This Week's Recommended Shows

Feist, Fox and the Law, Fruit Bats, and more.

AraabMuzik/Thursday, November 17

Tonight is a stacked bill, but its biggest star is the Akai MPC. The "music production center" with its 4x4 grid of sampler pads has long been the iconic tool of hip-hop beatmakers, and tonight's performers are all masters of the instrument, both in the studio and live onstage (AraabMuzik's rapid-fire, beat-flipping set was a highlight of this year's Decibel Festival). The Red Bull Music Academy–sponsored show goes like this: First, each performer plays a set of their own music, from AraabMuzik's synth-laced hip-hop to Jeremy Ellis' future funk to Party Supplies' house-flavored fare; next, the three each build and perform a song from a shared set of samples; finally, the three collaborate to create a new song on the spot. Expect flurries of blurry finger-tapping and some truly world-class beat science. With Jeremy Ellis, Party Supplies, 12th Planet (DJ set). Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 8 p.m. $7. ERIC GRANDY

Big Sean/Thursday, November 17

Most rap albums contain a certain plea for the listener to buy into the artist's personality, based upon the simple principle that one needs to empathize with the storyteller in order to give a crap about what they're saying, something that is doubly true in a lyric-reliant, image-heavy form like hip-hop. On his industry debut Finally Famous, Detroit's Big Sean is rarely able to pull the listener in based on personality alone, as his style—shit, even his stage name—isn't different enough to set him apart from a majority of the pack. Yet he's won the favor of one of the best artists in the game (he's signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music), and has been moved from Showbox at the Market down the street to SoDo to accommodate his fan base. The deal is that within these fairly common parameters, he can rap quite well ("Put her hands down my pants/Now she rockin' Sean John"), and his tracks are laced with agreeable production from big names like No I.D. and the Neptunes. With Cyhi the Prince, Shawn Chrystopher. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 652-0444. 7 p.m. $20 adv./$22 DOS. All ages. TODD HAMM

Earl Brooks/Thursday, November 17

For every Seattle band that hits the big time, an incalculable number continue to labor below the radar. One such artist is Earl Brooks, a middle-aged singer/songwriter who's rounded the open-mike circuit since the early '80s and has lately held down a weekly residency at Cafe Racer. Combining the calculated, slow drawl of Cass McCombs with the world-weary melancholy of Townes Van Zandt, Brooks is proof positive that if you love what you do but can't get a break, you just have to find a place to hunker down and hammer it out any way you can. Cafe Racer, 5828 Roosevelt Way N.E., 523-5282. 9 p.m. Free. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Feist/Thursday, November 17

If anything can be said about Leslie Feist, it's that she's gracefully deliberate. In 2007, an iPod commercial deposited her gleeful "1234" to minivans and Whole Foods playlists nationwide. After touring hard on The Reminder, she stepped out of the spotlight (and music entirely) and let some of that effervescent fizz subside. Her newest album, Metals, relies less on the showtuney sass of The Reminder and digs into earthen themes of regretfully lost love and mortality. Metals was recorded on the edge of a cliff staring into the ocean in Big Sur, and breathes with the breeziness of fresh, salty air and tall, swaying pines. It's the sound of Feist reconnecting with her own curiosity as well as taking control of her own fuse, making sure it's a slow burn rather than a rush to one quick, dramatic explosion. With Chilly Gonzales. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $33 adv./$38 DOS. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Fox and the Law/Thursday, November 17

On their self-titled EP, Fox and the Law demonstrate two distinct facets of their sound, moving from bare-bones punk to slowed-down garage-rock blues (unsurprisingly, singer and guitarist Guy Keltner calls Jack White his "hero") over the course of four songs. The one constant? Big riffs, which go along with a technical proficiency that belies that the group's relative youth. With this show, Fox and the Law will be supporting a good cause—it's a benefit for village development in Peru, part of "Rock the Village," a concert series started last year by recent UW graduate Mario Abata that also includes a December 7 show from The Horde and the Harem. With the Fabulous Party Boys, Ticktockman, Posse, The Grizzled Mighty. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $6. ANDREW GOSPE

The Clumsy Lovers/Friday, November 18

It's often noted that Vancouver, B.C., country/rock/bluegrass group the Clumsy Lovers is a road band; their website credits them with more than 2,500 live shows. Far from the slipshod implications of their name, this five-piece dynamo is a rock-solid music-making machine, cranking out blazing, string-fueled country anthems a mile a toe-tapping minute. It's been a couple of years since the release of their latest album, 2009's Make Yourself Known, yet the group appears to tour just for the joy of it; with such world-conquering ambitions and zesty enthusiasm, it's hard to imagine that another album is far away. With Perry Acker. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Fruit Bats/Saturday, November 19

