Cloud Nothings w/Metz, the Wytches; Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez
Cloud Nothings' breakout album, 2012's Steve Albini-recorded Attack on Memory, was by no means the future-classic rock record the blogosphere wishfully wanted it to be, but it had moments. Honestly, it could've been whittled down to a flawless EP. Half the record is bloated, faux-Fugazi meandering, while the other half is mercilessly catchy—in particular, "Stay Useless," one of the best power-pop anthems of the last decade. The group's new record, Here and Nowhere Else, lacks a pop gem as indelible as "Stay Useless," although the Paul Westerbergian closer "I'm Not Part of Me" comes close. On the whole, though, it's more focused, more punk, and infinitely more slender than its predecessor.
Ceremony w/Young Turks, Sloths; Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th
Ceremony successfully punk'd their fanbase with 2012's Zoo, a crystalline, mid-tempo rock album that sounds worlds apart from the emphatic, disquieting powerviolence of their previous releases. While Zoo has some boring patches and can feel more like an ironic, calculated attempt at alienating HXC suckers (which didn't really succeed—pretty much everyone listened to it) than a record with real artistic weight, the great songs on Zoo leave little to be desired. Opener "Hysteria" is the catchiest thing Ceremony's ever produced (I'm even tempted to call it a "pop song," but that's probably just me projecting). On additional highlight "Adult," lead singer Ross Farrar eulogizes his youth in a manner that's both totally disingenuous and strangely touching. All bands have to grow up sooner or later—but don't worry, guys, I'm pretty sure Ceremony is still pretending.