The Short List

Highlights-and otherwise-from this week's music calendar.

Wednesday, November 15

Asobi Seksu + Tokyo Police Club + Pit Er Pat

I first heard of N.Y.C dream-pop band Asobi Seksu while hunting/gathering music for a late-night pirate radio set, which still strikes me as the best possible scenario in which to hear their sparkling, reverb-drenched rock music. That said, the quartet—led by bilingual vocalist/keyboardist Yuki Chikudate—has an MBV-sized sound that translates better live than the jet-engine bombast of that Band Most Compared To. Shoegaze has all but disappeared from the attentions of industry tastemakers, but its underground posse is strong, and Asobi floats the genre into the 21st century with heaps of talent and a minimum of preciousness. Their second album for Friendly Fire, Citrus, was one of this year's early surprises; its strongest track, "New Years," captures the feelings of frantic longing and needless obsession without succumbing to dirge and despair. Though sung in Japanese, the meaning comes through if you listen close, like a secret message decoded through static. RACHEL SHIMP Chop Suey, 8 p.m. $10

Ray LaMontagne + David Ford

These days you can't swing a dead cat in Seattle without hitting a bearded, plaid-clad dude. When the weather begins to turn, faces start disappearing behind fuzz faster than the autumn leaves fall, making it tough to tell one urban lumberjack from the other. It won't get any easier when gravelly voiced singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne rolls into town—he should feel right at home with his fur covered visage. While Capitol hillbillies cultivate the look for fashion more than function, the sensitive Maine-born, folk-inspired crooner's down-home cred stems from blue-collar roots. It was while toiling 65 hours a week in a shoe factory that he was struck by Stephen Still's "Tree Top Flyer," so inspired that he quit his job to become a musician, subsequently showing that scruff sells—his sophomore effort on RCA, Till the Sun Turns Black (2006), sold 28,000 copies in its first week of release. AJA PECKNOLD Paramount, 8 p.m. $32.50–$41.50

Thursday, November 16

The Album Leaf + Dirty on Purpose + the Lymbyc System

In the past, Jimmy LaValle has made music with some interesting bands (Tristeza and Black Heart Procession chief among them), but the best thing that ever happened to him—and us, the listeners—was when members of cosmic Icelandic art-rockers Sigur Rós discovered one of the discs he'd recorded under his nom-de-bedroom-pop the Album Leaf, and invited him to their mythical studio to collaborate and record. There, he injected space and a pacific pace into his mainly instrumental, piano/guitar/drum-programmed compositions, dropped in some strings and otherworldly voices, and the resultant In a Safe Place (2004) was an expansive, ethereal winner. Into the Blue Again, released in September, doesn't stray too much from its predecessor—gauzy melodies unfurl slowly and warmly, and are satisfyingly atmospheric—but here, there are a few more conventionally structured (with vocals) indie-rock numbers present as well. Which should keep the crowd, as well as the five-member Album Leaf live lineup, on its toes for the duration of what promises to be a graceful, stellar set. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG Chop Suey, 9 p.m. $10 The Hopscotch Boys + Black Heart White Noise + Shim + A Gun that Shoots Knives

SEE Opening Act [A Gun that Shoots Knives] High Dive, 9 p.m. $6

Kid Congo Powers & the Pink Monkey Birds + White + Flaccidero + Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death

SEE FEATURE [Triumph of Lethargy] Sunset Tavern, 9 p.m. $10

Pernice Brothers + Elvis Perkins

Professorial Boston songwriter Joe Pernice introduced his Pernice Brothers in 1998—shortly after the breakup of his melancholy alt-country outfit Scud Mountain Boys—with Overcome by Happiness (recorded for Sub Pop), a gorgeous collection of songs that pitted sunny chamber-pop against the singer-guitarist's sweetly sung yet wry lyrics of despair and human frailty. That juxtaposition made for one of the most brilliant debut albums ever, and put Pernice and pals in the company of such highly melodic miserablists as Elliott Smith and Morrissey. In the eight years since, the Pernice Brothers have put out four more terrific studio albums (their leader also wrote a novella based on the Smiths' Meat Is Murder for the 33 1/3 book series); three of those discs found the band moving away from their quasi-orchestral beginnings and toward an edgier sort of guitar-rock, but their latest, Live a Little, harks back to those lush late-'90s days, and its tunes—most all the band's songs, really—are as likely to lift you into the clouds as knock you into the gutter. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG Tractor Tavern, 8 p.m. $12

Friday, November 17

Hip-Hop "Back to Its Roots"

