THURSDAY 2/9

STARS, THE ELECTED

(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Stars' new CD, Set Yourself on Fire, is an icy, haunting, tremulous, voluptuous, SOLID piece of rock. It's a hyper-creative toboggan ride through avant-pop past and present (we see Roxy Music, Bowie, Sigur Rós, etc., blur by in bursts of color) with Love Below-like semi-jazz arrangements, woozy cabaret piano, and sawing cello that's more Bach Cello Suites 3-4 than, like, band-knows-somebody-that-kinda-plays-some-cello-and-brings-it. It's polished but not glossy, orchestrated but never clichéd. Buy the record. Go straight to "Your Ex Lover is Dead." Email me, and we'll talk about how great it is. ADAM GNADE

FRIDAY 2/10

OAXACAN, PLANTS, WORLD

(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) Rhythmic chaos! Unlike a lotta so-described "free-rock" bands, Oakland's Oaxacan takes a pulsing, clattering, chittering, hammering, groaning, barfing, tapping rainstorm of noise and organizes it into head-nodding, tribal-ish, hypnotic rhythm. While the drums free-jazz themselves into the cosmos, guitars rasp all dry like grasshopper wings, and vocals make whale songs and wolf cries, an invisible conductor snatches everything from space and structures it into dance music. Or more so, freak-the-fuck-out music. Or lie-on-the-club-floor-and-convulse-and-reenact-your-birth music. Even if you haven't heard of this band, don't let it stop you. Break free from the shackles of your comfort zone! AG

WORMWOOD, BOOK OF BLACK EARTH, BLACK NOISE CANNON, WORLD OF LIES, TORMENTIUM

(Paris Theatre, 6 SW 3rd) Wormwood's what they make absinthe out of, but these guys don't need that shit to cut off your ears. They just need church organ intros, a billion tons of heavy guitars and guttural rip-out-your-throat scream-roars. And soon enough, you're earless, batshit insane, and painting in big blobs of impressionist color à la Vinnie V. Gogh. Except now you're painting savagely impaled bunnies, not sunflowers, and instead of paint, you're using gobs of blood, guts, and murder. Earmuffs won't save you. Bring a helmet. BART SCHANEMAN

PARKS & RECREATION, ISOLADE, TEA FOR JULIE

(Berbati's, 10 SW 3rd) I'm not interested in writing about Parks & Recreation's new album, What Was She Doing on the Shore That Night? (as a whole—even with only nine tracks—it's just kind of enjoyably forgettable), but I do want to write about one of its tracks, the inanely titled but ridiculously catchy and haunting "La La La La La," which I can't, for the life of me, stop listening to. It's a discomforting, disconcerting, two-and-a-half-minute-long emotional sucker punch that manages to marry P&R's poppy aesthetic with lyrics that're at once romanticized and forlorn, alien and familiar, confused and depressing—which is pretty goddamn impressive, all (briefly) told, and well worth checking out. ERIK HENRIKSEN

DEAD MEADOW, FILM SCHOOL, THE OUT CROWD

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Dead Meadow has been around for a while, and, by their own admission, has angled into the recent indie "we blindly love anything vaguely considered 'psychedelic'" appreciation party.  However, unlike the rest of them wannabes, DM DOES get somewhat FREAKY. Um, freaky like in an '80s Spacemen 3 stoned shoegaze haze meets Godheadsilo in a hammer fight kinda way. See, they ain't really "'60s psychedelic" like Blue Cheer's first couple records, or (ahem) the NEVER psychedelic Led Zeppelin. Of course, that AIN'T a bad thing, but '60s "psychedelic," and, well, "heavy" was never much for shoegazer stoned drones. That said, I LOVE the shit outta DM! FUCK man, they swing some devastatingly HEAVY, DIRGY stoner HEAT. So if their's IS the kinda heavy plodding fuckin' up you like to get fucked up on, you'd better get in line and let DM get to fuckin' you up! MIKE NIPPER

SATURDAY 2/11

RICHMOND FONTAINE, PINEHURST KIDS, IAN MOORE

(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) Here's a quirky little show with members from three distinct brands of angst. You've got your literate, whiskey-soaked sad-rock in Richmond Fontaine; you've got your self-loathing, brutally personal indie-folk in Seattle's Ian Moore; and sandwiched in between, you've got your love-sucks, screamy emo-thrash Pinehurst Kids, who, after nearly nine years in the biz, aren't really kids anymore. Regardless, this will be a good night. JUSTIN W. SANDERS

FAILING RECORDS RELEASE PARTY: BATS FROM THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT, PLEASE STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE, MICHAEL THE BLIND

