MUSEE MECANIQUE, WHITE HINTERLAND, THE OLD BELIEVERS
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) If you were Musee Mecanique and were sitting on as superb a recording as the brand-new Hold This Ghost, filled to the brim with inventive pop music that defies classification, you too would make your CD release a memorable event. Tonight’'s show also includes a performance from recent Portland transplant Casey Dienel (under nom de plume White Hinterland), and the haunting sounds of former Alaskans the Old Believers—proof that not everything that comes from the 49th State is pure Palinistic evil. EZRA ACE CARAEFF
THE WEDDING PRESENT, EARLIMART
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See Sultan of Sorrow.
SOMEDAY LOUNGE TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: COPY, OHMEGA WATTS, FLESHTONE, BEN DARWISH TRIO & MORE
(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) Over the past two years, the Someday Lounge's bold, genre-crossing booking has brought opera, hiphop, indie rock, sketch comedy, burlesque, and book readings to its small stage. In celebration of the venue's second anniversary, you can see a pretty damn representative cross-section; Friday's lineup features music from Copy, Fleshtone, the Fix DJs, and more, while Saturday's performance art-oriented bill includes Opera Theater Oregon and the diary-baring titillation of Mortified. ALISON HALLETT
PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, COMMON MARKET, SHAWN JACKSON, LIVING PROOF
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Seattle favorites Common Market just released their sophomore LP Tobacco Road, and it's a dense, heady work of hiphop music that strikes a vivid parallel between self-discovery, scene-building, and the gritty labor emcee RA Scion witnessed on tobacco farms in his native Kentucky. Road's arid dustbowl imagery is CM finally finding their theme—their row to hoe, if you will: This agrarian-hop may not be to everybody's taste but it's definitely populist in its intent. Scion's deeply-coded lyrics demand concentration and repeat listens, but producer Sabzi's sublime mid-'90s homage is immediate and arresting, possibly the finest work he's done for CM or his chief project, Blue Scholars. Live and direct, though, Scion's fiery delivery regularly makes believers. LARRY MIZELL JR.
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Long before the word "emo" was robbed of its "-tion," Janis Ian dropped "At Seventeen," the ballad-to-end-all-ballads for those slogging through the teenage awkwardness of "ravaged faces" and being on the outside forced to stare longingly at those on the inside. Along with Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)," the song is absolutely devastating, stretching to a level of personal sadness seldom witnessed in the dull sprawl of mid-'70s pop. Much like the emotionally defeated 17-year-old in the song, Ian hasn't lived an easy life—from child abuse, to being outed in the '70s, to that hideous perm—but now she is back with a tell-all book Society's Child (sharing a title with her best song), and a new greatest hits collection, Best of Janis Ian: The Autobiography Collection, released on her own Rude Girl imprint. Stay sad, Janis. EAC
THE NEW YEAR, A WEATHER, WE'RE FROM JAPAN
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) After the Austin, Texas-based slowcore group Bedhead had run its course, the brothers at its core—Bubba and Matt Kadane—returned with the New Year. Since their 2001 debut they've made two more albums, their self-titled latest hitting shelves earlier this month. While much more upbeat than their earlier band, an air of melancholy and a powerful sense of focus infuses much of the New Year's music. It stops just short of heading into drone territory, but "resonant pop" might do in a pinch for a quick descriptor. And the group's name is just about perfect: It's less about the unabashed optimism one feels on January 1 as it is the sense of emerging into an unfamiliar world, defiant and bold and uncertain all at once. TOBIAS CARROLL
SPECTRUM, BENJAMIN STARSHINE, TO GET HER TOGETHER, DJ HG WALLS, DJ NOAH FENCE
