NO WAR USO BENEFIT: THE SHAKY HANDS, TARA JANE O'NEIL, FRED NEMO, ILYAS AHMED, DARK YOGA, AARON MONTAIGNE, WORMS
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!.
NAS, LIFESAVAS, LIBRETTO, DJ OG1
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) Nas might be a megalomaniac, but that's much of his appeal. A self-proclaimed prophet (God's Son, Nastradamus), the Queens native has rapped himself a fleeting halo and a steady stream of swipes. It is unlikely that this critical dissonance will be resolved in July, when his ninth album, Nigger, is slated for release. The tsk-tsks of old and new skeptics have nearly drowned out the confidence of the faithful. But with Nas known to fortify under attack (recall his Jay-Z squabble), the understated—at worst, sleepy—performer should preside with much more verve at Roseland and might just remember the iconic verses he so often mumbles in live shows. JALYLAH BURRELL Also see My, What a Busy Week!.
MURDER BY DEATH, DIOS,
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) It wasn't that long ago that the mere mention of a band called Murder By Death brought about visions of either languishing doom-metal or screamo poppycock. However, those equipped with the resolve to look past the proverbial cover of the book inevitably found the brooding, poetic verse of vocalist/guitarist Adam Turla to be nothing if not a contemporary lesson in literary minutia and seafaring shanties. 2006's In Bocca Al Lupo resonated with a kind of spooky sheen that catapulted the band past musical oddity into a legitimate tour de force, with gloomy, cello-laden rock and engaging dynamics leaving little room for connoisseurs of heady sounds to criticize. This year's Red of Tooth and Claw forged an even moodier miasma, with Turla's lava-low croon anchoring orchestral-pop abominations in a more resounding fashion. Simply stated, there isn't a band producing music right now that can hold a flickering candle to MBD's polished cacophony. RYAN J. PRADO
FRENCH KICKS, PSEUDOSIX
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) French Kicks came out of the same New York garage revival scene that brought us the Walkmen, the Strokes, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, none of which are actually garage bands. French Kicks aren't, either; they're really just a run-of-the-mill indie rock band, and it's as difficult to describe what is good about their music as it is unfair to dismissively damn them for being unexciting. Their new album, Swimming, boasts a strong opening track, "Abandon," that features echoey guitar and room-mic'd drums backing a narcoleptic melody. It's an appealingly elusive song, full of forward momentum, but somehow it remains drowsy. Over the rest of the sparsely arranged record, the Kicks never top it, but never do a whole lot worse, either. There's something to be said for consistency. NED LANNAMANN
BARACK THE VOTE: JUNKFACE, ALAN SINGLEY & PANTS MACHINE, ANDY COMBS & THE MOTH
(Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd) There's no doubt the outcome of this year's national Democratic primary will rely heavily on every Oregon voter's decision. With only a few days until your ballot's deadline, three bands will rock in support of Barack. Andy Combs & the Moth will circle around Barack's proposed light of "change" with his (err... their?) multi-personality driven melodies. The boys of Junkface will put down their side projects to come together and deliver their sexy angular jives with plenty of style. Alan Singley & Pants Machine will sing what feels like a declaration of solidarity with lyrics like "The World Was Made for Everyone" and "A Change Is Possible with You and Me." Repeat after me: Yes we can! EM BROWNLOWE
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) Los Angeles-based Leslie & the Badgers make the exact style of country music you wish Jenny Lewis had when she dabbled her feet in the country waters. No offense to her Rabbit Fur Coat, which is fine, but damn if Leslie & the Badgers don't put her to shame. The Badgers generously use the weepiest pedal steel, have sweetly mournful tear-in-your-beer lyrics, and singer Leslie Stevens holds it all together with incredible delivery and even more impressive pipes. Unfortunately No Depression just called it quits, because if there ever was a band that magazine was going to break, this is it. ROB SIMONSEN
VILLAINS, DJ JOEEIRWIN, NATHAN DETROIT, 31AVAS
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Villains are the hotshit Los Angeles remix wizards who have made waves with "Thrilla," which might be to '08 what "D.A.N.C.E." was to last year. If you haven't danced to it yet, you will. They don't need an illuminated cross or a fancy video with lots of T-shirts; "Thrilla" is a stand-alone classic. By resurrecting the cold, lifeless zombie corpse of Michael Jackson and turning him back into the dance floor scorcher he once was, the duo of Mad V and Koncept have wedged their way deep into the party scene as the two DJs you want behind the decks. Of course, all of this is under the radar of Jackson's people, but I doubt he's hip to these sort of things from his hermetically sealed underground bunker in Dubai. EZRA ACE CARAEFF
EL PERRO DEL MAR, LYKKE LI,
THE KILLS, THE CHILD BALLADS
(Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd) See Music Feature.