Central District gem Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center is known for its diverse and innovative programming in the form of both performance and instruction. This weekend, the arts hub celebrates the fourth consecutive year of "Back to Its Roots"—a three-day hip-hop heavy hoopla that both explores the genre's influential elements and pays tribute to the historical content of the music through live performances and interactive workshops. Touting hip-hop oriented instructional sessions for all ages, talk-back discussions on politics and social change and over 20 Northwest artists taking the stage—from B-boys and girls to African drummers, MCs, and dancers, BTIR offers a unique opportunity to get to the root of the art form as both a participant and spectator. AJA PECKNOLD Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave. S., 8 p.m. $12 adult/$7 youth. Also at 11 a.m. Nov. 18 and 1 p.m. Nov. 19

The Decemberists

SEE FEATURE, Paramount Theatre, 8 p.m. $25–$27

Romance + White Gold + Das Llamas + DJ Mama Casserole

The throbbing tension of Das Llamas evokes the gritty, angular work of Television, only a bit darker and shadowy. The bass and synth pulsate while metallic guitars clang away and the yelping vocals leap from the back of singer Kerry Zettel's throat. However, there's a warmer quality to the band, something suitable for those nights when you lock yourself in your apartment with a stack of vinyl and a 12-pack of beer and get nostalgic for N.Y.C. in the late '70s. And while comparing them to Television and alluding to Lester Bangs drunkenly flying solo in his flat may make them seem a bit chilly, give one listen to their song "Reasoning With Sharks" to see they have an emotional side the ever-icy Verlaine & Co. lacked. BRIAN J. BARR Jules Mayes Saloon, 9 p.m.

Saturday, November 18

Ladyhawk + Lake Society + Spanish for 100

SEE FEATURE[Ladyhawk] Sunset Tavern, 9 p.m. $7

Sunday, November 19

Talib Kweli

Two months after a sold-out Chop Suey show hyping Kweli's fourth solo album, the just-released Ear Drum, the master lyricist returns to show a larger crowd that he's still got it. History shows that the rapper has always been more of a critical than commercial success, but you wouldn't say it matters much, by the loyalty his followers (many from the Black Star/Reflection Eternal/can-do-no-wrong era) continually display. Spirits were high on Kweli's part, too, during his last trip through town, and he performed a solid mix of old and new songs with energetic showmanship. Even his backup singers were on fire. If you missed that tease of a party, there's room for everyone at tonight's big bash. RACHEL SHIMP Showbox, 8 p.m. $25 All ages

Tuesday, November 21

The Human Echo + the Treatment + the Mellors + the Oswald Effect

Opening a four-band bill at the Paradox a couple of months ago, Seattle quartet the Human Echo was probably the night's unique, most-attention-grabbing act—just when you had them pegged as a more meandering, post-rockier version of the Smashing Pumpkins, their singer-guitarist unleashed a death howl and six-string detonation worthy of Isis or the Melvins; eyes widened, earplugs went in, and folks who'd been sitting in the adjacent lounge began wandering into the main space, curious about the atypical racket. The group was equally interesting to look at: A Plexiglas partition separated their stern-faced synth/sampler player from her bandmates, while their frontman staked out his own lonely position at the other side of the stage, and only their burly, long-haired bassist dared crack a smile as the set progressed. But if it wasn't quite the feel-good performance of the year, it sure sounded pretty good. Seriously. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG Sunset Tavern, 9 p.m. $6

Kaos Theory 8-Year Anniversary: DJ Marky

Drum & Bass Tuesdays, thrown by local promoters Kaos Theory, celebrates its status as the West Coast's longest-running drum and bass weekly with a visit from one of the genre's most exciting DJs. São Paulo's Marky has impressed clubgoers since 1998 with fierce scratching skills, superb mixing, and an intuition for tracks that veer jazzy and up-tempo. His live performance has a celebratory air that's unique in the often darker-than-dark world of drum and bass. As his countryman Marcos Valle wrote in the '60s samba classic, "Batucada is strong, and it won't take you long/'Til you're lost in the song and in the dance." Tonight, local scene stalwarts Demo and Zacharia open the show, and helm the following night's 360 BPM 10-year party as well (which you get free entry to when you pay for the Kaos Theory one). And if two anniversaries aren't enough for one week, the Baltic Room celebrates its nine-year on the 18th with broken beats from Bugz in the Attic's Daz-I-Kue and SunTzu Sound. RACHEL SHIMP War Room, 9 p.m. $12. Also Sat., Nov. 18; Baltic Room Nine-Year Anniversary Party with Daz-I-Kue, NC

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