All posts by Tony Kay

Music [email] [twitter] [facebook] Tony Kay, the SunBreak's Music Editor, has been slugging it out in the journalistic front-line trenches of the Northwest music scene for over two decades in various websites and periodicals. In addition to covering music, arts, film, and whatever else strikes his fancy for the SunBreak, he also writes about film for City Arts magazine, covers live music for the Seattle Concerts Examiner, and periodically hosts Bizarro Movie Night at the Aster Coffee Lounge in Ballard. Tony was crowned Ultimate Film Fanatic of the Pacific Northwest on the Independent Film Channel game show The Ultimate Film Fanatic a few years ago, and he's got the wacky stories (and the rump-end of a trophy) to prove it.

The Sonics Played the Year’s Best Live Rock Show Last Thursday

The Sonics.
The Intelligence.
The Intelligence.
Steve Turner of Mudhoney.
The Sonics.
The Sonics.
Jerry Roslie of The Sonics.
Larry Parypa of The Sonics.
Freddie Dennis of The Sonics.
Dusty, Rob, Chris.
The Sonics.

(photo: Tony Kay)

The Intelligence played a solid opening set. (photo: Tony Kay)

Openers The Intelligence started things off well. (photo: Tony Kay)

It's a helluva night when a mind-blowing set by these guys isn't even the evening's highlight: Mudhoney's Mark Arm. (photo: Tony Kay)

Again, Mudhoney were great. But, you know, The Sonics: Steve Turner of Mudhoney. (photo: Tony Kay)

Rob Lind of The Sonics toots one mean horn. (photo: Tony Kay)

The Sonics' Rob Lind toots one mean horn. (photo: Tony Kay)

Still peeling paint with that voice: Jerry Roslie of The Sonics. (photo: Tony Kay)

Larry Parypa of The Sonics. (photo: Tony Kay)

Dude can scream: Freddie Dennis of The Sonics. (photo: Tony Kay)

Dusty Watson, Rob Lind, and Chris Ballew all have their heads on backwards, baby. (photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

The Sonics. thumbnail
The Intelligence. thumbnail
The Intelligence. thumbnail
Mudhoney. thumbnail
Steve Turner of Mudhoney. thumbnail
The Sonics. thumbnail
The Sonics. thumbnail
Jerry Roslie of The Sonics. thumbnail
Larry Parypa of The Sonics. thumbnail
Freddie Dennis of The Sonics. thumbnail
Dusty, Rob, Chris. thumbnail
The Sonics. thumbnail

Alongside The Kingsmen and The Wailers, The Sonics were basically responsible for the howling breach-birth of the monster that is Northwest rock and roll. Barely out of their teens when they began playing together in the early 1960s, the five snappily-dressed young badasses who comprised The Sonics mixed the soot of their industrial Tacoma hometown with the sweaty abandon of old-school rock and blues heroes like Little Richard and Howlin’ Wolf to create an unhinged new animal.

The resulting records were as primal and stripped-down as you could get—compact blasts of battering drums, growling bass, ragged fuzztone guitar, grunting animal saxophone, dirty blues keyboards, and hell-with-the-lid-blown-off singing. It was a sound that did its small but crucial part to liberate American rock and roll from years of neutered teen idols, and it made British contemporaries like the Rolling Stones sound like candy-assed dilettantes.

The Sonics never became mega-stars, but they helped write the textbook on garage rock, and when leather-jacketed wastrels in the mid-1970s got fed up with arena rock’s empty pretense, The Sonics became one of the key nutrients in the soil that spawned the entire first wave of punk. The band’s pulverizing DNA winds through Iggy Pop and The Stooges, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Jack White, and the Black Keys (to name only a few).

All of the above is a long and windy way of saying that The Sonics, despite their unpretentious demeanor, are pretty much Northwest rock royalty. The simple fact that they’re even playing live at this point is cause for celebration: The fact that their gig last Thursday at The Moore Theatre was one of the best live rock shows I’ve seen in my life is nothing short of inspiring.