(Berbati's, 10 SW 3rd) Someday when the United States is no longer a superpower, and the world has ceased to be the world as we know it, archeologists (or aliens?) will dig through the rubble that was Portland and find copies of Failing Records' (as of 2006) three A Compilation of Portland Music CDs, where bands like I Can Lick Any SOB in the House, 31Knots, and the Jolenes act as time capsules of What Was. In the here and now, Failing is set to release volume three of their comp, which brings together 41 local bands on two CDs. Do your part for posterity: Go to this (free!) CD-release show and buy a ($7!) record. What this'll mean to any future people/aliens/whatever is hard to tell. What it means to us is a crapload of good music. AG See also Prizefight, pg. 61, My, What a Busy Week, pg. 11, and It's Who You Know, pg. 21.

SUNDAY 2/12

ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI, BELONG, PLANTS

(Berbati's, 10 SW 3rd) Over email, a friend recently tried to break down Ariel Pink's "artistic motives" and get all Behind the Music on what "his stuff means." And he got it all wrong. Most people get it wrong. You read it everywhere—music writers (who are very wrongish people to begin with) buying into some kind of "outsider artist" mythos and essaying Ariel like he's Wesley Willis or Henry Darger or some shit. So here goes: Ariel Pink is Ariel Rosenburg, who lives in LA, does a lot of home recording and fancies himself some sort of Brian Wilson or Phil Spector. He makes records that sound like '70s AM radio pop, Olivia Newton-John's "Physical," and the Mamas and the Papas cut up with a giant ginsu knife, then tossed into the wok. The shit comes out fried, crunchy, mixed up (flavorwise), but still catchy as hell, and still—no matter what kinda noise is sprinkled atop—pop music. It's premeditated, and sculpted, both the songs themselves and his public persona. The guys from the Animal Collective saw it, and are now releasing a shit-ton of his home recordings on their Paw Tracks label. This is good. Because mythos—debunked and otherwise—aside, the man makes great music that sounds both totally original and totally familiar. AG See also Music, pg. 13 and My, What a Busy Week!, pg. 11.

JEFF HANSON, SOUTHERLY, PROTEST HILL

(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) Elliott Smith-ish folk singer Jeff Hanson's quivery, girlish croon is at first off-putting to the point of discomfort, and yet there's something about it that demands repeated listens. Upon subsequent go-arounds, it proceeds to seep into your bloodstream and slowly infect your brain until it's hard to remember when it ever wasn't a part of you. This is because Hanson, like Thom Yorke, Nico, and other vocal innovators of decades past, has a singing style so unique, it actually teaches you a new way of listening to music. Like growing pains, the process kind of hurts, but when it's done you're bigger because of it. It helps that the dude's an incredible songwriter, with sad, introspective lyrics and lilting melodies—it's like aspirin for your ache. JWS

MONDAY 2/13

THE JUAN MACLEAN, TIM SWEENEY, MANTRON

(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) The Juan MacLean is John MacLean, ex-Six Finger Satellite, who began life (and career as a B-level Sub Pop act) playing Stooges-style rock, before moving deeper by the minute into new wave, electro, dance punk—whatever you wanna call it. Now, years after SFS's final release (1998's Law of Ruins) MacLean is on dance punk's premier label, DFA. But he keeps moving forward; where SFS's later stuff was kinda Devo-ish, the Juan MacLean leaves a lotta the punk behind and dives face first into the dance. The result is Chicago house and Detroit techno moderned up and painted all artsy. Sometimes it works and you feel like you're listening to something new and brash and good; other times you're holding your girlfriend's purse while beats drop like shit from Big Gay Al's nightclub in South Park. Whenever John heads to artsier waters, the ship sinks and everybody drowns. Mostly, though, he's on top of his game and keeps the crowd moving like a field of swaying wheat. AG

THE HONORARY TITLE, LIMBECK, KOUFAX, JEFF KLEIN

(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) The Honorary Title draws critical comparisons to Elvis Costello, while its tourmate Koufax conjures Joe Jackson. Despite musical and lyrical similarities to these early-'80s angry-young-man icons, these groups don't attract aging hipsters. Instead, they're introducing piano pop to teens, most of whom haven't heard anything like it, excepting some Get Up Kids tunes (Koufax recruited that now-defunct band's rhythm section for a tour) and big brother's Ben Folds CDs. The Honorary Title pairs singer/songwriter Jarrod Gorbel and Aaron Kamstra (synthesizers, organ, and piano.) Gorbel's vocal arsenal includes distraught shouts, intense multi-octave warbling, and hard-consonant dismissals. Like Costello, he spikes lovelorn tales with a serrated sense of humor, choosing wry self-deprecation over emo's epidemic self-pity. ANDREW MILLER

