The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Bottoms Up Blues Gang / Wednesday, March 3

The through-line from W.C. Handy's groundbreaking, genre-establishing "St. Louis Blues" to St. Louis' Bottoms Up Blues Gang (currently the Gateway City's reigning blues duo) can appear fuzzy at times. Whereas Handy and company (Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, et al.) fused brass-laden, 12-bar melodies with elements of pop, jazz, and ragtime, Bottoms Up guitarist Jeremy Segel-Moss and vocalist Kari Liston stick to a twangy, backwoods acoustic vibe. What past and present share is a wry delivery of arch, shoulda-known-better lyrics and a deliberately rough-edged stage presence that invites everybody to come a little closer. With a repertoire carefully crafted of equal parts originals and covers, Bottoms Up also knows how to pay reverent tribute; the duo cleverly re-imagines Louis Jordan's "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" as part boozy nightclub torch song, part groovy jam-band ditty. And like all great blues bands, no matter what the decade, they succeed wildly in making you feel anything but blue. With the Sam Marshall Trio. Highway 99 Blues Club, 1414 Alaskan Way, 382-2171. 9 p.m. $8. ROSE MARTELLI

Evan Dando / Wednesday, March 3

Being Evan Dando must be a little rough. As the affable frontman of the Lemonheads, he made some fantastic records in the '90s, but never quite became the institution that he was capable of being. A combination of cuddly and scruffy, Dando was a little too pin-up (was there a single issue of Sassy without a mention of Dando?) and pop-minded for that grunge-centric decade. Since then he's broken up and reformed the Lemonheads numerous times, battled with drug addiction, married a model, released an album of covers (Varshons), and put on notoriously inconsistent live shows; basically, he's jumped through almost every rock cliché in the book. Still, it's nearly impossible to hate the guy; any listens to Lemonheads records reveal the shy, quiet charmer who, all drama aside, is at the core of a great, quirky songwriter. With Milo Jones, Headlights. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $15. GREGORY FRANKLIN

The Strange Boys / Thursday, March 4

As indie rock attempts to reinvent itself by mashing together every genre known to humankind, incorporating every instrument from the furthest reaches of the globe in search of truly new, uncharted sonic territory, there's something comforting about sassy, scratchy garage-rock bands like Austin outfit the Strange Boys. The garage is the last bastion of bona fide rock and roll as we know it, and that the Strange Boys' second full-length, Be Brave, sounds as if it could've been recorded 50 years ago is to the band's credit. Replete with organ, harmonica, and horns, but driven by the jangly, twangy guitars of fledgling rock and roll, Be Brave evokes the spirit of the genre back when it was truly music for revolutionaries. With Chain and the Gang, Night Beats, Lovvers. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $10. SARA BRICKNER

SXSW Send-Off Party / Thursday, March 4

Tonight, a mashup of genre-spanning local acts share the stage before heading off to Austin for SXSW. As in most cities, Seattle's musicians and their followers form around a sound. It's natural enough, but it makes for an unfortunate extension of a high-school cafeteria: you know, everybody sitting at the table with their own. But when Ballard-based lyricist Grynch, the Dipset-like Dyme Def, the sincere Pearly Gate Music, retro rockers Thee Emergency, and spaced-out soul sistahs THEESatisfaction come together for one fucking cool showcase, the potential for an enterprising promoter to get inspired multiplies. In theory, at least. If nothing else, it's enough that three performers from the hip-hop scene have ventured beyond the usual circuit, even if just for one event. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $10. KEVIN CAPP

The Graze / Friday, March 5

If you're not familiar with The Graze, it's likely because the man behind The Graze, Louis O'Callaghan, took five and a half years to release his second full-length album, Give/Sell. You can download it free if you sign up for the mailing list on The Graze's Web site. And you'll want to, because Give/Sell is an instantly likable collection of lo-fi folk songs—a quality that's furthered by O'Callaghan's vocal kinship with the likes of Jeff Mangum and John Vanderslice. O'Callaghan's guitar work is distinctive, too. Had someone played it for me blind and said it was an early Elephant 6 demo, I would've believed it. Give/Sell is so rife with potential, in fact, that it makes you wonder what O'Callaghan could accomplish if he devoted a little more time to his solo work and a little less to the other three bands he's in (one of which, Mississippi Painful, also performs tonight). With Seth Howard. Mars Bar, 609 Eastlake Ave. E., 624-4516. 9 p.m. $6. SARA BRICKNER

Snoop Dogg / Friday, March 5

Last December's Malice N Wonderland may have been the Long Beach rapper's lowest-charting release yet, but that's not to say his career is nearing a smoke-shrouded end. Snoop's new material doesn't often stray far from his trademark cadence, and recurring cliché gangsterisms match uninspired rhymes that make the record seem more like an attempt at mainstream crossover than the real thing. But there are still flares of brightness, from a radio hit pairing with The-Dream to more Neptunes-produced pop brilliance to grown-man love songs inspired by his high-school-sweetheart-turned-wife. And despite any recent mediocrity, the Doggfather is a pioneer of West Coast gangsta rap with the impressive back catalog to prove it. With Helladope. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $35 adv./$40 DOS. NICK FELDMAN

