MR. GNOME, POINT JUNCTURE WA, SUN ANGLE (Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Cleveland's husband-wife duo Mr. Gnome are a force. Blending a love of creepy surrealism with metal chops, they meld crushing, soaring beauty with towering walls of dark, hard rock. That tends to be a solid combination in general, but when it's produced with a convincing grit like theirs, it's downright celestial. MARJORIE SKINNER
OF MONTREAL, DEERHOOF, KISHI BASHI (Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Of Montreal's mind-fuck, community-theater pageantry is the reason most folks will truck themselves to tonight's show, but for my money, the can't-miss part of this bill is opener Kishi Bashi. The one-man recording project of K. Ishibashi (who's also in Of Montreal) yields sumptuous orchestral brilliance, evidenced on the latest full-length 151a. It's a stunningly good record, not merely chirpy, zany, and whimsical—but also packed full of harmonious, heart-stopping beauty. If you can imagine ELO's very best moments combined with Andrew Bird and a bit of weird Björk introspection—well, even that doesn't really do it justice. Apart from Pet Sounds, perhaps, I can't think of a record that's as singly captivating in its sonic beauty. NED LANNAMANN Also see My, What a Busy Week!
KOOL KEITH, SERGE SEVERE, DAIN, BIG BANG (Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) For the better part of three decades, Kool Keith has rarely paused his hilariously disgusting flow, and only then for something really pressing—like designing lingerie, producing pornos, or devising yet another alter ego. The latest in a long line of characters was featured on 2009's Tashan Dorrsett, about a New York City everyman with a characteristically Keith affection for poop and pee. Dorrsett didn't come close to the brilliance of Black Elvis or Dr. Octagon, mostly because Keith's notoriously creative lyricism seemed to be missing—a form of the verb to defecate showed up on every song. Word has it that a new LP, Love & Danger, is set to drop at some point this year; fingers crossed that it will mark a return to the unhinged lyrical innovation that made the Ultramagnetic MCs one of the most influential hiphop groups of the '80s. REBECCA WILSON
NADA SURF, AN HORSE (Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) In hindsight, Nada Surf's debut album High/Low (which is best, if not exclusively, remembered as being produced by Ric Ocasek and featuring the near-novelty ode to high school prestige, "Popular") stacks up nicely against its exemplars (Weezer, Superchunk) in the cavorting '90s pop/rock oeuvre, and is long overdue for reassessment (the band should really jump on the "exalted album performed live in its entirety" bandwagon). Surf's latest release The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy is also their first non-covers album in four years, and it contains several songs reminiscent of this golden period, such as the propulsive opener "Clear Eye Clouded Mind" and the sparkling, downright exceptional "Teenage Dreams." I'd say they've still got it. MORGAN TROPER
CALEB KLAUDER TRIO, NEW COUNTRY REHAB (Mississippi Pizza Pub, 3552 N Mississippi) It's time for America to take back Americana from the Canadians. I think the problem all began back with the Band, who did those rusty, folky tropes better than we ever did—and now here's Ontario's New Country Rehab. They make foot stompin', guitar strummin', fiddle sawin' music that has its ancestry in old-time American music but rocks a little too hard to be relegated to the folk bin. Their excellent self-titled debut is nothing but a pleasure from start to finish, and this is their first Portland show. With Caleb Klauder's crew also on the bill, this will be the place to park your cowboy boots tonight. NL
MICHAEL GIRA, SIR RICHARD BISHOP, MIKE SCHEIDT (Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) 2010 saw the release of Michael Gira's most recent solo album, I Am Not Insane, as well as the glorious return of his seminal band Swans with My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky, their first album in 14 years. Solo Gira is sparse and acoustic, without Swans' baroque arrangements or wacky experimentalism, but he brings his signature desolation to both the songwriting and the lyrics. The music is just as bleak as any Swans album, with unexpected song structures and melodies, and words just as literate and abrasive. This could reek of trying too hard—a concerted effort to focus on the dark side. But Gira's masculine, affecting voice never sounds contrived, even at its most melodramatic. RW
UNICORN DOMINATION, OTIS HEAT, DJ PIPEDREAM (Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) It's always very much appreciated when bands let us know about their upcoming record release shows. It's possible, however, to commit overkill: Local synth-dance/performance-art outfit Unicorn Domination recently dropped off nine copies of their new full-length, Status. One for me, two for freelancers, one for that guy who doesn't work here anymore, one for the unspecific "Attn: Music" catchall, and four extra copies for good measure. Each press pack was adorned with candy and glossy photos and stickers. Fortunately, Status is a dopily fun record with twinkly synth glistens and crunky bottom end, proving even further that Unicorn Domination is nothing if not committed. They celebrate Status' release tonight; if you're looking for a copy, uh, you can hit me up. NL