Tonight: We Are Scientists, Jeremy Burk, The Toadies, Menomena (For Free!)

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We Are Scientists, with Black Whales, Rewards. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. In 2005, around the time that similarly cheeky rock outfits like Art Brut and the Arctic Monkeys were surfacing, Berkeley's We Are Scientists released their hooky debut record, With Love and Squalor; it was an instant favorite among the indie crowd. WAS has since been spending their time wandering into synth and rave territory, creating and starring in a Flight of the Concords-like MTV series called "Steve Wants His Money," and releasing a shouty, rowdy, and somewhat traitorous song for the 2010 World Cup called "Goal! England!" Now functioning as a duo, with Keith Murray on vocals and guitar and Chris Cain on bass, the band's latest album, Barbara, finally returns them to their roots - singles "Rules Don't Stop" and "Nice Guys" are both neat and sweet, purely enjoyable pop ditties. ERIN K. THOMPSON

WAS is also playing a free, all-ages in-store at Sonic Boom Records on Capitol Hill at 7pm tonight.

Jeremy Burk, with Levi Fuller, Robert Deeble. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9 p.m. $7. Jeremy Burk's debut album, I Hope You Find What You're Looking For, is the offering of a man who seems like he's searching for something himself. Burk's voice is distinct in its imperfections -- it cracks and breaks the way an old dusty record pops and hisses on the turntable, and when he reaches for notes Burk sounds either hoarse or like a parrot of Conor Oberst's distinctive whine. Burk sounds best when he's not trying so hard. The songs are solid, but it's obvious that Burk, a competent, talented songwriter, is still in the throes of creating his own unique sound. Since What You're Looking For is Burk's first album, it stands to reason that any future offerings will improve on what is already a pretty good thing. SARA BRICKNER

The Toadies, with Dead Country, The Absolute Monarchs. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $20. All ages. Most people remember the grungy Texas quartet the Toadies from their 1994 Billboard smash, the slithery, squealing "Possum Kingdom." But for me it was always all about "Tyler," also off the band's debut, Rubberneck. "Tyler" is demanding, thunderous, and bone-chilling; sure, it's ultra-dramatic, but the pathos in Vaden Todd Lewis' wail is real. I still play it on repeat. And realizing that it's about a stalker breaking into a girl's bedroom just underscores the fact that something's a little off about these guys. (Depending on who you ask, "Possum Kingdom" is either about vampires or a serial killer.) After a few less notable records and a breakup, the Toadies are back together and touring to promote the August release of Feeler, the original follow-up to Rubberneck that their label rejected back in 1997. Welcome back, creepsters! ERIN K. THOMPSON

Menomena. Easy Street Records Queen Anne, 20 Mercer Street, 691-3279. 6 p.m. Free. All ages. Awesome new album! Awesome 100% free opportunity to see them live!

 
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