The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

From Cake to Big John Hamhock.

Ripynt/Wednesday, February 9

Few rappers are willing to expose their struggle to the extent of chronicling the pawnshop where they work or entertaining the notion of a fake MTV Cribs episode—both of which the Everett rapper Ripynt did in the comical video for his Bean One–produced track "Take It to the Top." But if Ripynt (pronounced "repent," aka Cory Tate) has one shining characteristic, it's the honesty of his underdog status. After all, it takes some brass balls to lead into your single saying "I'm not the greatest, but I do it like only the greats could." With an uncanny ability to write deeply personal songs in one instant and reply with a grimy, agile delivery the next, Ripynt is proving that the geographical gap between his hometown and the Seattle scene is less of an issue than originally feared. With Role One, Spekulation, tonefefinite. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 8 p.m. $6. NICK FELDMAN

Busdriver/Thursday, February 10

Though his lone bit of mainstream cred came from a feature on the Tony Hawk's Underground video game in 2003, Los Angeles–based, Epitaph Records–signed MC Busdriver's experimental, electro-rap streak has lasted through the decade. Though at times his delivery is stylistically syncopated, just as often the lines are desperately exclaimed as if they're on the verge of disappearing. And the beats come off as equally frantic, making for a bizarre experience that lies so far outside mainstream rap that it appeals to listeners who would otherwise steer clear of hip-hop entirely. With lyrics raining down in torrents, it may take a few listens to piece together all the pop-culture references and out-there rhymes—but that's part of Busdriver's appeal. With Dark Time Sunshine, Katie Kate, Night Fox, DJ Swervewon. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $10. NICK FELDMAN

Herman's Hermits/Thursday, February 10

When I was in high school, Herman's Hermits came and played the University Place summer festival in my school's back parking lot, and I went to see them. My dad made me. It was the first time I saw a man in his 60s—lead Hermit Peter Noone—thrust his body around and gyrate on stage like arthritis didn't exist. Noone was VH1's Sexiest Artist of 2001 (true), and he was going to live up to that title, goddammit. The "Noonatics" (who in Tacoma, and probably elsewhere, are middle-aged housewives stoked to be out of the kitchen for a day) went nuts for him. I kept my bra on, but the music I liked. "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am" is the ultimate in camp, but the Hermits' cover of "I'm Into Something Good" stands up there with the nostalgic best of The Lovin' Spoonful and the Turtles in terms of sweet and sunny '60s pop. Snoqualmie Casino, 37500 S.E. North Bend Way, Snoqualmie, 425-888-1234. 7 p.m. $10–$30. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Big John Hamhock/Friday, February 11

The unfortunate by-product of the slow yet sure death of MySpace is that one day soon we're going to have to say good-bye to MySpace Music Journalism, in which notices and stories are nothing more than the tidy summation of a single page. But until that time, it's comforting to know that Seattle's unsigned Americana/country/Southern-rock, corncob-pipe-smoking troubadour, Big John Hamhock, is keeping on keeping on. Judging from the twang on the likes of "Goodbye Girl" and "Death of the Spaghetti Western," his heartbreak will taste mighty nice alongside a plate of Slim's macaroni and a bowl of chili. With Ryan Purcell, the Brambles. Slim's Last Chance Chili Shack & Watering Hole, 5606 First Ave. S., 762-7900. 9 p.m. $7. CHRIS KORNELIS

Secret Colors/Friday, February 11

Matt Lawson's Secret Colors is a psychedelic swirl of washed-out samples, keys, and guitar; it's music that allows listeners complete, wide-open freedom—there aren't even vocals in his songs. "I've always felt that the music I make is sort of passive . . . that adding a voice singing words would make everything too specific, and not as open to interpretation," Lawson explained to me in an recent e-mail. Lawson recently added visual projections—found footage and his own videos—to complement his sublime live performances, which created a stir at last year's CMJ Festival—The New York Times featured Secret Colors in its Arts Beat blog, calling it "soothing sounds for babies." Secret Colors' latest, Lunar, is gentle and infant-appropriate, but it could also be heard as spacey, dark, and scary—again, it just depends on the listener. "Hopefully the result is something transcendent," says Lawson. With Flexions, M. Women. JewelBox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 10 p.m. $7. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Cake/Saturday, February 12

After a mere glimpse at the crowd gathered at a Cake show, it would be pretty easy to write them off as some mookish frat-centric party band. While Cake definitely knows how to throw a kegger, countless more layers are constantly revealing themselves. While singer John McCrea's trademark dry delivery of his beatnik musings is unwavering, Cake is constantly careening through various genres in search of pop bliss. Going from spitfire, trumpet-ridden, tropicalia-infused pop to lonesome country balladry, Cake has spent 20 years making fresh, interesting songs that stand out among walls of FM radio static. Their newest record (Showroom of Compassion, released in mid-January) pushes past some of their raucous guitar moments into more piano-driven songs, and was recorded in a studio that uses no resources other than the sun. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $37.50. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Sebadoh/Saturday, February 12

While 1996's Harmacy is a perfectly serviceable slice of melancholic pop, the record that preceded it was Sebadoh's high-water mark. 1994's Bakesale has only ripened with age, and richly deserves this month's deluxe two-disc reissue by Sub Pop. As the spurned former bandmate of Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, frontman Lou Barlow hit the sour/sweet spot between cynical and romantic viewpoints with shambolic aplomb. Anchored by the wistfully buoyant anthems "License to Confuse" and "Rebound," Barlow's 15-track opus is a letter-perfect study in the Gen-X hallmarks of self-loathing and narcissism, but with an entirely appealing note of humanity that makes it as important to the Clinton-era indie-rock canon as Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted. With Quasi, Lovesick Empire. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15. HANNAH LEVIN

Sweethearts Serenade/Sunday, February 13

If your ideal Valentine's Day weekend involves holdin' your baby to a bluegrass sway or finding a proper, proud country boy to do-si-do with, the only place it makes sense to go is the Tractor. Members of seven local groups (The Blackberry Bushes Stringband, Boys of Greenwood Glen, the Starlings, Squirrel Butter, the Tallboys, Rachel Mae, Ben Gilmer & The Sidearms) strip down and sidle up into pairs and trios (it's a progressive city, after all) for a night of bluegrass, roots, country, folk, and Americana stylings. To share the love with artists in need, tonight's proceeds benefit MusiCares, an emergency resource for musicians in financial, medical, and personal crisis. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 6:30 p.m. $10. MARY PAULINE DIAZ

Sports/Tuesday, February 15

It's been two years since Canadian trio Sports released their self-titled debut EP, a record that showed off their range. "Syntax Error" is a bit psychedelic with some muffled vocals, while the cheerful guitar and synths of "Castlots" are compelling enough. And of course "Fleetwood" sounds like the band's best stab at Fleetwood Mac—a poppy, sunny tune that might wrap itself around your head for a few days. It's doubtful the song would turn Lindsey Buckingham's head, but you can't blame Sports for trying. Two years down the road, these songs still make a full-length highly anticipated. With Austra, Tumble Dry, DJ FITS. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $8. BRYDEN MCGRATH

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