Our Music Critics’ Picks for This Week

Genre-defying alt hip-hop project
WHY? will perform at Neumos on Sunday.

Artist photo

This week, our music critics have picked everything from savvy local techno selectors
Simic, Nick Carroll, and Rhines to
the Original Misfits to
Ciara. Follow the links below for ticket links and music clips for all of their picks, and find even more shows on our complete
music calendar. Plus, check out our arts & culture critics’ picks for the
57 best things to do this week.

Heading to Portland or Tacoma? Check out EverOut to find things to do there and in Seattle, all in one place.


Jump to: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday


MONDAY


HIP-HOP/RAP

Slowthai
Born Tyron Kaymone Frampton, slowthai is being billed as one of the most exciting acts in British rap, and it makes sense—he’s really fucking good. Slowthai has an X factor. He’s spry, twisted (the music video for the nervy “Inglorious” visually references A Clockwork Orange), and confrontationally political (see “Nothing Great About Britain”). And while the media machine has likened him to famed grime rapper Dizzee Rascal, the Northampton rapper is well equipped to make a name for his own damn self. This is slowthai’s first full US tour, and Seattle is lucky enough to be one of the stops—I’ve read his shows are absolutely mental. Enjoy accordingly. JASMYNE KEIMIG

ROCK/POP

Squeeze, X
Squeeze’s first five albums represent some kind of zenith for smart, melodious new wave/pub rock. Dip anywhere into records such as Cool for CatsArgybargy, and East Side Story, and you’ll go away with a headful of the catchiest tunes never written by Lennon-McCartney or McLennan-Forster. Yes, I’m tempted to say that at their best, Squeeze songwriters Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford equal the brilliance of the Beatles and Go-Betweens’ tunesmiths. X have been synthesizing punk and roots rock with exceptional nuance for more than four decades, with a grip of classics to show for it. Some of the city’s coolest forty- and fiftysomethings will be out in force for this nostalgia fest. DAVE SEGAL

TUESDAY


ROCK/POP

Pentagon
Party with South Korean boy band Pentagon—composed of a whopping nine members—on their 2019 World Tour.

WEDNESDAY


BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Gary Clark Jr., Los Coast
Gary Clark Jr. is a badass motherfucker. Seriously. The Austin-brewed blues, R&B, and soul artist can wail on guitar like nobody’s business—his chops are serious, while his style of showmanship is a steady, laid-back burn. His 2019 album, This Land, is a righteous battle cry against the America we are now living in, where white nationalists are out and proud, like it ain’t no thang, and claiming entitled ownership of our country. What the fuck era are we living in again? I think Gary Clark Jr. has been wondering this, too, because the ripping title track, which kicks off the album, is just what you need to be reminded that this land belongs to us all. Its chorus was written before Trump came after “the squad,” but it feels completely relevant to that whole sitch: “Go back where you come from. / We don’t want your kind. / We think you’s a dog born. / Fuck you, I’m America’s son. / This is where I come from. / This land is mine.” Fuck. Yeah. LEILANI POLK

HIP-HOP/RAP

K.Flay, Houses, Your Smith
K.Flay will come to town for the second time this year with her hiphop background and DIY punk sensibilities on her Solutions Tour.

METAL/PUNK

Oso Oso, The Sidekicks, Future Teens
Cleveland punks Oso Oso will thrash for all ages with bill support from the Sidekicks and Future Teens. 

