The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Black Heart Procession ~ Wednesday, November 11It's funny, but not too long ago indie-rock scribes were debating Black Heart Procession's "gothness." Of course, that was the late '90s, the height of pre-commodity indie rock (remember how mind-blowing it was to see the Flaming Lips on the cover of Magnet?) But indie rock was actually pretty damned rippin' back then, back when the Shins were still called Flake Music and Devendra was still a teenager. Near the top of the heap was Black Heart Procession, a group of San Diegans who seemed to avoid sunlight and play dark, Nick Cave-y rock music more suited for our soggy terrain than the sunny SoCal they called home. Their latest album, Six, feels like a summation of all that made them great back in the day—the grim, romantically distressed tone of their first three albums meshed with the bright, pop songsmithery of Amore del Tropico and The Spell. With Bellini, El Olio Wolof. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $12. BRIAN J. BARRExplode Into Colors ~ Wednesday, November 11The Portland trio Explode Into Colors turns pop songwriting on its ear by reducing vocals to a mere background layer and throwing away melody altogether. In its place are clattery drums and cymbals from two drummers, a chugging baritone guitar, and woozy, reverb-heavy vocals. In this way, they have more in common with M.I.A. than post-punk progenitors Mission of Burma, who headline this show. M.I.A.'s combination of hip-hop, baile funk, and dance hall often means aborted melodies, with rhythms and shouted vocals used to propel her songs instead. Explode Into Colors play similarly distilled rhythms. In a recent interview, vocalist Claudia Meza remarked, "When we started EIC, we wanted it to be an art project that could be a creative vehicle for all our interests, rather than just a band." Through collaborations with video installationists and side projects in dance, book-making, and fashion design, it's no wonder their songs and performances come off so fresh and unusual. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15 adv. ERIK NEUMANNBatrider ~ Thursday, November 12Itinerant by nature, New Zealand's Batrider has steadily acquired and shed members as mainstay Sarah Chadwick has traversed the globe over the years. Following an initial stint in its native country, the band set up shop in Australia until a move to London brought Europe within clear striking distance. So Batrider has settled for now, with a steady lineup, even, in its current three-piece incarnation. This inaugural U.S. tour follows the release of the band's new album, Why We Can't Be Together, a spooky march toward collapse over the course of 14 tracks and two hidden ones. Chadwick's cigarette-raked voice contorts in the service of bracing, personal lyrics, while grimy gobs of bass, guitar, and drums spatter on all sides. It's a misanthropic racket informed as much by blues and garage as botched relationships and careening benders. Even amid so many songs and a confronting emotional core, Batrider doesn't sand down a single rough edge. With Post Adolescence, Eighteen Individual Eyes, Stereo Sons. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $6. DOUG WALLENSpace Cowboy ~ Thursday, November 12French DJ and producer Space Cowboy (Nicolas Dresti) is best known these days for being wingman to pop superstar Lady GaGa during her live performances. But he's actually been active in the club scene for more than a decade, remixing hits by Paul McCartney, Marilyn Manson, and The Darkness into irresistible dance tracks. His new album, Digital Rock Star, is unapologetically self-indulgent, featuring glittery party anthems drenched in vocoder, heavy bass, and sharp synth. And he's a dynamic live performer who thrives in the spotlight—especially when he doesn't have to share it with GaGa. With LMFAO, Shwayze, Far East Movement, and Paradiso Girls. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 652-0444. 7 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. All ages. ERIKA HOBARTMudhoney & Brothers of the Sonic Cloth ~ Friday, November 13In case you haven't been paying attention, right now is a great time to be a Mudhoney fan. Not only did they recently release one of their most hard-hitting albums, The Lucky Ones (2008), but their live shows have been raucous, incendiary affairs in which frontman Mark Arm has found his inner Iggy (remaining, however, fully clothed). On top of all that, their dear friends at Sub Pop wisely reissued (on vinyl, no less) Superfuzz Bigmuff (1988), Mudhoney (1989), and Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (1991). That's a punk-rock holy trinity on par with The Stooges, Fun House, and Raw Power. Recognize, fuckers! Sharing the bill tonight is Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, formed by local legend Tad Doyle of TAD fame. BOTSC pounds out massive slabs of heaviness—it's not exactly metal, but an awesomely huge noise nonetheless. Imagine that steamrollers formed a band in outer space...that's what Tad's new band sounds like. With Unnatural Helpers. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12 adv. BRIAN J. BARRThe Dead Trees ~ Saturday, November 14I could take the easy way out and say that the Dead Trees sound just like Pavement, and leave it at that. But that wouldn't be entirely fair to the scruffy Portland-via-Boston quartet. Yes, they've borrowed a fair amount of shambolic guitars, disheveled rhythms, languid vocals, and country-rock textures from Malkmus and company here and there, but they also have a sharp-enough songwriting acumen and ear for other sounds—grimy power pop, riff-rock, and such Pavement source material as the Meat Puppets and Dinosaur Jr.—to keep things interesting. I caught them last year opening for Little Joy, the side project of Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti (who like fellow Strokesman Albert Hammond Jr. has been a fervent Dead Trees champion), and their set was spirited, sweaty, and charismatic. It was far less about hearing something that's been done before than about hearing something done exceptionally well. With the Whigs, the Features. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$14 DOS. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGElectric Six ~ Sunday, November 15Listening to an Electric Six album is a bit like turning your iPod on shuffle—take the band's sixth record, KILL. The songs nonchalantly jump from wailing grunge to the organ-riffing "My Idea of Fun" to the disco flavor of "Body Shot." But what cements Electric Six's sound together is the same thing that's been garnering KILL a ton of enthusiastic reviews—its aggressive and frenzied energy, commanded by lead singer Dick Valentine's flamboyant vocals. Lyrically, Valentine's songwriting is infamously peculiar—"Steal Your Bones" is about cloning his lover ("Evolution rolls the dice/But we can be so much more precise")—and he frequently employs head-scratching metaphors that rank rhyme higher than coherence ("Come a little closer/Be my Kenny Rogers roaster"). But no matter. The oddities are all wrapped up nicely on "One Sick Puppy," in which Valentine howls "I got into rock and roll 'cause I'm one sick puppy." With the Gay Blades and Millions of Brazilians. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12 adv. E. THOMPSONFuck Buttons ~ Sunday, November 15God bless the Bristol pub owner who first allowed Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung, the two wunderkinds behind Britain's boffo ambient-noise band, to grace a stage (and, supposedly, to mark up the sandwich board outside said pub with the word "fuck"). It's what got them here, on tour to support their second album, Tarot Sport, released by indie soothsayers All Tomorrow's Parties. But sight unseen, who'd believe that a pair of perpetually hoodied dudes who stand hunched over folding tables and futz around with laptops would be worth even a first glance? Call it pretentiously performance-arty if you will; the bigger question is exactly what to dub their sound, an airtight pastiche of drumbeats, orchestral swooning, floor-rattling bass lines, and occasional shrieks from the afterlife. "Rainbow noise" is a good one; "sounds like the end of the world" is another previously published bon mot. And seeing them live will only cause you to emit a certain four-letter word. With Growing. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $10. ROSE MARTELLIJulian Plenti ~ Monday, November 16Julian Plenti, also known as Paul Banks of Interpol, has been doing his thing since the late '90s, actually predating his more famous outfit by a couple of years. Of course, Interpol's quick and considerable fame eclipsed Plenti's solo acoustic performances, and Banks laid his alter ego aside. But a few years back, Banks decided to dust off the Plenti persona, augmenting his solo material with a handful of friends and rounding out the sound with strings and brass in addition to the standard cadre of guitars and drums. The results are enough like Interpol for fans to find a bridge, but different enough to make Plenti's debut, Julian Plenti Is...Skyscraper, a fitting departure.Among the more immediate differences is Banks' singing style as Plenti. Largely eschewing the heady, affected-yet-affecting timbre his deep baritone so effectively employs in the service of Interpol's noirish moods, Plenti sings with a much cleaner, more direct approach.That plainspokenness is repeated in the music, which is much cleaner and lighter than what we've come to expect from Banks.Those adjectives largely detail the differences, but rest assured they translate into an equally engaging set of songs, albeit one that fits a much different mood. With I'm in You. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $16 adv. All ages. NICHOLAS HALLRaphael Saadiq ~ Monday, November 16Raphael Saadiq is a soulful R&B throwback who plays his music with integrity—nobody's getting rich with an eight-piece band like the one he brought to Bumbershoot—and without bitterness or nostalgia. He may sound as though he's just stepped off a plane from Detroit circa 1970, but he's not preaching, nor is he trying to preserve an endangered songbook like an embittered swing sideman of yesteryear. He's playing new songs with an old-school feel that are completely relevant for today, and that hit so hard they'll make you sick. "I gave my mind and body to the music," he told SW's Brian J. Barr earlier this year. "I wasn't really thinking about the label's reaction or if the TV bookers will get it or concert promoters or fans or whoever." Can't argue with that. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 382-7877. 8 p.m. $25 adv./$28 DOS. CHRIS KORNELISSaul Williams ~ Monday, November 16The punk scene long seemed a bastion of whiteness, despite the pioneering contributions of Bad Brains, Death, Fishbone, Suicidal Tendencies, and countless other bands featuring African-American musicians to punk rock and its many offshoots; the black kids who did come out to shows and got involved in the lifestyle were viewed as curiosities or outsiders (what else is new?). That perception began to change several years ago with the excellent 2003 documentary Afro-Punk, which examined racial identity within punk rock. In 2005, New York began hosting an annual Afro-Punk Festival to spotlight and celebrate bands and artists in the scene. Now the fest is hitting the road for its first national tour. Joining the potent headliner—spoken-word artist, rocker, and MC Saul Williams—are Led Zep acolytes Earl Greyhound, anti-folk hero Kimya Dawson, gloriously roaring art-punks American Fangs, and CX KiDTRONiK and Tchaka Diallo, who'll kick out a dynamic, Bambaataa/Bad Brains-inspired blend of electro, hip-hop, and punk. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15 adv. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGGirls ~ Tuesday, November 17Pitchfork loves Girls. KEXP and SPIN love Girls. And so you've got to be asking yourself, which is it—great new band or flash in the pan?The truth is, your first listen to Girls' new album, Album, will reveal that much of the buzz is actually accurate—the surfer/slacker songs are indeed sparse and breezy, replete with gentle guitar tones and springy melodies that recall, yes, Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, and the golden days of California in the '60s. The record has peace, love, and harmony written all over it. More importantly, though, frontman Christopher Owens more than lives up to all the indie-press hype; despite the songs' cheery sounds, Owens' vocals are lugubrious and open-faced but stop short of being pathetic. From the shivering guitars of "Morning Light" to the current single, "Hellhole Ratrace," in which Owens somewhat shamefully confesses, "I got a sad song in my sweet heart...I don't wanna cry my whole life through," the music fairly bleeds out of your speakers. The critics got it right this time. With Dominant Legs. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12 adv. E. THOMPSON

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