(Tonic) In the parlance of our times, there are assloads of bands who try to pull off indie rock--y'know, vocals fueled by the struggle against anomie, slight guitar distortion, some sort of social or emotional point--and I can barely listen to that formula anymore without cringing, especially now that some of our NW friends (who we'll call "BTS" and "MM") have landed all-star deals on big-ass labels and everyone wants to sound like them. I must say, though, that I've managed to listen to the entirety of Flophouse Palace's album more than once. There aren't any gimmicks with these cats, nor are they trying to hide their influences; they just present good songwriting, with a nice balance between power chords and interesting melodies. Plus, their vocalist can actually sing, which, these days, seems like a yard of gold among a vast expanse of charred and molten earth. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


(Pine Street Theatre) It's not his real name, you know. Oh no. Mark Myrie is named after the Maroon word for the starchy, oval-shaped breadfruit eaten in Jamaica (Buju) and Buju's favorite Jamaican dancehall artiste Burro Banton. He's the youngest of 15 children, and--if memory serves correctly--got in a certain amount of trouble in England a while back for some rather unsavory lyrics. That was when he played anemic lover's rock. Since then, the DJ has cleaned up his act, converted to Rastafari and is now exciting comparisons with Bob Marley. Speaking as someone who always hated post-'60s Marley as a crap fusion of all that was bad in reggae AND rock, this isn't necessarily a welcome move. EVERETT TRUE


(Roseland) When he was a teenager in the mid-'50s, Maceo Parker's dad would sneak him into the juke jazz clubs around the North Carolina backcountry. It was a post-war era when be-bop was pushing aside the polite horn blowers of the big band era. As James Brown's right-hand man in the '60s, Parker brought some of this punchier style of saxophone playing into the mainstream, speeding up the tempo and hitting the down notes hard. Still touring, Maceo's playing has never slipped into the pitfalls of nostalgia, where he so easily could have. He has stayed current, touring with Red Hot Chili Peppers and, last summer, Ani DiFranco. To paraphrase James Brown: Maceo! Blow your mother fucking horn! PHIL BUSSE


(Music Millennium NW) John Wesley Harding, God bless 'im, is that smartass kid from school who never really got the big pay-off that his charming wit deserved. He was all the rage at the turn of the '90s, impressing critics and fans with his wry tales of would-be suitors and the foibles they suffered in the face of their own humanity. I followed John from his great debut, Here Comes the Groom, through to his last full-length, major label effort, Why We Fight, a folk singer's interpretation of film noir. Sadly, the self-professed bastard son of Dylan and Baez disappeared shortly thereafter, to resurface every couple of years with a new collection of songs on a new label. This stopover is meant to promote his latest bid at a comeback, and here's hoping whatever it is, is at least as good as what was. JAMIE S. RICH



(Ash St.) Right now in Portland, there are a lot of bands that have all different camps of people saying the same thing: "Holy shit! I can't believe they're from Portland!" (Sometimes they say, "Jesus christ! These guys fucking rock!") There's magic happening all over the city; those same people are saying, "Things are really starting to come together." It's coagulating because there are enough people with a strong work ethic (and the talent to back it up) that our scene is being revived. Wahoo! Enter: this show. The celebrated Cosmos Group package experiments a little, sometimes working the bass against the guitar so that it opens up the boundaries of key allocation. They can go from dazzling, light show-demanding solos to interesting strolls in the meadow of jazz discord. 31 Knots play like they're not afraid of physically falling to pieces, with a dark fusion of beautiful loudness that's metaphysical, powerful, and surprising all at once. You really have to see it to believe it! The Standard are more straightforward, a cut-and-paste of classic rock and '90s-influenced melodies. They've got some catchy music, though at times their singer is unsettling in his vocal resemblance to John Fogerty. JS


(Pine Street) "Mr. Mark Arm smiles indulgently as a rabid Tim Kerr jostles and wrenches a thousand different styles of feedback from an overloading amp. Mr Kerr is out of sight. Some of his fingers are Gaffa-taped up; others have metal tips. How else is he going to shake his guitar hard enough? It's all Mr. Arm can do to stop the wide grin on his face from breaking into outright laughter as fellow guitarist Tom Price (Gas Huffer) and bassist Steve Turner (Mudhoney) sing a few decidedly off-key, yeah-yeah harmonies on 'Day Trader Shuffle'..." (London Borderline, 27/5, review previously unpublished) ET


