The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

The Expendables / Wednesday, December 8

Last time I caught the Expendables in town, they were supporting Slightly Stoopid on a Cauzin' Vapors tour stop at Marymoor Park. Now the tables are turned: Members of Slightly Stoopid are backing their Santa Cruz reggae-rock labelmates as C-Money & The Players Inc. But what both outfits have locked down is a knack for grooving dub bass and catchy guitar riffs, and the Expendables haven't stopped building on their genre-bending foundation with tight rhythms and a true California-grown surf-punk vibe. Aptly titled, their most recent studio record Prove It is indeed a testament to their sonic maturity—and their evolution into uniquely multidimensional music-makers. With John Brown's Body. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $16 adv./$18 DOS. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

Brooke Fraser / Wednesday, December 8

Kiwi singer/songwriter Brooke Fraser hit it big in her native New Zealand at age 20, where her first album What to Do With Daylight went seven times platinum. Fraser's second album, 2006's Albertine—named after a young child she met in war-ravaged Rwanda—gained her more notoriety stateside. The sentiment is nice and she toured the album heavily, but to make it outside her home country, Fraser simply needs great folk-pop songs. On Flags, released in October, they're in abundance ("Something in the Water," "Ice on Her Lashes"). While she surely won't conquer America overnight, many are onto Fraser, whose future looks as bright as ever. With Sam Bradley. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $17 adv./ $19 DOS. All ages. BRYDEN MCGRATH

Wayfinders / Wednesday, December 8

Like their local peers the Maldives, this Seattle folk-rock four-piece does timeless throwback rock as though they'd time-warped here from 1970 after opening for CSNY. It's no surprise, then, that they're playing with Pipsisewah, a band featuring the Maldives' Jesse Bonn on bass and occasional lead vocals, and the Low Hums, a really badass local ambient psych project. With the Low Hums opening and Wayfinders—far and away the most vintage-sounding of the three—headlining, you can expect this show to feel like a backwards trip through the history of stoner rock. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $6. SARA BRICKNER

Hushd Puppies / Thursday, December 9

Just a week after releasing the debut of his EMP Sound Off!–winning jazz/rap fusion outfit Dyno Jamz, MC Turtle Toes (aka Zac Millan) is already celebrating another project. Officially dropped back in September, the 10-track SSHH!! EP—from the trio of Millan, vocalist Eva Linh, and MC/producer Andrew Savoie—maintains a soulful ambience that gives way to haunting hooks and heartfelt, reflective lyricism. Though a potential for explosiveness sits not far under the surface, you'll more often find the trio in more relaxed contemplation. With Living Proof, Luck One, 5Flat & Brown. High Dive. 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 9 p.m. $7. NICK FELDMAN

Neon Trees / Thursday, December 9

The Strokes' influence sings in bands like Kings of Leon and Phoenix, but the most homogenized take on NYC's brat kings has to belong to Utah's Neon Trees, whose debut Habits bears criminal similarities to the Strokes' 2006 First Impressions of Earth. It could be an innocent resemblance, as four years seems a likely cultural time lag between Manhattan and Provo, and there's no denying Neon Trees' songs are sing-along catchy with tons of teen appeal. But there is something wholly distasteful in their stylized (faux-hawks, anyone?) approach. Playing after Fences—masters of organically honed, sincerely edgy pop—will only illuminate the artifice Neon Trees' name suggests. With Middle Class Rut. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $10.77 adv./$15 DOS. All ages. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Tame Impala / Friday, December 10

Amid a slew of competition, Australia's Tame Impala might just be the best band doing the insurgent-psychedelic-rock thing right now. That's because although their music is a retro throwback to the psych-jam sound of the '70s, it's also filtered through their own youthful lenses, swirling and kaleidoscopic but with a sunny pop flair and accessibility—think the Beatles jamming with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. (It helps that frontman Kevin Parker's vocals at times sound spookily like John Lennon's.) The band's first LP, this year's heady Innerspeaker, was recorded in a beach shack on the Indian Ocean in Perth, and sounds fresh and vintage at the same time. Every song vibrates with spongy, reverb-soaked guitars and drums and hypnotic, solar-powered grooves. With Stardeath and the White Dwarfs. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $12. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Brendan Benson / Saturday, December 11