Severed Heads, Pop Will Eat Itself, Suffering for Kisses, Adrian H & the Wounds
One of Australia’s weirdest musical exports, Severed Heads laid down some of the most discombobulating electronic music of the 1980s and ’90s. In 2014, Seattle’s Medical Records reissued two of SH’s masterpieces—Since the Accident and City Slab Horror; both LPs lift the lid on mainstay Tom Ellard’s twisted creativity. Sample- and satire-laden sonic surrealism that toggles between disturbing and levity, and between noisy abstraction and linear danceability, Severed Heads’ output yields strange thrills. I had no idea Pop Will Eat Itself were still going. In the 1980s and ’90s, they morphed from a Buzzcocks-ian indie-pop group to grebo-rock hooligans to a wacky electro troupe, before member Clint Mansell went on to score Pi and Requiem for a Dream. The modern-day PWEI have gone in a more lowbrow, electro-rock direction, channeling Ministry and Big Audio Dynamite on their latest album, Anti-Nasty League. DAVE SEGAL

Sunn O))), Papa M
Sunn O)))’s records are nice, but you really need to experience the doom-drone duo live to fully appreciate the oppressive majesty of their music. When I saw them at Neumos in 2005, their sonic warfare electrified my ear hairs and rippled my pants nonstop. Using Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version as a springboard, guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have wrung many subtle variations on that 1993 Earth album’s ambient-metal blueprint. The new full-length, Life Metal, might be Sunn O)))’s cleanest dirge blast yet. Let’s hope they bring the triangle that illuminated LP highlight “Troubled Air.” Papa M—former Slint, Tortoise, The For Carnation guitarist David Pajo—opens. DAVE SEGAL

ROCK/POP

SiriusXM Presents: Deep Purple
How strong is your Deep Purple lust? Do you want to venture out and gaze upon gray, wrinkly Brits (and relatively youngish American guitarist Steve Morse) burning through a grip of songs they’ve been playing for 40 years or longer? Well, when they’re some of the most exhilarating, ’ard, and ’eavy rock tunes ever to blow back your muttonchops, you probably can overlook the potential motions-going-through display and revel in the familiar heroics. Bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice, and vocalist Ian Gillan are still jamming from the classic ’70s days, when Deep Purple were flamboyant rock gods among mortals and tracks like “Fireball,” “Burn,” “Space Truckin’,” “Speed King,” and that one song every beginning guitarist by law has to play inspired wild-eyed devotion. It’s also cool as hell that they still do “Hush.” DAVE SEGAL

WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY


CLASSICAL

Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy with the Seattle Symphony
Distant Worlds, the collection of music from Final Fantasy, will be presented in full multimedia concert format, with the music of Japanese video game composer Nobu Uematsu and projected imagery from the game, conducted by Grammy winner Arnie Roth.

THURSDAY


ROCK/POP

Black Mountain, LA Witch
This is a good few weeks for psych rock in Seattle. Leading the charge is Vancouver’s Black Mountain, who infuse elements from stoner, space, prog, and alt rock into their heady sounds. In an interview with Stereogum, Black Mountain lead singer Stephen McBean likened the riff on “Future Shade”—the first single off 2019 LP Destroyer—as having “traveled around the world then hit the bong with a chorus a year and a half later… A last attempt at double frosting produced a chorus-on-chorus death match. Anxiety is the new heavy metal.” The record is definitely rife with fuzzy riffage and heavy metal influences; “Horns Arising” adds some robo-effected vocals to the mix, “High Rise” feels like Wish You Were Here–era Pink Floyd, and “Boogie Lover” is a slinky, bass growling scorcher, somehow both sexy and filled with doom. Solid. LEILANI POLK

Diana Krall
Singer-songwriter and pianist Diana Krall will show off her penchant for blues, pop, and jazz standards with an evening out in the country.

Phum Viphurit, Ginger Root
All the way from Bangkok, indie-pop artist Phum Viphurit crafts tunes about “self-identity, first love, desire, passion, and building his dreams.” 