Eric Johnson has been making country-tinged folk-pop as Fruit Bats since 1997, but it took him until 2011 to make what feels like his most personal album. That would be Tripper, the band's fourth album on Sub Pop, which was released this past August. While 2009's The Ruminant Band recalled more Southern rock or '70s AM radio, Tripper deals in a decidedly mellower strain of Americana, centering on Johnson's songwriting and leaving plenty of space for him to tell his stories. The result is a record less immediate than its predecessors, but still rewarding after multiple listens. Fortunately, Fruit Bats' live shows are as immediate as they come, evoking The Ruminant Band's freewheeling spirit rather than Tripper's relative serenity. With AGESandAGES, Joseph Giant. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12. ANDREW GOSPE

WU LYF/Saturday, November 19

Manchester, England's WU LYF is not a Wu Tang Clan tribute but a garage-rock band of four mysterious 20-somethings. WU LYF, an acronym for World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation, initially gained notoriety for their purposely low profile—they refused to do press and turned down record deals, instead recording an album by themselves in an ecumenical church in Manchester. The band has recently begun to grant select interviews, but still much of what we know about WU LYF is just the music heard on that album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, which happens to be fantastic. Frontman Ellery Roberts' scratchy, Waitsian vocals are laid atop beautifully fluid guitar melodies, an intoning organ, and rolling drumbeats. The music takes on a captivating, liturgical quality. Roberts rather succinctly described his band when he told Pitchfork earlier this fall, "No one can understand us, but anyone can connect with us." With Crystal Antlers. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 8 p.m. $12. ERIN K. THOMPSON

***EDITOR'S PICK

Devon Williams/Sunday, November 20

Euphoria, the second solo album from vocalist/guitarist Devon Williams (formerly of SoCal punk band Osker) is aptly named, if we're going by sound alone. The music is all buoyant melodies, light and lively guitar riffs, and cute, chirpy vocals. Listen to the words Williams is singing, though, and things start to wilt. "Lately, I can't get your sympathy," he muses on the single "Your Sympathy." "So grey, so unhappy/Wonder how it is it caught me," he mourns on "Right Direction." Lyrically, there isn't a single uplifting song on the record. What's with the contrast? Williams cleverly leaves a key in the fourth track, "Dreaming"—"Euphoria in turning from the world/Waiting for something more." In other words, his state of bliss wasn't in the brooding subjects of the songs, it was in the loving, encompassing process of creating them. With Craft Spells, Seapony, Wet Illustrated. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $8. ERIN K. THOMPSON

tUnE-yArDs/Sunday, November 20

If only more rockers could have the proverbial balls of tUnE-yArDs Merrill Garbus. Her set is so massive it's made unenlightened d-bags question her gender. Everything about her shouts "Hey assholes, I'm not going to bow to your conventions— grammatically, musically, or aesthetically." She will not wax her glorious mustache for you or anyone else. There's something wholly liberating about an artist not at all interested in your fanship. Garbus' focus is making music for folks who want to be challenged by what they listen to, not merely entertained. From one track to the next, you don't know where Garbus and co. will take you—electro-dance ditties, tribal wackiness, or her yelping along with a drum and a saxophone—forcing you to get on board this crazy train and enjoy the ride, or jump off it full tilt. With Pat Jordache. Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 682-1414. 8 p.m. $15 adv./ $17 DOS. All ages. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Joe Ely/Monday, November 21

Don't judge Texas by George Bush, Rick Perry, the Enron swindlers, the heat, the sprawl, big oil, big hair, the Cowboys, cowboy steaks, SMU's coke habit, Roger Clemens' steroids, or J.R. Ewing's drunken philandering. Judge it by Joe Ely and guys like him, including the likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Billy Joe Shaver, Robert Earl Keen, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and James McMurtry. These guys epitomize what they call Texas music, a mashup of boogie-woogie, straightforward rock, folk, country and south-of-the-border sounds. Beyond their music, these guys can outdrink you, outthink you, kick your ass in your driveway, kill your calf for supper, and steal your girlfriend with a midnight serenade. Guys like this give Texas its swagger, and will charm you against your better instincts. So don't even try to resist Ely, who's among the more accomplished troubadours in this flock. With Son Jack Jr. Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $20 adv./$24 DOS. All ages. MIKE SEELY

Plaid/Tuesday, November 22

Few genre tags are as divisive, or as grudgingly necessary, as IDM. "Intelligent dance music"—as codified on Warp Records' landmark 1992 compilation Artificial Intelligence—suggested, obviously, that electronic music could be as smart, challenging, and avant-garde as any other music (and insinuated that other electronic music of the time was not these things). As suited to home listening as to a live or club setting, IDM was characterized by meticulously detailed sound design and melodic and rhythmic experimentation—clicks and whirs and sample jitters playing outside the usual four-on-the-floor grids. Plaid wasn't on Artificial Intelligence, but the duo, which debuted in '91, have signed with Warp since; and while their stuff can be more straightforward than the weirdest of their peers', with pretty melodies or easy beats cropping up here and there, expect it to sound plenty thoughtful live. Lately their work has focused on audio-visual collaborations, so expect your retinas as well as your cochleas to be dazzled. With Copy, Vox Mod. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. ERIC GRANDY

 
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