The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

***EDITOR'S PICK

Grass Widow/Wednesday, September 12

After releasing just one record with Kill Rock Stars, 2010's solid Past Time, the San Francisco post-punk trio Grass Widow returned this year with its third LP, Internal Logic, on its own label, HLR Records. (The name is an acronym of the trio's first names—Hannah Lew, Lillian Maring, Raven Mahon.) Internal Logic starts with some squiggling synth noise that sounds like alien transmissions and leads into "Goldilocks Zone," in which the girls muse, "Look at the sky/No one there to find." The song sets the tone for the rest of the album—spacey, curious songs that buzz with a propulsive, glowing energy. On the Star Trek–referencing "Spock on MUNI," the album's standout, the band's la-la'ing three-part harmonies sound positively celestial. With Plaided, Wimps. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $10. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Schew Aquarium/Thursday, September 13

This local band is a delightful trio of goofballs who seem to write songs around whatever silly inside joke has most recently popped into their heads. Two things set them apart from many other fun-loving semi-novelty acts of the time: They can twist those simple ideas into hard-rocking, tightly picked jams, and rip it up live. When I stumbled upon a Schew Aquarium show last year at the Sunset, the band's quirky banter and journeyman rock skills kept the entertainment level surprisingly high, effectively pulling me away from my Flying Squirrel pie and onto the dance floor—a tough thing to do. With the Quiet Ones. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $6. TODD HAMM

Austra/Friday, September 14

Feel It Break, this Canadian electronic outfit's debut LP, was a noteworthy introduction to the band's sharp, icy beats and opera-trained frontwoman Katie Stelmanis' strikingly piercing vocals. Austra followed it with a remix album, Sparkle (unrelated to the Whitney Houston farewell film), and have since been touring and releasing new music in small increments—they made a guest appearance alongside Jim Jarmusch on the 15-minute Fucked Up single "Year of the Tiger," and performed a spooky cover of the Robyn/Röyksopp song "None of Dem" on an Australian radio station. More interesting, earlier this month they premiered a new track at a live in-studio; "Painful Like" is promisingly mysterious and woozy, with a killer, pulsing bass line. Nobody's doing electro-goth better right now. With Vice Device. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $14. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Hot Chip/Friday, September 14

Now more than a decade into their recording career, UK group Hot Chip has long outgrown the intentionally quirky, nerdy takes on electro-funk and R&B/hip-hop phrasing of their early years, evolving into an expansive, subtly powerful, and emotionally charged indie electronic act—all without losing their dorky charm or sense of humor. Latest album In Our Heads features some of the band's strongest work in years, ranging from the melancholic uplift of "Motion Sickness" and the hypnotic dance-floor commands of "Flutes" to the wobbly funk of "Night and Day" and the tender ballad "Look at Where We Are." Now bolstered with two additional live percussionists, Hot Chip is also one of the best live acts going this side of guitarist Al Doyle's old gig with LCD Soundsystem. With YACHT. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849. 8 p.m. $30 adv./$33 DOS. All ages. ERIC GRANDY

Atmosphere/Saturday, September 15

Toward the end of the '90s, a new sort of energy began to roll out from the clubs and indie record stores of Minneapolis to capture a sizable chunk of the underground hip-hop demographic. At its center was Atmosphere, a then-trio (now duo) who made swinging, loop-based, sometimes goofy rap. At Atmosphere's core was the charismatic lead MC, Slug, who spit syllable-packed, highly relatable "modern man" lines about girls, booze, and being an MC in his distinctive loudmouth voice. While some of their work seemed to pander to the growing backpack/lyrical crowd, they were among the first, and it was a refreshing change-up when you grew weary of the more violent hard-core rhymes coming from many other corners of the genre. Their newer product is certainly a departure from those early successes (not necessarily in a good way), but it's always fun to relive their glory days. With I Self Devine, Carnage. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. TODD HAMM

Animal Collective/Tuesday, September 18

The general consensus is that Animal Collective's ninth and latest album, Centipede Hz, is a chaotic, overstuffed mess. Pitchfork's Stuart Berman memorably described it as being "like someone throwing a burrito on your windshield"—which is neither the safest way to drive nor the best way to enjoy Mexican food. Every song bulges and bursts with disorienting digital sound effects, with almost no space left unfilled where a synthetic bell or whistle could sound; yet underneath, these are simple, almost too-easygoing songs. There's no transcendent pop on the level of the band's earlier "My Girls" or "Fireworks"—although newly returned member Deakin comes close with his lead on the hypnotic, awestruck "Wide Eyed." It's Animal Collective attempting to return to their pre-crossover, feral-noise/psych-jam roots, only with so much pop and electronic baggage in tow. This will delight some fans, for sure; others will find it all too much to sift through to find something of sustenance. With Micachu and the Shapes. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849. 7:30 p.m. $27.25 adv./$30.25 DOS. All ages. ERIC GRANDY

James McMurtry/Tuesday, September 18

It's really a shame this show isn't scheduled for the flatbed stage out back of Slim's with the promise of 100-degree heat, a whole roasted pig, and bottomless kegs of Shiner Bock. Simply put, a McMurtry/Gourds bill epitomizes Austin, the Lone Star State's capital whose social currents nevertheless run counter to Texan culture. In Austin, as in McMurtry's lyrics, the river ain't red; rather, it's a clear-eyed, hyperliterate depiction of the folks who populate modern-day Middle America. That doesn't mean you'll be clear-eyed by the end of this show, even if it's at the ornate Neptune instead of Georgetown's industrial fringe. With the Gourds. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849. 8 p.m. $20. All ages. MIKE SEELY

 
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