LARRY YES, BABYDOLLARS, THE GARLAND RAY PROJECT
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) It seems that every few years Larry Yes emerges from some secret backwoods locale sporting a hearty beard and a handful of new songs, all of which are amazing. His latest, Take Me 2 Your Spaceship & Sing Your Soul Song Through Me, is a loose collection of vibrant folk tunes that smother the traditional singer/songwriter's narcissistic entitlement with a inspiring level of innocence and polite happiness. Yes views the world, and especially nature, with a sense of childlike wonder, and he's not alone on Spaceship, his fifth full-length, as the record features cameos from Mirah, Six Foot Sloth's Amanda Mason Wiles, and tons more. This is proof that while his music might feel like the isolated musings of a unique character, Yes is not alone here in Portland. Not even close. EAC
QUASI, TYPHOON, REPORTER
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Quasi are easily among the best arguments to be made in defense of indie rock. Two colossal talents—Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes—come together in the midst of their other now-legendary bands and projects, and spend 15 years (and counting!) making albums that are deeply piano-driven and deceptively hooky, striking that power-pop bull's eye of being easy and catchy, but never simple. They marry and divorce and there's barely a note of their music that betrays the fact. They add yet another huge talent—Joanna Bolme—on bass and hit the road before making her a permanent member. Best of all, they remain hardworking, humble, outspoken yet modest despite having made a universally strong body of work. Supporting them are the spiritual sounds of Typhoon, who sit happily between Akron/Family's boot-stomping wails and the Decemberists' sweeter, lilting folk, and Reporter, whose tightly wound two-minute pop-rock assaults are a welcome breath of rock 'n' roll air. HANNAH CARLEN Also wee My, What a Busy Week!.
BEAUTIFUL DESTRUCTOR: HECATE, RIZE + FALL, VANKMEN, STATAS, & MORE
(Plan B, 1305 SE 8th) Considered the most prolific female producer in the hard electronic genre, Hecate (Rachael Kozak) sees her music as "a channel for occult currents and the force of unrelenting darkness." Influenced by jungle and rave music she heard growing up in Detroit, Hecate straddles the black metal and breakcore scenes with a sound that is about as twisted and morbid as it gets. Themes include witch genocide, menstruation, and Salome, the young lady responsible for the beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Kozak recently moved from a small town in Switzerland to Berlin, and rarely tours the States, but tonight she headlines the breakcore/noise room of Beautiful Destructor, a two-room party also featuring local dubstep and downtempo producers. AVA HEGEDUS
SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN, PORT O'BRIEN, THE OCEAN FLOOR
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) Heavily influenced by the Kinks and the Zombies, the lads in the clunkily named Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin play sparkly, sunshiny pop by way of Springfield, Missouri, with peppy guitars and cuddly vocals intersecting in surprising and dynamic ways. Their new album, Pershing, lends an American beachcombing/Brothers Wilson sound to late '90s Scottish twee, and their twinkling melodicism fulfills the early promise of the Shins. It's guitar pop done right, and a much finer alternative to similarly upbeat guitar-pop sensations Vampire Weekend, thankfully lacking the awkward fusing of dumbed-down world music elements and the Vamp's spring break sand-crotch Jimmy Buffet party jam vibe. SSLYBY sound like a bunch of middle-class American suburban kids who love writing songs and playing music—and got really good at it—rather than prep school upstarts finding an unconventional money-making scheme for their Business 101 class project. NL
BRETT DENNEN, MASON JENNINGS,
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) The "Cowboy Capital of the World"—Oakdale, California—can now positively be revered as not only home of one of the largest tomato processing plants in the world, but also as birthplace of acoustic troubadour Brett Dennen. Dennen, whose accolades include being compared lavishly to such musical luminaries as Bob Dylan and Tracy Chapman (sounds weird, but give him a listen and you'll see what those staunch critiques amount to), has forged a decidedly independent path with which to present his expression. In no recent memory has there been a quasi-jam rock artist whom it's okay for "indie" rockers to like. Having no current contemporaries with as much unabashed positivity billowing about them, Dennen has stepped up as the new what's-next in more ways than by just lending a childlike charm to otherwise scathing political and spiritual opuses. Learn about it. RJP
THE POSIES, THE NICE BOYS, BLUE SKIES FOR BLACK HEARTS, LE CONCORDE
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) It's the Posies' 20th anniversary extravaganza. Singer/songwriter Jon Auer says, "We'll be playing stuff from every era. All five former Posies bass and drum alumni have agreed to play a couple of songs each." When asked how he arranges the song order, Auer replies, "I get 15 of my neighbors, I Sharpie the song titles on the front of their shirts, arrange them in a trapezoid, and throw lawn darts at them. Peculiar, I know, but it makes for a fresh set every time. The lawn dart only hurts for a second. It's like a shot." TRENT MOORMAN
LANGHORNE SLIM, FERRABY LIONHEART
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!.
