The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

John Prine with Ani Difranco, plus Ke$ha with LMFAO.

Slaid Cleaves/Wednesday, September 7 When your given name is Richard Slaid Cleaves and you cleave the Richard from it, you basically have no choice but to become a country singer. And seeing as Maine, the state where Cleaves was raised, isn't a haven for spurs and rawhide, a move to Austin in '91 was a key step toward fulfilling his destiny. While Cleaves' Austin contemporary, James McMurtry, holds down a standing midweek gig at the Continental Club, Cleaves frequently takes to the nearby Horseshoe Lounge, the setting for Sorrow & Smoke, a new live double-disc that one can only hope will be emulated verbatim at the Tractor, a venue which pairs as perfectly with Cleaves as rye does with ice. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $18. MIKE SEELY Taylor Swift/Wednesday, September 7 Taylor Swift is an inspiration to gangly girls everywhere—you may be a head taller than all the boys at your school, the same ones who keep being mean to you and breaking your heart, but you can still go on to become the biggest country-to-pop crossover success the music world has ever known. And of course in Swift's case, her endless string of hookups and breakups with Cory, Joe, Taylor, John, Chord, Jake, etc., is the fuel to her songwriting fire. Some say Swift's bad-boyfriends theme is getting catty and worn-out; we say her music is only getting more perceptive and finessed with time—as evidenced on her articulate third record, last year's Speak Now—and that teenage girls will never tire of songs that stick it to the boys—as evidenced by tonight's sold-out show. With Needtobreathe. Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma, 253-272-3663. 7 p.m. Sold out. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON Don't Talk to the Cops!/Thursday, September 8 Witch Gardens' anti-fi jean-short fun will be finely complemented by the break-happy hippity-hop of Mash Hall relatives Don't Talk to the Cops! Part of b-boy/girl dance and lifestyle squad Them Team, Bruce Illest (aka djbles-One) and Emecks crafted DTTTC!'s dynamite debut Regular Show in the spirit of '90s headspin anthems and West Coast windmill soundtracks. Production wizard blesOne cuts quick-hitting, often sped-up samples with keyboard/early-generation drum-machine beats and, with co-vocalist Emecks, crack-up party verses. Amid the seamless tongue-in-cheek vocals, the duo (who can rap and sing laps around a ton of other groups who are busy taking themselves too seriously) are able to put forth some seriously good music, and a action-packed live show. With Stephanie. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $7. TODD HAMM LaRue/Friday, September 9 Over the past half-decade, Orlando-by-way-of-Seattle lyricist LaRue has put the wealth of his varied life experience down over beats and provided a level of insight and empowerment not often channeled artistically by an embattled Iraq War vet. His lyrics, however positive, always bear a rough coating of reality that anchors his smoothly delivered words and bites with a stinging sweetness that falls back on the tell-it-like-it-is street poetry of Tupac rather than the dense political rhetoric of someone like Immortal Technique. On Friday, JaWaan LaRue returns to town to celebrate the release of his newest project Hurricane LaRue, where he is also scheduled to premiere a video for the album's first single "Rise Up." With Souljah Bless, Intylekt. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $7. TODD HAMM John Prine/Friday, September 9 The Ani DiFranco camp says the decision won't likely be made until minutes before this stop on the tour, but everyone attending John Prine's gig should hope the renegade opener will choose to hold up the lady half of a few classic Prine/Iris DeMent duos. Singing "He ain't got laid in a month of Sundays/I caught him once and he was sniffin' my undies" alongside Prine's "She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs/Swears like a sailor when she shaves her legs" will bring some much-needed levity to her image. It'll also add another layer of chuckles to a night with Prine, a troubadour who never fails to impress with his musicianship and wit. Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14111 N.E. 145th St., Woodinville, 425-415-3300. 7 p.m. $39.50 general/$65 reserved. CHRIS KORNELIS ***EDITOR'S PICK The Antlers/Friday, September 9 The previous time the Antlers played Seattle, May 2010, they sold out Neumos—partly due to the cult following of their 2009 cancer-themed album Hospice, but largely because of the draw of their popular opening act, Phantogram. What's changed since then—and garnered a bunch of new Antlers fans—is the band's fourth LP, Burst Apart, a emotionally charged album of desperately sad songs made beautiful by frontman Peter Silberman's shimmering falsetto. With titles like "Putting the Dog to Sleep" and lyrics like "I'm not a puppy you take home/Don't bother trying to fix my heart," Burst Apart can be a heavy record to get through, but the rippling melodies and spellbinding tones are too pretty not to warm up to. With Avi Buffalo, Ghosts I've Met. Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 467-5510. 9 p.m. $15 adv./$17 DOS. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON Handsome Furs/Saturday, September 10 At the Capitol Hill Block Party this year, Handsome Furs keyboardist Alexei Perry played as though there were an electric current running through the stage, a circuit that would close if her feet ever touched the ground for more than a second. So while her husband Dan Boeckner played guitar and sang upstage, flinging himself into the band's Springsteenian synth-pop—which is to say dark yet hopeful, broadly anthemic—Perry spent most of the set aloft, seemingly balanced on her keyboard with one hand. At another show, they concluded their set by meeting each other center stage for a long, oblivious embrace. This is a real us-vs.-the-world sort of band, one animated by a live-wire energy that demands rallying around, and as long as they're playing, from first note to farewell kiss, you feel like a part of that "us." With Suuns, Talkdemonic. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $15. ERIC GRANDY Ke$ha/Saturday, September 10 In an interview earlier this summer, Rihanna boasted that women are dominating pop music, rattling off a handful of artists to prove it: "It's me, Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyoncé . . . who else? Ke$ha, for sure." It's an easy statement to balk at—um, Ke$ha got a name-check over Adele and Britney? Really? At first glance, the 24-year-old appears to be nothing more than a glitter-soaked hot mess suffering from a perpetual hangover. But consider that in less than two years after being thrust into the limelight, Ke$ha has racked up a platinum debut album and six top-10 hits, the first of which, "Tik Tok," stayed at #1 for nine consecutive weeks. Of all the wannabe pop stars out there, this former waitress has made out like a bandit. Why? Because she unabashedly embraces the reality that a good hook leads to more commercial success than an introspective lyric. In other words, it gets the public spending and dancing like they're dum dum-dum dum-dum-dumb. With LMFAO, Spank Rock. WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S., 381-7555. 7:30 p.m. $47.50. All ages. ERIKA HOBART Thievery Corporation/Monday, September 12 The soundtrack to the 2004 Zach Braff indie flick Garden State is easily one of the best of that decade, and Thievery Corporation's "Lebanese Blonde" stands out as one of its gems—even sandwiched between the likes of Nick Drake and Simon & Garfunkel. Touring on their sixth studio record Culture of Fear, the trip-hop DJ duo of Eric Hilton and Rob Garza (hailing from the other Washington) haven't broken their mold—progressive politics tempered by extremely listenable down-tempo tunes—and the deep grooves still lie rooted in an interpolation of synths, DJ scratches, and actual instrumentation that venture into the realns of warped dub and tranquilized jazz. With Los Amigos Invisibles. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510. 7:30 p.m. $36. All ages. NICK FELDMAN Band of Horses/Tuesday, September 13 Among a sea full of musicians attempting to find their path to the spotlight, Band of Horses sparkle and shine so hard that they've pretty much created their own. One of Seattle's finest exports of the past decade, the now–South Carolina–based band manages to write massive, oceanic anthems that revel in earnest sincerity and poetic sentimentality without ever coming off too mopey or forced. Although the band's summer plans (opening for Kings of Leon in megastadiums all over the U.S.) got derailed, Band of Horses quickly regrouped and booked their own tour of smaller venues. Luckily, the Kings' problems afford us Seattleites a golden opportunity to celebrate our local boys done good, as well as to hear singer Ben Bridwell's honey-coated voice bounce off the Paramount's gilded domes instead of being swallowed by the enormous vastness of KeyArena. With Brett Netson and the Hungry Ghost. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $31.25. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN Brokaw/Tuesday, September 13 Wishing you could time-travel back to early-'90s Chicago and relive Touch & Go's glory days, where all that rocked also clanged, spit, punched, and howled? Alas, the technology is still in progress for cosmic sojourns to the house that David Yow built, but stopgap relief is here in the form of Brokaw. The new Seattle-based endeavor includes veteran bass player Stuart Dahlquist, a founding member of Burning Witch who has also done time with Sunn O))) and Goatsnake, among others. In keeping with its Windy City vibe, Brokaw recently completed recording its debut at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, which will be released digitally via local label Good to Die Records this month. With Gypsy Hawk, Huntress, Ayahuasca Travelers. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $7. HANNAH LEVIN

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