Hemingway w/Cars & Trains and Trash Island at Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th
Local emo/power-pop upstarts Hemingway's penchant for melodic ebullience hardly mirrors their comically dour aesthetic. The group's stellar LP Pretend to Care brings to mind the best aspects of sensitive-punk pioneers like Jawbreaker, Knapsack, and Pinkerton-era Weezer.
Andrew Jackson Jihad, Hard Girls w/Dogbreth at Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne
Folk-punk duo Andrew Jackson Jihad returns to Portland on the heels of a new record entitled Christmas Island, and predictably, it's great. The group's signature John Darnielle/They Might Be Giants-hybrid songwriting style is pretty much intact from 2011's acclaimed Knife Man, but Christmas Island marks a decided sonic difference: The prissy, crystalline production values that adorned even the more rambunctious cuts on Knife Man have been exchanged for a welcome, underlying scuzziness reminiscent of Elephant 6 bands like the Olivia Tremor Control or classic-era Elf Power. Most importantly, AJJ resident lyricist Sean Bonnette still has a knack for penning evocative and nerdy surrealisms like: "I saw the Children of God as they walked on slovenly by/The USB ports in their arms are bleeding."
They're joined by California band Hard Girls, whose latest album A Thousand Surfaces, released on Asian Man Records back in June, is one of the best melodic punk records of the year so far. Particularly good is opening cut "The Quark," which embodies everything great about the so-called "'90s revival" in just under three minutes of tempestuous, tightly-wound, fist-pumping glory.