Sharply attired in basic black, The Sonics took to the stage just shy of 10:00 p.m., opening up with a concise and ripping version of “Psycho.” From there, the pedal didn’t leave the metal for the next hour and 45 minutes as they tore through old and new cuts alike with the no-bull forcefulness of an outfit one-third their age. Pretty much every track a Sonics fan could’ve hoped for got a workout, from originals like “Shot Down” and “Boss Hoss” to  the most menacing cover of  “Louie Louie” that  you’ll ever hear. Best of all, the band fired through nine cuts from their first all-new full-length in 48 years, This is The Sonics (a record whose flat-out brilliance could merit a couple hundred words on its own).

A lot of the evening’s considerable momentum came courtesy of the band’s founding members. Rob Lind’s saxophone and harp provided as much brute force as the bass and drums, and he served as the band’s informal mouthpiece with aplomb, working the charged-up crowd like the host of an extra-packed house party. Guitarist Larry Parypa’s low-key demeanor stood in sharp contrast to the mutant blues licks and power chords he tossed off with lethal efficacy. And let it be stated for the record that lead singer Jerry Roslie’s aggressive, soulful snarl can still cauterize any and all eardrums within earshot.

Original bassist Andy Parypa and founding drummer Rob Bennett were MIA (both, alas, are unable to travel), but thankfully the two new-ish guys forming The Sonics’ current rhythm section were little short of godsends. Drummer Dusty Watson (who’s logged in time behind the kit with everyone from Lita Ford to The Supersuckers) drove the songs with a potent combination of swing and muscle, and bass player Freddie Dennis proved to be the night’s secret weapon. Almost sweetly unassuming before he began playing, Dennis laid down a near-volcanic bottom end on the four-string, and he let fly on nearly half of the lead vocals with a bobcat wail that matched Roslie’s world-class growl slug for slug.

Ferocious as the band’s attack was, though, The Sonics never lost sight of the fact that they’ve always been (and always will be) a rock and roll party band of epic proportions. Lind led the crowd through plenty of call-and-response shouts, and the house-party atmosphere was reinforced by the numerous guest stars who periodically shared the stage. Presidents of the United States of America frontman Chris Ballew gave a spirited guest vocal on “You’ve Got Your Head on Backwards,” Mudhoney’s Mark Arm joined The Sonics for a roaring take on “Shot Down,” and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic filled in on bass for a fierce rendition of “Cinderella.” By the time the encores rocketed to a close with a turbo-charged cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille,” even the usually-taciturn Roslie could be seen cracking a smile. True rock and roll badasses, it seems, still know how to have a good time.

Indie Scare Flick ‘Spring’ Weaves a Dark and Affecting Spell

SpringWhen it comes down to brass tacks, you could call Spring (opening tonight at the Grand Illusion) a horror movie, but it sure doesn’t feel like one for much of its running time. That’s because co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead (working from a screenplay by Benson) have crafted a film that works believably as a drama and a romance, well before things get creepy.

Twenty-something sous chef Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) loses his mother to cancer, and when his short-fuse temper leads him to kick the crap out of a drunk jerk at a bar, he finds himself in trouble with the California police. Seeking a literal and metaphoric change of scenery, Evan impulsively takes off for Italy, ending up in a small coastal town overlooking the Adriatic Sea. There he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), an enigmatic local girl, and sparks fly between the two of them. Exotic, gorgeous, and fiercely intelligent, Louise almost seems too good to be true. After a heated night of lovemaking, Evan falls hard, but soon things get weird. It’s not impossible to gauge what happens next (even without the semi-spoiler-y trailer, ads, and advance reviews), but suffice it to say Evan’s new love isn’t all that she seems.

Spring takes its time getting to the scares, and that’s a significant part of its effectiveness. The unhurried pace effectively parallels the setting, a humbly beautiful locale that’s serenely untouched by time. Benson and Moorhead present this place with a refreshing lack of pretense, painting it with character and enough dark corners to sidestep superficial travelogue prettiness. The romance between Evan and Louise evolves gradually and realistically as the two open up aspects of themselves little by little: You’ll definitely see Richard Linklater’s Before films woven into Spring’s DNA, with Evan’s earnestness thawing out Louise’s initial aloofness amidst patches of effective and funny dialogue (Pucci and Hilker, both terrific here, establish an affecting chemistry right away).

