LAWRENCE ARABIA, ANDREW KEOGHAN
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) New Zealand's Lawrence Arabia (AKA James Milne) is one of those chameleonic artists whose optimistic creative bents beg comparisons to visionaries like John Lennon. It's a tall order, but on Lawrence Arabia's new album, The Sparrow, Milne's vaguely orchestral leanings and ululating melodic refrains dribble so much late-'60s mop-pop you half expect to hear the squeals of 200 screaming women creep through. When Milne veers toward more contemporary muses, as on the excellent "The 03," his quirky tunes take on new wave whims. "The Bisexual" shivers in a bossa nova boogie with plodding pianos, heavy horns, and a lounge-y vocal delivery narrating the inner monologue of a nightclub denizen struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. It's in songs like this that the full spectrum of Milne's storytelling and songwriting abilities are showcased, and the moment when you're likely be bowled over. RYAN J. PRADO
DEATH SONGS, GRAVES
(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) Death Songs' music is not what you would immediately anticipate based on their name. Nick Delffs (of the Shaky Hands) writes rustic, folky songs that are simultaneously elegant and simple, mellow and upbeat. The balance achieved in these compositions creates a fluid sound that, upon first listen, feels comforting and familiar—maybe because it's easy to relate to the honesty and yearning in the lyrics. Their music has a raw country western twang, combined with a poppy Paul Simon personality. Pedal steel guitar, compact rhythms, and Delffs' husky, warbling vocals come together to craft a graceful arrangement of music. Sung Inside a House, Death Songs' excellent new album, is due out in January on the Post-Consumer label. RACHEL MILBAUER
3 INCHES OF BLOOD, HUNTRESS, THE HOOKERS, ON ENEMY SOIL, WERESQUATCH
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesar E. Chavez) And now, the question that has plagued LA's Huntress and their legitimacy in the metal world since they surfaced: Would the band have gotten anywhere without singer Jill Janus and her enormous store-bought cans prominently displayed in every press photo? The answer: Yeah, maybe, they just would've had to work a little harder to get fans' attention. Their new album Spell Eater isn't groundbreaking, but it isn't horrendous, either. The band has decent heavy-metal sensibilities, tough dueling guitar riffs, and solid drums to go along with Janus' passable range and witch-like rasp. But still, critics and cynics alike can't get past the shadow that Janus' "endowments" cast over the band. What if she was a little homelier, maybe with a big hairy mole or two? Would that help push their music into the foreground and get people to stop referring to them as "false metal?" Who knows. Whatever the case, tonight the band features local boy Anthony Crocamo of DarkBlack fame filling in on guitar. So if you can't support Janus' assets, at least go and root for the home team. ARIS WALES
THE BE GOOD TANYAS, HUCK NOTARI
(Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie) Back in 1999, when O Brother, Where Art Thou was still in production and before today's legion of banjo players could drink or vote, the Be Good Tanyas began reviving traditional Americana sounds. Evocative of the Carter Family, the Canadian three-piece are folk purists of the highest order. Like many groundbreakers, their output has been frustratingly sparse, but they have just released their fourth album, A Collection (2000-2012), a 16-song retrospective with two new tracks, including the highlight "Gospel Song." For trendsetters, Frazey Ford, Samantha Parton, and Trish Klein have avoided the spotlight, though not necessarily the signifiers of pop-cultural prestige: Their dark cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Waiting Around to Die" was memorably featured in the second-season episode of Breaking Bad in which Walt wanders naked around a supermarket. Parton was in a scary car accident back in September, and these shows (Saturday and Sunday) are part of a string of make-up dates. REBECCA WILSON
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK
(Dolores Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway) Did you grow up with hippie parents? Did they have Sweet Honey in the Rock albums? Maybe this is not universal. But I remember poring over the album cover for the Good News album—which was designed to look like the front page of a newspaper—as a kid, and I remember sitting next to our big old record-player cabinet listening to their crazy-good harmonies. And yeah, maybe it's kinda cheesy, but hey: If you can think of something cooler to do with your Sunday evening than go see a decades-old all-female, all-black a cappella group started by civil-rights activist/scholar/musician Bernice Johnson Reagon, I guess you're just too cool for me. C'mon—take your mom on a mom date! ANNA MINARD
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO, FIXED NYC
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) British duo Simian Mobile Disco are great, adventurous DJs willing to drop cuts by Moondog, Conrad Schnitzler, SND, Raymond Scott, and the Walker Brothers into their mixes. They're also fascinating producers who thrive in a live setting, using mostly analog gear. This is uncommon. SMD's latest release, the EP A Form of Change, shuffles and pulsates on an understated techno tip and proves that they have maintained their special talent for making dance music that's unconventional and unconventional music that's danceable. DAVE SEGAL
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