(East End, 203 SE Grand) Last week's Spiritualized show was downright legendary, a concert that had my poor head spinning for days after the last glorious note from Jason Pierce had faded into the night air. Meanwhile, on a somewhat less glorious note, there is Peter Kember, former pal of Pierce in Spaceman 3, a man with almost as many aliases—J. Spaceman, Sonic Boom, and tonight's moniker, Spectrum—as the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. Kember has never seemed to keep pace creatively with his former bandmate, nor has he particularly tried to. Instead, his work is far more open-ended yet still relatively true to the Spaceman 3 catalog—from which they'll be performing selections tonight—and the hazy sound that he pretty much invented. EAC
HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS, LEWI LONGMIRE BAND
(Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan) Bands reuniting is a tricky business. While the outcome may not be perfect—or even good—there's something special about a live performance that still manages to (usually) make the shows worthwhile. Who knows what the Holy Modal Rounders will bring to the table this late in the game? With their off-kilter brand of psychedelic-folk, the original duo of Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber helped redefine the folk genre (at least for a few people) in the mid-'60s, and are one of the more influential cult acts to still linger around. So, sure, it may be a risk, but seeing the folks who played "If You Want to Be a Bird" live onstage has got to be worth something, right? RS
CALEXICO, THE CAVE SINGERS
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Calexico just get better and better. Their new release, Carried to Dust, is a like a love note to the inhabitants of every Southwestern border town. You can feel the dirt and heat in these songs, and a big mariachi influence—those horns might well blow your white caballero hat right of your head when they play the Crystal tonight. PATRICK A. COLEMAN
THE SHAKY HANDS, SCIENCE OF YABRA, RESIN HITS, TUNNELS
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) See Shake Shake Shake.
HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS, FREAK MOUNTAIN RAMBLERS
(Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan) See Friday's listing.
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS, SIAN ALICE GROUP, THE PRIDS
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) The debut full-length from the UK's Sian Alice Group, 59.59, begins with a gorgeous meditative hymn, repeating its title phrase, "As the morning light," over delicate arpeggiated guitar and crystalline vocals from singer Sian Ahern. But when track two, "Way Down to Heaven," kicks in, it's all rumbling guitars and tribal garage thump. Track three is different yet: A piano and synth interlude, it sounds like a Tangerine Dream soundtrack by way of Steve Reich. Track four, meanwhile, is a straightforward but ominous piano-and-guitar ballad, and track five breaks into a medieval chant... you get the idea. Sian Alice Group is wildly diverse, all the more impressive considering how minimalist they are. They've just released a stripped-down EP, The Dusk Line, which only goes to prove that whatever the band is doing, the music they make is impressively beautiful, sounding like that precise moment when the calm before the storm turns into actual storm. NED LANNAMANN
ILLMACULATE, SAPIENT, ALPHABET STEW & MORE
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) Illmaculate and Sapient are both reps from the local Sandpeople crew. 'Mac is a pugilistic rapper, a cat who was not long ago crowned World Rap Champ two years in a row for his considerable skill at cut-throat lyrical battles. But unlike most emcees weaned on face-to-face diss-fests, he can also drop some dope music. Sapient is that rare producer/emcee whose rhymes match the (awesome) level of his beats; the stellar production and intense imagery on songs like the kill-yr-television screed "The Screen," are what makes his brand new—yet still slept-on—album Letterhead one of the best NW hiphop releases of the year that you didn't hear. Yet. LARRY MIZELL JR.