TU FAWNING, DRAGGING AN OX THROUGH WATER, PAPERBACKS
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) See Music Feature.
CAR CLUTCH, STRATEGY, ILYAS AHMED,
THE GOLDEN BEARS
(Exit Only, 1121 N Loring) See Music Feature.
TOO SHORT, ANDRE NICKATINA,
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) There's exactly one rapper who can honestly say he's been a relevant, active participant in the game for a good quarter-century. Too Short's first album came out in 1983—pre-Run-DMC, back when Jheri-curled rappers like Whodini and Kurtis Blow were running shit. Pimpin' ass Todd Shaw has since released 17 albums; fuck rap, here's a dude who's damn near got as many records out as Wilson Pickett. He was "independent as fuck" when El-P was knee-high to a duck, and his million-dollar out-the-trunk hustle inspired countless numbers of rap's self-mades. All with a contemptuous clutch of the nuts toward the critical love that's forever eluded him. Consider that there are emcees who came out a decade later that couldn't for the life of them be taken seriously behind a mic today—and Short's still at it, getting it, like nuttin' happened. Short Dog's in the house. LARRY MIZELL JR.
MINMAE, BOAT, PER SE
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) If spastic hyperactivity is a contagious disease, then Seattle's BOAT is the outbreak monkey. As the proud Patient Zero of the upbeat goodtime pop movement, BOAT is still making the rounds in honor of the pristine Let's Drag Our Feet!, released by local label Magic Marker. The album is loaded to the gills (or, the monkey's fangs) with adorable summertime sweetness—"And when I hear the ice cream truck constantly/My pockets empty out, almost instantly" (from "Period, Backslash, Colon")—and the underlying feeling that this trio's quirky brand of spry pop could quarantine and destroy even the greatest of life's problems. EAC
(East End, 203 SE Grand) Since their inception in late 2007, Chico, California's Candy Apple have already blazed a mighty trail up and down the West Coast with '60s garage rock and explosive soul as their guide. Via the two-man vocal assault from Farfisa organist Scott Barwick and guitarist Jake Sprecher—along with bassist Katie Kelley, tambourinist/vocalist Summer Maroste, and drummer Slee Jensen—Candy Apple's endearment stems from both a tempered vintage addiction and a punk rock sneer, as evidenced on tracks like "Jelly Bean" and "End of Time." The band's adoration for groups like the Sonics and the Standells is palpable, but fresh turns of spit-in-the-eye swagger and the restless abandon of five small-town wanderlusts bursts through to implore your hipbones to sway and your fists to pump in staggered unison, a sentiment not to be slept on if you're someone with a pulse. RJP
DRAWN & QUARTERED, SATAN'S HOST, GRIM RITUAL, WORLD OF LIES, CURIEN, DAMAGE OVERDOSE
(Rock n Roll Pizza, 11140 SE Powell) Drawn & Quartered once made a music video starring a naked nun on a wild boar getting chased by a satyr. Unfortunately, it was animated. The Seattle band's latest, Merciless Hammer of Lucifer, is no less of a trip. The CD grows from death metal to dementia, leaving icy box patterns for chord changes that seem yanked from the disfigured body of Morbid Angel. Creepy guitar solos rise like butchered national anthems above a grizzled low-end stew. On "Bloodbath of Renewal," an absolute blunder of a bass solo—a clunky, stop-everything WTF?!—is the album's genius. With it, old-school death metal becomes totally insane (again), making Seattle's finest practitioners totally relevant (again). Openers Satan's Host are no strangers to lunacy, having survived their original drummer's 1989 murder and "frequent death threats of the past," according to a press release, while maintaining Venom-esque black thrash. Tonight, show some respect. MIKE MEYER
WE MARCH, THE EVAPORATORS