(Portland Meadows) What have you done for us lately, Tracy? When Chapman's first album hit the charts in 1988, she was still a senior at Tufts University. It was a remarkable collection of yearning tales, especially considering that she was young and generally unabused by the world (a prep school graduate, she was about as poor as Bill Gates is hip). Even though she was essentially a contemporary re-invention of Joni Mitchell at a time when music was being over-produced for the salad days of MTV, the songs were simple and fresh. There was so much promise! What happened? Since then, as she has aged, her songs have failed to mature. Instead they are overproduced and dulled by banality. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy Tracy Chapman, but it is in the same way that I like a warm cup of cocoa. PB


(Crystal) There's no question that Sleater-Kinney is one of the best rock bands in the country right now. After their fifth album, S-K is harder and more raw than ever. But let's not forget there's more where they came from--like The Gossip. They share the Kill Rock Stars label with S-K, and they have the same rock integrity. But the Gossip is faster, dirtier, and harder than S-K, producing a lovely guitar, shattered and sharp, that is the perfect complement to the voice of their singer, who puts an energy so fierce into her words that she commands a crowd at any venue. They're angry, loud, and so, so together about it. KATIA DUNN



(Aladdin) Free jazz may have originated in the US with cats like Albert Aylers and Sun Ra, but European musicians have expanded its language much further into experimental realms. Two long-time leading lights of the Euro free jazz scene, pianist Misha Mengelsberg and the amazing drummer Han Bennink, formed the Instant Composer's Pool Orchestra 30 years ago in Amsterdam. Since then, it has coalesced with numerous other highly talented performers. What differentiates the ICP Orchestra from the more skronky, avant-jazz ensembles is a sense of humor; they'll throw in anything from bits of circus and ballet music, tangos, and ragtime into their crazed sonic quilt, keeping the music lyrical and melodic even when they soar out into pure improvisation. Rarely seen on our shores, this Dutch treat is not to be missed. ROLF SEMPREBON


(Ohm) IQU is ultra-cool on stage, a perfect balance between DJ K.O.'s gleeful fiddling with his cache of equipment (including numerous keyboards, guitars, and what appears to be a photo-theramin), and Michiko's cooly cute, guitar/keyboard manipulation, a cigarette dangling from her mouth all the while. Their fantastic electronica has roots in Japanese pop-lectric--an essential soundtrack for the urban sophisticat. JS



(EJ's) Even though I am considering writing this 80-page manifesto entitled The Stooges, MC5 Have Broken Up (Subtitle: ...and Christ, It's Time to Move on), I must say I like the Makers in spite of myself. They combine glam and sex with their influences--Stooges, Bowie, Stones--adeptly enough that it sounds fresh and alluring, and not just another band Keeping the Flame Alive (Subtitle: Cause We Don't Know How Much Longer Iggy's Going to Last). The Makers' sweaty, lippy, epicurean Rock Star God is certainly one of the best rock albums of this year. Fireballs of Freedom, take note. JS


(DoubleTree Hotel, Jantzen Beach) Miss America meets the real world in the 19th annual La Femme Magnifique International Pageant held by Portland's most famous beauty queen--Darcelle. About a dozen shaved, sculpted, painted, and perfected beauties compete for the title of "Most Glamorous Female Impersonator in the World." This year's theme is "Latin Holiday," which is also one of the "Dress Yourself, Girl!" competition categories. Formal Wear, Talent, and Showgirl title the other three point-scoring battles. Thank the lawd that godforsaken swimsuit contest ain't included (wouldn't want those judges being swayed by the size of the package). The refreshing thing about a beauty contest for men pretending to be women: you don't have to spend so much time trying to figure out what's real and what's fake. KATIE SHIMER



