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Thursday, Jan. 3

POP ROCK the reaching

I’m going to go ahead and admit something. I love Coldplay. There, I said it, and I feel better for getting that off my chest. I guess the reason I have a soft spot for the pop rockers stems from my affection for the Fab Four. Apparently I’m not alone in my admiration for Chris Martin and company as Seattle’s own The Reaching construct songs in a similar fashion to the new darlings of London.   

Formed just under 11 months ago, the quartet of Kyle McGuire (guitar), Mark Blaney (bass/vocals), Ericka Wallace (drums) and Jake McVay (keys/guitar/vocals) cleverly mix electronica with organic for a sound that is similar to early Radiohead. With inventive and complex guitar riffs and bass lines, they have a definite U2 vibe and are lyrically as prolific as Bono. They have only three tracks posted on their MySpace but they are all brilliantly produced and radio-ready. No full-length to promote yet, but they are currently in the studio with an expected release date of mid-2008.

Despite all my comparisons, The Reaching are unquestionably original and are a refreshing change of pace from the bevy of metal and punk bands who fill up the South Sound’s clubs. — Tony Engelhart

[Jazzbones, 7:30 p.m., all ages, $5, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Friday, Jan. 4

ROCK artimus maximus

Russell Crowe played Maximus in the flick, “Gladiator.” I half expected Bremerton-based band Artimus Maximus to be a heavy-handed metal band dressed in Roman garb. Boy was I ever wrong. The trio of Artimus Maximus (vocals/guitar), Michael Jackson (bass) and Scott Rohwein (drums) are a punk rock outfit who are as quirky as the Offspring and as loose as the Stooges.

Declaring proudly that their hometown sucks, these guys don’t pull any punches. Originally formed in 1998, the first generation of the band released its debut, the Maximum Asshole in 1999, but wasn’t heard from live again until 2002. After reuniting with bass player Scooter from Mos Generation and drummer Brudder Mykee from Earthwreck and Sower of Dischord, Maximus hit the studio a second time to record Crazy Alcoholic Wife. The band’s third outing, She Might Be, continued down the path of camp the band has become legendary for. Not musically complex, their songs are short, loud and consist of maybe four chords. What drives the band’s creativity is they don’t give a s*** what anyone thinks; they’re just having fun.

Apparently hungry for gigs, they say they’ll play anywhere, even in your bathroom. — TE

[Hell’s Kitchen, with Zeke, Neutralboy, Toxic Holocaust, Automatic Thrill, and The Altarboys, 8 p.m., $8, 3829 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.759.6008]

Friday, Jan. 4

FOLK brant o’brien

I give kudos to anyone who stands firm in his convictions, goes against the popular majority and unapologetically speaks his mind. While Kent-based singer/songwriter Brant O’Brien is self-labeled as a folkie with deep-seeded Christian values, his music doesn’t preach. Rather, he paints abstract pictures that are open for interpretation.

Born to musical parents, O’Brien grew up exposed to a multitude of genres. From folk and country to Beethoven, he began a love affair with music while in the crib, but it wasn’t until after high school that O’Brien began searching for his voice. He says as his Christian beliefs grew stronger, he became more confident in his abilities.

In 2006 O’Brien released his debut, Goin Home. The tracks on the album reflected his morals, ethics and relationship with his creator, but also his personal struggles. The acoustic-based recording features only guitar and violin. The lush two-part harmonies that are captured here are akin to Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan.

 O’Brien is currently in the studio working on his follow-up which is slotted for a Spring 2008 release. — TE

[Mandolin Café, 8 p.m., all ages, no cover, 3923 S. 12th St., Tacoma, 253.761.3482]

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