Yungblud, MISSIO
If I were walking down the street in 2007 and someone was blasting Yungblud’s “Loner” out of their car, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. The artist otherwise known as Dominic Harrison sounds so ska-meets-suburban-brat-from-the-UK that he almost transcends time. And before you ask, yes, Yungblud does love Arctic Monkeys. Despite the rather exhausting image he puts out, Yungblud fancies himself a socially conscious singer. A cut off his latest studio album, 21st Century, called “Machine Gun (F**k the NRA)” is a comment on his feelings about gun culture in the US. He swings mainstream pop as well, appearing on “11 Minutes” alongside trashy pop mainstay Halsey and Travis Barker (?). JASMYNE KEIMIG

SOUL/R&B

Bilal, Guayaba, DJ SolidSound
Bilal is a neo-soul artist who has worked with a lot of your favorite artists (including Kendrick and Common), and he crafts sensual, D’Angelo- and Roots-adjacent tunes. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees
There’s a scene in Gus Van Sant’s 2005 film Last Days in which the main character, a Kurt Cobain stand-in played by Michael Pitt, is strung out beyond repair, watching MTV. The iconic video for Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” begins to play, and the pasty hero prostrates himself in front of the screen, the church-like harmonizing and gentle piano offering the dope-riddled man child redemption in the unlikely cathedral of pop music. Of course, modern indie artists, chief among them How to Dress Well, have also decided ’90s R&B is a fertile ground for inspiration, lifting keyboard sounds and drum tracks and repurposing them for lo-fidelity paeans of their own. Perhaps this is the so-called New Sincerity movement at work. After the irony-as-self-defense underground of the ’90s and ’00s, artists have decided laying claim to the melodrama of their emotions is acceptable. All of which would be moot if Boyz II Men’s music were a laughing matter, but these power balladeers’ best stuff holds up, in our collective unconscious’ Platonic prom. KYLE FLECK

WORLD/LATIN

Maluma
At 11:11, it’s time to make a wish: for love, for a new car, for money. Recently, I’ve been taking this moment to wish that Maluma would come through Seattle. And, lo and behold, my wish has been granted! At this stop on his 11:11 World Tour, the Colombian reggaeton singer has sold out WaMu Theater. It’s easy to see why. With hits like “Chantaje,” “Felices Los 4,” “El Perdedor,” “Corazón,” “Vente Pa’ Ca” (with my fave, Ricky Martin),” and “HP,” Maluma has at least a couple billion views on YouTube. And also, he’s very pretty. Go forth and dance your heart out. JASMYNE KEIMIG

FRIDAY


DJ

Dream Lover
Get down to queer club jams with DJs Essex and Ill Camino.

ELECTRONIC

Brothertiger, Julian Blair
New York electronic artist Brothertiger will harness his uber-chill ’80s synth sounds at this Seattle stop with support from Seattle’s Julian Blair.

Zedd, Jax Jones, NOTD
Grammy-winning Russian German house DJ and producer Zedd (maybe you’ve seen him making scrambled eggs with Gordon Ramsay?) will kick off his world tour in Seattle before making his way across the Atlantic.

FUNK/REGGAE

The Hip Abduction, Decent at Best
The Hip Abduction are from my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. I used to see the world-pop sextet play on the beach at popular watering hole Jimmy B’s. They were one of the few groups that incorporated their own original material in with the hotel bar’s required cover selections. Tourists were the majority of the audience, but they loved whatever THA churned out, whether they knew the songs or not. Fast-forward several years, and the group is touring nationally behind their fourth full-length, To the Ends of the Earth. It’s a bit heavier on the pop than the world vibes, though their usual fusion of dub, roots reggae, funk, rock, and Afrobeat are in there beneath all the polished production. But it’s not so much about their recordings as it is the live show. They always slay—in a brass-blasted, feel-good, get-down kind of way. LEILANI POLK

HIP-HOP/RAP

Sassy Black
The artist sometimes known as Catherine Harris-White used to rap with Shabazz Palaces and later as half of THEESatisfaction. Now she’s mostly singing, one chilled-out but sly observer from the back of the bar, nursing one drink as humanity struts, flexes, sometimes belly flops up in the front. Listen closer, though, and she finds a way to relate through that distance, to herself—then outward, again, wondering what she might mean to someone else, confident and a little scared by turns. Inviting conversation and compromise, but never a doormat. Agreeably and wittily, she relates how life flows behind doors and windows open, closed, stuck, painted shut. Implying reasonable discourse may now seem unrealistic. Such never stops her.  ANDREW HAMLIN

METAL/PUNK

Night Ranger
If you think you don’t know hair metal band Night Ranger, you absolutely know of its frontman, Bret Michaels, from his reality TV show Rock of Love. The crowd will be rowdy (and probably doused in “Roses & Thorns” cologne and “Beautiful Soul” perfume) at this tour stop.