Detroit/Nashville popsmith Brendan Benson has made a career doing what scientists haven't ever been able to: create a sweet, natural-tasting sugar substitute that has zero calories and few harmful side effects. Fourteen years and four solo albums (as well as two with the Raconteurs) into his research, thousands have been exposed to Benson's sweaty, syrupy pop, yet the latest lab reports reveal no associated health problems aside from occasional feverish feelings, random bursts of energy, and flashbacks to Badfinger concerts. While co-Raconteur Jack White has made no official statements on the matter, photographic evidence suggests that exposure to Benson's vitamin-D-heavy songwriting is the only known factor that can change White's pallor from "Arctic Frost" to "Slightly Cherubic Corpse." With the Posies, Aqueduct. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $22 adv./$25 DOS. GREGORY FRANKLIN

The Greenhornes / Saturday, December 11

Raconteurs fans have a decision to make tonight. Some may head to the Showbox, where Brendan Benson is making a much-ballyhooed headlining appearance with the Posies. But just a few blocks north will be a grittier concert experience—Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence (who also plays in The Dead Weather) and drummer Patrick Keeler's garage-rock trio the Greenhornes will showcase their first album in eight years, **** ("Four Stars"). (Smooth-singing frontman Craig Fox is the third member). The songs are confident and tuneful, with a heavy dose of kicked-up percussion and raw guitar riffs. And since Jack White himself was behind the project, co-producing and releasing it on his own Third Man Records, this is more than likely the show he'll choose to be at tonight. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $13. With Hacienda. Also at 3 p.m., Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St., 691-3279. Free. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Seattle Folk Festival / Sunday, December 12

It's clear that, like its long-running peer the Northwest Folklife Festival, the inaugural Seattle Folk Festival defines the word "folk" in the broadest (and truest) sense: music by, for, and about the people. That can mean anything from chanteuse Alela Diane's acoustic guitar–backed trill to De Temps Antan's traditional Québécois music to Boston-based MC Mr. Lif's politically charged hip-hop. Though you might not dig absolutely everything you hear, the beauty of lineups like these is that they allow you to check out styles of music you might never have considered because they sound lame (the word "traditional" being a turnoff to those of us who suffered through high-school chamber choir). Go on, expand your horizons. With The Nils Olof Soderback Band, Juan Barco & Paul Anastasio, the Hurricane Ridge Runners, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, Jim Page & the Spokes. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255. Noon. $10–$22. All ages. SARA BRICKNER

Badly Drawn Boy / Monday, December 13

British songwriter Damon Gough, alias Badly Drawn Boy, debuted 10 years ago with the Mercury Prize–winning The Hour of Bewilderbeast—which contained one of the loveliest uses ever of a French horn on a pop song, the memorable single "The Shining." Disappointingly, nothing he's released since then (forays into funk, overblown orchestration, homages to Springsteen) has lived up to Bewilderbeast's once-shining promise. But it's never too late to turn things around; Gough's seventh album, this year's It's What I'm Thinking Pt. 1—Photographing Snowflakes, finally heralds something of a return to the subtly moving sound he originally favored. New songs like "Too Many Miracles" and "In Safe Hands" flow with smooth strings, light fingerpicking, and fragile melodies. With Justin Jones. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $20 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

The Bad Plus / Tuesday, December 14

An all-originals album isn't exactly a big step for most bands. But part of the attention this Minneapolis-bred trio has endlessly attracted over the past decade has come from their shrewdly chosen covers (Nirvana, Blondie, Pink Floyd, etc.), which have helped draw listeners who wouldn't have been caught dead listening to jazz. Their newest recording, Never Stop, dispenses with that gimmick, and while it may not be their best ever, it manages to be their least affected. Most of all, it just affirms that these guys are still as fresh, energized, and essential to the world of instrumental music as ever, and you don't have to know or care anything about jazz to dig them. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 p.m. $21.50. MARK D. FEFER

Dick Dale & Jimmy Dale / Tuesday, December 14

Dick Dale, the undisputed "King of the Surf Guitar," turned 73 in May, and for the past few years he's been battling colon cancer, which has understandably left him a bit underweight and frail. But he's not retiring from the road. Not when there are still fiery, reverby licks to be played or giant waves to be ridden (we hear he still surfs virtually every day he's not on tour). Still, it appears that Dale is grooming his 18-year-old son Jimmy, a fine guitarist (and drummer) in his own right, to carry on the family legacy. Tonight the pair will jam together on "Misirlou" and other hits, and Dale will prove that the only way he'll ever give up his guitar is when you pry it from his cold, dead hands. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $20. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

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