Benson and Moorhead certainly navigate the mucous-and-tentacle-laden creepy bits well, but it’s the slow-burn atmosphere that makes their sophomore feature so special. Like the original 1940 Cat People and An American Werewolf in London, Spring is—at its heart—a darkly romantic fairy tale, masterfully wrapped in monster-movie drag.

Robyn Hitchcock: Beaming in Classic Songs from Another Dimension

Love the shirt: Robyn Hitchcock at Columbia City Theater, August 2014. (photo: Tony Kay
Love the shirt: Robyn Hitchcock at Columbia City Theater, August 2014. (photo: Tony Kay

I’ve seen Robyn Hitchcock play at least five times since I first became a fan some 27 (yipes!) years ago, but for the last decade I’ve been guilty of having taken the very prolific, one-of-a-kind English singer/songwriter for granted. After seeing him play Columbia City Theater last August, that’s a mistake I’ve vowed not to make again. He returns to Columbia City Theater for a live set this coming Monday, March 16 (tickets, $22 in advance, are still available). Do yourself an enormous favor, and catch him if you can.

To these ears, Hitchcock stands as one of rock’s great troubadours. He essentially does with lyrics what Salvador Dali did with paint, capturing the absurdities, horrors, and wonders of life, love, and the universe with surreal brushstrokes that—outright weird as they sometimes get—always maintain an affecting core of universal truth. A lot of musicians play-act at boundless creativity and eccentricity: for Hitchcock, it’s as unaffected and natural as breathing.

His career as a rock musician began in the late 1970s as lead singer, guitarist, and principal songwriter for The Soft Boys. Hitchcock firmly established his MO with the band—classic English rock songcraft wedded with sometimes strange, sometimes hilarious, always devastatingly effective lyrics. Hitchcock struck out on his own beginning with 1981’s Black Snake Diamond Role, and he hasn’t stopped since.

After establishing a dedicated cult with his solo work, he and his second backing band The Egyptians landed a major-label deal with A&M Records. The first release during that flush of success, 1988’s Globe of Frogs, introduced a lot of people (myself included) to the man’s unique world view and gift for indelible melodies.

Globe of Frogs bowled me over when I first heard it all those years ago, and I listened to it obsessively for months. Hitchcock’s brilliance didn’t form in a vacuum, of course—he’s openly acknowledged Syd Barrett’s influence on his knack for vividly-bizarre lyrics, and his melodies largely draw from Beatles-style harmonics and Dylan-esque folk—but he lent his own distinctive signature to those familiar elements. Insidious melodies abounded (try not to bounce your head happily to the jaunty, endearingly goofy “Balloon Man”), but the rest of Globe of Frogs was musical painting of the richest variety.

The record’s title track, with its sparse exotic percussion, spectral piano, and Hitchcock’s elliptical but evocative words felt, literally, like stepping into some mysterious, secret world. And unconventional as his lyrics were, they often hit with bracing directness. In the eerie sea-shanty/dirge “Luminous Rose,” he croons a line that remains one of the most profound strings of words I’ve ever heard in a pop song: “God finds you naked and he leaves you dying/What happens in between is up to you.”

After experiencing that record, Hitchcock’s back catalog and successive releases persistently occupied my stereo for the better part of a decade. Most striking about all of those efforts was how he was able to easily switch back and forth between trippy psychedelia (“The Man with the Lightbulb Head”), sterling pop (“So You Think You’re in Love”), and fragile British melancholy (the achingly gorgeous “Autumn is Your Last Chance”), touching on an array of classic influences without being subsumed by them.

