The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Feral Children (CD release) ~ Wednesday, January 27

See Rocket Queen. With John Atkins, Jabon. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $8.

The Ax ~ Thursday, January 28

It can't be easy to share a bill with hard and heavy Portland duo the Ax, especially if you're obliged to play after them. The Ax make big, growling, edgy rock delivered with minimalist perfection. It's transfixing, but trying to follow them with something better—or even just as good—is no easy task. Guitarist/lead vocalist Chris Pierce is über-charismatic, but even if he rocked outin glitter-dipped tighty-whities, he'd still be outshined by powerhouse drummer Adam Jelsing, who plays big, with a sick, easy precision that could carry the show all on its own. With Death by Steamship, Shadow People, Chinese. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $5. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Kids and Animals ~ Thursday, January 28

If all the songs on this Seattle band's self-titled debut EP sound familiar, there's good reason: Kids & Animals owes some credit to a handful of bands that gained popularity in the past decade. "46th Street" has the super-electric guitars and chanted, near-shouted vocals that have beome Modest Mouse's trademark. "Solstice" possesses the same meandering yet symphonic quality as Okkervil River's songs. Even the opening guitars on "Blind Spots" mimic The Bends–era Radiohead. On the one hand, this means the band members borrow heavily from their influences; on the other, it means these five guys must be incredibly talented to pull it off. All the bands Kids & Animals draw from—Arcade Fire is on that list, too—are known both for pop sensibility and technical precision, two qualities this little band has in spades. The result sounds innovative and interesting but still approachable, giving Kids & Animals a chance to make it just as big as the bands they admire. With Skeletons With Flesh on Them, the Purrs, Royal Bear. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. PAIGE RICHMOND

Seattle Helping Haiti ~ Thursday, January 28

Every time the subject of MxPx comes up, I tell the same story: My freshman-year roommate at the University of Idaho (Go Vandals! Vote Palin!) was a kid from Minnesota named Rudy who exercised by lifting my box of laundry detergent and slept wearing an eye guard to keep the light out. From the first time he took off his shirt, I knew he was an MxPx fan. He had their trademark image tattooed on his shoulder. I told him I'd gone to high school in Bremerton. He told me he'd made a pilgrimage there. MxPx never attained universal stardom, but their fans are among music's most devout. And if frontman Mike Herrera—performing tonight along with the Maldives, Vince Mira, and Sweet Water—wants to help raise some serious coin at tonight's benefit for earthquake victims in Haiti, he'll contribute to the silent auction a guided tour of Bremerton, complete with green eggs and ham at Hi Lo's 15th Street Café, a jar of Harvey's Hot Buttered Rum mix, and a walk through his studio, Monkey Trench. You won't be able to stop the bidding. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 443-1744. 8 p.m. $15. All ages. CHRIS KORNELIS

Tower of Power ~ Thursday, January 28 through Sunday, January 31

It makes perfect sense to assume that any band that's been around for more than 40 years is past its prime, so there's no logical explanation for how Tower of Power sounds so tight and invigorating this late in the game. Much of the Tower's fine form these days can be attributed to drummer Dave Garibaldi, a veteran of the group's early-'70s heyday who rejoined in 1998 and brought back his inimitable groove. But by no means is Garibaldi solely responsible. An awe-inspiring juggernaut, the horn section has the presence and bearing of a well-oiled jumbo jet—elegant, built for soaring, but above all powerful and large. Bandleader Emilio Castillo has not only preserved but improved upon the Tower's signature rat-a-tat-TAT rhythms. What started as a funky soul-fusion group has aged into nothing less than a peerless orchestra making an ever-deepening impact on music history. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 & 10 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., 7:30 p.m. Sun. All ages. $40. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

