Bethesda band Trans Am drives into Casbah tonight. The Thrill Jockey transformers (krautfunk, anyone?) this year turned in Thing, the trio’s ninth proper on the indie stalwart. The 20-year vets keep up the sci-fi vibe of ’07’s Sex Change but tune out the vocals and turn up the space-synth explorations. Portland duo Nice Nice, another sound-collage cult act in the making, makes a nice nice match for our heroes. They’re out to tout this year’s Extra Wow.... Post-rockers the Useless Keys jingle at Bar Pink. The L.A. quartet will seduce you with shoegaze haze and then hit you below the belt with fuzz pedals. Buckle up at myspace.com/uselesskeys and take a ride on “Arizona State Highway.” Sample single “White Noise” while you’re there. It’s an old formula but a good one, and the feedback’s got that gooey Psychocandy drip. Yum. Gun Runner goes first.... Jersey son Pat DiNizio and his Smithereens explode at 4th&B. I’ve got a soft spot for these cats because they raised the bar for pop-rock on ’80s radio — good, fun driving songs such as “Blood and Roses,” “A Girl Like You,” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep.” And like most teens, I drove a lot.... Twenty-three-year-old jazz guitarist Julian Lage began his public-performance life at the age of six! F---ing prodigies. Anyway, he calls it electroacoustic jazz and is pegged “contemporary” by the National Academy of Blah Blah, but don’t get your strings crossed, it’s not New Age-y at all. Check out his debut, last year’s Grammy nominee Sounding Point — it’s got all the elements of standard, free-form, and bop. Get engaged at the Loft.... Acrost campus, there’ll be a Massive Attack at the Rimac with Thievery Corporation. I’ve no idea what any of that is, but it sounds dangerous.
Acid-house Austinites Ghostland Observatory will haunt 4th&B with their brand of dance noir, best collected on this year’s Codename: Rondo, a sort-of underbelly of America song cycle that “sounds like a robot making love to a tree.” The duo are fest faves for their hyperkinetic stage antics and capes — yes, capes. Can’t guarantee the goods at this typing, but I’m going to the show, if only because I need an excuse to wear my cape.... Udder mentionables: Tin Can Ale House pops the top on Battlehooch. The SanFran psych-pop sextet will follow anglobeat big band Dahga Bloom.... Casbah will host an anniversary show for SD:Dialed In’s four years on the scene, featuring local faves White Apple Tree, Swim Party, and D/Wolves. Keep up the good work, Rosemary.... Coupla fun ones uptown, too, as L.A. electropop duo Kisses plants one on Soda Bar. Word is the couple killed at CMJ last month...and Til Two fills a pogo-pop bill when it tries on Mean Jeans from Portland with Oaktown’s Shannon and the Clams.
Belly Up books the gig to get to Saturday night, as Philly’s shaggy folk-pop five-piece Dr. Dog takes the Solana Beach stage. I’m an Easy Beat guy (from ’05), and the Takers and Leavers EP had great staying power, but this year’s Shame Shame... It’s hot for Billboard but cold for critics — funny how that works. All that said, Dr. Dog takes the entertainin’ business to task. With like-minded Brooklynites Here We Go Magic, these are solid sets.... Up the road a stretch, at the Royal Dive in O’side, the scariest band in the land, Deadbolt, will throw down a set of psychotic surf punk.... The Loft has a double dip of the Jill and Julia Show (Jill Sobule and Julia Sweeney) at 7 and 9p. Sounds like acousticomedy.... And them punky-folky Dodos will alight for a night at Sushi’s Four-Day Weekend festithing. Can’t recommend the SanFran band’s record Visiter (’08) enough — it’s a drum-n-strum essential.... Else: you can get yer metal fixin’s at 4th&B as Dokken, the Bullet Boyz, Taz Taylor, and Ratz take the downtown stage...Run Devil Run, Cozy Corners, and Satellite Sky turn up at Eleven...and Night Horse rides into Soda Bar with Ghetto Blaster and Lecherous Gaze.
Sushi will close out its Four-Day Weekend with L.A. indie-pop act Avi Buffalo. Really young, wicked precocious, super horny, very Sub Pop-y (see esp. Shins), and capital c Catchy. This year’s s/t debut isn’t a look back at high school — they were in high school when they recorded it. Again, with the prodigies. What the hell were we doing at 17? (Driving around listening to the Smithereens, apparently).... Anyway, Ché Café stages black-metal by the French Monarch and Portland Trees...rock-and-soul throwbacks the Heavy hit Casbah with Wallpaper...Tin Can Ale House stages an Art Fag showcase of girl-garage that features La Sera (that’s Katy from the Vivian Girls) and noisy Quebecois quartet No Joy...and jazz joint Dizzy’s will celebrate the music of Simon, Mitchell, and Joel. That’s Paul, Joni, and Billy — the bulk of my parents’ 8-track collection.
Soda Bar sets up Aussie psych-pop duo Circle Pit behind their full-length debut Bruise Constellation. Tasty: myspace.com/circlepit. Goes good with Crocodiles and Thee Oh Sees. Local pop-punk kids Jungle Fever and the Last Years set the stage.... Casbah’s Anti-Monday team tags Duluth singer-songer David Dondero (This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb). The wordsmith’s latest is called # Zero with a Bullet. Sounds like Bill Callahan, Smog fan.
Triple bill of indie thrills, as Casbah furnishes Jana Hunter’s Lower Dens, which is out to tout crit hit Twin-Hand Movement, and Philly dream-pop duo Sun Airway, whose debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier is garnering comparisons to both Strokes and Animal Collective (?!). Brooklyn band Bear in Heaven headlines.... Alsos: Jazz bassist Rufus Reid fronts a trio up around the bend at Anthology...synth-rock experimentalists Candy Claws will scratch out a sweet one at Tin Can Ale House. Chain Gang of 1974 sets the stage there...the Carl Palmer Band will celebrate the music of ELP at Brick by Brick...Noisy post-punk trio Scales weigh in at the Ken with Samhears and Nothingful...and — what every kid wants for Christmas this year — Toys That Kill promises to play nice at Soda Bar.
Torn in two? So was I, but check it out, Dean & Britta start at 7:30 at Anthology. Dig into some dinner there while the Warehams dig up some fine Galaxy 500 fare...then quick quick like a bunny, hop down to Kettner, where Casbah dishes up a hella garage-pop revival with SanFran band Sonny & the Sunsets, L.A. indie hits Best Coast, and DJs, D/Wolves, and Dirty Beaches. Thursday’s gonna suck.
— Barnaby Monk