OBITUARY, UNLEASHED, CARNIFEX, SWAMP MONSTER
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) The party seemed over in 1997 for Obituary, the death metal vets who had introduced guttural improv and slow, anesthetic downstrokes to the bloodthirst of speed-addicted Florida in the 1980s. After a decade-plus of seminal barbarism, Obituary had run out of growl, exiting with the unfortunately titled Back from the Dead. The controversial career change of founding member Donald Tardy—who became the drummer for Andrew W.K.—would conversely pique interest in Obituary outside metal circles. Tardy went from the cryptic "D.T." in the liner notes of W.K.'s I Get Wet to flaunting his old band's T-shirt by the time the party wagon made it to Saturday Night Live. When Obituary played their first show in seven years in 2004, W.K. gushed on his web site, "It was hands down one of the greatest days of my entire life." A year later, Obituary were back in the album business, and W.K. was relegated to trivia. Tardy, it now seems, will always party hard. MIKE MEYER
SLOAN, THE GOLDEN DOGS
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) How can Sloan get right what so many bands get wrong? The Nova Scotia quartet's power pop sounds like it's barreling right out of the '70s, picking up traces of punk and alternative and grunge and indie along the way. Guitars are layered on top of pianos, vocals soar in tandem like jets at an air show, and melodies are consistently terrific, twisting at just the right pleasure points. And get this: all four members write and sing—even the drummer's songs are good. 2006's Never Hear the End of It felt almost like too much of a good thing, with 30 song fragments crammed on top of each other, so it's a delight that the new Parallel Play is a streamlined, no-fat parade of complete, tight pop songs. Like fellow Canadians the Tragically Hip, Sloan is huge in their home country but significantly less so in the US, but unlike the pointy-headed Hip, Sloan's brand of power pop pleasure doesn't suffer at all when brought to this side of the border. NL
THE MINT CHICKS, PATTERN IS MOVEMENT, AH HOLLY FAM'LY
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) Having recently gotten the internet goin' nuts, Philadelphia duo Pattern Is Movement proves to be the rare case for believing the hype. Singer-keyboardist Andrew Thiboldeaux provides stately grandeur via both his clarion moan and his electronics-augmented faux ivories, while drummer Chris Ward is a winning glutton for bombast. Their recent album All Together (released earlier this year on Hometapes) is one the most successful records in some time at sounding joyful without sounding sappy. Their music glitters like the golden rooftops of Constantinople and soars and swoops like the sun-drunk birds above. SAM MICKENS
MY MORNING JACKET, JOHN CALLAHAN
(Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey, Troutdale) This is one of those shows that, if My Morning Jacket play it right, is a can't-lose concert experience. Either you're an old-time fan—ready, willing, and able to embrace your secret inner hippie and rock out to their earlier work, awash in reverb, sounding like Neil Young singing songs through a Wayne Coyne fog machine—or you're a new fan, hyped up on the Bee Gees groove of Evil Urges, which—to this writer—is kind of mediocre. Despite getting tons of attention for having switched things up, the album lacks substance. A little internet lurking shows a nice mix of old and new material in MMJ's recent sets, so whether you're an old fan or new, you can hear some favorites and give the band's other side an honest shot. HANNAH CARLEN
Happy birthday Grant Fuhr. May we all live life like you tended goal.
MISSION OF BURMA, WELCOME
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) After the '70s punk movement stripped rock 'n' roll down to its base elements, Mission of Burma built it back up with advanced compositions, unusual chords and rhythms, and galvanizingly hard-ass playing. 1981's Signals, Calls, and Marches is one of the essential releases of the post-punk movement, and tonight the band plays the seminal EP in its entirety. NL
BARBARA MORGENSTERN, DYKERITZ, BENOIT PIOULARD
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Barbara Morgenstern found her voice and fame about five years ago with the release of Nichts Muss, a uniquely warm album released on the Monika Enterprise imprint at a time when cold, repetitive minimal was the dominant sound of Berlin. A mix of glowing piano, innovative electronics and beautiful, enticing vocals, her music is saturated with emotion. The lyrics are mostly German, but her breathy contemplative tone transcends any language. Morgenstern's collaborations with Ellen Allien and Robert Lippok (of To Rococo Rot) are as compelling as her solo work, and speak to her well-deserved place in the top tier of the German electro-pop scene. AVA HEGEDUS
SILVER JEWS, MONOTONIX
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See Loneliness and Vulgarity.
