This Week's Recommended Shows

From Wolves in the Throne Room to Fu Manchu.

David Dondero/WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11

Singer/songwriter David Dondero is a ramblin' man, a troubadour, considered by some a modern-day Woody Guthrie—an artist as committed to an experience of authentic American life as to the exalted prose he crafts in response to it. He's crisscrossed the nation from road trip to road trip, navigating through an endless highway of characters linked through rich, regional shades of the American landscape. "Wherever you go/then there you are," he sings on "Wherever You Go," off his latest album # Zero With a Bullet, a track sandwiched between "Carolina Moon" and a song about po'boys. Sufjan Stevens once boasted he'd score an album for each of the 50 states, but in his succinct seven-album catalog, Dondero has genuine tales of each one. With Ghosts I've Met, Levi Fuller. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $10. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Bryan John Appleby/THURSDAY, JANUARY 12

As scruffy, folky troubadours go, Seattle pretty much has the market cornered. But while many of his local counterparts' worldviews begin and end with bedroom-bound acoustic strumming, Bryan John Appleby's world is a much more colorful, interesting place. As a songwriter he's staggeringly well-balanced, writing spindly, splintered narratives of lovelorn lost souls that exist as sentimental but strong characters—the kind you feel sympathy for, but who never fall into spineless, woe-is-me territory. On his first full-length LP, Fire on the Vine, Appleby's gentle voice and acoustic foundations get fleshed out into fully fledged, masterfully polished arrangements while still retaining the intimacy of a living-room performance. With Motopony, Tomten. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $8. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Blouse/THURSDAY, JANUARY 12

As scruffy, folky troubadours go, this Portland trio—bassist Patrick Adams, breathy vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Charlie Hilton, and producer/multi-instrumentalist Jacob Portrait, who also plays with fellow PDX band Unknown Mortal Orchestra—had a busy 2011. They released a single on Brooklyn's Captured Tracks, another on Sub Pop, and a self-titled full-length back on Captured Tracks in early November. The popularity of dreamy haze-pop is well-established by now, and in the wake of M83 and quieter successes like Sub Pop signees Still Corners and Seattle's own Seapony, Blouse's detached and gauzy sounds don't exactly sound new. But that doesn't mean they're not worth listening to—their best song, "Videotapes," employs muted beats, screwy synths, and spacey lyrics ("You're not in my hands/But I often see you in my head") to connote a beautiful sense of a climaxing, joyous daze. With Seapony, DJ Sharlese. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9:30 p.m. $8. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Hot New Sounds From Oly/FRIDAY, JANUARY 13

The dream of the '90s is also alive in Olympia, where, of course, it never really left. It's still a dirt-cheap town to live in, sleepy enough that you have to make your own fun, but with a rich tradition of punk and indie rock and always animated by fresh influxes of college kids. But the three bands touted here as "hot new sounds" also hew to a more specific dream of the '90s—one where punk draws outside its own self-imposed three-chord lines and indie rock turns up the scuzz until the two meet in the middle, looking kind of like Homestead Records. Gun Outfit contrasts bright, clean riffs with sardonic, deadpan singing; Milk Music throws fuzzy guitars and purposeful screams against a tumbling rhythm section; Broken Water treads alternately sludgy and clear currents, with male/female vocals that recall prime Sonic Youth. A stellar show, even before you get to Seattle space rockers Kinski. With Kinski. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 9 p.m. $8. ERIC GRANDY

Fu Manchu/SATURDAY, JANUARY 14

It has been said that Fu Manchu has only one song—an anthemic, humorously distorted stoner-rock riff played ad nauseam over a wind tunnel of percussion and best delivered via the blown speakers of a vintage muscle car. Let's be frank: This actually is an undisputed truth, but one to which I consistently retort, "Who cares—it's THE BEST SONG EVER!" If your heart pumps nitrous and you prefer to wear your Vans 'til they fall apart, it's virtually impossible not to have a good time at a Fu show. Tonight is extra-special, as they're celebrating the reissue of . . . In Search Of and will play the whole bongload from start to finish. With Helms Alee, Witchburn. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. HANNAH LEVIN

The Fucking Eagles/SATURDAY, JANUARY 14

This rollicksome Tacoma group is one of the local bands most effective at transcribing '50s-style R&B/dance as guitar-led happy punk. On the surface, their sound seems something like Jet's if Jet weren't lame, with friendly love/out-of-love lyrics that emit a self-aware poppiness. But don't be fooled—there's a competent rock foundation beneath the smiley sheen, as foretold by their totally rad (probably Big Lebowski–influenced) moniker, which delightfully belies their sonic jolliness and makes one respect them even more. It's one thing to make infectious dance-rock, another to kick ass while doing it. With the Suicide Notes, The Snap. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $6. TODD HAMM

Allen Stone & the Seattle Rock Orchestra/SATURDAY, JANUARY 14–SUNDAY, JANUARY 15

Local soul singer Allen Stone is a rare talent in that his voice is as pristine and naturally powerful as they come, able to soar above most mortals' highest note just as surely as he can deliver a confident low tone and swing effortlessly throughout his broad range. He's still a developing artist, though, in that his songwriting (or song-selection skill) is still waiting to be fully realized. For now, he's a big, pretty revolver with an untrained sight. This actually makes live performance the perfect way to experience the blond bomber, when the spectacle he creates with his command of his voice can take center stage. He'll be backed these two nights by the Seattle Rock Orchestra, who should add a bit of depth. With Kris Orlowski (Sat.) and Noah Gundersen (Sun.). Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849. 9 p.m. Sat., 8 p.m. Sun. $15. All ages. TODD HAMM

Wolves in the Throne Room/TUESDAY, JANUARY 17

North American black metal has been gathering steam for some years now, with in-depth profiles in The Believer, prominent reviews on Pitchfork, and fuel for the fire in the form of OG Norwegian black-metal documentary Until the Light Takes Us. (I think Skyrim fits in here somehow, too.) The niche style has even developed a couple of outstanding crossover acts. In Brooklyn, "transcendental" black metal act Liturgy brings the form classical training and theoretical frameworks. Locally, we have Mount Eerie's earnest tinkering with the idea of black metal and Olympia's Wolves in the Throne Room's far more direct, though still distinctive, take on the genre. On records such as last year's Celestial Lineage, Wolves stretches both black metal's symphonic tendencies and its guttural blasts to their ends in service of a non-denominational pagan/eco-mystical worldview. We're lucky to have them in our backyard. With Master Musicians of Bukkake, Druden. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 8 p.m. $13. ERIC GRANDY

 
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