WED SEPT 9
Wavves w/Twin Peaks, Swmrs; Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell
In hindsight, Wavves' breakout LP, King of the Beach, signified a sea change in the indie-rock landscape. Some of that record's aesthetic character has aged pretty awfully in a meager five years—the Venice Beach, LA Gear typeface and Illuminati iconography that adorn the cover are so 2010. But singer/songwriter and sole constant member Nathan Williams made straightforward pop-rock palatable to an influential breed of music fan (read: Pitchfork writers, people who love music festivals, people who buy all of their clothes at Urban Outfitters) who were otherwise terrified of anything that even remotely rocked. Williams did this by slathering his songs with a vaguely dance-y, faux-beach-bum veneer. In a few years, King of the Beach will make best-of-the-decade lists; it will nauseatingly be described as "quintessentially early '10s" by idiots like myself. But it's deserving of those accolades—in far less sophisticated terms, it's still one of the best guitar-pop records released this millennium.
SAT SEPT 12
Little Star w/Nightmom, Twelve Gardens; Mother Foucault's Bookshop, 523 SE Morrison
At least a portion of Elliott Smith's success can be attributed to the late songwriter's shameless adoration of passé '70s pop, which he figured out how to translate into something decidedly morose and non-cheesy. (Reductionist version: "Say Yes" is basically just a Bread song with the words "fuck" and "shit" in it.) Dan Byers of Little Star has a similar knack for extracting the most enduring aspects of classic pop songwriting with a wink and a nod. The first time I saw Byers, he was playing acoustic in a living room, and he did a heartbreaking version of Blondie's "Heart of Glass," a song that, in virtually every other circumstance, is stupid.
Little Star are one of those rare bands that sound at once familiar and totally aberrant; the group's latest EP, The Romantic World of Little Star, is filled with hits-to-be, evoking influences that range from the Cure and early Of Montreal to drug-addled Alex Chilton. Byers is that lethal combination of an innately talented musician and a music fan with a dense knowledge of and appreciation for pop yore. As good as The Romantic World is, it's no longer a currently relevant document of Little Star—additional songwriter Kelsey Morris and drummer John Value have since joined Byers. The newly expanded lineup is currently hard at work on its debut LP.
Rod w/Pass, Chugger, Taylor Malsey; Anarres Infoshop, 7101 N Lombard
Rod's debut EP, Where I Had Gone, was so great that I dedicated an entire edition of this column to reviewing it back in July. I don't want to be redundant, so I'll just leave it at this: It's very, very good. Tonight Rod celebrates the physical appearance of the EP on cassette, which also fittingly serves as the inaugural release on Arya Imig's Sound Judgment Records.