LAURA MARLING, JOHNNY FLYNN, MUMFORD & SONS
(Lola's Room, 1332 W Burnside) Laura Marling is not Lily Allen or Kate Nash, despite constant comparisons to both. She is a teenage, British, female singer with a ridiculous way with words, but that is where the comparisons stop. While Allen and Nash have more pop tendencies, singing with biting wit, Laura Marling is an old soul with a haunting voice, laying down mournful songs full of love, heartache, and regret with so much conviction it's ridiculous. To think that an 18-year-old already has more figured out than you is a bit unnerving, but Marling does, and isn't afraid to bare it all openly. And, though I love Lily and Kate, something tells me Laura Marling is the name that will stand out amongst the three in the future. RS
AVERAGE WHITE BAND, COLIN LAKE & WELLBOTTOM
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) The late preeminent soul curator Jerry Wexler acknowledged the expert groovemanship of Average White Band at first listen, signing them to Atlantic Records in the mid-'70s. Not many years later, the collage artists of the burgeoning hiphop movement tipped their hat to the Scottish band by repurposing snippets of their indelible funk. Point being, Average White Band specializes in dance-friendly licks that original members Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre still churn out with the aid of some capable recruits, as their most recent live album, Soul and the City, makes head-noddingly clear. JALYLAH BURRELL
THE BUG, WARRIOR QUEEN, DJ E3, RYAN ORGAN
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) In nearly 20 years of making music, Kevin Martin has never stuck to one genre. His past projects God, Techno Animal, and Ice range from industrial to jazz to hiphop to dub, with a list of notable co-conspirators and respectable record label affiliations too long to mention here. Under his current incarnation as the Bug, Martin is a founding influence in the London dubstep scene. Focused on the industrial and garage angles, his sound is about as severe and evil as the already menacing genre gets. A handful of outstanding, bass-driven singles from the extremely well-received London Zoo, recently released on Ninja Tune, have helped extend the reach of dubstep around the world and popularize Kingston-born emcee Warrior Queen, who joins Martin on tour. AVA
NOAH AND THE WHALE, LINDI ORTEGA
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) This is not music for those in need of an optimism boost, but it is a nice lulling accompaniment to the impending gloom. Noah and the Whale come all the way from London to woo you with dark themes and deep throaty vocals, paired immaculately with soft folk instrumentation. Sunny tracks are not Noah and the Whale's specialty; instead, songs like "Shape of My Heart" and "If I Die Tonight" display the band's way of weaving sorrow in with the lively. Their debut album, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, came out in the States earlier this month, so snatch it up as your soundtrack to the long rainy months ahead. KAITLIN JOHNSON
JAMIE LIDELL, JANELLE MONAE
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) Taking a page out of the old soul songbook, Jamie Lidell is living proof that nerdy white dudes can indeed get down, even if they do it by whizzing it up with computational electro-nerdery on machines that are nicknamed Gordon. MARJORIE SKINNER
THE ENTRANCE BAND, MEGAPUSS, LITTLE JOY
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Entrance is the alter ego of Guy Blakeslee, whose last album, 2006's Prayer of Death, was a harrowing skullfuck of a psychedelic blues album, boiling over with fiery guitar, death-walking violin, and plenty of skincrawling echo. He's formed a regular band and has apparently lightened up a bit; the Entrance Band is relatively blissed-out, conveying jammy good times and poppy field haze. They're not the only purveyors of California sunshine on the bill: Megapuss is Devendra Banhart's band with Priestbird's Greg Rogove, and together they channel a preserved-in-amber brand of soul-psych. All their songs are casual throwaways, but their record features some righteously homo-violent cover art, and they'll be joined by Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti on the skins. Rounding out the bill is Moretti's new band, Little Joy, which shares most of its members with Megapuss; Little Joy took its name from a bar in LA, but instead of blackout 'n' vomit empty-glass laments, you'll hear simple, carefree, twinkling pop jams that sound like AM Gold on holiday. NL