Sometimes it’s all about the name. If no one’s heard your music, chances are good that you’re going to need a great name or a really cool album cover to get some attention. Over the years I’ve enjoyed the hell out of some bands and songs simply because of a name that sounded cool, so when I heard about the upcoming Sultans of Slide Guitar show at Mac’s, I got a goofy grin on my face and couldn’t do anything about it. It was a glorious moment.
Franck Goldwasser, an internationally known blues guitarist who also goes by the name Paris Slim, will be sharing the stage with some of the Northwest’s best guitar players. Henry Cooper, Big Monti Amundson, Bob Shoemaker and Ben Bonham will join Goldwasser, and these five artists are likely to knock your socks off and set your pants on fire.
Between Goldwasser’s cool-yet-playful licks, Cooper’s straight-ahead playing, Amundson’s crunchy riffs, Bonham’s soulful strumming and Shoemaker’s inimitable style and grace, this show will be a feast for the ears of slide guitar lovers everywhere. And Sultans of Slide Guitar isn’t just a catchy name; these guys are heavyweights whose music packs one hell of a punch. The Sultans of Slide Guitar play at 9 pm Saturday, March 27, at Mac’s at the Vets Club. 21+. $10 (admission includes a raffle ticket). — Brian Palmer
Every Time I Die’s Junk
Despite being on the music scene for more than a decade and touring with some well-known acts, the career of Every Time I Die always seems to butt up against the obstacles of indifference, misunderstanding and personnel changes. (How many bass players now? Seven? Eight?) But with their fifth album, the band seems to have broken through and escaped some of those past demons. New Junk Aesthetic, the band’s first on Epitaph, came out last fall, and despite (or maybe because of; hard to know) an Internet leak and streaming in toto from the band’s MySpace page, the album perched at number 46 on the SoundScan charts a week after its release.
Every Time I Die has grand ambitions, but some of their efforts have been underwhelming. Part of the challenge for this band of smart (as in, they actually read books), technically excellent players is that they temper their metalcore roots with mathcore moments and a rock and roll swagger, a combination that’s sometimes hard to mesh. New Junk Aesthetic is their most consistently good effort. It seems that ETID has accepted their differences from others in the metalcore genre and are totally comfortable just doing what they do — which is raising hell with big, Southern rock-style riffs, a wise-ass attitude and lyrics a bit more intelligent than the average metal band. Even if you don’t call yourself an ETID fan, check out the bands they’re touring with for some up-and-coming mid-tempo metal/hardcore and indie-rockish bands. Every Time I Die, Four Year Strong, Polar Bear Club and Trapped Under Ice play at 8 pm, Saturday, March 27, at WOW Hall. $16. — Vanessa Salvia
Psychedelic Summer Sounds
If you’ve never seen Black Moth Super Rainbow live, it’s essentially a bunch of dudes playing freaky alien music. Sparse vocals all come filtered through a vocoder, and the psychedelic instrumentals make for a surreal listening experience, to say the least. It’s almost as if the band was actually abducted from Pittsburgh by aliens and returned to Earth with galactic instruments. While BMSR’s static-y psychedelia is an acquired taste, even detractors begrudgingly admit that no other band sounds quite like it. But Tobacco, the puppetmaster behind the bizarro-fest that is Black Moth Super Rainbow, has recently plunked the project on the back burner to focus on his solo work, the other, darker side of BMSR’s summery sound. The amalgam of analog synth instruments that feature prominently on Black Moth Super Rainbow songs take on an ominous tone in Tobacco’s solo incarnation. His next record, Manic Meat, will come out on Anticon in May and features a couple of cameos from Beck, the lone guest artist to appear on the album. Even though Beck is the better-known artist, it makes sense that he’d take an interest in Tobacco: Both artists make music that can’t be mistaken for anyone else’s. Tobacco and the Hood Internet perform at 9 pm Sunday, March 28, at the WOW Hall. $8. — Sara Brickner
Drag Your Knuckles Through a Dead Meadow
If you took a vintage Tony Iommi guitar lick — like, say, the opening squelch of “War Pigs” on Black Sabbath’s Paranoid — and then ran it at warp speed through three decades of music until it landed like an asteroid in the psychedelic post-punk mumblesoup created by bands like the Butthole Surfers and Saccharine Trust, you might end up with something that sounds like a Dead Meadow song. It was a similar formula that created so-called grunge in early ‘90s Seattle, the difference being that whereas bands like Mudhoney and Soundgarden queered Sabbath via the amphetamine punk of Iggy & the Stooges, the boys in Dead Meadow sound more like Bauhaus circa “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” than Raw Power on elephant Quaaludes. That’s not a bad thing. The band’s music is refreshingly earnest in its knuckle-dragging heaviness, and sprinkled with enough Eastern beats and soaring wah-wah stringwork to keep things interesting.
Formed in D.C. in 1998, Dead Meadow has shuffled lineups over the years and is currently a honed down three-piece, featuring original members Jason Simon (guitar/vocals) and bassist Steve Kille, along with drummer Stephen McCarty, who joined in 2002. Their latest release is the ambitious Three Kings, a multimedia project that is at once a live album and a soundtrack for a feature film comprised of footage from their 2008 Old Growth Tour. No better time than now to catch this veteran trio of neo-metalheads who appear to be striking while the iron’s hot. Dead Meadow plays with Imaad Wasif at 9 pm Wednesday, March 31, at WOW Hall. $12. — Rick Levin
A Modern Classic
Seattle songstress Zoe Muth is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most promising country artists, if not one of the area’s most well-known. But hers isn’t the precious, lilting folk that’s been taking over the indie world. This is straightforward honky tonk music, so pure in its aim that if you were to listen to Zoe Muth’s flawless self-titled 2009 debut out of context, you might assume you’d stumbled across an unknown peer of Patsy Cline or Emmylou Harris. Instead, this is a modern approximation of classic country, complete with elementary song structures and simple lyrics. That’s not to say that Muth’s band, the Lost High Rollers, aren’t skilled musicians — pedal steel and lead guitarist Dave Harmonson (known around Seattle as “Country Dave”) is a force to be reckoned with — but that Zoe Muth has managed to capture the original spirit of country music in a voice that’s all her own, without succumbing to the maudlin, oft-cheesy platitudes of country music’s forefathers. This will be Muth’s first out-of-town tour, so catch her while she’s young and unknown, because talent like this won’t go unnoticed for long. — Sara Brickner
Starting From Scratch
After eight complicated, strange years in Bellingham, Wash., Kasey Anderson realized he couldn’t stay there anymore. Wasted years, a dead romance and days passing slowly gave way to the realization that it was time to change.
In Anderson’s newest album, Nowhere Nights, he lays it all on the table, eight years and more stuffed into 11 songs and 50 minutes. Anderson combines ballads with more upbeat tunes, mixing rough-around-the-edges vocals with twangy guitar and heavy, methodical drumming. From the melancholy “Bellingham Blues” to the bold self-discovery in “Nowhere Nights,” this Oregon native explores what many of us can relate to: the situations dragging us down, keeping us trapped, that we either ignore or decide to change.
Fortunately, Anderson manages not to sound bogged down or whiny; there’s no “aha” moment where he turns his life around and suddenly everything’s perfect. It’s not your cliché dog-died-girlfriend-left-me country, but an honest confession of what he’s gone through and how he’s grown. Even if you don’t care for country and similar genres, give Nowhere Nights a listen. You might change your tune. — Darcy Wallace