Hitchcock’s muse has remained incredibly consistent over the years. After migrating from A&M to Warner Brothers in the ‘90s, he set up camp with indie label Yep Roc Records in the early 2000’s, and catching up with the lower-profile but still great albums he’s released in the ensuing decade-plus has represented some of the most rewarding music-nerd catch-up I’ve ever experienced. His voice—a singular, reedy tenor that swings between angelic sweetness, the impish playfulness of a truant British schoolboy, and a sometimes eerie deadpan—hasn’t aged a day, and his latest long-player The Man Upstairs combines Hitchcock’s still-sharp original songs with some well-chosen covers (his spare acoustic version of the Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You” will make you swoon). The album, like so much of Hitchcock’s work, feels classic and timeless in equal measure.

He also delivers one of the best live shows you’ll ever see. Hitchcock usually plays solo sets, and he’s capable of summoning up all the richness of his most psychedelic work with nothing more than his voice and an acoustic guitar. Best of all, his onstage banter alone merits the price of admission. Expect stream-of-consciousness tangents that include everything from minotaurs to giant irradiated astronauts, and blasts of hilariously pointed socio-political commentary. Once you see him onstage you’ll be hooked, and here’s hoping that unlike me, you’ll never take Robyn Hitchcock for granted.

Support Your Local Indie Movie Houses This Valentine’s Weekend

Moulin-Rouge-0004Sure, Valentine’s Day is just a memorial to a few brutally-executed Catholic martyrs that’s morphed into a cash-grab by candy makers, florists, and retailers of all stripes over the last century. And the pressure of having to invest as much money as possible for the sake of A Romantic Night or Weekend can be overwhelming.

But you can still find a through-line between thoughtful sentiment and fiscal sensibility this weekend. A trip to a movie theater provides an inexpensive-yet-satisfying (and yes, oft-romantic) entertainment experience. Skip the multiplexes and treat your date to a film in a local independent theater, dammit: Indie theaters usually run cheaper, they’ve got a helluva lot more character and charm, they tend to attract more discerning and polite patrons, and you’ll see something way more interesting than your standard corporate-excreted product. Enclosed, please find our recommendations for the most apropos (and in some cases, strangest) films hitting local indie theaters this Valentine’s Weekend.

Harold and Maude (6:45 p.m. tonight, Saturday, and Sunday)—SIFF Cinema Uptown, $12 general admission, $7 for SIFF members: Hal Ashby’s 1971 romantic comedy definitely shows its seams in some places—ancillary characters are almost cartoonishly underdeveloped, and some of its attempts at black humor fall a little flat—but there’s no denying the magical chemistry that imbues the odd couple at its center. Baby-faced proto-goth Bud Cort and seventy-something spitfire Ruth Gordon both deliver career-best performances, and Ashby and screenwriter Colin Higgins develop these characters so sharply that they effectively extinguish any quibbles. Cat Stevens’ plainspoken and sweet soundtrack songs never fail to tug at the heartstrings (not surprisingly, SIFF’s organizing pre-screening Cat Stevens sing-alongs).

Moulin Rouge (various times tonight, Saturday, and Sunday), True Romance (9:00 p.m. tonight, Saturday, and Sunday)—Central Cinema, $7 general admission for each: Do not, we repeat, do not lame out and watch Moulin Rouge on Netflix or On Demand this weekend. Catch Baz Luhrmann’s still-ravishing pastiche of MGM musicals, MTV flash, Bollywood splashiness, and swoon-worthy romance on a big screen as God (and Luhrmann) intended. And speaking of swoon-worthy romance, don’t discount the Tony Scott-directed/Quentin Tarantino-scripted True Romance. Beneath its violence, nerd-centric references, profanity, and stoned Brad Pitt-isms resides a resonant story of two damaged lovers (Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette) finding redemption and mutual strength in each other’s arms. As is customary, Central Cinema sports a full meal menu for all screenings.

