THU 03-22

BERZERK, FIVE CENT REFUND, SPARE LEAD, CABAL

(Pine Street) Do you long for the days of Minor Threat--back before the independent music industry was just a grody mirror of the system it was originally trying to buck? Or maybe you're just nostalgic for that bare-bones hardcore, the kind that existed for only the purest motives (veganism, maybe?). Local kids BerZerk are the answer. Between singer Joanie's raw-throated caterwaul and the old school hardcore sound of the guitar and rhythm sections, it's no surprise Recess Records has picked them up for a CD/10" and is sending them on a U.S. tour (for which this is the kick-off). The best highlight from their album, They'reafterme: "Meow," in which Joanie sings the chorus ("Meooooooooooooow") in the most uninhibited, crackly holler. Send BerZerk on their tour with a kiss and a memory. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

THE PLACES, M. WARD, THE OPERACYCLE

(Lola's at the Crystal) This is a show that's all about getting lulled, slowly, into a dreamy, acoustic lullaby that's innocent and vulnerable, but sweet because of it. The Places include Amy Annelle, who sings so earnestly, it's hard not to be completely captivated despite her small voice. M. Ward is, likewise, all about humming and crooning and being nice to all those people who you hated five minutes ago. He's got a new CD (End of Amnesia) coming out sometime in early summer on Howe Gelb's label (Ow Om), and it features all sorts of great Portland musicians (including Norfolk & Western's Adam Selzer and Operacycle drummer Jordan Hudson). KATIA DUNN


THE BROTHER EGG, LAUREL CANYON

(Medicine Hat) There's all kinds of music that gets tagged as psychedelic, simply because the listener is at a loss to explain the odd chord, the miscellaneous mutter or anything that sounds remotely Middle Eastern. I offer the fine work of Mr. Adam Goldman, the prime mover behind The Brother Egg, as a genuine example of someone who understands the genre. At first glance, everything seems normal enough--swirly pop music with unusual finesse--but then you start to notice the strange little bits: gently swaying tempo changes, puzzling lyrics, maybe a few unexpectedly cerebral interludes. If that's not enough psych cred, Goldman will soon be working with Nick Saloman from the Bevis Frond, who has been at the forefront of contemporary psychedelia for more years than I can remember. I'm not sure if that's a lot or not, but it sounds right. JOHN CHANDLER

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, LITTLE CHAMPIONS, JOHN VANDERSLICE

(Meow Meow) So-called "Death Cab for Cutie" is not an "emo" band. The first record to be called "emocore," thus spawning the true genre, was a record by a band called "Rites of Spring." Do you think "Death Cab for Cutie" has ever listened to the band "Rites of Spring"? Do you think "Death Cab for Cutie" has listened to "Built to Spill"? John Vanderslice, auteur de San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studios, is incredible--a singer-songwriter who busts past the stigmas that go along with being a singer-songwriter (i.e., his acoustic guitar sounds more creative and space-y than folky, Moog-like noises, esoteric lyrics, horns, amazing melodies, etc.). His new album, Time Travel is Lonely, will be released in April, and it's definitely worth filing next to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, or your Bowie collection. Little Champions, alternately, sounds like another, much-lamented DC band--Tsunami. This is because their vocalist has the same resonance as the underrated voice of Jenny Toomey. But, though they share the same jazzy pop music accentuated by their acerbic intelligence, Little Champions has enough of an identity to keep the similarities from being annoying. Their keyboards, melodies, and the fact that they do not seem apathetic or jaded make their show worth the whole cover charge. That is, if you can get in past the kids there to see the emocore of Death Cab. JS


FRI 03-23

BIG SANDY & HIS FLY-RITE BOYS

(Berbati's Pan) I doubt that anyone will ever accuse Big Sandy and his stalwart fellows of being aggressively hip or anything. Their corn-shucks and overalls take on dance music is something you could easily enjoy in the sittin' room with Mom, Dad and a cold, tinkling glass of iced tea. If this sounds like a nightmarish scenario, then by all means go write a despair-drenched letter to Trent Reznor and rip out another handful of dyed-black hair. Big Sandy and company pour out an amiable blend of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys and croony, hayride music that practically demands you get down and party with your inner rube. Better than a pancake breakfast with real syrup, by cracky! JC

ADEN, TRACK STAR, THE ARCH ANGLES

(Meow Meow) I think Aden makes some of the best pop music out there, without question. They have mastered the art of being sugary-sweet, yet have not sacrificed any sense of musicianship or songcraft to reach that point (and they don't turn to the cooked cow that is the 1960s for advice). One key to their music is that they hardly ever use full chords--there are three guitars going all at once, and their attention to detail is pretty in an almost-Baroque fashion (although, for a Baroque influence, there is a serious lack of mandos). Not to mention lead guitarist/articulate vocalist Jeff Gramm--his voice is as warm and soft as a thousand velvet pillows. JS See Bio Box Pg 19

