BREATHE OWL BREATHE Bunk Bar, 2/24
PATRICK LELLI

THURSDAY 2/23

CATE LE BON, KEY LOSERS
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Read our article on Cate Le Bon.

THE DARKNESS, FOXY SHAZAM, CROWN JEWEL DEFENSE
(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) In a lot of circles, the Darkness are kind of a joke band. They're much too flamboyant for serious rockers to get behind. But I believe if you listen with the same ears you use when listening to bands like Queen, Turbonegro, or Van Halen, you'll find they're nothing to snicker at. Yes, like those bands, the Darkness have lyrics that are ridiculous and silly, and personas that can be hard to take seriously. These are non-issues. Just because the Darkness know how to have fun doesn't mean they can't write killer rock-and-roll hooks and boundless, beautiful ballads. Yes, Justin Hawkins' use of falsetto is, to say the least, heavy-handed at times, but if I could sing like that, I would flaunt it too. The bottom line is having a good time, and thankfully the Darkness have returned to bring good times back to rock and roll. ARIS WALES Also see My, What a Busy Week!

CRAIG FINN, MOUNT MORIAH
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Craig Finn, the Hold Steady's charismatic frontman, has gone solo and released a new album, Clear Heart Full Eyes. It isn't bad, but it doesn't grab you, either. It lacks the Hold Steady's hooks and Lifter Puller's humor. Finn is a great lyricist and storyteller (albeit a bit of a repetitive one), but musically Clear Heart Full Eyes falls short compared to his past efforts. Still, Finn is a fantastic performer—engaging, fun, funny—so tonight's show will still be worth attending, even if his first solo attempt leaves you wanting more. Let's hope the songs will shine a little brighter in a live setting. Or, at the very least, we can cross our fingers for a few Hold Steady tunes in the setlist. MEGAN SELING

FRIDAY 2/24

CALEB KLAUDER COUNTRY BAND, PETUNIA AND THE VIPERS
(The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd) See My, What a Busy Week!

THE JEALOUS SOUND
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) Read our article on The Jealous Sound.

SLABTOWN REOPENING: CHEMICALS, BLOODTYPES, DEFECT DEFECT
(Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th) After changing hands following this year's Bender, Slabtown reopens its doors tonight, ushering in a new era of rock, booze, pinball, and other disreputably fun times. If that's not enough, how does Giant Ruinous Monster Wrestling grab ya? For tonight's grand reopening, Slabtown's new owner Doug Rogers claims that there will be exactly that—it's kind of their own version of Boston's Kaiju Big Battel, in which grown adults wear monster costumes (along the lines of Godzilla and Gamera) and grapple each other. I can't think of anything more hilarious, and neither can you. There will also be live music and DJs, plus free food—so there's no excuse to miss the dawning of the new Slabtown. NED LANNAMANN

BREATHE OWL BREATHE, MICHAEL HURLEY
(Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water) As their name suggests, Breathe Owl Breathe give a lot of consideration to our animal friends, both real (parrots, lions) and imagined (dragons). So it makes perfect sense that frontman Micah Middaugh has written and illustrated (with woodcuts, naturally) a children's book to accompany their new 7-inch "The Listeners/These Train Tracks." But don't let the innocence fool you. This is not your typical indie-pop trio: Andréa Moreno-Beals plays cello at the same time that she weaves operatic vocals over the top of catchy pop melodies and Middaugh's sincere, deadpan lyrics. Breathe Owl Breathe's whimsical lyrics and eccentric stage personas may alienate the more cynically minded, but you get the feeling that they're too preoccupied with crafting sophisticated music to care. REBECCA WILSON

QUASI, YOUNG PRISMS, STAY CALM
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) The two-headed monster is back: Portland mainstays Quasi have reverted to their original lineup of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. (Bass player Joanna Bolme is off with Stephen Malkmus' Merry Band of Jicks.) Although Coomes and Weiss have both been busy with numerous other projects—such as the little band that Weiss plays in called Wild Flag—they've got some new material at the ready, which bodes well for a follow-up to 2010's American Gong. Quasi never fail to deliver in the live setting, offering an at-times brutal attack that dances back and forth between soothing, earwormy melodies and art-punk dissonance. They're a band that just keeps getting better, and the chance to suck in some new Quasi sounds should not be missed. NL

PORTLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL: BILL FRISELL
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) Guitarist Bill Frisell's reach goes beyond jazz. Sure, he attended the Berklee College of Music and got his start playing with the late jazz drummer Paul Motian, but Frisell's touch has been all over recordings from John Zorn to Dylan Carlson's drone doomers Earth. The Seattle musician performs two nights for this year's Portland Jazz Festival. The first performance—titled "For Portland Only"—will feature his interpretations of work from noted pedal steel player "Speedy" West, guitarist Jimmy Bryant, and some fellow named John Lennon. Things get a little more obtuse for night two, as Frisell performs solo before being joined by his 858 Quartet, who recorded an album based on the works of German artist Gerhard Richter. It should be nothing short of a fine mess. MARK LORE