Gone with the Wind (11:00 a.m. Saturday), Guys and Dolls (4:15 p.m Saturday), Some Like It Hot (8:00 p.m. Saturday)—Cinerama, $15 each plus service fees: It romanticizes the antebellum South to an absurdly wrongheaded degree, but damned if the 1939 Best Picture Oscar winner Gone with the Wind isn’t the most breathlessly-paced and absorbing four-hour film you’ll ever see, replete with two of Golden Age Hollywood’s most luminous stars (Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable) and scenes of epic splendor sure to make full use the Cinerama’s massive screen. Later that afternoon, hear Frank Sinatra clean Marlon Brando’s clock vocally in the 1955 film adaptation of Guys and Dolls, and wind up the evening with a screening of Billy Wilder’s howlingly funny 1959 gangster/drag opus, Some Like it Hot. Bonus: The Cinerama’s upgraded its snack, food, and drink repertoire.

R100 (various times tonight, Saturday, and Sunday), VHSex 3 (9:00 p.m. Saturday February 14)—Grand Illusion Cinema, $9 general admission each/$5 each for Grand Illusion members: Forget the antiseptic diet-BDSM being relentlessly flogged at local multiplexes. If you want some real cinematic sexual subversion this weekend, get thee to the Grand Illusion for both of these presentations. The former is a warped Japanese comedy about an S&M-addicted milquetoast facing a succession of extremely angry dominatrices. Critics have definitely smiled on it much more than the aforementioned BDSM-lite product, for what it’s worth. VHSex 3, meantime, throws two hours worth of truly demented sexually-explicit and just plain batshit-crazy clips (lovingly collected from vintage VHS tapes) at the unsuspecting audience. Much cheesy Casio synth music, bare flesh, and mulletude shall hold sway, and if the last two VHSex compilations are any indication, this third entry should be the perfect weirdo antidote to all of the hearts-and-flowers sentiment in the air tomorrow.

My Bloody Valentine (10:00 p.m. tonight)—Blue Mouse Theatre, $5: If you’re the kind of person who prefers their Valentine’s Day hearts ripped from screaming teenagers, rejoice. There aren’t any new horror films hitting local screens this weekend (studios traditionally bust out at least one new shocker on Friday the 13th), but Tacoma’s oldest independent movie theater (92 years young and counting) has your back with tonight’s addition to their Friday Night Frights series. This evening, they present the original uncut and uncensored version of one of the most fondly-remembered chillers of the early 1980’s. My Bloody Valentine pretty much skews to the slasher formula, but it’s also packed with extremely effective scares and maintains a genuinely foreboding atmosphere. Seeing the movie at this venerable theater is well worth the trek south if you’re in Seattle. See it with someone you love.



Local Musicians Find a TV Audience on ‘Band in Seattle’

The Gods Themselves on Band in Seattle
The Gods Themselves.
The Gods Themselves.
The Gods Themselves.

The Gods Themselves take to the Victory Studios stage. (photo: Tony Kay)

Astra Elaine holds court, Collin O'Meara bashes out the beat. (photo: Tony Kay)

Damion of The Gods Themselves. (Photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

THE FAME RIOT's Liz Scarlett gets all Guitar Hero. (photo: Tony Kay)

Shazam Watkins and Liz Scarlett, THE FAME RIOT's resident wallflowers. (photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

(photo: Tony Kay)

The Gods Themselves on Band in Seattle thumbnail
The Gods Themselves. thumbnail
The Gods Themselves. thumbnail
The Gods Themselves. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail
THE FAME RIOT. thumbnail

Band in Seattle recently began shooting for its second season, and the scrappy locally-produced show’s become an engaging regional music sampler in the year-plus of its existence.

There are plenty of ways to see quality video footage of local bands playing live, but Band in Seattle offers up its wares in charmingly old-school fashion on CW network affiliate Channel 11 every Saturday night at 11:00 p.m. Whether by accident or design, the show’s programmers have demonstrated a knack for cherry-picking a wide cross-section of Seattle musicians nicely uninformed by trends: A durable blue-collar rock band (Gunn) or a sharp old-school soul ensemble (Funky 2 Death) may not hold much flavor-of-the-month cache, but it’s great to see them getting exposure in the same venue as hip-hop futurists Kingdom Crumbs. In another nice touch, all of the bands showcased weigh in on their music—and on balancing the mundane necessity of day jobs with their art—in mini-documentary wraparound segments.