ROCK/POP

Hot Tuna Electric & David Bromberg Quintet
Hot Tuna started as a Jefferson Airplane side project, formed by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist/vocalist Jorma Kaukonen, though it became their full-time band once Jefferson Airplane dissolved in ’72. The duo has been collaborating for more than five decades, and they’ve got the stage banter and chatter down pat, plus instrumentals that find the two venerable musicians trading riffs and solos; Kaukonen’s a preeminent picker who complements Casady’s low-end prowess. They tread blues- and folk-rock territories with ease and much solid melodic input from mandolin player Barry Mitterhoff. Plugged in, they’re joined by Grammy-winning drummer Justin Guip, who spent many years supporting Levon Helm. LEILANI POLK

Joseph, Deep Sea Diver
Once upon a time, a band of three sisters blessed the land with voices as sweet as ambrosia. It sounds like a fairy tale, complete with dense, melodic ballads calling forth the spirit of the Pacific Northwest with lush, honeyed harmonies. Joseph are at their natural, earthy best when inclined to the folky side of the pop-folk spectrum, so let’s hope that facet will shine through in their set. AMBER CORTES

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Levitation Room
True story: I only listened to Psychedelic Porn Crumpets because of their name. I mean, your curiosity is piqued, too, amirite? What the hell does a psychedelic porn crumpet sound like? In the case of Perth, Australia’s latest export, it’s kind of what you’d expect: psych rock ranging from propulsive headiness (“Hymn for a Droid,”), to spacey and whirling (“Native Tongue”), to sand-scraped stoner odes (“When in Rome”), to 1970s vintage progressive-meets-modern math-y (“Dezi’s Adventure”). RIYL: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Pond. LEILANI POLK

The Rose
Still roaming the indie circuit of K-pop but riding high on the popularity of their debut single “Sorry,” the Rose will play a special show in Seattle.

Terror/Cactus, Dadabassed
Terror/Cactus are hypnotic, psychedelic electro-cumbia influenced by Tropicalia and science fiction—they are complex and engaging, and will keep you dancing and thinking about all the ways music can be a million amazing things at once. KIM SELLING

SOUL/R&B

Ciara, Sir Mix-A-Lot
Okay, I’m doing it, I’m claiming Ciara as one of our very own. And by “our,” I mean Seattle. Of course, the singer-dancer rightfully reps her hometown Atlanta, but since getting involved with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Ciara spends a lot of time here as well. She even has a stake in the ownership of the Sounders, for fuck’s sake. While she’s never quite matched her 2004–2006 run of hits (“1,2 Step,” “Goodies,” and “Like a Boy”—my GOD), Ciara has proven that she’s here to stay after 15 years in the public eye. She’ll be joined by another Seattle legend, Sir Mix-A-Lot, for this date at the fair. JASMYNE KEIMIG

FRIDAY-SATURDAY


ROCK/POP

Huichica Walla Walla
This inaugural all-ages music festival in Walla Walla wine country boasts a stacked lineup of indie-rock and folk artists like Yo La Tengo, Fruit Bats, Destroyer, Waxahatchee, Titus Andronicus, and many others.

