THE LUMINEERS, SEAN SPELLMAN, MATT BISHOP
THE MENZINGERS, CHEAP GIRLS, THE SIDEKICKS, NINJAS WITH SYRINGES
(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) While he has a ton of shiny words at his disposal, Menzingers singer/guitarist Tom May's emotional lassitude is still best expressed in their latest record's unadorned opening line: "I've been having a horrible time/pulling myself together." Not only is On the Impossible Past the Menzingers' finest hour, it's a timeless, crowning achievement in a genre already full of those. It's a collection of songs that are so great they can be enjoyed on multiple levels—as brainless yell-alongs in a car full of friends, or as whimper-accompanying vignettes in the privacy of one's own room, with tear-stained lyric sheet in tow. And it's this ambivalence that's present in the best rock and roll. Also performing are the Sidekicks, whose latest album, Awkward Breeds, was Weezer's follow-up to Pinkerton in a superior alternate universe. MORGAN TROPER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
ELIGH, AMP LIVE, ONRY OZZBORN, ROB CASTRO, SERGE SEVERE
(Mt. Tabor Theater, 4811 SE Hawthorne) Los Angeles emcee/Living Legends crewmember Eligh and Amp Live, the producer half of Oakland's Zion I, released a fairly well-received album called Therapy at 3 in November 2011. Yes, it falls into that conscious "backpack" rap territory in a way that some might find outdated in 2012, but Amp Live's heavily electronic production makes it a more modernized take on the genre. Eligh's comfortably monotone flow still has mad substance to reward close listens, but he tends to disappear into the background at times. Still, dude's been rapping since the early '90s and knows how to rock a live show. MIKE RAMOS
PETOSKEY, LITTLE TYBEE, RIVER WHYLESS
(Immortal Piano Company, 4011 SE Belmont) Petoskey's 2011 release Bombs Away has provided the nearest symbiosis of haunted fairy-tale folk and sweeping, epic Americana since, well, at least since I've been looking for that to be pulled off. Whether or not that was the intent is of little importance; the Portland ensemble has now amassed a loyal local following thanks to intimate live shows, semi-secret house recitals, and a whole lot of sultry talent. Vocalist Angie Kuzma's dainty, gramophone-jazz melodies soar effortlessly in and out of wonderfully composed opuses featuring cello, violin, flutes, xylophones, acoustic guitar, and more (band member numbers have hovered as high as nine in a live setting). That this performance will take place inside the plush, vintage confines of the Immortal Piano Company reinforces the band's grassroots agenda. Remember, if it looks expensive, it probably is. Save your money for Petoskey's album. RYAN J. PRADO