Crocodile Cafe at 9 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 9, with the Pieces and Jake Brennan. $10 adv.
Juliana Hatfield sounds like nostalgia. Having spent many an angst-filled hour agonizing my way through a small-town teenage existence to the tune of Hatfield's nasal profundity in both the Blake Babies and the Juliana Hatfield Three (I once subsisted on "My Sister" for a weekoh, Juliana, the poignancy!), I can personally attest to the power of Some Girls, Hatfield's new group, to induce a sentimental journey through a mildly embarrassing past. But Some Girls' debut album, Feel It (Koch), also smacks of public retrospection, as Hatfield, Heidi Gluck, and co-Blake Baby Freda Love remind us what a lot of music sounded like about 10 years ago. Some Girls proselytize from the Lemonheads/Breeders camp of alternative, espousing a heavy, meandering bass, sparsely buzzing guitars, lethargic little-girl vocals, a B.U.M. equipment bag full of alterna-kitten pathos ("I've seen the girl of your dreams/Is it hard, sweetheart, to wake up next to me") and wide-eyed metaphor ("A train reconsiders its tracks/The sidewalk I'm walking on cracks"). Tracks like "The Prettiest Girl," a breezy skip through a crush with prettily whined "hey, hey"s, deftly reference what was lighthearted and fun about early '90s music. "On My Back," with its vintage Hatfield harmonizing (breathy, unconventional intervals), is basically an ode to Gen-X slackerdom, and "Necessito" haltingly lurches its endearing way through some "Tom's Diner"-esque nonsense. A fine-tuned retro vibe and some impeccable timing in a year that's seen the resurrection of both Lollapalooza and Evan Dando should secure Hatfield and company a firm position come the early '90s revival. Personal to the alterna-deities that be: Please don't let it include a remake of Reality Bites. RACHEL DEVITT
Chop Suey at 9 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 9, with MC Blurum 13, DJ First Rate, Plan B, and Diverse. $10 adv.
DJ Vadim has a little thing for "vintage" announcer samples. You know the kinda voice like an opiated Ward Cleaver explaining that "listening to music while stoned is a whole new world," in just a fun, fun, fun kitschy kind of way. It's cute, and Russian-British abstract hip-hop veteran Vadim does it well, if a bit too frequently. DJ Vadim's career often seems to be driven almost entirely by a penchant for eclectic kitsch so intricately detailed that it borders on the obsessive-compulsive. Along with Beav-a-riffic voices, Vadim works in everything from gospel and video-game blips to toy pianos and Japanese Noh drama. Indie hip-hop MCs such as Gift of Gab, Phi-Life Cypher, and Slug have appeared on many of his recent albums, and Vadim produced poet/playwright Sarah Jones' "Your Revolution," which became "infamous" when the FCC needed a new plaything to bat around. All of which results in a sort of joint aural trajectory of both pop and counterculture that Vadim elegantly slinks down like a catwalk, dragging his sound from otherworldly ambient geekdom to straighter hip-hop terrain, most recently on 2002's excellent U.S.S.R.: The Art of Listening. This tour stop should feel like getting smacked with about five Vanity Fairs, some vintage Chuck Taylors, and a PlayStation 2and, let's hope, will be a little less heavy than usual on the retro announcer schtick. R.D.
Tractor Tavern at 8 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 9, with Casey Driessen, John Doyle, and Dirk Powell. $20.
The late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt once credited our interstate highway system for making it possible to travel coast to coast without seeing a thing. Fortunately, Tim O'Brien stays off that overbeaten path. O'Brien is a triple threat in Music City: a coveted session mandolinist, a producer with a penchant for staying out of the way, and a songwriter who is well-read, idealistic, and witty. And that notoriety furthers his own cause on Traveler (Sugar Hill), a traditional country/modern-folk concept record about his literal and spiritual wanderings, and his first album in six years. Pulling in stalwart bluegrasseurs for Traveler (and on his current tour), including fiddler Casey Driessen, guitarist John Doyle, and accordion/banjoist Dirk Powell, O'Brien sings tales of Delta highways, West Coast byways, and old-world Italian villages, his literary schooling and eclectic musicianship coalescing like Paul Theroux fronting the New Grass Revival. Here, Portland musician Kelly Joe Phelps appears in spirit, his black Chuck Taylor high-top hand-me-downs serving as the inspiration for the Cajun-flavored "Kelly Joe's Shoes," which became O'Brien's traveling companions: "Take these shoes and be on your way/It looks like you've got some travelin' to do," he remembers. O'Brien also pays homage to his Southern roots ("Restless Spirit Wandering"), takes an unplanned junket through Mississippi cotton country ("Forty-Nine Keep on Talking"), and spins poetic on generations come and gone ("Another Day," starring Béla Fleck on banjo). But it's the title track, written in a Tuscany bungalow, that hints at a sequel: "If we survive it will all just depend/For we are but travelers on a road with no end." SCOTT HOLTER