. Cairo, 507 E. Mercer St. 6 p.m. NC. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Hey Marseilles/Saturday, November 12

The title track from "Elegy," the new 7-inch by Seattle's orchestral, Mediterranean-tinged songsters Hey Marseilles, begins with a poppy vocal "na-na-na-na, oh" intro and ends with an uncharacteristically spacey post-production blip. In between, though, frontman Matt Bishop reprises his role as the valiant troubadour from the band's much-loved To Travels and Trunks, and he and the backing instrumental crew practice their traditionalist romp style as well as ever. The B-side, "Café Lights," is heavier and more resolute than "Elegy"'s carefree jauntiness. The contrast of style is a welcome change, and hopefully a sneak peek into their next full-length (which should be out early in 2012). With Bryan John Appleby, Nick Jaina. Neptune, 1303 NE 45th St., .682-1414. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$14 DOS. All ages. TODD HAMM

M83/Sunday, November 13

M83's long, rewarding journey from blippy electronica to imaginary film scores to full-on '80s synth-pop splendor reaches some kind of ridiculous apotheosis fairly early on into new album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming—right about when the saxophone solo starts Tim Cappello-ing all over the last minute of lead single "Midnight City." It is a glorious moment—the first of many on this surprisingly fast-going double LP. What elevates this stuff above pastiche or LOL '80s nostalgia is the wide-screen strength of M83's songwriting, the enveloping depth of their sound design, and above all Anthony Gonzalez's total commitment to nailing every wailing crescendo and dreamy interlude with equal care. This is the sort of thing that narcs will call a "guilty pleasure" (no such thing) or accuse of opportunistic superficiality. Don't listen to them. Dream on. With Active Child. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 6 p.m., 9:15 p.m. Sold out. ERIC GRANDY

Memorial for Benny Hills & Benefit for Seattle Drum School/Sunday, November 13

Ben Hills was a Seattle drummer, Comet Tavern bouncer, and much-loved Capitol Hill personality when he died in a tragic house fire two years ago. Since then, the Comet has hosted two memorials in his name to benefit the Seattle Drum School, a place where, according to Ben's mom Marianne, "Ben was nurtured and mentored from the time he was 12." On the second anniversary of his passing, Ben's friends and bandmates offer a third benefit to honor the spirit of a cherished friend and musician who simply loved to rock. With Sean, the Shallows, Local Dudes, 350's, Pearl of Champagne Champagne, the Piniellas (members of Hills' band the Shy Ones), Rob Femur, the Sweet Pups. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 5 p.m. $8. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Youth of Today/Sunday, November 13

To be mentioned in a Hold Steady song, a band must have a certain amount of relevance to the underground music scene. It's telling then that a punk-rock lifer like Craig Finn included a whole verse about Connecticut punk band Youth of Today on "Barely Breathing," a track from his band's most recent album. Formed at the tail end of the hardcore movement in 1985, Youth of Today espoused a straight-edge, vegetarian lifestyle and released three full-length albums and an EP during its brief lifespan. Finn's lyrics offer a good gloss on the band's history, its occasionally violent fans ("There were skins in the pit/Some of them tried to kill me"), and singer Ray Cappo's fascination with Hare Krishna. Now that YoT has reunited for a national tour, the youth of Seattle will get a chance to appreciate this seminal and uncompromising group for themselves. With DYS, Focused Minds, Sleepwalkers, Not Sorry, Cowardice, Outlook, Wreck, Fought Alone. Studio Seven, 110 S. Horton St., 286-1312. 4 p.m. $15 adv./$18 DOS. All ages. ANDREW GOSPE

Chali 2na/Monday, November 14

"The Verbal Herman Munster," former rhyme-lending member of noteworthy Los Angeles acts Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, Chali 2na is a Chicago-by-way-of-Cali MC with a cartoonishly deep voice (his handle plays off the animated StarKist tuna mascot "Charlie") whose name has popped up on indie, and even mainstream, hip-hop radar a number of times over the past decade. In 2009, his solo debut Fish Outta Water provided a few flashes of his past prowess, including a nice collaboration with big-time Seattle producer Jake One and talented local vocalist Choklate on the track "Keep Goin'." Whether he will be joined onstage by any hometown favorites remains to be seen, but the set should include a few classics regardless. With MTHDS, U-Crew, Luminaries. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $15. All ages. TODD HAMM

***EDITOR'S PICK

Austra/Tuesday, November 15

Austra is the Toronto electro-pop trio of bassist Dorian Wolf, drummer Maya Postepski, and icy blonde vocalist Katie Stelmanis (whose middle name is Austra). Stelmanis' scintillating voice and the band's gothic dance sound often gets them likened to the sharp Swedish techno duo The Knife— particularly Stelmanis to Knife/Fever Ray vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson—and it's an apt comparison. Stelmanis is leagues less creepy than Andersson, but Austra's debut album, May's Feel It Break (which was shortlisted for Canada's prestigious Polaris Prize this year, although it eventually lost to, natch, Arcade Fire's The Suburbs), contains insistently propulsive tracks like "Beat and the Pulse" and "Lose It" that recall the cool, minimal sheen of The Knife's classic Silent Shout. It's music as hard and glittering as a disco ball. With Grimes. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 8 p.m. $12. ERIN K. THOMPSON

 
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