(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) I will first and forever love Nardwuar the Human Serviette, frontman of Vancouver, BC goof punks the Evaporators, as possibly the greatest interviewer punk rock has ever produced (sorry, Spiv). Like a (more) absurd and antagonistic Barbara Walters, Nardwuar assaults subjects ranging from Quiet Riot to Snoop Dogg with quick wit, a depth of pop-trivia knowledge that goes beyond dorky to just plain stupefying, and his signature "doot doola doot doo." Secondarily, I love Nardwuar and the Evaporators for providing the soundtrack for the one and only time I ever drunkenly made out in a mosh pit (my deepest apologies go out to everyone else who was at that year's Yo Yo A Go Go). Keep on rockin' the free world, Nardwuar. ERIC GRANDY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) At what point does a band need to grow? Clinic, the masked Liverpudlian foursome, say "never." In the eight years since their fantastic debut, Internal Wrangler, the band has done little to alter their creepy, reverb-drenched garage soup—a recipe that felt refreshing and innovative back in 2000, before the garage renaissance. On the recently released Do It!, the ingredients remain the same: plodding, repetitive, downbeat grooves; muffled vocals; buzzy keyboards; and yes, halls of reverb. Sure, there are a few subtle seasonings thrown in the pot, like fancy new (read: rare vintage) keyboards and a bit more space, but Clinic's dark stew tastes much the same as it ever has. So yeah, at this point it's hard to get overly excited about the new record. But a chance to see the somewhat reclusive band live? Now that gets the salivary glands gushing. ANDREW R. TONRY
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) After crowning themselves Purple Rhinestone Eagle, there is little doubt these women possess an epic sense of humor. In their recent music video, PRE execute their heavy serenade, "In the Shelter of Your Love," in the presence of a spastic wizard puppet whose eyes shed bloody tears from smoking too much ganja. Don't be fooled though, these girls can rock. Purple Rhinestone Eagle stirs up a black cauldron, mixing obscure psyche bands from the '60s with sexed-up call-and-response vocals similar to the Third Sex or The Woods-era Sleater-Kinney. In an attempt to demystify their highly decorative band name, PRE's bassist, Morgan R.D., addresses its theoretical context: "Sometimes certain images or phrases need to be recaptured, casting aside preconceptions and arbitrary values... Why should the eagle be resigned to a cartoonish emblem for capitalism or a rhinestone seen as worthless? The eagle is majestic and fierce and I'll take a rhinestone over a diamond any day." EB
ELLIOTT SMITH TRIBUTE NIGHT
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Rarely do we cover tribute nights here in the paper, but any show that pays homage to the late Elliott Smith is a worthwhile exception. No matter how much he embraced Los Angeles, Smith was a Portlander forever, and the city's love affair with his music runs deep. Tonight's performance—put on by the PSU Popular Music Board—features local artists paying tribute to Smith, with all the proceeds to benefit both Outside In and Free Arts to Abused Children, two Smith-approved charities. EAC
TOKYO POLICE CLUB, SMOOSH,
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) After months of waiting, Tokyo Police Club finally released their debut full-length (and first release on Saddle Creek), Elephant Shell, in April and well... it doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by their early EPs. It's not a bad album, really, but somewhere along the way, TPC's endearing rough edges were sanded away, leaving a smooth, poppy nugget where there was once a raw, post-punky slab. For their efforts they'll probably earn a few more soundtrack and TV spots, but fans of the unpolished TPC will have to make do with the band's live performance, which thankfully avoids having too much sheen. All of the promise of the band's early obsession with dystopian robot takeovers remains intact, even when supplemented with new songs about tessellating broken hearts. DONTE PARKS
JASON SIMON, THE BLACK HOLLIES, THE STRUGGLERS, DJ PLUCKY
(East End, 203 SE Grand) See Music Feature.
