As writer Alain de Botton observes in the tragicomic romantic novel, On Love, "With the modern love affair, the adventure loses its hegemony, what happens can no longer be a reflection of the characters' inner states." Australian indie-pop trio the Lucksmiths certainly have ears for this type of inner monologue. On Naturaliste's "What Passes for Silence," lead lyricist Marty Donald grows delicate and rosy acoustic melodies from the cracks of contemporary romanticism. His insights may be read as Love Songs for Cynics"What the hell happened last night?/Their first-ever fight and those far-away sirens/She sighed to herself, 'For fuck's sake'/Lying awake in what passes for silence/Matching her breathing to his"but they're still cute as a de Botton. Naturaliste loafs like Simon and Garfunkel skipping Scarborough Fair to stay in bed with their girlfriendshere, boredom is romantic, or at least romanticized. You can hear it in vocalist Tali White's bated breaths and within his lightly brushed drum on "The Sandringham Line," essentially one woman's inner monologue prying apart her current affairs on a train ride home. In fact, the trio's traditional pop organizationpared down to a wisp of guitar, bass, and upright snare drumnever overpowers its literate wordplay, offering ever-so-slight embellishment to tiny philosophical questions: Does closure arrive in the grip of a handshake? ("Sleep Well.") Or even with a good night's sleep? ("What You'll Miss.") Still, White's coy admission that "I've woken up on one too many floors, but my favorite was yours" in "There Is a Boy That Never Goes Out" makes up for any partner's disruptive snore. Lucksmiths play Sunset Tavern at 9 p.m., Sat., July 19, with Tullycraft, Man of the Year, and the Mosquitos. $7. They also play in-store at Sonic Boom Records Ballard, 2209 N.W. Market St., 297-2666, at 6 p.m. Sat., July 19. Free. KATE SILVER


Both darlings of Alternative Nation at one time or another, neither Fountains of Wayne nor the sprightly Ben Lee ever broke through quite like MTV promised us they would. Yet both of these artists have creatively lapped many of their more popular contemporaries. While the Fountains' 1996 debut certainly belongs in the canon of alternative classics, Adam Schlesinger and company have hardly slowed since. On new album Welcome Interstate Managers, Schlesinger puts his plaintive voice to outrageously clever three-minute gems that manage to recall both the Cars and the Lightning Seeds, sometimes simultaneously. Meanwhile, young Ben continues on his archetypal lo-fi path while still having the wherewithal to show up on a Jeff Lynne tribute record. Classy stuff. Crocodile Cafe. $15adv. 9 p.m. Wed. July 23. DANIEL WERNER


In an email posted to the Vera Project list, this Jason Webley character first informed recipients that the accordion is the official instrument of San Francisco (which led me to wonder what Seattle's is), then provided some background information on his Bay Area billmates, "Monsters of Accordions" Daniel Ari and Aaron Seeman. Turns out Seeman has recorded with Mr. Bungle and his specialty is playing note-for-note covers of Dead Kennedys songs. Ari, Webley reports, "does what I try to do, but even better," which isas far as I can tell from the MP3s I've heardwriting Tom Waits/Leo Cohen-style barroom dirges with that weirdly winded keyboard instrument figuring prominently. Go, because there's more to life than guitar, bass, and drums. Vera Project. $7 with club card/$8. 8 p.m. Sun. July 20. LAURA CASSIDY

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