Not to go all Seventeen on you, but The Thermals are totally crush-worthy. Sorry, but “awesome” and “energetic” don’t quite encapsulate the Portland trio’s dynamic performances. One of the best live acts around, Hutch Harris (vocals/ guitar), Kathy Foster (bass) and recent addition Westin Glass (drums) deftly captivate their audience without swinging from the rafters or exposing themselves (although Harris sported a pretty skimpy bathing suit at one of their many, many, many South by Southwest appearances). All they need are their whip-smart lyrics and rock chops to get the job done. Now We Can See—The Thermals' latest release and first on Kill Rock Stars (the band maintains good vibes with former label Sub Pop, citing a better contractual fit with the Seattle-based KRS)—is packed with infectious ruminations on “death, love and evolution” set to shiny, happy pop chords and Harris’ steady deadpan delivery. Come bob and weave to the rhythm of Foster’s dancing curls—they’ll make you jump, jump. Oh, and be sure to arrive on time for Point Juncture, WA, another Northwest band headed straight for the top. The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 10 p.m.
LONG DISTANCE OPERATOR CD RELEASE
Long Distance Operator didn’t intend to spend more than 40 hours recording their self-titled debut, but for a band hellbent on maintaining a unified front it’s a wonder the process didn’t run longer—or implode before an album could take shape. Embracing a “more is more” aesthetic, the Salt Lake City rockers carefully considered each member’s two cents’ worth as they laid down tracks at with Terrence DH at Counterpoint Studios. Despite bringing to the table wildly diverse tastes, the foursome—Randon Ostlund, Josh West, Christian Wadsworth, Jeremy Smith—managed to piece together an album that while dense doesn’t feel cluttered or overwrought. Long Distance Operator is a haunting, deeply textured work full of fiery guitars and bright atmospherics whose ethereal quality nods to the better part of the ’90s, when “alt” still meant something. Ostlund’s rich, velvety vocals hold together the eclectic sampling of songs, easily shifting from baritone to falsetto for well-measured highs and lows. Those familiar with Smith’s vocal duties in Alchemy and occasionally The Wolfs will hear a familiar voice on “Ice Monsters Dream.” Creepy, moody good times! The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 10 p.m.
SHELLEY SHORT, ALEXIS GIDEON
Shelley Short (pictured up top) is no ice queen but, man, is her voice chilling—sweet and unnerving, it skates across pleasant, slightly psychedelic folk and country melodies like a mischievous china doll or a wood nymph wreaking havoc in the haunted forest of your wildest dreams. Short spent the first leg of her career traversing the country. Listening to her music, specifically Water for the Day (2008), one gets the sense that though currently settled in Portland, Ore., she’ll never stop exploring. Her curious nature makes for wonderfully imaginative lyrics often enhanced by strange, almost Alice in Wonderland-type logic (“Makes me a little deep suspicious/ when a strang er does my dishes/ makes me wonder/ makes me wonder why I’m not a fisherman.”). Short is currently touring in support of the new A Cave, A Canoo. She arrives in town tonight with current partner in love and music, Alexis Gideon whose own projects contain many of the same fanciful elements that enhance Short’s sound but with decidedly different results. A cross-dressing rapper in another lifetime, Gideon plays a mean guitar in several bands, but his heart belongs to Video Musics—an animated/ claymated video opera of epic proportions. That’s right, epic. The end product comes out October 2009 on Sick Room Records, but you can preview it tonight. Tonight! The Woodshed, 60 E. 800 South, 9 p.m.
Quartet Far from a one-trick pony, John Scofield remains relevant by continually reinventing the musician everyone thinks he’s become. A prolific artist whose resume includes work with Charles Mingus, Scofield’s latest album Piety Street finds the jazz guitarist in gospel territory, embracing the rich tradition from a secular standpoint—music is his true religion. And after hearing him perform with his current assembly of all-star musicians—John Cleary, Ricky Fataar, and Donald Ramsey—you will testify too. Salt Lake Sheraton, 150 W. 500 South, 7:30 p.m. All-ages. JazzSLC.com
Like the cowbell, too much Vocoder can ruin a good thing. R&B singer Akon, for instance, should probably check into Vocoder rehab for his liberal use of the instrument. But in good hands, the Vocoder can be pure gold. Or Fool’s Gold, as the case might be for the record label’s rising star Treasure Fingers, aka Ashley Jones, an Atlanta-based DJ whose breakout hit “Cross the Dancefloor” features heavily manipulated vocals floating and funky beats worthy of the Gap Band. Treasure Fingers spreads a little of that soulful sound mixed with disco glitter over remixes for Kid Sister, Empire of the Sun, Chromeo and other artists who aren’t afraid to show their jazz hands. W Lounge, 358 S. West Temple, 9 p.m.
Crystal Antlers (Kilby Court, April 30); Richard Buckner (The State Room, April 30); Starf-ker (Urban Lounge & Slowtrain, April 30); Lenka (Avalon, May 1); The Hotness, The Lionelle (Woodshed, May 1); Mr. Lif (Urban Lounge, May 1); U92 Cinco de Mayo (Usana Amphitheatre, May 2); Kelly Joe Phelps (The State Room, May 3); Mike Hale (Burt’s Tiki Lounge, May 4); Moreland & Arbuckle (The State Room, May 4); Black Label Society (The Depot, May, 5); Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Samantha Crain (Kilby Court, May 5)
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