Kool Keith ~ Friday, January 29

Dismayingly, America still seems to prefer its black entertainers to be goofy and depraved. The elephant in the room about figures like Blowfly, Wesley Willis, and Kool Keith is that their extravagant strangeness ultimately reassures white listeners of their superiority. It may be more unconscious, even good-natured, these days, but the nervous laughter and free pass widely extended to Keith provide damning evidence. Still, he may have hit nauseating lows on his 1997 album Sex Style, but musically speaking it's unfair to put him in the same category as the more despicably obscene Blowfly or the genuinely schizophrenic, one-trick Willis. Bona fide artistic inspiration runs deep throughout Keith's body of work, and however much he plays up his own peculiarities, his delivery remains one of rap's most distinctive. In the end, his awkward, almost anti-rhythmic flow makes its own warped kind of sense. With KutMasta Kurt, Foreign Objects, Sonny Bonoho. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15 adv. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

Zoe Muth ~ Friday, January 29

Though Zoe Muth's debut album is nothing less than superb, even unabashed superfans like me must admit that the songs themselves are quite simple. But as songwriters like Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams once proved, it's not technical complexity that makes a country song great, it's the feeling with which it's performed. And feeling is something Muth's always had in spades. But after hearing her perform a few new songs at the Blue Moon two weeks ago, it's become clear her songs are maturing: She's begun to employ more complex song structures (thanks in no small part to her excellent band the Lost High Rollers), but without sacrificing any of the classic country timelessness that makes them so compelling. This girl has really got something; I'll be downright shocked if Bloodshot Records and New West haven't started a bidding war over her before the year's out. Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St., 691-3279. 7 p.m. All ages. Free; presented by Seattle Weekly's Reverb. SARA BRICKNER

Nomo ~ Friday, January 29

Though Afrobeat has spawned a new generation of bands here in the United States, the overwhelming majority of them sound like Fela Kuti clones, which is understandable. Fela's imposing legacy is so worthy of worship that genuflection often trumps innovation. Michigan's Nomo started its career bowing before The Man just like every other group. But the band's two most recent albums, Ghost Rock and last year's Invisible Cities, have redefined classic Afrobeat, filtering its core sound through an electronica-based sensibility that's equal parts Detroit techno, krautrock, and Eno-approved ambient. The horns even skronk with a free-jazz ferocity you just don't hear on vintage Fela albums. So yeah, Nomo makes seriously innovative dance music, folks, hypnotic to both mind and body. With Orkestar Zirkonium. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $10. JUSTIN F. FARRAR

Sex With Strangers ~ Friday, January 29

Anyone who ventures into the Comet tonight should come equipped with dancing shoes and a healthy acceptance of the inevitable spilled beverages. Scraps are charming, lo-fi pop fetishists with a great sense of angular acrobatics and sly humor that recalls the approach of the Intelligence's Lars Finberg, and synth-punks PartMan PartHorse have a well-deserved reputation for gleefully unhinged shows, thanks in large part to the limber and confrontational antics of frontman Gary Smith. However, the biggest draw here is Vancouver, B.C.'s Sex With Strangers. Frontman Hatch Benedict is a mesmerizing figure who somehow evokes both Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington and Morrissey, especially when wrapping his distinct falsetto around "New City Anthem," the stunning and infectious dance-floor anthem from their new album, The Tokyo Steel. With Championship Belt. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $6. HANNAH LEVIN

They Live! ~ Friday, January 29

Rowdy rap meets rock cacophony at this show, They Live!'s very last before they change their moniker (a Midwestern punk group of the same name threatened to sue). Champagne Champagne and They Live!, who often perform together, are complementary party bands. With frenetic sampling, pop-lock steeze, and head-knocking hooks, They Live! belongs in the front row. In comparison,Champagne Champagne is almost slothful, meditative, wistful: a slurred, half-lucid stream of consciousness from the bar at the back of the house. The very wild card in this lineup is Wild Orchid Children, whose sheer noise is unparalleled, as evidenced by their excellent set at last year's Capitol Hill Block Party. Expect hyperenthusiastic percussion, guitar riffs designed to melt faces, bizarro harmonies, and fantastically indecipherable vocals. It's like the acid trip you never knew you had. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 9:30 p.m. $8. HOLLIS WONG-WEAR