OPERATION MISSION, PLAIN FLAVORED, PAUL OWENS, OVEN RAKE, MECHLO
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) Better known by those outside the insular realm of 8-bit beats as Ray Rude of the Builders and the Butchers, Operation Mission is a somewhat surprising side gig for the unassuming percussionist. Eschewing organic anti-gospel folk for intricately layered chiptune soundscapes, Rude hashes out dark blips and bloops via an arsenal of hacked Game Boys and otherwise discarded software, sidestepping the ordinarily brisk tempos of chiptune-techno for more introspective manipulations. A staple at haunts like Ground Kontrol (naturally), Operation Mission's spiraling dark-wave din occupies sometimes spooky realms, head-bob-ready though it may be. For those hell-bent on the pogo, thumb-mashers like Plain Flavored and Paul Owens will also be on hand for this Portland Indie Game Squad presentation. Power Gloves and Duck Hunt Zappers sold separately. RYAN J. PRADO

JENN RAWLING, PILLOW FIGHT, LIBRARIANS
(Alberta Street Public House, 1036 NE Alberta) Songwriter Jenn Rawling has crafted a stirring album with her debut, Take the Air, which also features partner Basho Parks on violin and viola. Take the Air initially seems like your typical, folk-flecked collection of string-driven things—not exactly a rare commodity in this strummy town—but Rawling's songs contain striking details, offering intricate shadows within acoustic, open-faced honesty. It's hard to ignore the simple power of songs like "Oh Delia" and "Big Old Lake," which sound like lost folk standards, bearing what seem like decades of accumulated joy and melancholy on their bones. Boasting immaculate musicianship and clean, unobtrusive production, Rawling and Parks' Take the Air is a record that won't wear out its welcome anytime soon. NL

SLUTTY HEARTS, DJ HERO WORSHIP, BATH PARTY
(Record Room, 8 NE Killingsworth) Slutty Hearts' debut album is an endearing cassette called We Learned It By Watching You, a dreamy, decadent interpretation of garage rock. Slutty Hearts have made their name by defining and riding the perfect line between grungy and coy, which could be why the album seems to be the perfect backing track for a neo-burlesque show. Like a twirling pair of pasties, Slutty Hearts is tongue-in-cheek seductive with songs that tell stories, but not ones that you would ever take seriously. Marty Smith's vocals tend toward the slap-happy, but fortunately Marisa Laurelle does most of the singing. Her voice is as light and sweet as cotton candy, even when delivering the polka lyrics on "Ballad of the Food Stamp Office": "I don't wanna go to church, I don't wanna save my soul/I just wanna trick-or-treat, check out girls, and rock and roll." RW

SATURDAY 2/25

PANTERA CELLO PROJECT
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See My, What a Busy Week!

ILYAS AHMED
(Nationale, 811 E Burnside) Read our article on Ilyas Ahmed.

BENEFIT FOR JEN McCARGAR AND KENNY ZIMMERMAN: GASHDIG, THRESCHER
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) Read our article on Gashdig and Threscher.

PORTLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL: BILL FRISELL, 858 QUARTET
(Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) See Friday's listing.

BLOW PONY FIVE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!

JAMES LOW WESTERN FRONT, THE SUMNER BROTHERS, W.C. BECK
(LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan) Dear James Low Western Front, I have a question about the title of your new record, Whiskey Farmer. How does one, exactly, become a whiskey farmer? I'd very much like to learn, so I can grow my whiskey from dirt—like a turnip! Or oregano. So do I just plant some empty whiskey bottles in my backyard? How long before the crop matures? How close should I plant them together? What do I water it with? (Sorry, stupid question.) Growing my own whiskey at home will really save me a bundle, so let me know. In the meantime, I'll be listening to your charmingly forlorn Whiskey Farmer album for any cultivation tips that might be contained within its sad, lonely country laments. Thanks in advance. Your friend, NL

PORTLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL: CHARLIE HUNTER, SCOTT PEMBERTON TRIO, BEN DARWISH
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) The finely honed R&B groundwork of Charlie Hunter's multi-pronged oeuvre is often overshadowed by his experimental approach to playing. Wielding the singular talent to play basslines, rhythm, and solo guitar on one seven- or eight-stringed instrument, Hunter's notorious onstage grunts and insanely disciplined forays into jazz, funk, rock, and more have necessitated his collaborative work with artists like Christian McBride, Les Claypool, D'Angelo, and Michael Franti. But Hunter's jazz-fusion mash-ups are where he shines, alternately doing justice enough to satiate jazz purists while elbowing into more progressive realms. Expect odd aural vignettes spliced with imaginative meditations on the ultra-prog territory of contemporary jazz. RJP

HOWLIN RAIN, MY GOODNESS, DATURA BLUES
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) I'm not so sure that Rick Rubin's good for Howlin Rain. The producer extraordinaire's done some outstanding work, of course, but his dealings with Ethan Miller's troupe haven't accentuated their strengths. Howlin Rain excel when they're raging with rawness, when their mountain-sized classic rock spirals into psychedelic arabesques, like a slightly less feral, more soulful Comets on Fire (Miller's former band). On the new The Russian Wilds, Howlin Rain sound stodgily conventional, the fire in their bellies tamped down by Rubin's glossy production technique. Let's hope Howlin Rain can retain their earlier hell-raising bravado onstage tonight. DAVE SEGAL

SUNDAY 2/26

YOU WHO!: THE SHINS, SNEAKIN' OUT, DJ ANJALI
(Kennedy School, 5736 NE 33rd) See My, What a Busy Week!