HAR MAR SUPERSTAR

(Robot Steakhouse) For those of you who think New Edition's Greatest Hits is the best album ever released, but in a semi-ironic dance party way, then you cannot miss Har Mar Superstar. You will kick yourself later. Har Mar Superstar is the devious, headphone-wearing alter-ego (twin brother?) of Sean Na Na, and he makes faux, early R&B music that is like the musical equivalent to The Onion columnist, Smoove B. You know, "Mmm baby, your skin is so fine like honey, and I'm going to freak you all night long," and whatnot. It's spoof pop, but it's done well enough that you know Har Mar is not just being a postmodern asshole--he has a real affinity for this music. And if you listen to "Mr. Telephone Man" again, you will, too. RONNIE, BOBBY, RICKY & MIKE

THE OPERACYCLE, SPECIES BEING, COSMOS GROUP

(Medicine Hat) Words are really so overrated in music. We've become so conditioned to expecting them to be the mantelpiece to every kind of band, that we forget that there are other, amazing things we can do with instruments that deserve to the mantelpiece too. And it really doesn't all sound like musak. This show promises to be all about instrumental mantelpieces, as it features Portland's own stellar Operacycle, who, if you haven't seen, are brilliant madmen. Likewise, San-Franciscans Species Being play this kind of spaced-out, improvised electronic music that feels dreamy and anesthetizing and incredibly engaging, despite your suspicion that it's right on the edge of spilling over into noodle-ville. KD


SAT 03-24

CROATAN, BLOODHAG, DIESTO, C-AVERAGE

(Ash Street) See Music sextion or pg 15 in paper.

ALPHABET DRESS STARRING THE NATRONS, THE INTIMA

(536 NE Cook, 7 pm) Do you ever have one of those times at a show when it's just like, damn I'm so glad to be in this moment with these people listening to this band, I mean this is IT, and you get all sentimental and shit, like this music is about community and happiness. Well, anyone who heard The Intima's last show at the Meow Meow will know that when The Intima played that last song, the feeling in the room was no less than fucking beautiful. And don't go thinking they're hippies, either. The Intima play this kind of inspirational, passionate kind of punk rock that is so jagged and raw, but seems to all be wrapped up in this tiny little girl who plays violin maniacally. Think I'm cheesy? I dare you to disagree after you've seen the show. KATIA DUNN

AKIMBO, GUESTS

(Meow Meow) See Music Bio Section or pg 19 in paper


SUN 03-25

THIRD AND FAILING, PASHA, THE PRIDS

(Medicine Hat) So, you've heard the Mercury "Compact Disc of Sound," and you're like, "wow, the recording quality is so great--those booming drums--that Steve Albini room sound--why, it must be the work of Pat Kenneally at Ground Score!" BUT did you know the very same Pat Kenneally is a guitarist and vocalist in a band called THIRD AND FAILING? Oh yes, he is, and they ROCK in a dichotomous, loud-and-heavy-yet-catchy (almost poppy) way. We don't really know what their songs are about, because Pat is too busy screaming the lyrics and scrunching up his face. But if you wanted to pretend their songs were about the feeling they actually convey to you, they might be about: hammers, dogs, a broken radiator in a Dodge Dart, some asshole who drove over a kid's bike, a lucky penny smashed by a train. This is all just speculation, however. Pasha plays an intricate "post-rock" distortion thing with good bass lines and solid vocals. I've only seen them once, so I cannot elaborate any more. JS


MON 03-26

JIM WHITE

(St. John's Pub) So what made former surfer-dude Mike Pratt change his name to Jim White and slap a big ol' cowboy hat on his noggin? Blow to the head? Vitamin deficiency? Hayseed girlfriend? For whatever reason, Jim White has emerged from parts unknown and shaped himself into a pretty formidable purveyor of weird, post-mod, country-goth tunes. His latest record, No Such Place, is kind of a bleak slice of pie, but it works for me. Forging hairy folk-tales and whiz-bang production techniques, White has successfully carved some gnarly elbow room out of the kudzu and blackberry brambles, rolling into town like the imposing stranger with apocalyptic secrets. You've never seen him before, but he knows all about you. Get a rope and we'll string him up. JC