Season 2 started strong with a great showing by noir-pop chanteuse Prom Queen, and last Friday Band in Seattle taped a segment featuring The Gods Themselves and THE FAME RIOT (their caps, not mine) at the show’s usual haunts, Victory Studios. The performance space sported great acoustics and a comfy retro layout that made it feel like a party at your cool uncle’s bachelor pad, replete with free beer courtesy show sponsors Naked City Brewery.

I never miss a chance to see The Gods Themselves play live if I can help it, and their Band in Seattle session cemented that resolve. The band’s debut record was, simply put, my favorite local rock release of 2014, a beyond-cool amalgam of post-punk starkness, caveman rock throb, and thick psychedelic funk wrought from a deceptively minimalist three-piece lineup. Live, TGT delivered a no-bull yet elastic sound that thrived on unlikely synergy: They hefted some serious rock muscle behind B-52’s-style new wave on “Last Chance for Love,” primal garage-rock stomp behind epic goth (the towering “Thunderbird”), and an unexpected vein of soul amidst the serpentine snarl of “I Am the President.” Thanks to the sharp sound mix, the call-and-response interplay between lead singer Astra Elaine’s versatile purr and Damion Heitnschel’s Joey-Ramone-style bark came through loud and clear.

Speaking of loud, Tacoma outfit THE FAME RIOT came fully-equipped with plumage so gloriously garish it woulda made the most shameless hair-metal band blush, and that’s a significant part of their charm. Frontmen Shazam “Tea Time” Watkins and Liz Scarlett ladled on plenty of showmanship to go with their teased hair, sequins, and circulation-constricting stretch pants, playing their rock-star roles to the hilt and lending an extra layer of humor and flash to their slick and catchy pop. Contrasting electro-disco with smeared-lipstick decadence isn’t a new concept, of course—British bands like Dead or Alive and Sigue Sigue Sputnik ruled dance clubs back in the ancient analog days of the 1980s—but damned if these T-Town imps don’t work that combination like conquering heroes. If the seemingly spring-loaded audience reaction at their Band in Seattle session was any indication, there’s potential for some serious mass-appeal method to THE FAME RIOT’s madness.

The Gods Themselves/FAME RIOT episode of Band in Seattle should air sometime in the spring, and the show continues to film new episodes throughout March and April, with plenty of worthwhile local bands in tow. Tickets and more info are available here.

Your Live Music Bets for the Weekend of January 16 through January 18

Tacocat lead singer Emily Nokes will turn that frown upside down at Chop Suey Sunday. (photo: Tony Kay)
Tacocat lead singer Emily Nokes will turn that frown upside down at Chop Suey Sunday. (photo: Tony Kay)

To those of you clamoring for more posts here at ye olde semi-dormant SunBreak, you’re the greatest. Both of you.

Most weekends in this ‘burg are pretty stacked musically, but this one’s especially resplendent with sonic riches, some suffused with significant bittersweetness. Read on.

Friday, January 16 (tonight!)

Garageland Fest  with The Paul Collins Beat, Rich Hands, Acapulco Lips, The Gods Themselves, The Knast, and heaps more  @ LoFi Performance Gallery. 21+. $12 advance/$15 at the door. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Power pop elder statesman Paul Collins never quite made the impact of late ’70s peers like The Knack and Cheap Trick, but that wasn’t for want of  insidious sugary hooks goosed with new wave jumpiness. Collins is onto something pretty awesome of late with Garageland Fest, a touring mini-festival headlined by Collins and his band The Beat that showcases bands native to each tour stop. That means you’ll hear a bunch of great Seattle outfits before Collins takes the stage tonight, including the walloping-great hard-pop stylings of Acapulco Lips, guaranteed post-punk-gone-garage-funk nirvana with SunBreak faves The Gods Themselves, and the tasty fuzztone-seasoned sixties revivalism of The Knast, among others. Expect indie vinyl retailers, an unplugged happy hour, and DJs to give you even more reasons to skip work early, and to stay late.

