SUSANNA HOFFS, MICHELE VAN KLEEF (Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) In the Bangles, Susanna Hoffs' honeyed voice soundtracked some youthful moments. The singer/songwriter is still making lovely chamber-pop sounds with the reunited crew and on her new solo album, Someday. Wear an armload of bangles so you can jangle dance to her sunny folk songs. COURTNEY FERGUSON Read our article on Susanna Hoffs.
SONS OF HUNS, THE AX, SHUT YOUR ANIMAL MOUTH (Club 21, 2035 NE Glisan) Powerwash your ears with metal! Portland trio Sons of Huns are going to make the rafters rattle with their thick prehistoric rock. Their sound is so big, the castle exterior of Club 21 might buckle like Fred Flintstone's car under the weight of a mighty Bronto Burger. CF
VOICE TRAFFIC, MEMORY BOYS, GLASS TEETH (Red & Black CafÉ;, 400 SE 12th) Memory Boys seem to span the Northwest—their members claim origin in Portland, Olympia, and Whidbey Island—and their music similarly spans the recent pop-music history of the terrain, with echoes of K Records' and Kill Rock Stars' best-loved releases and artists like Elliott Smith and LAKE. The first full-length, Send It Across to Me, is a deviously catchy album, with simple musical ideas that kaleidoscopically expand in front of your ears. Listen to the way "Pact" turns from slow, ground-out chords into a blossoming piano figure and a stunningly warm chorus. Throughout the record, there's church-like organ, Zombies-esque harmonies, bummed-out balladry, sunshiny sing-alongs, and groaning guitar fuzz. These are perfectly constructed pop songs, and Send It Across to Me is a richly interesting and deeply rewarding album—the kind that you hang onto for years and years. It has "all-time favorite" potential written all over it. NED LANNAMANN
WILDLIFE, ALBATROSS (Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) Wildlife's Strike Hard, Young Diamond came out two years ago, soaking wet with contemporary Canada. Visceral first takes, synths shouldered up against guitars, yelps in between the grandiose, so on and so forth. Putting a finger on them isn't the takeaway, though—it's the fact that they offer something highly familiar while still nourishing a nascent desire within the listener's ear. I've found myself listening to "Sea Dreamer," the second track from Strike Hard, multiple times on end. Is it Wolf Parade? Not quite, but close—and still "not quite" enough to undermine that closeness. Opinions aside, the first 10 seconds of any track off SHYD are electric enough to push curiosity into pursuit. JONATHAN MAGDALENO
TOO $HORT, CHILLEST ILLEST, STEADY THE BOSS, MANIAC LOK (Roseland, 8 NW 6th) One of the most enduring figures of West Coast hiphop, Too $hort was just 20 when he dropped his seminal 12-minute-long narrative about a young woman named Blow Job Betty, who enjoyed her favorite pastime so much that she refused to accept compensation, despite $hort's best efforts to monetize her skills. More than 25 years later, he's made consistent forays into the spotlight—the third chorus of "The World Is Filled..." on Biggie's Life After Death is a standout—but he's never left his beloved Bay Area underground for long. His 19th album, No Trespassing, came out in February and features cameos by 50 Cent and Devin the Dude, among others. You have to admire his tenacity, and his swagger is still 100 percent intact, but he hasn't matured any. That's fine, except that Too $hort is at his finest when he tells a great story, and not one of these approaches the charm of "Betty." REBECCA WILSON
THE POLISH AMBASSADOR, UNLIMITED GRAVITY, ELFKOWITZ (Branx, 320 SE 2nd) The Polish Ambassador (Oakland producer David Sugalski, AKA Ample Mammal) is one of those ridiculously versatile music-makers who sound good—if not great—in a lot of different styles. His extensive catalog includes libidinous down-tempo funk, glitchy IDM, dub, chiptunes, and even a gorgeous, angelic remix of Explosion in the Sky's "Your Hand in Mine." The Polish Ambassador live experience is enhanced by visuals person Liminus and dancer/enthusiasm-generator the Great Red Hype. DAVE SEGAL
ICELAND (The Lovecraft, 421 SE Grand) Iceland's new EP, Carrion, is about as chilly and corrupted as you might expect from the name, but that doesn't mean there aren't some solid tunes boiling underneath the darkness. The Portland band plays precise, nearly martial post-punk with gothic flair, with echoes of Gang of Four and the Cult via roiling guitar fury and a barebones but undeniable sense of melody. The trio's most appealing when they're stripped down, and there's plenty of lean, mean rock on Carrion, without anything in the way of fat or sag. Fitting in with this issue's theme of decay and decadence (see Feature, pg. 11), Iceland offer a royal, spoiled treat of the best kind, leaving room for a sweet dessert in the EP's swooning closing track "Strangers." NL
ROGER CLYNE DUO (Hawthorne Theatre Lounge) Roger Clyne spent most of the '90s fronting the Refreshments, that straightforward rock band whose best known song is the wordless theme to King of the Hill. Less influential than the Meat Puppets and less self-serious than the Gin Blossoms, the Refreshments were part of the same milieu of Middle American rock bands that could never quite escape the long shadow of grunge. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, a supergroup with members of Dead Hot Workshop and the Gin Blossoms, started the second the Refreshments stopped. They continued with the same occasionally tongue-in-cheek, Spanish-laden dad rock that appeals to those who loved the Refreshments for their clever lyrics. Recently, though, Clyne entered a serious phase. Unida Cantina, the Peacemakers 10th album, is straight-faced and somber, a downturn that doesn't hold a candle to most of the oeuvre, especially its excellent predecessor Turbo Ocho. Friday and Saturday nights, Clyne performs as a duo with longtime drummer Paul "PH" Naffah. RW