TUES 03-27

CO-ED PUNK NIGHT STARRING DEFIANCE, THE APPLICATORS, ONE DAY WAR, RIOT COP

(Meow Meow) Not to keep harping on it, but fuck. Right now, we need true punk rock more than ever. We need the kind of punk rock that kicks mediocrity and homogenization in the face--the political kind. We need to motivate, organize, mobilize. Why? Well, maybe because G.W. Bush is reinstating the Reagan Administration/Cold War at stupidly unstoppable speeds (NUCLEAR WEAPONS are SOOOOO 1984!). Okay, well also maybe because the shit is getting so boring, what with the advertising and companies and you know, the products we introduce into our lives constantly. I mean have you been to Pioneer Square recently? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Whatever, I'm sure you have a reason to be pissed off and freaked out. And if not, you need to go to this show more than anyone. And if political content scares you, just go enjoy the co-ed punk fun and let the rest absorb subconsciously. This has been an earnest rant courtesy the Mercury and the shoplifters of the world. Unite! JS

RUINS, GHIDRA, STARANTULA

(Pine Street) No Wave... now resurging as a genre near you. Actually, the whole No Wave phenomenon has been blistering away on the outskirts of cool for decades. Bands like DNA, Boredoms, Blood Thirsty Butchers, Zeni Geva, and Cars Get Crushed all represented some form of the genre's penchant for noise and accompaniment. Who can pass up screeching vocals, bass lines that sometimes lend a funky hand, and being pummeled by drums with immediate force, so loud your ears beg for a trip to the emergency room? Ruins is a two-piece setup that compromises no sound. For those brave enough to stand in front of the stage and witness the event, it will be the best 12 bucks on a noise show you ever spent. F. VENTURA-PENA


WED 03-28

IMPROVISED MUSIC WORSH0P STARRING DIGEST:, HYTHEN, THE SANDBEES, MORE

(It's a Beautiful Pizza) Tonight's edition of the Improvised Music Workshop stars Hythen doing "CD manipulation, mixing," the wild keyboards, turntables, and bongos (but no mandos) of The Sandbees, and an ad hoc ensemble that is sure to be amazing, as it includes Mome Raths' Josh Blanchard on bass and Rollerball's Shane DeLeon on trumpet and clarinet (plus Jason Bueller on guitar and Tim Duruche on drums)! Not to mention the electronic improv group Digest:. Go see what these kids come up with when they plug their instruments in and re-program for random. JS

764-HERO, THE SHINS

(Lola's at the Crystal) Although they went through a slump where the ratio of their crappy bands was exponentially higher than their good ones, it seems as if Sub Pop Records is finally getting back up to speed. The first sign of this rapture was the release of their tribute to Bruce Springsteen, including a track by the amazing Eric Bachmann (aka my second boyfriend, Crooked Fingers--sorry, Meowface!). The second sign is that they're releasing the new Red House Painters album. And the third? They signed The Shins, a foursome from New Mexico that has all the right amount of fuzzy rock and poppy bellyaching. Their new album, Oh, Inverted World, should be out sometime this summer, but tonight you can catch a sneak peek. As for Sub Pop, they've got four more signs to go before we all start having divine revelations and taking to the streets. JS


GOING TO SEATTLE?

Thurs 3/22: Abby Travis, Math and Science, Rome (Graceland);

Fri 3/23: Sugarhill Gang, Busy Bee (EMP); Jeremy Eade (Sonic Boom Records); Jurassic 5, The Beatnuts, Mint Royale (Showbox); Lynch Mob (Catwalk); Death Cab, et al (Paradox)

Sat 3/24: Automaton, ExbEstfriEnds, Peter Parker, Sientific American (Local 46); Track Star, Seldom, Aveo, Aden (Paradox);

Mon 3/26: Ruins, Ghidra (I-Spy), Poseur, 12-Volt Sex, The Cock-Ups (Graceland)

Wed 3/28: Bullfrog, FCS North (I-Spy); Sushi Robo, Sanford Arms, Jon Auer, Spyglass (Crocodile); Drums & Tuba, Fairgrove (Graceland); Gas Huffer, The Cripples, DJ Tim Hayes (Sunset Tavern); Xzibit, Tha Alkaholiks (Showbox)

For more info, visit www.thestranger.com

In Stores March 27: 2Pac, Jon Auer, Bardo Pond, Beauty Pill (Smart Went Crazy), Big Punisher, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, R.L. Burnside, Chamber Strings, Deluxtone Rockets, Dismemberment Plan/Juno, DJ Smash, Phonography, Drunk Horse, Embarrassment, Emperor Penguin, For Stars, Further Seems Forever, Gangsta Boo, Gene Loves Jezebel, Geraldine, Ghetto Twin, Gorillaz, Ben Harper, Havergal, Ori Kaplan Percussion Ensemble, Bob Marley & the Wailers, MIA, Mobb Deep, Oneida, Operator Generator, Orange Drive, Pearl Jam, Brad Shepik, Skinny Puppy, Snow Patrol, Steely Dan, Sunless Day, Swag, Wipeouters, Wisdom of Harry, John Zorn

Pop Quiz: How many of the above artists with new releases are either dead or broken up?