THE GROUCH, DJ FRESH, BROTHER ALI, SNUGGLES, ELIGH, LOS RAKAS
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Honest, personal lyrics are not exactly what you expect from hiphop these days, but Brother Ali stands apart. Sometimes political, sometimes tackling tough issues of religion and race (Ali himself is albino), his songs are always heartfelt and empowering, engaging the audience like they're a room full of his best friends. VIRGINIA THAYER
ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD, ROYAL MONSTERS, IOA, LEE COREY OSWALD
(The Artistery, 4315 SE Division) Funny lyrics about Con Air and the awkwardness of personal songwriting ("at least we're saying something/And I hope that no one's listening/ Because this is kind of embarrassing/And everyone who hears this thinks we're joking") can only go so far. But Andrew Jackson Jihad backs up the They Might Be Giants-style white-boy faux-lofty musing with actual songwriting skills—rocked-up folk songs with horns and a wall of guitars—and a sense that they won't kill a song's essence for a cheap joke. It's rare that you encounter a jokey, quirky band that feels like a collection of people you think would actually be smart and literate in "real life." AJJ is just doing what comes naturally, and they sound good doing it. PAUL CONSTANT
TAME IMPALA, STARDEATH AND WHITE DWARVES
System and Station, and Low, as well as a link to the complete show listings, after the jump!
SYSTEM AND STATION, OXCART, POLICE TEETH
(The Knife Shop at Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) One of Portland's unheralded treasures, System and Station have been going strong since 1998 and show no signs of letting up. Their newest album A Series of Screws (the fifth full-length in an impressively prolific discography) might be the most rewarding listen they've crafted yet, 10 concise rock songs that contain spiraling subtleties and inventive songwriting. With the long, bearded shadow of Northwest indie rock becoming more and more diffused as bands like Built to Spill and Modest Mouse enter the twilight of their most vital years, it's satisfying to hear System and Station carrying the banner in their own unique fashion. Tonight is a free show—but you're asked to bring a toy for needy children; it's also a benefit for Transition Projects, and it's being filmed for a DVD release at some point in the future. NED LANNAMANN
LOW, CHARLIE PARR
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) In anything other than small doses overly jolly holiday music treacle—Phil Spector notwithstanding—can wear out its welcome, especially when put up against the more forlorn, chilly end of the holiday music spectrum. So it makes sense to learn that Low recorded a Christmas album in 1999 (it's called simply Christmas); this year it's been re-released on vinyl. I haven't heard it, but I can't think of a better band to trudge through a selection of holiday songs than the Duluth, Minnesota, husband-and-wife duo, who've always had a tinge of wintry moroseness in their quiet, slow-burning rock. The last Low album came out in 2007, but guitarist Alan Sparhawk has gotten the Led out with his two recent Retribution Gospel Choir albums. Still, it's always good news to hear that a new Low record (provisionally titled C'mon) is on the way for next year. On this brief holiday tour of the western US, Low is playing new tunes from C'mon as well as seasonal fare from Christmas, plus a portion of tunes from all their other records as well. NED LANNAMANN
Complete show listings can be viewed here.