EL-P, DIZZEE RASCAL, BUSDRIVER
(Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd) See Music Feature.
CITY & COLOUR, SLEEPERCAR
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Sleepercar is the side project of Jim Ward of Sparta, and it's something he's been tinkering with since the demise of At the Drive-In in 2001. Apparently you can't hang out in El Paso your whole life and be completely immune to twang, because it's ostensibly a country-rock project, complete with pedal steel, acoustic guitar, and barroom piano. But Ward can't entirely abandon the post-hardcore sound of Sparta—it's a sound he doesn't merely inhabit, but actually defines—so the end result is actually fairly conventional anthemic rock, like Wilco before their adult contemporary days, or U2 before the wraparound shades. Side project or no, you can't overlook the fact that the Sleepercar record, West Texas, is entirely great. It's emotionally resonant and tastefully played, growing more powerful upon repeat listens. "Fences Down," the most blatantly country track, has pedal steel arcing the horizon while campfire voices sing "Woh oh oh oh" in unison, and the melody rises and falls like a Texas moon. NL
CARCRASHLANDER, SEA CAVES, THEMES
(Valentine's, 232 SW Ankeny) Carcrashlander's Cory Gray has been guest starring in other bands for most of his musical career, building a troupe of musical talent and friends, most of which lent a hand with his self-titled debut, which came out this January. Carcrashlander is Gray's dream come to fruition. The dream is eclectic, mainly because instruments come and go seemingly without reason, but there's a distinctive pop aesthetic driving all the songs. The piano plays a starring role—not in the Ben Folds-style (boo!), more like when Britt Daniels of Spoon (yay!) throws out his guitar in favor of the ivory keys—and Gray's gravelly vocals are either really sexy or really sad, which is always an indication of good music. DREW GEMMER
DEAD MEADOW, SUBARACHNOID SPACE, REBEL DRONES
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Jeff Tweedy once stated that the 10-minute synthesizer drone at the end of Wilco's "Less than You Think" was inspired by the sensation leading up to one of his crippling migraines. It also represented the foreboding unease preceding a panic attack, another affliction that plagued Tweedy. While local band SubArachnoid Space has little in common with the Chicago post-Americana outfit, they manage to expound upon the physical and mental anguish hinted at in Wilco's drone exercise. But rather than merely allude to an impending bout of neurological disquiet, their caustic ballasts of nightmarish guitar howls and hallucinogenic live shows are the sonic equivalents of full-blown panic attacks and throbbing cranial pain. BRIAN COOK
THE SHOW IS THE RAINBOW, FLASPAR, BATTLEHOOCH
(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) See My, What a Busy Week!.
CLUE TO KALO, LANGUIS, UNRECOGNIZABLE NOW
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Mark Mitchell, who records under the name Clue to Kalo, is really one of Australia's best-kept secrets. The dude creates the most indie rock friendly IDM you're likely to find (well, besides the Postal Service, anyway), with layered melodies, fuzzy white-noise guitars, broken beats, textured vocals, and a wide range of instruments from piano to trumpet, all rounding out the warm atmosphere he's making. Mitchell manages to be both introspective and ambitious, and the human element he's able to create in between the blips of noise are what really makes this project so impressive. RS
THE WHIGS, WHAT MADE MILWAUKEE FAMOUS, THE DEAD TREES
(Lola's Room, 1332 W Burnside) Athens, GA's the Whigs have steadily been gaining traction as their no-frills, no-bullshit brand of rock 'n' roll reaches more and more listeners. Their user-friendly songs are likeable, if scarcely profound, and the trustworthy, hoarse vocals of frontman Parker Gispert give the band its distinct sound. The Whigs' second record, Mission Control, is faster and heavier than their casually charming debut, as if the band has something to prove, or needs to keep themselves amped after so many nights on the road. It's less memorable and less satisfying; it's probably more radio-friendly, too, but fuck that shit. Still, the Whigs deliver live, as do local openers the Dead Trees, who also play everyman rock 'n' roll with both subtlety and urgency. NL