Rob Swift / Friday, March 5

Whether or not you're familiar with his time in the DJ supergroup the X-ecutioners, New York turntablist Rob Swift deserves your attention. He's as agile as ever, yet no longer confined to a hip-hop palette. Released on Mike Patton's Ipecac label, Swift's new album The Architect recasts his unconventional instrument for bolder purposes. It has all the stirring swell of a great film score; orchestral samples are conjured throughout. Unfolding in two- and three-minute snippets, fat scratches and sizzling snatches of rhythm are woven into an atmospheric, post-rap whole. It's miles ahead of 1999's underrated The Ablist, despite the similar title, and only one track features an MC. Disciples of DJ Shadow and J Dilla owe it to themselves to get acquainted with Swift. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 9 p.m. $10. DOUG WALLEN

The Dutchess and the Duke, Feral Children, the Cave Singers / Saturday, March 6 See Music News & Notes.

Little Boots / Saturday, March 6

Victoria Hesketh tried the flute and jazz and classical singing before settling on an electro-pop career under the stage name Little Boots. She's something like a shinier version of fellow British pop star Lily Allen; both are equipped with a feisty sort of appeal, but where Allen is notoriously rowdy, vulgar, and brawling, Hesketh is all cool glamour and sparkly sheen. Little Boots' debut record, Hands, already a huge hit in the UK, saw its U.S. release this month, and was produced by Greg Kurstin, who's engineered the disco-glam sounds of everything from Kylie Minogue to Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight. It makes sense, then, that Hands is a steady stream of hook-heavy melodies, shivering vocals, and Hesketh's serious jamming on the keys and the Tenori-on, a Japanese-made electronic instrument that looks like an LED Lite-Brite. That's fitting, since Little Boots' polished image is all about the flash, the dazzle, and the lights. With Dragonette, Class Actress, Tiger Beat. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Basia Bulat / Sunday, March 7

Ontario-based Basia Bulat occasionally garners comparisons to fellow Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell. However, Bulat's strong voice and penchant for near-rustic instrumentation (autoharp, hammered dulcimer) in dramatically arranged and expansive songs aligns her much more closely with singers like Heidi Berry and the dearly departed Kate McGarrigle. Bulat's music is defiantly traditionalist, with a delivery far removed from both touristic twang and cracked psych-folk. Ultimately, her rich, resonant voice makes a well-worn genre interesting but not unfamilar. With Ivan & Alyosha, Haley Bonar. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $10. JASON FERGUSON

Matthew Good / Monday, March 8

For those of you who didn't get enough of Vancouver during the Winter Olympics, may we suggest Vancouver, the latest album from veteran Canadian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Matthew Good. Like the geographically inclined Sufjan Stevens but with radio-friendlier hooks, Good's concept album digs into his home city—not so much the gleaming skyscrapers and gorgeous snow-capped mountains but the sadder, seedier parts of town and the people struggling. At turns wistful, angry, tender, and hopeful, Vancouver shows off the merger of tunefulness and intensity that is Good's calling card. His brand of straightforward alt-rock features enough strong melodies and emotional heft to keep things interesting and satisfying. With Automatic Loveletter. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $30. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

Cool Kids / Tuesday, March 9

When you get down to it, Cool Kids is more like a crew of socio-philosophical pranksters than a hip-hop outfit. Think about it—these guys have come to be accepted as paragons of cool by laying tracks about haircuts, lasers, and grocery stores on top of beats and production that could be largely reproduced on a mid-'80s department-store keyboard/sampler combo. Not exactly the archetypal version of hip-hop cool, at least not the 2010 edition. That said, everyone who gets Cool Kids is of the opinion that the traditional swagger trappings don't necessarily fit the bill, anyway. Like so much music that comes in from the outside, Cool Kids reject your notions of cool and substitute their own, and do it so well that laid-back, Velveeta raps about how fly they are become pretty damn convincing. With Pac Div. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $17.50 adv./$20 DOS. All ages. NICHOLAS HALL

Shrinebuilder / Tuesday, March 9 See preview.

You Say Party! We Say Die! / Tuesday, March 9

Good news for American fans of You Say Party! We Say Die!: Four years after bassist Stephen O'Shea pissed off Border Patrol and got himself banned from the U.S., the Canadian dance-punk outfit is finally allowed to tour our territory. YSP! WSD! is promoting their third album, the surprisingly dark and emotional XXXX. Somewhere along the line from the shrieky frenzy that was their debut record, Hit the Floor!, to today, the quintet has developed toward New Wave's graver, more sedated side. Songs like "Laura Palmer's Prom" and "There Is XXXX (Within My Heart)," dominated by frontwoman Becky Ninkovic's eerily dramatic vocals and haunting synthesizers, are still dance tracks per se, but it's going to be a swaying, dazed, and drugged-out kind of dance. With People Eating People. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. ERIN K. THOMPSON

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