The Melvins, Redd Kross, ShitKid
The Melvins’ latest album, Pinkus Abortion Technician, finds the reigning demigods of doom-grunge once again valiantly trudging through swamps of murky-thick riffage and slowed-down, hardened bass. The vibe feels spaced-out, slinky, and as seethingly sexy as ever, with double-bass delivery from collaborators Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers) and Steven McDonald (Redd Kross, OFF!). From the Surfers nod in the title (Locust Abortion Technician) to the actual songs performed (e.g., “Graveyard”), the record is a seamless fusion of the King Buzzo/Dale Crover-grounded rock foundation and the sprawling, quasi-psychedelic weirdness of the Butthole Surfers, delivering nonstop bass-heavy thrills for longtime fans of both acts. BRITTNIE FULLER

SATURDAY


CLASSICAL

Opening Night Concert & Gala
Go big at this Seattle Symphony season kick-off with Thomas Dausgaard taking the stage in his first event as Music Director, and a featured solo by pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4.

DJ

Noise Complaint ft. Volac & Phlegmatic Dogs (Russian Style)
The powerful bass lines and energetic grooves of Russian electronic duo Volac are perfect for the club. They’ll be joined by locals Phoseph and Rohry. 

ELECTRONIC

DROP: Simic, Nick Carroll, Rhines
Monkey Loft wisely opens its well-trod dance floor to some of Seattle and Tacoma’s most savvy techno and house selectors. Simic (aka Ben Block) told The Stranger in an interview that he fills his DJ sets with tracks that are “hypnotic, playful, unacknowledged, cerebral, jacking, dark, surprising, dubby, adventurous, and curious. I lean into productions that have personality, strange sounds and melodies, and the sense of a human being sitting behind the controls having a bit of fun!” That’s my kind of DJ. Kremwerk/Timbre Room talent buyer Nick Carroll is best known for helping to make that venue Seattle’s premier home of electronic music. But he also deserves props as an outstanding, adaptable DJ who can swerve from sinister, atmospheric tracks to euphoric anthems and many points in-between. Check out Carroll’s powerful Live @ the Lodge Mix on his SoundCloud to get an idea of his aesthetics. DAVE SEGAL

HIP-HOP

Blackalicious, DJ Indica Jones
Blazing Arrow is one of my favorite hip-hop albums of all time. The Harry Nilsson–sampling sophomore LP from Cali-bred duo Blackalicious (made up of lyrically poised, dexterous, and intellectually stimulating MC Gift of Gab and DJ/producer Chief Xcel, purveyor of tight, grooving beats and finely wrought soundscapes) is surprisingly fresh, positive, and progressive for a 2002 joint. This tour, however, celebrates the 20-year anniversary of Blackalicious debut Nia, which, upon its release in 1999, earned across-the-board praise. (A review in the A.V. Club at the time called Nia “an audacious, uncompromised, enormously promising album by a group with the courage to disregard hip-hop’s codes and unwritten rules to create music that is vitally, distinctly its own.”) These guys are fucking money and worth your Saturday night attention. LEILANI POLK

JAZZ

Keeping It Cool: A Benefit for Climate Solutions
The night before the International Climate Action Summit in New York, show your support for climate action in the Northwest and beyond by dancing to live music from keyboardist and songwriter Waye Horvitz and the Royal We. 

ROCK/POP

Andy Grammar
Andy Grammer became the first male pop star in a decade to reach the Top 10 at Adult Pop Radio with his songs “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me,” from his 2011 debut album.

Avril Lavigne, Jagwar Twin
Fun fact: The music video for Avril Lavigne’s 2007 hit “Girlfriend” was the first to reach 100 million views on YouTube. Dig up your old favorite Hot Topic tee and catch the Candian plaid-loving pop princess in Seattle in support of her most recent album, Head Above Water.

An Evening with Daryl Hall & John Oates
Eighties smooth groove legends and eternal purveyors of the light-rock-less-talk genre, Daryl Hall and John Oates (of Hall & Oates, natch) will perform a set together.

The Gods Themselves, Breaks and Swells, Select Level
Described aptly by Mike Nipper as “glam and glittery get-down crisco disco,” the Gods Themselves will headline in Belltown with locals Breaks and Swells and Select Level.

