May 20, 21
Soulive routinely takes its audiences on mesmerizing musical journeys that stretch minds as they limber legs. A lot of bands claim to be eclectic, but Soulive defines the word, combining rock, jazz, funk, soul, blues and hip-hop seamlessly. Eric Krasno plays both tasty and tear-it-up guitar. Alan Evans is a drummer's drummer, and his brother, Neal Evans, ranks among popular music's greatest keyboardists, his left hand pounding out bass lines as his right hand spins stories of funky glory. Soulive is the closest thing this era has to a Booker T and the MGs - albeit without as many hits, but then again, Soulive was the first contemporary band signed to the revived Stax Records, the MGs' home label, and well, that says it all, doesn't it?
Soulive, 9 p.m. Thursday, May 20, and Friday, May 21, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside Road. $17 advance, $18 day of show. Info: 503-231-WOOD, www.dougfirlounge.com.
San Francisco treat
San Francisco's brilliant, colorful Diego's Umbrellasounds like the campiest flamenco-ska-polka-Mexi-Cali bunch of insomniacs in the world - its catalog an absolutely demented experiment in genre-mixing, wordplay (sample song titles, 'Lasers and Lesbians,' 'Drinking in Spanish'), and choral-like singing that works simply because the band clearly has no worries it won't. They are a fine example of what happens when you completely abandon any notion of sounding cool, thus actually inventing a new form of cool. Which makes them really, really hot. You can hear them with tasteful homegrown acoustic indie rockers Rozendal as well as psychedelic country rockers Ruby Feathers.
Diego's Umbrella, Rozendal, Ruby Feathers, 9 p.m. Friday, May 21, Tonic Lounge, 3100 N.E. Sandy Blvd. $6. Info: my space.com/thetoniclounge, 503-238-0543.
The Best Kissers in the World, Seattle's underrated power pop rockers - sort of a Cheap Trick-meets-Ramones for the uninitiated - headline a great, heartfelt lineup, which also features Portland's loudest political power-pop-punk band Thee Decliners releasing a new record, 'Chehalis.' Also on the bill: very groovy folkish pop rockers The Stan McMahon Band, and garage-country-rock specialists Thee Headliners.
The Best Kissers in the World, Thee Decliners, The Stan McMahon Band, Thee Headliners, 9 p.m. Friday, May 21, Slabtown, 1033 N.W. 16th St. $6. Info: 503-223-0099, www.slabtown bar.net.
Besides having one of the better band names in town, Quality Fridge Buzz writes hypnotic, catchy indie rock that subscribes to the KISS rule - Keep It Simple, Stupid. The group's songs contain just enough garage rock keys to keep it retro and dreamy. Plum Sutra creates easy on-the-ears instrumental, ambient rock music with classical influences. It's quite nice, actually. Meditative, subterranean experimentalists Helical's members list as many philosophers and writers as bands among their influences, but there will be no quiz at the end of the show, so no worries.
Quality Fridge Buzz, Plum Sutra, Helical, 9:30 p.m. Monday, May 24, Ash Street Saloon, 225 S.W. Ash St. $5. Info: 503-226-0430, www.ashstreetsaloon.com.
If you like cuttin' the rug, High Scores and Records likes you. The local company releases dance mixes on vinyl and in mp3 formats, and is featuring a six-artist 'PDXTC'12-inch record release show with Atole, Wampire, Jeffrey Jerusalem, Guidance Counselor, May Ling and Breakfast Mountain. It's not easy to categorize any of these folks, who use everything from samplers to singers and guitars to drums to create danceable sounds encompassing disco, electronica, rock, pop, soul, psychedelia and, most important of all, tuba. So we suggest you just stop thinking and get loose before the show, then let it loose on the floor. Keep a special ear out for Wampire's 'Magic Light,' a kind of hard-driving cocktail music, the perfect opening song of the summer dance season.
PDXTC Record Release Show, 8 p.m. Thursday, May 27, Holocene, 1001 S.E. Morrison St. All ages. $5. Info: 503-239-7639, www.holocene.org., www.highscoresandrecords.com.