PHAROAHE MONCH, GRAY MATTERS, BAD HABITAT, DESTRO
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) Since cracking open hiphop's cerebellum with the dizzyingly dark, swirlingly complex, and intellectually sizzling Organized Konfusion in the early '90s, New York's Pharoahe Monch has remained many things: poignant, profound, political, punk as fuck, and even, perhaps, a bit picky. Over 20-plus years Monch has released precious little: three records with Organized Konfusion, and three solo outings (and relatively few guest spots). Part of this, it seems, is Monch's desire to complete whole albums rather than chase singles. Monch's LPs establish arc, flow, and narrative through-lines. Although he's always tugged at the threads of conspiracy and injustice—not to mention gleefully throwing wrenches at pop music's twisted hierarchy—in the Obama era, Monch has become increasingly appalled by the US's imperial warmongering abroad and ever-expanding threats to both privacy and equality at home. Monch's most recent record, 2010's W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), sounds prescient, as if written in response to the news of today. Which makes the long-awaited, soon-coming P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) all the more scintillating. Expect to catch a glimpse tonight. ART Also see My, What a Busy Week!
FULL OF HELL, HABITS, SEVEN SISTERS OF SLEEP, WORTHLESS EATERS
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Personally, I'm not really a big fan of hardcore, or any band that even slightly peppers their music with elements from said genre. Everybody just seems all puffed-up and mad, and I just can't get behind music fueled by hate and fury alone. But the Pennsylvania/Maryland-based outfit Full of Hell I can get behind, because I sure don't want to be standing in front of them. On their new full-length Rudiments of Mutilation, Full of Hell sounds really, really, REALLY fucking pissed off. Rudiments is 10 tracks and 24 minutes of pure ferocity. You can almost hear the throbbing veins in their foreheads vibrating with wrath. Its grinding noise and blasting hardcore riffs induce total, eye-widening terror. Perhaps the main reason I enjoy Full of Hell so much is because I'm scared not to. ARIS WALES
FREE ENERGY, BATTLEME
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Exactly 64 seconds into its sophomore album Love Sign—self-released in January to avoid "perfect soundtrack for summer" buzz, I guess?—Free Energy provides plainspoken guidance on how to best enjoy its music: "Turn it on. Turn it up. Let the moment breathe!" As the internet splinters music into a million pieces, these Philly power-pop partisans recall a simpler time, when bands like Cheap Trick, the Cars, and T. Rex walked the earth and the cowbell wasn't a tired punchline from a TV show. Love Sign is a sweet, nostalgic record packed wall-to-wall with songs about girls: hanging out with 'em, dancing all night with 'em, falling in love with 'em before the sun comes up. Free Energy is a throwback band with a knack for massive hooks that aim straight for your heart and hips, but want little to do with your brain. BEN SALMON