Maggie Rogers, Now, Now
Ex-Maryland banjo player and current New York singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers will play a set of indie-pop and Americana tracks.

Oliver Tree, Tommy Cash, NVDES
Eccentric Santa Cruz songwriter Oliver Tree, enjoying the acclaim of his 2018 debut EP Alien Boy, will come to Seattle for a hearty dose of synth and poetic lyrics. He’ll share the bill with Tommy Cash and NVDES. 

The Original Misfits
Original Misfits singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only are not done rockin’. The ’70s-bred horror-punk progenitors will churn out the hits on this tour stop after opening sets from the Distillers, the Damned, and Cro-Mags.

SEAchanger: Best Coast, the Courtneys
Best Coast and the Courtneys have teamed up to drown everyone in fuzz, feminine longing, and a cloud of weed smoke the size of California. But for a good cause: SEAchanger is a waterfront concert (a partnership between KEXP and Mary’s Place) that raises awareness and money for the hundreds of unsheltered families in King County. Come to show your support for people in our community that need it; stay for the Courtneys’ (Vancouver, BC) 1990s-inspired power pop and Best Coast’s (Los Angeles, duh) stoner, surfer grime. JASMYNE KEIMIG

SATURDAY-SUNDAY


BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

An Evening with Mark Knopfler
Known as the lead singer of British rock band Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler will perform with an expanded 10-piece band on this tour stop.

SUNDAY


ROCK/POP

Rachael Yamagata, Zach Djanikian
Rachael Yamagata covered the Muppets! And she turned the Muppet song into the Beach Boys in the bargain! It’s all true. Check out “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday,” with its strings, its dum-diddey-dums, almost-whispered vocals. Her latest album, 2016’s Tightrope Walker, dials up the strings a few notches, and dallies with just slightly more direct singing. I can’t say how all this delicacy translates to the live setting, with overdubs out of the question and sound levels tilting toward brute-force-or-drowned-out. But it should be enthralling to hear for oneself. ANDREW HAMLIN

Test Dept., Kaelen Mikla, Street Sects, 2Libras
The highly influential London-based industrial group Test Dept. will come to Seattle for a night of noise with Kaelen Mikla, Street Sects, and 2Libras. 

WHY?, Barrie
The Cincinnati-based project helmed by Yoni Wolf, WHY?, is generally classified as alt hip-hop, but that would be vastly oversimplifying what they do. And really, at present, the music barely resembles the genre at all. It feels more like progressive indie-rock with an avant-rap heart and experimental forays into production and instrumentation (guitar, bass, keys, a blend of organic percussion and drum-machine programming). It’s driven by Wolf’s warm, nasally intonations that shift between singsong rhyme-slinging and tunefully apathetic singing, his ruthlessly self-reflective lyrics climbing and falling over. WHY?’s latest tour falls behind visual album AOKOHIO, which finds Wolf reflecting on his childhood and dissecting feelings of anxious nostalgia. It was released with an accompanying 30-minute-plus film/music video (you can watch on the Joyful Noise Recordings YouTube page) that stars the fantastic Emmy-winning actress Tatiana Mislay (Orphan Black). LEILANI POLK

SOUL/R&B

Emotional Oranges, Chiiild
R&B duo Emotional Oranges are a sultry jumble of break-beat drums, jazzy guitars, and alleged Michelle Obama and Guy Fieri endorsements. See them here in Seattle on their A Very Emotional Tour 2019 with Canadian psych-soul band Chiiild.

Tower of Power
Oakland’s fabulous funk and soul-jazz heavies Tower of Power return for yet another Seattle residency. Reports from the most gushing-est of fans claim that every TOP show is a killer dance party, but then they are the “Hipper Than Hip” from “Bump City” and would obviously know how to dig it deep “In the Slot”! That they keep killin’ it time and again is REALLY saying something, as Tower of Power have been active for 50 years and show no signs of getting up from all their serious getting down! MIKE NIPPER

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