Katie Kate, Tangerine, Thunderpussy, Peeping Tomboys @ The Vera Project. All ages. $10 advance/$15 at the door. Show at 7 p.m.

Four strong local acts populate this fundraiser for Seattle-based non-profit Skate Like a Girl. Katie Kate‘s dance pop dips into hip-hop and electronica with equal grace, and sunny pop ensemble Tangerine took me by very pleasant surprise at Bumbershoot last Labor Day. Local all-femme supergroup  Thunderpussy stomp out throbbing groove rock with balls as big as any all-dude band,  and Peeping Tomboys sound like a bunch of riot grrrls weaned on tribal post-punk.

Chuck Prophet, The Tripwires @ The Tractor Tavern. 21+. $15 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

Californian Chuck Prophet played in the underrated but pretty awesome Green on Red back in the 80s. His solo work for the last three decades has seen him de-emphasize his former band’s psychedelic touches in favor of a sturdy roots-rock sound–songs that’d sound ideal in a last-chance bar where Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed share drinks. Get there early to hear The Tripwires, a terrific local power-pop band that includes alumnus from Screaming Trees, The Minus 5, The Young Fresh Fellows, and the Model Rockets.

Saturday, January 17

The Young Evils, Blood Drugs, Hounds of the Wild Hunt @ The Sunset Tavern. 21+. $8 advance/$10 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

The Young Evils nearly hit the major label big-time last year, until complications with said major label jerked them around to a pretty lame degree. It’s a long story with a happy ending: The Evils got to keep their recordings from those ill-fated sessions. The initial fruit of those labors, last year’s False Starts EP, made for an addictive and awesome companion piece to their equally awesome 2012 Foreign Spells EP. As is frequently the case, early arrival is a must: Blood Drugs‘ scraping art-metal should translate impressively live, and Hounds of the Wild Hunt remain one of Seattle’s flat-out best live rock ensembles.

Hellbat, Silty Loam, The Heels, Bugs @ Blue Moon Tavern. 21+. $6 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

Hellbat combines rolling psych organs, a driving punk rhythm section, gleefully unhinged call-and-response vocals, and willfully silly lyrics to happiness-inducing effect. The end result sounds like an art-punk band like X Ray Spex providing the soundtrack as Yoko Ono, Kate Pierson, and Jello Biafra beat the shit out of each other, and if the resulting anarchy isn’t fun as hell onstage, I’ll eat one of the two hats I own.

Grayskul, The Nightcappers, Imaginary Friends, guests @ The High Dive. 21+. $8 advance/$10 at the door. Show at 9 p.m.

The E-40 show at the Showbox Sunday night will surely draw a bigger crowd (and it’s got Nacho Picasso providing what’ll be a hell of a warmup), but local boys Grayskul sport imagination and smarts that deserve an equally sizable turnout. They couple their rhymes with a production style that swaddles addictive beats in a wonderfully glitchy and constantly changing framework. And if they’re not as abundant with the party jams as E-40, Grayskul give your brain a little more to chew on, in a good way.

Sunday, January 18

Another One Bites the Dust with Tacocat, Pony Time, Wimps, Kithkin, Chastity Belt, Universe People, Childbirth, and more @ Chop Suey. 21+. $10 day of show. Show at 4 p.m.

Don’t you love how Seattle squashes its smaller live venues by  lunging at development dollars like a mentally-defective toddler stepping on ducklings to get to a gooey candy bar? If by some stretch of the imagination you answered no, then get thee the hell over to Capitol Hill dive Chop Suey for one of its last gasps as a proper music space. It’s impossible to fault the lineup here–picks to click include Tacocat’s sunny yet snarky pop, Kithkin’s always-unbelievable ocean of rhythm, and Childbirth’s hilariously nasty female-centric punk–and the first 250 discounted admissions sold rapidly. Get ready for a long line–and a probable sell-out well before the nights’ end.