HUNGRY GHOST, SURVIVAL KNIFE (Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Part of me hopes that the legion of Pacific Northwest garage-punk trios never hear Hungry Ghost's self-titled album. Because it likely would cause them to give up the dream. And that would be depressing, even though they will likely never be as good as Hungry Ghost. If they spend the next 20 years honing their chops, it's just possible they will get there—so long as they have a drummer as good as Sara Lund of the Corin Tucker Band and Olympia's wildly influential post-hardcore pioneers Unwound. Lorca Wood (the Drags) plays bass, and Andrew Price, of the experimental 1990s group Irving Klaw Trio, plays guitar with a dexterously nerdy style that belies the band's overall aesthetic of funky grime. Everybody sings, though Price takes main responsibility for the vocals. An exercise in rock economy, the nine short songs come together to form what may be my favorite album of 2012. REBECCA WILSON
SABOTAGE: A BEASTIE BOYS TRIBUTE NIGHT (Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) It was only a few months ago that Adam Yauch died. Remember his music with Sabotage: Beastie Boys Tribute, which will feature sets from Dr. Theopolis, DJ Gregarious, Pinehurst Kids, plus Nathanial and the Hornblowers—featuring members of the Decemberists, Blue Skies for Black Hearts, the Jackmormons, and more. ERIK HENRIKSEN
NOFEST (Various locations, St. Johns) The St. Johns Nofest is now in its fifth year, luring artists, filmmakers and musicians out from the woodwork for a full day of eccentric fun in that little nook to the north. This year's lineup includes some 90 performances that span genres while giving you that much-needed vacation from the norm (you deserve it!). Some of the better-known include Sun City Girls' Sir Richard Bishop and Snow Bud and the Flower People (the longtime project of Chris Newman of Napalm Beach). Then there's the earthy ambience of Eternal Tapestry guitarist Dewey Mahood's Plankton Wat. My money's on local three-piece Lord, whose Fripp-ian fretboard shenanigans are matched only by the sheer volume. Lots to get lost in here—an afternoon in St. Johns and you'll surely see the light. MARK LORE Also see My, What a Busy Week!
EL-P, KILLER MIKE, MR. MUTHAFUCKIN' EXQUIRE, DESPOT (Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Dig out those neck braces, El-P's back with the bangers. With his history in Company Flow, starting up the successful record label Definitive Jux (host to Aesop Rock, Del the Funky Homosapien, RJD2, Murs), putting out instrumental albums, and producing for other rappers, it's hard to know what to expect from his few-and-far-between solo albums. It's rare for a seasoned artist to not have peaked after two decades in the rap game, but the Brooklyn hiphop guru has recently outdone himself. El-P's latest solo album, Cancer 4 Cure, showcases his rapping, beat making, and executive producing talents. His beats are even more innovative than before, filling out the usual hard-hitting style with booming bass, layers of industrial noise, and unexpected format twists. That, paired with his rhythmic, content-heavy, sharp-edged wordsmithing, make this album something else. ROCHELLE HUNTER Also read our article on Killer Mike.
HUTSON, VIOLET ISLE (White Eagle, 836 N Russell) Portland rock band Hutson makes the kind of music that I'd like to invite over for dinner, by which I mean that it's polite enough to help out with the dishes, but wouldn't ever make boring table conversation—and would likely bring over plenty to drink. Hutson's debut full-length From a Transistor Radio (following up their Reland EP) is home to 12 well-honed tracks that vary from folk-flecked strum ("Black Light Serenade Part 2") to riffy amplifier hum ("Kill Your Scene"). Frontman Bryan Larson leads the trio down familiar but entirely pleasing avenues and discovers interesting twists, like the gradual, krautrock-y buildup on the epic "No One's Home," or the yearningly soaring "Ready to Run," both of which should make Portland playlists for years to come. NED LANNAMANN
GREEN TEAM, ILLMACULATE, ONLYONE, DAIN, TROX, DJ CELSIUS (Ted's, 231 SW Ankeny) You may know G_Force as the prolific producer of some the best local hiphop releases in recent years, including Illmaculate's The Green Tape and his work with TxE. G_Force also raps under the name Calvin Valentine, and recently released the solo record Red Eye Flights. His latest project, Green Team, sees him teaming up with local producer Lawz Spoken for a Cheech and Chong-inspired ode to weed, women, and good times. Green TeamOfficial was initially intended as an EP, but after Lawz and G locked themselves into the studio for a weekend armed with a crate of records and a bag of weed, a full album of beats emerged. Featured guests include Caitlin Cardier, Epp, and Mikey Vegaz, as well as Sandpeople's Illmaculate and OnlyOne, who perform a set of their own tonight. RYAN FEIGH
LEFTÖVER CRACK, JUICY KARKASS, HEPSI, PATRIA JODIDIA DEMOCRACIA PODRIDA (Branx, 320 SE 2nd) LeftÖver Crack, as a name, is a perfect oxymoron, 'cause as any good crack smoker knows—there ain't never no leftovers. The name is the only thing ironic about the band, though. Otherwise, they're 100 percent anarcho-ska-punks that formed in 1998 in New York City; this Portland show is part of a reunion tour. There are also rumors of a brand-new album, which would be the first full-length in more than eight years, following the legendary Fuck World Trade. That album was pure politico gold, featuring Bush, Cheney, and Giuliani gassing the towers on the cover—an image that got the album banned from chain stores like Best Buy and Walmart. The Cracks are also banned from many venues, so I high-five Branx for its bravery. KELLY O
PITY SEX, ZOOGIRL (Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th) A few weeks ago, I was up late at night with a broken heart and troubled mind and saw the footage of Mick Jagger performing with Foo Fighters on a recent episode of SNL. It made everything worse. The prophetic Lenny Kravitz was essentially right, even if he was off by 15 years—"rock and roll is finally dead," I thought. Just as I was about to give up all hope, a friend sent me Dark World, the brusque but brutal new EP from Pity Sex, a relatively new band from Michigan. It single-handedly restored my faith in music produced by guitars, bass, and drums. The excellent "When You're Around" sounds like Rival Schools meets Ride, and "Coca Cola" is a formidable summer jam—but the absolute highlight is closer "Flower Girl," whose cacophonous beauty mirrors love's own catastrophic capabilities. Remember to bring earplugs and a handkerchief. MORGAN TROPER
PALO VERDE, DJ ANDROJENOUS (Foggy Notion, 3416 N Lombard) After listening to PDX duo Palo Verde's latest album Zero Hour, you'll note the crushing miasma of thrashy drums, the magma-low thud of chugging guitar, and an intuitive flair for dissonance. To say it's an accident wouldn't exactly be accurate; the flailing stoner-metal of Terrica Kleinknecht (guitar) and Lauren K. Newman (drums) is spontaneously composed, creating new fissures of ferocity literally on the spot, at every turn. That means every time they play, you're seeing something that no one else has seen before, a breath of fresh air in the sometimes stale and rehearsed arenas of heavier acts. Whether you stack it up against the freakish manipulations of post-rock propagators like Shellac, or relish Zero Hour's somehow nearly seamless execution, it's tough to escape the fact that Palo Verde are probably the rawest band in Portland. See for yourself tonight for free. RYAN J. PRADO
Sun Dec 11 at 6 pm, Tues Dec 13 at 8 pm, Wed Dec 14 at 7:30 pm, Thurs Dec 15 at 7:30 pm, Sun Dec 18 at 6 pm, Mon Dec 19 at 7:30 pm, Tues Dec 20 at 7:30 pm, Wed Dec 21 at 7:30 pm, Thurs Dec 22 at 7:30 pm