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Thursday, May 31


The first time I saw the Art of Noise, the band blew my mind with its video of the song “Close To the Edit.”  The rhythms were coarse, but they blended flawlessly with the mechanical sounds and visual theater that accompanied them. No vocals, just a punked-out 8-year-old girl yelling “Hey!” If the Art of Noise had had a vocalist, they might have sounded a lot like electro-pop guru Jona Bechtolt’s side project Yacht.  Using synthesized bleeps and blurbs, the one-man-band constructs freaky compositions with the poppy awareness of the Tom Tom Club.    As a part of the Portland-based duo the Blow, Bechtolt has been recording a brand of tech-savvy music that is minimalist and lo-fi since 2002.  The visual twosome has been compared to avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson’s more accessible work.  Like the Blow, Yacht strips the music down to the bare essentials of a pocket calculator with stuttering rhythms and ’80s break beats.  While his counterpart, vocalist Khaela Maricich, sits on the sidelines, Bechtolt takes center stage on his Yacht records.  In his latest, 2007’s I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real, the musical tech-geek steps up to the microphone with his nasally voice for an avant-electronic experience that we haven’t heard since Thomas Dolby’s The Golden Age of Wireless. — Tony Engelhart

[Manium Warehouse, 8 p.m., all ages, 421 Fourth Ave., Olympia,]

Saturday, June 2

JAZZ pearl django, lance buller and stephanie porter experience

Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt might not be household names, but throughout the 1930s they were considered to be the two most influential musicians to emerge out of Europe’s bohemian jazz scene. With fast and nimble fingers, Reinhardt is arguably the greatest guitarist ever while Grappelli is ranked as one of the top three pre-bop jazz violinists in the world. 

Resurrecting the acoustic swing jazz of the depression era, Pearl Django is a string swing band that plays with the authenticity of Grappelli and Reinhardt.  Formed in 1994, the group saw some lineup changes early on but has a steadily retained membership since 1998, with guitarist Neil Andersson, second guitarist Greg Ruby, bassist Rick Leppanen and violinist Michael Gray.  The quartet’s retro swing style has landed stellar reviews and a fan base that stretches over the world.

Akin to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Lance Buller/Stephanie Porter Experience performs hard bop swing with fat horns and scat rhythms.  With a song list that includes classics such as “Zoot Suit Riot” and “Route 66,” as well as reworked disco tunes such as “Staying Alive” and “I Will Survive,” the duo runs the musical gamut but always incorporates a jumpin’ style that darns you to stay seated. — TE

[Narrows Theater, Saturday, June 2, 8 p.m., $25, 7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.6867]

Saturday, June 2

ALT- COUNTRY Memphis Radio Kings

A lot of indie sounds like crap; not because it is, but rather the production value is less then great, as if it were recorded in a basement of a strip club. Not so with the Memphis Radio Kings who are part of the NW Music, Bike and Tattoo Art Showcase with Ted Wallis, Never Quiet Never Still, Basic Radio, Julian Traylor, TEX, 2112, and the Pete Moss Band at Jazzbones Saturday.  As the band’s name would suggest, each of the its four discs was radio ready with a pristine quality rarely found on independent releases.  Combining progressive country with a pop sensibility, MRK possess a Matchbox 20 on steroids timbre with insightful lyrics, catchy guitar riffs and lush harmonies. Don’t try and slip them into any one genre as this fiercely independent band could give a shit about labels, recording contracts or fame; they play music because it’s in their blood and do so very well.  In a state of constant change, in 2006 the quartet shed its alt-country attachment and recorded an album of perfectly crafted pop songs that included some synthesizer for polishing reasons.  The album entitled Four still maintained a rootsy edge with the track “This Ghost,” which featured Old 97s-esque guitar hooks and a driving beat but was a departure from previous projects. Produced by Martin Feveyear (Brandi Carlye and The Presidents of the USA), the disc was well reviewed country-wide. — Tony Engelhart

[Jazzbones, Saturday, June 2, noon, free until 6 p.m., $8 after, All ages, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Saturday, June 2

INDIE POP Christie Aitken

Christie Aitken’s voice is just so easy to listen to. It’s hard to describe in words, but her voice is confident without being pushy, its pretty without being whiney, and it’s soothing without being boring. It’s like singing is the most natural thing in the world for her. Her album, Road to Sunnyside, is like the soundtrack to a movie about a happy family that lives on a farm and has puppies romping around in the front yard. It’s just charming, simply charming.

Aitken’s band is called the Hand-Me-Down’s. She says they were going to call themselves The Axe Murderers but decided the Hand-Me-Downs would be a little less threatening. Aitken says her album was intended to be an uplifting look at life and at overcoming the bumps in the road. She also says her music is influenced by Nickel Creek and Sheryl Crow. According to Aitken, the live show is the only place where her current band can be heard and the best way to describe their act is “cute people playing good music.”

Treat your ears now at — Angela Jossy 

[The Mandolin Café, Saturday, June 2, 8 p.m., all ages, donations, 3923 S. 12th St., Tacoma, 253.761.3482]

Monday, June 4

FOLK ROCK billy farmer

I think I might have found a kindred spirit in Northwest singer/songwriter/performer Billy Farmer. Like me, he is music connoisseur, record collector and fan who does not limit his scope to any one genre; from blues to bluegrass, he runs the musical gamut.  A gifted guitar player, Farmer plays acoustic with a folk style, electric in a Chicago blues stomp style and knows his way around the Delta, too.  His arsenal of strings includes a reliable 12 string, Dobro, mandolin and banjo. When he needs a little oomph, Farmer plugs in his Les Paul or Stratocaster.

Farmer is a master of mimicry and can imitate everyone from Jagger to Cash.  Having already done a successful Rolling Stones tribute event, Farmer is preparing to tackle Bob Dylan with Love Dylan Night at Rhapsody in Bloom Monday.  Accompanied by his pickin’ pal and bass player from the Ramblers, Rick Gonzales, the duo, along with a makeshift band Farmer calls the Here & Nows, will strum the night away in a jam-band style to such classics as ““Maggie’s Farm,” “Tangled Up in Blue“ and “Simple Twist of Fate.” The evening is to benefit the Agape House in the Sixth Avenue district. — TE

[A Rhapsody In Bloom Florist and Café Latte, 7 p.m., all ages, 3709 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.761.7673]

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