TUESDAY 2/14

BOB MOULD, HOLCOMBE WALLER

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) I've never been one to roll with the nostalgia crew, so let's do this: As much as I know and understand and love Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould's solo work can suck it. Remember in the mid '90s when a buncha huge, monolithic, mainstream rock bands suddenly "discovered" "electronic dance music" and "incorporated" so-called "electronica" into their sounds? You got crap like U2's Pop, Oasis' Be Here Now, and about half (the crappy half) of the Smashing Pumpkins' Adore. On last year's Body of Song, Bob sounds like one of those old, moldy alt-rock-cum-electronic bands. There's never enough electronics to be a main dish; it's all shitty song intro garnish and Cher-ish vocal effects. Do you bee-lieve in life after love? Better question: Do you believe art should be respected just because the artist did something good in the past? Questions aside, the CD cover to Body of Song looks like a lame happy hardcore or hi-NRG techno comp. That being said: Weird, semi-political, folky Holcombe Waller is worth leaving your house for. His newest CD is Troubled Times, out on Napoleon Records. Dynamite! AG

SLEEPY PEOPLE, TRANSMISSIONS FROM ARIZONA, MANTRON, DJ TIGERSTRIPES

(Dunes, 1905 NE MLK) It's love love love at the Dunes this Valentine's, with booty shakilicious new wave grooves from synth-meisters the Sleepy People. Unlike many new bands, the Sleep-Peeps practiced their asses off for months and months before ever playing out. The resulting sound, guided by the smooth, cool vocals of Firiel Galloway, is thus amazingly polished for a band you've never heard of. But you will soon, oh yes. Catch 'em now before they explode. JWS

WEDNESDAY 2/15

MI AND L'AU, JOSEPHINE FOSTER'S BORN HELLER, WORLD

(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) The back story on this one is cute as fuck: A few years ago, Finnish model Mi and French soundtrack maker l'Au meet in Paris, fall in love, and after bouncing around between apartments, they decide to say "fuck it" to everything and move off into the woods of Finland where they can be left alone. In serious, no BS isolation, they make music that's gentle and lilting and full of flute and acoustic guitar and witchy, bone-cold silence. Somewhere along the way, they're picked up by ex-Swans member Michael Gira (who was referenced 500,000 times last issue), and he releases their great self-titled Mi and l'Au CD on Halloween of last year. Mi and l'Au are touring right now, and as the critical reaction suggests, they'll probably be at it for a while. Still, I'm sure they can't wait to head back to Finland when this is over and hide their love away. Tell me you wouldn't do the same thing. AG

SOME GIRLS, AKIMBO

(Food Hole, 20 NW 3rd) Akimbo's instrumentation suggests an appreciation of several decades' worth of classic and hard rock, while everything else—especially Jon Weisnewski's relentlessly screamed vocals—bares a strictly hardcore intent. Forging Steel and Laying Stone—the outfit's fourth long-player, and its first for the Alternative Tentacles label—places the band firmly in mainstream crossover poise, which is a rarity in their aesthetically abrasive terrain. "Breaking Rocks" sets off as a rough-edged, angular punk number, only to be knocked squarely off its trajectory by dynamic chunk chord progressions and Nat Damm's flexible drum attack. The attention and space given to meaty classic-rock riffage and Damm's ability to turbulently bolster Stone's swaggering trajectory provide just enough breathing room for those who really want to dig more conventional, sonically rigid hardcore, but may not feel compelled to endure an entire album of the stuff. Similarly, Akimbo's policy toward painstakingly selected equipment and analog-recording techniques finds a sound that should satisfy even the most elite production-conscious snobbery. GRANT BRISSEY

PINBRAWL: DANAVA, MOONCHILD

(Ground Kontrol, 511 NW Couch) In Hindu mythology, Danavas are the demon sons of Danu. In the Rig Veda, the oldest of all Sanskrit books, they are seen as an evil army defeated by the Devas. Which makes sense when you hear Portland's Danava. Where a lot of psychedelic bands go for mellow kicks, peaceful easy feelings, and other hippie crap, Danava is a menacing, brooding, psycho blast of fuzzy, heavy Sabbath rock with a singer (Dusty Sparkles) who looks and sounds like some kind of peyote-ed shaman—wild, jittery, screeching, calling down ghastly demonic forces to scorch the earth once and for all. Only there's no earth scorching going on here, just good, sinister psyche-rock being played while you drink Black Butte Porter and play Ground Kontrol's crazy assortment of old school pinball and videogames. AG