DIVERS, BIG EYES, FREEDOM CLUB
(The Know, 2026 NE Alberta) Few things are more concisely satisfying than a perfect 7-inch single, and the debut from Divers, out on Olympia's Rumbletowne Records and available for free download on the Rumbletowne site, is exactly that. The new Portland band, formed from the remnants of the much-loved Drunken Boat, has crafted two marvelous tracks—gritty, tender, heavy, wistful rock numbers torn straight out of the Boss' playbook, with a bit of punk snot for good measure. A-side "Glass Chimes" features guest vocals from RVIVR's Erica Freas alongside Divers frontman Harrison Rapp, and it's an urgent, captivating, full-throttle ride with an indelibly hooky melody. B-side "Montrose" (also known as "Brothers") might be even better, a lengthy ode to a long-gone friend that ends with a double-time call to arms. These are astonishingly good songs, and all signs indicate that Divers is an astonishingly good band. They punch you right in the gut—and you'll thank them for it. NL

THE BUSINESS, THE DOWNTOWN STRUTS, RUM REBELLION, SHOCK TROOPS
(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) A relic from 1979, South London's the Business still hold that Oi! spirit—yelling stories about politics, society, drinking, and girls over crude punk constructions. But there's a sense of unity and belonging here, one that's delightfully appealing to those who may be feeling lost. The band's most recent, 2010's Doing the Business, sports those same brisk, runaway drum beats and steady, up-tempo guitar strains. Their sound hasn't really changed much over time, but there's nothing like some good throaty, angry, body-thrashing British punk music to make your Sunday night (and potentially ruin your Monday). To wit: No one judges you when you enter the pit, and certainly no one cares at all if you're dancing "properly." Lose control and take comfort in the fact that if you take an elbow or even a skull to the face, the perpetrator will likely pause to check that you haven't lost consciousness before thrashing on. ELENA BUCKLEY

MONDAY 2/27

SUSAN AND THE SURFTONES, WAVESAUCE, SURF WEASELS
(Duff's Garage, 1635 SE 7th) Susan SurfTone's backstory is easily as interesting as her richly paced surf-rock revivalism. Weaned on the fertile beachside pop of the Ventures, SurfTone abandoned careers in law and with the FBI to focus on her love of cresting melodies and fluid surf-core jams. With an impressive number of albums and worldwide tours on her résumé, SurfTone is playing live again for the first time in a very long time, on the weight of her excellent 2011 album Shore, a collection of bouncy, instrumental surf tunes that are notable for their wholly unironic qualities as much as their sturdiness. SurfTone's album release will enjoy the benefits of an incarnation of her band the Surftones, with warm organs and tight drumming softening the hard edge of SurfTone's lead guitar. RJP

TUESDAY 2/28

ALELA DIANE, EVAN WAY
(Oaks Pioneer Church, 455 SE Spokane) Quickly following last year's band effort, Alela Diane & Wild Divine, local songwriter Alela Diane already has a batch of new material on the way. Early reports from Diane indicate that it'll be very much a solo record, perhaps the most intimate work she's done since her debut, The Pirate's Gospel. Such cozy material cries out for a cozy room to play it in, and Diane has found exactly that, playing a two-night stand at the tiny, historic Oaks Pioneer Church in Sellwood. With scarcely 50 tickets available a night, both shows promptly sold out. Tonight's show also includes Evan Way, whose band the Parson Red Heads just entered the studio to record the follow-up to last year's lovely Yearling. In the meantime, six Parsons tracks from the Yearling sessions will be released on a new EP, Murmurations, next month. NL

WEDNESDAY 2/29

ELLIOTT BROOD, THE PACK A.D.
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!

ALELA DIANE, RYAN FRANCESCONI
(Oaks Pioneer Church, 455 SE Spokane) See Tuesday's listing.

ADVENTURES! WITH MIGHT, POCKETKNIFE, GRANDPARENTS, DOUBLEPLUSGOOD
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Here's the deal with Pocketknife and Adventures! With Might's fantastic split 7-inch: Each band contributed one new song and covered their favorite song by the other band. Though both bands have a strong affection for keyboards, Pocketknife's romantic hooks presuppose a certain gravity to your dance party. Adventures! With Might, on the other hand, make synthpop so libidinous that you can't hear it without blushing. While both band's original contributions are great, the covers are what make this record so compelling. Pocketknife turns A!WM's supersexy dance jam "You Think Too Much" into a contemplative, bass-driven song with a strong New Order vibe. In its original state Pocketknife's "Should I Kiss the Viper's Fang" was moody and intense; A!WM transforms it into a sweaty club song to which countless teenagers can lose their virginities. RW