Country Joe's Tribute to Woody Guthrie ~ Saturday, January 30

Country Joe McDonald—that hairy dude in the documentary Woodstock who leads the infamous F-U-C-K chant—was one of psychedelia's most outrageous satirists. But like a lot of wily hippies, his roots lie in the folk revival (i.e., strapping on a guitar and imitating the great Woody Guthrie). For the past several years, McDonald has been honoring Woody with a series of performances, the spirit of which was captured on the recently released two-disc set A Tribute to Woody Guthrie. However, this isn't Country Joe's first Guthrie-themed record. Way back in 1969, the year of Woodstock, he recorded Thinking of Woody Guthrie. If you're a fan of vintage cosmic Americana, you really need to hear this masterful country-rock album. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $22 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. JUSTIN F. FARRAR

The Cribs ~ Saturday, January 30

See feature, Englishmen in the Northwest. With Jemina Pearl. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $16 adv./$18 DOS. All ages.

Hey Marseilles ~ Saturday, January 30

See Q&A. With Loch Lomond. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $10.

Prefuse 73 ~ Saturday, January 30

The notion of Scott Herren—aka Prefuse 73—bringing along a live band for a performance is probably only surprising to those who haven't yet seen Prefuse live, and expect all their favorite glitch/IDM musicians to show up at a club clutching only a laptop and an M-Audio box. Herren has long been a proponent of fusing live instrumentation and IDM structures, dating back to his days DJing at an Atlanta club known mainly for acid jazz and a then-incubating neo-soul scene. Herren's use of a super-tight rhythm section in concert builds on that background, accentuating the strength and individuality of the tracks he crafts. With Gaslamp Killer, Voices Voices, Nordic Soul. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15. JASON FERGUSON

DJ Krush ~ Sunday, January 31

Japan's founding father of instrumental hip-hop, DJ Krush, has lost none of his serene prowess since the mid-'80s. The man born Hideaki Ishi exploded onto the radar of most American fans a decade later, thanks to the classic albums Strictly Turntablized and Krush. He has worked with kindred spirits from DJ Shadow to Ryuichi Sakamoto, and provided stunning backdrops for Mos Def, Mr. Lif, and Black Thought. He's done plenty of remix and soundtrack work over the years, and even remixed his own best material for the career retrospective Stepping Stones. Krush's records eerily run the gamut from drilling paranoia to chilling landscapes, a crisp drum sound the only common thread. Catch him here at one of only five stateside dates.With Foscil and SunTzu Sound. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15. DOUG WALLEN

Wayne Horvitz's These Hills of Glory ~ Sunday, January 31

Befitting his background as a veteran of the New York downtown avant-garde community famously spearheaded by the likes of John Zorn, renowned producer/composer and longtime Seattle transplant Wayne Horvitz's reach encompasses a breathtaking scope of experimental, jazz, roots, and classical music. In the latter category, Horvitz has composed for opera, orchestral, and chamber ensembles. These Hills of Glory is written for string quartet and an improvising soloist on any instrument; for example, an Earshot Jazz–sponsored performance last November featured violinist Carla Kihlstedt with the odeonquartet, while tonight's concert includes clarinetist Beth Fleenor. The liner notes of a recent Horvitz album describe his writing as a "Rubik's Cube" of different elements, and sure enough he brings unconventional angles to any genre he approaches. Jewelbox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 7:30 p.m. $5–$15. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

Team Gina ~ Sunday, January 31

See feature. With Punk Bunny, Black Barbie, Sap'n. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $7.

Whalebones ~ Sunday, January 31

Retro psych-rock band Whalebones hasn't played a single show since Sasquatch '08, much to the dismay of the local band's loyal fan base. Luckily the project wasn't dead, just dormant, though frontman Justin Deary is the only remaining member of the band's former lineup. Along with new drummer Faustine Hudson and bassist Bradford Button (you may recognize them from The Curious Mystery—Button still plays in that group, Hudson does not), Deary began recording a new album of hallucinogenic '60-era garage rock. The band expects to release the album sometime this spring, and it wouldn't be a stretch to expect a set of entirely new material tonight. In case you need another reason to attend, this show is also a benefit: 100 percent of the door money, a portion of bar sales, and the Tractor staff's wages for the night are all being donated to relief efforts in Haiti. With the Tripwires, Cute Lepers, Eugene Wendell and the Demon Rind. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $10 suggested donation. SARA BRICKNER

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