(Ash Street, 225 SW Ash) As someone who has to be routinely reminded to tie his shoes, it's always impressive to meet a person blessed with a spot-on elephant's memory. Stan McMahon, despite 50-plus years and 50,000-plus beers under his belt, is still sharp as a tack when it comes to rock 'n' roll. Rightfully earning his self-styled reputation as "The Human Jukebox," the man's mental songbook is heavy with Beatles, Byrds, and Big Star. Though he's mainly garnered attention with his Guided by Voices cover band, Giant Bug Village, the Stan McMahon band serves up equally tasty slabs of power-pop goodness. JOSH BLANCHARD

FRIDAY 12/30


(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Though I have an inkling they won't be invited back anytime soon, Pretty Monster gave a performance at Acme recently that will go down in that still-young bar's history as a peerless classic. In front of a baffled crowd of approximately 20, PM frontman Milo Arr, a bespectacled, bookish guy sporting a dime-store skeleton costume, hurled himself around the room in a frenzy of torrential energy. Sweat flew off him in sheets as he grabbed, shoved, and groped spectators unabashedly, breaking only to twirl the microphone and dive onto a table, which proceeded to break in two beneath the pressure of his wriggling mass. So entranced by this relentlessly passionate display was I, that I really can't remember what the music was like, though I have a hunch it was AC/DC-ish screech-rock. But it could have been countrified gangster rap, and we would have been riveted, because Pretty Monster is all about Arr's joyous, uplifting, unadulterated love of what he is doing, and the arrows of love transcend all musical genres, even smashing furniture to find the targets at which they are aimed. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS



(Sabala's Mt. Tabor, 4811 SE Hawthorne) What a trooper. Matt Pike, legendary guitarist of stoner-metal architects Sleep, and current lead warrior in High on Fire, has a broken wrist. And he's coming to play anyway. Luckily, Pike plays circles around most shredders, relying on pure fury and (sold) soul rather than technicality or other nonsense. Even with one arm tied behind his back, there will be the usual Armageddon of riffs, thunder of drums, and throbbing of bass (courtesy of Joe "Thrones" Preston). Portland and High on Fire have had a mutual love affair for years, and this special New Year's Eve event is that much sweeter and "eviler," thanks to the crusty power metal stylings of Fall of the Bastards, and the constantly maturing doom-sludge of local trio Aldebaran. There will not be a louder, drunker, more horns-in-the-air New Year's party in Portland this year. Satan won in 2005 after all. NATHAN CARSON


(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) You may ask yourself, "When was the last time I listened to 'Low,' the semi-hit that made David Lowery sort of famous back when shiny, easy alt-rock ruled the world?" This is a valid question. Here's my answer: It was last night, driving down Sunset Boulevard, on an iPod playlist between Dizzee Rascal and the Jealous Sound. All and all, a pretty modern landscape for an otherwise neglected-yet-timeless song. Granted, most people now think of Cracker as relics from the early '90s, unwashed losers™ who eventually created forgettable records and petered out by the time its core fan-base hit their early 20s and discovered Belle and Sebastian. That's fair enough. But on the eve of 2006, it's still Lowery's 1994 that, for my money, will outdo his 1985, as he pulls a double shift, playing songs from Cracker's long-winding catalog along with the seminal college rock of Camper Van Beethoven, a group he formed over two decades ago. TREVOR KELLEY



(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl.) If some bands are "diamonds in the rough," Berkeley's Half-Handed Cloud is a tiny sliver of glowing red ruby wedged deep in black, jagged slate. Where his Asthmatic Kitty Records label-mates Castanets and label-boss Sufjan Stevens are dazzling, hot-blazing emeralds in a pretty-decent-sized gem case, John Ringhofer of Half-Handed Cloud has never gotten the attention he deserves—but goddamn does he shine! Half-Handed's new Asthmatic Kitty release, Halos + Lassos (out March 7), is chirping, mousy, elaborate folk with a grand—but kinda deformed—chamber-pop pastiche of click clack train-yard drums, Wesley Willis beats, jingle bells, and lyrics that are close to Sufjan's soft-sung narratives but are pushed into hyper-space, amped up faster, happier, jazzier, and brighter (in tone, not brain wattage). You could call it "math-folk" if you wanted to be cutesy, but fuck that. Now, why isn't Ringhofer massively famous? Easy: So we can see him in warm, intimate settings like the Towne Lounge for THREE DOLLARS! I will see you there, but don't talk to me after Ringhofer starts playing. This's my shit, man. Don't eff it up. ADAM GNADE


(Ash Street, 225 SW Ash) While not as explicitly foul of a band name as fellow filthmeisters like Anal Cunt or Fuck God in the Face, Anal Blast instantly triggers a series of colorful mental images. Once you get past that initial repulsion though, there are many questions that cry out for an answer. For example: Do they feel their music resembles an anal blast, and if so, is this really a good thing? Also, when visiting home for the holidays this year, did the band's members say "By the way Mom, have I told you about my hard-rock combo, Anal Blast?" or did they wisely skirt the issue. So many questions, so few answers. JB



(Acme, 1305 SE 8th) A few weeks ago on the Mercury's Blogtown, USA, we reported that local guys Another Cynthia got all their gear ripped off after a show. Well, now's your chance to kick down and help a brother out. Tonight Acme's throwing a benefit for the poor fuckers, along with a video premiere and an unplugged set. (The band says they'll be playing with the only instruments they have left—acoustic guitars.) Your new New Year's resolution: Stop being a greedy asshole and support folks that are down on their luck. Or don't—AND GO STRAIGHT TO HELL WHEN YOU DIE, AND LIVE FOREVER IN ACHING, SCREAMING, MINDLESS AGONY WHILE TINY, RED DEMONS THAT LOOK LIKE ERNEST BORGNINE PEEL OFF YOUR SKIN WITH DULL, RUSTY, SWISS ARMY KNIVES, COOK IT IN A GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL AND THEN EAT IT RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! AG