(Satyricon) French New Yorkers Tahiti 80! They've been on my stereo all summer--and they're coming to Portland! Agghhh! Embarrassingly, I feel a little rock-starry and elated about it, like when I was six and stood in line for an hour to get "Darth Vader's" signature. But I can't help it, because Tahiti 80's lustrous C^ote d'Azur pop is both sophisticated and accessible, like Jean Seberg. Their sultry sound, glamorously bigger than life, like Town & Country magazine circa (fittingly) 1980, demands that you drink Manhattans; Xavier Boyer's alto voice is sooo smooth! Portland openers Papillon sing en français, so you can practice your conjugation while they play their set, ne pas remarquable (looks like I could use the practice, too, non?). Corrina Repp's got a voice like a stretch of rice paper: delicate, opaque, and rare. But hey--Tahiti 80! JS


(Roseland) Have you ever met those kids who only listen to George Clinton? They're a strange breed--not quite deadheads, not quite gangstas. Yet, you can look at their music collection and find tape after alphabetized tape of crusty bootlegs called things like, "August 2, 1976, G.C. and P-F at Sweet Basil in NYC. Two songs (never recorded anywhere else)." Luckily, it is possible to appreciate George without turning into a one-band idiot. Unlike other legends his age, he hasn't yet lost his touch and started signing with a chronic case of laryngitis (he sort of always had one--he just made it sound good.) And while the crew hasn't exactly changed their sound in the last 400 years, it's only because it's a sound that remains in a category of its own. Go ahead. Make Your Funk the P-Funk. KD



(Ash St.) I must confess; I've never been in fashion. I only acquired my first skinny ties a couple years ago, from an aging rude boy whose wife was making him ditch his old gear. When I was an awkward lad in the '80s, when I still cared about such things, I could have really used them--but now, I can wear them and say, "Fuck you, hipster, I couldn't care less about your thrift store chic!" Though Portland's latest trio of Brit-styled boys may not own skinny ties (who knows?!), Architecture reminds me of my more pimply days. Their three-song demo, I swear, sounds like the 12-inch single Blur would have made if they were around in '85. It's a scuzzy sort of guitar pop, the kind of music guys make when they overdose on Marc Bolan and Syd Barrett (could they be the reincarnations of the same?). So get on with it, hipster, and get down to see the new band in town! JSR


(Crystal) Modest Mouse is like that prototypical, brilliant, fucked up artist-boy who you know is so bad for you, but who you still keep sleeping with, even after you break up, maybe simply because he'll never really be devoted to you. Isaac Brock's pained voice is always defensively coy; Eric Judy's bass is low, like a late-night, drunken phone call you shouldn't be getting; Jeremiah Green, an incredible drummer, hits his snare with the same complex twistings of relationship tumult. Perhaps this is why hordes of previously level-headed women I know, both straight and gay, go weak in the knees at their music. Perhaps it's also why many of my guy friends mock me for owning all of their albums. Just a thought. So anyway, SF's The Shins are a great, contemplative pop offering, and will fit well between MM and Ms. Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn and The super-cute Microphones. JS


(Cobalt) If you really examine the music of LA punk band X, you can easily see how John Doe progressed into the world of neo-country punk (!). More Fun in the New World certainly had those influences, and the Knitters, Doe's band with Henry Rollins (!!) and others was, well, country music. So John Doe's back, playing what he always wanted to, anyway, and pleasing a checkered crowd of old punk fans and country lovers alike. As a side note, isn't this an awesome week for live music? JS


(Berbati's) Dave Matthews is a big fan of Welsh, adult contemporary songwriter David Gray's, but don't let that deter you; Joseph Arthur is amazing. An original, talented, wonderful songwriter, he's got a deep voice that barely hints at scratchiness and compelling lyrics that venture into both swampiness and space. JS



(Crystal) Music is often viewed as the great comforter, a religion substitute in this time of moral uncertainty. Music that you're familiar with brings a sense of community, continuity to your life. Modest Mouse recall other bands--the swirling psychedelia of Mercury Rev; fellow Northwest trio Built To Spill's jagged, molten guitar sound; the deep bass of Galaxie 500; Joy Division's alienated intensity; the patterned drum beats of someone contemporary and lo-fi (ICU, say). This is great, because it means listeners can create their own reference points... otherwise Isaac Brock's songs would be too disconcertingly alien(ated). ET